Gardening – September 2013 – Nicola Bush

veryan-showVeryan Show: I am very excited! September 7th, at Veryan Parish Hall and in the School is an open Show so anybody can enter and indeed they do from all over the Roseland. Entry forms at Veryan and Portloe Stores.

 I love the couple of days before when, having already submitted my entry form, I look around the garden to see if I can fulfil everything I promised myself I could enter!

I am absolutely rigid about only entering anything that I have in the garden or conservatory; there is no satisfaction in entering nursery stock where someone else may have grown it.

I have tried to coerce some of the entrants into divulging what they have to exhibit. One of the regular vegetable winners, an out of parish entrant, was regarding my veg plot last week. He seemed impressed by my onions but that was about all and even then I think he was being polite. Trevor says he doesn’t have a pumpkin, neither do I and Gilbert says he has ‘nothing’ either. Trouble is you just don’t know when these people are telling the truth or just trying to string me along. Hey ho all will soon become clear!

three-matching-eggsThe show committee do a grand job so enter as much as you can, you only have one week to write a limerick or take the winning photo or to persuade your chickens to lay three matching eggs – how hard is that?

Watch out for Gerald’s sweet peas, I saw him present a bunch to a friend in July and they were magnificent, full of scent and long stems. He puts his success down to ignoring anything I have ever said about growing sweet peas (wise man), he plants them in November to get them going (oh to be that organised) and by Jove, he obviously had a drier spell in his garden than the rest of us!

As always, check the rules for the Show and I speak from experience when I say count your parsley stalks, it’s easy to put in one too many and be disqualified! Clean the plant leaves and display in plain containers that don’t detract from the fruit or veg. I have judged at many a show and however hard a judge tries to be objective one is distracted by the oddest of things, a sparkly container or a blue vase displaying red dahlias. It’s the simplicity of display that can make the difference. Presentation is almost as important as content. You are ‘exhibiting’ and we all see how stands at the big shows get marked down on presentation whatever the quality of the plant material.

apple-crop

So how has your summer season been? It seems to have been mixed but not all bad. If I had a quid for every person whose runner beans rotted in the ground I would be rich but, I have had the best strawberry crop ever. That must be because they have appreciated the rain and then the sunshine.

Equally I shall have an abundant apple crop and I have heard tales too many apples but no plums, cold spring to blame?

Depending on how the weather pans out this month there is probably more to do in the garden now than at any other time of year and some of the jobs I am going to cover can run into October if you do not have time.

pelargonium-cuttings*                Take cuttings of pelargoniums, marguerites, fuchsias and osteospermum. All these are at risk even in a greenhouse if we get another cold snap. Choose a healthy young shoot about 3” (8cm) long and trim it just below a leaf joint with a sharp knife. Remove the bottom leaves leaving two or three at the top and with pelargonium, remove the stipules or little green leaves on the stem which are under each leaf stalk. I don’t bother with rooting compounds as their shelf life is so short but fungicide solution is a good idea.

Pop the cuttings into multi- purpose or mix with a little vermiculite and put the cuttings around the edge of a pot. I prefer to put the cuttings in single modules then there is less root disturbance when I come to pot on. Keep cuttings in a shaded place for a few weeks and then pot them up individually. They will keep in a cool conservatory over winter or in a spare room. Don’t leave them on a window sill where it may be cold but put them near the window and close the curtains at night. It’s a great way to discourage visitors if the spare room is full of pelargonium cuttings. Bear in mind that each successful plant would have cost you at least £2 if bought next season. Keep pelargoniums quite dry but the marguerites just damp. Don’t feed them until February.

*               Tender fuchsias can take their chance outside and you might be lucky, otherwise cut the tops by half, pot up individually and keep them cold but frost free.

herbaceous-border*               Check herbaceous borders now whilst there is still something to see. Most herbaceous plants like to be split every three years or so but there are exceptions. The sedum autumnalis like to be split every year and thrive on it whereas alstroemeria and Japanese anemones take a year or two to recover. When re-planting a split clump put a decent amount of new compost into the hole for added boost.

*                Rose cuttings can be taken now too. Cut a stem just below a new shoot and trim to about 8” and trim the bottom to just below a bud and the top to just above – always remembering which way up the cutting is! Bury it in cleared ground to two thirds of its length and wait for next season when you will have a new plant. One of the easiest plants to propagate.

*                Plant spring bulbs. Daffodils and crocus should go in this month but tulips must wait until November. Anemones and alliums can go in now too and crown imperial if you can afford them!

perennial-weeds*                I hesitate to mention Christmas but if you want forced hyacinths in flower for the festive season now is the time to plant them. Put prepared bulbs in individual pots now, cover with garden compost and put them in a shed or garage. In ten to twelve weeks the roots will be well formed and buds showing. At this stage pot them into bulb fibre in their flowering pots and you will find them all the same size flowering at the same time.

*                Dig out or treat perennial weeds in lawns and use a rake to take out dead grass that has accumulated at soil level.

*                Think about buying that new greenhouse, they get cheaper now as the winter approaches.

Can’t believe I have mentioned Christmas and winter…?

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