September is generally a chiller, breezier month than August and the days are noticeably getting shorter. In fact, September definitely has an autumnal feel about it!
Gardening in September
Many of the plants and vegetables in your Polytunnel will look past their best and the fight to keep your plants fed and watered or producing or deadheaded has eased. Phew! Although there’s a noticeable slowdown in the production of the heavy cropping summer plants like courgettes, cucumbers, runner beans, french beans and peas this month, September is probably the busiest month for harvesting.
Harvesting & Sowing
You should be busy harvesting crops such as:
I know it’s been a long wait but finally, they are ready, and if you’ve grown sweetcorn it will be the best you’ve ever tasted. Honestly it will! There’s really no better feeling than reaping the rewards of all your hard work and enjoying the last of the summer fruits and veggies!
If you plant seed potatoes in your Polytunnel in September you can grow a bumper crop of spuds to serve with your festive turkey! Cool eh….?
Now there’s not just as many jobs to do in the Polytunnel, crops have come out and the Polytunnel is beginning to look a tad empty, it’s the perfect time to start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year. Spring might seem like a long way off, but September is the perfect month to start making preparations. Have you thought about collecting seeds for next summer’s splash of colour too?
Store Harvested Crops
The last of any onions should be drying now. Once harvested you need to ensure they have dried off to prevent rot in storage. Slatted shelving or racks work well but here’s our top tip for storing whole onions – Take a “washed” pair of tights or stockings and place the onions into the feet. Tie a knot just above each whole onion and repeat this process until both legs are full. When you need an onion, simply cut the tights just below the end knot. Simples!
September is Time To:
- Check your Polytunnel heater is in working order.
- Pay close attention to ventilation and make sure side and doors vents are covered on cool nights
- plant new strawberry runners for cropping next year
- Reduce watering unless we have an Indian summer (wishful thinking)
- Sow winter salads, Plant garlic, turnips, spring cabbages and autumn onion sets..
- Clear crops once they’ve finished and fork over beds
- Save seeds from favourite bean varieties to plant next spring
- Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can!
- Repair any damage to your Polytunnels polythene cover with repair tape before the windier months arrive
- Keep your eyes peeled – Make regular checks for eggs and caterpillars and remove any that you find as Caterpillars can quickly decimate your brassica crops.
- Watch out for signs of blight – Blight often strikes around now. Tomatoes can be turned from healthy, lush green plants to brown decaying ones in just 2 or 3 days. If the worst should strike, 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.
- Harvest autumn vegetables – Chilli peppers, capsicum, aubergine, 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.
- Tidy up as you go – Once plants have finished cropping dig them up and add them to your compost. Don’t leave them lying around as they can harbour unwelcome disease and pests.
As we leave summer behind and approach autumn, September is a month of second chances. A chance to plan and plant, dig and divide; to do all those things we didn’t do in our Polytunnels in the spring!
For more sowing and growing tips, why not download our FREE 12 month growing guides and top of the crops.
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Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK