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What should you be doing in the garden this September?

Although you may feel like putting your feet up after a long busy summer in the garden; September is no time for sitting on your laurels. Whether you like it or not, a gardener’s work is never done. Plants still need to be watered and fed, and grass still needs to be cut and cared for – let alone vegetable and fruit garden maintenance. Still not sure what jobs you should be doing? Well, here are Ladybrook Nursery’s top tips for the garden in September. We hope this information helps.

General garden jobs

  • If you have clay soil, September is the best time to improve it before it becomes too wet or frozen. Incorporate organic matter and/or horticultural grit.
  • Sow green manures like mustard, clover and rye grass on uncultivated areas to improve soil and keep weeds down over winter.
  • Create compost bins in preparation for all the fallen leaves and dead plant material which you’ll be collecting over the coming months
  • Dispose of diseased plant material by burning it or putting it in with your household waste. Don’t compost it as the spores may remain in the compost and re-infect your plants.
  • Raise pots off the ground for the winter to prevent waterlogging.
    Clear pond weeds and net your pond before the autumn leaf fall.
  • Perennial weeds are more susceptible to weedkillers in the autumn. Use a glyphosate-based weedkiller to kill both the leaves and roots.
  • September is the perfect time to use a biological control (nematodes) if you suspect damage from lawn chafers or leatherjackets.
  • Install water butts to collect rain this autumn and winter. Rain water is great for watering ericaceous plants like blueberries, rhododendrons and camellias.

Flower gardens

  • Continue to feed and dead-head hanging baskets and container plants – they will often keep flowering until the first frosts.
  • Autumn-sow hardy annuals to ensure bigger and more robust plants next year.
  • Divide herbaceous perennials as the weather cools. Make sure you water in the new divisions well.
  • Fill any gaps in borders with autumn flowering plants like sedum and chrysanthemums   to extend the colour to the end of the season.
  • Plant hyacinth and amaryllis bulbs for forcing, to ensure a crowd of colourful blooms at Christmas.
  • Plant spring-flowering bulbs like daffodils, crocus and hyacinths now.
  • September is a good time to plant new perennials as the soil is still warm but there is generally more rainfall.
  • Keep deadheading annuals and perennials to extend their performance.
  • Dead-heading penstemons, dahlias and roses to prolong flowering.
  • Prune climbing and rambling roses once they’ve finished flowering – unless they are repeat-flowering.
  • Keep your Camellias and Rhododendrons well-watered in September to ensure that next year’s buds develop well.

Vegetable gardens

  • Pinch out cordon tomato plants now if you haven’t already done so. This will concentrate the plant’s energy into producing ripe fruits.
  • Pull or cut off the foliage of maincrop potatoes at ground level 3 weeks before lifting them to prevent blight spores infecting the tubers as you lift them. This will also help to firm the skins of the potatoes.
  • Spread newly dug potatoes out to dry for a few hours before storing them in in a cool dark place. Store them in paper or hessian sacks as this will allow the crop to breathe while it is in storage. Only store undamaged, disease free tubers – one rotten potato can ruin your whole crop.
  • Remove any leaves shadowing the fruits to help pumpkins ripen in time for Halloween.
  • Keep feeding and watering French and runner beans to make the most of them. Continue harvesting little and often to prevent them setting seed.
  • Remove any old crops that have finished and clear away weeds to leave your plot clean and tidy for the winter.
  • When beans and peas finish cropping simply cut the plant away at ground level, leaving the roots in the soil. These crops fix nitrogen which is slowly released into the soil as the roots break down.
  • Cover your brassicas with netting to prevent damage from birds.
  • At the end of September start planting garlic bulbs for cropping next year.
  • Start planting autumn onion sets.

Fruit gardens

  • Pot up strawberry runners to make extra plants for next year. Plant out any rooted runners of strawberries for a good crop next year
  • Tidy up your strawberry plants and clear away any used straw, as this will harbour pests and diseases over winter.
  • Look out for rotting fruits on your pear, apple and plum trees. Pick them off as they will spread disease if left on the tree
  • Pick blackberries as soon as they ripen and use straight away or freeze some for use later on.
  • To test the ripeness of apples gently lift them in the palm of your hand or give them a gentle pull; if they are ripe they should come away easily.
  • Mow long grass under fruit trees to make it easier to spot windfall fruits.
  • If you haven’t already, cut back the fruited canes of your summer raspberries, leaving the new green canes for next year’s crop. Tie in next year’s raspberry canes to support wires or fencing.
  • Take hardwood cuttings to increase your stock of currents, gooseberries and figs.

Lawn care

  • Create a new lawn from turf or seed – autumn weather is favourable for good lawn establishment.
  • Raise the height of your mower blades as grass growth slows down.
  • September is a good time to carry out essential lawn maintenance to avoid waterlogging and compaction. Try aerating your lawn with a garden fork, raking thatch from the surface and repairing dead patches.
  • Apply a special lawn top-dressing after carrying out maintenance work. Follow the instructions on the packet carefully.
  • You can feed your lawn with an autumn fertiliser now, which is rich in potassium and low in nitrogen.

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