Make your bed
It’s a great time of year to construct raised beds, which are particularly suited to growing vegetables and soft fruits, says Mary Lovell-smith.
EDIBLES • Beans, beetroot, broccoli, carrots, coriander, celery, lettuce, peas, radish, spinach, and spring onions may be sown direct into the garden now – as long as the soil is not still too wet. • Asparagus crowns may still be planted, preferably in soil rich in compost and seaweed. Plant 40cm apart, 10cm deep, with fine soil on top. Resist picking for another year. • Plant yams in a sunny spot with blood and bone and sheep pellets added to the soil. As the shoots grow the plants should be mounded up with soil, in a similar way to potatoes. • While strawberries are usually planted in autumn or winter to let them establish before fruiting, they may still be planted now. Prepare bed by digging in compost and sheep pellets. Do not let the plants dry out, and ensure the crown is at soil level – not buried – when planting. • Feed citrus with compost and/or a commercial
RAISED BEDS • Raised beds are good for growing vegetables and soft fruits in particular, because they allow greater control over drainage, soil temperatures and soil type and condition. • Beds are best no wider than 1.5 metres so you can reach across from both sides. Paths between the beds should be at least 30cm, or up to 45cm if you want to get a wheelbarrow along them. • Use untreated timber for the frames (or rocks or bricks). Or buy a kit. If placing on a hard surface, such as paving slabs, lay at least 10cm of coarse gravel on the bottom, then a thick layer of cardboard or newspaper. Fill beds with organic matter, such as a mix of topsoil and compost. Extras such as well-rotted animal manure, leaf mould, grit, sheep or poultry pellets and straw may also be incorporated. • Let soil settle for a fortnight or so before sowing
or planting. • After planting, mulch with compost, peastraw,
pine needles etc. • Existing beds may need to be topped up every
year or so.
ORNAMENTALS • Do not remove daffodil, leaves and other narcissus
for at least another two months as they are needed to make food for the bulbs. Removal now will starve the plant and make for a poorer display in future. • Feed roses with well-rotted manure, or a
commercial rose fertiliser. • Plant perennials and sow annual seeds. • Trim new hedges – quite hard for their first cut, and keep bases clear of weeds. Apply a layer of compost or well-rotted manure around their bases. • Cut back azaleas, camellias and magnolias after flowering to encourage new growth for next season’s blooms. • Sow new lawns or repair old ones.
YOUR WEEKEND | 30 SEPTEMBER 2017