September Gardening Guide – Cool Climate
What to Plant in September?
Loads of leafy greens and roots like carrots, parsnip, beetroot, turnips and swedes can all be sown now. Also celery and silverbeet (or rainbow chard – pretty!) seedlings, brassicas like broccoli and cabbage, leeks, and the ubiquitous spring onions and radish.
Peas and broad beans can still go in, and will catch up quickly to autumn-sown ones, although the peas might be prone to slug attack.
Chunky things too like potatoes, Jerusalem artichokes, rhubarb and asparagus crowns. You can sow seed of globe artichokes, but be aware that you’ll get a whole range of flower bud colour, size, spikiness and edibility from a single seed packet. If you really want a particular artichoke flower shape, best to find an example at a friend’s place, and beg a few suckers from that plant which will be clones of the parent plant.
This month is the exciting start of planting seeds of summer vegies in pots on a windowsill or greenhouse: tomatoes, pumpkin, zucchini, capsicum, sweetcorn.
As we approach the equinox the days are nearly as long as the nights, and the soil is starting to warm up. With the burst of growth in spring it’s a good time to feed everything.
Plants need major nutrients from the soil, as well as sunlight and carbon dioxide absorbed through their leaves. The complex web of life in healthy soil is constantly breaking down old organic matter, even minerals, to restock the storage “shelves” in clay and humus particles in the soil, and thus make the nutrients available to plants. So consider when you think about fertiliser that you’re feeding the soil and the plants. Try to use organic fertilisers and compost, animal manures and worm castings, rock dust and seaweed products, worm wee and compost tea, to give the soil life as balanced a menu as possible.
Pests and Disease
Late brassicas are often monstered by icky grey aphids around now. For broccoli, you can peel the stems, even, and especially, if they are going up to flower, and discard really badly infested florets – the chooks will love them.
Harvest and Preserve
- Citrus are coming on strong. Pick a few days before you use them if you can, they get juicier.
- Asparagus spears are emerging! Snap or cut them close to the soil surface.
- Snow peas are starting to provide garden snacks, and purple sprouting broccoli is an early spring staple. You may even have a few early artichoke flowers to add to the spring basket.
Permaculture Principle #9: Use Small and Slow Solutions
We have a nice big bowl of crushed eggshells on the kitchen counter. There must be hundreds of eggs in there. We’ll use it in fertiliser mixes when planting tomatoes and other summer vegies, and give some to the worms and the chooks in any warm mash they get.
Of course, hundreds of eggshells don’t accumulate overnight. Every time we have eggs we set the shells out on a tray to dry, and then grind them in a mortar and pestle and empty it into the shell grit bowl. I love how over the days and weeks the bowl fills up bit by bit. Slowly but surely.