October offers us many opportunities in the garden. The soil is still warm, so it’s a great time for planting or moving plants that aren’t yet in their ideal position. It’s worth taking time out to consider how your garden works for you. Did you sustain any losses over the dry spring and summer? Has this opened up any new planting opportunities?
Are you growing your favourite flowers, fruit, and vegetables? It’s easy to be swayed into making a purchase at a garden centre; so, make a list of the plants you long to grow and check you can provide their ideal growing conditions before you invest in a new plant.
Bare root plants are much more affordable than container plants. This method of growing is better for the environment, using less water and plastic. I tend to find better quality specimens when I purchase bare root plants. These plants are grown in the field and lifted during the dormant season. The timing varies somewhat from year to year, but plants are usually dormant from late autumn to early spring. Trees, hedging, roses, and fruit, can all be purchased bare root.
Gooseberries thrive in almost any soil. They need a sunny or partially shaded spot but are happiest growing in the sunshine. ‘Hinnonmaki Red’ and ‘Hinnonmaki Yellow’ gooseberries are one of my favourite fruits, their refreshing tangy flavour is simply divine! On warm summer days, I relish the sublime taste of these sweet and juicy gooseberries; they taste sensational eaten fresh from the plant, outdoors in the sunshine.
The Hinnonmaki varieties are blessed with a natural tolerance to mildew; their fruit deliver an incredible flavour that can’t be matched, but they produce a lower yield than ‘Invicta’. ‘Invicta’ is an incredibly vigorous, high-cropping gooseberry that generates bumper harvests year after year; providing plenty of gooseberries for crumbles and jam. The flavour isn’t a patch on the Hinnonmaki cultivars, but ‘Invicta’ produces larger quantities of fruit.
Mycorrhizal fungi are found naturally in our soils, these beneficial fungi form symbiotic relationships with plants. Mycorrhizal fungi help plants to develop a more extensive root system than the plant could otherwise achieve on its own, allowing the plant to establish itself quickly and access more nutrients and water, from a wider area. In exchange, the fungi receive sugars and carbon from the plant. You can harness these benefits for your plants, by purchasing concentrated amounts of mycorrhizal fungi and applying to your plant’s roots at planting time.
When your bare root plants arrive, store them in a cool but frost-free place – a shed, or garage is ideal. Unwrap your plants and soak their roots in a bucket full of water for 24 hours. Plant in weeded soil. Apply mycorrhizal fungi to your plant’s roots. Water, then mulch with a good quality peat-free compost.
This article was first published in the October 2020 edition of Vantage Point Magazine.
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You’ll find more gardening advice for October, by clicking here.
For tips on growing garlic, please click here.