Walled Garden Diaries: Times Are A’Changing

September was a time of transition as the summer crops started to slow and the autumnal treats began to come to the fore.

It was a mainly wet month as the seasons changed and the temperatures dropped, especially during the nights. You could feel the chill on mornings as the thermometers went below five degrees at times. 

The crops we had been solidly picking throughout the summer slowed, especially those outside like the runner beans and beets. Those in the tunnels – the cucumbers and tomatoes – are still producing but nowhere near the rates of July and August. They are hanging on but will likely be ripped up soon. Unfortunately there is likely to be lots of unripened green tomatoes remaining, so hopefully can get people to take them to make chutney.

We are now harvesting the cabbages, swedes and leeks for the kitchen, as their new Autumn menu has been rolled out. Also the parsnips and celeriac too are now ready for picking. These new crops will join the likes of kale and chard on the donations stall, along with the last of the tunnel crops and our stored potatoes and onions. In fact, the only crop not being harvested now are the sprouts, which are currently growing too big for their netting. 

All of the pumpkins and squashes have been lifted and stored for ripening. It was a great crop in the end, despite the plants doing little for so long after being planted. We’ve got a large quantity in total and some really big pumpkins, as the ‘Big Max’ have lived up to their name. After lifting the fruits and removing the plants it then required a lot of weeding to remove what had been hiding under the carpet of foliage. Lots of appreciation goes out to the volunteers who helped tidy these two beds.

One of the key tasks for the month was to sow our green manure, with crimson clover sowed in the areas where our onions and potatoes were grown earlier in the season. Crimson clover is a great nitrogen fixer and will add nutrients back into the soil when rotavated in next Spring.

The Walled Garden plays host to Hanbury’s Apple Festival, where visitors can see and buy our wide selection of apples. There are also stalls and games for kids, as well as a fantastic display built from our squashes and pumpkins –  it is a real family event over the course of a week. 

Elsewhere, there is still life in the cut flowers and volunteers are producing beautiful bunches. The dahlias in particular continue to look amazing and will see us through into the first frosts. Visitors still.love getting bunches of cut flowers and they have been a real success story this year. 

Going forward lots of plants will likely be removed during October as things start to slow down after the busy summet. There is still lots to do though, and I’ll continue to provide updates and pictures on my Instagram to tide over till the next monthly update. 

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