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Welcome to September! The weather during August was a bit hit-and-miss, but the first weekend of September is forecast to be beautiful, so we might squeeze one more barbecue in before the summer is out!
We have been busy down at the allotment, harvesting vegetables and trying to keep up with eating them. The green beans have been beautiful, also the onions, courgettes, potatoes and we're just starting with the first of the leeks. The children have been enjoying a bounty of raspberries too!
With the unusually hot weather we are a bit out of sync with our gardening plans. Shading, damping down, ventilation and watering being amongst the jobs in the greenhouse right now.
As the end of the month comes, start to bring in tender perennials into the greenhouse. Clean the greenhouse thoroughly including the glass and remove any shading. Make sure that any pots or trays that will be reused are cleaned thoroughly.
Amongst the things that can be sown in the greenhouse now are salad, Pak Choi and herbs. How about new potatoes for Christmas?! Other edibles to sow now for a spring crop are, spring cabbage, onion sets, garlic, spinach and broad beans (my favourite) and peas.
Flowers include spring bulbs such as crocus, daffodil, lilies and alliums. This is a perfect time to plant them whilst the soil is warm, so that they can get established before the cold weather. Other flowers include Foxglove, Aquilegia, hellebore and viola.
As leaves start to fall, ensure that you clear them, (Mountfield have a great range of leaf blowers and vac shredders ideal for this) and if possible, use them to make leaf mould as I have discussed previously. If there are piles of leaves left on the grass they will kill it, and it will leave unsightly patches to deal with.
Clear weeds, dead leaves and stems then you can put down a layer of mulch or you can top dress with a good quality compost. This will add nutrients and keep in the moisture.
Some seed heads are beautifully decorative for the autumn and winter seasons and will be also give a home to insects. I love to see the sparkly fine strings of gem like cobwebs glistening on a frosty morning.
Now is the time to prepare your lawn for winter.
Aeration, scarifying, seeding, fertilising and repairing.
You can aerate by using a garden fork and push it down into the soil, giving it a bit of a wiggle to open up the holes. This will allow air and nutrients to get into the soil and to release compaction. If your lawn is anything like mine, it is extremely compacted as it is used as a football pitch!
It is good to scarify first to remove moss and thatch, mow on a low setting and then aerate. It may look like you have ruined your lawn, but it is not the case, it will do it the world of good and it will come back looking better than ever so don’t worry!
Level out any dips with a bag of lawn dressing. This can be spread over the lawn and worked into the holes then level out any dips.
If needed, sow grass seed. Water well if the weather is still dry. If there are bigger patches that are damaged, buy a roll of turf, lie it over the damaged area and cut with a knife, an old bread knife works well. Lift the turf, cut out the damaged area then place the new turf down to fit. Butt the edges together and water well. Only do this on bigger areas as small pieces will just dry out and die.
This might be something you may not have come across before. Using it is an organic way to benefit the soil fertility and structure.
There are lots of different varieties you can sow to use as green manure, depending on the time of year and what crop you will be growing. Green manure adds nitrogen, which is beneficial to growing plants, it also helps drainage and suppresses weeds. This is a fantastic way to deal with big areas after growing veg crops.
If you have an allotment it needs to be weed-free and cultivated. This is a great way of dealing with both. A good choice for this time of year would be Winter Vetch or Grazing Rye. Sowing it now will allow it to grow enough to cover the soil over winter, suppressing weeds, keeping in moisture and nutrients. Once the soil starts to warm up in spring it can be dug in and will provide lots of nutrients for summer vegetables.
If you choose Grazing Rye, it needs to be dug in before it flowers. The bud forms in the heart of the plant. Keep an eye on it, you can feel it once it starts to form. This is the time to dig it in. It is important to dig it in a month before you sow your vegetable seeds or substances in the rye can cause germination issues.
It’s a busy month but make sure you keep on top of everything and enjoy harvesting while you can.
We will be talking about planning for next year, wildlife, dividing, perennials, and moving shrubs.