November 2010 Newsletter

It's not too early think about autumn planting onions, shallots and garlic

Make the most of a cold frame by growing crops over winter. Make a final sowing of salads such as Lettuce Winter Density and Winter Wonder, Provencale or Spicy Greens Salad Mixes, Radish Wintellaand White Lisbon Winter Hardy Spring Onions they should germinate quickly while the soil is still warm.

Perpetual Spinach can give you a good supply of leaves and sowing Marion carrots now under cover will give you the very earliest spring crop. If the weather is fine don’t forget to open the cold frame to allow good air circulation around your plants and likewise if a very sharp frost is forecast add a cosy blanket of fleece over the frame at night but remove during the day.

You could even be picking fresh Salad Leaves for your Christmas table, they will taste so much better than the salad leaves from the supermarket that have been washed in goodness knows what to stop them going limp!

Is something decimating your brassicas?

There is still time to sow Broad Bean Aquadulce Claudia and Pea Douce Provence - they are tough enough to come through the winter. If you live in a very cold area or have trouble with mice, sowing your broad beans in pots in a cool greenhouse, can give a more reliable germination. Sow one seed per 7cm (3in) pot filled with multipurpose compost. Water in and place in a cool but frost-free place. Do not grow in a heated greenhouse as they need to be grown cold and will fail to germinate if it is too warm. If you want the very earliest and sweetest mangetout peas and you live in a mild area, try sowing Oregon Sugar Pod under warm Horticultural Fleece or a cloche to give you pickings from May.

There is still time to direct sow autumn and winter vegetables

Soft Fruit can all be planted now provided the soil is not frozen or waterlogged. Strawberries, Raspberries and Currants will grow in most soils but a bit of preparation beforehand will reap dividends for your future crops. Make sure that the site is in a sunny spot sheltered from cold winds. Decide which fruits are your favourites and get planting. Growing and picking your own Soft Fruit is such a wonderful experience and you really don’t need a huge garden to be able to grow some of your own. Strawberries will grow very well in a Gro-Bed either on a patio or in a greenhouse – which will give you an earlier crop..

The vegetable garden will be providing copious amounts of produce now

Autumn is an excellent time for planting bare root fruit trees once they have shed all their leaves and are dormant. Most trees are grown on dwarfing root stock making sure there is one suited to every garden and aspect. One of the most unusual varieties we are offering this year is the new apple Rosette - this has been selected from a natural sport of Discovery which often has pink flushed flesh. Rosette has a rich red skin and the red flush penetrates deep into the flesh which is crisp and juicy. The habit is naturally compact and this brilliant garden variety flowers profusely from the first year of planting and is heavy cropping. Another good variety this year is Red Windsor, it has a sweet and aromatic Cox flavour on a compact tree with good disease resistance. For good ornamental value as well as a good crop you can’t beat a Crab Apple, the variety ‘Jelly King’ makes the most delicious coral coloured crab apple jelly that is superb served with pork, the tree is worth growing just for the blossom which smothers the branches in spring. Cherry Summer Sun still remains a customer favourite it has beautiful spring blossom and produces good crops of delicious sweet, succulent cherries from the end of July.

This year has been a bumper year for soft fruit

TV chef and food writer Clarissa Dickson Wright is enthusiastically trying to encourage more of us to grow British Garlic - which incidentally has been grown in Britain since Roman times! Since you can only buy imported garlic in supermarkets the only way to enjoy the superb flavour of UK grown varieties is by growing your own! For best results, garlic needs a long growing season and a cold period for the cloves to develop properly. They do not like wet feet, so if your soil holds water or is very heavy dig a deeper planting hole and add some sand to the bottom to help the drainage, this should help prevent bulbs from rotting, alternatively wait until the new year and choose a spring planting variety such as Tuscany Wight or Solent Wight. All Marshalls garlic is UK grown by the multi award winning Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight.

Gardening Tips
Pinch out the tips of runner beans that have reached the end of their support

Before planting soft fruit prepare the ground by thoroughly working the area to remove all weeds including their roots and dig in as much well rotted organic matter as possible. Summer fruiting Raspberries will need the support of stakes and wires as they grow and it is best to put these in place in advance of planting to avoid accidental damage to your young canes. When planting any soft fruit – Strawberries, Raspberries, Blackcurrants, Blackberries or Gooseberries – make sure the hole is large enough to spread out the roots and at a depth of just above the existing soil mark on the stem, this will encourage vigorous growth. Scatter a handful of Organic Extra in the soil from the hole before filling in and treading gently to firm the soil around the plants.

Keep an eye open for blight on your potatoes

If you are over-wintering frost tender plants in the greenhouse giving the glass a good clean will get rid of algae etc and allow more light to be available to your plants. Clear away any debris and weeds as these can harbour over-wintering pests and diseases. Citrox is an effective and natural greenhouse and garden disinfectant. It is effective against a wide range of fungal and bacterial diseases and can be used to clean all your pots, containers, seed trays and capillary matting. It can also be used to clean bird tables and pond accessories and added to water butts to keep them clean.

Keep an eye open for blight on your potatoes

As you rake up and clear away fallen leaves don’t let them go to waste, I know I’m always reminding you about this but recycling autumn leaves really is one of the easiest ways to make free garden mulch and compost. Chopped or shredded leaves break down quicker but this isn’t a necessity. Any deciduous leaves can be used. Next year you will have lovely crumbly leaf mould which you can spread as mulch on your borders and around fruit trees. It is particularly valuable applied to raised beds or the vegetable patch in autumn as soil improver and winter mulch for bare soil, where it will suppress weeds and add valuable humus.

Many hardy annuals can be sown in autumn and will over-winter successfully

Garden tool maintenance often gets overlooked, get yours in tip top condition before spring. They can also be cleaned and disinfected with Citrox which will eliminate any fungal or bacterial spores that may be clinging to surfaces.  Dry well and rub all over with an oily rag to prevent any rusting while they are not in use. Oil any with moving parts ie secateurs and check blades and the edges of large tools, if they are dull and blunt sharpen them so they will be ready for use in the spring. The Garden Tool Sharpener is quick and easy to use and will keep your garden tools sharp and effective, use on spades, hoes and even lawn mower blades. The Secateur Sharpener is a great little tool for sharpening secateurs and loppers. A sharp blade makes secateurs much easier to use and produces a nice clean cut.