February 2020 Garden Tips

Soil is the foundation for all plants in the garden and spending time in its preparation will bring considerable rewards. Ground that is going to be used for root crops like carrots, turnips, potato and radish should have a pH of about 7 (neutral). General fertiliser such as Growmore, or an organic alternative, should be raked in a few weeks before sowing at a rate of about 3-4 ounces per square yard.

In sheltered areas, crops such as onions, peas, lettuce and radish can be sown with suitable protection – either under cloches or heavyweight fleece.

Rhubarb clumps should be lifted and divided in February.

Tomato seed should be sown in greenhouses with appropriate heat to get them germinated.

Established herbaceous plants will benefit from a feed, ideally spread well-rotted farm yard manure, or garden compost around the plant and lightly fork it in.

Now is the time to think about your mower. If you have a standard powered mower like a Hayter you might like to know that the ‘Mower Man’ will come to your house and service it there for a reasonable price. He does not do electric mowers (sorry). Contact him either via his web site – www.themowerman.co.uk or on the phone 07832944791. I am still debating whether to invest in a robot (or auto) mowers but the installation and initial price makes me hesitate.

I’m looking at the possibility of getting LED Grow Lights to help germination on my propagator. The low light level in winter especially delays germination and makes growing strong plants more difficult. It seems to be quite complicated and I do not know all the answers. Much depends on the light wave output so that the wider the spectrum from red though to blue is quite important. The usual price factor applies so that the better the spectrum the higher the cost and whether that is worth it is another problem. Have a look on Amazon under the heading LED Grow Lights for more information.

Remember your house-plants on cold, frosty night. Keep them on the room side, not behind the curtain. Plants are most likely to die from drastic temperature changes between a heated room in the day and a frosty sill at night.

Verbenas can be difficult to raise from seed, the best way to do it is to keep one or two plants for stock, and to take cuttings about the middle of February. Just cut a tip and place it in a good rooting medium and you will be able to have several hundred cuttings from one good stock plant.

Young plants of perpetual flowering carnations should be potted on as soon as the small pots are filled with root growth. Keep the plants in a light, airy place that is cool – they do not like too much heat.

Chris Coke

Quiz  Night  and  Supper

CAPEL  HORTICULTURAL  SOCIETY

QUIZ  NIGHT  AND  SUPPER

SATURDAY  21st   MARCH

 

Our ever-popular quiz night and delicious supper returns to Capel Memorial Hall on Saturday 21st March, 7 for 7.30pm.

As usual teams of 8 will be testing their general knowledge (don’t worry there will not be an abundance of horticultural questions!) against one another.  Every year we sell out so do please book early to avoid disappointment.

Menu choices are:

 

  • Lamb Tagine and herby couscous, or Lamb Tagine with baked potato, or

 

  • Chardonnay Chicken with artichoke hearts, baked potato and petit pois, or

 

  • Baked vegetarian sausages with double onion marmalade with baked potato and petit pois

Followed by:

 

  • Sticky chocolate and orange sponge, or

 

  • Lemon meringue roulade, or

 

  • Cheese platter

 

Finishing with:

  • Tea, coffee and mints

 

All this for just £16 per person.  Please remember there is no bar facility so you will need to bring your own beer/wine and glasses.

 

Bookings should be for tables of 8 people and once your menu choice has been made, to avoid disappointment, do please stick with it.  To make your booking contact Rosemary Goddard on 01306 711259 or email rosemary@stylehurstfarm.com as soon as possible.

January 2020 Garden Tips

Garden Notes for January 2020.

Here we go for another New Year with all its hope and possibilities to have a good growing season. It is also a Leap Year with that all important extra day at the end of February that seems to make such a difference.

This is the time of year when houseplants are most appreciated. Azaleas, cineraria and cyclamen will all help to cheer things up. Do not over water, and most of these plants like cool conditions.

When your seeds arrive from the supplier keep them in a cool dry place until required. Protect pea seeds in particular because mice love them, and they have already got into our garden shed where they have started on anything that they can reach. Remember paper is no barrier to sharp teeth, and makes lovely nesting material.

Rhubarb can be forced using an upturned bucket or tub. This should be covered with garden fleece to keep off any frost. Another tip is to slice off a bit of the main root, leave it exposed for 2 or 3 frosts and then pot it up and move it into a cool greenhouse. This will make it start to produce some tender sticks of rhubarb for you to enjoy in March.

When seed potatoes arrive, keep them in a frost-free place and stand the tubers, eye-end uppermost, in shallow boxes. If you can get large egg trays these are ideal for keeping the tubers upright and just separated to prevent any infection spreading.

Remember, even if we do get a few mild days towards the end of the month that any seeds that are sown need a constant temperature to start them off, at least 8 to 10 degrees Centigrade, so do not be tempted to sow outdoors, as temperatures drop well below these levels at night time, even when it is mild.

To get the best onions for the Summer Show (Saturday August 15 2020, this year – make a note!) apart from starting the first sowings this month, you should give a good dressing of wood ash on the site of the bed that you will use, since they really like potash. For the keen gardener, sow your onion seeds as early as possible in good compost on a propagator to get them started.

Towards the middle of the month, start to make preparations for taking chrysanthemum cuttings. If you have a cold frame make sure it is ready and make up the necessary soil. A good mixture is two parts loam, one part peat, and one part sand to ensure good drainage. Any pots or boxes should be cleaned and the chrysanthemum stools brought in to start them growing sturdy cuttings.

Chris Coke

Announcement

Following the sad news of the passing of Pat Goodall, the committee wished to forward details of her funeral.

It will be held at Worthing Crematorium on the 12th December 2019, at 12 noon.

Our thoughts go to her family at this time,

CHS Committee

December Garden Tips

Garden Notes for December 2019.

There have been quite a few berries on the holly and lots of food because of the open autumn we have had this year, despite the recent rain. Some people say that it is a sign of severe winter to come, and the odds must be shortening since we have not had a really bad one like 1961/62, or in 1947 but the fact of the matter is that a good crop of berries only tells you that we had a good spring and early summer. So, who knows what will happen? However, one thing we can be sure of is that the migrant fieldfares, redwings and other berry loving birds will soon be descending to feast on the holly trees. So, if you want some decorations for Christmas cut a few branches in early December and store them in a cool, frost-free place and they will last for at least 3 weeks.

Use this quiet time to plan for the growing season, and get your seed orders in early to make sure you get the variety of seed you want, since shortages do occur and the suppliers deal on a first come, first served basis.

Keep an eye on your garden tools, especially the machinery and cutting tools which can be serviced and/or sharpened by specialists.

Large flowered clematis, like Clematis jackmanii and the many hybrids from it, should be pruned towards the end of the month. They can be cut back quite severely. Prune back to good, well developed buds.

If you are planning to sow hardy annuals in the spring, they will benefit from an early preparation of the area. So long as the soil is in reasonably good heart it is best not to put any fertiliser, since annuals do best in a soil that is not too rich.

When picking Brussels sprouts keep the tops, and only use the best when all the sprouts have been harvested. Some of the winter broccoli may be starting to form their curds. Turn in the leaves to protect the curd from frost, and cut regularly as once they have reached their full development the curds soon begin to open and will spoil.

A very happy and peaceful Christmas to you all.

 

Chris Coke

Recycling/Garden Waste

For those of you who are accustomed to using any of the West Sussex recycling facilities, Horsham, Billingshurst, Crawley, etc, please be aware that from Sunday 1st December you will need to have a document to prove you live in West Sussex to access these tips.  Accepted identity will be a driving licence, bus pass, utility bill and so on.  Be prepared to be stopped if you do not have proof you live in West Sussex.

Surrey residents have the choice of the tip at Dorking;  Randalls Road, Leatherhead or Salfords, Redhill.

November Garden Tips

Garden Notes for November 2019.

Prepare for the spring by digging and manuring the vegetable patch in November. Remember to keep a 3-year rotation so that potatoes (for example) are not planted in the same area two years running.

Remember to get your tulips planted before the end of the month. Try layer planting of tulips in containers. Do this by planting the later flowering varieties first, cover them with about an inch to 2″ of compost and then plant earlier varieties. A typical 12″ diameter container can take up to 40 bulbs in order to get a good display that lasts several weeks if this technique is used.

Watch out for slugs even as the autumn starts to turn to winter. We usually look out for them in the spring, but they can still do considerable damage shoots of delphiniums and campanulas at this time before the hard frosts start.

If you are planting a new tree, put a mulch mat around it or mulch with garden compost. The tree will root much better.

We have had quite good growing weather, and many of the evergreens and hardy trees will have made lush growth. Where possible prune the excess growth back before the winter storms set in, otherwise they will be vulnerable. The main pruning will still need to be done in the spring.

November is the best month for planting bare root roses.

After the first frost has blackened dahlias, cut the tops back to about 4 – 6″ and lay the stems over the plants for about a week. This allows the tubers to ripen and harden. When the weather is fine, dig them up and turn the plants upside down to allow any moisture to drain off from the hollow stems and crowns. Store them in a frost-free place where it is cool and dry.

If you have a sheltered and well drained plot, now is the time to sow winter broad beans such as Aquadulce. Early broad beans often escape the blackfly attacks on the growth tips of the plant in spring.

Provided the weather is suitable keep digging the ground for good crops next year. Where possible double dig in farm yard manure, or well rotted compost from your own compost bin.

Chris Coke

Christmas Wreath Making

Capel Horticultural Society Christmas Wreath Making

Thursday 12 December – Capel Parish Hall 7 for 7.30pm

Yes, it’s that time of the year again – so much to think about and never enough time in which to accomplish it all. Take an evening out and join us for mulled wine and mince pies and the opportunity to make a beautiful Christmas wreath.

Local florist, Vickie Edwards, will be showing us how to decorate ready prepared moss filled rings. She will also demonstrate some traditional and modern table decorations providing plenty of ideas for us to replicate at home.

All you need to bring is a pair of secateurs, although should you have some greenery from your garden or special decorations that you would like to include, bring these too.

The evening is always great fun. Vickie is terrific at helping those of us that need a little inspiration and you might even win a prize from our Christmas themed raffle.

Spaces are limited. To avoid disappointment book now. Tickets are £25.00 each which includes all materials, a glass of wine (or tea/coffee) and mince pies.

Contact Jane Major oldjoinery@gmail.com 01306 711170

October Garden Tips

Garden Notes for October 2019.

Albert Camus the French novelist wrote that “Autumn is a second spring, when every leaf is a flower”, so enjoy the autumn splendour all around you. “Everyone should take time to sit and watch the leaves turn” (Elizabeth Lawrence). The turning of the leaves does depend, in part, on how cold the evenings become since the tree system does not turn off the supply of nutrients to the leaves until there has been a frost. So that also means that the good gardener should be on the look out for their tender plants and bring them into sheltered accommodation before being desiccated by a sharp frost. Those of you growing parsnips will relish being able to dig them after the first frost when they are at their very best.

Most houseplants will be slowing down their growth. Water and feed less frequently. Cacti, in particular, should be kept dry and frost-free during the winter, that includes yucca.

Plant out wallflowers, polyanthus, sweet williams, foxgloves and other similar biennials for a good display in the spring. Spring cabbage should be planted out while the ground is still workable, keep up a succession of winter lettuce like ‘Winter Density’. Cut remaining marrows, squashes and pumpkins. Put them away in a dry, frost-proof place. Clear away all the pea and bean haulm, then dig over the vacated ground.

Once the ground has been cleared it is a good idea to break it up. If you have heavy clay (as most of us do round here) the best way is to use a spade and to leave it with large clods that will break down over the winter with weathering. If you break the soil down too much at this time of year, it will just become a ‘pudding’ and you will have to start all over again in the spring.

After the first frosts have browned off the tops of dahlias, cut them down to within 12 cm (9″) of ground level. Mark the variety with a label, and lift the tubers so that they can be dried under cover and then stored in a frost-free place for the winter. I have tried this over the years and never have much success. It might be worthwhile just leaving them in the ground and covering the spot with chipped bark or ash, remembering to mark the spot with the name of the variety. Be warned though, if we do have a prolonged cold period in the winter you could lose the tubers in the ground as well, so you pays your money and takes your choice.

If you want early sweet peas, now is the time to start them off. For best result sow one or two seeds in rooting pots as sweet peas have an exceptionally long tap-root. Germinate the seeds in the greenhouse with gentle, consistent warmth. Once they have emerged sweet peas can be kept outside in a cold frame, only needing protection from the worst frosts by having a cover over them.

Chris Coke