It pays to have a tidy and hygienic plot to ward off pests and diseases
After a long season, and now that you’re carrying out fewer jobs in the garden as we descend further into the colder months, you can take time out to make sure everything is spick and span. Hygiene is paramount, as many diseases and pests can be harboured on surfaces and soil really easily, so look at it as preparing for next year’s excellent displays and crops instead of being too much of a chore!
Be sure that you’re not transplanting any blight or club root-infected soil via tools or shoes, by giving them a thorough clean now.
Diseased plant material won’t do you any favours either, so clear up droopy, wet foliage, any stems and other plants that won’t last the winter and keep your planting airy and spaced.
Make the most of the last relatively warm days to give your greenhouse a good clean, too. Removing dirt and algae from the glass will let in more light and clearing up debris helps to control those pesky pests and diseases. Start early in the day so it has time to dry off before night time.
Clear out all your plants, trays and pots, then sweep or vacuum away old leaves and cobwebs. Using hot water and detergent, such as Jeyes Fluid or household cleaning products, wash down the structure and benches. Also clean the glazing inside and out and use a scraper to ease out any dirt trapped in corners or between the panes.
Now’s the perfect time to start a collection
Cheap to do and really easy to look after, next year you could be picking bounteous berries and fruit from your patio.
Currants and berries, even the common ones, such as blackberries or blackcurrants, are expensive in supermarkets, but aren’t that dear as plants from garden centres, particularly when you factor in the amount of yearly berries you can yield. So, think about indulging yourself a little and create a fruit collection to be proud of! Now’s the time to plant new bare-root bushes (you can plant potted ones too), and if you’re up for something new, below are some suggestions to break away from the norm.
Currants appreciate manure-improved, well-drained soil and like to be sited in full sun. Cranberries, however, will need to be potted in ericaceous compost and kept very moist. Chokeberries – a rather tart fruit if eaten raw but delicious when cooked in puddings and jams – grow in most soils in sun or shade. Wonderfully-scented and sweet-tasting Chilean guava is perhaps the most low-maintenance of all, needing just shelter, sun and water in dry periods – perfect.
And why not try a miniature variety, too?
Rhubarb plants are such undemanding perennials, they should have a place in every garden. And what a delicious fruit they are – or should I say sweet-tasting vegetable!
In warm and moist soil, rhubarb crowns can be planted in autumn and spring in the spot you want to permanently keep them, with a helping of manure in sun or part shade. Plant so the tip of the crown is just visible above the surface of the soil. Rhubarb plants are great in large pots, too – and look like a really attractive, architectural plant in spring and summer when colourful leaves and stems grow tall. The three most commonly available varieties are the excellent traditional varierty ‘Victoria’, the early-maturing ‘Champagne’ and the even earlier ‘Timperley Early’, but why not try miniature 20cm (8in) tall variety ‘Lilibarber’ from www.lubera.co.uk, whose leaves and pencil-like stems can both be eaten? It’ll save you the usual rhubarb glut!
Existing plants, though, will need a little care to tuck them in after their growing season, and to keep them perennially healthy – they’re low maintenance but not no maintenance!
Spread the joy of this beauty in time for Christmas!
Hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus) is one of those splendid beauties that looks for all the world exotic – just like its tender cousin see on holiday, H. rosa-sinensis – but is as happy in our British gardens as anything else. Forget roses and peonies, hibiscus is a real winner, covered in blooms in full sun from mid-summer to mid-autumn, and just minimal care will see it turn heads!
Deadhead blooms regularly, prune young plants well in spring to create the shape you want, and then established plants need only a simple trim in early spring to tidy and keep them healthy.
It’s only about now that this magnificent plant has stopped flowering, but perhaps you might want to pass on a little bit of its charm to others by taking cuttings, which will hopefully root in time for Christmas – what a superb present!
The key is to ensure the compost is lightly moist at all times, keep cuttings on a warmish windowsill and up the humidity, which is key to good rooting, by securing a clear polythene bag over the top and keeping it clear of the leaves.
Don’t let your space go to waste when there are lots of crops to enjoy
Check to see if your plants need bringing inside
They’ll look deliciously delightful come springtime!
It’s simple and successful!
It’s easy and gives you new plants for free
Their aromatic stems will be a welcome treat
Use nematodes to deal with those pesky, unwanted visitors
Why not give a new variety a go?
They’ll create a delightful display for you to enjoy in spring
Give it some TLC now to get it in tip-top condition
The main growing season is coming to an end and you may have some spare ground with well-worked, well-used soil. But that doesn’t mean it has to languish unused and untended.
In fact, now’s a great time to prepare and maintain the soil in your plot so that it continues to remain healthy over autumn and winter, before you fully start again in spring.
Leaving it will lead to any nutrients it has leaching out, eroding in wind and winter rain and becoming really weedy. Adding nothing to it in terms of organic matter won’t help your future crops – over the next month or two it’s a good idea to replace what has been taken out of it over the spring and summer.
Leaving your soil bare is also detrimental to your plot. Weeds will take hold and there will be nothing to stabilise it. And what’s the use of a bare patch? There are plenty of crops to sow and plant now for a fruitful plot, such as broccoli, radishes, salad and onions.
The hardy varieties will brighten up your displays
As the nights draw in and autumn creeps up on us, it can be a bit of a down time as you wonder quite where the summer has gone already. Autumn has its own charms, but you may be wanting to cheer yourself and your garden up a bit as some of the bright colours tone themselves down to russets and bronzes. An injection of pink will do just the job, particularly in tucked-away shady spots, such as under trees, hedges and in between post-flowering shrubs.
Potted, autumn-flowering Cyclamen hederifolium are all over the shops right now and are perfect for slotting in gaps. Be sure to pick up the hardy varieties with smaller flowers, and not C. persicum, which are bigger and blowsy but better off indoors. Later in autumn you’ll see lovely winter C. coum, to plant, too. Plant potted plants just level with the soil, and if you’re planting corms themselves, plant them 5cm (2in) below the soil surface. Unless you’re putting them in pots, when you can grow them closer together, plant them about 20cm (8in) apart and dig in a little compost or leaf mould for good measure.
Plant them now for a summer crunch to savour next year
Food and water is key now to ensure a bumper harvest
Start these beauties now for early blooms
They'll need a trim now to curb growth before autumn.
A little time spent on it each week will keep it healthy