September in the garden
September is a month of satisfying harvests, some preparation for the coming cold months, and planning for the next spring.
Grow Your Own
Plant out and transplant biennials.
Divide and replant perennials to ease any congested areas. Later in the month bring tender perennials such as Pelargoniums inside to protect from the frosts.
Clear your annuals as they go over and add them to the compost heap. Continue sowing hardy annuals for early-flowering next year, for example Briza, Bupleurum, Calendula, Centaurea, Papaver rhoeas and P. somniferum & Scabiosa, which can all be direct sown now for flowers earlier in the season next year. Remember to keep them weed free as they germinate.
Now is a good time to start planting your spring bulbs, with the ground still nice and warm from the summer months, and plenty of time for the new roots to bed in before the spring sunshine arrives. Inside have a go at forcing some hyacinths or amaryllis now for colour over the festive season.
Try to keep your borders and lawn free of dead leaves. Collecting them up in to leaf mould bags, dampen the bags and store in a corner of the garden for a year. Then turn out perfect leaf mould.
Grow Your Own
Veg and Salad
Sow all your autumn-spring picking salad leaves and herbs if not done in August
When you think you’ve harvested your last potatoes carefully dig over the veg bed, collect those that were still lurking under the surface, and then dig over ready to plant some green manures, eg Phacelia.
These green manures are useful in many ways; they protect the soil from erosion over winter reducing the potential of any leaching of mineral and nutrients and also protect soil structure, as well as boosting nutrients when dug into the soil. They also provide a green carpet that helps provide shelter for beneficial insects through the winter, such as ground beetle, and if you leave a patch to flower they are loved by pollinators - Phacelia tanacetifolia for example, is one of the best nectar sources for the honeybee, bumble bee and hoverfly.
Bean and pea plants that have finished their harvest can be cut back, leaving the roots to be dug in to the soil to provide extra nitrogen for future crops.
Continue to feed tomato plants until all the fruits have finished growing and ripening. If your tomatoes refuse to ripen in this rather miserable weather, then how about making a delicious green tomato chutney.
Cut and hang herbs to dry for using in the kitchen over winter.
Pick gluts of damsons, plums and apples to make jams, flavoured gins and chutneys in preparation for the coming winter. Store in good airtight bottles and jars and they’ll last for months.
Once harvested, it’s time to start thinking about pruning back your fruit trees and shrubs to maximise yields next year. As a general rule of thumb the sooner this is done after harvesting the better.
Harvesting Food – What you could be picking and eating this time next year, or – if you’re an old hand – already are
- Brassicas: kohl rabi and kale
- Roots: radishes, carrots, maincrop potatoes, stored onions, beetroot
- Salad crops: salad leaves, pea tips, all lettuce and Florence fennel
- Edible Flowers: nasturtiums, runner bean and courgette flowers
- Leafy greens: chard and spinach
- Legumes: peas, Borlotti, French and runner beans
- Squash: courgettes, Red Kuri squash and pumpkin 'Munchkin'
- Fruity veg: tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, peppers and chillies
- Other veg: globe artichokes and sweetcorn
- Herbs: all
- Fruit: autumn raspberries, plums, damsons,1st cobnuts and walnuts, apples and 1st quince and pears
Harvesting Flowers – Lovely things to pick and arrange from your garden in September
- Bulbs: gladioli and acidanthera
- Hardy annuals: Euphorbia oblongata, sunflowers and scabious
- Half-hardy annuals and dahlias: all of them
- Perennials: Euphorbia ceratocarpa, salvias, heleniums, phlox, echinacea, rudbeckias
- Shrubs and trees: hydrangeas, Viburnum opulus, berries and leaves
Pests and diseases to look out for in September
Birds who have been pretty sedentary during the summer will now start to turn back to the bird tables and feeders in order to stock up for the approaching colder months, so start to top up any food for them regularly. Before you do however, give everything a good clean – many birds die each year from parasites and toxic bacteria that can build up in feeders and water containers if not regularly cleaned.
Fallen fruit that’s starting to go over can be a veritable feast for birds and insects alike – pop an apple on to or in a fat ball feeder or our heart shaped bird feeder, and leave gone over sticky plums / damsons out for butterflies who will adore them.