Richard's top tips for September
Move houseplants. Bring inside lemon trees, cymbidiums and any houseplants that have been in the garden during the summer. Check them over for pests first and spray with an insecticide if necessary. Don’t forget to look at the bottom of the pot, that’s where slugs or snails hide.
New lawns. Autumn’s the very best time to start a new lawn. Prepare the soil now by killing any weeds, then digging over and raking level. By the end of September, it should be in perfect condition for seeding or turfing.
Flower power. The cheapest way to pack your garden with colour next year is to grow hardy annuals like pot marigolds, larkspur and love-in-a-mist. If you sow the seeds now in a sunny spot outdoors, they’ll start flowering extra early next summer.
Dig spuds. Lift the last of your potatoes before the slugs get to them. Dig them up on a sunny morning, leave them on the soil to dry out completely during the day then store in paper bags in a cool shed or garage.
Summer colour. Keep your summer pots looking good for as long as possible. Keep them well watered, feed twice a week with a high potash feed like Flower Power and take off any finished flowers to stop the plants from going to seed.
Winter savoury. Preserve some herbs to use in winter. Chop them finely, add to ice cube trays, pour in a little water and put in the freezer. When needed, just pop the cubes into stews or sauces to give them a really fresh herb flavour.
Bed out. As the summer bedding plants begin to fade, dig them out and pop them on the compost heap. Fill the gaps with pansies and polyanthus. The sooner these are planted, the better the display next spring.
Get reddy. Help those green tomatoes turn red before the weather turns cold. Hang a couple of bananas by the plants. The bananas will give off a gas which will encourage the tomatoes to ripen faster.
Grow garlic. Home grown garlic is much milder, tastier and fresher than the supermarket’s. For best results, get a pack of special cloves from the garden centre and plant them in well drained soil. Harvest them from mid-summer.
Love me tender. Take cuttings of your favourite tender bedding plants like geraniums, fuchsias and marguerites. Grow them indoors on the windowsill over winter and they’ll make good sized plants by the time you plant them outside next May.
Pond tidy. Cut off yellowing, dying and dead leaves from water lilies and other pond plants.
Get fruity. Harvest apples and pears before they get damaged by weather and pests. Some varieties can be eaten straight away, others will need storing indoors to finish ripening.
Move it. Got a shrub growing in the wrong spot ? It’s the best time of year to move it. Re-plant with plenty of compost or well rotted manure and keep well watered.
Lawn care. Give your grass a big boost by feeding with it with Lawn Magic. The feed will turn it a glorious green, strengthen the root system prior to winter and will also help your lawn look better next year.
Get netted. Stop the autumn leaves from falling in the pond by placing some netting over it. Apart from saving you the hassle of forever scooping leaves out of the water, it also saves the fish who can be affected by gases given off by rotting leaves.
Veg out. Harvest crops regularly before the slugs get to damage them. Cut pumpkins and squashes if ripe. Make the last of the outdoor tomatoes into soups and chutney. Sow winter spinach, spring cabbage and calabrese in the veg plot for extra early crops next year.