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TheVillage Gardening

Perfect time for projects

Posted on August 31 2017 at 12:50:58 0 comments

Hens

If you’re planning to get your garden growing again, now is the ideal month, says Hannah Genders.

These are a few of the jobs I’ll be doing in my garden this September, which is really a time to get going again in the garden after the summer and it’s the perfect month for gardening projects.

Lavender: I have lavender growing at the top of a low wall outside the back door; it’s quite common lavender called Lavendula angustifolia ‘Hidcote’ and tends to keep a neat habit and flowers for a good long period from May to late August.

The flowers are fading now and it’s the ideal time to trim them off. With any lavender, a regular prune is ideal – cut off the flowering stalks but never cut into the old woody part of the plant or you will kill it.

I just trim off the flower stalks and save them, which also keeps the plant neat for the winter.

Raspberries: Autumn raspberries will be fruiting now; it’s the summer ones that fruited in June that can be pruned.

Cut back the old canes that had fruit on them during the summer and tie in the new tender shoots, which will give you raspberries next year. Then give the plants a good mulch at the base with either well-rotted garden compost or manure.

Meadows: I have a small meadow area around our swimming pond and it’s been fabulous during the summer but is now at the end.

Late August or early September is the right time to cut back a meadow, once it has gone to seed – and mine has, apart from the yarrow that I will leave until it’s dropped all its seed for next year.

Cut back hard and rake out all the cut material so that no extra nutrient is added to the base of the plants by having rotting organic matter there.

Beans: My climbing French beans have pretty much finished but my runner beans are still going strong. I’ll keep picking them but only the small tender ones; if they get too large I leave them for the pods to seed up and use them like borlotti beans in stews.

The variety I’ve grown this year is the same as last year and it’s called ‘The Czar’. It is ideal for this; tender young beans and plenty of them, followed by beans for drying. I’ll also save a few so I can grow on new plants next spring.

Courgettes: These have pretty much finished now, though they might just last until the first frost. Clear away the plants and add them to the compost.

I lightly dig over the soil where they have been to help break it up.

Fruit trees: Plums can be pruned now and I’ll be doing my tree this year as it is touching the neighbours’ house. Whatever the variety, pruning of plums should be cut back once they have finished producing.

I have two plum trees: one is ‘Pershore Purple’, a local variety and very tasty, which crops in August – while in the back garden there is a ‘Bullace’ which is usually a hedgerow tree in Worcestershire.

This has small red and yellow plums about one third of the size of normal plums – they are very sweet and it has cropped amazingly well this year. In my opinion, plums are usually bi-annual in that they tend to have a good year and then a sparse year to follow.

Pruning climbers: This is the ideal month to prune many of your climbers. Many people neglect to do this and the plants become overgrown and don’t flower so well.

For summer jasmine, cut back the stems after flowering – the aim is to create a framework of branches that are well spaced and not too entangled. If you have a very overgrown plant, be brave and cut back the neglected plant to about half a metre from the ground to reinvigorate it.

Honeysuckles are another plant that tends to get left and becomes overgrown. For all deciduous honeysuckles (those that drop their leaves in winter), cut back the stems as soon as they have grown as tall as you want them to be.

Thin out any overgrown and tangled branches, cutting back by around one third to a new side shoot. The only exceptions are Japanese honeysuckles which are evergreen and need pruning in late spring.

Borders: To keep borders neat and protect more tender plants during the winter, after a good weed, cover the ground between plants with about four inches of mulch, either homemade compost, composted bark or well-rotted manure if the plants could do with a feed.

Lawns: If you are needing to lay any new lawn from turf or seed, or indeed plant up a new meadow, September is always the best time to do it.

We are currently putting in a wildflower meadow for an eco-house project in Bristol, and the seed will usually take better in September than April as there tends to be a higher rainfall on average to help germination.

This is also the ideal time of year to scarify your lawn, raking out the thatch that has accumulated at the base of the grasses and giving it a good aeration and feed.

Alternatively, you can borrow someone’s hens, like I’ve done for three weeks while a neighbour is on holiday, and they do it for you! I

Move the run each night and they scratch up the thatch and fertilize as they go – we get a few eggs each day as an added bonus. Sid, our dog, loves watching them all day too.


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