Tips for Tomatoes in September

I am picking more and more Cherry Tomatoes as the days get longer. I still have a lot of other vines in the greenhouse with fruit to pick and if they won’t ripen I will try some of these tips. Let me know if you have other methods.

Encourage late ripening

  • If you haven’t taken the greenhouse shading off, do so and clean all the glass.
  • Bunny Guinness suggests you cover plants with horticultural fleece or perforated plastic.
  • Stop pinching out as it is too late and excess water can be transpired through the new leaves to help avoid splitting.
  • Reduce the plants work load by selecting the fruit you want to ripen and take the rest off.
  • If you pick green tomatoes hang vines in a dark dry place to ripen.
  • Wrap a tomato in newspaper and put in a drawer  or cardboard box. Tomatoes ripen best in the dark and sunlight will make the skins get tough.
  • Put a banana in with green tomatoes will speed up the ripening/decay process
  • Pick green tomatoes as they start to change colour. Hard, dark green tomatoes get to a point where they won’t ripen and are only good for Chutney.
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The Empty Vegetable Plot

Garden Lime

Autumn is a good time to plant a green manure crop in your empty vegetable plot. Green manures are sown deliberately to be dug back into the soil before they flower. This helps improve fertility, suppress weeds, stop leaching and soil errosion and helps condition the soil.

Empty Plot Tips

  • Clear up debris and weeds and make the plot tidy.
  • Test soil and add lime to prevent it becoming too acid and reducing future crops.
  • Leave pea and bean roots to rot down.
  • If soil is heavy dig and leave large clumps for the frost to break down
  • Replan paths and cropp rotation for next year. Do not walk on wet ground.
  • Incorporate rotted compost.
  • Mulch the asparagus bed.

Green Manuring Tips

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Wet and Soggy Summer

Did you buy an extra water butt or irrigation system expecting a hot summer?                    Have you planted a Mediterranean garden of hot dry-condition loving flowers? Well this summer in England we have had ‘Global Watering’ not global warming.

A bog garden would have been more appropriate. Moisture lovers have thrived and that means numerous weeds. Shrubs and hedges have put on more growth than normal and need pruning back but the ground is too soggy to work on.

The good news is the Apples and Runner Beans are producing great crops at the moment.

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Wasps, Woodlice & Earwigs

Wasps

At this time of year we find wasps munching on our ripening  Plums and Apples. They are not the main villain as they only attack fruit that is already damaged by birds or other insects. Their mouths are not strong enough to break the skin. Wasps help in a garden as the larvae feed on aphids and caterpillars.

Woodlice

Woodlice are generally seen as scavengers who eat rotting matter, they are not thought of as harmful to the garden. However, they do chew leaves and stems of tomatoes and cucumber in the greenhouse. Keep areas clear of any debris.                                                                                                                                              Recycle woodlice you capture on to the compost heap.

Earwigs

Earwigs look worse than the bites they take out of plants. Whilst Dahlia and Chrysanthemum plants may be a bit chewed and ragged they will not come to great harm unless you are growing show blooms.
Again Earwigs feed their newly hatched young on aphids and other small insects. To catch these night feeders use the inverted plant pot on a cane method with the pot filled with straw or well crumpled newspaper.
Birds, frogs and toads that prey on earwigs will help reduce the population of earwigs and keep it under control.

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Cyclamen Flowering in Winter

There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.

C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.

C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.

C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.

C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a decidious tree. The underside of  the leaves are red coloured.

Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.

For more information on the Cyclamen species read any Guide by Chris Grey-Wilson

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Georg Arends 1863-1952

Georg Arends was a German nurseryman who bred many perennial plants. His business was successful until the second world war and Rosa ‘Georg Arends’ and Rhododendron ‘Georg Arends’ are named after him.

Plants he bred include ‘Arendsii’ versions of Aconitum, Arabis, Phlox and Hosta sieboldiana. He also specialised in Bergenia breeding ‘Abendglocken’, ‘Morgenrote’ and the white flowered ‘Silberlicht’. (I was told Bergenia were called Elephant plants because an elephant could stamp on them and they would survive. However a more popular name is Elephant Ears after the leaves.)

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Gardener of the Week

Michael J Berry

Private gardening commissions in Morecambe and Lancashire over several years. Now semi-retired

Specialises in home grown tomatoes in his own plot near the west coast.

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