AUTUMN, strangely, is my favourite time to
be in the garden and of course a very important time. The plants that you sowed
in the spring, nurtured and grew on through the summer months can now be
chopped back, pruned, and generally tidied up in readiness for winter (a job I
love). This will leave them in the best possible condition and enable them to
build up that all important root system which they will need to cope with the
dry conditions of the coming summer
Now is an ideal time to lift and divide
clumps of herbaceous plants which are past their best and have finished
flowering, for example oxeye daisies, monarda (bergamot),
phlox, salvias, veronica and campanulas, to name but a few. Once lifted you may
be able to divide the clumps by teasing them apart into smaller plants with
areas of root attached. Remove any woody roots that may be present and any
tough material which you may find, usually in the centre of the clump. You may
need the help of a garden fork, or prong as I like to call it, and a good sharp
spade to split the clumps which you have lifted. Next, remove all of the old
spent leaves, which the plant no longer needs, and which if left on will take
valuable strength away from the plant’s root production. There is one important
thing to consider however when dividing your plants – if you are dividing
evergreen or non-deciduous plants such as heuchera
with its lovely purple or speckled green foliage, they need to retain their
leaves when being transplanted. So don’t be tempted to trim them off.
It is really important to clear away any
spent annuals, leaves and general old garden waste, as this can harbour over-wintering
problems such as harmful fungal spores, slugs, snails and infections in general.
Anyway leaves and old vegetable plants etc. will do far more good on the
compost heap, should you have one, and if not just save it all in a bin and we
will talk more on the subject next time.
I have to come clean and own up, my GIANT
ONION trial was a bit of a disaster, and my brother Pete beat me hands down. His
were BIG, whereas mine were more reminiscent of large shallots. Well actually
they weren’t that bad, but they were not the giants I’d hoped for. So I am
going to try again, but this time I am going to grow them from seed myself and
start them off a little earlier, in January, and see what we can achieve. They
do have one saving grace – they are very sweet and mild and are really great
chopped up in salads. Something which has been a great success, apart from the
tomatoes of course are the Italian green peppers which we grew again this year,
and though they were a little tardy to get going once they started fruiting
they were quite prolific. They’re an easy crop and well worth the effort – and
don’t forget that you can grow them easily in tubs and pots.
Next time: composting and spring bulbs.
A GARDENER’S THOUGHT
At last hot days of summer past,
With autumn freshness here at last,
We turn to thoughts of winters chill, of
star filled nights, of nights so still.
When in we come from daily toil our cold
hands sore and caked with soil,
A time to think and to reflect, a year
gone by, of retrospect,
To sit and muse
the warming logs, of loved ones and of things made handy
So tired now, it’s time for rest but not
before a soothing brandy.
Then up the stairs we slowly go with
hopes of hours of sleep to borrow
And sleeping now with one thought only,
of veggie plants I’ll plant tomorrow
Dedicated to my dad. Rex James.
My gardening inspiration and a real gent
Bye for now