Words of Wisdom from the Gardening Guru

Sow What?

The north wind doth blow ….

Posted on January 16, 2013 by Samantha Ford

The Winter GardenThe north wind doth blow … but don’t despair about the snow!
The recent autumn and winter climate has been relatively mild but, as expected, we are now experiencing freezing temperatures and snow.  There are still many tasks that you can get on with over winter to protect and prepare your garden for the spring.

Listen to weather forecasts and remember to protect delicate crops.  Outdoor containers should be brought inside or wrapped in bubble wrap and placed off the freezing ground, perhaps on a polystyrene tray similar to those you find in pizza packaging.  There are always things lying around the house that can be recycled.

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Sow What? – November 2012

Posted on November 15, 2012 by Gardening Guru

November already?  This month always seems so cold especially after a mild October, so don’t forget that the change in temperature will also be a shock to some of your outdoor plants.  Wrap outdoor terracotta pots with bubble wrap and lift them from the ground to keep them free draining and away from ground frost.  Even if not ready, many late crops will need to be brought in now for ripening indoors on a sunny windowsill, such as squash and tomatoes to protect them from frost.  However, frost can improve the taste of parsnips and Brussels sprouts outdoors. Read the rest of this entry →

October Gardening

Posted on September 27, 2012 by Gardening Guru

As I write, we are experiencing a welcome weekend of warm weather but unfortunately, national newspapers are predicting that the UK will be battered by the remains of Hurricane Katia later this week.  This time last year I reported that the UK summer of 2011 was the coldest for 18 years;  this year’s summer was not much better and our harvest has certainly suffered.

I recently visited the kitchen garden of Hackthorn Hall and discussed this year’s weather with the head gardener (as you do)!  He, too, has been very disappointed with the late harvest (particularly his grapes), so amateur gardeners should not be disheartened.

Perhaps, our autumn crops will be fortunate to ripen in an Indian summer, a period of hot weather usually occurring after the end of September.  The expression is said to have been in use as early as the 18th century.  Native Americans would depend on extended periods of sunny weather to complete their harvest and early settlers soon became aware of the benefit of harvesting during the comfortable conditions of the autumn after the heat of the summer.  It is claimed that, before an Indian summer, you need to have a severely cold spell called a “Squaw Winter”, so maybe we should welcome the imminent hurricane and hope for some snow.  In former times, much of Europe used the phrase “Saint Martin’s Summer”, referring to St Martin’s day, the feast of Martinmas that takes place on 11th November.  One of my favourite expressions for the phenomenon is the Chinese “tiger in autumn”. Read the rest of this entry →

September in the Vegetable Garden

Posted on August 27, 2012 by Gardening Guru

Fortunately, recent weather has improved (at the time of writing) and given chance for some of our crops to make progress after the slow start to the season.  However, we do not have too long before the nights draw in.  For those that are easy or quick to grow, such as courgettes and baby carrots, there is still plenty of time to gather the harvest, but for others that need a longer growing season, we can ensure that our cloches are clean and prepared to protect them over the autumn months.  A further tip to aid ripening fruit is to position mirrors around crops to reflect sunlight.

If you have time to visit a few gardening shows this month, the Malvern Autumn Show takes place on the 29th and 30th September, whilst the Harrogate Autumn Show between the 14th and 16th September offering “gardeners the chance to celebrate this year’s successes and look forward to the new 2013 growing season”. Read the rest of this entry →

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