Canal Boat - - Contents - with Julie Clark

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.

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