A few things to do in the garden at this time of year:
At this time of the year it’s worth thinking about planting a long-lasting display of bulbs. This is achieved by planting several layers in one pot. Start by adding some compost in a deep pot and then spread out several daffodils at the lowest level. Cover with more compost and then place several tulip bulbs around the compost surface. The final bulb layer could be either miniature daffodils such as Tete-a-Tete or early flowering crocus. Fill up with more compost and then plant up your chosen flowering bedding such as viola or winter pansies. Then wait as spring bursts forth next year.
Crops for current picking should include plenty of runner and French beans, beetroot, courgettes, cucumbers and butternut squash. Tomatoes that haven’t been affected by blight should also be producing tasty fruits, but that may only be those growing with some protection from rain in a greenhouse. To ripen the tomatoes that have set continue to feed the plants with a seaweed rich plant food such as Liquid Tomorite. Diluted in a watering can every 10 days or so it will do wonders in encouraging tastier crops. My sweetcorn is taking longer this year to come to maturity, although I’m checking the ripeness of the kernels as soon as the tassels turn brown. Lack of sunshine has slowed growth so that crops are taking several weeks longer to be ripe enough for cooking
As the summer comes to an end, it’s time to prepare the lawn for winter so that it wakes up fresh and green next spring and ready to be an attractive green lawn to set off all those spring blooms that will be popping out in March and April. So what’s first this Autumn, rake the surface to remove any thatch that may have built up over the summer. This layer of dead grass if not removed will eventually prevent rainwater from keeping the soil moist, but will also encourage disease. A spring-tine rake or mechanical scarifier will do the job quickly opening up the surface and lifting any creeping grass stems that have developed.
Some top fruit ripen earlier than others. In a normal season apples such as Ellison’s Orange, James Grieve and Egremont Russet should ripen in September as will Conference pears. But this year’s dull summer may see them take an extra few weeks to be sweet and full flavoured. Always try and pick the perfect fruit for eating, cup a large fruit in your hand and lift it up, twisting slightly. If it comes away easily it should be ready to eat. If a sharp tug won’t dislodge the fruit, try again in a week’s time. Don’t wait for windfalls to indicate ripeness – picked off the ground they are only useful for cooking or the compost heap. Remember Conference pears don’t store well, as they are fit for eating after just a few days in the fruit bowl. Other fruits like Cox’s, Newton Wonder and Egremont Russet apples can be stored when ripe for later eating.
For even more information, go to www.RadioGardening.co.uk