October November Gardener

Autumn Anemone japonica
Plant selected bulbs for post winter in gritty soil and plant deep

Gardening and Health and Covid 19

Gardening is good for our health and I have advocated that it would be good for doctors to prescribe this essential therapeutic activity for those in search of a pathway to peace and tranquillity.  I was pleased to read in the August 2019 even a UK Bishop calling for Churches to encourage gardening for mental health and to provide access to gardening spaces. Research indeed shows depression, loneliness and other mental health issues can and have been addressed successfully for people of all ages when they are introduced to varying horticultural activities.

Covid 19 has forced a huge burden upon us since March 2020  lock down and gardens provide additional space even just a balcony to try and social distance but in fresher air and a happier more relaxed environment however cramped. Some of us may be able to simply get out and walk along the street and enjoy walking past other gardens and even better to the nearest public space such as a playground or municipal park at least being able to maintain more freedom and enjoy trees shrubs and flowers, some wild flowers and not forgetting our wild birds and four legged friends such as hedgehogs and water voles if lucky to see them .

However, confusing the Govt leadership is; the virus damage waxes and wanes and the search for the vaccine proves elusive, we must still get involved with safe activities and modest gardening exercise, even with indoor plants now proving very popular.

Ref Science for the Gardener Chapter 13 The Good News Is

I have always regarded October as one of the busiest months of the gardening year because we need to prepare for Spring!  Yes – the New Year and Spring are fast approaching as well as the Christmas festive season.

Clear falling leaves into plastic sacks or wire and stick supported containers, it’s worth saving them for the best soil improver I know, leaf mould. Tidy ponds and cover from leaves and dig out silt and yellowing water lily leaves, reduce feeding fish. Leave any water weed cleared beside the pond to allow any wildlife to return.

Acer (Maple Acer family) growing wild in South Somerset UK

With evidence of climatic change, it is as I mentioned earlier in the year vital now to prepare and repair very hard the dried-out soil as it begins to moisten and soften with the approach of Autumn.  Add plenty of organic mulch with manure and compost to refresh the vital nitrogen cycle ; store water and allow oygen to travel for root respiration.   Begin by spreading and digging in organic blood, fish and bone preferably in damp/wet soil. This will boost all the vital main nutrients, especially Phosphorus for strengthening cell structure and roots and Potassium and Magnesium  for flowering.  Phosphorus is not a very soluble product so will need a few months to take effect but it’s worth the effort in giving plants added strength.  Check if any of your plants have unusually bending stems, a sure sign of weakness and possibly a lack of phosphorus .This deficiency usually occurs with sandy, stony, generally poor and neglected rough soil devoid of any clay-based and very important organic matter soil such as compost and manure .

Magnificent Autumn Colours of Tupelo( Cornaceae family .)Dogwood Forde Abbey Somerset UK

Ref Science for the Gardener Chapter 7 Digging for Victory

It’s a very good time to plant new trees, hardy shrubs and hedges, especially hardy climbers, allowing them to have that valuable over wintering cold period that is known as vernalisation.

Editor testing Soil for pH ,fertility ,moisture .

We have to plan ahead for Spring 2021 so do look for those attractive cost effective bulb offers including bulging bags of Narcissus on offer at Garden Centres.  Smaller ’Tête à Têtes’ Narcissus are useful for easy planting for smaller gardens and in shallow soil beds and look positively superb in containers with plenty of well drained gritty soil.

Pruning and tidying is best done in this Autumnal period but can I suggest leaving attractive seed heads such as those found on Miscanthus Grass, Sunflower heads, Teasels, Coneflowers, Rudbeckia and Sedums for the birds searching for food in the bitter cold of Winter.  A necessary caution before you start pruning is to check flower buds on Spring flowering shrubs such as Forsythia, Camellia and Magnolia that these are not accidentally removed.!!!

Young Garden Reader perusing ‘”shall i read it ‘” “Is it any good “

Autumn is a wonderful time of the year for enjoying tree leaf colours so take a few strolls along your local paths and if you can, visit one of the local region large private gardens such as those at UK ,Forde, Abbotsbury (Dorset), National Trust Tintinhull and Knightshayes and so many others.

A lovely silly dog in Cornwall uk garden center ha ha

Kitchen Garden and Harvest

Superb Onions correctly stored Home Grown in South Somerset .
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This has been a special timeMay July Aug Sept for planting growing and harvesting Brassica family (peas ,beens etc) Solanums family ,potatoes and tomatoes .

Dog Wood (not cornus ) waiting for service to start !

Amaryllis family ,artichokes both flower base and Jerusalem rooted tuber swollen stem similar in taste and constitution to potatoes. Also so important are the onion family which is Amaryllis too.!

First Class Beetroot in S Somerset
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Mint (menthacea), family Herbs are everyones bit of garden passion ,certainly mine ,Basil on bolognaise keep on kitchen window in winter ,Thyme hardy to brush past for devine fragrance as with most herbs not forgetting ornamental Salvia as well as plan Salvia officinalis .

Any science-based queries please feel free to contact me on tony@scienceforthegardener.com

I have recently 2019 been commissioned by Somerset Sight to do two broadcasts for the UK Chard and Ilminster Newsline “Gardening for disabled and unsighted gardeners” Do check at the top of the Home page if this can be useful for someone you know how ever distant who may want to spend more time in the garden on their own SAFELY !!!!!