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Blog posts tagged with 'sowing'

Autumn is upon us

Well folks, September has arrived. Odd that, seeing as our summer hardly got going before the first signs of autumn crept into our early morning bones.


As I am sure I have said before, I love this time of year most of all. The weather is still mild, yet things in the garden seemed to have slowed. The last of the summer vegetable harvest is ready to be picked and the apples are sitting heavy on the boughs. I have already pencilled in my visit to Sheffield Park, the garden designed for autumn colour in the heart of Sussex and all is good in the world.

Time to sit back in the deck chair for one last warm snooze, whilst the light is still good? Not on your nelly! Now is the time, not so much of our discontent, but most definitely of much anticipated activity in the garden following the rather dull and monotonous tending of the garden in the previous months. Cutting back all those perennials that are rapidly passing their best is the first chore which must be done, not forgetting to leave some seed heads for the birds.

Pruning the climbing roses is another, as I described at this time last year in this very spot (check the archives if you don’t believe me). If your lawns have had a hard wear this summer, then now is the time to patch those glaring holes. The final sowing of winter green manure Phacelia is also a must for all those that want to return some goodness and compost to the soil later in the winter, not forgetting mulching is of vital importance too - trap the last of the warmth in the soil now and pay dividends later.

Sowings of winter and spring crops can still be made, such as cresses, carrot, turnips, mooli and endive; not forgetting onions sown now for spring. Now is also the time for taking cuttings from your favourite pelargoniums and verbenas. Under glass it is also time to prune you apricot, peach and nectarine trees, removing all laterals, tying in all those shoots that are required for next years fruit.

Finally, in that oh so special place we all have secreted in the vast expanse of the average urban garden, ‘The Pinery’; keep a genial atmosphere of between 70° and 83° among your fruiting plants. Water them with clear manure water, refraining from syringing those in fruit or flower. Not forgetting that pineapples are thought to grow better from fermenting rotting material beneath than from the use of hot water.

So, lots to do, before you clean your tools and shut up shop for winter, reverting to your welcoming armchairs besides the hearth. Just one last thing mind you. Don’t forget, above all other things, the second spring is coming. That curious moment offered by Mother Nature when all plants burn off the last of their stored food, producing a burst of growth reminiscent of early spring. So perhaps don’t down tools just yet.

-- Guy Deakins

Round the garden in April
    1. Encourage hedgehogs, frogs, toads and thrushes into your garden to keep snails and slugs at bay. Bird baths are good to attract thrushes. A small garden pond will encourage frogs and toads. Attract hedgehogs by ensuring you have a safe place for them to nest, such as compost heaps, pile of leaves and twigs to nest in. Leave food out for hedgehogs at sunset, don’t put out any earlier or you’ll attract flies laying eggs and always collect anything uneaten in the morning. Hedgehogs like cat and dog food, chopped peanuts, crunchy peanut butter, muesli and any leftover cooked or raw meat.
    2. Check anything growing under cloches to ensure it is not too dry and check if they need watering. Air your greenhouse on warm sunny days and open the vents mid-morning and close after lunch.
    3. Enjoy your vegetable and salad garden this year, by sowing direct this month carrots, peas, spinach, chard and beetroot. Sow quick growing half-hardy annuals like basil, French beans, sweet corn, squash and pumpkins. April is the month for planting potatoes too.
    4. You can get going this month with some salad by sowing undercover or in your greenhouse or conservatory – rocket, spring onions, radish, chard and lots of different variety of lettuces. Keep growing further batches of lettuce, beetroot, peas, spinach, spring onions and radish every 2 weeks so you have a regular supply over the summer.
    5. Deadhead larger bulbs such as Tulips, Narcissus, and Hyacinths. Be sure not to cut the foliage! This will encourage bulb development and better flowers next spring.
  1. April is the month to get on with planting trees, shrubs, roses, strawberries and perennials. Also get dahlia tubers potted up.
  2. Keep on top of weeding. Use hand tools and get down on your knees to pull out the weeds, rather than using chemicals. Aim to get rid of perennial weeds early whilst they are young and their roots can easily be removed before they set to seed. Wearing Town and Country kneepads makes this task comfortable and easy.
  3. Containerised plants need plenty of fertiliser and frequent watering, especially during warm weather.
  4. After the last chance of frost, (around mid-April but can vary) you can start planting hardier annuals. Start growing your own flowers this month – Marigolds, honeywort and poppies are favourites for me. Seeds can be directly sown outside and any seedlings you’ve been nurturing indoors can be planted out.
  5. Tie down roses so that they keep growing healthily and produce good flowers in the summer. Bend over upright stems, this will produce more flowers. If you don’t bend uprights over, you’ll only have a flower at the end. Tie them in so they lie horizontal.
  6. Directly sow herbs under cover. Favourites are dill, fennel, coriander, chives and chervil.
  7. Give your lavender plants a haircut this month – short back and sides and shape them into domes. It helps them from looking sparse. Don’t prune hard into old wood.
  8. Plan for possible water shortages by installing water butts and adding mulch to borders to conserve soil moisture.

-- Rob Amey

Re-use your toilet roll tubes!

Instead of purchasing bio degradable pots for this growing season, start saving your cardboard toilet roll tubes!



They are a great substitute for seedling plant pots and work especially well with long rooted plants, like runner beans or sweet peas.

Treat it like a normal pot and sow your seeds. When the plant is ready to be transferred outside, simply plant it straight into the ground. It’s as easy as that! The best part is the tube will naturally disintegrate into the soil.

-- Gemma Dray

Get the propagators out!
 


People this month have been asking me what I'll be growing this year and when I'll be starting. Well the short answer to that is that I'll be growing pretty much a little of everything as per other years and that I'm starting now! True it might be wet and cold outside - but that's where propagators come into their own.

Essentially trays with plastic lids featuring handy vents, I have about a dozen propagators I use to get seeds started off indoors. Placed on windowsills and in light spaces in the house they're ideal to raise seedlings until the weather gets a little better and the soil outside has warmed up.

They key thing to remember is that all seedlings raised this way will need gradually hardening off. Which means once they've had a few weeks (depending on the seed growing time of the particular crop) or so in the propagator with the lid on, then take the lid off. After that I have another stage for my seedlings - putting them in the outdoor coldframes - sealed up first and then opening the doors. Only after all of those transitions does the seedling make it into the soil outdoors! It's important to check the seed packets and reference books especially when it comes to frost hardiness or otherwise.

And it's fun! Sowing indoors means you get a little feeling of the veg growing delights to come as Spring arrives!