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September 2008
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November 2008

October 2008

Winter watering of pots

Now the nights are drawing in, and you never seem to be home in daylight, it's easy to forget about watering pots and hanging baskets in the garden.  It's true that containers won't need as much attention as during the summer, but winter winds can be very drying, and so particularly evergreens will need some additional water maybe once a month through the winter.  The most important thing to remember is to ensure that the roots don't sit in water, because the moisture will turn to ice, and if the compost freezes solid for long it kills the plants (from drought, ironically!).
Ensuring that any saucers used in the summer are removed, and that pots are drained by placing on bricks or pot feet, so that any excess moisture can run out.
Also water before midday, so that plants have time to soak up the water before the daylight fades and the temperature decreases.
In the middle of the winter, it may be worth "lagging" your most precious pots with bubble wrap, or moving them to the lee of a house wall where the termperature will be several degrees higher than in the rest of the garden.


Tulip time

Mixedtulips

Although most of the other bulbs should be planted by now, - Tulips are fine to be planted all the way through November, and the selections this year have been fantastic. By the end of the week, i'll have planted bulbs from Homebase, B&Q, Squires, Wisley, Bloms Bulbs, Crocus and Sarah Raven.  i'll let you know how they've got on in the spring. Please let me know if you've had any particularly good or bad bulb buying experiences this year.


Autumn leaves

Well it is now fully Autumn, the clocks have gone back and the trees are losing their leaves.  To make sure you make the best of the leaf fall, and get plenty of exercise whenever the sun comes out, rake the leaves off the lawn with a plastic rake at every opportunity.  These leaves can then be heaped in a leaf bin with open mesh sides, or put in plastic bags with holes in them, so that they will become leaf mulch over the next couple of years. If you have a garden vacuum that picks up and mulches the leaves, the decomposition time will be even quicker, and you'll have an excellent soil improver in the next year.


Mulching for soil health and your wealth

October is the time of year to start thinking of preparing the garden for winter.  If like me, you've found the delights of Dahlias this year, and with our milder weather, you don't want to phaff with digging them up, dusting them and storing them, then now is the time to start mulching.

A mulch is a thick layer of usually organic matter that covers the soil to keep it warm, and protect from frost and to encourage the worms to help break down the soil over the winter.  Usual mulches include rotted Horse manure and straw, homemade compost, bulk chips or hessian backed carpet.  Black plastic can also be used, but will not allow water in.

I would suggest that the best mulches to help create a fantatic soil for next year which will increase your plants size are Rotted manure and homemade compost.

Some other plants that need mulching to help encourage bigger plants next year and protect them from winter weather are
Hostas, Heucheras, Gunnera (can be mulched by wrapping in their own leaves), summer flowering Salvias and Delphiniums


Easy to remove elder

Ground elder has been our nemesis this year, - we have a lot of clients that have big patches of it, but after a season of constant attack, we are finally winning.  The current wet weather has loosened up the soil, making it fantastic for letting go of Ground Elder roots.  Put a trowel tip underneath the leaf joint, and you can get out a good amount of the fat white roots, which will help in the fight early next spring.

Make sure that you don't add these roots to the compost heap until they are long dead, either by leaving them to dry out, or leaving in a plastic bag to start to break down.  Better still, send them off in the council green bags or bins, as the industrial compost heaps get hot enough to kill them properly.


Snip off any suckers

Suckers form on plants where a different root stock has been used from the variety that has been grafted on the top.  Often the rootstock is a native plant, and will grow more vigorously than the "head". They are often not as ornamental as the intended specimen. This means that if you spot them, you need to snip them off right at the base. 
We spotted some today on an ornamental Amelanchier tree, which had suckers of Rowan (mountain ash)

Roses, Some trees including apples and Wisteria also fall into this category, and as borders are cleared of flowering stems, they become more obvious.