September 2020 Garden Tips

Garden Notes for September 2020.

As John Keats so famously wrote about autumn being the “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness/ close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”, September sees the time when crops are harvested and stored for the winter months that are to come. Carrots should be lifted and stored before the roots start to split, which they will do very quickly once the heavy autumn rains begin. For the same reason, beetroot are better lifted and stored this month. Looking forward to next year, spring cabbage should be planted now. Remember to firm the soil around each plant after planting. Lettuce can also be sown now in a cold frame, or greenhouse. Varieties to choose include ‘Winter Density’, ‘All the Year Round’ and ‘May Queen’.

Watering plants is always a good topic of discussion. It is either too dry, or it’s too wet. The essential thing is to try to get the right balance. When it is dry the closable leaf pores on plants (technically called ‘stomata’) shut down and slow down the process of photosynthesis. When there is enough water the stomata open, transpiration takes place, allowing the air containing carbon dioxide to go into the plant, which, together with sunlight, powers the reaction of water and carbon dioxide to make the sugars that are the plant’s energy source and building blocks. Watering keeps the stomata open in dry spells. As a rule of thumb one square metre of vegetation draws the equivalent of an inch of rainfall every day. Growth of plants in the summer normally requires additional irrigation. There are now numerous automatic systems that can be put in – especially for containers and hanging baskets.

The start of autumn means that many plants are producing seed heads, which we normally ‘dead head’ to keep the succession of flowers going. With the cost of seed increasing year on year (the average cost is now over £3 per packet, and can be a lot more) it might be worthwhile considering saving some seed head for sowing. Flowers like Sweet William, Love-in-Mist (Nigella), Cosmos, or vegetables like Runner Beans, can be harvested just before the seed-pod has fully dried. Use brown paper bags to hang the seed head upside down and store in a dry place. Remember to label the variety, and then when it is all nice and brown shake out the seed and you have saved yourself pounds for a few minutes work. Unfortunately the lovely hybrids that abound now will not breed true and you will have to rely on the expertise of the professional for that, but if you don’t mind a variety of colour in your Sweet William and so on it is fine. One tip is to look out for Garden Centres having a seed sale, there are bargains to be had, with cuts up to 75%, when they are sufficiently desperate to make room for the new stock.

The growth of rampant climbers like some of the clematis (remember to check) wisteria and climbing roses can be cut back in the middle of September.

Regards
Chris

Lockdown Flower Show

We are pleased to announce the results of our Lockdown Flower Show. Many thanks to all who participated and congratulations to our winners in the following categories:

Mixed Herbaceous bed or border: 1st Barbara Gowlland; 2nd Alison Jermyn

Kitchen garden, bed or equivalent: Joint 1st Judy Cranham and Alison Jermyn; 2nd Paul Styles

Patio garden: 1st Belinda Hood; 2nd Paul Styles

Secret garden or area: 1st Paul Styles; 2nd Joey Hopkins

Wildlife garden or area: 1st Dot Thorp

Greenhouse: 1st Rosemary Goddard; 2nd Dot Thorp

Children’s garden: Great marrow growing and den building!

Photos of the Winning entries are available to view here

Record Breaking Potato Crop

Whilst, sadly, Capel Show took a year off, the Horticultural Society did manage to run their annual Potatoes in a Bag Competition judged on the recreation ground last Saturday 15 August. Congratulations to Chris Coke who not only grew the heaviest crop in the history of the competition (3.73k) but also the heaviest single potato weighing in at 540g. Judy Watts was the runner up with a crop weighing 1.52k.

Well done to all who participated.

More photos in the Gallery

 

 

August 2020 Garden Tips

Garden Notes for August 2020.

Shrubs like deutzia, philadelphus and weigela – or any that have been flowering through June, July and early August, should be pruned now, or as soon as they have finished flowering. Shorten any exceptionally long shoots above the bud, then remove about one-third of the oldest stems. Now is the time to prune Rambler roses, when they have stopped flowering. Prune all stems that have flowered to ground level, train and tie in new shoots.

On other shrubs with new shoots showing, it is ideal to take cuttings during August. Choose sturdy, half mature side shoots and make a straight cut below the joint. Remove any leaves from the lower half of the cutting. Dip the bottom into hormone rooting powder and insert round the side of a pot filled with a suitable cutting compost. By spring, the plants should have rooted.

Thoughts should also be turning to winter and the need for winter flowering pansies means that they should be pricked out, as well as any of the other plants for early spring like wall flowers. Spring cabbage should be sown during August into a prepared bed, with sufficient moisture to allow easy germination. Winter lettuce that can be carried on under some protection should also be germinated now. Take care to keep the seed in a cool place and germination is very slow if the ambient temperature is over 20 Centigrade.

Earwigs can cause havoc amongst dahlias around this time. Traps made by using an upturned seed pot stuffed with dried grass or straw and placed on top of a bamboo cane about a metre long near the dahlias, will attract the insects and they can then be disposed of away from the plants.

If you see ants busily climbing stems of runner beans or other plants you can be sure that there is an infestation of one of the aphids – they are like cows to humans, and the ants ‘milk’ the aphis. Use your preferred insect killer method to control the infestation. I once had a whole crop of nasturtiums destroyed by blackfly because I did not try to control them.

Remember to order your bulbs for Christmas flowering, and start to get ready for the spring.

Keep a careful watch for potato blight. Cut off affected haulm and destroy it, don’t compost it.
Regards
Chris

Allotment Competition Results

The Capel Show Committee was so disappointed not to be able to hold our wonderful annual show this year but the standard of the allotments that we have just judged lifted our spirits enormously.

The judges were unable to remember such a high overall standard. The Capel Recreation Ground allotments in particular looked spectacular; they were an absolute pleasure to judge.

The winners are as follows:

Capel Recreation Ground:

First Prize: Alf Shepherd

Reserve: Phil Simons

Temple Lane:

First Prize: Terry Ward

Reserve: Ian Jones

You can view photos of the Winners’ allotments on the Gallery page

 

 


Mandy Schryver

July 2020 Garden Tips

Garden Notes for July 2020.

It will soon be mid-summer and many of the earlier flowering perennials start to look rather forlorn. It may be worth your while to be ruthless and cut back foliage that is straggling. In particular, hardy geraniums, delphiniums alchemia mollis (Lady’s Mantle) should all benefit from this treatment.

July is a good time to be buying new strawberry plants, or propagate from your own runners. You should aim to replace all the strawberry plants that are 3 years or over. Remember to remove runners that are not needed.

Plant out sprouting broccoli, Calabrese, winter cauliflower, kale and Oriental greens. Place bricks or tiles under developing marrows and squashes as it helps to prevent rotting and will aid ripening.

Stake sunflowers and autumn perennials like Michaelmas daisies to help them through the time when the wind will blow. Remember to keep your mower blade raised in dry spells; allow the grass to grow to 3cm. Shade and ventilate the greenhouse.

When roses have come to the end of their first glorious flush of blooms, try to give them a feed of a complete fertilizer as this will help with the second lot of blooms. Don’t forget to dead head them as well. Outdoor chrysanthemums will also need a feed, one with a high potash content to help the flowering process.

Early crops of new potatoes, early peas and broad beans will soon be finishing, make sure to clear away the top growth as soon as possible to make room for crops like spring cabbage – a good variety is called “Spring Hero F1”, then there is Artic King lettuce which is an updated version of the reliable “All the Year Round” lettuce. There is a lot said about leaf greens, and one that is recommended for late summer sowing is Japanese Green Mizuma.

Complete leek planting as soon as possible. Sow swede by the middle of the month. Lift shallots when their foliage has yellowed and turned over. Make sure to dry them out completely before storing.

Early in the month dig up and divide dwarf and intermediate bearded irises if they have been undisturbed for 3 or more years. Tall bearded irises should be treated in a similar way towards the end of the month.

Watch out for the lily beetle. If you see any sign of damage, and apply an appropriate treatment. The beetle itself is a rather fetching shade of red, but it is their orange-red larvae that hide beneath the leaves that will do the damage.
Chris Coke

Help the Gardener’s Charity, Perennial

This worthwhile charity has organised an online gardening competition. Details can be found on their website at https://perennial.org.uk/home/how-you-can-help/gardening-competition/

This competition involves sending in photos of your garden with a £5 entry fee to fulfil one of the 10 different categories. These will be judged by a panel of well-known gardeners and you could win a £250 garden hamper.

June 2020 Garden Tips

Garden Notes for June 2020.

The weather is always a good topic for gardeners, so much depends on it. Writing in the middle of May we are going through a sunny and dry spell. Early on in the month we did have some frost that caught me out and the tops of my spuds suffered. Evening temperatures should be high enough in June but keep an eye out for the younger plants if rain does not arrive fairly soon.

Frost susceptible, fast growing plants like dahlias, courgettes and so on should be put into their final homes assuming that there is no ground frost forecast. If it has been very dry, make sure that they have a good drink before and after planting them out. But don’t water them all the time. Give the roots time to settle down and then water (if necessary, and allowed) about once a week with a thorough soaking, preferably in the evening or early morning before the sun has got its full power switched on.

Hedges need regular attention now, and should be kept in shape; otherwise they can so easily get away from you making the task so much more difficult. Grass needs to be mown, but keep the cutter bar on a high level and the lawn will look greener for much longer. Do not put sprinklers on lawns, even if they do turn a dusty brown, as soon as the rain comes back they will recover with surprising speed. If you do water the lawn you are wasting a precious resource to no real effect.

In the vegetable plot, make sure potatoes are kept ridged up; otherwise the tubers get exposed and ruined. Late Savoy cabbage can be sown now – use a variety like ‘Ormskirk’. Winter cabbage like January King should be planted out now. Leeks should be planted out using a dibber to make a hole about 6 to 8″ deep, and then water it in well.

Continue to make successional sowings of lettuce. Ones like ‘Tom Thumb’ ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Mini Green’ are fast growing, and the right size for many people. Webbs Wonderful is superb but rather large.

Early tomatoes should be ripening fast and the fruits should be picked regularly.

Roses are at their best towards the end of the month. It helps to keep them cut regularly and feed with a potash feed to keep them blooming longer. If you want to have specimen blooms it is advised to take out the side shoots carefully, as well as the smaller buds, leaving just one strong one at the end of the stem. Keep an eye out for pests and disease. Keep mildew at bay by regular spraying.

Suckers that sprout up from the base of damson and plum trees can become troublesome unless dealt with early on, so dig them out and burn the resulting twigs.

As alpine plants finish flowering, trim them back to keep the plants neat and compact. It will also encourage them to make good growth for next spring. Any gaps or vacant spots in the rock garden can be planted with summer flowering annuals or bedding plants to maintain the overall colour. Towards the end of the month cuttings can be taken from the alpine stock to increase the number of plants. Root the cuttings in a sandy compost.

Chris Coke

CHS Summer Show

Each year since 1893 an annual Flower Show has been held in Capel. Only the war years prevented it taking place (1940-46). This spring we have been fighting a different battle altogether and it looks as though we shall be doing so for some time to come. In line with current government guidance, and with the well-being of our local community firmly in mind, the CHS Committee have reluctantly made the decision not to proceed with this year’s event. We are however all looking forward to producing a truly fabulous Capel Show next year, on 21 August 2021

Now, some good news …………

Judging of the Allotment Competition (Temple Lane and Recreation Ground) will still go ahead on Sunday 12 July.

For those of you taking part in the Potato Competition, do keep going and we shall figure out a way of judging the heaviest crop over the weekend 15/16 August.

Indeed, do all keep busy in your gardens as we are looking at organising a Garden Competition – something along the lines of Open Gardens but without the people!

We are also hoping to provide some projects for children to enjoy during summer days at home.

For more information on all of the above we shall of course update you monthly through these pages

May 2020 Garden Tips

Garden Notes for May 2020.

Everything is ‘unprecedented nowadays following the lockdown, so we can’t just turn up at a garden centre. There are some locally that have websites and will take orders, Newbridge, Hilliers and Knights at Betchworth spring to mind. You may have to collect yourself or pay for a delivery charge. Putting plants outside a bit later is no bad thing. I well remember Neil Carter’s father, Ray, sowing his carrots in June in his garden at Misbrooks Cottage and commenting to me that people in Capel always sowed far too early.

May is always such a hopeful month, but don’t be fooled by all the half-hardy bedding plants that will be offered temptingly. It is not safe to plant them outdoors. Even if plants like geraniums, salvias, lobelia, marigolds and so on are not killed by a late frost, they can still receive such a severe check from cold May nights that they never completely recover to give a proper display.

But don’t let that put you off getting in stock where you can give it some protection in a cold frame or greenhouse. Use of garden fleece at night will also be just sufficient to keep off the worst falls in temperature and will help to harden off the plants in time for June when they can be planted out.

Sweet peas should be tied in regularly, especially if you are trying to grow large blooms, as you will be taking out the side shoots so that all the growth goes into the tip. They can be fertilised use one that has a low nitrogen content as too much may increase bud dropping.

Keep up succession sowings of lettuces and peas. Runner beans and zucchini should be sown early on. Because our garden is a veritable slug and snail city (we have a lovely lot of thrushes who help keep the snails under control) we generally start our runner beans in the greenhouse and plant them out at the end of the month. To give runners the best chance, sow them individually in the divided plastic trays (24 to a seed tray). Try to get the beans out before they start shooting too much and become tangled up with each other.

Lawns will need regular attention now, after their winter sleep. Keep the mower on a high setting to start with as this helps encourage growth and will keep the lawn greener during the summer months.

If you have the ground, early May is a good time to plant main crop potatoes that will be harvested in late August/early September and will keep you supplied throughout the winter. Varieties include: Arran Victory, Cara, and Nicola.

All tall flowering plants like delphinium, gladioli, even some of the carnations will need to be staked, as they really do need support when they are in full flower.

Put clean straw, or black plastic under strawberry plants to keep the berries clean and protected. You can also use the black matting for suppressing weeds leaving sufficient room for the plants. Be careful, the matting can also be a wonderful hiding place for slugs and snails and even, as I found out one year, a wonderful playground for field mice!

Chris Coke