September Newsletter 2006

September Newsletter 2006      

Welcome to Septembers newsletter. When I began to write it, I was at a very damp and very windy National Amateur gardening show in Somerset, and the plants took a bit of a battering. A week on and we are it seems, in the middle of an Indian summer. Lovely.


It is a good time of year to collect seeds either for use in the kitchen or for sowing again. You need a dry day to do this, make sure all the dew has evaporated. Simply cut the whole heads off and pop them into a paper bag or an old envelope and store in a cool dry place. Within a month the seeds will have fallen out of their cases or can be gently shaken out. Seeds for use in the kitchen can be stored in jars, but any which you intend to sow need to be stored in paper not plastic. This is because any moisture that may be produced from them has no escape and will either rot them or cause them to partially germinate. Don’t forget to label them. Not all seeds are sown in the Spring, for example, sweet cicely needs a spell of cold frosty weather before it will germinate so it is always best sown in the autumn. Angelica seed loses much of its viability after three months and since it flowers July time, it’s a good six months old by March.The nursery is starting to look empty of stock now as we slowly wind it down for the Winter. It is also the time when our little amphibian friends start to disappear.

Frog  Newt1

We have newts, toads and frogs that keep themselves fat living under the trays and munching up the slugs and bugs for us. It means we always have to look where we put our feet when moving herbs about, especially with the newts who tend not to get out of the way but contort into odd angles and play the ‘I’m trying to look dead game’. Last year we had a mass of baby toads everywhere, no bigger than a baby’s fingernail, this year the same thing has happened but with the frogs.


Although the days are warm the nights are cool, and we’ve started to put the basils in the tunnels again. Now is the time to bring them indoors to a sunny window sill where they will continue to grow happily. Remember to carry on feeding and turn them regularly as they will grow towards the light.


I know lots of people give up on their gardens at this time of the year but it is a good time for planting. The soil is warm, and plants will root themselves in nicely ready to take off in the Spring, whereas in Spring the soil tends to be cold and it takes an age for the roots to get going and subsequently the growth above ground too.

I’ve noticed around the nursery a real abundance of sloes. They are the small black berries that grow on the blackthorn bushes. They have that screw your face up effect if you eat them, sort of dry out your mouth. However they excel themselves made into sloe gin for Christmas. I make some every year because I manage to drink it all every year! Not so my dad, who has several vintages now, which we have to sample at Christmas. Some one has to do it. Anyway thought I’d share a tried and tested recipe. It’s very simple:


1lb Sloes + 1lb sugar + 1 pint of gin


Prick all the sloes and put them in a clean, sealable glass jar, such as a demi-john or old wine bottles. Add the sugar and gin. Shake daily for two weeks until the sugar has dissolved and then leave for about 10 weeks. Strain into clean bottles and its ready. The flavour is better if you leave it for a month or two before drinking, but it is good if you don’t. Add less sugar if you don’t want it too sweet. Oh! and you are supposed to let the sloes have frost on them before picking, but since I like mine for Christmas I tend to pick the sloes in early October. I have tried both ways and can’t say there is really any difference.


That’s it for this month. Enjoy it.


Happy herbing.