Gardening; astronomy and quiz
Calm autumn days are well and truly here and this is often the best time for a bit of quiet boating with glorious reflections in the water on still sunny days. The bold brashness of summer flowers is behind us now and we can enjoy the more subtle colours as leaves turn gold and pink along the cut before they drop for winter.
There is still time to get some spring bulbs planted and I always over-plant with something such as golden or silver leaved thyme varieties. These will offer protection to under-planted bulbs, give a bit of colour interest and a sprig or two is always handy to flavour a winter hotpot.
This is also the time to pop in some wall flowers – choose the lower growing varieties to minimise wind damage and in the spring you will be rewarded with pots full of vibrant colour and fragrance. Put some tulip bulbs underneath so they can grow up through the leaves, this will help to support them as they grow and you will have a truly lovely display. If you are using plastic pots, better for the paintwork but lightweight, put a good handful of stones in the bottom of the pot for extra weight which will help stop them being blown off on a windy day.
Autumn is also the time to plant garlic and I have had excellent results by putting six cloves into a ten inch pot. Keep and eye on the watering; too much and they will rot, too little and the bulbs will not swell resulting in small bulbs. Harvest them when the leaves turn yellow and start to die down. Peas and broad beans can also go in now to give a nice early spring crop. Sweet peas are also fully hardy so start a pot off now as well; planting them early will give much stronger plants and earlier flowering. Peas and beans are very hungry plants so if you want good results, add a bit of slow release fertiliser to the compost to give them a boost.
If you are looking for colour there are some lovely ornamental chilli plants with fruits ranging from yellow through to red and even purple or the winter cherry ( SeleniumCapsicastrum), they will certainly make a statement for bonfire night! For something more delicate, you can’t go far wrong with winter flowering violas and pansies, the colour range is infinite and as well as looking beautiful, they will also provide a useful food source for any late hungry bees that venture forth on a sunny day.
So, although some of us may be hanging up the windlass for a while, there is still some gardening enjoyment to be had on the boat.