Melanie Dool’s gardening column in association with Orchardstown Garden Centre
I WAS going to write the heading as in the Western film, “The Good, Bad and the Ugly”, but could not think of anything ugly in the garden in October, or any month for that matter. Of course, there is mostly good in the garden and to a lesser degree some bad but we will come to some of that later.
‘Difficult weeds like bindweed, ivy and brambles need an annual assault’
I do not know where to start with the good things about gardening but it usually evolves into a personal choice of what areas take your interest. I have always said that gardening is for enjoying and should never become a chore or bore. The coronavirus pushed a huge amount of people into trying gardening for the first time and a significant number will remain in the hobby as they have experienced the benefits to be had.
I suppose the bad in gardening are the perennial weeds, diseases, moss, algae and pests. There, all the bad things in one sentence, which sounds manageable but we will go into brief details on the controls we use to keep the problems at bay. Moss on lawns are easily treated in the spring and, if needed, another dose in the autumn around now. Moss and algae on paths should be removed as they are a slip hazard but we leave it alone when on planted beds. For disease control I try and avoid any plants that get any in the first place. There are many alternatives that are naturally resistant.
For general pests like greenfly we use a soapy mix with a teaspoon of Jeyes fluid and water over plants prior to their known invasion on plants such as roses, fruit, lupins and varieties of the cabbage family. Vine weevil can be a pest in container growing as the white grubs will eat the plant roots but you can treat this with nematodes or empty the contents out into the garden and pot up with fresh compost. Difficult weeds like bindweed, ivy and brambles need an annual assault to keep them in check or if you are lucky you might succeed in eliminating them altogether.
I have already said on a number of occasions that I am not that bothered about growing tropical or tender plants in my garden as there are abundant enough hardy types around to choose from. Part of my reason is that unless carefully sited they can look alien or out of place in the garden and the other reason is that they need elaborate protection during the winter months. Into this category come the tree ferns and some palm trees among others but we are a lot milder than other counties, and can get away without protection of a number of more tender plants. We find that the dwarf banana (Musa basjoo), Agave, Giant Echium (Echium pininana), Lemon Scented Verbena (Lippia citriodora), Cannas and even the trailing Pelargonium can grow outside in mild areas unprotected for the winter months.
TIP OF THE WEEK
October is a month for tidying up outside the house which includes non garden areas as well.
Quite often, we have put bits and pieces aside and not dealt with them and they are still there years later, so use them or lose them is the motto. Then, into the garden to rake off leaves and do some light trimming to trees and shrubs to lower the risk of wind damage… unless there are overgrown trees where strong pruning is needed. Reminder: onion sets and garlic should be planted soon.
If you have any queries or comments you are welcome to share them with me on 051-384273 or [email protected] and if of general interest I will include it in a future article.