Tomato Blight & how to tell if Sweetcorn is ripe - September gardening tips from Pippa Greenwood
Here are my September gardening tips. After my warning about blight on potatoes and tomatoes last month, I’m sad to say that things got worse….and worse!
Most plots with potatoes or outdoor tomatoes have been hit this year. So if you are wondering what to do about blight on potatoes or have blight on tomatoes then all is not lost (yet!) You may be able to salvage some of the crop by lifting promptly as I described last month. When you do it is essential that you dispose of the infected plants, both above and below ground. Despite what you will read in many sources (some of whom should know better!)
If left in or on the soil, they can harbour the infection. Even fragments of plant material can be enough to mean that the soil is contaminated with blight. Then any potatoes or tomatoes grown there next year are at risk.
How to dispose of plants with blight
I had to fill several old grain sacks and then they went straight on to the bonfire. If you can’t have a fire check with your local council for how best to dispose of them in your area. BUT whatever you do, remove every little scrap and never compost them or add anything you’re suspicious of to the compost bin.
Sweetcorn is ripening pretty well everywhere. This year my ‘Swift’ have only just become ripe, so if you’re growing anything other than an early variety like this one, chances are you will not have enjoyed any cobs yet.
How to tell if Sweetcorn is ripe
So, how best to tell when the feasting can begin?
There are 3 steps:
Step 1: The first thing to look for is the golden ‘silks’ at the top end of a cob. When these become brown its a sign the sweetcorn is ripening. But, contrary to popular belief, the kernels within are often not fully ripened at this stage.
Step 2: I suggest you have a little investigate – very, very gently, somewhere around about the widest point on the cob, use your fingers to gently prise open a small are of greenery so that you can see a few kernels. If they’re not all fully golden, wait a day or two longer.
Step 3: Press one with your fingernail and if it produces a milky sap then the cobs are ripe and ready to harvest
Autumn Planting: what to plant in Septmember
It may feel as if we’ve had a pretty poor summer, it certainly does to me (and my veg plot!) but there’s still plenty of time to make your plot more productive. Start by making sowings of salad leaves, maybe some rocket too and some beetroot (for the pretty and tasty leaves).
Even if you have a large allotment or garden this is the time of year that you may wish to swith to container gardening. If you sow seeds in a container then you can position it in a sheltered spot, and ideally close to the house too, that way you can grab some salad, whatever the weather and not even get your feet wet!
The Vigoroot Herb Planter or Vigoroot Vegetable planters both work well and you can pop a Victorian Bell-cloche over the top on cooler days and at night to speed things up. This will extend the growing season to keep your crop growing longer too.
If you want a bigger space for a wider selection of salads then the Vigoroot Easy Table Garden could be a great solution. This comes complete with a poly cover too and as it has a self-watering system, it is perfect if you’re planning a short break!
I hope you find these September gardening tips useful.
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