It’s that quiet time in the garden when growth slows down, at least it does above ground. Frankly, it’s quite a relief after months of rampant plant growth & unpredictable weather, meant the garden needed a lot of attention.
It would be tempting to abandon the garden until next year, & buy small winter bedding plants to put in pots near the front door. But I abandoned the idea of winter bedding a couple of years ago, too many plastic pots & polystyrene trays.
Besides, it’s too early to hibernate & there are bright autumn days when it’s wonderful to be outside.
It’s good to have vegetable plants growing now, knowing that they they’ll get on with the business of growing with little attention.
It’s the ideal time to plant now because it needs a couple of weeks of real cold, 0-4 degrees C, to push the bulbs into growth. I use it almost everyday in the kitchen, & although I can’t possibly be self-sufficient it’s worth growing some because ….
- You know categorically that it’s been grown without a chemical in sight.
- There are some interesting varieties that simply aren’t available in the shops. Germadour, with its’ purple streaked skin, reminds me of those trays of garlic that you see in French markets, a recommendation in itself. Cristo is pearly white & very reliable.
- It’s so easy to grow, & just needs a hoe running alongside the rows, to keep weeds at bay. Results will be better if the crop is watered from late Spring until the green leaves stop growing in early summer. Watering beyond this time invites rot around the top of the bulb.
The broad beans were planted this weekend, & kale & spinach continue to provide fresh leaves.
As for the rest of the garden, minimum intervention is my motto at the moment, though some plants need attention.
The shrub roses get a check over, & cutting back any really tall branches to stop them catching the wind & moving around too much. This is officially called ‘wind rock’ & results in a gap forming at the base of the plant which can fill with water & freeze. My garden is sheltered so there’s not much danger of frost this month getting into new cuts.
What to do with all those fallen leaves
My husband curses them much of the time, to be fair he does most of the clearing, so I can understand why. I see it as that precious gift, leaf-mould…. he has yet to be convinced. Admittedly it may take a couple of years to rot down into a soft, friable crumb that will do shade loving plants no end of good, but worth the wait.
They need their own space, not the compost bin. Bang small stakes in the ground & surround them with chicken wire to make an enclosure. My solution is to simply put them in an old compost bags that have had holes punched in them, a little air stops them becoming damp & slimy. I tuck the bags out of the way behind the shed or compost bins.
If you’re getting behind with the tasks that need doing this month, you’re not the only one, my spring flowering bulbs are still languishing in the shed! The tulips wont mind … but the Iris & Alliums, hopefully they’ll just flower later?
Winter bedding plants
In case you’re wondering what I use now instead of winter bedding plants, I have a few small evergreen ferns that move to specific places, like the shelf in the porch near the front door. The bigger pots that will eventually have tulips in have a covering of moss, because although I love a few gaudy plants around the place, we don’t need them all year round. I’m after a more mellow look at this time of year.
all photos; Jill Anderson.