Category Archives: Tips

Autumn’s gardening tips #3: compost like mad!

Feeling the turn in the air now? Do up your boots, throw on a jacket and get ready to compost!

First things first: do a final turn to the compost bins to let in more air.The semi-rotted stuff half filling the bins may be too wet or too dry to be ideal, so remake it like lasagne: into a new bin put a layer of dry then a layer of soggy and so on. If it’s all too wet add some crumpled cardboard or newspaper.

aerobic compost heap
(C) Jon Anderson

Keep it covered over winter, – even if it’s not perfect by early spring it can go into the spud and bean trenches. There will be plenty of spent crops to fill up the bins now; try to fill a whole bin in two days to cook it fast – activators such as chicken pellets or even human pee will help; turn the contents after about two weeks to reheat it

Covered compost heap
(C) Fennel and Fern

…and if all of that hasn’t worn you out, you can always get thinking about a Halloween pumpkin!

Autumn’s gardening tips #2: planting

Think your planting season is over? Think again! As well as spring bulbs, hardy annuals such as Calendula (pot marigold) and Nigella (love in a mist) can be sown now for early flowers…it’s always nice to have some colour to look forward to.

Calendula officinalis (Common Marigold/Botón de Oro)

You can also get going with veg: plant Japanese onion sets and garlic from mid-September, and also spring cabbage, but protect it from late butterflies and pigeons with fine netting over a frame.

Cabbages and Kohl rabi

If you’re feeling energised, you can also trim any hedges now to avoid doing it in spring. And don’t forget to start saving seeds – collect into paper bags and put to dry thoroughly; remember to label and date!

Hedges trimmed

If you missed last month’s seed saving workshop, more detail on seed saving can be found on the Seedy Sunday website.

Photo credits to Andy Wright, Priscilla Burcher and Julia Roberts (no not that one!)

Autumn’s gardening tips #1: harvest

It’s the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness so most fruits and vegetables need to be harvested to store or freeze, except the hardy winter ones which can stay where they are until needed.

Weed and clear beds before winter (sounds so easy, doesn’t it?)

Top Tip: while the soil is warm get organic matter into the ground the easy way: sow newly cleared beds with green manures – winter tares, phacelia, field beans, grazing rye…

Compost and well-rotted manure can be spread on moist soil now; cover with cardboard or black plastic (well weighed down) to prevent nutrient loss, and to provide winter feasting and shelter for worms and micro-organisms.

 Compost!

(c) NewUse Urban gardening

What to do with all those nasturtiums…

It’s been such a mild autumn, lots of us have still got nasturtium plants hanging around! If you’re stuck for what to do with them and you like capers, here’s an idea…

Nasturtiums

(Photo courtesy of Inkberry Blue)

Poor Man’s Capers

Soak fresh, nasturtium green seeds  in cold salted water for two days (half a tablespoon of salt to one pint of water).

Drain and soak in cold water for another day, then drain well and put in a glass jar.

Bring (pickling or white wine) vinegar to boiling point and use to cover the seeds. (Probably best to let it cool first!) Close the jar tightly and leave for a couple of days before eating – they’re nicest after about 2 weeks. Store for up to six months.

Variations on the above include adding the following to the vinegar: garlic, celery seeds, lemon zest, pickling spice and peppercorns.