Gardening with James Vaughan: Harvest time in the garden produces the goods

James Vaughan


James Vaughan


Gardening with James Vaughan: Harvest time in the garden produces the goods

We have continued to collect and eat produce from our garden. We have begun our harvest of red and white onions and baby potatoes. We are only digging these potatoes up as we need them and, in this way, only eating them fresh.

There is nothing better than eating mashed potatoes from your own garden- all that is needed is some pepper and butter.
We are collecting and storing our onions in the hope of them lasting us into the winter. Onions must first be dried before they can be stored. To dry onions, spread them out on a clean and dry surface in a well-ventilated location, such as a garage or a shed.

Onions should be cured for at least two to three weeks or until the tops of the necks are completely dry and the outer skin on the onion becomes slightly crisp. Cut tops off to within one inch (2.5 cm.) after drying is complete. Store dried onions in a wire basket, crate or nylon bag in a place where the temperature is cool and humidity is low. In this way they should last you well into the winter.

We are awaiting a crop from our courgette and squash. We planted these rather late so we may or may not get a crop from these- hope springs eternal!

Taking semi-ripe cuttings

This is the time of year to take semi-ripe cuttings. I took some softwood cuttings about 2 months ago and these have rooted successfully. When taking semi-ripe cuttings you should look for perennial plants that have reasonably thick stems – at least 3mm in diameter – but not too woody or hard. Semi-ripe means what it says – so it’s half way between soft, floppy stems and hard, woody stems.

You take them at the end of summer/ early autumn because that it usually when new stems from this year’s growth has started to harden up. Unfortunately you cannot take cuttings from annual plants- these plants will die at the first sign of frost anyway.

You should take these cuttings from the tip of new plant growth where the plant growth hormones are present in the largest quantities. Use sharp, clean secateurs to cut the stem (this reduces infection and damage). Make sure you choose a stem which has leaves but no flowers.

After care

You should leave your cuttings to develop roots over the autumn and even through the winter. Just make sure the compost is damp (but not waterlogged – as this will cause the stems to rot). How often you water will depend on how warm the cuttings get. After three weeks have a look under the pot and see whether any roots are coming through the holes.
If they are it is a sign that the cuttings have ‘rooted’ and are ready for potting on. Remove any cuttings from the pot it they rot or dry out and leave the health cuttings in place. Once rooted the cuttings can be transplanted and potted on into a larger pot.

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