Second Early potato varieties will be ready to harvest now, depending upon when they were planted. They usually take about 16 weeks to produce a good crop. They can be lifted as you want them, but if you notice slug holes in the crop it is better to lift them all before the damage worsens. Store only the undamaged tubers and use the others quickly.
Summer pruning of apple and pear trees can be done now. This helps them to keep their form and remain healthy without having congested growth.
Most hedges can be pruned or trimmed into shape now, bird nesting should be over and this will give time for limited new growth before it slows down in autumn.
Keep sowing quick-maturing salad crops – rocket, radishes, mixed leaves and some lettuces are all candidates – they’ll go on growing until the first frosts. Several lettuce varieties including Winter Density, Great Lakes and Lambs lettuce (corn salad) will last through the winter.
If you’ve got empty patches of soil, consider sowing a green manure; this will cover the ground and put much needed nutrients back into the soil. This will stop weeds becoming established and is best dug in before it sets seed.
Several herbs can be sown at this time of year in a greenhouse or cold frame e.g. chervil, dill, parsley and coriander can be protected from frost this way and will crop during the late season and winter.
Pot up any strawberry runners that have rooted or encourage them to do so by pinning them firmly to the ground and make sure they are watered in a dry spell.
Apart from gently pottering around the garden, this should be the time of year you can spend most time simply enjoying it; however, it's the time most plants, including weeds, also enjoy, so try to stop them setting seed – there's an old saying, 'one year’s seeding is seven years’ weeding'...
Keep feeding birds to attract them to the garden, where they will also hunt out damaging insects and larvae. A shallow pool is a great wildlife draw, with the possible added bonus of seeing blackbirds washing themselves in a comically Victorian fashion, constantly checking to make sure they're not being overlooked, and covered head-to-toe in black.
Words: Transition Chesterfeld
Pictures: Robert Nixon Betts