Tuesday, November 01, 2022

DURING a warm spell while some people might have enjoyed their regular dip in the sea, I went for a walk and noticed a number of gardens which were full of autumn colours. Possibly the sunlight helped create the glow but the plants were outstanding.

Accidental design

I do not think there was any design to the plantings but, they merged and complimented each other and, while some were the well known suspects, others were not so common. The plants included Boston Ivy, grasses-Calamagrostis, Hakonechloa ‘Aureola’, Pennisetum and Miscanthus, Rudbeckia ‘Goldsturm’ and some nice additions like Salvia ‘Cerro Potosi’, Anaphalis ‘Sommerschnee’, Ligularia ‘B.M Crawford’ , Artemesia ‘Powis’ and Aster ’Monch’.

Outing Myths

It is probably a combination of a small amount of knowledge which leads me to question many products launched onto the gardening public and, working out if they are any good or, just another clever marketing trick geared to increase a manufacturers profits with no or marginal benefits for gardens plants.

Sweet Peas and Beans

In many media outlets and some others, sowing sweet peas (pictured above) and broad beans in the autumn is a worthwhile practice to get an earlier crop in the spring. There is no need for me to tell you that leaving a crop of seedlings exposed for six months of harsh weather and pests is more than a bit daft. It is far better to sow early enough inside and then transplant them out in early spring and you will have better results in a much shorter time.

Liming your soil 

We do not have the extreme levels of either acid or alkaline soil but, it does dip into one way or the other depending on what part of the country you live in. The advice is to add lime to your soil if you want to grow any of the cabbage family (e.g. Brussels sprouts, Broccoli,) but, we have never done so in our acid soil and grow fairly good vegetables. It is far better to keep your soil on the acid side for all crops including Rhododendrons, azaleas etc and this can be encouraged by adding farm yard manure, garden waste and bark to your soil.

Insect hotels

While bird boxes work reasonably well, the ‘insect hotels’ are only good for decoration as, generally they are a waste of time and are rarely used by insects. Easier and cheaper is to drill a few holes (4-10mm) in odd pieces of discarded wood and put them in sunny and sheltered areas for better results.


That odd sounding name is for a beneficial fungi and its association with plant roots and the uptake of nutrients. The marketing people have got on the band wagon again, with numerous products extolling the need for adding mycorrhiza fungi to any planting you do.  Taking into account that there are over 300 different species of mycorrhizas around which are abundant in most soils and, that there are only a few in the commercial product so, why would you bother buying this product!


We do sell composts in our nursery but, never encourage the sale as in most cases it is not required for planting.  We use homemade composts for vegetable growing, potting and containers but use clean weed free compost for seed sowing. I can understand an area of bad soil left by the builder of an estate and, in that case it will take hard work improving it with farm yard manures and green composts.


I have had a few comments on what vegetables we leave outside to harvest during the winter and they are Leeks, Chard, Brussels sprouts, Carrots (Extremo F1), Parsnip (Albion F1), Kale and purple sprouting broccoli (for cut and come again from late Feb-May).  I find beetroot gets woody after October so it is not a vegetable to leave in the ground.  All in all unless you have lots of space you will have to be selective on what you grow. 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 newsletter.

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