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Gardening Jobs Ė September

Well, we have most certainly had a great summer this year with lots of sun and little rain. Although the extremes have seen scorched grass and parched ground, shrubs and established plants have done well in both growth and blooms.

September definitely has an autumnal feel about it but we still have sunny days. Grass in the morning is heavy with dew, and many of the plants in the vegetable plot look past their best.

The Vegetable Patch in September

Harvest sweetcorn
Once tassels on the sweetcorn are dark brown check for ripeness by piercing a kernel with your thumb. If the liquid is milky, the cobs are ready. Boil the water first then pick the cobs. Be as quick as you can as the sugar in the sweetcorn is converted into starch as soon as the cobs are picked.

Harvest main-crop potatoes
Choose a sunny day to lift the tubers, donít risk leaving them in the ground otherwise youíll get slug damage. Leave them on the soil for a few hours to dry and store the good ones only in hessian or paper sacks in a dark cool place.

Harvest autumn vegetables
Chilli peppers, capsicum, aubergine, borlotti beans, pumpkins, squash, marrows, swede, turnip, and late summer brassicas will all be ready for harvest. Pick them when they are fully ripened and at their best.

Harvest onions
Once the green stems have browned and toppled over, your onions are ready for harvest. Spread the bulbs out in the sun to dry, then store in a net bag in a cool dry shred or garage.

Continue harvesting other crops
Beans, courgette, tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot, lettuce, peas, mangetout, carrots, spinach, swiss chard still need picking. Beans quickly become stringy and courgette can get rather watery, so pick everything whilst it is still young and tender.
Keep weeding

Their growth may have slowed but you still need to keep on top of them. Itís very easy as this time of the year to let things run away, but donít turn your back on the weeds otherwise theyíll sow their seeds all over your patch ready for next year!

Harvest bean seed for saving or storing
Once the pods have become dry and brittle and start to split open, the beans are ready for storing. Harvest them on a sunny day and leave to dry thoroughly before storing in paper bags or an airtight container.

Watch out for signs of blight on potatoes and tomatoes
Blight often strikes around now, when the specific weather conditions are met. Outdoor tomatoes can be turned from healthy green plants to brown decaying ones in just 2 or 3 days. Harvest all your tomatoes, ripened or not, as soon as symptoms appear. Dispose of the plants (preferably by burning). Donít put them on your compost! Remove potato foliage as soon as symptoms appear.

Leave the potatoes in the ground for another two weeks to allow the skins to harden and then harvest. Hopefully, they wonít be affected.

Check brassicas for butterfly eggs and caterpillars
Caterpillars can quickly decimate your brassica crop. Check regularly for eggs and caterpillars and remove any that you find.

Remove all plants that have finished cropping
Once plants have finished cropping dig them up and add them to your compost. Donít leave them lying around your patch as they can harbour disease and pests. Itís always best to tidy up as you go.

The Fruit Garden in September

Pick autumn fruiting raspberries
Towards the end of summer, the autumn fruiting raspberries will be ready. Pick on warm days when they have reached full colour. Pick regularly every couple of days.

Remove summer fruiting raspberry canes

Prune summer fruiting raspberry canes that have fruited to ground level. The stems of these canes will be brown whereas new growth will be green.
Plant strawberry runners
Now is the time to plant new strawberry runners for cropping next year. Choose varieties that fruit at different times of the year (early, mid and late season), so that you get strawberries all summer long.

Harvest early apple varieties
Early apples are best eaten fresh. Gently twist them off the tree and crunch into the lovely firm juicy flesh.

Pick pears, plums, and damsons
These will be ready for picking. Pick pears whilst they are still hard and leave to ripen in a cool, dark, dry place (a garage is ideal). If you have a glut of plums and damsons, process and freeze for winter use, or make jam. Damson jam in particular is delicious.

Harvest grapes and melons
Taste the odd grape now and again to check for ripeness. Once sweet enough, harvest the whole bunch. Melons are ready when they start to give off a lovely rich scent.

Other Gardening Jobs in September

Go blackberry picking
Hedgerows are full of delicious blackberries at this time of year. They are great in cakes, crumbles, jams, home-made blackberry juice and ice-cream. Donít miss this free bounty!

Store canes and plant supports
Put canes away as you finish with them. They are best stored in a shed, garage or greenhouse where they will stay dry. They wonít last many seasons if you leave them out during the winter.

Plant daffodils and crocus for next year
Add a lovely splash of colour to your garden next spring by planting daffodil and crocus bulbs. Plant directly into the soil or in pots.

Plant hyacinth bulbs ready for Christmas
Hyacinths have a wonderful fragrance. Plant in pretty pots, store in the dark until their shoots are 5cm long then bring into the light. Plant them towards the end of the month so that they will be ready for Christmas.

Mow your lawn
Cut your grass on dry days when you can. It wonít be long before itís too wet and you donít want long grass throughout the winter.

Michael Gourlay Chairman

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