Get growing edibles in September

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September is changeover month in the veg patch. This season is putting on a final flourish and delivering basketfuls of fresh food, sending me running about collecting it all in to stash away for winter; and at the same time next season is revving up with the first early crops ready to sow. It’s a busy time!

More fruit and veg growing inspiration:

September fruit and veg inspiration


Save shelling beans

As well as picking French beans young, green and tender, I like to leave some to mature for dried shelling beans. My favourites are ‘Blue Lake’ for haricots and jet black ‘Cherokee Trail of Tears’, like kidney beans. Leave pods till they turn yellow then shuck out the beans, dry for a fortnight and store in a jar.


Collect tomato seeds

It’s really easy to save tomato seed – I do it every year, it’s fun and saves me a few pence too. Just scoop the seeds from a ripe tomato, spread them onto kitchen towel and leave to dry. In spring, lay the kitchen towel plus seeds onto compost, cover with more compost – you’ll have seedlings in 10 days.


Lift and store maincrop potatoes

Maincrop potatoes grow slowly but it’s worth the wait: by now they’re fully developed and you’ll get a huge harvest, several kilos per plant. I lift all mine in September – leave them any longer in my garden and the wireworms find them. Dry in the sun for an hour or two then tip into double hessian sacks to store.


Sow broad beans for overwintering

While you’re gathering in this year’s harvest, don’t forget to get next year’s started too! I sow a batch of super-hardy ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ broad beans to overwinter as seedlings – if I plant them outside next February I can be picking them by the end of May.


Start a square foot salad patch

You want your winter salads close by so you can nip outside quickly and pick what you need – so I keep mine near the gate in a one-metre square raised bed divided into nine equal sections. Sow a different winter-hardy salad ingredient in each and you’ll have a pick’n’mix salad bar to enjoy all winter long.


Start mulching

As your veg beds start to empty it’s time to swing into action and raid the compost bins to cover up that soil again before the winter weather attacks. A thick mulch, five to 10 centimetres deep, keeps your soil safe and protects it from rain, frost, wind and just about everything else till you need it again next spring.