September is the month you should be busy reaping the rewards of your harvest in the veg and fruit garden. A quick review of how my veg patch has performed this year, using Olympic terminology of course:
Silver medal – Peas, probably the heaviest crop I’ve had
Bronze medal – Runner beans. Quite a poor crop again this year
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 poring 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.
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 pelar-gonium and osteospermum. These plants often do better, grown from new cuttings each year. If you do not have a greenhouse, then use a light windowsill 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)
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 house-plant watering / Clean out cold frames and green-houses 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
Pumpkins and squashes will soon be ready to eat. Here’s a simple recipe to roast them. You’ll need around 1Kg of squash or pumpkin (acorn, butternut, crown prince etc), 6 garlic cloves lightly crushed, 4 or 5 tablespoons of oil (olive oil or rapeseed). Salt and black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C. Slice the pumpkin/squash into quarters, removing the seeds, then into wedges. Put into a roasting tin, along with the garlic and oil – mix together and season.
Roast for around 50 mins, turning once.
You can add additional herbs such as rosemary, thyme or even chilli flakes if you wish, prior to roasting.
When harvesting lettuce, cut the stem an inch above the ground. Within a fortnight you’ll have new leaves to harvest. J.C.Gowerton