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Top September Allotment Tips

September is a very much a transitional month on the allotment. You could say in some respects it is out with the old and in with the new, as our summer cropping plants gradually come to an end.

My Runner beans are soldiering on, as are the courgettes and they will do so until the first real cold weather or frost.

The sweet corn is facing a race against time, to ripen before Autumn starts in the earnest. Lots of sun is needed in September on the allotment for the corn, squash and pumpkins!

Maincrop potatoes are ready for harvesting this month. I use the damaged ones first in the kitchen and store the rest for winter use. It is important to dry them properly and grade them according to quality before storing them. Over the years, I’ve inadvertently stored the odd tuber with blight on it. Experience has taught me this can lead to the whole bag becoming a smelly, unusable mess.

Spring Cabbage Plants

One timely job I’m currently on with is planting out young spring cabbage plants for overwintering. Well-drained soil, rich in organic matter are the main requirements. The plants which should be ready for cropping next April or May. Cover the plants with netting to stop pigeons stripping the foliage. Cabbage white butterflies are less of a problem now, but still a risk. So if you’ve got butterfly protection netting then so much the better. I tend not to cover the plants with fleece or winter protection unless the weather is severe.

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 later in the autumn.

I’ve been clearing out an old strawberry bed, which had become tired after three years of sterling service. I must admit I’ve done this the lazy way. So far, I’ve chopped up the old plants and covered them with Weed Guard Control Fabric! I’ll leave the fabric on top of the old bed for six months over winter. Next Spring I’ll dig and fertilise the bed in preparation for the follow on crop.

Winter Lettuce & Salad

During the month, I’ll be sowing some winter lettuce seed. A favourite is the little gem type “Vailan”. This is great for pots and containers in the cold greenhouse or polytunnel. This variety is also available to buy in plugs for a quicker option. During frosty conditions, I cover the plants with thick graded horticultural fleece. The variety “Winter Density” is another reliable choice to grow for overwintering. Both varieties will produce a crop, during mild conditions.

Leaf Salad ”Winter Mix” is a tempting alternative to lettuce as it is quicker. The leaves are produced through the autumn and also over the winder, under cloches or in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame. Do keep an eye out for slugs under glass seven in the depths of winter. The leaves can also be grown on a well lit south facing windowsill.

Later in September, I’ll plant out my winter onion sets, directly into the ground. The soil is still warm enough on the allotment for the sets to root nicely so no transplanting is necessary. Plant the sets in pre-prepared ground.

Adding a splash of colour to the allotment

I do enjoy splashes of colour on the allotment. This time of year is perfect for bulb planting. Why not grow a selection of daffodils, tulips or other spring favourites for cutting? We’ve all got those awkward areas or corners on our plots that are often not put to use and bulbs are ideal for this. They can also be used for cut flowers in spring to brighten up our homes.

Be sure to check out our September Newsletter for more helpful hints & tips

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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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