Stephanie's Kitchen Garden Diary October 2012
We’ve started our Autumn clean up by pulling up the tomato plants picking off any un-ripened tomatoes - they have been put in brown paper bags with bananas to ripen off. We have also harvested the last of the aubergines and peppers too and have been enjoying some delicious culinary delights with those. All the spent foliage has gone into our new HotBin composter which will break down and create mulch in no time at all. Be careful not to put any diseased material in the composter as this will infect your precious mulch and you wouldn’t want to do that would you! Our pea and bean foliage has been pulled down and composted too, this time in our 140L Tumbling Composter but we’ve cut the plants off at the base and left the roots in the ground – when they rot down this is a valuable source of nitrogen for the brassicas next year.
We’ve emptied our compost bins and used the contents to mulch around any bare ground. We haven’t got many spare beds this year as we have planted so many brassicas (we like sprouts!). We have found room to plant some Green Manure to enrich the soil - not all of them are winter hardy, we have planted Grazing rye which is excellent at improving soil structure and mopping up plant foods in the autumn. It can be sown up to mid-late October so be quick and get yours sown! Unless your soil is very wet in which case wait until Spring.
We’re also clearing up the leaves but this job seems to go on forever, no sooner have you raked up then more have dropped. But keep at it, wrap up warm, switch on your iPod (or old radio playing Radio 2!!) and think of the good exercise you are getting. We use these Heavy Duty Hands, the Gator Grabber and this Joseph Bentley Flexo Lawn & Leaf rake in Stephanie’s Kitchen Garden to make the job so much easier. You will also find these Flexi Tubs and our new Eco Carry Cart just the job for collecting the leaves and the Wire Leaf Composter for storing all the leaves. Don’t miss collecting these leaves as the leaf mulch is a valuable commodity not to be missed and will benefit your plants in a year or so. We’re already using bags of leaf mould from two years back to mulch around our fruit trees to prepare them for the winter.
Whilst on the subject of fruit trees we applied Fruit Tree Grease to all our trees last month – you still have time to do this if you haven’t already and if you don’t fancy the grease these sticky Tree Glue Bands are just as easy and will also stop the female winter moths from climbing up the tree trunk, laying eggs and overwintering in the tree. This job is really worth doing and doesn’t take long you’ll be back in the shed having that cuppa in no time!
If there’s one purchase you should buy this autumn it is a cloche, it will last you for years to come - we have many different types on test here at the kitchen garden but they are excellent at protecting your crops especially your salad crops either at the end of the season or at the beginning of the season in early Spring. With one of these cloches you will find you are harvesting salads right through into the winter months.
We’ve planted out our Garlic & Onions this month. ‘Bella Italiano’ garlic is in the ground, along with the autumn onions, we’ve chosen Radar (white) and Electric Red (red!) and have covered them all with fleece protection to protect from the hungry birds. Our shallots will be planted in mid November more on those next month.
Our ‘Gijnlim’ asparagus foliage has been cut back to soil level and topped up with a layer of Strulch. Well rotted manure will be added later in the new year.
We sowed some Broad Bean ‘Super Aquadulce’ seeds at the beginning of the month under these Mini Greenhouse Cloche Tunnels for overwintering. If they overwinter well we will have stronger plants and an earlier crop next spring.
We have cabbages and leeks now ready for harvest in the garden but we have decided to leave them in the ground to get bigger and will harvest when there is nothing else left to harvest during those leaner winter months.
Finally, is your greenhouse ready for winter? We are in the process of giving our greenhouse a good clean out before it gets too cold. The glass and the greenhouse staging has been washed down with our Greenhouse Cleaner and all the pots and trays that have accumulated underneath the staging have been cleared out and will be washed out and stored. The pot brush is ideal for this job. We are keeping an eye out for hibernating mice as they made an appearance in the greenhouse as the weather turned chillier – top up your humane mouse traps and keep an eye on them as you may find a little mouse using it to hibernate in!
Don’t forget to insulate your greenhouse with our Bubble Insulation to save up to 50% on your on heating bills.
Your greenhouse heaters should be set on frost setting too. It’s starting to get chilly at night now and those tender plants need to be warm too they will appreciate the TLC and reward you next year.
Here are some of the jobs we’ve got planned for November in Stephanie’s Kitchen Garden:-
- Plant our second batch of garlic - the Picardy White goes in mid November.
- Plant out shallots.
- Check all our raised beds and equipment and doing any repairs if needed.
- Winter proofing our herbs.
- Sow ‘Winter Density’ Lettuce
- Wrapping up our tender Olive trees with fleece protection
- Prune blackberry canes.
We're always here to offer advice and support – go to the ‘Ask the Expert’ section on the website and Email Horticultural Advisor Lynn Burton with your Kitchen Garden queries or Pest Control expert Julian Ives and they'll do their best to help!
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Our 116-page Autumn 2012 catalogue is out now and it's packed full of gardening ideas, products and solutions to the problems every gardener faces, plus plenty more seasonal ideas to help get the harvest in and keep it fresh!