September is a fantastic month for grow your own-ers. There's plenty to harvest but it's less manic, trask wise, than the previous couple of months.

Around the smallholding

Keep deadheading and watering flowers in beds and containers to keep the colour as long as possible.

Consider planting up containers with spring bulbs and winter bedding.

Cut back, remove and tidy as much as you can in all the beds to reduce risk of pests and hiding places for slugs and snails. Compost what you can but not diseased leaves and plants.

Compost bean and pea plants but leave the roots in the ground as their roots have nodules that contain nitrogen.

If you haven’t before, make a bin to hold leaves to make leaf compost. Black plastic bags with air holes work, too. Pile earth around the bases of Brussels sprouts plants to help them in windier weather.

South West Farmer:

As it gets colder trees and shrubs can be moved.

Weeds are growing again so hoeing now will stop their progress and you’ll see the difference in the spring.

Dandelions, in particular, are having their second wind so take time to dig their deep roots out.

If you are a digger rather than a no-digger, it’s time for the first dig. Leave the clods unbroken on the surface of the beds as the coming frosts will do this for you through the winter.

This month may see the first frost so have fleece at the ready for your frost-tender veg plants that are still producing to keep them going for longer.

To make you feel better, it’s time to plan and buy your spring bulbs!

Veg to sow

Winter salad leaves such as pak choi, lamb’s lettuce, mizuna, mibuna, rocket, chicory, endive, winter lettuce, land cress and mustard. These can be sown now into modules, two or three seeds into each and each module holding a single variety to make planting out easier. Young plants can be planted out nearer the end of the month, about 10cm apart.

They grow so quickly that planting radishes now means you can enjoy a late summery salad even as autumn begins.

Likewise, small tasty turnips can be ready in six weeks so there’s time to enjoy them if sown now.

South West Farmer:

Spring cabbage can be planted out once the plants are a couple of inches high. They’ll be ready to eat mid-spring when their hearts feel firm.

Sowing peas and beans now allows plants to establish over winter and crop earlier.

Sets of onions, shallots and garlic planted now give earlier harvest next year.

Flowers to sow

Sow next year’s sweet peas, gently chipping the seeds to help them germinate and keep them in a bright, cold place.

Plant pretty fritillaries for next spring.

Calendula seeds in pots now and keep in a cold frame.

Sow violas, verbascum, helenium, lupins, aquilegia, aconitum and hollyhocks in pots in a cold frame to plant out in the spring.

South West Farmer:

Aquilegia formosa - Violet columbine

Sow poppy and cornflower seeds where you want their colour next summer.

Bumper harvest

It’s virtually impossible to list everything that you could be harvesting now, but it’s the time of year when if you’ve got it, you’ve probably got lots of it!

Apples and pears: When you gently twist the stem, ripe fruit will fall into your hand.

Beetroot: Lift them before they get too big and roast or pickle them.

Courgettes: Once these ripen it seems to take a nano-second before they’re marrows and they also hide behind leaves. If you have too many pick them earlier and use as small veg in stir fries and salads.

South West Farmer:

Garlic and onions: Pull up the remaining bulbs and onions, leave to dry then hang to store. The garlic, especially, will lend a beautiful flavour to the winter roasts.

Sweetcorn: When they’re ripe the beards are brown and a milky liquid seeps from the kernels if you squeeze them. The sugars fast convert to starch so they’re best eaten the same day as picked.

Potatoes: Once the foliage is yellowed cut it and remove. Around two weeks later lift the remaining potatoes away from slugs’ hungry mouths and leave to dry for half a day before storing healthy ones in a cold, dark place in half filled paper sacks.

Leeks: The first leeks could be ready this month, and if they’re not, it won’t be long.

Aubergines: Once the skins are tight and shiny they are ready for eating.

Raspberries: If you can’t eat them all fresh they freeze well as well as making great jam.

Runner beans: Keep picking and if they become stringy, pick them when they are smaller.

Swiss Chard: If you have a lot put it in a vase with water and you can appreciate its beautiful colours while you whittle it down steamed or in stir fries.

Tomatoes: If the final tomatoes are slow to ripen, remove all foliage so that the plant’s energy can be focussed solely on the fruit.


Keep watching for blight

Slug eggs – if you find them when weeding, expose them, as they make a delicious morsel for birds

South West Farmer:


We'd love to see photos of the produce you're proudest of growing. Do share them with us by posting them to Facebook @Smallholder, Twitter @SmallholderMag or email them to and they could star on and in next month's magazine