Month nine and we are racing through the year. Is it my imagination or are the years getting shorter, It certainly feels like it. I don’t seem to be able to complete as many jobs in a day as I used to. On a plus side I still enjoy every minute in the garden, the resilience and vigour of plants never ceases to amaze me, well almost, there are some that seem to struggle but I put that down to me not providing the perfect spot. It’s not easy but over time your experience grows, and most plants are very forgiving.

Gardening can be a minefield of techniques and advice on composting and manuring but there is one thing that is consistent, you can never make enough compost for all your gardening needs. An average size compost bin will produce enough material in one cycle to mulch three or four square yards. If you are proficient you may achieve two or three bins-full per year. This is probably still not enough to cover all your beds and the vegetable garden, but there are options. Green manuring is a process whereby you sow a crop of fast growing annuals which produce lots of growth that is then dug into the soil to revitalise it. This process is normally carried out at this time of year so that there is still time for it to grow but it doesn’t take away growing space for your edibles. Although green manuring can be done throughout the year where you have a vacant plot, it is often carried out during late summer as crops are harvested, they will cover the soil discouraging weeds, provide cover for wildlife that feeds on garden pests and return nutrients to the soil for future crops. Choose a type that suits your soil and the time of year you are sowing, roughly prepare the ground by digging or forking, firm lightly and sow the selected crop as evenly as possible. Water in and during establishment if the weather is dry. Cut the plants down before flowering and either dig in or leave on the surface as a mulch. soil organisms and earthworms will over time bury the material as it decomposes and if preferred the roots can be dug in at a later date. If you practice no dig gardening then just cut the vegetation down and leave. There are many articles on the internet about green manuring, including information on what will suit your soil and situation and when is best to sow. Green manuring is a great addition to managing the nutrient and organic material for your vegetable garden or for preparing new beds before planting.

In the height of the growing season, certain vegetables and especially beans produce huge crops often presenting a challenge to finding new recipes and ways of using up the surplus. We do blanch and freeze vegetables but the danger is that you will still have frozen veg when next years plants are producing, so be careful not to get carried away, and if you cant give them away, then compost them, they will at least ultimately improve your soil. My Mum and Grandma used to make jam and chutney, a great way of using up soft fruit and vegetables. The interest in artisan food has led to an explosion of recipes, combinations and flavours providing great accompaniments to meals and making salads much more appealing. 

We have used late season Beetroot to make Beetroot and Apple and Beetroot and Fennel chutney, and I must say they are delicious. 

It’s that time of year when the Garden Centres and Nurseries are bursting at the seams with bulbs for autumn planting. Creating just a small container display will brighten up your patio in early spring and provide a welcome cheer when the weather is often a little dreary.

I admire those who constantly reinvent techniques by introducing us to a new take on things, the latest for me is ‘Bulb Lasagne’ what a great way of making things current and maybe encouraging some to have a go at gardening. Simply put it is a description of how to plant a container in layers to provide an extended display over the spring months. Choose a deep container place broken clay pot pieces or pieces of broken polystyrene packing over the drainage hole, fill with 5cm (2 inches) of compost and then place first layre of Bulbs, choose a late flowering tulip space about 2.5 – 3cm apart (1 – 1.5 inches), then put in another 7.5 cm ( 3 inch ) layre of compost, then add your second layre of bulbs choosing an early Narcissus (Daffodil) such as Jet-fire or Tete a Tete, again spacing about 2.5cm (1 inch) apart, fill the pot to about 2.5cm (1 inch) from the top of the rim and firm gently. Place the pot in a sheltered place near to the house or garage. If you have an unheated greenhouse then thats fine too. Check on them occasionally throughout the winter and water lightly if very dry. As the shoots emerge move the container to a place where you would like it to flower and enjoy.

Happy Gardening 

Martin.

Next Month, Dividing Herbs, Protecting tender perennials, Autumn Lawn care.

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