by Keith Jordan
On returning from a summer holiday, the autumn seeds catalogue from my allotment society was waiting for me on the doormat with the other post. One of the gardening highlights of the year! It seems too early in many ways (like the new football season!) but late summer/early autumn is a good time to plan for next year, while the current season is still fresh in your mind.
Make notes of the crops that did well, those that you need more of, those that you grew too many of (courgettees?!). Apart from bulk crops like potatoes and onions I find that most other crops are needed in much smaller amounts – variety rather than volume. September is one of the critical times of year to get onto top of any garden work or take over an overgrown allotment whilst the soil is fairly dry.
Control weed seedlings like dandelions before their tap roots get established in the moist soil. Clear up any dead vegetation lying on the ground especially as slugs and snails will be laying eggs now (look for piles of small spherical balls). It’s an ideal time to sow green manures on any vacant soil – dig plants in a month or so to add organic matter to the soil.
Keep picking French and runner beans when they are small – in a mild autumn they can continue well into October. Cut down the stems of summer-fruiting raspberries to the ground (the ones that have borne fruits), but keep the fresh new stems that have grown and tie onto horizontal wires with soft string. Do the same with blackberries, loganberries, etc. Autumn fruiting-raspberries, some of which have been fruiting since late July, may still have fruits to pick this month (such great value for little work) – don’t cut down their stems until January.
Raspberries and other soft fruit bushes can be planted from next month!