Jobs for the productive garden in November

With winter approaching, there isn’t a great deal to do in the kitchen garden at this time of year, but here are a few ideas to keep you busy.

Start winter pruning apple and pear trees, and fix grease bands to fruit trees to protect them against winter moth.  If you are planting new trees this winter, they should be available by now so it’s a good time to make a start.

Loganberries

You can also begin planting bare-root raspberry canes and currant bushes.

Plant garlic sets and shallots and sow broad beans.
On the window sill grow herbs and salad leaves.

Rhubarb should be divided every 5 years to keep the plants strong and productive – and this can be done any time between now and spring, as long as the ground isn’t frozen.

Harvest leeks and Brussels sprouts.  If you haven’t used carrots and parsnips either cover them with straw or dig them up by the middle of the month and store in the fridge.  Protect cauliflower heads from frost by pegging or tying theirs leaves over them.

Tulips by Firgrove Photographic

This is now the best time to plant Tulip and Hyacinth bulbs, and if like me, you haven’t quite finished planting your other spring bulbs (!), crack on with that this month – providing the ground is not water logged or frozen.

You can either risk leaving your Dahlias in the ground over winter (protecting them with a thick compost mulch), or if your soil is heavy and wet and they are likely to rot, cut them down and dig them up (once the frost has blackened the foliage), and store the dried off tubers until you can re-plant them in late spring.

Photos:  Janet Bligh & Firgrove Photographic

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Jobs for the productive garden in September

My seasonal tips if you’re growing fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers for cutting

CUTTING GARDEN
Keep deadheading annuals and late-flowering Dahlias & Salvias to prolong flowering (and don’t forget to support them as the plants get bigger and top-heavy).

Direct sow hardy annuals (such as Nigella, cornflowers and Calendula officinalis) in to the ground now for early flowers next summer.

Teasels by Firgrove Photographic

Dry seedheads of Eryngium and Teasels to use in flower arrangements.

Tulips by Firgrove Photographic

Order your spring bulbs now if you haven’t done it already – if you leave it too late you may find it hard to get exactly what you want.   If you’re looking for ideas on what to plant, take a look at my blog on choosing bulbs for the cutting garden.

Move tender plants under cover as the night time temperatures drop.

KITCHEN GARDEN
Keep on top of your harvesting to beat damp weather which can damage produce.

Pick sweetcorn as soon as it’s ripe, and if frost is forecast, harvest tender veg. such as courgette, peppers and tomatoes.

Plant out any new strawberry plants now.

Let squash and pumpkins ripen in the sun.

Sow fast-growing oriental greens such as Mizuna and Pak-choi.

Cover leafy vegetable crops with bird-proof netting.

Before slug damage spoils them, dig up any remaining potatoes and store in a cool, frost-free place.

onions

Take up the last of this year’s onion crop and leave them to dry before storing.  You can now sow onion sets to mature next summer.

There’s still time to sow green manures which will release nutrients back in to the soil when they are dug in over spring.

PESTS AND DISEASES
Clean your greenhouse & coldframes to help prevent pests over wintering.

Start to clear up plant debris in borders to keep fungal diseases at bay over winter.

To avoid Vine weevils damaging your plants apply nematodes this month and next, to treat freshly hatched grubs (I get mine from www.ladybirdplantcare.co.uk).

 

Picture credits:  Janet Bligh & Firgrove Photographic

Jobs for the productive garden in July

Lots to do in July if you’re growing fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers for cutting!

CUTTING GARDEN
Keep cutting Sweet peas and Cosmos regularly to encourage more flowers.

KITCHEN GARDEN
Cut and dry (or freeze) herbs.

Drying lavender

Cut Lavender for drying and take cuttings of woody herbs such as Lavender, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

Keep sowing salad vegetables and herbs regularly.  There’s still time to sow carrot & parsnip seeds.  Sow salads and spinach for autumn as well as spring cabbage.

Tidy strawberry beds when fruiting is over – compost any straw, shear the plants to about 5cm from the ground (removing all the rubbish), add fertiliser and water well.  If you want to grow new plants, leave some of the stronger old plants alone and pin down the runners.  These will form new plants with roots and can be cut away from the main plant and replanted in autumn.

redcurrants blackcurrantsHarvest berries & currants.  Cut out the fruited stems of summer raspberries & loganberries. Protect ripening fruit trees (cherry, plum, peach, nectarine) from birds.

Thin out heavy crops of plums, apples & pears to avoid branches breaking with the weight, and prune overlong shoots on trained fruit trees such as espaliers, cordons & arches.

Tip-prune figs to encourage bushier growth & more fruit buds (pinch out new growth beyond 5 or 6 leaves).

Remove surplus leaves and sideshoots on grape vines to stop them shading the fruit.

Beans

Pick courgettes, cucumbers, and beans regularly or they will spoil, and harvest autumn-planted onions, garlic & shallots when ready.

When early crops are over, clear the beds and sprinkle organic fertilizer, fork over the soil and keep them free of weeds.

PESTS AND DISEASES
Use a copper-based fungicide to prevent blight on potatoes and tomatoes.  Check brassicas for Cabbage white butterfly eggs.

WATERING
Keep up with your watering.  Giving plants a good soaking in the evening is most effective.  While you have the hose out damp down the greenhouse floor to keep the atmosphere moist and to discourage red spider mites.

Picture credits:  Janet Bligh

Jobs for the productive garden in April

In the kitchen garden it will really be a question of keeping an eye on the weather this month, and judging when the time is right to sow seeds and plant out more tender things.

Sow tender vegetables such as courgettes and French beans into small pots and then plant out when the weather improves and your young plants are sturdy enough.

Towards the end of the month start taking frost tender vegetables out of the greenhouse and stand them outside on fine days to harden them off gradually.

Sow Carrots, Peas, Broad Beans, Beetroot, Spinach, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, leeks and lettuce outside as soils start to warm up through the month.

Lettuces

Sow hardy herbs such as coriander, fennel, parsley, chervil, dill and marjoram.

Potatoes can start going in the ground now if they haven’t already, and it’s a good time to plant strawberries, grapevines and fig plants.

Start successional sowing of salad crops to ensure a steady supply of produce.  Cut & come again salad leaves can be grown very successfully in large pots or window boxes if you’re short of room.

Feed soft fruit and container plants with general-purpose fertiliser.

Harvest rhubarb (watering during dry spells).

Greenhouse

Ventilate the greenhouse on sunny days but shut it down mid-afternoon to retain the heat over night.

Marigolds

Sow annual flowers for your cutting garden.

Photo credits:  Janet Bligh & Firgrove Photographic