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September Allotment Tips


Happily the allotment is showing little sign of slowing down with the food it is producing this year. Though early signs of autumn are undeniably with us, most seasonal crops are still doing well.

Courgettes are a case in point. Regular picking every three or four days ensures these remarkable plants maintain their production line, right up until the first frosts. It is not uncommon for the foliage to start showing signs of mildew at this time of year, though this seems to have little detriment to productivity. Courgettes are a definite winner for beginners and experienced allotmenteers alike.

I’m keeping a watchful eye on my newly planted out young spring cabbage plants. It is vital to keep them netted and to watch out for slugs which are still active during damp spells. Continue to gently hoe around the plants to minimise weed competition.

With the recent wetter weather, leeks have been putting on a lot of new growth. Sometimes they can bolt and run to seed without warning, sending up a premature flower spike. This is noticeable as the plants start to grow taller and in the centre the formation of the spike can be spotted. If you nip out the spike and dig the plants up, the young immature leeks are still perfectly usable.

As beans and peas finish cropping it pays to leave the roots in the ground. The roots are a source of nitrogen which is contained in tiny nodules on the roots. I tend to cut off the spent stems at ground level then dig the roots in during the autumn.

Maincrop potatoes are often dug up in September. If blight is suspected, cut of the haulms at ground level until you have time to harvest. This stops the blight spreading to the tuber, though it needs to be done quickly to be effective at the very first sign of blight.

Cut flowers have traditionally been grown on the allotment. My sweet peas are still producing a plentiful supply of wonderful sweet smelling blooms. However, if the flowers are not dead-headed quickly they will develop seed heads which then causes flower production to dramatically stop. Continue to keep on top of the dead-heading to gain another month of these sweet smelling flowers.

A selection of the crops in season this month down on the allotment include: Beetroot, cabbage, calabrese, cauliflower, carrot, courgette, cucumber, french beans, lettuce, marrow, maincrop potatoes, radish, runner beans, spring onion, tomatoes.

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Lee Senior

About Lee Senior

Lee Senior is an experienced horticultural writer, RHS Yorkshire in Bloom judge and horticultural consultant. He has also had an allotment for over 25 years. After initially spurning horticulture as a career option, to pursue his boyhood dream of becoming a train driver, Lee soon realised he couldn't resist getting his hands dirty to make a living. Horticultural College training led, to getting an allotment at the tender age of 18 (in the days when you could actually get a plot quickly). My gardening hero, is Geoff Hamilton" says Lee. "It was Geoff who convinced me that you didn't have to spray everything that moved in the garden. Watching him on Gardeners’ World in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s was a revelation. I was lucky enough to meet Geoff and I’ve also more recently had the pleasure of meeting Joe Swift. Now over two decades of practical experience has taught me to work with mother nature, not to fight against her and don't try to tame her, as so many gardeners seem to be on a mission to do. Small-scale food growing is my passion and I can't wait for my two daughters, one who is 8 years old and the other who is 5 to hopefully pick up the baton in the future. Nothing beats the flavour and satisfaction of growing your own food. You simply cannot buy the same quality and freshness. Everyone can have a go at growing something says Lee, no matter where they live. Lee has also written his two books; 'Pennine Way, The Highs and Lows' which is a humorous, personal account of walking this momentous iconic walk. His second book 'Walking in the Aire', features 14 short walks in Yorkshire.

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