by Rose Harvie
So, here we are in Autumn, and time to assess this year’s gardening achievements.
Hopefully, you managed to grow a wide variety of fruit and veggies, to enjoy in your own kitchen and offer to friends and neighbours.
It’s time also, to begin thinking about next year; what to grow again, what you won’t try again and what pests and diseases you must try to avoid.
Hopefully you had a good crop of potatoes, of various varieties, and have your spuds carefully stored in a dry place.
I usually get several large banana boxes from a supermarket.
Make sure to dig your spuds on a dry day, spread them out to dry some more in the sun, and then put in the boxes.
Label them so you remember which varieties you like best.
Veggies which can be left in the ground over winter include brassicas like sprouts, cabbages, kale, and broccoli; your late brassicas will stand through the winter and crop early next spring.
Leeks, and roots like beetroot and parsnips, can usually be left in the ground and dug as needed, unless the ground freezes completely.
After picking ripe fruit, it is time to prune red and blackcurrants.
Raspberries should have this year’s canes cut down to the ground; black and redcurrants can be pruned by simply cutting back the branches that fruited this year; these cuttings can be carefully planted in a new bed, and should crop in future years.
Strawberries should have old leaves carefully pruned off, the whole strawberry bed weeded, and any little ‘runners’ – tiny new plants – carefully cut off and planted in small pots of compost.
These are your strawberry plants for next year to increase your bed, or offer to fellow gardeners.
Most of your garden weeds can be put in your compost containers, but avoid docks, ground elder, and mare’s tail.
These should go in brown garden waste bins. (Don’t put kitchen waste into open compost boxes – it will encourage rats).
Once you have cleared beds of produce and weeds, it is time to prepare for next year by feeding the ground.
Either spread well-rotted compost, or farmyard manure over your veggie beds.
If possible, cover with thick polythene, carpet, or even old compost bags.
This allows the soil to feed during winter, and for you to practice ‘no dig’ gardening as the soil absorbs the nourishment.
An alternative is to sow ‘green manure’ over your beds, but it should be sown before winter.
For those readers keen on growing garlic, order now as they need to be planted by October at the latest.
A reliable source is the Garlic Farm in the Isle of Wight.
Finally, send off for next year’s seed catalogues and enjoy a browse.
Try some new crops and varieties; share your orders with friends or community gardens and look forward to a bumper crop next year.