In September’s penultimate installment Jason is threshing, drying, picking and processing a plentiful supply of seeds in a seasonal sprint to outwit the changing weather…
Its all starting to come together now, literally and metaphorically. Apart from the Cucurbits most of the seed crops are either harvested or at least starting to be harvested. All the peas are boxed and awaiting transport. French Beans are starting to come in slowly. Onions are ripening well and yesterday it was 25 degrees here so that is helping speed up the ripening process. Beetroot seed is ripening as well as the Radish seeds. I picked the first few Cucumbers this week and they looked promising (but have very little viable seed).
I have done some germination tests on the first lot of seeds Rocket, Red Mustard, Purslanne, Lambs Lettuce and Kale. They all did well eventually most with about 85% and the kale with 99%!
The outdoor crops have done well too, after a bad Spring we did have a decent Summer. The two Leek varieties are looking good and healthy, small bit of rust on one and along with the Beetroot it is probably time to select what will be used for next years seed crop. The strips of green manure sown last week are establishing well with a bit of rain recently and one is full of baby kale plants! Chaffinches are busy with the ripening buckwheat in the May sown green manure and it is keeping them away from the sunflowers which are alongside. I think the correct term is “sacrificial crop”
So the blog gets a bit repetitive from now on as it is just picking and processing and a bit of tidying up. Hopefully by the end of September things will be mostly harvested….
This second week in September has been a good deal cooler with less sunshine and quite a bit of rain and it has got decidedly damp. This is going to be a difficult stretch both for the ripening and the drying of crops. Picking and processing will have to be done on time to maximise any heat there is and make sure seeds are saved as dry as possible.
The first cut of Radishes have been swathed and are drying on pallets on Bionet in the corner of one of the big tunnels. I am harvesting beetroot as it dries and leaving it to dry further in the tunnel before stripping the seeds off the stalks.
French Beans from 7 different varieties are (nearly all different colours and shapes ) are ripening now and being picked on a weekly basis. Once the pods are papery they are picked and brought into the drying tunnel and podded a week later or so.
Pumpkins, Squash and Cucumbers are still ripening on the plants. The Cucumbers I tried last week had very little viable seed maybe on account of setting fruit too early and not having enough pollination or maybe on account of the very hot weather affecting the pollination at the time. I think the later maturing fruit will be much more productive than happened last year as well, note to self!
For the first time in along time I have a great compost heap heating away. The usual problem of having too many greens and not enough browns to balance it has not happened this year. All the chaff and stalks and pods from the seed crops are giving me plenty of carbon rich material to balance the weeds and other greenery that make up the heap.
The first Pepper seeds are coming in there is a very good crop on most plants. They will speed up ripening significantly as the day length shortens in the next few weeks. I have also harvested two varieties of tomato with another two or three still to do. I have a nice crop of Brandywine X Galena (Rhubarb and Custard F7) so looking forward to seeing people trialling that next year.
We have just passed the Equinox third week in September and the weather has still been holding good. Warm mainly dry and calm with nice spells of sunshine to keep crops drying and ripening. French Beans are still coming in in large quantities along with Beetroot, Parsley and Onions. Leek seeds are starting to open so that is good. Everywhere there are seeds drying……
I am starting to think about sowing some over wintering crops for next spring seed crops. Mizuna, Lambs Lettuce, Butterhead and Chicory are top of the list at the moment. I may try Coriander as well and see if it does better than a spring sowing.
Not much else to report, I am shelling beans in my sleep, might try threshing some in a bag if they get dry enough. Beetroot is very time consuming without a thresher. All things to ponder over the winter. Now my thoughts turn to firewood and getting the last seeds in before winter properly arrives.
Last week in September and as in most years in these parts the weather is starting to deteriorate now and the land is at field capacity all ready. No more outdoor work unless it dries up a bit, but not really expecting that until March now. This is another reason why we grow our garlic inside as usually it gets too wet to plant outside by now. Our neighbours will bring their cows in shortly and the evenings are closing in.
I am gradually getting around to tidying up all the loose ends that need doing before it gets hard work finding the right day and the right weather. The last of the onions were cut this week and I threshed the first cutting of radishes using the van to drive over them as a makeshift thresher. It worked quite well albeit quite a lot of seed stayed in the pods as they probably were not dry enough. I have one or two more weeks of picking beans; thought I would never get to say that.
Cucumbers are ripening as are squash and pumpkins. I am harvesting pepper seed as we eat them but I will have to sell some this week as I have way too many all of a sudden. Must look out for a recipe for pickled pepper or pepper relish.
The forecast for the early days of October is very wet and there is a lot of seed still “drying” in the tunnel. This is the time of year where you get nervous of losing crops to rot and mould, or not getting things dry enough to store.
An investment in a fridge a dehumidifier and a set of sieves is imminent I think, priorities priorities…