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Autumn harvest, dahlias, seeds & bulbs

As September ushers in autumn, here at the garden we're fortunate to be enjoying another bumper vegetable harvest. The carrots and main season potatoes have now been lifted and enjoyed and the beds cleared. The final runner beans are being busily picked on tip toe from the tops of their vines.

James and Sara harvesting the carrots

Whilst the onions and garlic are being dried by the warmth of the sun on a bench in the polytunnnel. Nearby, our remaining tomatoes and chilli peppers are ripening nicely and we've even got a small, yet encouraging return from our experiments in growing chickpeas and lentils. We've also got a wonderful bed of pumpkins, ripening in readiness for making some delicious soup for the colder days ahead.

Elsewhere, our beautiful dahlias just keep on flowering in a myriad of colours including cream, deep crimson and various shades of pink. It's important to keep them deadheaded, sufficiently supported and watered in dry spells to prolong the blooms for as long as possible. They should keep going until the frost blackens the foliage next month, when it will be time to cut down the stems to about 15cm and lift the tubers for drying out and overwintering indoors in a cool dry place.

A beautiful array of dahlia blooms

It's time to be collecting ripe seeds from your favourite flowers, such as calendula, cosmos, nasturtium, poppies and sweet peas for storing in labelled envelopes, ready to sow in spring. It's a great way to get free plants and fun to swap and share seeds with gardening friends. If you've got any spare sunflower seeds left over, remember to sprinkle them on the bird table.

Nasturtium seeds will soon be ripe for collecting

Finally, as rainfall increases and the ground softens we'll be planting daffodils and other

spring flowering bulbs such as crocuses, muscari and woodland anemones. In the borders, it's effective to plant them informally, about two and half times their own depth. Whereas in containers you can be creative with colour combinations and stagger the flowering of different bulbs through the spring alongside pansies, bellis daisies and wallflowers. Remember though to wait until November to plant tulips, as the cold will kill off potentially infectious diseases in the soil.

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