September – summer draws to a close

September was a good month in the garden but the weather didn’t give us that final splurge of summer we sometimes get in England. The wind and rain didn’t play a major role but neither did the sun. It was getting cooler every day and those balmy evenings we spent dead heading and mooching round in the garden were becoming a distant memory. The constant watering of earlier months was gone and the warmth disappeared quite quickly this year.

This meant that the crops we were still waiting on were not materialising and we took the decision in mid September to harvest all the tomatoes and peppers and bring them indoors to ripen them. A couple of valiant little tomato souls tried to change colour on the plant but most stubbornly stayed green. I left some of the beans out there after reading that many people were getting late beans and it was worth leaving them out for a few more weeks.

We decided to try the old banana in a bag trick and amazingly it worked. We ripened all of our tomatoes this way over the next four weeks. Our pepper harvest was small but perfectly formed and we had a couple more chillis from our indoor plants. The last of the carrots were as weird and misshapen as the previous batch but they tasted good.

Sadly the beans were a bit of a disappointment. The early ones I picked didn’t have any beans in them and the ones I left till later in the month weren’t any better. We need to plan them better next year, they may have been too shaded early on in the season.

The flowers in the garden continued to shine and there were still loads of cosmos and sweet peas but I started to harvest seeds from both for next year. I think we’ll make more pyramids next year and grow the sweet peas in smaller batches instead of just throwing them all in one box. I got mainly white and lilac flowers but I did have one pink flower that I carefully watched and separated the seed pods when they were ready so I can identify them next year. The last of the sunflowers were hanging on too.

September was a transition month for us – we decided that we would get a few more raised beds to start off some crops for later in the year and early into next year. This also gave us the chance to take all our strawberry runners and plant them up ready for next year. We will hopefully have a full bed of strawberries come June next year.

We planted a second bed with purple sprouting broccoli and onions. We also invested in a net for these beds as we are plagued with pigeons – of the racing variety. They belong to someone a few houses down from our house and they are a menace. They constantly land on the lawn where we have our bird feeders and have destroyed all the grass in that part of the garden. I know we could stop feeding the garden birds but they bring us so much joy that it’s not a compromise I’m prepared to make so we cover anything that might be a temptation for the pigeons and spend a lot of time waving our arms at them to make them leave.

The other big change in the garden this month was the introduction of some new planters specifically for the spring bulbs. I filled one with crocus and a second with crocus and a tulips. I know it’s quite early for tulips but I had so many bulbs that I decided to risk it. I kept a lot back to plant later in the year but I wanted to have a go at creating a spring display that would start with crocus and end with tulips. I also introduced some heathers. I love heather and we didn’t have any in the garden so I just bought a couple of small plants that are now sitting just behind the back door.

September was definitely a transition month, summer was clearly on its way out but those nippy Autumn days were yet to arrive. So while we couldn’t spend evenings sitting out in the garden as much as we’d done in the summer we were still out there, planning and picturing next year. So even in these cooler, less sunny days the garden was giving us a purpose, a plan, jobs to do and crops to harvest. I think this was the first time we actually made any concrete plans for 2021. Pandemic be damned – we’re going to have strawberries and sweet peas!

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