September Grower's Calendar

Preparation

Lift crops which have finished growing and remove weeds from empty ground. Dress "bare" soil with manure, compost or plant green manures. If your compost heap is ready, empty out to make way for new material. If not turn if over every few weeks to improve the decomposition rate. If you want to put in new fruit trees/bushes this autumn, this is a good time to start researching and preparing ground for planting in Oct/Nov.

To do List

  • Wasps can be a real problem as fruit ripens. Wasp traps made from jars of sugary water or leftover marmalade/jam jars are effective.
  • Pick up any windfalls or damaged fruit as it attracts wasps.
  • Continue to water pumpkins and winter squash plants which are still growing until end of month.
  • French Bean pods are too tough to eat now so you can leave the pods on the plants to seed – save for next year.
  • Remove old canes of summer raspberries once they have finished fruiting.
  • Continue to water regularly but be careful not to over water the foliage of tomato, aubergine, pepper and chilli-pepper plants as it could encourage grey mould.
  • Give a good soak once a week to celery, celeriac, marrows, courgettes, pumpkin, runner bean and leeks.
  • Start removing surplus leaves from your tomato plants which allows air to circulate around the plants and sunshine to fall on the fruit (which helps them to ripen).
  • Continue to check for pests and diseases in the greenhouse/polytunnel and in the garden.
  • As the nights cool down, close up your greenhouse or polytunnel earlier to preserve heat.
  • As the stems of asparagus being to yellow, cut them back to 10cm high.
  • It's a busy time in the kitchen converting that hard-won harvest in to fuel for the winter - make soups, jams, chutneys; freeze, dry and store. Do not put excess veggies on the compost heap!

Sowing Seeds and Planting Out

Last month for sowing perpetual spinach and oriental salads – they will be really worth it in the New Year when there's almost nothing else to eat, so get sowing! In the polytunnel/greenhouse sow lettuce, mustard, cress, basil, coriander, parsley, radish, dwarf early pea (e.g. 'Feltham First'), broadbean, cauliflower (seed, for planting next spring) rocket, chicory, onion seed and garlic. Outside sow white turnip seeds which will crop around Christmas, and autumn onion sets, e.g. 'centurion' and 'sturon'. Plant out strawberry runners as early as possible this month. Pot up some strong parsley plants in a large pot for winter use. Spring cabbage plants can be put in this month, in a sunny spot. Woody herbs such as sage, rosemary and thyme often root where their stems touch the soil – separate these out and plant to give them time to establish before growth stops for the winter.

Harvesting – what's in season?

Summer vegetables and fruit are joined by those more traditionally associated with autumn/winter, e.g. parsnips, swedes and celeriac. Lift your onions once the foliage withers and dies - leave them to dry out in the sun or in the polytunnel/greenhouse (but eat a few immediately to savour the taste). The great autumn tree fruits - apples, plums, pears – are now ripe. Pears should be picked when ripe and then stored for several weeks before eating. Continue to harvest salad leaves, tomatoes, shallots, radish, potatoes, carrots, turnips, beetroots, cauliflower, cucumbers, peppers and chilli-peppers, french and runner beans, courgettes, spinach, leeks, red cabbage, summer cabbage, aubergine, sweet corn. Go blackberry picking!