Things to do on your allotment in early SeptemberPosted By: rocket veg Category: Seasonal Tips
Although we’re still enjoying some late summer sun and warm days, we’ve already had a few reminders that autumn is just around the corner – lower night time temperatures, leaf colour changing and a scattering of windfall apples. If you don’t want to get caught out by the onslaught of winter, now’s the time to get your allotment in order - so here’s a helpful list of jobs which you might tackle if you can and the weather is on your side.
If you haven’t done so already, lift any potatoes which are still in the ground before the tiny slugs find them and have a feast. Choose a dry day for this task so that the spuds can be left to dry and any loose soil brushed off before storing them in a strong paper or hessian sack left in a cool, dark place. If you have any doubt that blight may have affected your crop, be sure to check the stored potatoes regularly and remove any which are showing early signs of rot.
Soil care and protection
Cover patches of bare earth to reduce the loss of vital nutrients due to rainfall. Before you cover, add a top dressing of well-rotted manure, your own compost or leaf mould and the worms will get to work taking it down into the soil and creating a humus-rich mix ready for spring planting.
Sow green manures
If you have never sown green manures, now is the time to give it a go – a thin, even scattering of Grazing Rye, Mustard, Field Beans or Phacelia, raked in and left to grow as a deterrent against weeds. These wonderful crops will also provide shelter for slug predators but be sure to cut the ‘manures’ down in spring before flowering and dig in to improve the structure of your soil. In addition, the beautiful spiky blue Phacelia flowers are a magnet for pollinating insects and will provide them with a valuable food source to build up winter stores.
Squash and pumpkins
Help your colourful crop ripen by removing leaves which cast shadow and raise the fruit above the soil on an old roof tile or piece of wood to prevent rot.
Clear away dead foliage and other plant remains which are likely to harbour diseases and provide a hiding place for slugs. The roots of bean and pea plants are best left in the ground where they will fix nitrogen as it is slowly released as the roots slowly rot. Now is also the time for a good weed, digging out the first signs of those nasty perennial thugs such as bindweed.
Don’t be in hurry to pick your fruit. You can tell when ‘hard fruits’ – apples, pears, plums etc – are ready to pick by resting them in the palm of your hand and when ripe they should come away from the branch. Blackberries seem to be ripening earlier each year, nearly a month ahead of their ideal partner, the famous Bramley apple. Search, and with luck you should find a few ripe berries left for eating now or freezing for pie or crumble during the dark days of winter.
What’s going on inside the fruit cage
Now is the perfect time to plan for next season and buy new varieties of soft fruit bushes ready to plant during their dormant period. Once your established fruit bushes have shed their leaves you will be able to carry out winter pruning and top-dress the soil with manure, rich compost or leaves.
And finally…find time to brighten a corner of your plot by planting a handful of spring flowering bulbs