Right on cue, as August ended there was a real autumnal feel in the air, bringing chilly evenings & shorter days.
Nevertheless, it’s a joyful month. Our little vegetable garden is bursting with fresh vegetables, including spinach, tomatoes, salad leaves & courgettes.
Growth in the garden has slowed down to a more manageable rate, which is quite a relief after a busy summer. I love the changing seasons, it’s what makes gardening so interesting & eventful.
Salad leaves have been wonderful over the summer in our gardens. Fresh as anything, & there’s much satisfaction in not using resources to go to the shops & buy bags of leaves. I’m thinking more & more these days about minimising car use.
Salads to sow:
These Cut & Come again types are my favourite types of salad. They can be harvested over a period of time, rather than the whole plant being picked, leaving a sad gap in the row. Pick the outer leaves regularly for a constant supply.
- Lambs Leaves Lettuce
- Mustard Leaves
- Pak Choi
I like to sow the seeds in modules (these are units of small plant pots) in the green house or cold-frame) then plant them outside under fleece once they’ve germinated. Allowing a few days for the plants to acclimatise, the fleece gets removed on warmer days & I just keep it handy to use when frost threatens. Alternatively they can be planted in a poly-tunnel, greenhouse or cold-frame, for a more even temperature.
Brussel sprouts need securing in place before they become top heavy & start to lean over. Move soil up around the base of the plant, without covering the stem, & firm it all in place with the heel of your boot.
Garlic & shallots are on my list for November planting, I’m sourcing a supplier in readiness.
Sow these now where you have an empty space after harvesting. It works by preventing the winter weather eroding the soil, then the plants are dug back into the soil in Spring to improve its’ structure.
It’s a perfect soil treatment for an organic garden.
- Annual Rye Grass
- Field Beans – extra bonus, these fix nitrogen in the soil too.
- Phacelia – it has beautiful blue flowers & is often grown in the border, bees & hoverflies are mad for it.
Buy Phacelia here at Higgledy Garden, I’ve had lots of seeds from them, they’re always good & great value.
September is the ideal time for planting most Spring flowering bulbs. Tulips are best planted from October onwards, colder weather reduces the risk of a fungal disease called Tulip Fire (Botrytis tulipae). Order the bulbs now for the best choice & they’ll be sent to you at the right time.
There are so many fine varieties available that it’s a challenge to know where to start. My favourites include Tulips Abu Hassan & Princess Irene. Early Daffodils, especially the diminutive Tete a tete, & the rich, velvety tones of Iris reticulata.
If you want a swathe of mixed coloured Tulips, choose 3 varieties. A pink/white/pale green combo looks good, or the more jewelled tones of burgundy & burnt orange work well. Make sure they all flower at the same time.
I’d recommend planting a few containers of bulbs & moving them near your front door, as they’re about to flower. It’s nice to see them as you go in & out, & they ring in the change of seasons beautifully.
Peter Nyssen have a great selection of bulbs.
Thinking of next year, you’ll get the best choice if you order Dahlias & Chrysanthemums now, either as tubers or small plants.They’ll be sent to you at the appropriate time next year.
I like to keep perennials & grasses as they are for as long as possible, they add a presence to the garden & a textural quality, that can be lacking in winter. Their seeds are valuable source of food for wildlife & provide some shelter.
Cut plants back when they look too messy, this is a matter of taste, but it’s usually after a lot of rain, that they start to disintegrate. I cut mine back as late as possible, I don’t mind the varying shades of brown, it suits the season well.
Be sure to add all plant waste, excluding any that are diseased, to the compost bin.
Trim these plants now for a neat outline all winter, best done on a dull day so the sun doesn’t cause the freshly cut edges of the leaves to turn brown.
Then feed them with a nitrogen rich fertiliser.
Enjoy this month in the garden, it’s a long time until real winter sets in.
all photos: Jill Anderson