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Top September Allotment Tips


There is no doubt that weed growth is slowing down on the allotment as early autumn approaches. One of the satisfying things at this time of year is to clear a spent crop and give the land a good weeding at the same time. After just an hour or two, the plot can be transformed! The vacant patch can then be dug over in autumn. Alternatively why not use it for sowing green manure seeds later this month.

garlic germidour

Garlic Germidour

Still thinking ahead, there is no mistaking onions are an important almost year round crop on my allotment. I’ve now harvested the last of my summer types and I’m finishing drying them off in the shed. Therefore it is now time to turn our thoughts to ordering our overwintering varieties of both onions and indeed garlic. My favourite over winter onion set varieties are “Senshyu Yellow”. With red onions “Electric” is my undisputed champion.

My preferred garlic for autumn planting is the reliable soft neck type “Germidour” It is great for storing, which is one of my must-haves. The flavour is relatively mild too. I’ll begin to plant both onions and garlic from early October.

Most of my remaining maincrop potatoes will be dug up early this month. I’ll then grade them for storing, with any that have suffered minor damage being consumed quickly. The true allotment mentality is to not waste anything and that certainly applies with potatoes.

It seems the ubiquitous cabbage white butterfly has managed to penetrate my netting defences in one area. I noticed on one of my raised beds, several of my summer cabbage plants are now being voraciously stripped by those familiar green caterpillars. Of course even the slightest opening or large hole in the side of the netting can allow the adults through to lay their eggs. Upon closer inspection, sure enough some of netting has torn and I will be replacing this with new over the winter. It is important to ensure when buying anti-butterfly netting that only small sized mesh is purchased.

On a neighbouring allotment recently I noticed something I’ve never seen before. Some worker wasps were systematically stripping the outer layer from the bottom of the stem of the impressive sunflower. “Giant Yellow“.  I think

sunflower giant yellow

Sunflower Giant Yellow

sunflowers look great on the allotment by the way. They are a great way to attract young children onto the plot. There are still plenty of other flowers around on the allotment site too. On my travels, I’ve noticed a veritable mix of, sweet peas, calendula and nasturtiums. All are still going strong.

Talking of colours, excitingly my pumpkin “Jack O Lantern” is starting to change colour now from green to orange. By the end of the month I’ll lift them and store them at home ready for carving at Halloween. Yet more family fun thanks to the humble allotment!

Other routine crops ready for harvesting include more of our late summer favourites such as french beans & runner beans, beetroot, courgette, kohl rabi, marrow, sweet corn and turnip.

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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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