Gardening tips


In the flower garden…

Continue to feed and dead-head your hanging basket and container plants. They will often keep going until the first frosts.

• Try autumn-sowing hardy annuals for bigger plants next year.

• Start to divide herbaceous perennials as the weather cools. Make sure you water in the new divisions well.

• Fill in any gaps in your borders with late summer/autumn flowering plants such as sedum or Chrysanthemum to extend the colour to the end of season.

• Plant spring bulbs such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinths now.

• September is an ideal time to pant new perennials as the soil is still warm but there is generally more rainfall.

• With wetter weather likely to arrive this month, it’s the ideal time to plant trees and shrubs. They will have plenty of time to put on growth next spring if they are planted in autumn.

• Keep dead-heading annuals and perennials to extend their performance.

• Keep dead-heading Penstemons, Dahlias and Roses to prolong flowering.

• Prune any late-summer flowering shrubs such as the rock rose (Helianthemum)

• Prune climbing roses and rambling roses once they’ve finished (unless they are repeat flowering).

• Keep Camellias and Rhododendrons well watered, as this will ensure next year’s buds develop well.

In the fruit garden…

• Pot up strawberry runners to make extra plants for next year. Plant out any rooted runners for a good crop next year.

• Tidy up your strawberry plants and throw away any used straw as thus will harbour pests and diseases over winter.

• Pick off any rotting fruit on your pear, plum or apple trees to prevent disease spreading.

• Pick blackberries as they ripen and use straight away or freeze.

• Ripe apples will come away easily in your hand with a gentle pull, so start picking now.

• Pick your plums, excess can be frozen by washing, halving and stoning them before laying them on a tray in the freezer. Once frozen, pack them into freezer bags.

• If you haven’t already, cut back the fruited canes of summer raspberries, leaving the new green canes for next year’s crop. Tie in next year’s canes to support wires on fencing.

In the vegetable garden…

• Keep harvesting crops. If you have a glut of fruit & veg try freezing, drying, pickling and storing so that you can benefit from them later on.

• It’s important to pinch out your cordon tomato plants now if you haven’t already done so. This will concentrate the plant’s energy into producing ripe fruit.

• To test if sweetcorn is ready, pinch a kernel – it will release a milky sap when ripe.

• Pull or cut off the foliage of maincrop potatoes at ground level 3 weeks before lifting them to prevent potato blight spores infecting the tubers as you lift them. This will also help to firm the skins of the potatoes.

• Help your pumpkins ripen in time for Halloween by removing any leaves shadowing the fruits.

• Place pumpkins and squashes on a piece of slate or wood to raise them off the wet soil and prevent rotting.

• Keep feeding and watering French and runner beans to make the most of them. Continue harvesting little and often to prevent them setting seed.

• Start the autumn clean up. Remove any old crops that have finished and clear away to leave your plot clean and tidy for the winter.

• When beans and peas finish cropping simply cut the plant away at ground level, leaving the roots in the soil. These crops fix nitrogen which is slowly released into the soil as the roots break down.

• Pot up some mint and parsley for the kitchen windowsill, to use through the winter.

• Cover brassicas with netting to prevent birds making a meal out of them.

• The end of this month is the perfect time to start planting garlic bulbs for cropping next year.

• Start planting autumn onion sets.

Looking after your lawn…

• Autumn weather is ideal for creating a new lawn from turf or seed.

• Raise the height of your mower blades as grass growth slows down.

• Now is a good time to aerate your lawn to avoid waterlogging and compaction.

• Apply a special lawn top-dressing after carrying out maintenance work. Be sure to follow the instructions on the packaging carefully.

• Autumn is the best time to feed your lawn. Use an autumn fertiliser which is rich in potassium and low in nitrogen.