September Garden Tips

Garden Notes for September 2019.

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. At this time it might be worth keeping them. With the cost of seed increasing year on year (the average cost is now around £2 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.

Whilst the desirable seed heads should be kept, do watch out for all the weeds making sure that they survive. Milk Thistle, Shepherd’s Purse, Plantain and Groundsel- the list is endless, all should be removed before the flower has had time to set seed. I have been having a purge on Shepherd’s Purse that became rampant last year. It seems that no sooner than I have collected another bunch than an equal amount appears on another part of the vegetable garden. In a bit of land where I have a few fruiting trees there has been a huge crop of the weed called ‘henbane’ and I have had to call in help to cut it down before it all goes to seed. Not to say the brambles who are threatening to take over. I have had a battle royal with one set that have climbed three metres and want to take over one of the apple trees.

September is the best month to plant daffodils outside, so make sure you have ordered your new supplies. New varieties are always being offered, like ‘Easter Bonnet’ which has a white perianth and large pink cup. Then there is another one called ‘Petit Four’ which has an unusual cup that opens out into a ball of apricot.

Carrots should be lifted and stored before the roots start to split, which they will do very quickly once the heavy autumnal rains begin. Tomatoes should be cleared from the greenhouse so that it can be prepared for autumn and winter flowers. Onions should be dried and ripened off. In our uncertain weather it is a good idea to put them into a greenhouse or bench where there is plenty of air circulating before tying them up into ropes. Alternatively, use the mesh bags that are used in grocery stores. They need to be kept in the light and to have plenty of air round them, unlike potatoes that need to be stored in thick paper sacks with the light excluded.

Chris Coke

Capel Show Wows Again

Despite gloomy weather forecasts all week, the sun came out for Capel Show.  The brass band played, the craft stalls kept busy, the horticultural marquee was filled with beautiful exhibits and the classic cars gleamed on Capel Recreation Ground last Saturday.

Over 5000 people turned out for a terrific family day and they certainly enjoyed themselves.  More than 600 classic vehicles were on display.  An excellent collection of motorbikes, cars and commercial vehicles, including a beautifully restored Peugeot H Van and a Police Car that only those “of a certain age” will remember!  The overall car show winner was a Triumph Dolomite.

The Grand Marquee drew the crowds in.  Stunning displays of fruit, flowers and veg sat alongside home baked goods and handicrafts. The children’s classes were well supported showing the imagination and creativity of young people.

Outside folk enjoyed all that was on offer.  Whether it was an ice cream or a cream tea, or maybe a burger and a beer from the bar, the food and beverage fast disappeared.

The fun Dog Show provided plenty of amusement and animal exhibits drew the crowds.  Congratulations to Best Dog in Show, Biscuit and owner Sinead Paddy.

Busy stall holders sold jams, pottery, walking sticks, soft furnishings, children’s clothing and so much more.

It is worth remembering that, after costs, all the monies raised from stall holders fees, entry charges, etc go to help local charities and St John the Baptist Church in Capel. Local organisations also have the opportunity to fundraise.  Some run raffles and tombolas, whilst others provide food and beverage.

Congratulations to all the winners of the horticultural cups and medals.  Especially Sam Jenks for winning the Tyrell-Evans Cup, National Vegetable Society Medal and the Venitt Rose Bowl.  Robert Astrop for winning the Banksian Medal, Tom Foreman Dahlia Cup and the Wilding Silver Cup.  Julia Forsyth for winning the RHS Bronze Medal, National Dahlia Society Silver Medal and the Silliman Cup.

Full Results of all of the Winners are here

Some great photos of the show from Julia Forsyth:

August Garden Tips

Garden Notes for August 2019.

Laurel is a very useful plant but it is very vigorous and August is the month to keep it neat by trimming your laurel hedge. Some gardeners say that the laurel hedge should be trimmed using secaturs only. This does give a much improved finish, if you have the time. Using shears is much quicker and does not substantially make much difference. If you can allow your compost more than 2 years to compost, then put your laurel trimmings on to it. If, like me, you can only keep the compost heap for a matter of months, it is better to get rid of the laurel leaves since they take a long time to decompose due to their waxy surface.

Dahlias are supposed to be making a come back, having been rejected as being too gaudy. I have always liked them, and wish that I could grow specimens to compete in the Summer Show (this year to be held on Saturday 17 August). To even have a chance, now is the time to make sure that you disbud them, only one flower being kept on each stem. Dahlias will also need to be tied in as their stems become very heavy with the foliage and bloom and are easily broken by gusts of wind.

Cut out old raspberry canes that have fruited this year. Cut them down to ground level and retain only six or seven of the strongest new canes on each plant for fruiting next year. Overcrowding of the canes can lead to a higher incidence of disease.

Spring cabbage can be sown in the middle of the month; good varieties are Pixie, Flower of Spring or Wheeler’s Imperial. Onions that are reaching maturity should have their stems bent over and the bulbs partially lifted with a fork to encourage full ripening. Well ripened bulbs are much more likely to keep right through the winter.

If you have experienced an attack of potato blight, remember that outdoor tomatoes are vulnerable. It used to be possible to spray affected plants but that is no longer an option so, remove the affected foliage as soon as possible. Make sure that diseased leaves are disposed of as far away as possible at the tip or with collected garden waste. Do not put them on your own compost heap to minimise the spores over wintering and coming back to bite you!

Planting up strawberry runners in the later part of August will help provide a good crop next year. If you are buying plants in, make sure that they are certified virus-free stock, as strawberries are very prone to virus disease.

Towards the end of the month, rambler roses that have finished flowering should be pruned. Disentangle the growth from the trellis (use gloves for this!) and cut out all the stems that have carried flowers. It is much easier to do this if you untie all the stems before you start the pruning. All the new stems made this year should be retained and tied back into place. You will really appreciate all the work you have done when they flower next year.

Allotment Results for 2019

Sunday 14 July saw the judging of the annual Capel Allotments Competition. Dave Goodall kindly judged the allotments with Mandy Schryver ably assisting.

The results are as follows:

Capel Recreation Ground allotments – First prize allotment No. 10 Alf Shepherd

 

Runner up allotment No. 11a /b Nancy Williams

 

Temple Lane allotments – First prize – allotment No 10 Viv Taylor

 

Runner up – allotment No 21 Brian Mead

 

Allotments were judged on cleanliness (weedfree etc.) and variety of cropping.
Dave commented on how the standard at both sites showed marked improvement on last year, so congratulations to all and thank you to Dave (and Mandy).

July Garden Tips

Garden Notes for July 2019

Some of the earlier crops, like early potatoes, broad beans, and early peas will be finishing soon and it is best to get them cleared away for catch crops such as carrots or globe beetroot. I remember Ray Carter telling me years ago when we were very new to the village that “People are too keen to get early crops in Capel. It’s always best hereabouts to sow late and crop in the autumn as the soil is so cold.” I never learn, and this season has shown once again just how slow the soil is to warm up, many of our plants have grown so slowly in May that it is a wonder that they have grown enough to be put out in June. If you are thinking of sowing a late crop of carrots, a wonderful tip I was given a few years ago is to make sure that the row is watered 4 days after sowing. It works wonders for good germination.

July is the last time to cut back hydrangeas after flowering (they are called ‘hortensias’ in France, which I rather like). The reason for this is that they will not have sufficient time to make new growth for next year’s flowering. The early flowering ‘Montana’ clematis can be pruned in July. Thin out overcrowded stems and cut back where necessary to keep the plant within bounds. Drastic pruning is not desirable.

Tuberous rooted begonias should be disbudded if you want to have those big flower heads. It is the small side buds that need to be removed, leaving the large central flower to develop.

Don’t forget to keep the container grown plants watered and fed at least once a month with a soluble feed. Remove dead heads to encourage continued blossom. Roses will benefit from a sprinkle of a specialist rose fertiliser, preferably with a high potash content to encourage a second flush of blooms.

Tomatoes should be stopped after 5 trusses have set. If the bottom leaves start to turn yellow it is better to remove them and let the trusses develop in the sunshine. Keep an eye out for any sign of mildew and take appropriate action The same goes for potatoes. If there is a bad attack towards the end of the month and it is too early to harvest it is better to remove the haulm and burn it safely, or take it to be re-cycled.

Pears and plums will repay careful thinning. Take care with your dahlias and keep disbudding and feeding so that you have a good choice to enter the Flower Show.

Chris

June Garden Tips

Garden Notes for June 2019.

The pace of gardening really hots up in June, but it is still necessary to keep an eye on what the weather holds in store for us after a dry and relatively cold May.

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 switch 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.
On the subject of watering, make sure that your hose connections are working properly. Overtime the usual plastic based connectors become worn and/or damaged and should be replaced. I was looking for such a replacement and branded products in Garden Centres can be expensive. I found perfectly adequate ones in Lidl at a tenth of the price.

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

Another successful Plant Sale

Another hugely successful Plant Sale was organised by the Society last weekend. Villagers queued and crammed themselves into Capel Memorial Hall searching out bargains. Vegetable plants are always popular, whilst colourful bedding plants were quickly sold out. Capel gardens will no doubt be looking glorious over the coming summer months! Thank you to all those who came along whether to help or purchase – happy gardening!

May Garden Tips

Garden Notes for May

There is so much preparation to be done in May that it is easy to get carried away and be tempted to plant out too early. Garden Centres love this, as you will almost always have to go back and buy replacements for the plants that have died from the unpredictable ground and air frosts that can strike at any time during May.

Many young plants that are being brought on in the greenhouse, and indeed, houseplants like orchids, enjoy misting with a fine water spray. I have found it difficult to use the hand pumped devices, often they have small reservoirs but now I have discovered that there are misting devices with battery powered pumps with a litre capacity and they are a really useful tool. Look out for them. I found mine in Dorking Lidl for £6.99.

One plant that can be put out, provided it is in a reasonably sheltered spot, is the outdoor flowering chrysanthemum. Possibly in this day of minimalism, stripped wood floors and stark furniture, the chrysanthemum may be regarded as being too gaudy. I love them. With care they reward you with so many beautiful flowers when everyone else is just going over. So plant these beauties now, make sure to plant them firmly and to make certain that the ball of soil rests at the bottom of the hole you have dug to put it in. Put a stake with each plant

Early Brussels sprouts can be planted out, and it is these that usually produce the best sprouts. Make sure to give them space, just under a metre (3′ in the old days), this way you will get a better crop. The space need not be wasted as you can inter-crop with early hearting cabbage, or early cauliflowers that will be harvested before the sprouts take up all the room.

Start hardening off all those bedding plants you have bought from the Plant Sale (11th May, 10 am in the Village Hall), by keeping them under a cold frame, or putting them out during the day and putting them back under shelter at night. Keep an eye out that are kept watered, it is easy for them to become dried out in patches, especially if there is a wind blowing. Equally, do not over water, which can be just as bad, if not worse!

May is the time to sow hardy biennials – such as Sweet William, Canterbury bells, and Wallflowers. Sowing runner beans and French beans at the start of the month under glass gives them a good start and helps protect the young plant from the ravishes of slugs and snails. Don’t forget to sow the marrows and zuccini at the start of the month.

As alpine plants in the rock garden finish flowering, trim back the growth to keep the plants neat and compact. By doing this you will encourage them to make good growth for flowering next spring. In the same way flowering shrubs like philadelphus, deutzias and escallonias can be pruned as soon as their flowers fade to encourage new growth.

Annual Litter Pick bags 40 sacks

Capel Horticultural Society organised the annual litter pick around the village last weekend (Saturday 27 April). Society members and villagers turned out to collect an amazing 40 black sacks of rubbish as well as garden furniture, a bicycle and a pushchair all left abandoned around the village. A huge “thank you” to those that helped with this community event, and a request to those responsible for the litter – please don’t!

Slinfold Open Gardens

After a break last year, Slinfold gardeners are again throwing their gates open for you to explore five very different gardens, from manicured designs to wildlife friendly apple orchards.