Oh dear! Summer’s definitely over now and we must bravely face the oncoming winter weather.
The urgency has seeped out of the garden tasks, but there are still some jobs that can be done now, while we plan how to make our gardens EVEN better next year!…
LOVE ME TENDER
Those tender perennials that have been performing so well in our pots and containers all summer can yield us some easy cutting material now, which will provide us with lots of free strong plants for next year. And what’s more, they will take up a lot less space on your window-sill indoors that the big plants from which they were cut.
I’m talking about things like Pelargonium, Osteospermum, Coleus and Salvia. I promise you, it’s not difficult! Using clean secateurs, cut a short non-flowering stem just below a leaf-joint, strip off the bottom leaves, and leave about 2 leaves on at the top to photosynthesise while your cutting develops roots.
Dip the end in a little hormone rooting solution if you have some, then make a hole in a pot of good clean compost and put in the cutting. You can get about 5 cuttings in the same pot usually, but make sure they don’t touch each other – you need good air circulation to prevent fungal growth.
Water the pot, fix a plastic bag round it, and put the pot in a warm light spot inside, but not in direct sunlight. If the bag steams up a lot, open it from time to time to let the air in. With good luck and a following wind, they will root from the buried leaf-nodes before they start to rot off!
Isn’t compost an incredible, fabulous thing! All that green and brown plant material that you don’t want any more, transformed into a delicious growing medium for your garden! If you have been filling your compost bin with spent top-growth from your garden flowers and veg, remember to mix it up from time to time, turning the contents form inside to outside, and from top to bottom.
This will help to keep air flowing inside the pile, which encourages decomposition. I’m lucky enough to have space for three ‘hoppers’, so I turn the heap from one to another along the line. It’s also important to keep the heap damp – another way to enhance the manufacture of this magic material (nice bit of alliteration there, don’t you think?!
AGEING YEAR, NEW PLANTS!
October is often an excellent time to plant new trees and shrubs – the soil is still warmish and workable and the plants can establish themselves before wind, frost and ice render them dormant.
Prepare the planting hole well, mixing a little compost with the soil in the bottom and to a depth so that the plant will remain at the same level as it was in the pot (though I find that clematis grow better if they are planted 4-6 inches DEEPER than they were in their pot). Mycorrhizal fungi granules rubbed into the roots will help them start taking up nutrients more quickly. Once it’s in the hole, backfill round the sides with a mixture of compost and earth, firm the plant in well, and water it lavishly.
* Remove any green tomatoes still on the plants and ripen them in a brown paper bag, a drawer, or dig up the whole plant and hang it upside down in a warm spot
* Plant spring bedding out into their final flowering spots – wallflowers, primulas, winter pansies etc.
* Plant autumn garlic bulbs – they will be fine through the winter and you’ll get a lovely early bumper harvest next year!