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Andrew Tokely's Gardening Tips for September!
24 September 2021
Autumn is almost upon us, so this month we will be bringing in the rest of the harvest as well as preparing for next years crops and display.
- If you are growing Camellias, you will see this month they are forming buds in their growing points. Now’s the time to feed your plants with a High Potash (Tomato food) and keep them well watered, with rainwater if possible. This will encourage the buds to swell, rewarding you with a better display of blooms next spring.
- Although there are still plenty of colours in the summer borders, we must as gardeners always look ahead and believe it or not, it is time to start thinking about planting Bulbs. I like to plant my Daffodils and Crocus first, particularly if you are thinking of having some naturalized in a lawn or grassland area. The best way to get a natural un-regimented effect is to take a handful of bulbs and throw them on the area you wish to plant them. Then plant each bulb where it lands. Planting bulbs in grass can be quite difficult with a trowel, so the best tool to use is a Bulb planter. This tool can be screwed into the soil through the grass and will take out a core of soil and turf. Then you can drop the bulb in the hole and replace the core. The bulbs will then naturally grow up through the grass area, giving a spectacular and natural display next spring.
- This month is the ideal time to plant Autumn Onion sets, these will mature around June/ July next year, just as your stored onions are coming to an end. I always think this is a good crop to grow, as it ensures the kitchen has a continuous supply of onions to use.
- If you are growing Melons under glass, these will be almost ready to harvest. Growing a good melon takes a lot of care and attention and can be very rewarding when you cut and taste that first fruit. The fruits can get quite heavy and the last thing you want is for the fruits to fall off the plants now that you are so close to harvest time. One handy tip is to support the fruits as they grow with some string nets.
- This month is the ideal time to give any Evergreen Hedges like Laurel, Lonicera or Leylandii, a final prune to tidy them up for winter. It is important to do this before we get any frosty weather, as this can cause die back to freshly cut shoots.
- Whilst the soil is still warm and if you are looking for a little exercise this month it is a good time to put some effort into repairing any damaged lawns. Lawns will benefit from a light scarifying with a spring rake. Once scarified the lawn can be over seeded with a mix of fine compost and lawn seed, this will fill in any bare patches. Once the seed compost mix is spread over the lawn I brush this into the grass with a stiff broom. The lawn will look a mess for a few weeks, but once the new seed starts to germinate and thicken, your lawn will look better than ever next year.
- As autumn is approaching fast and to help keep ponds clean I always think it is best to put some form of fine mesh net over your pond now. This will catch the majority of the leaves, and stop them falling into your pond and sinking to the bottom, as this will make a smell messy sludge on the bottom, as well as using up air from the water. I then once a week lift off the net and remove the leaves to the compost heap, then replace the net back over the pond; this should hopefully keep the pond clean throughout the autumn.
- If you have some spare ground on your vegetable plot and you find it difficult to get hold of Nitrogen rich Manure to dig in during the autumn, you can now make your own. If you sow Green Manure this month it is an easy way of adding nutrients and organic matter, improving the soil structure and fertility of your vegetable garden. The seed should be sown thinly at a rate of 30-40gms (1- 1.5 oz) per square meter (yard). Seedlings will grow quickly, and can be dug in once they are 23cm (9in) tall. You can leave the plants to grow taller whereby their root system will draw up further minerals but these will need chopping up prior to digging in, but will provide increased bulky matter (humus) to your soil.
- If you are one of those gardeners who can't bear to throw plants away; well you probably still have a Poinsettia from last Christmas. If you want it to turn red this year, towards the middle of this month is the time that you have to start thinking about it. The way to make the bracts turn red again is to reduce the amount of daylight the plants receive. Your plant needs at least 14 hours darkness a day to stimulate flower production, which intern will then produce red bracts. The easiest way of giving your plant shorter days is to either put your plant into a dark room or cupboard in the middle of the afternoon, or by covering the plant with a black polythene bag, and you need to do this each day for eight weeks. But remember if you put your plants in darkness each afternoon, to also remember to take them out and give them some light each morning, until it is darkness time again. If all this sounds too much trouble, go and buy new one nearer Christmas.
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- Towards the end of this month I will be cutting the tops off all my main crop potatoes. This is to help the skins set and prevent them from getting any late blight damage. Once lifted the tubers are placed into Hessian sacks and put away in my cool garage for use throughout the winter months.