What to do in the garden in September
September in the garden
How to Store onions and garlic
The veg plot is full with many crops ready for harvesting and September is time to pick, freeze and store. All the beans are ready and creating gluts, Sweetcorn has ripened, onions and garlic are now fat bulbs.
Onions will be ready either at the end August or early September, depending on the weather. To harvest, bend over the top growth (if this hasn't already happened naturally) and harvest during a dry spell and ease the bulbs out of the earth. Onions need to rest on soil to dry out before bringing in for storage. Some years it can be difficult to find a dry spell to rest the onions outside so as an alternative, if the weather is poor, lay the onions out in the greenhouse - drop the foliage down between the slats and rest the onions on the slats which is ideal to dry them out. Onions can also be dried in a shed placed in netting or even on newspaper in a conservatory. The important point is that the onion bulbs are dry before storing and the same applies to harvesting Garlic.
Garlic is similar, wait till the top growth starts to dry and turn brown usually in August/Sept. Store in a dry and light spot in the warmth rather than a cold area.
If you want to make onion or garlic strings when you harvest the bulb retain as much of the top growth as possible to make into a plait. If there is not enough top growth work in some string to help make a plait.
The images show garlic and onions drying in a greenhouse to ensure that before storage onions and garlic are fully dry. When summers are wet this is the most practical way of drying onions and garlic ready for storage over winter. In addition to in the greenhouse, onions and garlic can be dried in a net in a garden shed, conservatory or porch anywhere that is dry so the onions and garlic dry out throughly before storing together. Onions and garlic are a really easy crop to grow and for ideas for next year's crop advice on growing garlic and onions.
Harvest main crop Potatoes
Maincrop potatoes can be harvested this month and potatoes need to be stored somewhere dry and dark. The Hessian sacks sold by garden centres and on line shops are ideal for storing potatoes. It is really easy for Potatoes to go green, and to prevent this you need to exclude light. Potatoes also need to be dry, if they are wet when you dig them up, put them somewhere to dry off but quickly as soon as they are dry take out of the light and put in sacks/somewhere dry and dark. The Hessian sacks are good because they are a natural fibre, but you can use other mediums just to avoid plastic or polythene which will tend to trap and create moisture.
By this time of year it's hard to avoid a glut of something. All beans whether, French, broad, runners, and peas home freeze really well. Best results are achieved by first blanching in boiling water then plunging for 2 mins into a bowl of iced water, dry throughly and freeze.
Courgettes are more difficult as they don't really freeze very well and I make a mental note, each year, to grow less plants next year as there always seem to be to many.
Tomatoes continue to need a lot of attention and it is important to water either daily or every other day depending on conditions and feed regularly at least twice weekly. As the month moves on towards October if the plants are winding down, reduce the amount of watering and feed although this depends on where the Toms are being grown. If the plants are still growing they will continue to produce leaves and it is important to continue to thin these down to encourage the fruit to ripen. As the fruits ripen the vine will need extra support and ties using soft raffia is good as it reduces damage to the tomato stems.
It can be difficult sometimes to get tomatoes to ripen before it gets too late in the season.
Click here for a foolproof way to ripen tomatoes.
Still time to sow Herbs and Salad
In many parts of the country this really is the last chance to sow rocket and salad and if the weather is cool cover with a cloche to encourage germination and growth.
This is a good time to replenish dried herbs, which lose their pungency after a period in storage. Ideal herbs for drying are Oregano, Sage, Mint and also if Thyme and Rosemary, although as hardy perennials they can be picked all year round.
With the tender Herbs Basil, Coriander, dill & Mint it is best to pot them up later in the month and bring in under glass ahead of any autumn chill.
There are several ways to dry herbs, one suggestion is blanching for just one minute and then strip leaves from stalks, lay on tray in the oven on lowest possible setting with door open to allow any moisture to escape. This takes about 30 mins and when completely cool place in air tight jars.
September in the Flower garden
How to Prune Lavender
Pruning lavender does help to make it a nice shape and although some Lavender flowers early in the year, there are lavender still flowering in September. Whenever the Lavender flowers, it should be pruned lightly when the flowers are spent and pruned into a tidy into compact neat shape for next year. Don't cut into the woody stems because they will not easily re generate.
Last chance to Prune Wisteria
Late August and early September is the last time to prune Wisteria. Click here for a video on how to prune wisteria. This prune is just to tie in any growth which is needed for the framework and to prune out excessive growth, or long wippy shoots which are not needed or too long. The long shoots can be cut back to within half a dozen buds from the main frame work. Pruning Wisteria twice a year will make it flower, some year it will even produce a second show of small flowers in August.
If overwintering plants in a greenhouse it is a good idea to raise the plants off the ground and place on a simple trellis made of planks. This lifts the plants off the ground which can be very cold, especially if slabs are laid as a greenhouse base, and also allows air to circulate as the damp, stagnant air aids disease, especially grey mould, which can so often be problem when over wintering plants. If you can over winter the tender plants it saves money for next year and you start the spring with a mature plant which should flower well.
Time to think about Spring bulbs
Autumn is the time for planting spring bulbs. Daffodils need to go in first during September and Tulips are best left until October/ November. The correct planting depth is very important to keep them flowering; too shallow and they will not flower after year one. An easy rule of thumb is to plant the bulb 3 times it's own depth. There are some great spring bulb combination and I cannot resist the bulb catalogues at this time of year.
For inspirations and images of spring bulbs look at Pinterest Spring bulbs
Deadhead to prolong flowering
It is still worth dead heading perennials and annuals especially the late flowering ones. Depending on the type of summer even annuals such as sweet peas may still be flowering and to keep them going continue to dead head unless you want to collect the seed.
Late summer/early Autumn is a good time to collect seed if you want to use it next year. Collect from seed heads, carefully shaking or scraping out the small seeds and store in packet in dry place - a sealed tin is useful. A small amount of milk powder can help to keep the moisture at bay. Moisture is the very worst thing for seeds which need to be stored very dry, in the fridge is ideal.
Many seeds are easy to collect and germinate such as Nasturtium, Viola, Rocket, the bean family. Given the cost of seed it is worth a try.
For information on how to collect and save seed check out saving seed blog