Archive for November, 2017

Time to bring in the tender plants

November 10, 2017


Although there is still a little colour left in some of them (I photographed these ivy-leaved pelargoniums this morning), we’ll be putting to bed our tender perennials this weekend.  Dahlias and cannas are simple enough to deal with, we sometimes just move their pots into the polytunnel or greenhouse and leave it at that.  If we need the pots for spring bedding however, we wrap the tubers in newspaper or put them in old compost.  More difficult, in our experience, is over-wintering pelargoniums.  Invariably, we lose several to fungal attacks.  I suspect our polytunnel may be too prone to condensation but even plants left in the greenhouse are not immune to the fungal blight.  I suspect that the answer lies in some happy balance of minimal watering vs. complete drought, which we at least, have yet to stumble upon.

Using wood ash

November 9, 2017


We have a couple of wood burners that are heavily used from autumn until spring.  They produce a lot of wood ash.  An awful lot, in fact.  The wood is all untreated (much of it having been cut from our own trees) and it is therefore perfectly safe to use on the garden.  The soil here is heavy clay.  It is highly fertile (our local farmer delights in saying that “You can shove a stick in ‘ere and it’ll sprout”) but hard to work and becomes absolutely saturated in wet weather.  It is also slightly acidic.  Wood ash is ideal: it is alkaline and therefore raises the soil pH but it is also gritty and helps to build some structure.  Best of all, it’s basically free.  We put small quantities of ash onto our compost heaps but most of it is spread directly onto the borders to work its magic.

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