Enjoy the last days of summer in your garden with these simple jobs
September is a great month in the garden, as we get to enjoy the subtle signs that autumn is on its way. At the same time, many flowers continue to flourish and home-grown fruits and veggies are still in plentiful supply. It’s not yet time to bid goodbye to blooms for the winter, but there are some jobs to complete this month that will stand you in good stead for the hard months ahead, and ensure you’re in a great starting position by the time next spring finally rolls around.
- Keep up with watering all of your plants unless there is particularly heavy rain. The ground retains summer’s warmth for a surprisingly long time, and combined with plenty of watering September can be a really good month for growth in the garden – so don’t skip this!
- Start composting – September is a great month to start creating your own garden compost. As the month goes on there will be plenty of fallen leaves and you’ll likely be creating a lot of off-cuts that are perfect for the compost pile. Invest in a compost bin or create your own pile, and start preparing your own ‘black gold’ to give your plants a shot of nutrients! Read my blog on composting here.
- Try green manure! ‘Green manure’ seeds can be purchased widely, and just need to be sown in beds anywhere between March and October. The plants (usually mustard leaves or similar) will grow over a few months, which can then be sheared down and dug into the soil, where it will rot and nourish the soil from within. Plant some green manure now to cut down next spring.
- Watch out for mould, damp and fungus: as the weather starts to become cooler and wetter, it’s a good idea to keep picking your dahlias to avoid them damping off. Cut back your fruited tomato stems once you’ve picked the final crop, and allow air and light to circulate through the plant to stop it rotting.
- Look after your pond by placing netting across the surface to catch all the falling leaves autumn will bring. If there’s a great deal of dead matter in the pond, fish it out with a net to prevent black sludge forming at the bottom and preserve your water quality. If you keep fish, get them in great shape for the colder months by feeding them a high protein feed.
- Extend the season for bees and insects by planting flowers like rudbeckia and heleniums, both of which flower for a month or so longer than usual. These flowers bring a welcome splash of colour to your garden once other plants start to die back, and they’ll provide much-needed sustenance for winged visitors to your garden.
- Feed and repair your lawn. This is important, as around this time of year the lawn could be dried out from warm summer weather and looking dry and patchy. Around September, grass growth slows down considerably too, so now is a great time to apply a good autumn fertiliser and spike your lawn with a garden fork to aerate it. Make sure to keep on top of raking fallen leaves, and it’s a good idea to cut back on mowing or raise your mower blades to allow the lawn a chance to thicken out again in time for next spring.
- Get the most out of your vegetable patch: it’s now time to pick your final potatoes before the slugs get to them, plant out some hardy salad leaves in tubs for harvesting over autumn, and continue regularly picking whatever veg you have left over – there should be plenty of life next for the next month! Keep watering tomatoes and chillies.
- Build a supply of herbs from your garden – pick and freeze surplus, or place plants into small pots and keep on a sunny windowsill for a supply of winter herbs.
Perhaps it’s not too late to hope for an ‘Indian summer’, and maybe we’ll enjoy more warm and sunny days yet! If not, there’s plenty left to do to keep us busy in the garden and let us observe the gentle change of season to colourful, peaceful autumn. Happy gardening!