With space in the vegetable garden now freely available it can be a good time to plant broad beans in an empty bed. We favour ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ a very hardy bean that rarely lets us down. After several trials, direct sowing has proven to give us the best results but one trick we carry out is rarely revealed - we plant them exceptionally deep - a full spade’s depth. Placing even a relatively large seed at that sort of depth doesn’t fill you with confidence - ‘How can a seed that size have enough energy to reach the soil surface?’ Impossible as it may seem they certainly can and within about 8 weeks you’ll see the tips emerging and exploring their new bright environment. It’s a tip we learnt from a local farmer who used to broadcast the seed over his fields and then plough them in deeply. It worked for him and it works for us. That extra depth also makes the plants sturdier and more cold resistant - if the tops are nipped by an exceptionally cold spell there’s still plenty of dormant buds underground just waiting to erupt if required.
After all the summer’s exuberance, roses can be over twice the size they were at the start of the year. This excess growth can catch the strong autumn winds and cause ‘wind rock’, leading to dreadful damage to the roots of roses especially to plants on corner beds and up against buildings or walls. It’s a problem now exacerbated by plants holding on to their leaves far longer due to milder winters. The horror of seeing ‘Gertrude Jekyll’ lying at 45 degrees can be quite upsetting after all the care and attention that has been spent nurturing her into floral fabulousness. Overcome the problem by giving the plant a quick once over with the secateurs. Pay no attention to careful cuts ‘at an angle’ or clipping just above a leaf node. Simply take about a third off the height. Go back and prune properly early next year.
Pots can be planted up with bulbs now for a colourful spring display. Tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, alliums, and iris’s can all be planted in combinations or single variety pots. To add interest it always looks nice if the pots are topped with horticultural grit and planted with violas, skimmia, pansies, or hardy grasses such as Festuca glauca, or any of the Carex such as‘Ice Dance’, or ‘Evergold’.
Nothing reduces the life of a battery as much as cold weather. If you have any cordless electric garden tools such as trimmers or mowers it’s good practice to move the batteries to an understairs cupboard where they can be kept cool but away from the danger of frost.