As we move into September, so does the wet weather. Never mind, I’m sure we will see a warm spell before winter sets in!

In the meantime, it is time to think about the winter- and spring-flowering bulb orders. Already I have received quite a few catalogues with this year’s offers and again this year it seems that the alliums (flowering onions) are still in vogue.

I must admit I am an allium fan. They do make a good show for the garden and I do like the large flowering forms which can reach to the size of a small football.

If you do grow the large flower headed forms, plant them deeply – this will help to provide support during strong winds (otherwise as the flower head develops they will easily blow over, even in soft winds). This rule applies to any tall growing bulb or large flower-headed bulb, even summer flowering ones. I had some tall lilies blown over last summer. I dug them up over the late autumn and planted them deeper, and this summer they all stood proud.

Talking of onions, despite the ground being a bit tacky I managed to lift my spring- planted eating onions from the vegetable garden and place them on a wire mesh frame so they can ripen or cure before I store them. I used to tie the onions into strings using raffia, but these days I top and tail them and remove the loose skins before storing in net bags. These will keep stored until early summer in a dark, frost-free place.

My summer onions which I have just lifted were all from seed which I sowed over Christmas and planted out in April. In a few months it will be time to sow the seeds again!

Although I am harvesting my summer onions, it’s time to think about ordering your autumn-planted onions, along with shallots and garlic. These need to be planted towards the end of the month through to mid-October. The advantage of autumn-planted onions is that they will be ready to harvest a good two months before the spring-planted ones. Also, I prefer to plant garlic in the autumn rather than the summer as they tend to make larger bulbs/cloves than spring-planted ones as they have a longer growing period.

It’s also time to get your winter and spring vegetables planted. I have quite a few brassicas I have grown from seed in cell trays and they’re becoming a little on the large side – these include kale, cauliflower, savoy and spring cabbages. Once we have a dry spell, I will get the ground prepared, add in compost then get them planted.

When planting winter vegetables, plant them deeper than for summer vegetables and firm them in well – this will help to mitigate winter wind rock. Also, they may need to be netted to protect them from pigeons, especially over the winter and early spring. Pigeons can cause a lot of damage in a very short time, especially when food is scarce for them. Last year they even ate the foliage and stems of my swedes and turnips!

I did try types of bird scarers, from windmills to CDs on strings and even fake hawks. The only effective way was to place a barrier to my crops by erecting bird netting and this has proved very effective, if a bit of a nuisance to remove and replace when maintaining and weeding the crops until harvest. At times I ask myself is it worth growing these vegetables with all the attention required when I could simply pop down to the shops and buy a cabbage! Of course, the answer is always yes, simply because home-grown tastes so much better!