Garden Compost and Bokashi

Bokashi, Japanese composting, is really a fermenting system. It converts your household food waste into a liquid and food remnants that are ripe for final composting. Ripe isn’t a fair word as it smells only of sweet pickle.

An additive of a lactic acid based micro organisms in a bran carrier is mixed with the food waste in an airtight bin and a culture like a ginger beer plant is created. These microbes include lactobacillus bacteria, phototrophic bacteria and yeast. The fermenting process takes a couple of weeks then the residue can be added to a compost heap or buried even though it can still retain some food colour and shape for a further 4-6 weeks. The liquid can be diluted  with water 1:100 as a fertiliser.

 

Gardeners Tips

  • Adding bran inoculated with organisms can be an extra expense and it seems hard to find a supplier
  • Adding soil and worms to a normal compost heap achieves similar results.
  • The ability to ‘compost’ meat and other food waste is the main plus
  • The two stage process is a bit of a minus
  • A two bin system makes it easier to switch from food collection to maturation
  • Whilst this may be a bid of a fad it encourages a ‘good green routine‘ and is worth a try.
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Growing Osteospermum – A Great Summer Performer

My Osteospermum was donated by cutting from a neighbour about 10 years ago. The large daisy shaped flowers appear all summer long in a light purple shade. It would be hard to count the number of flowers each year and I am guilty of not feeding the plant.

  • The plant seems hardy and is evergreen with greyish leaves.
  • I have placed it in the sun to droop over a wall where the soil is well drained.
  • There is a new range of colours and many hybrids including yellows and variegated plants
  • Other common names include African Daisy or Blue-eyed Daisy so you could guess it is a member of the Compsitae family.
  • If you want to see other Osteospermum try the Osteospermum.com web site
  • The lax and blousy habit make them an attraction in seaside locations where they thrive. They can be pruned or trimmed back in September.
  • Dimorphotheca are annuals that look very similar to Osteospurmum but they are South African calendula and part of the Asteraceae family
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Growing Rudbeckia Autumn

These Rudbeckia are grown as annuals or biennials but great perennial varieties exist. Some grow as low as 12 inches whilst Rudbeckia triloba Brown Eyed Susan is 5 foot tall and Rudbeckia maxima can be up to 10 feet tall.

  • Rudbeckia are easy to raise from seed. Resulting plants are well behaved, easy to care for and flower from August until late Autumn.
  • There are many varieties of Rudbeckia and I recommend hirta and fulgida types.
  • Rudbeckia are used as cut flowers and for growing in pots
  • Also known as Cone flowers most varieties do not need stalking
  • Rudbeckia sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ and ‘speciosa’ both around 2 foot tall have the RHS Award of Garden Merit. The ‘Green Wizard’ below is under test.

Gardeners tips on Easy Autumn Rudbeckia

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Plum Picks are Victoria and Czar

My Victoria plums have just been picked and the majority converted into jam. The wasps had not got at the sweetest fruit so I had a treat for dessert. The tree is now 10 foot tall and I will prune it back next May or June when the danger of fungal infection is reduced.

Last years Victoria plum crop was so good I decided to try another variety and a Czar tree was planted last Autumn. Czar is a culinary plum with a distinctive blue skin and a sharper taste. This year there was no fruit but next year I hope to do better. Both varieties are self fertile but if you have difficulty there is a great web site for pollination information.

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Companion Plants for Clematis

Some plants work well together for shape, texture or location and with others it is the colour combination that stands out. This Pholx and Clematis both look exceptional in the late afternoon light. The Phlox adds scent and this vibrant coloured clematis has been in flower since late July.

Focus on Clematis partnerships

  • Climbing Roses and Clematis make  classic partnerships. Try the dark Clematis jackmanii ‘Superba’ with a light pink Rose ‘New Dawn’.
  • Consider the environment for climbing and parner the clematis accordingly. Warm stone will look  different to a rustic pergola so try Commtess de Bouchaud or Miss Bateman
  • Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ can look good with Nicotianas
  • I have seen Clematis montana ‘Rubens’ intertwine with a Golden Ivy and hold its own.
  • Careful mixing of Clematis varieties can produce good companions. Clematis tangutica’s yellow lantern flowers and seedheads look fine with large hybrids Clematis Mrs N Thompson has a yellow centre to pick-out the yellow lanterns.
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Tips for Tomatoes in September

I am picking more and more Cherry Tomatoes as the days get longer. I still have a lot of other vines in the greenhouse with fruit to pick and if they won’t ripen I will try some of these tips. Let me know if you have other methods.

Encourage late ripening

  • If you haven’t taken the greenhouse shading off, do so and clean all the glass.
  • Bunny Guinness suggests you cover plants with horticultural fleece or perforated plastic.
  • Stop pinching out as it is too late and excess water can be transpired through the new leaves to help avoid splitting.
  • Reduce the plants work load by selecting the fruit you want to ripen and take the rest off.
  • If you pick green tomatoes hang vines in a dark dry place to ripen.
  • Wrap a tomato in newspaper and put in a drawer  or cardboard box. Tomatoes ripen best in the dark and sunlight will make the skins get tough.
  • Put a banana in with green tomatoes will speed up the ripening/decay process
  • Pick green tomatoes as they start to change colour. Hard, dark green tomatoes get to a point where they won’t ripen and are only good for Chutney.
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The Empty Vegetable Plot

Garden Lime

Autumn is a good time to plant a green manure crop in your empty vegetable plot. Green manures are sown deliberately to be dug back into the soil before they flower. This helps improve fertility, suppress weeds, stop leaching and soil errosion and helps condition the soil.

Empty Plot Tips

  • Clear up debris and weeds and make the plot tidy.
  • Test soil and add lime to prevent it becoming too acid and reducing future crops.
  • Leave pea and bean roots to rot down.
  • If soil is heavy dig and leave large clumps for the frost to break down
  • Replan paths and cropp rotation for next year. Do not walk on wet ground.
  • Incorporate rotted compost.
  • Mulch the asparagus bed.

Green Manuring Tips

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Wet and Soggy Summer

Did you buy an extra water butt or irrigation system expecting a hot summer?                    Have you planted a Mediterranean garden of hot dry-condition loving flowers? Well this summer in England we have had ‘Global Watering’ not global warming.

A bog garden would have been more appropriate. Moisture lovers have thrived and that means numerous weeds. Shrubs and hedges have put on more growth than normal and need pruning back but the ground is too soggy to work on.

The good news is the Apples and Runner Beans are producing great crops at the moment.

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Wasps, Woodlice & Earwigs

Wasps

At this time of year we find wasps munching on our ripening  Plums and Apples. They are not the main villain as they only attack fruit that is already damaged by birds or other insects. Their mouths are not strong enough to break the skin. Wasps help in a garden as the larvae feed on aphids and caterpillars.

Woodlice

Woodlice are generally seen as scavengers who eat rotting matter, they are not thought of as harmful to the garden. However, they do chew leaves and stems of tomatoes and cucumber in the greenhouse. Keep areas clear of any debris.                                                                                                                                              Recycle woodlice you capture on to the compost heap.

Earwigs

Earwigs look worse than the bites they take out of plants. Whilst Dahlia and Chrysanthemum plants may be a bit chewed and ragged they will not come to great harm unless you are growing show blooms.
Again Earwigs feed their newly hatched young on aphids and other small insects. To catch these night feeders use the inverted plant pot on a cane method with the pot filled with straw or well crumpled newspaper.
Birds, frogs and toads that prey on earwigs will help reduce the population of earwigs and keep it under control.

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Cyclamen Flowering in Winter

There are many species of Cyclamen and below is a selection for Autumn and Winter flowering.

C. coum is widely grown in the United Kingdom and there are many colours and leaf forms. Whites and pink flowers predominate but bright red varieties are available.

C.libanoticum is often grown in pots to flower January – April. It can withstand severe cold but dislikes wet soil.

C. persicum is tender and forms the stock for many florists Cyclamen. The flowers are generally held high above the leaves.

C. hederifolium flowers pink a bit earlier than some varieties. Leaves appear after flowering. Plants are best sited under shade as provided by a decidious tree. The underside of  the leaves are red coloured.

Other winter flowering species include C. pseudibericum and C. trochopteranthum a horizontal growing variety.

For more information on the Cyclamen species read any Guide by Chris Grey-Wilson

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