What to plant in September

As we wave a fond farewell to summer, September is a time to plant garlic for next spring and Oriental salads to enjoy throughout autumn.

What to plant in September


Despite its Mediterranean connections, garlic is a hardy, easy-to-grow crop, and planting it in autumn makes good use of winter space on the vegetable plot. You then get a tasty, early summer harvest of fresh garlic, to use when the stems are green (and good to eat) and the skins of the cloves are soft. This fresh, green or ‘wet’ garlic, will be more succulent than any of the dried garlic you’ll find in the shops. Alternatively, leave the bulbs in the ground to mature for drying (see below).

  • Buy bulbs of seed garlic from a garden centre or by mail order; shop-bought garlic might not be suited to the UK climate and could carry disease.
  • In September or October, split the bulbs into individual cloves, and push them 2-3cm into the soil in a sunny, well-drained spot. Space them 15-20cm apart each way, planting the largest cloves (which will give the biggest bulbs) at the wider spacing.
  • Mark the rows, as the cloves may not put up green shoots for several months. When they do, keep them well weeded, and snip off the tops of any stiff flower stems that appear.
  • Use a fork to lift fresh, green garlic in late May/early June. Otherwise, wait for a few weeks until the leaves start to yellow, then lift the bulbs, brush off any remaining soil and place in a warm, airy place to dry. The dried garlic will keep for up to three months.

Varieties to try
‘Albigensian Wight’ (white bulbs that store well), ‘Early Purple Wight’ (purple bulbs), both available to pre-order for September from The Garlic Farm.

Oriental salads
Sow fast-growing Oriental greens now for crisp, tasty leaves throughout autumn. Some types are mildly spicy, others are pungent, and they vary from green and feathery to bold and deep red. A seed mixture of different varieties gives best value for sowing in pots or small beds.

  • In beds, sow seeds thinly, 1cm deep, in rows 15cm apart. In pots, scatter them (with 1-2cm gaps), and cover thinly with compost.
  • Pick baby leaves for salad once they are large enough (in 6-8 weeks).
  • In October, cover the plants with a cloche or fleece. They should survive mild winters and grow new leaves and edible flower shoots in early spring.

Varieties to try
‘Oriental Mustards’, ‘Niche Oriental Mixed’, both from Thompson & Morgan.

Spring onions

These give a worthwhile crop in the smallest spaces.

  • Sow seeds in pots or beds in early September, as for salad leaves.
  • The plants should yield a succulent spring harvest.
  • Spring onions are a tasty treat, eaten raw or added to stir-fries.

Varieties to try
Hardy types such as ‘White Lisbon Winter Hardy’ (widely available).

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