Andrew Tokely's Gardening Tips for September!
05 September 2023
After the long warm summer, mornings are starting to feel like autumn with the daylight hours shortening. September is best spent bringing in the rest of the harvest as well as preparing for next years crops and display.
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- Most gardeners like to look ahead and now is the time to start thinking about planting flower 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 looking display next spring. Delay planting this years flower bulbs until we have had sufficient rainfall for the lawns to recover and so there is enough moisture below for the bulbs to grow.
- 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 Manures 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.
- From this month till mid-October is the ideal time to plant Autumn Onion sets like Senshyu Yellow or Red Electric. 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 or old tights. If you gently squeeze the bottom of the fruit, if ripe they will a little spongy near base and you should smell their aroma, indicating ready to harvest.
- This month is the ideal time to order Garlic for delivery in October, so you are ready for planting from November onwards. Ordering early will hopefully ensure you get the varieties you like to grow. Once received, these can be laid out in trays in a cool place until you are ready to split up the cloves for planting. Depending on the size of the bulb received will determine the amount of cloves you get, and all varieties vary.
- Keep on top of harvesting beans, sweetcorn, late salad crops, outdoor tomatoes and squash this month. As crops finish, clear the ground and chop up the old plants into the compost heap. Keep this ground clean from weeds and this will make it easier to prepare for winter digging or mulching.
- 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, like our Fruit 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 smelly messy sludge on the bottom, as well as using up air from the water. 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.
- As summer bedding starts to look shabby this month, gradually clear the borders and empty any containers and baskets that look passed their best. Add this material to your compost heap to gradually rot down for later use. The border soil can be prepared and containers re-filled with fresh compost ready for planting with autumn bedding plants like Pansy, Viola, Bellis, Primroses, Polyanthus and forget-me-nots later this month or in October.
- 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 paper or hessian sacks and put away in my cool frost free garage for use throughout the winter months.
- If you are growing Camellias, you may notice 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, but its if not available any water will do. This will encourage the buds to swell, rewarding you with a better display of blooms next spring.