Vegetables to plant in September: top 10 crops to sow and grow this month

Don’t miss out on the best vegetables to plant in September. We gather up the garden essentials to sow and plant now for happy harvests in the months ahead

vegetables to plant in september: Watermelon radish at harvest
(Image credit: Alamy)

There are still plenty of amazing vegetables to plant in September. With healthy ground conditions and warm indoor spaces, you can start off a stack of lip-smacking goodies now for healthy feasts well into winter. Whether you’re looking to bulk up on baby roots and hardy greens or try your hand at tasty oriental veg, we’ve got the essential growing list to give your kitchen garden a boost. 

Bear in mind that the autumn equinox will mean you lose a certain amount of warmth and light. Quick-maturing crops that might have taken four weeks from seed to harvest in summer might take a few weeks longer – but it’s worth it. The soil should still be warm, and fine weather can mean several more weeks of successful germination. 

Amateur Gardening’s fruit and veg expert Lucy Chamberlain has another suggestion for a few bare patches that appear in your raised garden bed ideas as summer crops get harvested. Why not grow green manures? These nutrient-boosting plants can make all the difference to how well crops grow. As Lucy points out, they nourish the soil and keep weeds at bay: all very good news for future crops. So don’t resist the temptation to squeeze even more out of your kitchen garden now – you’ll thank us later.

Vegetables to plant in September: 10 crops to grow now

We've gathered up some of the best vegetables to plant in September. Whether you’re in the mood for roots, leaves, bulbs or something more exotic, our run-down of top crops is sure to hit the spot. 

As Chris Bonnett, horticultural expert and founder of Gardening Express (opens in new tab), points out: ‘The top tip for growing crops now is to check on your plants daily.’ 

1. Wok broc

Wok Broc Kichi at harvest

Tasty Wok Broc 'Kichi' from Suttons (opens in new tab) is a perfect cut-and-come-again crop to start off in September

(Image credit: Suttons)

Although it sounds a little bit like a vegetarian metal band, wok broc (also called Chinese broccoli) is a great vegetable to plant in September. This exotic-sounding crop, also known as kai lan, is a bit like conventional sprouting broccoli. It’s fast-growing, hard-working and packed with antioxidants and vitamin C.  

Sow directly into moist, weed-free soil in an open, sunny site. Drop the seeds into a 1in (2.5cm) deep trench, or scatter across the surface of large pots. Thin to 12in (30cm) apart when seedlings are large enough to handle. Water well and make sure the growing area remains weed-free. 

Because this crop is fast-growing, you can harvest the stems and leaves around six-eight weeks after sowing. Remove a few centimeters of the stems when the flowers appear. We recommend you leave a few flowers on the plant, though – they are great for pollinators. 

Why not try these wok broc varieties? 

  • ‘Early Jade’ Tasty, vigorous and slow to bolt. This crop is as good as its name and can be harvested 40-50 days after sowing.
  • ‘Suiho’ Thick, sweet and crispy stems make this crop very moreish. It looks like kale with its wrinkled leaves. Tastes yummy in stir-fries.
  • ‘Kichi’ (Suttons): Delicious cut-and-come-again variety that is tolerant of downy mildew. Best eaten when the plant is just beginning to flower. Sow successionally every two-three weeks for a continuous supply.

Top tip: Roots of wok broc plants can become swollen and distorted – a sign of club root. You can prevent this by adding lime to the soil to improve drainage. You might also see little holes on the leaves, which is a sign that cabbage white caterpillars have been feeding. Use insect-proof mesh to prevent egg-laying.

Want to find out more about growing tasty tender edibles in the brassica family? Read our guide on how to grow winter brassicas and also how to grow kale to find out more.  

2. Japanese onions

Japanese onion Senshyu growing on the plot

Try ‘Senshyu Yellow’ for a heavy yielding globe onion that will thrive in low temperatures 

(Image credit: Alamy)

If you haven’t grown Japanese onions before, you’re in for a treat. These hardy overwintering varieties, also known simply as ‘autumn planting onions’ can grow outside over the cooler months and deliver crunchy pungent goodness come spring. What makes them so perfect as one of your vegetables to plant in September is that they need less light than other onions, so shorter days won’t faze them. 

They are also excellent options for starting in September, thanks to their tolerance of the cooler climes. Chris Bonnett, horticultural expert and founder of Gardening Express, points out: ‘Onions are tough enough to withstand the cold weather throughout the winter. Just keep an eye on them, and if the conditions get too frosty, you can always cover them with a fleece to be on the safe side.’

If you’re stuck on what variety to choose, ‘Senshyu Yellow’ is a reliable, heavy yielding globe variety that can survive temperatures down to -18°C. ‘Toughball’ has good tolerance to botrytis and downy mildew, which you need for an overwintering type. Then there’s the shiny red-skinned ‘Electric’, which keeps for up to four weeks from harvest. Plus, ‘Troy’ and ‘Radar’, which have excellent bolt resistance.

Follow these tips for planting and growing your Japanese onion sets:

  1. Plant with the root end onto the soil and tassel end uppermost.
  2. Make a little hole for each set rather than just forcing it into the ground so you don’t damage the roots.
  3. Plant each set 4-6in (10–15cm) apart in long rows, and each row in turn should be about 18in (30cm) apart from one another.
  4. Gather soil around the planted set so just the top tassel shows. Firm the soil down, and water.
  5. Spread some horticultural fleece over the soil surface or cover with netting to protect from birds. This can be removed after a month.
  6. Watch out for weeds, water occasionally and avoid root disturbance.
  7. Harvest in June-July once the foliage turns yellow. You can store in nets, suspended or tied in ropes.

Make sure the ground is firm but not compacted for planting. Good drainage is essential because if the bulbs stand in water in winter they might rot. Watch out also for onion downy mildew, another problem in damp conditions. Ensure plenty of air around plants, and don’t overwater. Otherwise, there aren’t many problems to worry about. 

Did you know? In the Middle Ages, onions were held in high esteem. In fact, you could use them to pay rent. They also made lovely gifts. Also, as the experts at Squire’s Garden Centres point out, they are an excellent immune booster, help to regulate blood sugar levels and regulate the body’s cholesterol levels. 

If you want to find out more about how to grow onions, our guide will show you all you need to know.

3. Hardy lettuce

lettuce Winter Density at harvest

Lettuce 'Winter Density' is an excellent quick-maturing hardy lettuce for the cooler months

(Image credit: Alamy)

They might give the impression of being wafer thin, but there are lettuces bred to withstand the worst weather. And here they are! Full of densely robust flavors and crunchy texture, hardy lettuce is a key vegetable to plant in September. Just bear in mind that your September sowings may need protection with cloches, cold frames or an unheated greenhouse.

‘We should all be focusing on quick-maturing hardy crops now, and hardy lettuces are top of my list,’ says Amateur Gardening’s Lucy Chamberlain. ‘You can sow directly into the garden or into prepared modules. In the cool of autumn, lettuces need time to bulk up rapidly ready for transplanting, so place the sown modules into a greenhouse, conservatory or similar so they benefit from the extra heat. Transplant into a variety of places: greenhouse borders, old growing bags, patio pots or into open ground.’ 

Reliable varieties to look for include ‘Winter Density’ (cos), ‘Arctic King’ (butterhead), ‘Valdor’ (butterhead) and ‘Vailan’ (gem). Plus, there’s burgundy ‘Salad Leaf Red Cos’, crispy ‘Lobjoits Green’ (cos) and oak-leaved ‘Navara’. 

These are just a few potential lettuce issues to know about: 

  • Lettuce root aphids These cause older plants to wilt. Worse in dry conditions, so keep lettuce watered and cover with insect-proof mesh.
  • Slugs and snails You’ll see the slime trail on the soil and leaves of seedlings. Control with slug pubs, eggshell barriers and copper tape. There's more advice on how to get rid of slugs in our guide. 
  • Grey mould This fungal growth manifests as discolored patches. It thrives in damp or humid conditions. In greenhouses, reduce humidity by ventilating and avoid overcrowding of young plants and seedlings.

Whole lettuces are ready to harvest when a firm heart has formed. Loose-leaf varieties can be harvested by snipping a few outer leaves from each plant or cutting the whole lot from one plant. Want to find out about winter lettuces you can grow in the cooler months? See our guide to growing lettuce in winter for helpful tips.

4. Radish

radish Rainbow Mixed at harvest

Mix and match color and taste with Radish 'Rainbox Mixed' from Suttons (opens in new tab)

(Image credit: Suttons)

September is the last time of year you can think about growing radishes, so it’s worth starting a batch of them. This is especially true since they are ready to harvest pretty quickly, says Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express. So take advantage of this final push, and you’ll soon be enjoying crunchy croppers through autumn.

Direct-sow in the ground or sow in containers. If sowing in the ground, make short drills 6in (15cm) apart and sow half an inch (1cm) deep. Sow summer radish seeds 2.5cm (1in) apart, and winter varieties 6in (15cm) apart. And remember to keep the soil moist. As radishes are fast growers, try interplanting some between slower-growing veg like potatoes. You can harvest four weeks from sowing: these veggies are best eaten young. 

Watch out for flea beetle, where the leaves are covered in small holes. Keep the soil moist to help the crop get the better of this pest. Also watch out for brassica downy mildew. Leaves turn yellow and develop white patches, so remove infected plants quickly. 

Great radish varieties to try include the sweet and mild ‘Watermelon’. This may look modest from the exterior with its white flesh, but slice it apart and you’ll love its bright magenta flesh. Or there’s peppery ‘China Rose’, which is cold-tolerant and can be left in the ground over winter. Not forgetting the bold purple ‘Felicia’ with its slender roots, and ‘Rainbow Mix’, a colorful crunchy blend of different tastes (both from Suttons).  

Did you know? Radish can be used to relieve stomach ache, purify the blood and eliminate toxins. They are a wonderful source of potassium (which helps reduce blood pressure) as well as vitamin C, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B complex. The water in radishes also helps to maintain healthy moisture levels in the skin. Mashed radish has been known to make a pretty good face pack thanks to its cleansing properties! 

5. Baby turnips

Turnip Purple Top Milan at harvest

Striking purple and white Turnip 'Purple Top Milan' combines fast growth with flat-shaped roots

(Image credit: Alamy)

Turnips are another of the fastest-growing vegetables to plant in September. These crunchy wonders do best in cool, moist conditions. You’d be amazed how quickly you can harvest golf-ball sized baby veg. ‘If planted now, they should take around six weeks until they’re ready to harvest. Perfect – and just in time for winter,’ says Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express.

Sow seeds thinly in shallow drills, ½in (1cm) deep, with rows 12in (30cm) apart. Thin out seedlings until 8in (20cm) apart for baby roots. Water regularly, or roots won’t taste as nice or grow sufficiently. Dry conditions can cause plants to bolt, which stops roots growing. Then just make sure you follow our tips on how to get rid of weeds to ensure they don't appear and encroach on your growing turnips. 

Flea beetles and other small insects may make small holes in young turnip greens, so you can reduce the risk by growing under insect-proof mesh or horticultural fleece. Don’t worry, though – turnip plants are so quick-growing, they soon outpace the damage. Just keep the soil lightly moist, and your baby roots will be healthy and yummy. 

Why not try these top turnip varieties? 

  1. Tokyo Cross This variety has been around for a long time, and for good reason. The white semi-globe roots have a sweet and soft flavor.
  2. White Lady Super-quick hybrid variety that can be eaten 30 days after sowing. Gentle and mild, with pure flesh and tender greens.
  3. Purple Top Milan Flat-shaped purple roots with white flesh. Another fast-to-mature variety that is ideal for starting off under cloches.
  4. Hakurei Make some room for these smooth roots, which are best harvested young. This white variety is a sweet and fruity hybrid. 

Did you know? When planted after onions and potatoes, turnips are referred to as the ‘mop-up’ crop. This is because of the way they use soil-borne nitrogen left from the previous crop. Want to find out more about growing root vegetables? Find out all about how to grow carrots with our helpful hints.

6.  Spinach

spinach Red Veined ready for harvest

‘Red Veined’ spinach can be harvested at around six-10 weeks

(Image credit: Alamy)

Spinach should definitely be on your to-do list for essential vegetables to plant in September. If you want to learn how to grow spinach at this time of year, choose a hardy cultivar and select a sunny spot, and you can reap the rewards well into winter. As Chris Bonnett of Gardening Express points out, ‘If you sow spinach in September, you’ll have enough supply to keep you going through winter. If you harvest regularly, it may even last you up until the early spring.’

Direct-sow in a drill 1in (2.5cm) deep, sprinkling seeds thinly. If sowing multiple rows, space 1ft (30cm) apart. Water, then cover lightly with soil. Thin to 4-6in (10-15cm) apart. Then just keep well watered. You can also sow seeds thinly in large containers. In hot spells, make sure the plants benefit from some shade. 

Around six-10 weeks later, harvest every alternate plant. Cut back to just above the base of the plant to encourage more leaves. Winter cultivars may need protection from October – cover with cloches and protect with straw. Watch out for spinach downy mildew, which makes the leaves unappetizing. Prevent this with good plant spacing to improve air circulation, and by watering at the base of the plants.

Look out for autumn-sown varieties that have thicker leaves and are less inclined to bolt. Our favorite is ‘Mikado’, an F1 spinach. It produces excellent yields from multiple side-shoots and is happy to grow through winter with protection in a greenhouse or cold frame. ‘Violin’ and ‘Amazon’ also have strong resistance to bolting, while ‘Apollo’ and ‘Palco’ are resistant to downy mildew. Not forgetting gorgeous-looking ‘Red Veined’ for dramatic color.  

Did you know? Raw spinach is 91% water, which is just 5% less than cucumbers! Legend has it that liquefying fresh spinach is the best way to consume spinach – it releases beta-carotene stored in the leaves so your body can absorb the nutrients easier. 

7. Cilantro (coriander)

young coriander in a pot

Start some cilantro now and cultivate an easy-to-grow oriental charmer with real staying power

(Image credit: Alamy)

Cilantro's fresh piquancy and healing properties make it an obvious entry in our list of essential growing go-tos for September. It's easy to learn how to grow cilantro (also known as coriander) and it can be started from seeds in pots. Alternatively, sow direct and protect seedlings under cloches in well-drained soil.  

Sow thinly in the ground or multi-celled trays or pots and cover lightly. They germinate at around seven-20 days. It’s a good idea to sow every two weeks for a constant supply. Make direct sowings 1cm deep in rows 12in (30cm) apart. Keep moist, but don’t overwater and weed regularly. 

Otherwise, cilantro is easy to grow and can be harvested at 4-6in (10-15cm) tall and used on a cut-and-come-again basis. If you want to store seeds, leave a few plants to flower, let them develop seeds. Pick when ripe, before they fall to the ground. Place seed heads in a bag and hang upside down to dry, shake loose and store in an airtight container.

Great varieties: For an easygoing, fast-growing cilantro, try British-bred ‘Calypso’, finely cut ‘Confetti’ or vigorous ‘Leafy Leisure’. Or opt for a bolt-resistant variety such as ‘Santos’, ‘Slowbolt’ or ‘Indian Summer’.

Keep an eye out for these common coriander complaints: 

  • Aphids These can quickly overwhelm young plants and stunt growth. A good option for how to get rid of aphids is to introduce of natural predators like ladybirds and hoverflies. Wipe off small colonies with a damp cloth.  
  • Slugs and snails Check plants at night, looking out for slime trails and remove by hand. Tackle them with slug pubs, copper barriers, or crushed eggshells and grit.
  • Bolting If plants produce flowers and set seed early, this can mean premature death. This affliction tends to be triggered by dry periods, so watering plants regularly will help to keep the compost moist, and try bolt-resistant cultivars.

Did you know? Coriander comes from the Greek word ‘koris’, which is the word for ‘stink bug’. This is said to be based on the fact that the smell given off by bruised coriander is similar to the bug in question! 

8. Pak Choi

pak choi Chinese Cabbage Red at harvest

Pak Choi 'Chinese Cabbage Red' develops lush reddish purple tones that get deeper in the cold

(Image credit: Alamy)

Plump, nutritious, thick stemmed and fast-growing, pak choi is one of the essential vegetables to plant in September. With names ranging from ‘Chinese savoy’ to ‘spoon cabbage’, there is much to appreciate. Not only is it loaded with vitamin A and C, but it is well suited to shorter autumn days and its fat leaves make the most of what natural light is available.    

‘You may not get massive rosettes come late October, but a short, 3ft row will provide ample yield,' says fruit and veg expert Lucy Chamberlain. ‘Simply sow directly outside into moist soil. As temperatures fade later in the month, cover the rows with a cloche, which will also prevent the foliage turning leathery.’

Pak choi does not like root disturbance and is best sown in situ rather than being transplanted. Sow three or four seeds at 12in (30cm) spacing, then thin to the strongest seedling. Keep well watered to avoid bolting. Watch out for holes in leaves, which could be a sign of flea beetles. Avoid this by growing plants under a fleece. Powdery mildew is another risk, but can be avoided by growing in cool locations. Harvest in as little as 30 days up to mid-November. 

Why not try these pak choi varieties?

  • Tatsoi Supi Glossy greens that work well as young leaves for salads. Alternatively, grow to full size and then steam and stir-fry.
  • Joy Choi Crisp, succulent leaves and a mild, fresh flavor. This is an excellent variety which is slow to bolt and has a good frost resistance.
  • Pak Choi Red Pretty fast-growing red veg with purple red tops and bright green stems. The red colour gets richer in colder weather. 

Did you know? There are towers made of bok choy in Singapore, thanks to vertical farming, popular with commercial growers in Singapore. One of their big successes is the bok choy towers, stacked at 30-feet-high.

Are you a fan of chunky crops that are packed with flavor? Read our helpful tips on how to grow leeks to find out more.

9. Pea shoots

pea shoots Anubis from Suttons

Light, crunchy and full of flavor, pea shoots like these Anubis from Suttons (opens in new tab)are probably the easiest crop you can grow in September

(Image credit: Suttons)

Delicate and tender yet bursting with flavor and nutrients, pea shoots are a top crop to start now and shoots are ready in weeks. Content in a cold frame or greenhouse, they are quick to grow and make a perfect vegetable to plant in September. They are a great choice for the best vegetables to grow in raised beds as space becomes available.

Grow outdoors in fertile, well-drained soil, sowing seeds an inch (2-3cm) apart. It’s also possible to cultivate pea shoots in containers in a greenhouse or tunnel. Make sowings 1in (2-3cm) deep. If you use containers, make them big – grow bags and larger trays are ideal. Place in a well-lit spot but avoid direct sunlight, and keep moist. Harvest with scissors an inch above compost level when plants are 6in (15cm) tall. Cut in clumps, allowing a reasonable amount of the plant to regrow. 

Top varieties to try include compact ‘Meteor’ and prolific ‘Feltham First’. We also recommend ‘Twinkle’ for guaranteed downy mildew tolerance. And for a super-tasty, crunchy nutrient boost, ‘Anubis’ (from Suttons) produces shoots in three weeks, plus you can enjoy a second picking a few weeks later. Perfect for that tasty vitamin boost!

10. Spring cabbage

Wheeler's Imperial summer cabbage growing in a vegetable bed

Spring Cabbage 'Wheeler's Imperial' is a magnificent cropper and really low maintenance

(Image credit: Kathy DeWitt/Alamy Stock Photo)

It’s probably no surprise to see cabbages on our essential list of vegetables to plant in September. Tasty, tender, nourishing and bulging with goodies like vitamin C, it’s a staple choice for most kitchen garden ideas. And great news for gardeners is that we can have cabbage all year round, including spring if we get the ball rolling in autumn. 

This extra time to overwinter is crucial in order to produce the bulky heads we expect to see. These magnificent croppers are not only required to fill out a lot, but they take their sweet time doing it, although they do pick up the pace as the weather warms again in spring. Pick an open, sunny or semi-shaded spot with alkaline soil. We recommend starting some off both in modular trays and direct in the ground using a seed bed, so that one can serve as an insurance policy for the other.

Want to know how to grow cabbage? Follow these tips on how to sow and plant your spring cabbages:

  1. Fill modular trays with compost, rub through fingers to break up, and make small depressions in each cell. Sow one or two seeds per module. 
  2. Following germination, if both seeds germinate in the same cell, remove the weaker seedling. Water well. Place in a greenhouse, cold frame or windowsill. They should be ready to plant out in four weeks.
  3. Sow seeds outside in a seed bed. Make a shallow drill half an inch deep (1cm). Scatter seed thinly along it. Sow three seeds every 18in (45cm).
  4. Thin out after three weeks to one plant every 30in (75cm). 
  5. Cover seed bed with fleece or mesh netting to prevent cabbage root fly.
  6. When your seedlings have four-six leaves, transplant them to their final planting stations. There's tips on how to transplant seedlings in our guide. Choose a dull day, or transplant in the evening. 
  7. ‘Puddle in’ the site first with plenty of water, filling the hole with water. Plant cabbages with final spacings 18in (45cm) apart. Water in.
  8. Give plants a thorough soak every eight-10 days. As you see heads expand, water generously to improve bulk.

The beauty of spring cabbages is that they're a great choice for low-maintenance gardens. Follow these steps, and you should be fine. You can pull up some of your crops as greens when the leaves are tender. Four to six months later, the main heads should be ready to harvest. Cut through the stem with a sharp knife just above ground level once they’ve developed a good sized head. For a bonus crop, cut a cross in the stump. You’ll get several small cabbages a few weeks later.

Great spring cabbage varieties to try include tender sweetheart ‘Wheelers Imperial’. Then there’s ‘Duncan’, with its dark upright leaves and pointed hearts. ‘April’ is an early spring variety with compact heads. Last but not least, AGM winner ‘Pixie’ is a pointed cabbage with a hard head and a tasty structure, which allows for close plantings. 

Did you know? Drinking raw cabbage juice daily or placing a warm compress filled with crushed cabbage on your forehead can help combat a migraine. Sounds strange? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! 

What else can I do for veg in September?

woman tending to pumpkins in vegetable patch to encouraging growth

It's important to cut off the leaves shading the fruits of your pumpkin plant

(Image credit: Future)
  1. Don’t forget to sow some oriental greens. The likes of komatsuna and mustards are incredibly hardy - and quick to germinate. Mustard greens will keep on growing new leaves even in cool weather. Try mizuna, mibuna and mispoona, too: you can keep sowing batches all the way to March. Many kales can also be grown for sautéed ‘baby’ leaves – look out for varieties such as ‘Red Devil’ and ‘Red Ruble’, says Lucy Chamberlain.
  2. With luck, you can harvest pumpkins and winter squash in October and keep them into March – so September is key for encouraging growth. To help their skins to set (best for storage), cut off any leaves shading the fruits. Continual growth is key, so reduce the effect of cold nights by covering fruits with a thick blanket, says Lucy. Sustained watering is also crucial; little and often will keep the growth rate consistent. Adding a high potash liquid feed to water will also boost growth. If you would like to find out how to grow butternut squash, follow our guide.
  3. If you followed our guide on vegetables to plant in August and sowed a batch of carrots in August, September is a key time to thin them out. If you don’t, it might lead to congestion and erratic root size. Thin out the row to one healthy carrot every 2cm. Reattach any insect-proof mesh as female root fly adults will be attracted by the smell. Want to know what else you can do to encourage a good crop? Follow our guide to the best companion plants for carrots to find out.
  4. September is a time to check courgettes and cucumbers. If you're learning how to grow courgettes then you need to watch out for powdery mildew, while cucumbers are a magnet for red spider mite. If you think you need to cut your losses, the best way to dispose of them is either on the bonfire or in the green waste. 
  5. Time is running out if you want to ripen up outdoor tomatoes, says Lucy. Generally temperatures start slowly declining by September. Take any immature fruits off the plants to focus energy into ripening those that remain. Reduce watering to stress plants so fruits ripen prematurely. Throw fleece over plants on chillier nights or lay cordons down on a bed of straw and cover them with tunnel cloches, so green fruit colors up. For more on how to grow tomatoes, read our guide.
  6. All tender tubers (yacon, oca, sweet potato and ulluco) need a long, hot spell to grow readily – many don’t start producing until late summer, says Lucy. The key is to keep the soil warm so the young tubers can bulk up to give a worthwhile yield. Good mulching materials include straw, scrunched-up newspaper and dried leaves. Lay around the roots of your crop, and cover over the plants with a cloche. Then dig up before the first frosts. To find out more about how to grow potatoes, read our guide.
  7. Already read our guide on how to grow kale? Taking tall brassicas like kale and sprouts can help prevent toppling. ‘The peripheral plants of field-grown brassicas can be vulnerable to wind damage as autumn gales loom and maturing plants become top-heavy,' says Lucy. Hammer a 4ft (1.2m) stake or stout cane alongside each plant, securing it with twine. 

Keep an eye on fruit jobs in September

Apricot Tomcat on Monclair dwarfing rootstock

September is also a good time to prune stone fruits like this Apricot 'Tomcat' on 'Montclair' rooting stock

(Image credit: Pomona Fruits)
  • September is a good time to order new fruit bushes for planting during the November-March dormancy. Organic veg expert Bob Flowerdew recommends buying a blackcurrant bush. To boost your returns, take a few cuttings from the main bush and root them in situ. Other options include red/white currants and gooseberries. Blackcurrants are also a good choice if you're interested in growing fruit in pots.
  • This is also a good time to plant more fruit trees, says Bob. The soil’s warm so those put in during the next month or so will be well established by next spring. The good news for those who have small gardens is that modern trees do not need to be as large as they used to be. Most fruit trees, particularly apples and pears, are now available on dwarfing roots. These can make neat small trees or be trained as single stem cordons. Choose varieties that will suit the site (wind, sun, soil type and so on) and cultivars that are resistant to pests or diseases. 
  • Owners of trained plums, cherries, gages, peaches, nectarines and apricots – take note, says Lucy. You must prune them by the middle of September, or wait until next summer. Collectively known as stone fruits, this group must meet with secateurs while it is warm and dry. If pruned in winter, these trees become vulnerable to silver leaf fungus and bacterial canker infections – both of which can be life-shortening. So jump to it! Want to know more about growing stone fruits? Find out how to grow cherries with our guide. 
  • Why not try growing kiwi fruit? You might think cultivating a massive canopy of fuzzy kiwis seems far-fetched, but the truth is that kiwi vines are reliably hardy. Lucy recommends a sunny spot and, if you have the room, a separate male and female plant (or on small plots, just grow the self-fertile ‘Jenny’). A pergola or arbour would be ideal.
  • Didn't learn how to grow strawberries this year but want to give it a go next year? The good news is you still have time to plant up strawberry beds for next year. ‘Autumn plantings give bigger yields than spring equivalents,' says Lucy. ‘The plants make strong root growth and will be far more drought-tolerant if planted now than if you wait until March.’ To plant, ensure the growing point is just above soil level. Spread roots out and tease out congested ones, cover around the rootball with soil, firm gently and water in well. 

Grow green manure for gaps on the plot

growing green manure crimson clover

Crimson Clover is just one of the green manures you can grow to help fortify and enrich your soil for veg planting

(Image credit: Holger Burmeister/Alamy Stock Photo)

At this time of year, when gaps are forming in your potager garden, make sure you also plant some green manure plants. This will help boost soil fertility and structure for future crops, as well as helping with weed suppression, pest control and organic matter, says Lucy Chamberlain. 

  1. There are lots of green manures to choose from. Some are hardy, others tender, some have vast root systems and others fix nitrogen for subsequent crops, such as crimson clover (pictured). Charts are available to help you choose.
  2. Larger seeds, such as field beans and lupins, can be sown individually, whereas many are smaller, including mustard and clover, and are broadcast-sown. Prepare the bare area by removing all crop debris and raking the soil level.
  3. Once sown, rake over with a little more soil, water well and irrigate in dry spells until established. Tender manures, such as fenugreek, can be dug in once hit by a frost, whereas hardy types like ryegrass are dug in during spring.

Dug back into the soil next spring, these manures add plant-based nutrients to the earth – it’s essentially free fertiliser! There is a type of green manure for every garden, so make the most of those bare patches. Want to find out more about how to help your soil? Check out our guide to soil types to give your soil the best boost. 

Why not sow some edible flowers now?

Edible Calendula officinalis. Pot marigold flowers and cornflowers in an English wildflower garden

Autumn sowings are also wise for edible blooms like these alyssum, calendule and cornflower

(Image credit: Tim Gainey/Alamy Stock Photo)

As well as vegetables to plant in September, you should also take steps to kickstart next year’s edible flowers. As Lucy Chamberlain explains, putting a little effort into sowing now will give you abundant edible flowers next year. 'Autumn sowings are advantageous, as blooms appear earlier than spring sowings. Also, plants are often stronger, as they have ample time to grow sizable root systems before the summer comes,' says Lucy. 

Lucy recommends hardy edible annuals and quick-growing perennials, as these are geared up to produce masses of flowers. Classic choices include cornflower (Centaurea cyanus), borage (Borago officinalis) and pot marigold (Calendula officinalis), but look also to stocks (Matthiola incana), German chamomile (Matricaria recutita), candytuft (Iberis umbellata), mallow (Malva sylvestris), viola (Viola x williamsiana) and pinks (Dianthus species). 

To guarantee good germination, sow perennials into modules and then overwinter in a greenhouse or sheltered cold frame. Annuals can be direct-sown where they are to flower. 

Don’t forget about the weeds! 

Now is also prime time to keep on top of weeds. 'Tiny, barely noticeable weed seedlings will be nestling on your plot in the cooler, moist conditions of autumn,' says Lucy. Contrary to popular belief, they will not stop growing during winter and will quickly bulk up in mild spells. 

So don’t give free rein to nettles, bittercress, chickweed, shepherd’s purse and so on. Keep on top of these tenacious beasts and keep giving your garden a purge with the best methods for how to get rid of weeds. Hoeing is great on hot, breezy days. However, for those damper autumnal days, you might find it’s better to use a hand fork.  

Hopefully we’ve given you plenty to be getting on with in September. Have fun in the garden, and make the most of this lovely burst of activity on the plot!

As assistant editor of Amateur Gardening magazine, Janey's gardening passion was fostered from an early age, when her amazing mum had her deadheading hydrangeas, mulching roses, and propagating strawberry plants from runners for school open days. Her gardening childhood was like living with Tom and Barbara from The Good Life, with figs growing in the greenhouse, homemade blueberry jams piled high, and demijohns filled with her dad’s elderflower sherry experiments. City living has generally meant doing without a conventional outdoor space, but she is slowly transforming her thimble-sized abode into a haven of vertical vegetation. She's also taken part in lots of conservation and rewilding projects for the RHS and TCV as a way of exploring her horticultural horizons whilst helping to create and maintain beautiful spaces for others. When she grows up, she would like a Victorian conservatory, some proper old-fashioned cold frames and bell cloches, and a better system for storing all her seed packets.