It is that wonderful time of year when you start reaping the reward for your labours with tomatoes, aubergines and peppers are rapidly ripening and ready for cropping. It’s when plants are at their most ornamental. Imagine the fuss if with a slight change of mindset, glossy black aubergines and vibrant red peppers were regarded by all as ornamental plants, what a wonderful world it would be. If you haven’t done so already, begin removing individual leaves around aubergines, peppers and cucumbers to expose them to sunlight and continue feeding with high potash fertiliser to encourage ripening. Later in the month, trusses of unripe tomatoes can be removed from the plant and ripened under cloches, on greenhouse benches or a warm sunny windowsill, and winter crops like lettuce and oriental vegetables planted in their place. By then, you can strip most of the leaves from tomatoes and peppers, so the remaining fruit cab ripen. Another option is to select, perfect, blemish free tomatoes at the end of the month and store them in a cool frost-free place, like a chest of draws in a spare bedroom. They can then be ripened as needed over winter by putting them in a fruit bowl or with a ripe banana in a paper bag. Make sure that stored tomatoes are not touching and check them regularly – daily if you can and remove any showing signs of deterioration or disease as soon as it appears. It is a useful way to avoid a glut of green tomato chutney.
Choose a warm sunny day, towards the end of the month, to remove the glasshouse shading and give the glasshouse a clean, before the onset of autumn. It is much more difficult, in the cool and damp of October. Put your potted plants outside in a sheltered sunny spot, covering them with fleece if necessary, then thoroughly tidy, clean and disinfect the glasshouse, (using an environmentally friendly product). Pull out any weeds that have been hiding behind pots, and plant debris that has escaped your attention, they are ideal places for pests to hide over the winter. I am pondering the use of a garlic based biofumigant this year to see how effective it is but intend to do a bit more research before buying. I have also decided to use an old vacuum cleaner to hoover up the debris from the glasshouse frame. Wash the glass inside and out using a pressure washer or long handled soft yard brush using something flexible like a plant label, old knife or credit card to remove any moss or algae stuck between the panes. It is also a good opportunity to clean the gutters, remove any plant debris, check the down pipes – I have a pan scrubber wedged into the top of mine to stop them from being blocked by debris. Just a reminder, please wear rubber gloves, goggles and take care on ladders. Work methodically, carefully and don’t over reach. Wherever possible, to reduce the risk, try and work from the ground.
Happy Gardening! Matt