In the Garden: March 19, 2010

 

The rows of corn in the garden are interplanted with food for the butterflies here

The rows of corn in the garden are interplanted with food for the butterflies here

 

  • The push hoe is an invaluable tool but one best used in dry conditions when severed weeds can be left on the surface to wither. This means that our current dry early autumn conditions are still a good time to do a push hoe round. This week’s rain has only penetrated the top centimetre or so of the soil here and unless we get some gentle, steady rain over a few days we will remain dry a while longer. Hoeing also gently tills the soil and discourages the build up of liverwort and moss which you see on compacted ground. Keep your hoe sharp for best results – using a file on it is fine.
  • Naturally everybody has heeded our oft repeated advice and rushed out to plant brassicas in abundance for winter. Keep an eye on the white butterflies which may be hovering around your plants and laying eggs already. The hatching caterpillars will wreak havoc on your baby plants. They will be less of a problem when colder, wetter conditions set in but you may need to take action now. If you don’t wish to use a proprietary insecticide, you can resort to common flyspray for a quick hit or one of the organic based oil sprays (up to 10 ml of light cooking oil and a squirt of detergent per litre of water). Thuricide is a bacterial spray that attacks the caterpillar gut and is effective and selective (only attacks the one target) – you can buy it from your garden centre. If you have a really heavy infestation, you may need to spray and then cover your crop with old net curtaining to prevent reinfestation.
  • If you have cauliflower or broccoli maturing already, bending the outer leaves over the head is the practical and time honoured means of stopping sun burn on the edible portions.
  • Start the autumn feeding round now while plants are still in growth and can absorb the nutrients. It is a waste of time and money to feed when conditions are cold in winter and plants are dormant or semi dormant. More is not better with fertiliser and if conditions are too dry, it can burn the foliage so keep to recommended application rates and preferably spread it immediately before rain.
  • It is trimming time for formal hedges. We plan an Outdoor Classroom on the topic next week.
  • It should be safe to sow grass seed for new lawns now although you may have to get the hose out if we get another dry spell. What you don’t want to happen is for the seed to germinate and then fry in sunny, dry conditions so keep an eye on it.
  • We are enjoying a fantastic crop of sweet corn here and Mark, who harvests it only as required so it is a matter of minutes from being picked to being cooked, is warning that there is a veritable deluge of corn to come over the next two to three months. This compensates for the lack of onions and water melons this season.