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Fruit Picking, Dahlias, Dividing Perennials and Spring Bulbs


Bramley Apples

As late summer evenings begin to noticeably shorten and the warmth of the sun gently fades, September signals that the garden is winding down into autumn. In the vegetable beds and polytunnels it’s time to enjoy the final pickings of cherished crops, and any remaining potatoes can be dug up before the slugs really damage them. It’s also time to pick apples and pears. Check for ripeness by cupping them in your palm and gently twisting. If the fruit is ripe they will simply fall away from the branch.


Dahlias in Bloom

Dahlias should be continuing to flourish. Be sure to deadhead the point-shaped spent flowers, back to a leaf or side shoot, in order to encourage the production of round-shaped new buds for as long as possible. Increased rain and wind, and ever more top heavy growth also mean it’s important to keep on top of staking.


In the borders, as the summer’s growth begins to diminish, it’s an opportune moment to step back and evaluate all that has worked well during the year, and decide upon alterations to structure and planting. Now is the time for lifting and dividing herbaceous perennials that flower before Midsummer’s Day, ideally whilst the soil is dry enough to work. Those that flower later should be left until spring, when their growth will reshoot. It’s the best time for planting container-grown perennials and shrubs, so that they can get rooted in before winter.


Daffodil Bulb Planting

Finally, spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils, crocuses, muscari and wood anenomes are best planted as soon as the ground is soft enough, so that they can begin to establish their roots. Plant them informally, about two and half times their own depth. But hold back on planting tulip bulbs until November, as an intervening cold snap will help eradicate diseases in the soil which could infect them.


Recipe


With apples and blackberries in season, why not put them to good use in a tasty crumble.

Ingredients (makes 6-8 servings)


Filling

  • 1kg/2lb bramley apples

  • 400g/1lb blackberries

  • 175g/6oz demerara sugar

  • 2 lemons


Topping

  • 225g/8oz plain flour

  • 175g/6oz butter

  • 55g/2oz demerara sugar

  • 125g/4oz mixture of oats, seeds and chopped nuts


Directions

  • Preheat oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.

  • Peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks. Cut the lemons in half and squeeze the juice over the apple and mix well. This adds flavour and prevents the apple discolouring.

  • Layer the apples, blackberries, and sugar in a large pie dish.

  • In a large bowl, rub the butter into the flour, until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the oat/seed/nut mixture and the sugar and mix.

  • Spoon the crumble topping evenly over the fruit.

  • Bake for 45 minutes or until the fruit is cooked..

  • Cool for a few minutes and then serve with custard or fresh cream.

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