Terry Wal­ton is safely re­mov­ing pro­tec­tive nets off his crops

Cooler weather means there are fewer pests to at­tack my plants

Garden News (UK) - - Garden News -

Ama­jor change in the ap­pear­ance of my plot at this time of year is its open­ness. As the days get cooler and pests are no longer on the prowl, I can safely re­move some of the pro­tec­tive bar­ri­ers and let the crops grow freely in the open again.

As an or­ganic grower, I’m con­stantly bat­tling to keep pests at bay and so have to re­sort to us­ing bar­rier pro­tec­tion over my crops. There are nets over my bras­si­cas to ward off cab­bage white but­ter­flies, and pre­vent their off­spring cater­pil­lars feast­ing on the ten­der leaves, plus there are the En­vi­romesh cov­ers to fend off car­rot root fly.

Go­ing net-free makes the plot look much ti­dier, but with­out all that pro­tec­tion there’s lit­tle chance of get­ting my full share of crops in pris­tine con­di­tion. Hav­ing a clut­tered plot, though, is far bet­ter than spray­ing chem­i­cals ev­ery­where to con­trol the pests.

Oc­to­ber re­minds us that plants and trees are get­ting ready for their win­ter slum­ber. The leaves have lost their sparkle and are valiantly cling­ing to the branches. Soon they’ll fall like con­fetti, blan­ket­ing the ground in a colour­ful car­pet and pro­vid­ing a late feast for the worms that lie be­neath.

How­ever, this is not the time to ‘shut up shed’ and turn into a couch potato, be­cause there’s plenty to do on the plot and sow­ings to be made for the start of the next grow­ing sea­son. Now’s the time to sow win­ter onion sets and give them a chance to es­tab­lish be­fore win­ter’s icy grip takes hold. I’m grow­ing the va­ri­eties ‘Radar’ and ‘Elec­tric’.

I plant my onions in half drums shel­tered be­hind my shed for the best chance of a suc­cess­ful crop. I partly fill the drums with well-rot­ted horse ma­nure and top it off with multi-pur­pose com­post, so the onions have a near-per­fect place to start their win­ter jour­ney. These will make root below the sur­face and when the warmer days of spring ar­rive they’ll grow on stur­dily, pro­vid­ing fresh onion crops just as your win­ter store is used up.

The dry sum­mer was a god­send for my leek crops, which have grown well in their plas­tic tubes. There has been lit­tle sign of the rust which af­fects the outer leaves of this crop. An­other plus for the dry weather! One or two leaves that had a small amount of rust were swiftly re­moved and de­stroyed.

It’s time to savour the mild onion-like taste, so a leek is dug up, re­leased from its tube, washed and made ready for the kitchen.

And, fi­nally, I’ve har­vested my soli­tary melon. A taste of this fruit has taken a lot of my ef­fort to pro­duce – but it was worth it!

The dry sum­mer has suited my leek crop

Tales from the Star of BBC Ra­dio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show and au­thor. His plot sits in the Rhondda Val­ley

Har­vest­ing my soli­tary melon

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