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Friday, September 17, 2021

Welcome autumn in a mellow spirit of thankfulness

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September sees the arrival of autumn. It’s official. There is no escaping it now. Sunrise has gone past 6am. The first early-morning mists lurked at the top of the Heath a few weeks ago. ’Tis the season for mellow fruitfulness.

At the plot this means beans. I have hopes for late-sown blue Blauhilde growing on the failed pea poles. It’s been a tough year on the plot for fruiting plants. Our French beans soon became skyscraper homes for snails.

Our beans came late as succession sowing finally broke through. Our neighbour John has nice apples and a couple of fig trees. Ironically, he’s had the best year in his absence.

You are still OK for sowing rocket and radishes. They are fast-growing and good for filling gaps. Move any spring cabbages to their winter beds. You will likely need to protect them from ever-hungrier pigeons. Think about bird-feeders and water for other wildlife.

Land cress, corn salads and winter lettuces can all be sown now. The same for the ‘Oriental’ leaves –mizuna, mibuna, Japanese mustard greens – and Italian chicories. We will still sow coriander, too, in the south. I have been loving the flowers and will save seed.

Ripen off tomatoes under cloches or by un-staking and laying them on the ground if the weather’s dry. If it rains – particularly if on an allotment site – keep a sharp eye out for blight.

As trees will be shedding, think about collecting leaves for leaf mould. Pay attention to compost. Think about starting a new heap. It is time to begin clearing and preparing ground for winter. Onion sets and garlic can go in this month or next.

Summer will soon be over, so tender crops will need extra care. September heralds the return of frost. Savour these weeks. Try to remember to appreciate.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

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