IN YOUR GARDEN THIS MONTH
- It’s a good time to begin general maintenance on the lawn, along with tidying borders and containers so they will be ready for planting spring flowering subjects. Also a number of vegetable and flower seeds can now be sown outside and inside.
- For raising new plants of blackberry, bury tips into the soil of any shoots that have developed this year, as they will quickly form roots and new shoots will develop next spring. Once this has happened the new plants can be separated and planted where you plan to grow them.
- Try to avoid wasp damage to early fruiting apples by hanging wasp traps in the branches of the trees. Pick fruit from these early ripening varieties as soon as they are sweet enough to eat as they don’t keep.
- All shoots that have carried peaches should be pruned so that newly formed ones can be tied to ones formed this year and these will flower next spring.
- Crops of raspberries, blackberries and other autumn-fruiting varieties should be covered with netting to keep birds away. However, the netting should be checked daily making sure no birds or any other animals are trapped.
- Plant onion sets of an over-wintering variety from the middle of the month.
- Sow winter lettuce Valdor and Winter Density. A few cut-and-come again salad varieties could be planted in pots for tasty leaves in the autumn.
- Lift maincrop potatoes and allow to dry prior to storing in wooden trays in a dark, cool, frost-free shed or garage.
- Transplant spring cabbage into their final positions.
- For a supply of herbs during the winter, pot up plants of basil, marjoram, mint, oregano and parsley and grow them on the kitchen windowsill.
- Crops should be picked regularly ensuring they are always fresh and tender, and items such as courgettes and beans shouldn’t be left too long prior to picking.
- Tomatoes and chillies in greenhouses should still be watered during late summer sunshine.
- Celery plants reaching required size can be lifted carefully with a hand fork.
- Once the summer bedding plants have been removed, plant spring flowering plants such as bellis (daisy), pansy, polyanthus, primrose and wallflowers along with spring flowering bulbs. It is a little early to plant tulip bulbs which should be left until November to avoid attacks of Tulip Fire. This disease causes scorched areas on the leaves and spotting on the flowers.
- The following hardy annuals can be sown outdoors - calendula, cheiranthus, godetia, larkspur, nigella and poppy.
- Wild Flowers that can be sown direct outdoors are field scabious, field cornflower and feverfew.
- In the greenhouse sow cyclamen, pelargonium, schizanthus and strelitzia. Sow in a cold frame the wild flowers primrose and cowslip.
- Sweet peas can be sown in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse to over-winter. The young plants can then be planted out in March/April to obtain early blooms. It is now a good time to begin watering dormant cyclamen pot plants which were left to die down for a rest.
- When rose blooms have faded a last deadheading of roses can be done, and taller stems may be slightly shortened so that movement from wind can be reduced. During the early part of this month stem cuttings may be taken. Cut a length of stem, remove the soft tip just above a leaf joint, cutting below a joint at the base removing all but the top three leaves. Place directly into the soil approximately 30cm (12”) to about half its length somewhere in the garden where they can remain to root and develop for about a year.
Bedding & Hanging Baskets
- To make sure displays last well into autumn remember to still give them a little attention. Water regularly, daily if possible, keep pests under control and, of course, remove any fading blooms.
- Pot any of the tender plants you may wish to save for next year so that they are allowed to become established in readiness for being placed under cover when the weather starts getting cooler.
- Gladioli are still giving enjoyable displays in the garden but it might be nice to cut a few spikes for indoors. Should thrips be causing a nuisance spray with Bug Clear. Once flowering has finished, the corms may be lifted, cleaned and carefully stored for planting out again next spring.
- So that dahlia stems do not break in the wind tie them to supports such as canes. Remove any deadheads and cut some flowers for a nice display indoors.
- When lily bulbs become available they can be planted as soon as you want.
- Early September is an ideal time to sow a new lawn or make repairs to an existing lawn. Grass growth is slowing, therefore, reduce the frequency of mowing.
- Keep the lawn clear of fallen leaves.
- General maintenance should be carried out to established lawns, aerate by spiking with an aerator or fork, apply a top dressing and towards the end of the month apply an autumn fertiliser.
Focus on Soil Nutrition
- The next few months are a really good time to think about putting the nutrients back into soil that have been used up over the past growing season.
- The traditional way of doing this is by incorporating manure or compost. Use about half a wheel barrow per square metre and dig in. The worm activity over the winter will help to pull it in deeper. If using manure then make sure it's not too fresh – apart from the smell, fresh manure releases ammonia which will damage or kill plants. Make sure that any you use has been left to rot down for at least 6 months. Compost can take many forms, mushroom, leaf mould, your own garden compost or why not see if your local council can bulk supply. Often available from your local recycling centre reports vary about the quality. Council compost 'heaps' frequently get much hotter than domestic compost so are more likely to kill off any 'nasties' than your own cooler garden bin but we have had reports that its often full of plastic and twigs – so best to check it out before you order bags and bags of the stuff!
- However if you don't fancy all that digging in then Green Manure may be the crop for you. Fulfilling a number of purposes green manure covers a range of crops from clover and mustard to ryes, peas and beans all of which are specially grown to put nutrients back into the soil, but will also act as cover crops, preventing soil erosion and run off during heavy rain and also stopping weeds from taking hold.
- Nitrogen is fixed into the plants roots which then is released into the soil when the crop is dug in & decomposes. It's extremely easy to grow - simply rake over the soil to loosen the top and scatter the seed and rake again. Make sure it's well watered in. You can use at any time that you have an empty space for at least 6 weeks but are normally sown in autumn after you have lifted your vegetables. Watch carefully as it needs to dug in before it starts to set seed. Depending on weather conditions this may not be until early spring but if the weather is very mild then you may have to do it a lot sooner. Leave for at least 2 weeks before sowing a new crop.
- Another new and usual way of adding nutrients to the soil is to use 'Rock Dust'. Made from volcanic rock, which is particularly high in minerals, the crushed rock is added to the soil and the natural weathering process releases minerals and trace elements throughout the growing season. The use of rock dust is championed by Scottish couple Cameron and Moira Thomson who have used it to convert their six acres of infertile land into soils capable of producing cabbages the size of footballs, onions bigger than coconuts and gooseberries as big as plums. They also assert that their technique can also help the fight against climate change as the calcium and magnesium in the dust converts atmospheric carbon into carbonates.