Tomatoes, Bulbs and Wildflowers
Now the days are getting shorter and more humid, blight is a real risk for any tomatoes you may have left over. If you see signs of blight or have already had blight, remove the plants from your garden and burn them rather than putting them in the compost. Without burning them the fungal spores will survive over winter and when you mulch the beds in spring, you will introduce the spores straight back in to the garden. If your plants are like mine, then you will likely still have a lot of small green tomatoes left on the plant. As long as these tomatoes are free from blight, don’t throw them away, instead pick them and make yourself some delicious green tomato chutney. If you make it now, it will have matured perfectly for those festive sandwiches at the end of the year.
Bulbs are coming back into the shops now, and it’s a good idea to start thinking about what bulbs you would like and how many you will need to fill out your display. Going into a garden centre or online dealer without a definite list is a quick way to spend a lot of money indeed! If you are planning a lot of pot-based displays, it’s a good idea to stick with smaller varieties of bulbs, such as the ever-popular Narcissus ‘Tête-à-tête’, maybe mixing in a few Crocus as well. As soon as you get the bulbs home it’s a good idea to plant them up as soon as possible in order to guarantee the best display possible.
It’s time to cut back any wildflower patches you have in your gardens, by now they should have set seed and be ready for a good cut back, setting them up nicely for next year. When cutting back wildflowers, make sure you cut them on the highest setting if using a motor mower, and give the area a good rake to pick up any remaining plant debris. Wildflowers like to have quite a poor-quality soil so leaving the trimmings to rot down is going to hamper the display next year. If you have been to the Botanic Garden this week you may have seen our horticulturist, Blue, using a scythe to cut down some wildflower patches. Using a scythe is quicker than using a strimmer, is gentler on the back, and also makes clean up easier because the brash is nice and large, meaning that a pitchfork does all the work for you. Also, with this, all the invertebrates and amphibians hiding in the patch won’t be harmed.
If you have any fruit trees in your garden as well, it’s a good idea to clear any wind fallen fruits from the ground as soon as you see them, as leaving them can encourage pests and disease in the remaining crop. Quite often these fruits are not totally wasted, if you make sure you collect fruit regularly, you may find some that are only slightly bruised, and such can be used for jams, chutneys, or in cooking, where texture is not such an important factor. For the fruit remaining on the trees, gently lift them from the branches, if the fruit separates taking the short stem with it, then it is ready for harvest, but if you need to cut or pull the fruit from the tree, it’s best to leave it for a little longer.
Finally, with winter on the way, it’s a good idea to get on top of any path maintenance within your garden. Spending a day weeding and brushing clean the paths will make the garden look a lot neater over winter, and also reduce the risk of slips on frozen moss growing over any slabs in the deep winter.