March officially the beginning of autumn, so take advantage of the still fine weather by planting your seedlings or seeds for your winter crops. Autumn’s milder weather gives them a chance to become hardened before the colder weather arrives.
Watch your tomatoes, rain can split the ripening fruit – harvest and ripen inside or make green tomato chutney.
Lift the rest of your potatoes, you can leave them on top of the soil for a few hours to dry in the sun, but don’t leave them out overnight, use any damaged potatoes straight away.
Finish harvesting the last of your summer crops, as spaces become available fill with winter vegetables. Make sure you remove all traces of the previous season plants; don’t leave stumps in the ground they will harbor pest and disease.
Putting a little effort in to working the garden in autumn will pay off during the winter season, the main consideration is for the soil – working with wet soils especially walking over it can compact the soil, spoiling the structure. If you need to dig over the garden or make any major changes, do it during the relative dry of autumn.
If your homemade compost is ready, incorporate it in to the soil a few weeks before you plant, it is too rich when fresh from the compost bin, and it will burn your plants. Compost is ready when it has the consistency of lumpy potting mix and it can be broken easily with a fork.
Add blood and bone through the top layer of the soil before you plant your new crops.
Broad beans – can be planted now in cooler areas, warmer areas leave till early April. The seeds are large enough to be planted straight in to the ground. Stagger your sowings for a continual supply, sow at two weeks intervals.
Once they are growing and showing a lot of flowers, pinch out the growing tip to encourage the flowers to set the beans and encourage the plant to produce more growing tips.
Exhibition Long Pod – Grows 1.5m high, harvest in 110 days
Coles Prolific – Grows 1.3 high, harvest in 115 days
Imperial Green-Grows 1.3m high, harvest in 115 days
Time for the Cabbage family to go in the ground, the members are cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts and their needs are basically the same.
Well drained position
A sweet soil, add lime to the soil as you dig through some compost.
White Cabbage Butterfly is the biggest pest threat to the family; dust your plants with Derris Dust. Apply in the morning when the plants are wet with dew this hold it to the plant.
Shady areas can be a difficult; testing your patience and the budget, here are a few tricks to help increase your chance of success.
Determine the degree of shade; this will guide you to make better plant choices.
Full Shade –receives no direct sunlight, the shade can be cast from tree or the walls of a fence or house.
Dappled Shade – will receive sun during the day filtered through foliage.
Part Shade –will only receive shade for part of the day, sun for the rest of the day.
Shady area need water to, in those hottest times of the year don’t forget to water occasionally.
Use pots or sculptures to add colour, height, hide or detract from a difficult area.
If it one plant works then plant more of the same, when your plant choices are limited or the area is large then plant in mass.
Choose flowers in lighter colour’s, white, light blue and pink will brighten the area.
Summer annuals will be coming to the end once they have been removed replenish the soil with compost and plant with the winter colour. Polyanthus, primulas, poppies pansies etc., will be in store now.
As the weather cools and there is more rain your lawn will come back to life, help it along with an application of lawn fertiliser. Always use lawn fertilisers; they are blended with a higher rate of nitrogen necessary for green growth. Lawn fertilisers often contain iron for the suppression of moss, so take care when applying especially around paths and patios as the iron can stain concrete, paving stones and tiles – read the caution section on the packet. Apply the fertiliser evenly; fertiliser left in lumps can burn the grass, water after it is applied.