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The Garden in September
Tuesday, 3 Sep 2013 1:17 pm

As temperatures cool and the nights get longer September is a gustier month than August. While there's not as much to do in the flower or ornamental garden at this time of the year, if you have fruit or vegetables you'll be busy reaping the harvest. It's also time to get out and start planting spring-bulbs for early next year. Make the most of the remaining warmth before autumn really sets in!

Ten jobs for September:

Pick autumn raspberries and soft fruits.
The soft fruit season is drawing to a close now so keep picking remaining fruits as they become ready. Autumn raspberries and perpetual strawberries should now be in fruiting in abundance. They can be kept going longer by covering the strawberries with cloches or tunnels, and the raspberries with polythene sheeting at night or during cold or wet days. (Fruit picked when wet is susceptible to rotting or disease very quickly.) Any remaining summer raspberries or hybrid cane fruits that have finished fruiting, should be pruned now without delay. Plums, and peaches will need picking frequently and regularly so that they are not spoilt by the cooling weather. The greatest danger for tree fruits is gales that can easily knock the fruit to the ground and spoil it, always pick as much as you can if a gale is forecast.
Divide herbaceous perennials.
Sometimes it is necessary to lift out and divide perennials when they're too large and overgrown or simply spreading further than the area you want covered. Those invasive perennials will be quickly restrained by dividing the plants, which will swiftly prevent them from overpowering any flowers and foliage close by. By splitting down a perennial, you can also significantly increase the plant's resistance to diseases and pests as the plants become healthier and more resilient. Plus, this form of gardening is also incredibly economical - with all those cost-free new plants you can produce!
Dig up any potatoes before slug damage can spoil them.
Depending on the variety, planting date and the growing conditions, main crop potatoes will be ready to harvest from July through to early October.  Mature tubers with well-developed skins store best, so ideally they should be left in the ground for 2-3 weeks after the haulms (top growth) has died back. Dig the crop up carefully to avoid damage, on a sunny day if possible. Leave potatoes to dry for a couple of hours on the surface before bagging up. Slug damage can increase dramatically in September.
Cover leafy vegetable crops with netting to protect from birds.
Brassicas are a particular favourite of birds so use a deterrent or net to stop them picking off seedlings. (CDs on string can be effective.) They're also susceptible to attack by the caterpillars of the cabbage white butterfly. Try covering crops with a crop protection mesh. It keeps the butterflies out, so they can't lay their eggs on the plants. (If this seems a little unfair to butterflies which are in decline – then provide a couple of sacrificial plants well away from your main crop and close to a buddleia to keep the butterflies happy!)
Collect and sow seed from perennials and hardy annuals.
Sow hardy annuals such as Centaurea cyanus (Cornflower), Limnanthes douglasii (poached egg plant), Linum grandiflorum (red or scarlet flax), Nigella damascene (Love in a mist), Papaver rhoeas (European Poppy) and P. somniferum (Opium Poppy). Collect seeds from perennials and dry them off before storing.
Keep up with watering of new plants, using rainwater.
September can still be one of the hottest months of the year - making watering essential. Try to use grey or rainwater wherever possible, (water butts may be running low if it has been a dry summer). Early September is still traditionally holiday-time, so you might need to enlist the help of friends or family to look after the garden if you are away.
Reduce the frequency of houseplant watering.
Most houseplants are killed by overwatering. Aim to keep compost moist but wait until it has almost dried out before watering. You can check by pushing your finger into the compost. Water from above and put saucers under plants to allow excess water to drain away. Generally plants need watering more during the spring and summer growing seasons, than when dormant in winter so reduce watering in autumn and much less in winter than in summer when plants are actively growing.
Net ponds before autumn leaves falling pollute the water.
Place a net over your pond to protect against falling autumn leaves, as if they're allowed to decay they will pollute the water. Also pull away the foliage of your plants as they die down before they can rot into the water and now is a good time to clean your pond if the sludge is building up too much: only pull out half the sludge to avoid harming wildlife.
Clean out cold frames and greenhouses.
A regular clean helps preserve the structure of the greenhouse and dirty windows will reduce light levels – which may lead to problems, such as straggly seedlings. The best times to have a big clean-up are in the spring – just before sowing – or early autumn before half-hardy plants are brought in for the winter. Cleaning the outside of the greenhouse is best done on a fairly breezy day, using warm water and a sponge, letting the wind dry the glass off and avoid leaving too much in the way of streaks. Aluminium framed greenhouses can be particularly prone to collecting grime underneath the joints between panes – a jet-wash attachment for the hose or gentle scraping with an old plant label will often shift the dirt very successfully.
Plant spring flowering bulbs.
Bulbs make a fine display planted in containers or borders, especially daffodils, snowdrops and tulips in spring. They are one of the easiest and most rewarding garden plants to grow. Plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinths, by the end of September.
Trade discount for professional gardners.

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Please note: We are closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Years Day and Easter Sunday
We close early (3pm) on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.


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