Bringing some cheer to Capel, the churchyard will again be aglow with Christmas trees this year. Members are welcome to come and assist decorate, at a social distance of course, between 9 – 10 am on Saturday 5 December.
Thank you to all those who chose to take their daily exercise litter picking last Saturday! Our regular army of litter pickers turned out and filled just 18 bags with rubbish. This was a vast improvement on the 40+ bags collected in September. Here’s hoping this trend continues downwards.
Do please come and join the team for another village litter pick 10.30 Saturday 7th November gathering in Capel Memorial Hall car park. Remember to wear suitable footwear and gloves. We aim to finish by noon.
Garden notes for October 2020.
One of the great satisfactions of gardening is the ability to make your own plants from propagation. With autumn drawing on, make sure you get your cuttings sorted out earlier on in the month. Plants like fuchsias, geraniums and so on should be potted up and put somewhere safe before the frosts begin. Cuttings of alpines that have been done earlier should either be planted out where they are to grow, or potted on and kept in a frame until the spring. If you are keeping them in pots, it is best to plunge the pots to their rims in sand, ashes or soil. (Don’t forget to protect them from slug and snail predation!)
Lettuce seedlings can be planted in cold frames to give winter supplies. The frames should be ventilated freely when the weather is mild as they are prone to mildew attack.
It is always tempting to hang on to the summer flowering plants ‘for a few more days’, but if you want your spring flowers to bloom you really need to chuck out the old and put in the new. The reason for this is that spring bedding plants need to have time to get established before the winter weather sets in, otherwise they will not do as well.
If you are going to plant new fruit trees and shrubs, the best time is in November, but October is the time to prepare the site. The soil should be well dug and manured, this will be much more difficult in November.
Towards the end of the month strawberry beds should be tidied up. Remove all dead, diseased or damaged foliage, as well as the weeds.
The herbaceous border should be tidied up. Some people say that it should be left alone as the old stems protect the new growth, forgetting that they also harbour all the pests and diseases as well. I think it is better to cut back the top growth, and clean up the borders. It also allows the soil round the clumps to be lightly forked over. In addition the more vigorous plants can be lifted and divided to make room for other plants as well as helping others start their borders with the left overs.
When frost has browned the tops dahlias, cut them down to 9″ above the soil. Tie a label to identify the variety, then lift the tubers carefully and dry them off in a greenhouse for a few days before finally storing them in a cool frost proof place.
It is not often that I come across a garden tool that I had not heard of before. Recently I discovered the “Hori-Hori” which when translated from the Japanese means ‘dig-dig’. Essentially it is a steel blade with one sharp edge and the other with a shorter or serrated edge. It is fantastic for doing precision weeding, planting out, cutting back or just for killing slugs! There are a couple of suppliers (apart from Amazon, of course). I got mine from a company that has its UK base in Dorset and is called Niwaki. It is something to consider as an unusual Christmas or birthday present for a keen gardener.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
First Prize: Terry Ward
Reserve: Ian Jones
You can view photos of the Winners’ allotments on the Gallery page