October 2013 Newsletter

October is here already and there is lots of activity going on in the kitchen garden with harvesting and some sowing and planting still going on but we also need to think about preparing for the beginning of winter. It’s time to begin a garden clean up as crops come to an end and late crops are harvested, remove any plant debris such as old leaves that can become a nice home for pests and diseases over the winter months. Make sure beds are as weed free as possible.

Early mornings and evenings have a definite chill and that autumn feeling is in the air. Late blooming flowers are still putting on a great display but if you have autumn cropping and overwintering plants in don’t get caught out by the risk of an early frost, keep some fleece at the ready just to keep them growing as long as possible.

Keep smiling

Pat

 

Now’s the time to be planting your overwintering broad beans to give you a head start for earlier crops next year. Have a look at our great new Broad Bean De Monica, it can be grow can be grown in autumn or in spring and is a very fast grower!  Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudiais the most popular and well known variety but if you have a smaller garden Broad Bean The Sutton might be the one for you, it is a more compact variety and rather attractive too. All varieties are available as seed or as young plants for quicker establishment.

Pea Douce Provence is a good pea to sow in autumn too - you could be picking your first peas next May! This versatile variety can also be spring sown so you can increase your cropping season considerably, in fact with some successional sowing you could have this variety growing practically all year round

 

Sweet Peas sown in autumn will go on to produce the stockiest plants and the earliest flowers next year. They can be sown now in pots or Rootrainers and over-wintered in a Cold Frame or, if you live in a mild area you can sow straight into their flowering position, but make sure to give them a bit of protection during the worst winter weather with Fleece or Tunnels! If you don’t have the time or the inclination to sow your own, never fear we sow and overwinter young Sweet Pea Plants so you don’t have to, they will be delivered to you between March and early April at just the right time to plant and grow away quickly so you get the best display possible next summer.

 

Don’t forget to get your autumn planting Onions, Shallots and Garlicbefore it gets too late if you prefer to plant them in autumn. There are some great varieties for you to choose from and also a good selection for planting in spring if you don’t have space in your veg plot right now. We have some really great autumn planting Garlic varieties and they will all produce good sized bulbs with lovely plump cloves. Carcassone Wight is a new pink-cloved hardneck garlic with good skin cover. Chesnok Wightis also a hardneck and produces white skinned bulbs with rich black veining.  Autumn planting onions include the ever popular Radar, Senshyu Yellow and Red Cross and our new variety Shakespeare which has good resistance to bolting. Yellow Moon is always a reliable shallot and along with Biztro also has
good resistance to bolting.

Harvested onions are best strung together and hung up in an airy place or stored in onion nets to keep them dry make sure onions are dry before you store them.

You still have time to sow Lettuce Winter Densityso you can enjoy tender salad throughout the winter. Sow Perpetual Spinachor Spinach Mississippi or Oriental Spinach Mikadonow and add the young leaves to salads as well as using as a vegetable. Mizuna is a great overwintering oriental vegetable too and Oriental
Mustard Mix is perfect for zinging up a winter salad.  If you have a greenhouse sowing the seeds in a Gro-Bed will help keep them a degree or two warmer inside when the weather is cold. If growing outside it is advisable to cover these crops with Fleece or Tunnels to protect the emerging young shoots from slugs and mice and give some frost protection especially in colder areas.

If you don’t have the time to sow these late plants you’ll be pleased to know we’ve increased our young plants range so you can still plant some great overwintering veg such as Lettuce Winter Density, Provencale Salad Mixand Spinach Amazon - just perfect for growing outdoors, in a coldframe or cold greenhouse.

 

Autumn is the perfect time for planting both Soft and Top Fruitthe ground still has some residual warmth to help plants start to build a good root system. We have a great selection for you including old favourites plus the best of the new introductions over recent times. Apple Tickled Pink is a new dual purpose apple with deep red fruit and striking red flesh it has a mild tart flavour and is very juicy. It is good for both cooking and juicing, the fruit keeps its shape when cooked and the juice is also pink. It makes a superb garden tree as it has lovely red-violet spring blossom to rival any ornamental variety! Another lovely tree is Pear Sensation with shiny coppery young foliage and white blossom and fruit that has bright red skin when ripe.

So whether your favourite fruit is Apples, Pears, Cherries, Strawberries, Raspberries, Grapes or any other you will be spoilt for choice in the latest catalogue. Smaller gardens can still grow some sort of fruit even if it’s just a container on the Patio there are plenty to choose from. And for even better value Fruit trees are on Special Offer at the moment – Buy any 3 Fruit Trees and get the cheapest FREE!

 

Tips for the garden...

Cut back a third of the older darker stems on Currant Bushes and remove any dead or damaged stems from the centre of Gooseberry Bushes to allow good air-flow. Cut the runners from Strawberry plants to maintain fruiting vigour for the coming season and tidy up the foliage, you can cut back all the foliage or just remove any dead or dying foliage and leave some healthy growth to cover the crown of the plant over the winter.
It’s time to order new Fruit Trees and Soft Fruit so they can be planted while dormant, they will put on a good root structure during winter months.

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Dig up and divide Rhubarb Crowns if they’re 4 or 5 years old and getting congested. Dig up the crown (this is very good exercise!) and using a spade and your foot chop the crown into at least three pieces. Don't worry about causing damage it will be fine. Each piece should have one or more pinky-white buds, most large crowns will have lots. Replant in a hole slightly larger than the pieces of crown the top of the crown should be approximately 2.5cm /1in below the surface of the soil.

 


If you haven’t already ordered don’t forget it’s time to get Autumn Bedding Plantsand Spring Bulbs in before it gets too cold, they’ll grow away and build a good root system and be ready to burst into colour next spring.

Move tender plants such as Fuchsiaand Geraniums into the greenhouse for overwintering and be prepared to cover with Fleece overnight as the weather gets colder.  Remove all foliage and any dead or damaged stems to avoid pests and diseases taking hold of them.

Cut back border perennials that have died down unless they have attractive stems or seed heads which might be a source of food for birds.

The stems of some perennials can also offer a place for garden wildlife such as frogs and toads to hide during the winter - you really need to encourage these slug-munching friends of the gardener to stay in your garden. But really the choice is yours, if some perennials are looking really tatty cut them back, if not just have a quick general tidy up – dead leaves, weeds etc and forget about the rest until spring when you will be able to see the new growth forming at the base.

 



When you do finally get round to raking up all those dead leaves add them to the compost heap or put them all in a black bin liner with a few holes in the bottom for drainage and tuck them away somewhere out of sight. In about 18 months you will have a fine, crumbly leaf-mould which is great soil improver or mulch for your garden. Traditionally leaves are stored in a wire cage but dry leaves break down much slower than damp ones so to accelerate the fungal breakdown the leaves need to be wet and avoid the drying effects of wind, bin liners do this job perfectly! Shake and move the bags around every now and then to distribute the leaves and mix them up with the fungi that are doing all the work inside the bag.