‘September is the time to begin clearing up the garden, building up the compost heap, and pulling up all the crops that have finished. This month is a mixture of summer pickings and winter preparations.‘ (David Mabey)
September can be a most satisfying month, with the last pickings of fine French beans and runner beans being brought into the house to be blanched and frozen for use over the winter months. Traditionally this is the month that main crop potatoes are lifted and stored in hessian sacks. Onions are laid out in crates or trays to dry out before being tied into strings and hung up to overwinter. The last outdoor tomatoes can be picked and brought into the house for ripening.
On sunny days, it can be a satisfying task to clear the various crops from the raised beds, add the spent plants to the compost heap, and then replace them with overwintering plants such as perpetual spinach (spinach beet) which is hardy enough to provide you with healthy green leaves all through the winter, especially if kept protected from slugs and snails by a light covering of horticultural fleece.
Roots and tubers
The last of the carrots and beetroot in raised beds can be harvested now, as well as main crop potatoes towards the end of the month. Whilst carrots can still be stored traditionally in boxes of sand, these days we prefer to cook them and store them in the freezer for use in soups and stews. Parsnips should be left in the ground for as long as possible, however, as they benefit from a sweeter taste after frost.
During this month, keep picking French and runner beans regularly, every few days, as soon as they reach a suitable size, as this this encourages the remaining smaller pods to grow faster. The bean plants themselves, with their nitrogen-fixing nodules, make a great addition to the compost heap.
Onions and leeks
The last of the onions should be harvested and brought into the dry. They should not be stored or hung in strings until the outermost delicate skins are brown and crisp, and can be taken off gently. Young leeks in the ground should be weeded and earthed up to keep them white.
Sprouts, broccoli and cauliflowers should also be tended carefully. Traditional pests of brassicas are butterfly caterpillars, cabbage aphids, and cabbage root fly maggots. If you are following organic principles and have taken the correct preventive measures,and kept the plants properly protected under fleece or fine mesh, you should not have such problems.
Salads and cucurbits
Gluts of tomatoes and cucumbers can be turned into soups, and then frozen in meal-sized portions. Alternatively, tomatoes can be blanched and frozen whole for use in stews and soups over winter.
The last of the courgettes should be harvested now. Traditionally, marrows should be brought in, have the earth wiped off them, and be stored carefully in a cool dry place such as a shed, suspended in nets. These days, however, you may find it easier and more convenient to cook stuffed marrow and keep it in the freezer in meal-sized portions for use over winter. Delicious!
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Tel 01803 328055 Leaflet No: CAL9