Hot diary: What can you do in September?

September in the garden is a promise of a faint frosty morning, a delightful sunny afternoon and a breezy evening. A time for some frantic outdoor work. It should provide us with enough exercise to regain the strength we need to  get the barbecue and outdoor set out of the shed.

The warmer days will encourage most weed seeds to germinate and invade your garden beds in a matter of days. Keep a 5 cm (something inches) layer of bark or straw where possible  to prevent light from triggering the lethal uprising. However some seeds do favour darkness, an appropriate layer of mulch sill is an adversary that most fragile seedling (or shall we call them weedling) will find difficult to defeat. The bad news is that some plants send runners, such as kakuya grass, and there is nothing but hard work to cure this….. Or herbicide for those on the dark side of the force. The second purpose of mulch is to preserve existing moisture and retain coming one. Hot days are now around the corner and you must adopt a water wise attitude. Thirdly, freshly mulched garden beds look sexy!!!…. Well ok, as sexy as a garden bed can be.

Some plants require or favour spring planting, think of the cuttings taken in autumn. Keep talking to your local nursery team. 

If you are just coming out of hibernation from July and August, it is not too late to sprinkle manure on your veggie patch and garden beds. If the foliage of bulbs has died back, they are ready to be dug out, divided, replanted somewhere else and/or shared with friends. Around the house, check out pot plants. Give a larger home to pot bound girls and if the pots are too big to handle, remove the top layer of soil and replace it with fresh potting mix. Feeding is recommended NOW!! Prune wattle and other late winter/early spring flowering plants that have finished to do so.

That's right!!! The word has popped out!!! You may start to sow seedlings, but only with a great deal of motherly love and affection. That is provide your seeds with appropriate growing conditions. A glasshouse will increase moisture levels around the seed and later seedlings (a plastic bottle will do), seed raising mix encourages root penetration and gentle watering with clean water to avoid contamination with pathogens. If you are reusing/recycling/upcycling material, disinfection of pots using bleach is a good idea. Also control excessive dampness. Most seedlings die of fungal infection in early stages of their life due to lack of hygiene and aeration.

-SOW IN SITU (in final position) or PLANT OUT: globe artichoke, asparagus, beetroot, broad bean, broccoli, summer cabbage (as if winter ones weren't enough), Chinese  cabbage (what the hell!!! When are nicer things going to appear on this list), carrot, cauliflower, chicory, cress, corn salad, endive, kohlrabi, leek, lettuce, mustard, okra, onion, parsley, parsnip, peas, radish, turnip, spinach, salsify and most herbs.

-SOW UNDER PROCTECTION: Amaranth, basil, capsicum, celeriac, celery, chilli, climbing beans, cucumber, dwarf beans, eggplant, luffa, marrow, melon, mint, pumpkin, rock melon, squask, sweet corn, tomatillo tomato, zucchini and much more.

Go bonkers and do not forget to sow flower and lawn annuals.

Crop rotation, as said many times before, is essential to prevent the build up of pests and diseases. Closely related to why we change knickers and socks every day. In brief, year 1 acid loving crops (tomato, capsicum, eggplants) should be followed in year 2 by alkaline loving plants (cabbages, beetroot). This is easily done by adding lime to your soil prior to planting, follow the direction on the pack.  In year 3, add a generous amount of  manure prior to planting cucumber, sweet corn, pumpkin, winter squash and zucchini. In Year 4, plant a crop that will add nitrogen to the soil, such as beans, as it will be highly  beneficial to year 1 crop of tomatoes, capsicum and eggplant. If you divide your veggie patch in 4 equal parts, it will easy to keep playing the musical chairs with your crop and keep going round from one year to the next. Feed citrus trees with manure and blood and bones. Plant your strawberry and potato in their final spot. By now you should be harvesting: broad beans, brussel sprouts, carrots, florence fennel, leeks, shallots, snow peas, burdock, cauliflower, garlic, cabbage, kale, lettuce, mustards greens, radish.

The sound of the lawn mower come spring time is sweet music. It tells you that gardens are back to life. Although, I admit that I could strangle the driver/pusher after a couple of early week-end rises. So driver/pusher do not mow your living green carpet too short, otherwise it will not grow as deep a root system and will dry off faster.
If you want to inflict the pain on yourself of mowing a healthy lawn regularly, FEED IT NOW!! IMMEDIATELY!!! RIGHT AWAY!!! Or you run the risk of remaining sane and you might consider alternative options…. Such as no lawn!!!! So if you want to keep your arms straight and your head down, throughout the growing season, FEED IT!!! By the way, a poorly fed lawn will be unable to compete with weeds and is more likely to get infested.

Enjoy the return of warmer days, some physical exercise and why not a cup of tea sitting in the sunshine. We wish you all the best of luck with your seedlings, a subject that we will be discussing very soon.

Take good care and sunscreen well,

Aurelie Quade.