Autumn Garden Hints

fennelThe good autumn season continues as opposed to the wet weather that extended the end of last winter. It did have its advantages and we reap the rewards. We are still picking French runner beans (variety ‘Cobra’). The turnips (variety ‘Oasis’) are almost like melons on the dinner plate and the courgettes continue to throw out plump green and yellow torpedoes. Leeks (variety ‘ Musselburgh’) fatten in the row alongside onions but sad to say the sweet-corn (varieties ‘Landmark’ and ‘Extra Sweet’) seem only to yield, so far, one good cob.

The 50 transplants raised in the greenhouse were planted just over a foot apart each way in one plot so that the ‘tassles’ could fertilise the flowers on the cobs. After taking off the ripe cobs there is a chance those left will continue to swell and turn yellow! It’s an easy starter for any meal with a few minutes in the microwave and then smothered with butter. Oops! Sorry: ‘Flora’. The plants share a square of ground with daffodil bulbs and wild flowers; spring bringing a splash of yellow up the garden. Next year we’ll (royal we!) get them started earlier in unit pots in the greenhouse and get them planted out before the long taproot has a chance to develop so that they suffer little disturbance. I suspect that we shall be interplanting with the green tops of the daffodils as they die off!

Seasonal activities merge and whilst it was not long ago harvesting was on the go and blanching beans both ‘broad’ and ‘runner’ was in full swing the ground has already been turned over incorporating stacks of organic matter. The broad beans (varieties ‘Super Aquadulce’, and ‘The Sutton’) will go in shortly 8 inches apart in a single row or two rows 8 inches with 2 feet to the next double row. The garlic will go in 6 inches apart in the row and 12 inches between the rows. Water in dry weather but not when the garlic is near ready for harvesting or rotting may occur. That leaves us with the onion sets which can go in 4 inches apart in the row with rows 9 inches apart. Suttons have onion plant varieties ‘Fire King’, ‘Hiball’ and Ebenezer’available now by post. That is of course when the weather allows. Pray we don’t get another spring 2013!

Young lettuce plants sit ready to be hardened off prior to planting and they will need some protection from the cold weather with a cloche, cold frame or fleece.

This is the time when the autumn fruiting raspberries give their best. Varieties ‘Autumn Bliss’ and ‘Tullameen’ are giving sweet, ripe berries. After fruiting the canes will be cut back close to the ground and a good dressing of organic matter supplied from the compost heap. Care should be taken when removing any perennial weeds as raspberries are surface rooters and hate to be disturbed.

The old summer fruiting canes will have died back and these should be removed the new young canes tied in about 4 inches apart and 6 foot high supported on two horizontal wires. Only select the strongest canes and removing any weak growth.

Whilst the tomatoes and cucumbers struggle on in the cold greenhouse some sweet potatoes (variety ‘Beauregard’) started off in pots were planted in between. Their scrambling tops took me by surprise as well as the swelling potatoes which proved too much for the pots. Growth could not be contained and they have spread like wildfire creating shade and reducing water evaporation. Beware though; the growths must also be sweet and they provide a very prompt meal for any marauding slugs and snails!

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