As I write, it’s dark outside. And it’s only 8 pm. The temperature has dropped to single figures too. It doesn’t matter how many times Summer slips into Autumn, the change still seems to happen very abruptly.
Of course, there are still things to enjoy. Allotmenteering is all about living in the seasons, and I’ve found that growing my own food has brought me much closer to those natural rhythms that I ever had been before.
So I’m happy it’s dark and a little bit cold. September is a great month, with loads to appreciate. Here are 6 jobs to enjoy on the allotment this month.
Harvesting the abundance of fruit both on the plot and in the hedgerows during September is such a pleasure – my favourite thing to do is combining some Bramley apples with a big handful of blackberries and making a good old crumble.
The hedgerows are stuff with big, fat blackberries this year, but don’t forget the cultivated ones are also worth growing.
I also love Autumn Bliss raspberries, the late variety of the fruit that brings a dose of Summer into Autumn.
If you are harvesting apples and pears, make sure you store them properly. Here are some storage tips to get those apples to last as long as possible.
As the nights draw in and the temperature drops, sowing seeds seems light-years away. Overwintering onions gives me that little pick me up as a begin saying my goodbyes to the summer.
Traditional advice says to plant overwintering onions on the shortest day of the year to harvest on the longest of the following year, but I like to get the bulbs in early so that they are harvested and out of the way by late Spring.
Although onions are cheap to buy in the shops, they make good use of otherwise empty space and both red and white onions can also be complemented by overwintered garlic.
In my humble veg growing opinion, squashes are one of the very best allotment options. They’re tasty, expensive to buy, versatile and if kept well, store for ages.
They’re also beautiful to look at, especially the glorious Turk’s Turban. If you’re looking for an unusual crop to grow next year, I’d definitely recommend giving these a go.
Knowing when to harvest and how to store the fruits properly is key for longevity, but isn’t difficult. I’ve stored squashes in my dining room, under the stairs and shed before, and they’ve still lasted until the following Spring.
Caring for Rhubarb
I’m a rhubarb bore, and those first stems in Spring are one of my favourite harvests of the year. Rhubarb is such an exciting crop to cook with and taste delicious but is also gleefully low maintenance too.
All that’s required is a healthy dump of well-rotted manure around the base of the plant before the winter comes. This is a very satisfying job, which can be enjoyed the content in the knowledge that the rhubarb will come back even stronger for it in the spring.
Potting up Strawberries
As the strawberry season draws to a close, you’ll no doubt notice runners shooting all over your strawberry bed. This is a strawberry plant’s natural attempt to spread its wings, self-propagating for you so you’ll never need to buy new plants again.
The roots look like pincers and need either pressing gently into the soil or potting up ready to plant somewhere else. It’s a very satisfying job, knowing that you’re increasing next year’s fruit yield without spending a penny.
If you’re unsure how to pot up a runner, have a look at this post about preparing a new strawberry bed.