This week in the garden
l As beds in the kitchen garden or allotment start emptying, either replant them with winter crops (hardy winter salads, spring cabbage, kale, over-wintering onions, lettuce, turnips) or prepare them for the autumn/winter months ahead by sowing a green manure or covering the ground with a generous mulch of manure/ seaweed.
l Keep a careful eye out for signs of potato blight (dark-brown patches surrounded by a pale ‘halo’, visible on wilting foliage and stems) on main crops. Cut foliage back to the ground if you think that plants have become infected and carefully dispose of the foliage.
l If your garden is lacking in colour at the moment, remember that there are plenty of useful, long flowering perennials that will extend the season until the first frosts, including fiery heleniums (Helenium ‘Sahin’s Early Flowerer’ pictured above), golden rudbeckias, fleshy sedums, daisy-flowered asters, jewel-coloured dahlias and the lovely, airy Verbena bonariensis as well as dainty climbers such as Clematis viticella ‘Polish Spirit’. For inspiration, visit a few of the wonderful gardens that are open to the public (see hcgi.ie for listings)
l Now’s the time to preserve fresh herbs such as parsley, oregano coriander, chives, tarragon, chervil, rosemary, mint and sage (Purple sage) by using them to make a tasty herb butter that can be popped into the freezer for later use. Stored in this way, herbs can be used for up to six months after harvesting. See organicgardening.com for recipe details.