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September beckons and with it Autumn approaches and the day length begins to shorten. In the garden however it’s one of the busiest times of the year!
Its’s been a difficult few years for everyone in the UK and during that time so many of us have found in our garden peace and contentment.
This year has been a difficult growing year with such high summer temperatures and water shortages. Lets’ take a look at what we need to do in our autumn garden.
Oh dear! Our lawns turned brown this summer – but the recovery will come!
September is the month to start the lawn maintenance, so maybe we just start a little earlier this year!
Until soft autumn rain penetrates the hard surface, treatment will be difficult, so try ‘spiking’ with a garden fork to allow the water in. (You can hire mechanical spiking machines for larger areas)
Next job is to ‘scarify’ the lawn with a spring tine rake to remove what is called the ‘thatch’ at the base of the grass. This will be the old dead grass and other detritus . This year there will be a lot!
Now its time to think about ‘oversowing’ with grass seed. In drought conditions, it is the finer-leaved, shallow-rooted varieties that are likely to be lost, leaving coarse deeper rooting types. Oversowing using a good quality lawn seed is the answer, but not before seiving some garden compost or horticultural grade loam, mixed with a little lawn fertiliser over the area to form a seed bed.
Then all you need is rain!
Not only will you have an emerald green lawn again, you will have lost a few pounds in the process! Exercise is a wonderful thing!
Autumn approaches, so we need to make the most of our flower displays and yet make plans for colour in our gardens next year!
Continue feeding and deadheading plants in hanging baskets, containers and borders – they will flower through until the first frosts.
Save your seed – times are hard at present, so it makes sense to save seed from your favourite flowering items.
Fancy some early colour in your garden next year? It’s a good time to sow flowers like calendulas, cornflowers, larkspur and scabious direct in the borders.
Time to plant winter/spring bedding such as wallflowers, myosotis, pansy, viola etc.
Don’t forget cyclamen, heuchera, heathers etc. for container planting.
Gladioli have been superb in this blazing summer. Lift and dry the corms. Store in a garage/shed for planting in spring.
Begin to lift and divide perennials if they are becoming overcrowded.
Take cuttings of fuchsias, pelargoniums and perennial Salvias if you want more plants or the old ones are getting ‘leggy.’
Begin to plant spring flowering bulbs outdoors such as narcissi.
Pot up dwarf iris, narcissi, chionodoxa, scilla etc for early spring flowering in the greenhouse
Hyacinths in time for Christmas? Make sure you get prepared bulbs for early flowering and keep them initially in the dark under the greenhouse bench until the shoots emerge.
Late summer is peak harvest time in the vegetable garden, so freeze, dry and pickle all your surplus produce!
Remove the tops of cordon tomatoes if you haven’t already done so – it will help the fruit ripen. Towards the end of the month, cut off trusses of unripe outdoor tomatoes and take inside to ripen.
Clear any leaves surrounding marrows and squashes to help the sun ripen the fruits.
Raise fruits up on a brick or tile to prevent rotting.
A couple of weeks before lifting maincrop potatoes, cut off the foliage at ground level. On a dry day, lift potatoes. Allow to dry for a few hours and store in hessian or paper sacks in the garage or dry shed.
If you want to save some runner bean seed for next year, leave the end of a row unpicked to let seed swell in the pods. Continue to pick the rest frequently to maximise your crop.
Protect your winter greens from pigeons by netting over the plants.
Consider sowing ‘green manures’ where crops have been removed to grow and produce a crop for digging in, adding nutrients and organic matter to the soil.
Pot up herbs such as parsley and chives for winter leaf supplies on the kitchen windowsill.
There is still time to sow winter lettuce varieties and other winter greens such as lambs lettuce, kale, land cress, mizuna and pak choi.
Sow early varieties of broad beans and peas for early crops in the spring.
Make a trip to the garden centre to get your onion and shallot sets for autumn planting.
In the Strawberry bed, remove any weeds and straw laid to protect the ripening fruit to clean up the border for winter.
Separate any runners and pot them up if more plants are needed for next year.
Prune summer flowering raspberries by cutting the stems of this year’s fruiting stems down to ground level. Tie in new canes formed this year to their supports.
Pick autumn fruiting raspberries regularly, they can crop through to December!
Pick ripe apples and pears before the autumn winds knock them down and store surplus fruit inside.
Potted peaches or nectarines placed outside for the summer should be brought in to the conservatory or greenhouse to protect them through the winter.
There is still time to summer prune apple trees.
Order bare root fruit trees and fruit bushes for autumn or early spring flowering.
Prune any late-summer flowering shrubs as the flowers fade
Prune climbing and rambling roses as they finish flowering (other than more modern repeat flowering varieties – leave for later)
Camellias/rhododendrons – keep well-watered at this time as they are forming flower buds for next year at this time.
Order ‘bare-root’ shrubs for autumn or early spring planting.
As the days grow shorter and the evenings longer, then a review of your gardening year is a good idea. Review your successes and failures and make some notes on what you could have done better. It will all help in planning your 2023 garden!
Meanwhile – ‘happing harvesting’ to all!