The mild autumn window of opportunity is upon us and it’ll be over in a flash. There are just a few unpredictable weeks of warm weather left which means that there’s not much time left for fruiting veggies to ripen or for autumn veggies to be planted. It also means that you need to prepare growing crops for colder, windier weather….
Plant autumn veg soon or miss out!
It’s never easy to tell when the autumn planting season will end as it is always such changeable weather at this time of year. One day it can be gloriously hot, the next there’s a bitter wind and rain sheeting in. We usually find that planting in September is more sensible than waiting until October, especially if you live in a colder part of the country – your plants will benefit from the extra daylight and they’ll get a better headstart. It also means you are less likely to miss out if the weather does turn cold early on in October.
Get those veggies ripened…
If you’re growing tomatoes then you may find you need to give them a helping hand to ripen. If they’re in a greenhouse then make sure doors and windows are closed for warmth, and cut back the foliage (you can be quite brutal with it now so don’t be afraid to leave your plant more or less naked!)If they’re growing outside, you may be better off to cut off vines and leave them on a sunny, warm windowsill inside to ripen.
Cut the foliage right back on squashes and make sure they veggies themselves are getting as much sunlight and warmth as possible. Keep chillies and peppers nice and warm to help them ripen. Okra and aubergines will also need to be kept warm. Horticultural fleece can help here – just drape it over plants at night.
Prepare growing crops for the changing season…
There are likely to be a few crops that’ll be growing out in your veg patch for a little longer yet – cabbages, cauliflowers, kales, sprouts, parsnips, celeriac and leeks are just some examples. For the most part they will be fine in the colder weather, but it is worth preparing some of them:
- Earth up or stake brussels sprouts to stop them toppling over in the wind.
- Put a mulch around taller brassicas. This will help them withstand gusty days and will also keep their roots a little warmer.
- Mulch celeriac and parsnips.
- Earth up leeks
- Drape horticultural fleece over more tender crops – salads and leaves – if there’s a risk of frost.
- Protect brassicas from pigeons. The birds will be getting hungry at this time of year, so pop a net over any brassicas!