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Allotment Newsletter Extra for SEPTEMBER

Allotment Garden Newsletter

From John Harrison



Dear Friend

In this mid-month extra I’ve a some more timely tips for you as we move into autumn with the equinox. That’s the point where day and night are of equal length and afterwards the days are shorter than the nights until the Spring Equinox.

There’s certainly an autumnal feel to things now, our squashes and pumpkins sitting on the table ripening and the first leaves blowing across the grass.

Squashes & Pumpkins

I’ve still got the butternut squash to bring in but these Uchiki Kuri, Spaghetti Squash and Jack O’Lantern Pumpkins ripening before going in the store will keep us going!

Full post: Spaghetti Squash, Pumpkins & Parsnips


A quick tip from the Wartime Weekend Gardener for September 14th 1940 – I love the style of those old gardening books. I had schoolteachers with a similar style!

There are often bits of advice and techniques that we’ve forgotten about in those old books. The foundations of today’s knowledge were built in the past.

This is a light week-end in the garden, so we will find a light job – that of thinning out the Turnips. When you have done this, however, do not forget that it is not too late for weeds to start growth and get to a good height, and that you have such a tool as a hoe!

Having given you your weekend task, a good opportunity to remind you that you can get a copy of the Dig for Victory Monthly Guides along with free reproduction leaflets and a Wartime Seed Collection to start you off. More information: Dig for Victory book

Home Harvest Help

As your home harvest comes in, don’t forget there’s a lot of information on the web site to help you over in the recipes section. Just go to Harvesting & Storage or you could even buy a copy of our book How to Store Your Home Grown Produce. with Free UK Delivery and 3 packets of Suttons Seeds.

Storing Jams, Chutneys and Preserves

Still on the subject of storing the season’s bounty; jams, chutneys and preserves all keep well but they keep best in a frost-free, cool and dark place. I fitted an old kitchen cupboard up in the garage for them. Kitchens are generally too warm for preserves so it’s worth keeping bulk stocks in a cooler room.

We’re often asked how long they’ll keep which is difficult to answer as so much depends on how they’re stored. Usually we just say a year to be safe but we’ve kept jams for 4 years and they’ve been perfect when opened.

See Val’s Preserves

Exclusive Offer for Us

Harrod Horticultural Voucher Code

Don’t forget we’ve got a 10% discount code from Harrod Horticultural until the end of the month including their range of fruit and vegetable cages. Full details (the legal stuff) here.

Just pop the code JHTEN in at the checkout to claim.

Harrod Horticultural – Click Here


September, being the prime harvest month, brings a lot of material for the compost heaps. Leafy greens aren’t a problem but things like sweetcorn stalks and brassica stems can be difficult. The answer to a good hot heap is a shredder. Shredded material will heat up and rot down far, far faster than un-shredded.

I once shredded a pile of privet hedge clippings and went in for tea. Being a nice evening I went back out to put them on the compost heap and the pile was already steaming and hot in the centre!

I use an electric shredder which copes and it’s easy to wheel or even carry up to the compost bins. Of course you need a power supply but we’ve a heavy duty, long extension cable.

Without a shredder the best thing to do with brassica stems is to wallop them with a lump hammer to crush and break them before placing at the the base of a heap. They can take 2 years to finally rot away.

For things like sweetcorn stalks, which aren’t as tough as brassica stalks, you can cut them into small lengths and spread them on the lawn. Then run over them with the mower and it will chop them like a shredder. This works well for hedge trimmings too.

There’s some articles on composting on the site here

Ants in the Compost Heap

I was asked this question; My compost heap is overrun by ants – can I use the compost to earth up potatoes and for other uses?

The simple answer is yes, compost infested with ants is fine for earthing up potatoes and other outdoor uses. However, I hadn’t quite realised the scale of the problem when I answered!

Ants in the compost heap and garden

That’s all for this newsletter and September. I hope you’ve found it useful and your ants are a little smaller than those above! Don’t forget there’s a bunch of great gardeners who can help you with any questions in our chat forums.

The next newsletter will be with you on the first Tuesday of October.

Good Growing and Thanks for Reading


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