24 August, 2019

Nov/Dec 2011

Jonathan’s tips

Jonathan Piercy (AGW 2011)

1. Leaves are beginning to fall so, rather than removing them to the garden bin, put them onto the compost heap or into sacks and make some leaf mould which is excellent as a soil conditioner.

2. Now is the time to move plants in the garden and also to buy bare-rooted plants.

3. If you are leaving your clay plant pots outdoors, wrap them in bubble plastic to provide some protection.

4. It is not too late to plant autumn bulbs, particularly tulips.

5. Mulch any tender plants in the garden to protect from frosts.

6. You can begin winter pruning.

7. If you are heating the greenhouse, insulate with bubble plastic or horticultural fleece to preserve heat.

8. Fix grease bands to your fruit trees.

9. Put up bird feeders in the garden, but do remember they can also attract vermin.

10. Wood preservative can be applied to sheds and fences providing it is mild and dry.

11. It is time to do your winter digging. Also, if you have access to manure or well-rotted compost, now is the time to dig into the ground.

Thinking ahead to the coming cold months, Jonathan’s tip for some colour over the winter months are red-stemmed plants and a blueberry.

Red stems provide winter colour, especially against a snowy backdrop.


Cornus and Birch are often favourites when it comes to colour in the winter months due to their striking bark.

However, neither lends itself to planting in containers on the patio, but growing a blueberry in a container can give a similar effect.

In winter sunshine and against snow, the red stems are quite something ! You will also be rewarded in the summer with a supply of fruit for the table.

Varieties such as ‘Blucrop’ can produce up to 5kg of fruit per bush. This particular variety, introduced in 1941, is very popular due to its reliability. The catch is that they require acid soil so extra care is required when feeding and watering in order to maintain the correct ph.

Bell-shaped flowers are produced which, depending on variety, can be white, pale pink or red (sometimes tinged green).

Fruits are pale green at first then reddish purple before finally turning dark blue. They have a rather sweet taste when fully ripe and are used in many home-baking recipes.

(Photo supplied by Jonathan Piercy).

Jonathan Piercy


Peter’s advice


Peter Blackburne-Maze (AGW 2011)

The garden is just about slipping into winter routine. We’ve had our first ground frost (none of this nonsense about a ‘grass’ frost, as some of the wearthermen call it!). On the whole, though, it’s not a bad autumn, as autumns go, but putting the clocks is what really rubs it in.

Something that I always like do about now is go over what grew well and what didn’t in the fast vanishing growing season. More importantly, try to find out what caused any failures that occurred. Sometimes it is the gardener that is responsible and, if this is so, don’t fall into the same trap again.

One of the things that newcomers to gardening often get caught out by is trying to do jobs such as sowing and planting too soon.

Here in the North, it’s all too easy to think that one warm and sunny day during the winter means that coats can come off and seed packets opened.

Very little should be sown before March. The one thing that can be is Aquadulce broad beans. Mine are already sown and a few warm days should bring them up. They’re as tough as old boots. It must be the Aquadulce type, though, other varieties are likely to be killed by the winter. Watch out for mice, though, and have some traps ready.

Sow the beans 4.5in. apart and about 2in. deep in rows 18in. apart. I grow them in double rows, which later have supporting twine stretched right round them for support. Allow 2ft. between the double rows.

This system allows you to pick down each side of a double row without falling without treading on or falling over the double row behind you.

Last winter, with the snow coming so early, some of us had trouble lifting parsnips from the frozen ground. Guard against this by digging up some of them, once the tops have died off, and pile these against a fence or boundary wall before covering them with straw or soil so that they’ll be easy to collect when the ground is frozen.

Don’t stack them against a house wall because you’ll probably bridge the damp-course.

So much to do; so little time!

Peter Blackburne-Maze

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