September is the time of year when gardening really gets interesting! The temperature is dropping, the weather is unpredictable, trees are showing the first signs of leaves turning and many plants are coming to the end of their flowering. So, with holidays over and the kids back at school, it’s time to get out there and start planning and planting for next year.
Fruit & Veg
This is a wonderful time of year for fruit; everything seems to be ripe right now. Blackberries and plums are ready for picking, and apples and pears are just coming into their own. Be ready to harvest quickly before the pests get in there; for apples and pears, lightly tap the trunk of the tree and if the fruit starts to fall, they’re ready. If you struggle to break the stem when you pull, leave them for another couple of weeks.
If you’ve got a good crop of apples or pears, store them carefully to keep them over the winter. A shed or a garage is ideal, somewhere dark, dry and free of mice and strong smells. Use crates or cardboard boxes with holes for good ventilation and stack in single layers. (Apples can be stacked carefully on top of each other if well ventilated.)
In the Greenhouse
If you want a good chance of a healthy vegetable crop next year, now is the time to start planting seeds in the greenhouse. Getting them started while the soil is moist and warm will give them a good chance to get through the winter months unscathed.
- Vegetable seeds
- Seed trays
- Small plastic or biodegradable pots
- Plastic water trays to go under pots or seed trays to keep the soil moist.
- John Innes No. 1 compost, which is designed to encourage seed growth.
Once planted, keep the plastic trays topped up with water while the weather is still warm, as a really hot greenhouse can dry seedlings out very quickly.
Your seedlings will be ready to move outside by mid spring. You can use vegetable planning calendars, like this one from Sutton Seeds, to plan planting and harvesting.
If you haven’t got a greenhouse you can still plant seeds, using either a plastic mini-greenhouse, or with propagators to cover seed trays.
General Garden Maintenance
It’s a good time for some general tidying and pruning in the garden. Hedges are likely to need cutting back, and grass still needs mowing. You can repair bare patches in the lawn with some grass seed and a little topsoil. Cover the seeded patches with netting to keep off the birds until the shoots are established, and provide alternative food sources with a bird feeder.
It’s also a great time to returf, as the weather is warm and wet. Check out our turfing guide for more information.
Dig out the last of the summer weeds, but avoid putting these into the compost as they are likely to seed themselves there. Instead, put them in an incinerator and burn, or into your brown composting wheelie bin.
Image credit: Apples, Jennifer C.