The Vegetable Patch in September

The Fruit Garden in September
Other Gardening Jobs in September

When are sweetcorn ready to pickHarvest sweetcorn
There is nothing as sweet or as crunchy as your own sweetcorn. When the tassels on the sweetcorn are dark brown check for ripeness by piercing a kernel with your thumb. If the liquid is milky then the cobs are ready. Get your saucepan of water boiling first, then pick the cobs. Be as quick as you can because the sugar in the sweetcorn starts being converted into starch as soon as the cobs are picked, and you want the sweetest flavour you can get.

Harvest maincrop potatoes
Choose a sunny day to lift all the tubers. Don’t risk leaving them in the ground too long otherwise you’ll get slug damage and you won’t be able to store them. Leave them on the soil for a few hours to dry and then store the good ones only in hessian or paper sacks and keep in a dark cool place.

Harvest autumn vegetables
Chilli peppers, capsicum, aubergine, borlotti beans, pumpkins, squash, marrows, swede, turnip, and late summer brassicas will all be ready for harvest. Pick them when they are fully ripened and at their best. Pumpkins, squash and marrows need to develop a tough skin if they are to store well. Leave them in a warm, sunny, dry place for 10 days before storing in a cool, dry place.

Harvest onions
Once the green stems have browned and toppled over, your onions are ready for harvest. Spread the bulbs out in the sun to dry, then store in a net bag in a cool dry shred or garage. If you want to hang your onions for storing then tie the onions together using their dried stems.

Continue harvesting your other crops
Beans, courgette, tomatoes, cucumbers, beetroot, lettuce, peas, mangetout, carrots, spinach, swiss chard still need picking. Beans quickly become stringy and courgette can get rather watery, so pick everything whilst it is still young and tender.

Keep weeding
There’s still no let up in the weeds. Their growth may have slowed but you still need to keep on top of them. It’s very easy as this time of the year to let things run away, but don’t turn your back on the weeds otherwise they’ll sow their seeds all over your patch ready for next year!

Harvest bean seed for saving or storing
Once the pods have become dry and brittle and start to split open, the beans are ready for storing. Harvest them on a sunny day and leave to dry thoroughly before storing in paper bags or an airtight container. Borlotti beans are stored to be used over the winter. Runner and french bean seeds can be stored to be planted next year.

Watch out for signs of blight on potatoes and tomatoes
Blight often strikes around now, when the specific weather conditions are met. Outdoor tomatoes can be turned from healthy green plants to brown decaying ones in just 2 or 3 days. Harvest all your tomatoes, ripened or not, as soon as symptoms appear, and dispose of the plants (preferably by burning). Don’t put them on your compost! Remove potato foliage as soon as symptoms appear. Leave the potatoes in the ground for another two weeks to allow the skins to harden and then harvest. Hopefully, they won’t be affected.

Sow green manure
Once your plants have finished cropping, think about growing a green manure. They stop the weeds growing, break up the ground and bring valuable minerals to the surface. When you need the space, just dig them in or dig up and add to your compost. Agricultural mustard, field beans, Hungarian grazing rye, phacelia and tares are all good for sowing now.

Check brassicas for butterfly eggs and caterpillars
Caterpillars can quickly decimate your brassica crop. Check regularly for eggs and caterpillars and remove any that you find.

Remove all plants that have finished cropping
Once plants have finished cropping dig them up and add them to your compost. Don’t leave them lying around your patch as they can harbour disease and pests. It’s always best to tidy up as you go.



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