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Prepare for the cooler seasons

All Areas > Homes & Gardens > In the Garden

Author: Julia Smith, Posted: Wednesday, 28th August 2019, 09:00

“September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather,
And autumn’s best of cheer.”
Helen Hunt Jackson

If your mint, lemon balm or chives are looking a bit congested, lift and divide them, replanting only the most vigorous section of roots. This will give them a chance to settle down before winter comes and they can burst into life in spring. You can pot up some bits and keep under a cloche, greenhouse or the kitchen windowsill for use through the winter.

Plant an ongoing selection of winter salad leaves

Sow salad crops for autumn and winter use. Things like corn salad, land cress and winter purslane can all be sown into open ground, although they will crop better if covered by a cloche or fleece as the weather gets colder. I tend to plant an ongoing selection of winter salad leaves in the plastic containers that mushrooms come in, and keep them near the back door.

Now is a good time to use a biological control (nematodes) against vine weevil grubs – you know the little beasts that, as grubs, lie in wait in pots of cyclamen, primulas, begonias and other species, and eat the roots away until the poor plant keels over.

The adult weevils make unsightly notches on the leaves of plants like rhododendrons, which will not kill them but look horrid. Weevils are the hard-shelled little insects with what looks like a little ‘snout’ on their heads.

The biological control is good to use on pot plants but is not so effective in the garden, depending on the soil type. You can buy them from the garden centre or online. From what I remember you have to order in advance or send off for them, as they don’t have a shelf life, and they get posted to you. Follow the instructions on the packet and mix up the microscopic nematode with water and drench the pots. Don’t let the compost dry out.

Sweetpeas don’t take up much space

Buy sweetpea seeds ready for planting next month. Sweetpeas are such a great thing to grow. They grow up a wigwam of sticks so don’t take up much space, and if you enrich the soil with some compost before planting in their final position they will reward you with flowers all summer long to cut. In fact you must cut them so that they keep flowering and you end up with bunches of the little scented jewels all over the house. Heaven!

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