Sunday, 20 November 2016

I have finally put away the sun bed....

Always a difficult day in the year, when I accept that there will probably be no more opportunities to lie on the sun bed (even if I am wearing a coat) and read or admire the fantastic autumn colours. But the day has arrived and the sun bed has gone.

The beginning of November marks a sea change in the gardening year for me; a point at which I start to plan for the year ahead., so in many respects it could be considered the beginning of the year for a gardener and not the end.

Before the leaves are off the trees I start preparing new beds. If you want to use a glysophate based weedkiller (which I sometimes do) there is still time as plants are still growing; it will just take longer to work. If you want to turn over the ground and bury weeds hoping that they will die over the winter, now is the time. The ground is still warm enough to move plants which are in the wrong place and to transplant the hard wood cuttings from last year into their permanent place. Here is picture of a border I am extending this winter.

I did spray it with glyphosate about 6 weeks ago to kill as much of the couch grass as I could and have now dug over the area. My neighbours call couch grass 'dents de chien'  or dogs teeth, because of the shape of the grass's rhizome. It is viewed favourably by people who want grass for animals rather than flowerbeds because it is so resilient and will come away again after the most savage summer droughts. I view it less favourably. Its roots will go so deep that you can glysophate a patch of earth for two years and still find sections of the rhizome or root which have survived. So I tend to do an initial chemical blitz, then dig out what I can and then spent the rest of the time fighting a rear guard action as it keeps re-emerging. You can see there is rather a lot of it in the photo above.

The ultimate plan with this border it that it is one of a pair which will wind sinuously across that garden and have mainly grasses and 'prairie' type planting which is punctuated by sympathetic shrubs. That is the theory, anyway. Very Tom Stuart Smith.  See photo below - nice to have something to aim for:

Watch this space.

Meanwhile in the vegetable garden Richard has had a clear out of the raised beds and we are now left with our winter stalwarts - parsnips, leeks, broccoli and some lettuces. The potatoes are up and in storage, the tomato plants have been removed, the remaining green tomatoes made into chutney and the pumpkins have either been carved up for halloween or are gradually being eaten.

His next job it to top up the soil. It is a no-dig system in that you don't turn over the soil as gardeners did in the past but add a new layer of compost each year. You smooth it over the top and the worms drag it down into the layers below, mixing it in while retaining the profile of the soil below. This has been the first full year of using the raised beds and they have performed brilliantly.

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