September Gardening Tips

Here are your tips for September gardening. After a cold Spring, we have had a hot dry June and July 2018 and now a cool damp week.  By the time you read this, we might be under water or in a desert!  The hot weather hastened the ripening of apples and brought forward the harvesting of potatoes; the runner beans in my care have hated it!

The suggestions of things to do in the September garden are based on what normally needs to be done at this time of year.

Ornamental garden

The year is far from over and chrysanthemums, asters and dahlias will go on flowering so long as you feed and dead-head them.  Take cuttings of favourite fuchsias, pelargoniums and penstemons to overwinter under cover. Collect seeds from other plants and dry them before storing in paper envelopes (or swapping with friends).

Lift and divide hardy perennials. Plant new ones for next year’s colour e.g. Helenium, Helianthus and Asters.

September is also a time to start planting for spring – daffodils need to go in now, but tulips can wait until November.

Plant trees and shrubs while the soil is still warm.

To give a tidy outline for the Winter, clip deciduous hedges like hawthorn, beech and hornbeam, and give a second clip to the soft growth of cypress and yew.

 

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August Gardening Tips

August Gardening By Ewshot Gardener

In the vegetable garden, carrots, lettuce, spinach can still be sown and harvesting soft fruit, early potatoes, peas, broad beans and courgettes gives me great pleasure.  However, the prolonged hot, dry spell has prevented soft fruit from swelling, so I shall have to wait for the autumn-fruiting raspberries.

The other effect of drought at this time is that rain is needed for next year’s flower buds to form on Rhododendrons and Camellias, so we are likely to get fewer flowers than this spring (remember the wet July in 2017?)

I tend to plant out broccoli and other brassicas in the space cleared when I dig up the early potatoes. On the light gravelly soil of my garden, the organic matter left over by the potatoes helps to retain moisture. I add some lime as well, since the cabbage family likes a more neutral soil.    Oh yes, net against pigeons and squash caterpillars… aahh, the wildlife!

Church Crookham Garden society has moved their show from the August bank holiday weekend to September 8th, hoping that more young people will be able to put in an entry. There are many open classes and entry is free. You can find the handbook on the website.

In August you can harvest runner beans, sweet corn and main crop potatoes.  Autumn planted shallots, onions and garlic can be harvested from July.

If you have a wildflower meadow, mow or strim it at 7.5cm at the end of August; leave the cuttings for a few days to let the seeds drop, then rake up the ‘hay’.

The apples you thinned out in July, will start to ripen at the end of August, or earlier this year, and can be stored in a cool dark place on racks or in newspaper.

Although the perennials that flowered in July may be past their best, there is an extensive palette of late-flowering plants to see us through to the autumn, including asters, Hesperantha, sedum (Hylotelephium) and hydrangeas.

Erigeron

This is a popular plant with bees – Echinops ritro ‘Veitch’s Blue’

Gardens open for charity

5th August  Dipley Mill, Hartley Wintney

19th August The Thatched Cottage, and Berry Cottage, Church Rd , Upper Farringdon, Alton (joint entry)

 

July Gardening Tips

Erigeron

Here is an Erigeron still standing. It is popular with the bees.

In July, I mourn the end of the glorious riot of rambling roses on the pergola and get on with pruning out shoots that have flowered and tying in the vigorous new growth.  The climbing roses will keep flowering if you keep dead-heading them.

All is not lost, though.  July is the month when herbaceous perennials are reaching their best, although they may need support (if you didn’t give them the ‘Chelsea chop!).  Bedding plants are also in their prime and should delight us until the Autumn if you keep dead-heading.

Talking of chopping; now the birds have fledged their young, you can clip hedges, including privet, cypress, box and yew. Cut back the trailing shoots of wisteria to 5-6 leaves to encourage next year’s flower buds to form.

Cypress hedges look better with two clips a year, in July and September.

Lawns and edges need to be kept mown/ clipped because fast growth, if it stays wet, leads to a patchy sward and slugs under the grassy fringe.  However, if it is dry, leave the mowing or use a very high setting for the blade

In the vegetable garden, carrots, lettuce, spinach can still be sown and harvesting soft fruit, early potatoes, peas, broad beans and courgettes gives me great pleasure.

I tend to plant out broccoli and other brassicas in the space cleared when I dig up the early potatoes. On the light gravelly soil of my garden, the organic matter left over by the potatoes helps to retain moisture. I add some lime as well, since the cabbage family likes a more neutral soil.

Oh yes, net against pigeons and squash caterpillars… aahh, the wildlife!

July 15th is the time for the Ewshot Show and they have a produce show – why not contribute an entry?  Crondall’s 55th flower, produce and craft show is on the 28th.

 

Gardens open for charity

15th July, 5th August  Dipley Mill, Hartley Wintney

1st & 29th July, 19th August The Thatched Cottage, and Berry Cottage, Church Rd , Upper Farringdon, Alton (joint entry)

Our associated society, Dogmersfield and Crookham Village, have arranged a visit to Whispers, Chatter Alley, Dogmersfield on 4th July starting at 12.30pm.  £6.00 per head. Picnics welcome, but no tea or coffee available.

sunflower time!

June Gardening Tips

A June border

June Gardening by Ewshot Gardener

It has been a relief to have some exceptional warmth in early May, but the cold wet Spring has made germination patchy.
Azaleas and rhododendrons are having a good year and primroses and Pulmonaria have been spectacular for weeks.
These are jobs you could be doing in June, among others:
Ornamental garden
* Gently remove spent flowers from Camellia, and rhododendron to make room for the leaf buds emerging behind.
* Harvest hellebore seeds once pods ripen (use gloves) and sow into pots or trays
* Divide bearded irises after flowering
* Sow biennials like sweet William, viola and wallflowers
* Divide spring-flowering bulbs.

Lawns
* Mow regularly but, if it is hot and dry, raise the cutting height.
* Apply a high-nitrogen lawn feed (again not when dry)
* Add clippings to the compost heap in small amounts; mix them with dry material to stop it all going slimy.

Kitchen garden
* Pinch out side shoots of cordon tomatoes
* Plant out pumpkins, squashes, courgettes and beans. You could direct sow both these and sweetcorn.
* Because sweetcorn is wind pollinated, do not plant them in a row but in a block, so the pollen gets to the stigmas of neighbouring plants.
* Harvest early potatoes when they begin flowering
* Sow autumn carrots.
* Net Strawberries and brassicas against birds.
* Sorry! But stop cutting asparagus and feed it so the crowns are ready for next year
* It looks as if apples and pears have set well in my garden. If yours have too, wait until after the June drop to thin fruit out! (bitter experience on my part here)

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May Gardening Tips

Best time for bluebells

The advantage of the cold spring has been a much longer display of daffodils and primroses.  The brief spell of warmth in mid April has finally brought tulips into flower.  There were very few ready for the show on 7th April.

BUT May is the month for bluebells, azaleas, apple blossom and all sorts of floral bounty.

30th April – 6th May is National Gardening Week

If the weather returns to normal, here are some jobs to do:

Kitchen garden
* Earth up potatoes when the foliage reaches 23cm/9in to prevent green tubers or, if frost is expected, cover smaller sprouts with soil for protection.
* Sow carrots, radishes, beetroot, lettuce and spring onions for successional harvesting.
* Harden off courgettes and squashes that were started under glass and protect with cloches or fleece if cold nights are forecast
* Hurrah! Start to harvest asparagus spears and rhubarb (don’t cut, pull)
* Direct sow French beans and sweet corn.
* Mulch strawberry plants with straw to keep the fruit clean, and feed fortnightly with tomato feed.

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April Gardening

April Gardening by Ewshot Gardener

After such a cold spell in February and the snow in March, it is reassuring to find that Spring flowers were not held back much and the slugs and snails were comatose for a bit longer!

April sees the best of tulips, wallflowers and polyanthus; elegant magnolias, lush camellias and cheerful rhododendrons put on their show to my delight.

Ornamental garden

  • The main risk of frost is past, so you can direct sow sweet peas and plant out Dahlias, Cannas, Gladioli, lilies and Nerines.
  • Prune Forsythia and Chaenomeles after flowering and, if you like the look of striking large leaves on your Cotinus (smoke bush), prune it hard back; you will not get any ‘smoke’ i.e. flowers though.
  • Trim back frost-damaged evergreen foliage and renovate broadleaved evergreens like Pittosporum, Photinia, Hebe, Fatsia and Mahonia
  • It is safe now to cut down the old stems of Gaura, Penstemon and Verbena bonariensis.
  • Remove old foliage from Pulmonaria (lung wort) at flowering time to make room for the new, more decorative leaves that will develop.
  • Direct sow sunflowers, poached egg plants, California poppies and pot marigolds.
  • Apply weed & feed to lawns on a day when the leaves are dry but rain is expected

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March Gardening Tips

We have reached March and spring flowers are at their stunning best to cheer us through, perhaps, the busiest part of the gardening year.

Euphorbias provide brilliant colour and texture from February throughout Spring but watch out for the sap, it can cause irritation!

Jobs to do

• All beds need a mulch both to retain moisture and to suppress those annoying annual weeds that need light to germinate.

• Remove the top 1 to 2 inches (2.5 to 5 cm) of old compost from permanent pot plants and top-dress with fresh. The old compost could be used as mulch.

In the ornamental garden

• Cut back Cornus, grown for their coloured stems, to 2-3 inches (5 to 7.5 cm) from the base because new growth has the best colour next winter.

• Prune bush and standard roses and feed

• Prune last season’s growth of Hydrangea panniculata to the lowest pair of strong buds – they flower on this year’s growth; but prune mop-head hydrangeas by removing dead heads back to the next pair of strong buds – they flower on last year’s growth; cut out a third of old growth at the base to encourage more stems to grow for next year’s flowers.

• Divide Hemerocallis, Astrantia, Hosta, Heuchera and Bergenia as new growth begins.

• Start mowing lawns, but keep the blades high to start with.

In the kitchen garden (more…)

February Gardening Tips

Now the days are noticeably longer and in my garden, I can see bulbs and autumn-sown broad beans putting on a growth spurt in response to the day-length change.  Shrubs and climbers are starting to grow new shoots, so now is the time to….

  • Thin out bamboo clumps by removing thin and overcrowded canes – they will be ready to act as supports for beans later. Remove low side branches to expose the decorative stems.  Limit spreading by digging to expose the rhizomes and sever with loppers below ground (not so easy in Crondall clay!)
  • Cut back Campsis and Wisteria last year’s growth to two or three buds and remove tangled old wood to a side branch or to ground level.
  • Prune late-flowering clematis to the lowest pair of strong buds about 30cm (1ft) from the ground.

    Euphorbias can provide brilliant colour and texture from February onwards

  • Prune back last year’s growth of Buddleja to a low framework of old wood.
  • Trim winter-flowering heathers as the flowers fade.

In the kitchen garden

  • Cut autumn-fruiting raspberries to the ground and tie in early-fruiters’ canes.
  • Fertilise tree, bush and cane fruit. Use a high potash formula. I use weathered ash from my wood fire and compost for the raspberries.
  • Put seed potatoes to ‘chit’ in trays or eggboxes, eye-end up, somewhere cool and light. In this area earlies can be planted out in early April and main crop two weeks later.
  • Sow broad beans, tomatoes, leeks, peas and salad under cover; plant shallots and garlic in the ground outside.

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October Gardening

by Ewshot Gardener in association with Church Crookham Garden Society

Pumkins

Pumkins and Squash can  be stored in a shed once they sound hollow when you tap them

Here we are, at the beginning of Autumn, the roar of leaf blowers and the scratch of rakes filling the air. I do hope those leaves will be composted to make leaf mould!

Most of the harvesting is done: potatoes lifted and stored cool and dark in hessian sacks, apples stored in newspaper on trays, carrots and beetroot are more difficult, but will not stand frost – why not pickle the beetroot? Pumpkins and squash can be stored in a shed or garage once they sound hollow when you tap them.

Now let us start on next year’s produce by sowing broad beans, planting overwintering onions and shallots, and sowing sweet pea seeds in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse. Plant Spring bulbs (except tulips, leave them until November to reduce the risk of ‘tulip fire’)

Now is the time to divide herbaceous perennials, move small shrubs and plant bare-rooted young trees (these will need firm support)
It is tempting to tidy all top growth of plants once they finish flowering:
DO rake up and dispose of diseased leaves from below roses and apple trees; DO cut out fruited branches of blackberries and their relations so you can tie in new growth; DO reduce the height of Buddleias, Lavatera and Sambuca to reduce wind rock and snow damage BUT LEAVE the main pruning until March. Most herbaceous plants can be cut own but some have seed heads useful to birds. DON’T cut down Penstemons, Gaura or hardy Fuchsias until late Spring to protect the plant from frost; similarly, leave Hydrangea flowers on the bush until March to protect next year’s flower buds.

Now you must drag dead foliage from your pond, my unfavourite job, but if you don’t, the pond will become too fertile for clear water and will eventually turn into dry land!
Frogs toads, newts, hedgehogs, slow worms and grass snakes are all great eaters of slugs so I would like them to stay in my garden. An untidy heap of sticks and leaves in a quiet corner will give them somewhere to hibernate. Do, please, remember this before lighting a bonfire!
The pigeons will be after your Brussels sprouts and broccoli so protect the plants with net. Enjoy the sight of squirrels, magpies and jays burying acorns, chestnuts and hazelnuts in your perfect lawn!

To keep that perfect lawn, maintenance continues with scarification, aeration and Autumn feed. I tend to leave the last mowings down to help the worms and the soil structure; it can look a bit messy though!
Autumn sunshine brings out the best in ornamental grass seed heads and maple and beech leaves before they fall. Spare some time to stand (or sit) and stare.

Gardens to visit this month
Chawton House Library open for NGS on 22nd October
Winkworth Arboretum for Autumn colour open for NGS on 1st October, open National Trust all year 10am-6pm, except Christmas.

September Gardening

by Ewshot Gardener in association with Church Crookham Garden Society

September is a good time to look around your garden, taking photographs to remind you of both the triumphs and the disasters; for example, the Crocosmias and Erigerons in my herbaceous border fell over in July and crushed all beneath, so I need to move them in October to somewhere less shady (or give more support!).

The year is far from over and chrysanthemums, asters and dahlias will go on flowering so long as you feed and dead-head them. Beans, sweetcorn and main potatoes can be harvested, but leave pumpkins and squashes on the plant to ripen.

Erigeron

Here is an Erigeron still standing. It is popular with the bees.

I grow Autumn raspberries which go on cropping into October and, of course, apples and pears can be harvested and stored somewhere cool and frost-free as soon as they pick easily when you lift and turn.

I am going to take cuttings of my favourite fuchsias, pelargoniums and penstemons to overwinter under cover. If I lifted the whole plants, there would be no room in the house or greenhouse! Collect seeds from other plants and dry them before storing in paper envelopes (or swapping with friends).
September is also a time to start planting – daffodils need to go in now but tulips can wait until November.
Onions and shallots can be planted for overwintering.
Don’t forget to protect Brassicas from pigeons!

If your lawn is your pride and joy, then give it an Autumn feed (low nitrogen reduces soft growth and strengthens roots), scarify and aerate. It has not been a good year for lawns in Ewshot, has it?

To give a tidy outline for the Winter, clip deciduous hedges and give a second clip to the soft growth of cypress and yew.

This is the time many gardeners net their ponds to prevent leaves getting in, although one needs to consider wildlife access when doing so.

Here are some 2017 dates of interest
• 10th September Bramdean House near Alresford is open on for the National Gardens Scheme.
• 16th September Church Crookham Garden Society Show at Crookham memorial Hall, Sandy Lane (free entry, for classes see www.ccgsoc.org.uk)
• 17th September Harvest Festival at Ewshot
• 7th October Harvest Supper at Crookham Memorial Hall (see ccgsoc.org.uk for details)

Here is an Erigeron still standing. It is popular with the bees.