Autumn in the edible garden.
With the temperature falling and the rainfall increasing it is clear to see that winter is on its way. However, before it sets in there are a few important jobs you can do to improve your edible garden or allotment.
Sow Broad Beans
By sowing broad beans directly into the ground you can harvest an earlier crop in the New Year. Often autumn sow crops suffer from less damage from aphids. Varieties such as Aquadulce and The Sutton are suitable for autumn sowing.
So long as you have well drained soil you can sow garlic cloves about six inches apart. The cloves should be shallow planted with their necks just below the surface of the soil. The garlic cloves could also be sown in module trays in an unheated greenhouse if you do not have suitable soil. The garlic can then be used in cooking or made into a natural pest deterrent by leaving a crushed clove in water for a few days.
Set Up Pigeon Protections With natural food sources diminishing as winter sets in birds will be looking for extra food sources. This means it is particularly important to protect your winter food crops such as brassica crops. Netting and bird scaring line can be effective deterrents.
Check for Mould and Mildew
Given that there is an increase in wet conditions this is perfect for promoting grey mould and downy mildew on brassica plants. You can protect your Sprouts and Cabbages by removing the affected yellowing leaves. This tends to be more effective than spraying with fungicides.
Tidy Your Plot
By keeping your plot clean, disposing of finished plants and removing blown debris you can protect your soil and crops from overwintering pests.
Bare Root Raspberries Bare root plants are a cheap way of adding raspberries to your plot. These are a thin cane with roots that is planted whilst dormant. This should be planted straight away and firmed in well.
In uncultivated parts of the edible plot you can improve your soil by digging. A method for this is to dig a foot wide trench then on the foot of soil behind this turn foot square clods of earth into the trench repeating the method until you have finished the whole plot. This is best done prior to Christmas so that you do not compact the soil. Through winter the frost will help to break down the soil. You can then spread blended farmyard manure on top of the soil ready to tiller into the soil in the spring.
Alternatively you could adapt the “no dig method” which is simple to add blended farmyard manure to the top of the soil for the winter months. This can be worked into your soil in the spring. This method does have issues if your soil is compacted or poorly drained.
In the Greenhouse
It is important to make your greenhouse winter ready:
- Clean shading off glass to increase light levels
- Insulate your greenhouse with bubble wrap
- Light or switch on heaters on colder days and nights
- Disinfect empty work surfaces and areas where pests may be hiding