Seasonal Tips - Grow Your Own

Grow Your Own

Flower Power

Good Housekeeping

“How Would You Like Your Own Mini Orchard To Grow Your Own ‘Five-A-Day’?”

When it comes to 'getting your 5 a day', most people prefer the sweet crunch of an apple or the juiciness of a ripe pear. Supermarkets sell the tastiest fruits for premium prices, so why not save a fortune and grow your own? You will get fruit in the first season and the taste will be fantastic! 

Now's the perfect time to order and plant all new fruit trees, bushes and canes. New trees can be planted as autumn arrives and the weather becomes cooler and wetter. The soil will still be quite warm in September even if the weather is cool, and the roots of new plants will benefit from this.

Newly planted trees will need staking with a good tree stake and secured with two tree ties. After planting, mulch the soil around fruit trees and bushes with a 7.5cm (3") thick layer of mulch to suppress weeds and lock in moisture in the summer.  


“Do You Have A Glut Of Fruit? Find Out Why You Should Pick Every Last One”

As fruit trees and bushes increase in size, you may find yourself with more fruit than you can handle. It's easy to ignore a glut but it's very important that you harvest everything.

Pick all fruit as it becomes ready. Don't leave it on the tree or bush to become over-ripe, but at the same time don't pick too early or the full flavour won't have developed.

Most fruit is ready when it comes away easily in the hand. If the fruit is left on the tree it will become 'mummified' and can be a source of infection affecting next year's growth and fruit.

Remove and destroy Apples, Pears and Plums affected by 'brown rot' to prevent the disease from spreading. 

Apples and Pears are generally ready to pick when they readily part from the tree when lifted gently in the palm and given a slight twist. Pears are best picked when slightly immature. They should then be left a couple of days at room temperature to reach full maturity. 

Prevent future caterpillar damage to apples by applying 'grease bands' to the trunks of trees - this prevents female adults of the wingless winter moth climbing up to lay eggs. 


Collecting Your Own Seed

If you're looking to sow lots of seeds for next season saving seed from your garden plants is a great way of building up a stock that can last for several years to come and if you haven't done so yet now is a good time to start.

By leaving spent flower heads on your plants after they've finished flowering they'll fully ripen allowing for a larger number of viable seeds. Some seed heads are highly attractive and look great left on the plant and of course some, such as poppies and aquilegia are excellent self-seeders and will do your job for you.

Collecting seed is easy and very rewarding and by following these simple steps you can be well on your way to beautiful displays this time next year.

1.       Wait until a dry day to harvest your seeds. Seed heads should be fully ripe on the plant before harvesting. It's a good idea to tie a brown paper bag over the seed heads of prolific self-seeders if you want your displays to be more controlled. Otherwise simply cut the heads off the plant when ready and pop them into a paper bag.

2.       Take your seed heads inside away from the wind and gently tap them on to a sheet of white paper. This will help you see how much seed you have collected.

3.       Using the white paper, funnel the seeds in to a paper bag pre-labelled with the name of the plant and the date collected. Put them into an air tight container and keep them somewhere cool until ready to sow next season.

The exciting thing about collecting your own seeds is that sometimes you'll end up growing a different variety or colour of plant than the original parent plant; Up until the flowers burst open it's a complete mystery. So why not give it a go, you'll be amazed at what you can achieve.  


“Now Is The Time To Tidy Up Your Vegetable Patch And Plant Winter Crops”

Autumn is a good time to dig over vacant areas of the vegetable plot; the approaching frosts will make light work of large clumps by breaking them down into crumbly particles.

Once summer crops are finished, put spent plants in the compost bin. Disease-ridden plants are best removed and disposed of by some other means.

 

Bamboo canes and stakes should be stored and cleaned up in a dry shed to avoid them rotting. 

After digging, bare areas of soil can be covered with black polythene or carpet to suppress weeds. Alternatively, sow green manures, such as Mustard and Ryegrass to prevent autumn weeds establishing and to act as a natural fertiliser when the plants are dug in during spring. 

The deadline for sowing green manures is mid October, as they will need some warmth before it gets very cold to establish.

There's also still time to sow overwintering vegetable seeds such as Turnip, Spinach, and Winter Lettuce.


“Secrets Of Success For A Healthy Potato Harvest”

It's likely that once you've enjoyed a few meals using your freshly harvested home-grown spuds, you may have more than you know what to do with. A few simple tips will help you maximise your crop and store them for use in the months to come. 

Dig up Potatoes before slug damage becomes a problem. Leave them out to dry for two to three hours before storing. Only store healthy tubers in hessian sacks or well-ventilated, dark boxes. 

When lifting potatoes always check and remove even the smallest potato tubers as these will grow next year and come up among other crops. 

Prevent Potato blight control by removing blighted potato plants and placing them in the rubbish. Do not put on the compost heap, as the disease could easily be spread to other areas of the garden. The tubers of blighted plants can still be harvested. Don't forget to keep watering late potatoes that are still growing.

Once you have safely stored this years crop you can start working on next years - now is the perfect time to start!

Simply allow you tubers to "Chit" on a cool but frostfree windowsill for several weeks allowing the shoots to grow and develop.

When the Chits are around 2cm they are ready to plant outside from March Onwards or from January if you keep them frost free. 


“Hate To See Your Vegetables Suffering? How To Prevent Problems In Your Plot”

The secret to getting good crops right up to the first frosts? It's all about irrigation.

Irregular watering can cause 'blossom end rot' on Tomatoes as well as splits in root vegetables. Pea and Bean flowers can abort too, so make sure you water vegetables regularly during dry spells.

Don't stop feeding Tomatoes that are still in crop. As the days shorten, liquid feeds can be invaluable in helping the last fruits of the season to ripen. Remaining outdoor tomatoes should be picked by the end of the month and ripened indoors. 

Keep up watering winter Squashes and Pumpkins so their growth isn't checked, to ensure bumper crops.


“Advice To Get The Most Out Of Your Vegetable Plot This Autumn”

There are still lots of crops to harvest - Cabbages, Cauliflower, and Celery, plus any summer crops that are still producing.

You should regularly pick quick maturing vegetables such as Runner Beans, Courgettes, Peppers and Tomatoes to stop them becoming stringy, tough and bitter and to encourage further crops.

Most root vegetables are best left in the ground and gathered as you need them, but if a cold spell is forecast lift and store them in a cool, frost-free place so they are not damaged. In cold areas, Carrots, Beetroot and Turnip are best lifted and stored for use over the winter. Parsnips produce sweeter roots if exposed to mild frosts.

Marrows, Pumpkins and winter Squashes may be ready for harvesting. Dry them in the sun or in a greenhouse or garage to let the skins harden before storing them in a cool, dry and dark place.

Harvest Sweetcorn as soon as it becomes ripe. When the tassels at the end of the cob start to shrivel and brown, push your fingernail into the kernel. A milky liquid tells you they are ready.

Stake Brussels Sprouts to prevent them from being blown over in strong winds. Remove yellowing leaves to avoid 'grey mould'.


“Now Is The Time To Plant Garlic, Shallots and Onions For An Earlier Crop”

Just as you harvest this year's crop, you have the opportunity before the first frosts to get a head start on next year's, especially since these crops grow better when given the extra time. 

Lift Onions planted earlier this year once the leaves have started to die back. If the weather is fine, allow them to dry on the soil surface, otherwise dry in a greenhouse or well-ventilated garage. Store only completely healthy onions because diseases can rot them in storage. 

Plant new Garlic, Shallot and Onion sets now to provide an early crop next year. Sets planted in spring aren't ready to harvest until August, but autumn planted sets can be ready from May onwards. You can grow them in the ground or in pots.


“Do You Want To Grow Your Own Hazelnuts? Now Is The Time To Pick And Plant”

You can pick hazelnuts at this time of year when the husks begin to yellow but before the nuts drop from the tree. Watch out for squirrels!

Hazelnuts are best kept at a manageable size of 1.8m (6ft) to maximize yield and to make picking easier. Hazelnuts should be pruned between January and March, but you shouldn't need to prune at all in the first two or three years. 

When buying new hazelnuts, plant in full sun if possible - your plants will grow in part or deep shade but you will get a lower nut yield. The flowers that precede nuts are formed very early on in the year, so choose a fairly sheltered position to protect from bitter winds and harsh frosts.


“Protect Your Figs Now To Ensure A Bumper Crop Of Sweet Fruits Every Year”

Before the first frosts, you need to provide protection for figs to maximise next year's crop. The reason for providing this protection is that next year's embryonic (baby) figs will have appeared at the shoot tips by September, and will be damaged if the frost gets to them. 

If growing in a pot, we recommend you bring your plant into the shelter of a greenhouse or cool conservatory for the winter - anywhere frost free is fine. If planted in the ground, you should insulate your plant using straw, fleece or a Plant Cosie.

Embryonic figs begin growing as soon as the weather warms up, which gives them a longer period in which to swell and ripen. Other figs will grow from scratch each summer, but given the length of time the fruit requires in order to ripen, they will only ripen in favourable weather conditions. 

Protected overwintered embryonic figs should ripen by August. The pruning method for figs is the same as for Apples, the only difference being the time of year that you prune - figs should be pruned in spring.


“Love Strawberries? Plant Your Own Now For Unparalleled Flavour!”

Shop bought strawberries offer little in the way of flavour for a lot of money. Nothing beats a freshly picked, sweet smelling, deliciously juicy strawberry grown in your own garden. And now is the ideal time to plant!

Order new Strawberry plants now for immediate delivery so they establish before the cold sets in. Both cold-stored runners and jumbo plugs can be potted straight into the garden or strawberry planters, although runners can sometimes be more successful if potted into a 13cm (5") pot for a few weeks, before potting into the garden.

Strawberries do best when planted in full sun, as long as the soil is moist. Plant about 25cm (10") apart in garden soils. Top dress with a general purpose organic feed, such as Blood, Fish and Bone organic fertilizer after planting, and then feed with a balanced liquid feed every 2 weeks in spring and summer to encourage fruiting.


“Discover How To Get The Most From Your Fruit By Pruning At The Right Time”

Prune your fruit at the wrong time of year, or in the wrong way, and you may have a fruitless year! It can be very confusing to a beginner, but the rules are quite simply when you know how.

At this time of year stone fruits will already have been pruned, and it's too early to prune apples and pears, but there are still a few jobs to do to ensure you are 'berry happy' next summer...

Cut out the fruited canes of Blackberries and summer fruiting Raspberries. Tie in new canes that will fruit next year - select strong, healthy canes and cut out all weak ones. Prune Blackcurrants while dormant during the winter -wait until the leaves have fallen. Do not prune now. 

It's your last chance to prune out any dead, dying or diseased shoots on stone fruit trees that are affected by diseases that can overwinter or re-infect the leaves next year. Pruning after they have dropped their leaves can make them vulnerable to silver leaf disease. 

Prune Peaches and Apricots in late spring and summer as they can be sensitive to cold.