This Month in the Garden – October

TMITG_ds1Once again we had superb weather for the Biddenham Show and the Show was very successful with a good number of entries for the horticultural classes. The flower section was very colourful as you can see from the photos on the Biddenham Gardeners’ Association website

The vegetable classes were brought into a different league by entries from two experts in the art of showing giant vegetables. This created a lot of interest but also gave the judge a problem as to whether to make her decisions on ‘Show’ criteria or ‘market’ standards which apply to most of us who exhibit produce we are growing for our own use. The Committee may need to rule on this for future shows. Whatever the criteria Rosemary Harris (the former Bulletin editor) had the satisfaction of beating me with her onions, although I did have my revenge in other classes. It was good to have the sunshine for the Show but the dry weather continues to give problems for gardeners. In the past I have been an advocate of letting nature take its course with our lawns and not spending money on watering. As I look at my patchy lawn I have been wondering if that was a good idea after all. I am sure it will recover but I spend money on plants and water them so why not the lawn too when it can enhance the general look of the garden so much. This thought was confirmed at the last meeting of the BGA when David White spoke about Lawn care ( See Linda Truscott’s report on that meeting elsewhere in the Bulletin).

Leaves are beginning to fall and it won’t be long now before we have to do something about it. Apart from looking untidy leaves that are left to rot can do quite a bit of damage to lawns. If you have got a rotary mower, that will shred and vacuum up leaves very satisfactorily and they can then be put on the compost heap between layers of grass.  If you don’t use  a mower probably the simplest, and certainly the cheapest, tool is a wire rake although an electric blower is good fun.

Whatever tool you use pile the leaves into heaps and, collecting them between two short boards, squash them tightly into black plastic sacks and tie before frequently stabbing the sack with a fork for aeration. Tuck them away out of sight for a couple of years and you will finish up with some lovely crumbly leaf mould. Don’t even think about putting fallen leaves into the green bin for collection by the Council.

Don’t forget that frost can strike at any time from now on and make sure that tender plants are brought under cover or given protection with fleece, bubble wrap, straw or mulch as appropriate. If you plan to lift your dahlias leave them in the soil until they are blackened by frost or, if there is no frost, early in November. Last year I left some of my dahlias in the earth, as I often do, and, although there was no frost, I lost most of them. I suspect they rotted in the exceptionally wet winter weather. The ones that did best were ones growing in containers which I brought in and left in their pots in the garage.  I was also successful in getting new plants from cuttings made in the spring from these survivors.

Two final reminders; if you have got bare space in the veg patch dig it over as soon as possible before the soil gets too wet, incorporating garden compost if you have got it, and  the best thing to do with green tomatoes is to make chutney. It will be a tasty reminder of time spent profitably in the garden in 2014.

Jeremy Arthern

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