Sowing and Growing in September…

Earthed Up! focus on growing edible perennials and other useful plants. I like to mix up my perennial veg with annual plants and wildflowers too. I am developing ‘Polycultural’ beds in my garden that were first intended as annual veg beds. Polyculture simply means growing different plants together, rather than in a Monoculture.

Currently I have a bed with Borlotti beans which I will harvest soon, underneath there is Lambs lettuce ( like a mini lettuce) which has self seeded from last winters crop that I let go to seed, and in amongst that is some baby Salsify (a root veg) that self sowed this summer.

Self seeding Lambs lettuce seedlings that germinated once the weather got cooler, and the long grassy looking seedling is Salsify

In another bed I have some mature Salsify living with perennial Babingtons Leeks, more Lambs Lettuce, Dandelions for salad, some self sown big type lettuce, cherry Tomatoes and Calendula (aka Pot Marigold).

This year I have tried a well known Polyculture in another bed- the 3 sisters of beans, sweetcorn and squashes. This is a tradition from the indigenous people of america. I had mixed success due to the growing conditions!

In order to keep my veg beds productive I think about either overwintering hardy veg to bring on earlier in the spring, and/or starting greens which will overwinter. Even into September there are still things that can be sown. I don’t sow directly into beds as this has a low success rate in my garden…yes, due to slugs!!! I sow into seed trays and transplant when seedlings are big enough to handle.

Edibles you can sow in September for growing outdoors: Wild Rocket which happens to be a perennial, or it’s annual sister Cultivated Rocket, Chervil herb which self seeds, Pak Choi for under cloches, Spinach ‘Giant Winter’, Winter Purslane ( a lovely self seeding salad), winter hardy lettuces for under cloches, Chinese Mustard ‘Green in snow’ and Edible Crysanthemum!

And for a winter supply of indoor herbs sow Coriander and Chervil in Autumn. You can also take a division of some outdoor herbs and pot them into small pots for keeping on a sunny windowsill overwinter. Chives and Mint will happily be divided and grow on indoors. You can buy small plants of Rosemary, Oregano and Thyme to grow indoors overwinter on your sunniest windowsill too.

This is also a good time to make many cuttings of plants you want to increase your stock of, or to protect some slightly tender plants by having back-up growing in a frost free place. Take semi-ripe cuttings, from this year’s growth which are woody at the base and soft at the tip. Hormone levels are high in the Autumn, so plants should root and grow well.

Some plants we have been taking cuttings of at Earthed Up! are Lavender, Rosemary, Lemon Verbena, and some tree cuttings. Some ornamentals to take cuttings of now include; Fuchsia, Pelargoniums, Salvias, Penstemmons, tender Hebes, and Verbenas.

For more information about how to take semi ripe cuttings see this article on the RHS website: https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/profile?pid=404

Finally, this is a great time to sow seeds of biennial flowers and we particularly love wildflowers for the benefits they bring to wildlife. At this time of year biennials will germinate and grow into small basal plants (with leaves at the base close to the ground), and this way they get a head start to get going quicker in the spring, bringing you bigger and earlier flowers. Right now you can sow biennials; Wild carrot (my favourite!), Ragged Robin, Cornflowers, Red clover, Bladder Campion. And perennials; Primulas, Salad Burnet , Red Campion and Meadowsweet.

Basal leaves of Ragged Robin

Don’t forget to sow all those seeds that need a period of cold before they can germinate, such as many trees (this is called cold stratification) now too! On my list are Sweet Cicely, Angelica, and the beautiful Sweet Purple Violet.

We have Sylvagrow Peat Free compost in stock now which is a vegan multi purpose compost made by Melcourt in Gloucestershire, from bark, wood fibre, sustainably sourced coir and added urea. You can buy 50 litre bags at any of our forthcoming markets/events, or we deliver locally for 50p.

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