September Dig it

Gardening advice for the new (and not so new) gardener with Fulke Andel

Again, my ambitions of winning a prize at the local Garden & Produce Show were thwarted, but this time by the Covid Pandemic. That said, I haven’t had the best of years in the veg garden. Despite more attention than ever, due to lockdown, quite a number of vegetables haven’t done so well. My runner beans were a real disappointment, as I couldn’t readily get seed for the usual variety I grow (Moonlight – pictured right), I had to settle for White Lady and Desire.

I later found a few seeds of Moonlight in the shed and ended up with 4 plants which produced delicious beans. The other 2 varieties were tough and stringy.

I guess there’s something to be learnt from this?

September is the month you should be busy reaping the rewards of your harvest in the veg and fruit garden. There’s not much to do in the flower garden, other than dead-heading and weeding. It is time though, to get out and start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year. Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can!

I know that almost every seed and bulb producer provide on-line catalogues these days, but there’s nothing quite as good as pouring over a paper copy of a catalogue during the autumn and planning next year’s flower and vegetable garden. This is also that time of year when gardeners look back and review their successes and failures. They then look forward to next year and wonder what challenges the weather will throw at them.

Don’t be tempted to neglect hanging basket maintenance – a little deadheading, watering and feeding can keep them going until mid-autumn. Once they are past their best, re-plant as winter/spring hanging baskets with spring-flowering bulbs, winter heathers, trailing ivies and spring-flowering plants such as dwarf wallflowers.

Continue to deadhead plants such as dahlia (left), delphinium, rosa and penstemon to prolong the display and give colour well into the month.

Now is a good time to divide any overgrown or tired looking clumps of alpines and herbaceous perennials such as crocosmias. This will invigorate them, and improve flowering and overall shape, for next year.

Take cuttings of tender perennials, such as pelargonium and osteospermum. These plants often do better grown from new cuttings each year. If you do not have a greenhouse, then use a light window-sill to grow them on.

Bring inside any tender perennials, such as fuchsia, gazania, lantana and abutilon, before frosts cause damage. Wait for the first frosts to hit dahlias and cannas before lifting the tubers or rhizomes.

A top tip for the end of the month, when your runner beans have finished is to lift half a dozen of your strongest plants, cut off all growth bar 6 inches, place them in a trug and cover with moist compost. Place them somewhere dark and dry to overwinter. Come the spring, water them a little and plant them out once they start sprouting (protecting from frost). They will shoot up the poles and produce beans weeks before plants grown from seed. I have to add, that this doesn’t always work, as this year they all rotted. Worth a try though!

Jobs for the month of September

Sow / Plant

  • Spring onions (White Lisbon)
  • Lettuce (Arctic king)

Plant out

  • Garlic
  • Autumn onion sets
  • Spring cabbages


Depending on how your crops are maturing, you could be harvesting:-

  • Beetroot
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflowers
  • Courgettes
  • Globe artichokes
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Lettuce
  • Leeks
  • Marrows
  • Onions
  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Radishes
  • Runner beans
  • Spring onions
  • Spinach
  • Sweetcorn
  • Turnips


Tidy up cultivated Blackberries: Cut off the stems that have borne fruit and tie in the new stems that will bear next year’s fruit. This also applies to summer fruiting Raspberries.

Strawberries also need attention: Cut off the foliage about 1″ from the ground, clearing and weeding as you go. Any runners can be planted up to replace 3-year old plants that are best replaced now.


  • Divide herbaceous perennials
  • Pick autumn raspberries
  • Collect and sow seed from perennials and hardy annuals
  • Dig up remaining potatoes before slug damage spoils them
  • Net ponds before leaf fall gets underway
  • Keep up with watering of new plants, using rain or grey water if possible
  • Start to reduce the frequency of houseplant watering
  • Clean out cold frames
  • and greenhouses so that they are ready for use in the autumn
  • Cover leafy vegetable crops with bird-proof netting
  • Plant spring flowering bulbs
  • Plant new fruit trees
  • Check that tall plants have adequate support

Readers Tips

If blight has struck your potatoes the best method to preserve the crop is to remove the stems and burn them. Leave the potatoes in the ground for a fort-night or longer to stop the spores getting onto the tubers.  A.B Kittle

Seasonal Recipe

CARROT, HALOUMI AND DILL BALLS. Following on from last month’s popular recipe, here’s one involving the humble carrot. You will need: 2 large carrots, coarsely grated, 250g of halloumi, coarsely grated, 1 large egg, a small bunch of dill, finely chopped, 4 tbsp. of plain flour, 2 tsp of cumin seeds, 1 tsp of paprika, vegetable oil for deep-frying and salad leaves to serve.

Put all the ingredient (except the oil and salad leaves) into a large bowl. Season well with pepper and a little salt and mix thoroughly by hand. Take a tbsp of the mixture and roll into a ball, heat the oil to 180 degrees C and carefully lower the balls into the hot oil and fry, in batches, for 1–2 minutes or until deep golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-lined plate to drain. Serve hot with the salad leaves.



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