Sowing and planting slows down this month but there’s still plenty that’s ripe for the picking…
Train your tomatoes
Give romping indoor tomato plants a much-needed lift by tying the growing stems into greenhouse roof supports with string and wire hooks. The swelling fruit will get lots of light and, because you won’t have to cut off the top growing shoot, you may get a late, bumper crop.
Pick autumn raspberries
On a dry day, harvest the best of your late fruiting raspberries into a zip lock bag. Select firm, ripe berries that come away easily when pulled (unripe ones will not ripen off the bush), and eat straight away or wash gently and freeze.
Now’s a great time to store herbs such as rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage and mint for winter. Cut bundles on a dry day and tie the stems with string. Hang upside down in a cool dark place until completely dry and then remove the leaves and place in sterilized jars.
Invite more beetles into your garden and they’ll help reduce pests naturally. Ladybirds will feed on greenflies and aphids, ground beetles are partial to vine weevils and slugs, while others help recycle decaying organic matter. Create a winter home for them now by stacking shrub and tree prunings on top of each other to create a loose box. Tie with string and pile leaves in the middle.
Pot up strawberry runners
Your strawberries will have sent out lots of baby plants on long runners over the summer, and September is the time to pot them up. Pop a pot or seed tray, filled with multi-purpose peat-free soil, under the baby plant and once rooted, snip away from the parent and grow on.
Get some peas and beans in
Sow hardy broad beans and peas this month for overwintering, and you’ll get earlier crops next year. Sow thickly in rows and add a layer of fleece later if temperatures dip. Try pea ‘Meteor’ or ‘Kelvedon Wonder’ and Broad Bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’.
If you haven’t got a composting area, now’s a good time to start. Fill your bin with twigs and stems at the bottom for good aeration and layer with grass clippings, kitchen waste, cardboard and paper. Sit back and watch the worms do the work for you!
And finally, three ways to deal with that glut guilt…
- Cucumber Crush: Pour 200ml boiling water over 250g sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Combine with 200ml lime juice, 800ml cool water and 1 sliced cucumber, and chill in the fridge. Pour over crushed ice to serve.
- Beetroot Crisps: Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Gas Mark 6. Peel and very thinly slice 6 medium beetroots and spread on a paper towel to absorb the juice. Pop into a bowl with a little olive oil and salt and pepper and make sure each slice has had a good bathe. Arrange on a baking tray and roast for 10 minutes, turning half way through. Once cooked, leave to dry and crisp up.
- Courgette Relish. Grate three courgettes and add to 2 chopped onions, sprinkle with 2tbsp salt and soak overnight. Drain and rinse with cold water and add to a pan with 800ml cider vinegar, 500g caster sugar, 1 chopped red pepper, a pinch of grated nutmeg, 1tbsp mustard, 1tbsp turmeric, 1tbsp corn flour and season to taste. Bring to a bubble and simmer until reduced, and pour into sterilised jars.