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Blog posts tagged with 'september'

Autumn Lawncare

It may have escaped your attention, but we appear to be almost at the end of September. Where did that go? Not that I am complaining of course, the sea is still beautifully warm and the balmy, but slighlty wet air has extended a summer feel to the gardens. T-shirts are still needed!

If you haven’t scarified your lawn, now is the time. Many think one does this in Spring, but they would be wrong as it weakens the grass structure when it is trying to grow after the struggles of winter.  You can scarify simply by raking the grass with a metal, spring-tined rake. If you have a bigger lawn, you can hire a mechanical scarifier. Simply put, what you are trying to achieve is the perfect lawn. By scarifying, you are trying to rid the lawn of all the years build up of thatch and dead grass. You are also encouraging stronger root growth, which given we are increasingly having dry summers, you will do well to remember, the better the root, the better it will survive. If you have bald spots on the lawn, buy some lawn seed and mix with compost and cover the patch, watering liberally. If the whole lawn is thin, add seed to the whole thing, once you have scarified. A good root feed will also help – do not add nitrogen now as it will be wasted. There are many root feeds to choose from, but bone meal will do no harm.

Try to spike the lawn before you feed then water well to wash the nutrient in.

If you are wondering why the grass is going mad at the moment and needs cutting twice a week, it is because we are in the period the French call the ‘second spring’. Basically as winter approaches all the plants are burning off all the last of their sugars – which is a liability in cold weather as it crystallizes in the cells and eventually destroys them. Plants like grass do not have a good tap root, so will instead go into a state of virtual hibernation – which is why many other plants by autumn have built huge tubers full of carbohydrate converted from sugars to see them through the dark months.

Next year is the hundredth anniversary of the start of the vast human tragedy that was World War One. For those who want to commemorate this solemn occasion now is the perfect time to buy and sow the Common Corn Poppy. Papaver Rhoeas is the correct species name, but many of the main seed suppliers will sell it in either name. Indeed if you look online, with some careful trawling, you will find suppliers willing to sell up to a kilo of the beautiful flower seed.

It is a delicate annual flower, lasting perhaps only a day, but is a plant nevertheless which has special meaning and a powerful beauty. It is also profligate in seed, so be aware, once successfully sown it will be forever more in your garden.

The best way for it to grow, is for you to prepare the ground first. It prefers newly broken and well tilled soil - hence its sudden appearance on the fields of Flanders, after the shelling and bombardments had destroyed the well kept fields, turning them to all consuming mud. Thus, when they suddenly filled this desolate land with rich red, it must have been a thing of terrible beauty to those poor souls.

If however, like me you are thinking of filling a lawn or driveway with the flower, the most favoured way is to mix the seed with compost first. 1 bag of compost to 100 grams of seed, but if you have bought a small bag, just sow direct.Then with a slitter or spiker - or indeed with a garden fork - create shallow holes throughout the area. To be fair you should be doing this now anyway to de-compact and add drainage to the soil before winter so every few spikes, should be deeper.

Once you are satisfied, walk slowly over the area, sowing conservatively to make sure of an even spread.Once you have finished, sit back. Hopefully next year, you can be proud to remember all those, friend or foe, who lost their lives in the most grievous of conflicts.
September is harvest time


1. It is time to lift the main carrot crop before the cold weather sets in. Cut off the leaves and store in sand or dry soil in a shed Keep the carrots well spaced.

2. Plant out pot grown rooted strawberry runners.

3. Rake out dead grass from your lawn with a spring-tine rake and aerate the lawn.

4. If you have grown more marrows than you can eat, then pick the best ones and gently cradle them in cloth and hang in a dry place where the temperature will not fall below 45 degrees F. They should keep you going until February.

5. Lift and dry onions and hang in nets in a cool, dry place.

6. Lift your celeriac when the bulbous stems are blanched. Remove leaves and store in the same way as for carrots.

7. September is the best month for sowing grass seed and repairing dead turf.

8. In order to have a continuous supply of vegetables and salads during autumn and winter, I think the large cloches are ideal. I have ones with four panes of glass with wire supports which are ideal for growing winter radish, lettuce and parsley.

9. Root cuttings of anchusa can be taken now.

10. Clear asparagus beds when the leaves turn yellow. Cut the stems to within a few inches of the ground.

11. If you’re left with any unripened tomatoes, pick them and wrap them in brown packing paper and they’ll soon turn their colour, or alternatively green tomatoes can be pickled or used to make chutney.

12. If you’d like to collect seeds from ripened tomatoes for next season, cut the tomatoes in half and squeeze out the pulp and seeds in to an earthenware bowl and leave for two days. After two days wash and strain through a sieve and clear the pulp way. Spread the seeds out onto a sheet of glass and leave to dry. Once dry, store in paper bags. A dry cupboard is the best place to store seeds.

13. Your maincrops of potato can all be harvested this month, as well as cauliflowers, leeks, broccoli, turnips, celery and beetroot.

14. When gladiolus leaves turn colour, lift and bring them under cover for a week, then remove the soil, cut off the stems about a half inch above the corms. Take off the old corm below the new and save the small offset corms to plant in boxes of peat in spring. Store in paper bags in a cool, frost proof place with a little dry sand over them and keep until planting time.

15. Clear away tired annuals.

16. Take cuttings of roses.

17. Transplant seedling wallflowers.

18. Order fruit trees and bushes.

19. Prune blackcurrant, raspberry, peach and nectarines.

20. Plant violets in a frame.

-- Rob Amey

Autumn is upon us

Well folks, September has arrived. Odd that, seeing as our summer hardly got going before the first signs of autumn crept into our early morning bones.

As I am sure I have said before, I love this time of year most of all. The weather is still mild, yet things in the garden seemed to have slowed. The last of the summer vegetable harvest is ready to be picked and the apples are sitting heavy on the boughs. I have already pencilled in my visit to Sheffield Park, the garden designed for autumn colour in the heart of Sussex and all is good in the world.

Time to sit back in the deck chair for one last warm snooze, whilst the light is still good? Not on your nelly! Now is the time, not so much of our discontent, but most definitely of much anticipated activity in the garden following the rather dull and monotonous tending of the garden in the previous months. Cutting back all those perennials that are rapidly passing their best is the first chore which must be done, not forgetting to leave some seed heads for the birds.

Pruning the climbing roses is another, as I described at this time last year in this very spot (check the archives if you don’t believe me). If your lawns have had a hard wear this summer, then now is the time to patch those glaring holes. The final sowing of winter green manure Phacelia is also a must for all those that want to return some goodness and compost to the soil later in the winter, not forgetting mulching is of vital importance too - trap the last of the warmth in the soil now and pay dividends later.

Sowings of winter and spring crops can still be made, such as cresses, carrot, turnips, mooli and endive; not forgetting onions sown now for spring. Now is also the time for taking cuttings from your favourite pelargoniums and verbenas. Under glass it is also time to prune you apricot, peach and nectarine trees, removing all laterals, tying in all those shoots that are required for next years fruit.

Finally, in that oh so special place we all have secreted in the vast expanse of the average urban garden, ‘The Pinery’; keep a genial atmosphere of between 70° and 83° among your fruiting plants. Water them with clear manure water, refraining from syringing those in fruit or flower. Not forgetting that pineapples are thought to grow better from fermenting rotting material beneath than from the use of hot water.

So, lots to do, before you clean your tools and shut up shop for winter, reverting to your welcoming armchairs besides the hearth. Just one last thing mind you. Don’t forget, above all other things, the second spring is coming. That curious moment offered by Mother Nature when all plants burn off the last of their stored food, producing a burst of growth reminiscent of early spring. So perhaps don’t down tools just yet.

-- Guy Deakins

September Garden Round-up

There’s a lot to do this month in the garden. Take cuttings of your favourite plants and share and swap with friends. It is time to cut hedges. If you do this now for conifer hedges, hornbeam and beech, yew and leylandii, you won’t need to do it again this year.

This month is time for sowing hardy annuals in the garden where they will germinate and overwinter as small plants that will bloom next year. Annual sown in the Autumn are always stronger and flower better than those in spring.  Order your bulbs this month. Enjoy an evening looking through the catalogues and get your order in.

Summer flowering heathers are at their peak now and you can take cuttings. Take small, unflowering sideshoots and trim to 3-4cm long and put them in a gritty compost.
Prune ornamental or fruiting cherries and plums that are getting out of hand.

If you have picked all your summer raspberries, then you can cut down the fruited canes now. Collect herbs so that you have a supply in the winter. Dry herbs in bunches, chop them and mix them with butter and freeze them or pack them into ice cube trays with water and add an ice cube to winter soups. Collect seeds on dry days to avoid them going mouldy. Collects seeds from poppies, columbines and fox gloves.

This month is the time to start preparing your gifts for Christmas. If you plant your hyacinth, narcissi and amaryllis bulbs they will flower in December and make great looking gifts. If you time it right they will just start to open up and begin releasing their fragrant perfume in time for Christmas day. Don’t forget your dead heading and weeding duties this month too!

-- Rob Amey