Gardening Diary September

September is potato time! Up until now most lifting of potatoes has been for immediate or short-term use but this month all the remaining potatoes are lifted and stored in a frost-free place. Properly stored they should last until the spring. I find that waxy late main-crop such as Pink Fir Apple last until the new seasons first earlies can be harvested in June!

Need I remind anyone to try to lift all the potatoes from the ground? I know it’s an impossible task but any left are such a nuisance next year.

Other vegetables and fruit, such as marrows, pumpkins, apples and pears are also harvested now for storing and should last until Christmas. However this is the month of plenty and many other crops are ready to be harvested on a daily basis and can’t be stored. Most can be frozen, such as beans, and all can be cooked as soup or other dishes and frozen. However, what keeps us busiest this month is making chutneys, pickles and preserves.

This is probably the last frost-free month in Chipstead Valley so make the most of the last pickings of beans, marrows, squashes, courgettes, cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines, chillies and peppers. Although all the root vegetables should now be available, only carrots need to be harvested now. Parsnips benefit from a frost before picking (as do Brussels sprouts) and swedes can wait until needed.

With all this cropping having taken place it is likely that the soil will be rather impoverished, particularly our sandy soil, so as the ground is cleared spread with compost or manure. Do not fertilise at this time as they will quickly leach away with the winter rain.

Talking of rain, our soil is usually very dry after the summer and if it doesn’t rain in September you will need to water the remaing crops such as leeks and brassicas.

Finally, look out for caterpillars on the brassicas!