"September - evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regret"

During September our thoughts are more focused on bringing in the harvest and preparing the ground before the winter rains makes it too soggy to work.

Sow some leafy winter greens, mustard leaves, pak choi, mizuna or lambs lettuce. Growing under some sort of shelter prolongs the growing season, in a greenhouse if you have one or a cold frame or under a cloche or horticultural fleece keeps the chill off and protects from the worst wind and rain. I’m trying some watercress, not in running water but in the soil. I’m hoping our wetter winters will suit it.

Other varieties to sow are the hardier varieties of lettuce such as Winter Density or Arctic King and hardy spring onions                                                                                  
Plant autumn onion sets (Japanese onions)     

If you have wide sunny windowsills (lucky you!) try sowing pots of herbs indoors overwinter. Chervil, coriander, flat leaf parsley, sorrel and dill will add flavour throughout. If you have room pot up some mint and chives too. If you can get it started, winter savory is tough and can be planted outside once big enough to handle (great in all sorts of bean dishes).                                                                              
When planting bulbs out in the garden, plant them as soon as they arrive – with the exception of tulips which should be kept somewhere cool before planting out in November. Planting up bowls or shallow pots with colourful or scented bulbs brings the promise of spring into your home during the depths of winter. My Mum's favourites were baskets of hyacinths and bowls of paperwhite narcissi.

Top tip: clean up your strawberry plants; remove old leaves and mulches from around the plants as these can harbour disease and pests. Pot new runners into fresh soil.

Quote was by Alexander Theroux, 1981 - "September: it was the most beautiful of words, he’d always felt, evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regret."

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