September is the month to enjoy the fruits if your labours. A lot of your product will be ready to harvest this month, but it’s also time to start thinking about preparing for the frost and planning for next year.
Complete pruning of soft fruit bushes – apple and pear trees, in particular, will benefit from this
Sow green manure, such as grazing rye – suppresses weeds over the winter
Feed all late crops with a general fertiliser – do this now for great crops when the time comes
Dig up and compost any plants that have finished their season – ensure you have great soil for next years planting
Cut back old canes of blackberries – do this after fruiting and tie in the new canes
Crimson clover and Italian ryegrass – they act as ground cover during the winter. When dug in, they conserve nutrients and improve soil texture.
Pests and Diseases
Watch tomatoes for blossom end rot, and other ripening problems. These are usually caused by irregular watering
Wasps are attracted this time of year due to the ripening of your fruit. protect any grapes or fruit from wasps with netting or mesh.
The best part about growing or foraging your own food is the delicious delights you can make with what you find. We’ve put together some easy recipes you can make with the top produce you can forage or harvest from September to November
Time: 30 mins
Makes: 3lb Jam
Note: you will need to sterilise your jars before you begin cooking your jam. You can do this by rinsing them in soapy water, then place on a baking tray in a low oven to dry completely. Keep them warm until you fill them
1kg raspberries, halved
juice of 1 lemon
1kg bag jam sugar
Put a plate in the fridge or freezer
Put your raspberries and lemon juice in a large saucepan over a low heat and mash with a potato masher. Leave to cook until just boiling
Put the raspberries through a fine sieve to separate the seeds
Put the pulp back into the pan and add the sugar
Bring to a rapid boil for about five minutes
Drop a bit of your jam onto your cold plate. If it solidifies and wrinkles when you run your finger through it, it is ready. If not boil for another two minutes and try again, keep doing this until its ready.
Fill your sterilized jars
Damson & Apple Crumble
Time: 60 mins
50g light soft brown sugar
knob of butter
1-2 tbsp sloe gin (optional)
2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced
For the crumble
250g plain flour
150g unsalted butter, cold
80g light soft brown sugar
80g demerara sugar
50g ground almonds
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6
Put the damsons into a pan with the sugar, butter and sloe gin if using (or a splash of water if not) and heat gently until the damsons start to give off their juices
Tip into the base of a large shallow gratin dish (about 25cm long) and stir through the apple slices
Rub the butter and flour together until the mixture goes crumbly. Add the rest of the crumble ingredients and mix together
Put the crumble over the damson mixture and put into the oven for 30-40 mins until golden brown and the mixture is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes
Serve with custard or ice cream
Aubergine and courgette bake
Time: 80 minutes
2 large aubergines cut into 1cm discs
2 courgettes, cut into 0.5cm strips
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, finely chopped
2–3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 heaped tsp dried oregano
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
120g reduced-fat mozzarella, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4
Grill the aubergines and courgettes until lightly browned on each side.
Meanwhile, add the oil to a pan with the onion, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until they go clear
Add the red pepper, stirring regularly for another 5 minutes
Mix in the garlic, oregano and tomatoes, and simmer for 5 minutes
Add some of the sauce to an ovenproof dish and layer the aubergine mixture and parmesan and top off with the mozzarella.
Bake in the oven for 30–40 minutes until golden brown
Nectarine puff tart
Time: 1 hour
1 sheet, ready-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
3 large nectarines, thinly sliced
3 tbsp runny honey
50ml dark rum or amaretto
large pinch ground cinnamon
Zest of 1 lime
Preheat the oven to 220C/200Fan/Gas 7
Lay the pastry sheet out on a sheet of baking paper and roll the pastry edges up to form a 1cm border and brush with beaten egg
Mix the nectarine, honey, rum and cinnamon in a bowl and mix well
Arrange the mixture in the middle of the pastry and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until the pastry is puffed up and golden.
Remove from the oven and leave for 5 minutes
Sprinkle the lime zest on top and serve sliced
Pumpkin Bubble & Squeak
Time : 30 mins
700g mashed pumpkin
200g chopped cooked cabbage
6 rashers bacon
2 carrots, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp veg oil
Preheat the grill
Grill the bacon until crispy
In a bowl, mix the cabbage with the pumpkin and other veg. Season to taste
Form the potato mixture into round patties
Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan
Fry your patties on both sides until just starting to crisp. Remove from the pan and put onto a metal tray. Grill until crispy
Meanwhile, fry or poach your egg
Remove the potato mixture from the tray and serve with the cut-up bacon and the egg
Makes: 20 portions
Time: 20 mins
Notes: You will need a rack or tray to put in the bottom of your pan for the last step to keep the jars off of the bottom of your pot
1.5kg beetroot, destemmed
130g caster sugar
1tsp pickling salt (can use sea salt if necessary)
330 ml white wine vinegar
8g whole cloves
Sterilise jars and lids by putting in boiling water for at least 10 minutes.
Place the beetroots in a large stockpot with water to cover. Bring to the boil and cook for around 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and reserve half of the beetroot water
Once the beetroot has cooled, peel.
Fill each jar with beetroots and add several whole cloves to each.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, beetroot water, vinegar, and pickling salt. Bring to a rapid boil. Pour over the beetroots in the jars and seal lids.
Place a rack in the bottom of a large stockpot and fill halfway with water. Bring to the boil over high heat, then carefully lower the jars into the pot leaving a 5cm space between the,. Pour in more boiling water until the water level is at least 2.5cm above the tops of the jars. Bring the water to a full boil, cover the pot and cook for 10 minutes.
Leave the jars to cool and store in a cool place
6 dark plums, halved and pitted
1 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar
280g Greek yoghurt
2 tablespoons chopped roasted hazelnut
2 tsp honey
Heat oven to 160°c /140 fan / Gas 3
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place plums cut side up on the sheet
Brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar
Put in the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until soft and some juices run off
Divide among 4 bowls, top each with 2 tablespoons yoghurt, sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with honey
Time: 45 minutes
Notes: Can be frozen for up to 2 months
2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
1kg pumpkin ,peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
700ml vegetable stock or chicken stock
150ml double cream
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan
Gently cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft
Add pumpkin to the pan, then carry on cooking for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until it starts to soften and turn golden.
Add the stock to the pan and season with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 mins until the veg is soft.
Add the cream into the pan, bring back to the boil, then purée with a hand blender.
Apple Bread and Butter pudding
Time: 60 minutes
100ml cold tea
3 apples, cored
squeeze lemon juice
400ml full-fat milk
125g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing
100g brown sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ large bread loaf
Grease a baking dish and preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 4
Put the raisins in a small bowl, add the cold tea and leave them to soak
Peel, core and slice the apples and keep them fresh in a bowl of water with a squeeze of lemon juice
Gently warm the milk in a saucepan, then add the butter and allow it to melt. Set the milk and butter aside to cool slightly
Put the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a bowl and beat with an electric hand whisk until well combined. Whisk in the milk
Tear the bread into pieces and layer in the greased baking dish. Strain the raisins, discarding the tea, and scatter them over the bread, then top with the sliced fruit. Pour in the batter and sprinkle with some extra brown sugar
Bake for 30 minutes, or until the pudding has set and has a golden crust on top.
August is a month of transition, it is the midpoint between summer and autumn, the days get noticeably shorter and leaves will start to drop. This is a month of change in the allotment too where most of your work will be prep for winter and next years planting.
Courgettes and marrows
Salad leaves and lettuces
If you’re growing aubergines pinch out the growing tip once they have 5 or 6 fruits
Cut back herbs to encourage a new flush of leaves that you can harvest before the frost
Aphids – spraying your brassicas with diluted washing up liquid will deter them from landing on your crops. You can buy insecticides if you prefer, including a fatty acid soap to spray on the plants.
Carrot fly – a particular problem between May and September when female flies lay their eggs the best defence to cover plants with horticultural fleece or place two-foot-high barriers around the plants.
Cabbage root fly– attacking the roots of brassicas, these flies can cause a lot of damage to your plants. Female flies lay the eggs on the surface of the soil next to the stem of the plant. Place a piece of carpet (or cardboard or fleece) around the base of the plant to create a collar, this will stop the flies from laying their eggs on the soil.
Most of your plants need regular watering to survive, and the hotter it gets the more water they need. Watering big gardens and allotments can become a chore that takes time away from your other garden maintenance. Irrigation has been used to water large areas since the ancient Egyptians dug channels through their fields to divert river water. Luckily, you have a few more options available to you beyond diverting rivers.
Irrigation works by supplying controlled amounts of water to your plants at set times, and there are a lot of ways you can do this. The method that is right for you will depend on how much sun your garden gets and if your plants have similar or different watering requirements
Easy to install and simple to maintain, the sprinkler system replicates rainfall by supplying water from above the plant. This is an easy way to water a large garden and if you get a simple lawn sprinkler can be one of the cheapest. There are advantages and disadvantages to a sprinkler system, and its usefulness will depend on your need:
Covers a large area
Can cause overwatering
Can be automated
Prone to disruption from wind
Can be used anywhere
Some systems can be expensive to install
Not the best system if you have different watering requirements
These hoses are made of porous materials and release small amounts of water directly into the soil. More often used in vegetable patches and under hedges, this method of above-ground irrigation might be the best option for you if you want to conserve water.
Requires regular maintenance
Time-consuming initial installation
Can be automated
Waters soil directly
Drip Line Irrigation
Drip line irrigation is similar to a soaker hose but allows you more control over how much certain parts of your garden get watered. These systems can be placed at ground level or put over your plants if a more advanced line and nozzle system are used making it a good irrigation system for hanging baskets.
Time-consuming set up
Can be prone to clogging
Slower than other systems
Can be automated
More advanced systems can have a big setup cost
These specialized containers are a great solution to keeping your plants watered if you are away for a short trip. These pots have an upper pot that holds the soil and plant, while a lower reservoir holds the water and feeds it to the soil. Usually, these pots hold enough water for a few days, depending on the weather and evaporation rate – all you need to do is refill the reservoir.
Trees and shrubs need slow, deep watering to become established. Tree watering bags are put around the base of the tree and filled with water where they will slowly release it into the soil surrounding the rootball. They are an inexpensive and water-saving way of establishing
Automate your system
If you are going on holiday, are away a lot or want to spend time on other gardening jobs then automating your watering is one of the best things you can do. Setting up a basic automated system is simple and can be done in a few steps, all you need is a timer that attaches to your outdoor tap – this can be mains or solar-powered.
Make sure your hose pipes and sprinklers are set up so you have total coverage of your garden
Attach your timer or regulator to your water source and set the times
Connect everything together with
Do a test run
Once you have the right irrigation set up you will find yourself with much more time to enjoy your garden and get the rest of your jobs done, making this a must-do job for the serious gardener.