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Gardening Hints and Tasks for September 2022

Just a few jobs for September!

Midsummer is when most of us tackle our hedges as the new growth begins to make them look untidy. If you're using a hedge trimmer, start at the bottom of each side and work upwards in smooth, continuous swathes. Cut the top last.

You can save time by spreading a plastic sheet beside the hedge to catch the clippings. Brush or rake the clippings from the top of the hedge, as leaving them will make it look unsightly.

Most potatoes are good to harvest by the end August, they keep as well or better in a sack as in the ground, with less pest damage. The tubers won’t be swelling any more so there’s no advantage in leaving them in the ground. Take the tubers off the roots and then put the top growth in the compost heap.

As crops and flowers are lifted and the ground becomes free, mulch it with 3-5cm of well-rotted manure, spent mushroom compost or garden compost. Over the course of the year, worms will pull it into the soil, so there’s no need to dig or fork it in.

As light levels begin to decrease, it’s time to remove shading from the greenhouse. Shade netting can simply be removed and stored for next year, while shading paint needs to be rubbed off. Whichever type of shading you used, give the outside of the glass a thorough clean afterwards to let in the maximum amount of light.

Pumpkins and squash should be raised off the ground to ripen in the sun before harvesting. If the weather is wet, cut them early and bring them in to ripen in a greenhouse or sunny windowsill. To cure the fruits for storage, keep them in a warm room for a fortnight, then put them somewhere dry and cool but frost-free.

Autumn is a good time to divide clumps of perennials such as hardy geraniums. Lift the clump and then divide it into pieces, either by prising it apart with two forks or cutting it up with a spade or bread knife.

Each piece needs some leaves and roots. Older pieces from the centre of the clump should be thrown away, but newer pieces can be replanted or shared with friends.

Some perennials, such as sedums, will benefit from being divided every few years to keep the clump growing vigorously.

Early September is the best time to sow salad plants for harvests between November and early May. Grow them out of the worst of the weather under a protective covering, such as glass, polythene, fleece or insect-proof mesh. Although no extra heat is needed, without any protective covering harvests are small in winter and of lower quality.

Sow in modular trays using a Best Buy compost for sowing seeds and then plant outside when they're big enough to handle next month.

Winter salads to try:

  • Chervil – sow asap for small harvests of fine flavour.

  • Chicories and endives– small harvests of bitter and pretty leaves.

  • Claytonia – very hardy, and prolific in mild winters.

  • Corn salad – for harvests from November to April.

  • Land cress – sow asap for small harvests of strong flavours, and beware pigeons.

  • Lettuce – to stand as small plants then heart up in spring or for regular picking of outer leaves from November to May.

  • Mizuna – for plentiful leaves in autumn and occasional winter harvests.

  • Mustards – large leaves in mild weather.

  • Salad rocket – crops in small amounts through the winter.

  • Spinach ‘Medania’ – sow asap for small, steady and sweet harvests.

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