In the Vegetable Garden - Things to do this Month - September
September is the month when you can start to relax a little – once, that is, you’ve harvested the vast amount of crops that will now become ready! It’s really worthwhile investing in some proper sacks and containers to store your vegetables in – there’s nothing worse than discovering a sack of green or rotting potatoes later in the year because they haven’t been stored carefully enough.
September is also the month when you’ll probably produce lots of vegetation for the compost heap, so now is the time to build or buy new compost makers. The secret of making good compost is to firstly pile everything (but not woody stems, which take a lot longer to decompose) into a mound, or container, that is as wide as it is tall – this ensures that the centre will heat up quickly. After a few weeks, tip everything out, mix it all up well, and then remake the mound. Do this a few times and all your hard work will be rewarded by beautiful, dark, friable compost. My favourite book on this subject, which gives tons of information about what you can and can’t compost, is “Composting” by Bob Flowerdew,who I will quote: “Most people misconstrue filling a compost bin as the same as making compost.”
For a complete guide to what you can be growing and harvesting month-by-month, download our Vegetable Planting Guide.
- Continue to hoe the bare ground as it’s cleared of produce, and, unless you are planting over wintering crops or a green manure, heap on a load of stable manure if you have a ready source (and if you keep sheep, the composted straw and muck from the lambing shed is superb!). This has the threefold benefit of improving the soil texture, raising fertility, and suppressing weeds.
- Crops to sow from seed: winter-hardy lettuce, spring onions
- Crops to plant out for over wintering: spring cabbage (lime soil first), onion sets
- Consider leaving some French beans on the plant to ripen, then pull up the whole plant and dry it off in the greenhouse or a dry shed, pod the beans and store the haricots in jars to use in stews and casseroles. Similarly, Borlotti Beans are left on the plant until dry, then podded and stored.
- Potatoes: We’ve had an amazing crop of spuds this year! Keep checking yours: early maincrop varieties will be ready now and the potatoes will stop developing. Leave the freshly dug potatoes somewhere under cover to dry for a few days, before bagging them up in brown paper sacks. Make sure you don’t put any soft or damaged ones in as these will rot quickly and spread to the rest of your store.
- Squashes & Pumpkins: again, the hot summer has been wonderful for all the squashes, and we’re looking forward to a bumper crop of delicious Butternut Squash! Once the foliage has died back, cut the fruits and leave on racks for the skins to dry.
- Continue feeding Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Peppers in the greenhouse.
- Harvest crops as they become ready, and store appropriately to keep you going through the winter: Carrots can be stored in boxes of sand in a cool dark place, Sweetcorn freezes well as do most of the green beans.
- Pull all the remaining Onions, dry them in the sunshine on racks to allow air to circulate, then plait them into strings for storage.
- Parsnips can be left in the ground until you need them.
- Finally, try to find the time to freeze, bottle, store, dry and preserve all the excess vegetables you’ve successfully grown – we have collected plenty of ideas for recipes and ideas to preserve your bounty HERE