I’ve been enjoying this last hot spell on the allotment, but overall this summer has been crap! I love sitting in the evening sun on my allotment watching wildlife, but I feel like we had no nice evening through July and August. Oh well, its time to stop complaining and start on the Autumn jobs.
As the days start shortening and temperatures begin to drop, September marks a pivotal time in the gardening calendar for UK allotment holders. But don’t be fooled into thinking it’s time to slow down! With the right tasks, September can be one of the most productive months, ensuring a healthy harvest and a smooth transition into winter.
Here’s a guide to essential gardening jobs for September:
- Harvesting the Late Bloomers:
- Fruits: Apples, pears, raspberries, and late-fruiting blueberries are all ready for picking.
- Vegetables: Expect maincrop potatoes, onions, and early varieties of squash and pumpkins.
- Herbs: Continue harvesting herbs but consider potting up a few (like parsley and basil) to grow on a windowsill indoors over winter.
- Sowing for Winter and Spring:
- Overwintering Vegetables: Broad beans, winter salads and hardy spring onions can all be sown now for harvests in the cooler months.
- Green Manures: Improve soil fertility by sowing green manures like rye and vetch. They’ll prevent nutrient leaching during rains and can be dug in come spring.
- Tidying Up:
- Remove spent crops and compost any disease-free material.
- Start clearing summer’s remnants, making space for overwintering vegetables and crops for next year.
- Keep an eye out for pests and diseases. Autumn is when they love to make a final play.
- Prepare the Soil:
- After clearing beds, enrich the soil with well-rotted compost or manure. This will break down over winter, providing a rich base for spring planting.
- If you’re planning on planting garlic in October, prepare the beds now.
- Protect and Support:
- Stake taller plants like Brussels sprouts to protect them from autumn winds.
- Net your brassicas to keep the pigeons away.
- Consider setting up cloches or cold frames for less hardy plants.
- Plan Ahead:
- Start collecting seeds from your favourite plants. Dry them, label them, and store for next year.
- Plan your crop rotation for the following year. Rotating crops reduces the risk of soil-borne diseases and balances soil nutrients.
- Lawn Care:
- September is a good time to lay new turf or sow grass seed.
- Scarify, aerate, and feed your lawn to ensure it remains lush.
- Consider planting spring-flowering bulbs like crocus, daffodils, and tulips.
- Watering and Feeding:
- As rainfall increases, adjust your watering regimen accordingly. Overwatering can be just as detrimental as under-watering.
- Reduce feeding; plants are starting to wind down now.
- Greenhouse and Shed Maintenance:
- Clean out greenhouses before winter. This will reduce overwintering pests and diseases.
- Ensure your shed is in good condition, waterproof, and organised. Store away non-essential tools, and oil any that may rust.
- Think About Wildlife:
- Set up bird feeders to attract birds, which will help control pests.
- Consider building a bug hotel or hedgehog house to encourage beneficial wildlife.
In conclusion, while September signifies the wrapping up of summer, it doesn’t mean rest for the diligent gardener. Embrace the change in season, prepare for the coming months, and optimise your allotment’s potential. With diligent care and forward-thinking, you can ensure bountiful harvests, a vibrant allotment space, and a head-start for the year to come.
Brian Sheridan has an allotment in Edgbaston and is a competitive grower. Brian is also a keen photographer and loves cooking. Brian and his wife Mary will also be running a stall at Edgebaston artisan market this year, selling products made from the allotment, including his award-winning relish!