September is the month to get planting and improve the soil in the vegetable patch. Sandy soils need lots of organic matter and soil improver added to make rich soil suited to growing vegetables. After that, all the hard work is done. You can then get down and dirty on your hands and knees planting.
Plant all the things that the children love like corn, watermelon, rockmelon, cherry tomatoes, fresh beans, Lebanese cucumbers, honeydew melon, zucchini (I must admit the relationship between children and zucchini is usually not so good, unless it is disguised!) and baby carrots.
The germination of certain varieties of seed may be affected by cold at the moment. If it’s a cold month, cover them at night or place seeds in a protected position whilst they are germinating.
If you haven’t grown vegetables before, start off small. All they require is a well-improved soil with lots of compost and sheep, chook or cow manure. A mulch of straw or pea hay will work wonders by retaining precious soil moisture. Feed with a complete fertiliser. There are now many organic brands available to give the best possible results by feeding the soil as well as the plants.
Tomatoes are the most popular homegrown crop and many gardeners are familiar with the mini Romas that are available to buy through the fruit and vegetable store. These seeds are now available to plant. Prolific fruiters, they will keep you in punnets and punnets of tomatoes right through the season.
Plant beans around the garden, not only in the vegie patch. They grow very vigorously and being a legume, they will improve the fertility of the soil as well. Once they have finished cropping, pull them out and lay on the ground as mulch.
Every garden needs a lemon tree, no matter the size. ‘Lots of Lemons’ is a dwarf lemon that grows no higher than 1.5m and is perfect for small areas such as balconies, patios or courtyards and it is forming many buds at the moment. Thin out the buds by removing about half and start applying Powerfeed and Seasol over the foliage every fortnight. This will support the plant throughout the fruiting season. Liquid fertilisers are absorbed 400 times faster than fertilisers that are applied around a plant’s root system.
Wisteria is also in full flower. This hardy perfumed climber is great for training over pergolas or along fences but looks even better when trained into a standard. A strong two metre piece of pipe will form a frame that the climber can be supported by and the branches will arch out from it.
Sunshine brings out the gardeners and it is the time to get a few maintenance jobs done to save time in the summer. Feed the lawn to kick start it out of winter dormancy and get it to green up quickly. Treat the garden with a wetting agent early in the season to conserve as much water as possible in the soil. Soil can become water repellent very easily.
If your citrus trees are less than two years old, remove all the fruit that has set. Foregoing a few fruit this season is worth it in the long run. By doing this, you will have larger stronger plants that will have energy left over to set fruit easily the following year.
Check the reticulation system and if necessary change the way it is being watered. Some plants will have grown so need the drippers moved or the sprayers changed so that water will get to their roots. Check all is working as the warm weather isn’t far around the corner.
It’s time to plant up hanging baskets with colour to brighten up the patio area for summer. There is nothing nicer than looking out on some gorgeous colour. Choose a premium tub and terracotta potting mix with added wetting agent and water storing crystals so you don’t have to water as much.
Geraniums are one of those, old fashioned plants that have in previous years been forgotten and are now becoming really popular. Gardeners are realising just how tough they are and how gorgeous they look all the time. Mass plant throughout the garden and in no time at all you will be rewarded with bright flowers.
Apply one tablespoon of Sulphate of Potash around the roses and water in well. Potassium is an essential nutrient and works on the plant by thickening the cell walls and helping build up the plants resistance to diseases such as black spot. This can be applied at pruning, in early spring and again in autumn.