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5 September 2013

September Tasks for the Vegetable Gardener

September should be an enjoyable time as you will be harvesting many of your crops. You can help yourself by removing plants which have finished cropping as you go, and then digging the land over. This saves having it all left to do at once.

There are plenty of other jobs to occupy you this month - some of which are listed below.

Sow vegetables which can be over-wintered ready to mature next spring, e.g. winter lettuce, spinach and turnips. Cloches will give your plants protection.

Sow over-wintering broad beans in their growing positions.

Plant some cut-and-come-again salads to provide you with baby salad leaves through the autumn.

Plant Japanese Onion sets towards the end of the month, giving them time to get established before the cold weather sets in. They will appreciate rich well drained soil. You can also plant garlic bulbs.

You may have spring cabbages ready for planting out, but make sure you protect them from rampaging pigeons, with netting or horticultural fleece.

You may want to try sowing a green manure, such as mustard, which when dug in will conserve nutrients and improve soil texture.

Cut the tops off finished pea and bean plants but leave the roots and dig them in as these provide valuable nitrogen to the soil.

If your asparagus foliage has turned brown, it is time to cut it down. Give the plants a good mulch afterwards.

Earth-up celery for the last time this month in order to blanch the stems.

Brussels sprouts can be given a boost with a liquid feed.

Bend a few leaves over your cauliflower curds to protect them.

Keep on top of your watering as irregular watering can lead to problems with blossom end rot in tomatoes and splitting of root vegetables.

All outdoor tomatoes should be brought in before frost damage occurs.

Keep harvesting your crops regularly as they become ready. Carrots and beetroot can be stored in layers of sand in a frost-free shed though split ones should be used as soon as possible.

Pick your maincrop potatoes and store unblemished ones in a cool, dark well ventilated place.

Finish harvesting your onions once the leaves have yellowed and died back, letting them dry out before storing in a cool airy place.

Harvesting of sweetcorn should be finished by the middle of September.

Well ripened marrows should keep until Easter in a frost free place.

Start to lift and divide perennial herbs, and continue removing any flower heads as this will keep the plant producing usable leaves for the kitchen. Dry fresh herbs for use over winter.

Remove all plant debris from your vegetable patch in order to reduce the spread of disease and pests.

Looking forward to next year, start collecting seed for sowing in the spring and order your seed catalogue. Perhaps consider trying some of the old heritage vegetable varieties.

Try to get hold of some well-rotted manure to improve your beds over winter.

Finally give some thought to what you would like to grow next year and where you intend to put it. Did some crops not work so well in a particular position? Remember crop rotation - try not to grow the same crop in the same place.

I hope you enjoy eating what you have grown.
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