The hectic days of summer are over September is a relaxed time in the garden as the fight to keep plants watered and deadheaded has eased. September is the best time of year for planting. The soil will be warm allowing good root systems to grow. Good root’s help the plant gain as much nutrients and water from the soil as possible, which on our sandy soil is a ‘life-saver’ especially after the prolonged hot weather we’ve had this summer.
Cut the majority of the leaves off tomato plants, allowing maximum light to ripen any remaining fruit and as summer crops stop producing it’s time to start storing! It’s a busy time in the kitchen, I like to make green tomato chutney, cucumber pickles, fruit jams and compotes (normally these don’t make it to the jars!) and hot chili sauce, so a taste of summer is available all winter. Remove any leaves covering swelling pumpkins, as this will allow light to ripen the pumpkin in time for Halloween. Pot up some herbs such as mint and parsley and leave on a warm kitchen windowsill for use during the winter.
September is the ideal month for planting Narcissus (Daffodils) and other spring flowering bulbs except for Tulips which are best planted in November. It’s always wise to purchase bulbs as soon as they are available in-store. Firstly so you get the best selection but more importantly the bulbs will be fresher. As soon as you get your bulbs home if you’re not quite ready to plant them open the packs and leave the bulbs in a cool, well ventilated place. Daffodils should be planted as soon as possible as they will put down roots as soon as the bulbs are planted in warm soil and should be planted deeply, at least double the height of the bulb. One of the main reasons Daffodils go blind (fail to produce flowers) is because there are not enough nutrients or moisture available closer to the soil surface. If your Daffodils have gone blind lift them, divide them and plant them deeper, once re-planted give the bulbs a slow release granular fertiliser. This can either be done whilst the daffodils are still in the green (has leaves) or in September. It’s also time to start planting indoor bulbs for Christmas; Hyacinths need 10 weeks growing in cool conditions, followed by up to three weeks inside. An ideal date for planting indoor hyacinths is therefore 24th September if you want the best chance of them being in flower on Christmas day.
Its now time to prepare your lawn for winter. Fill in any patches with lawn seed, germination is optimum in September. As the days start cooling down, raise the height of your mower blades as the grass growth slows. Aerating and scarifying the lawn now will remove any thatch, and moss, and prevent water logging in winter. Apply a top dressing of top soil, and use a slow release autumn fertiliser.
Often summer planted hanging baskets will flower right until the first frosts provided they are kept dead-headed and well fed, however September is the best time to re-plant pots and baskets full of flowers and foliage for winter as the plants will have time to grow and fill out the pots before the cold weather hits. Pansies and violas will flower even with a light covering of snow. Hardy Cyclamen will flower for many weeks on end, often right up into Christmas if the season is mild. Garden Mums and autumn flowering Hebe’s provide a splash of colour right through the season. Winter flowering heathers, particularly Erica carnea and E. x darleyensis are lime tolerant and grow well in our soil providing our gardens with welcome ground cover. I simply cannot resist a winter hanging basket full of evergreens such as ferns, Euonymus, Vinca, and Ivies the planting choice for autumn is endless!
It’s also a good idea to plant late flowering perennials, such as Asters, Sedums and Rudbeckia, that will still be in flower in September and will provide bees and butterflies with food for another 6 weeks, or longer, as long as the weather remains mild. As gardeners, we all play an important role in looking after the environment, especially for birds, bees and other insects that are finding it increasingly difficult to survive.
Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org