Summer is drawing to an end and hopefully you are enjoying a huge home harvest at the moment, with more courgettes, tomatoes and beans than you can possibly eat in a day!
There’s plenty to do in the garden during September, whether you are planning to grow more over the autumn and winter months or preparing to put your veg patch to bed until next spring. It’s going to be a busy month, but it’s good to be able to make the most of the longer days while we still have plenty of daylight and a bit of warmth in the sun.
What to harvest
It could be a long list but here are some to look out for this month:
Maincrop potatoes can be dug up as soon as the foliage turns yellow. We’d recommend not leaving them in the ground too long if it gets wet this month as they are popular with slugs…
Sweetcorn is usually ready when the tassels turn black – peel back the husk leaves and dig your thumbnail into a kernel, if the liquid comes out milky then they are perfectly ripe.
Keep picking tomatoes, beans and courgettes regularly as well as leaves and lettuces (the more you pick the longer they’ll keep cropping!) If you’re lucky enough to still have peas or mange tout, then keep on picking! This is a good month for chillies and peppers too. Don’t forget, you can dry out chillies or freeze them whole.
Summer squashes and cucumbers should be in abundance this month, whereas pumpkins and winter squashes will need a little longer to ripen. Summer sprouting broccoli should be ready at and you may have some cabbages and cauliflowers ready too. Sprouts will need a little longer probably.
Depending on when you planted them you may have leeks, beetroot and carrots ready to pull up. Leave celeriac and parsnips in the ground for a few more months.
Blackberries, autumn raspberries and other currants and berries will be ready to harvest now – be sure to get to them before the birds do! You may even find a few late strawberries.
What to plant
Plant these this month and you'll be able to harvest your own food at different times throughout autumn and winter
Kales should grow well planted early on this month, giving you a crop of cut & come again leaves right through the winter if you’re lucky!
Chinese leaves like Pak Choi and Tatsoi do brilliantly at this time of year. You might be able to harvest them this side of Christmas if it’s mild enough.
Turnip Golden Ball is a great autumn grower and could be ready to harvest anytime between November and March. For the first time this year we are growing autumn beetroot too, which should grow quickly ready for harvesting before the first frosts.
There are plenty of winter lettuces and salad leaves to plant, some more unusual than others.
Pop spring onions, spring and winter green cabbages and spinach and chard in now for harvesting in late winter/early spring.
You can also plant broccoli this month, it’ll do a bit of growing now while it is still warm, then it’ll probably take a rest and produce broccoli spears/heads in early spring for you.
September is a good time to plant up herbs and wildflowers, giving the plants a chance to put down a good root structure before the weather turns cooler.
Jobs for September
There's plenty to do as well as planting and harvesting...
Clear old plants and ideally pop them in the compost heap.
If you don’t have a compost system going, now is a great time to start.
Start a leaf mould – rake up falling autumn leaves towards the end of the month and pop them in a chicken wire cage to make a lovely rich leaf mould to use.
Plant on strawberry runners from your existing plants.
Get pruning! There are plenty of fruit bushes and canes, as well as herbs, that will benefit from pruning this month.
Improve soil for autumn planting – a bit of extra compost or fertiliser will really help. Alternatively, if you won’t be growing again until next spring, then add well rotted manure or compost to beds once they are empty and cover them for the winter.
Cover weed-ridden areas with weed membrane ready to use for veg next spring. You could cover them with well rotted manure before adding the membrane to enrich the soil.
Pull up and store veg for the winter. Hessian sacks work a treat or you could look at building a sandbox.