October 2, 2009 In the Garden

  • We did warn that the magical dry and early spring was unlikely to continue. The chillier temperatures this week are a reminder of why not to rush out too early planting cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and their summer companions. By all means sow seed of them into pots and keep them under cover, or buy baby plants from the garden centre and pot them on to get a jump start in a few week’s time. But you won’t gain anything by rushing to get them planted out too early. You are more likely to lose the plants.
  • If you have a cloche, you can use it like a mini glasshouse in situ. We are enjoying fresh greens (lettuce and leafy greens) from under our cloche and one big advantage at this time of the year is that the leaves are very clean – free of both mud splash and insect damage. Apparently cloches are incompatible with dogs which are accustomed to agility work and to racing through the training tunnels. We merely have to keep the cat out as she is inclined to think that Mark has just made her a nice, dry and private toilet area.
  • If you have planted peas, you will have to stake them. We often use relocatable frames which consist of two hardwood posts with some netting stretched between. They can be rolled up when not needed. You can weave quaint structures which are more ornamental, but the peas don’t mind either way. At least they twine and hold themselves up.
  • One of the key skills in the vegetable garden is keeping a succession of crops coming, to ensure continued supply. Lettuces, beans, brassicas and green leafy crops such as spinach are all best sown or planted in small numbers each fortnight.
  • As deciduous fruit trees come into first leaf, a copper spray is timely and will reduce many fungal and bacterial problems. You can often get away without doing anything further to the trees this season but that first application of copper is beneficial and justified.
  • Time is running out for hard pruning of trees and shrubs. You really want this done before the plant has put on its main spring growth. You can keep giving plants the hairdresser’s trim any time but radical restyles (as in hard pruning) need to be timed well.
  • It is the optimum feeding time for the ornamental garden. Some people feed their entire garden every year. We target our use of fertiliser a great deal more selectively but we do ladle on the home made compost, using it as mulch. Key beds will get mulched every year.

A friend who shall remain anonymous felt a little short changed by the recent TV programme which promised to show him how to grow his own drugs at home. I think he was hoping for something a little more risqué than a home cure for athlete’s foot (aloe vera and lavender, was it?) Being responsible gardeners, we will not be alerting readers as to what they can grow at home that is legal, but we will comment that there is not a wide range and there are good reasons why they have not been a runaway success in the drug world. Mostly they are highly unpalatable. Some are inclined to result in death.