Posted: 21 August 2020
Author: Smith's Garden Centre
Hello Harvest time! September is a changeover month in your garden, preparing for the Winter and Spring and because the daylight hours are getting shorter it’s best to make the most of good days where you can. It’s harvest time mid-month into October, so be ready to reap what you have sown, if you have too much, share it amongst neighbours and friends fresh or preserved, these also make thoughtful Christmas gifts…yes, we mentioned the ‘C’ word!
Autumn is still great for fruit and vegetables. If you have any left in your garden, harvest as much as you can on dry days. It’s coming to the end of the season for blackberries, grapes, plums and tomatoes in the fruit category and for vegetables; courgettes, peppers, peas, carrots and broccoli along with plenty of other delicious veggies are in need of picking too and the season ends. If you have too many, freeze them or make homemade chutneys and other preserves. Potatoes need to be lifted from the soil and left to dry for a few hours on the soil surface. They can be stored in hessian or paper sacks which are easy to come by. Ensure that you don’t use plastic containers, they will create condensation and ultimately cause rotting, and you can’t waste your well earnt harvest! If you’re growing pumpkins or squashes, place a piece of slate or wood underneath them to stop them rotting on the ground.
Remove any apples, pears or plums that are left on trees – if they are left to rot, they are likely to spread disease. Clear away any straw around strawberry plants as they can also encourage pests and diseases. In general, remove any finished crops, weed, and tidy your vegetable plot ready for the Winter, it’s rolling in fast this year, but hopefully you’ve had enough time this year to get the garden ready with lockdown playing a big role in our home lives this year.
Now’s the time to plant Spring flowering bulbs. If you have children (or grandchildren) enlist their help as planting bulbs is easy, dig a trench, throw them in, cover them up and your job is done! Come the Spring, your efforts will be rewarded with flowers and self-accomplishment (don’t let them take all the credit!) Daffodils, hyacinths, and snowdrops will bring your garden to life when the grey of Winter gives in to the emerging Spring and bulbs make the process a lot less time consuming in the cold weather.
Plant at least six bulbs together in the same hole to get a good display, and space them out in the hole, bulb head up – make the gap twice the width of the bulb – then cover with soil. Don’t tread on the soil to fill up the hole, as that may damage the bulbs. Just cover and lightly press down. You probably won’t need to water bulbs planted in September with our typical British weather, there’s generally enough moisture in the soil.
Bulbs work really well in containers and pots. Remember to keep checking that they are getting enough moisture before Winter arrives, if you have any broken plant pots lying around, these are great put below the soil as a water trap. Lilies and alliums make lovely displays in pots and can be planted this month.
Now is also the time to divide waterlilies, hostas, salvia, delphiniums, geraniums, agapanthus and more. Dig the plant out with as much root as possible, and then pull apart gently. Some plants require a more forceful split using a sharp knife or spade. Once they’re divided, plant as soon as possible and water well.
Keep deadheading! Baskets and containers will keep going until the frost arrives, as will roses and other annuals in the garden.
Keep your gardening investments going, collect and store seeds from healthy plants and replant them at the right time and is really rewarding to see plants grow when you harvested the seeds. There are different methods for collecting different types of seeds. Pop into the garden centre if you want advice on types of seed collection.
On dry days check if pods have changed colour but not yet opened to release their seeds. Lay them out to dry – a warm windowsill or airing cupboard is ideal – and then gently crush the outer pod to release the seeds within. With fruits and berries, collect, mash them gently in a sieve and rinse away the flesh with cold water and only small seeds should be left, leave them seeds to dry for a few days and they’ll be ready for use at the right time.
When storing your collected seeds put them in paper and into an airtight container with something to remove any moisture (like those packets of silica gel that often come in delivery boxes). Always remember to label what the seeds are when you harvest the seed (you don’t want to get these mixed up and have fruit growing in your hanging baskets!) and then store them at about 5 degrees C.
Finally, prepare for the leaves to start falling by netting ponds, covering vegetable crops with netting to stop birds and cleaning out greenhouses and other spaces ready for Autumn to really take hold bringing the cold and wet weather with it. Happy gardening throughout September!