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September 2014 Newsletter

September is definitely a month of “mists and mellow fruitfulness;” mornings are crisper, fruit is ripening and vegetable crops are reaching their peak. It’s all a fine reward for our hard work in the garden. September sees the culmination of a lot of hard work here at Unwins too, because the new September Unwins catalogue is dropping through letter boxes all over the country. If you are a keen gardener September often seems more like the beginning of a new gardening year because planning and preparation now ensures a colourful and productive garden in 2015. Now is the perfect time to order and plant bulbs; and to choose everything from spring bedding and bare root perennials to roses, trees and shrubs. Look online and browse our autumn catalogue we know you’ll be inspired! But this summer’s definitely not over yet, there are lots of summer flowers to enjoy and plenty of autumn colour to look forward to, so enjoy September, don’t forget to order and plant your spring bulbs, but most of all find time to enjoy your garden!

Pam Richardson

 

Refresh your baskets and container displays

Summer container displays may still be looking good; but as the month progresses they’ll begin to fade. Refresh fading container and hanging basket displays and keep them full of colour through autumn and into spring, with autumn and winter bedding plants. Our new catalogue is full of colourful bedding plants so there is plenty to choose from and now is the time to order them. Large flowered pansies are really early to flower, they can often be in flower before Christmas and they’ll last well into spring. Primroses and polyanthus are also early starters and if our winter this year is as mild as last year they could be flowering well before Christmas. Evergreen plants such as trailing ivies are always useful to soften the edges of window boxes, containers and hanging baskets. You can’t have too many of them when you’re planting up autumn and winter containers. All our garden-ready bedding plants are supplied with a strong root-ball so the plants will establish more quickly and flower earlier.

 

Start the autumn tidy up

There is still a lot to look forward to in the garden, the brilliantly coloured flowers of dahlias are beginning to take centre stage, and perennials such as fiery helenium and golden rudbeckias light up the border. A tidy up now helps to put those late summer flowers into sharp focus. Look around the garden and there will be some plants that have finished flowering completely. Pull up spent bedding plants or early flowering annuals and compost them, and pull up any annual weeds as you spot them. Dig out the perennial weeds such as dandelions and buttercups as you go through the border. Whether you hand weed or use a hoe to fell the seedlings depends on how closely your plants are grouped together. Hoes are good for clearing large expanses quickly, or to clear the border edge of weed seedlings; while hand weeding allows you to target individual weeds more precisely. Our great little weeder gives you the best of both worlds; the speed of a hoe plus the precision of hand weeding! For a money-saving duo buy the weeder and a tidy bag together. Some flowers, including repeat flowering roses, just need deadheading to encourage a late flush of flowers; roses will still be in bloom at Christmas in a mild year. To show the garden off to its best effect, keep the grass mown and edge the lawn; nothing neatens a garden up more than crisp edges and freshly cut grass.

 

Plant bulbs, corms and tubers

This month it’s time to clear spent annuals and begin planting bulbs. Daffodils are usually the first bulbs to go in; and together with crocuses and snowdrops they’ll guarantee a bright start to the garden in spring. Tulips can wait for a month or so longer before they need to be planted; but whether you go for dainty snowdrops, tulips or tall alliums; it’s a good idea to order bulbs straight way to be sure of the ones you want. Whatever you order we’ll deliver your bulbs at the right time to plant. Once you receive your bulbs plant them as soon as possible; but if you have to store the bulbs before planting, keep them in a cool, dry airy place; a lidded wooden box in a shed or garage is ideal to keep the bulbs protected from rodents. Avoid keeping bulbs in plastic boxes; because if condensation forms the moisture can rot the bulbs

 

Bare root bedding

No spring bedding scheme or bulb display is complete without wallflowers and sweet Williams. These spring- flowering plants are the perfect partners for spring bulbs, but they are colourful enough to give a sweet-smelling display on their own. Wallflowers associate so well with tulips and daffodils, they enjoy the same sunny conditions and the size and shape of the flowers complement the bulbs. Wallflowers and sweet Williams are supplied as bare root plants and do really well when planted now, it’s definitely the best way of buying them; they’ll establish fast and flower earlier. Plant bare root bedding into good garden soil, make a planting hole that is wide enough to take the roots without cramping them, cover the roots with soil and water well. If you are planting bulbs with bedding plants, plant the bedding first and then plant the bulbs in between.

 

Gardening Tips

 

Keep pests at bay

This year has been one of the worst I can remember for slugs and snails! These pests have become mammoth creatures in my garden; and that is just the horrid brown ones I can see above ground; I’m guessing that the black keel slugs that live beneath the soil are just as prolific! With all the rain we’ve had lately this is the ideal time to apply nematodes to garden soil, and to compost in containers.  They work organically; releasing microscopic organisms into the soil that devour the pests above and below ground. It’s simple to apply; just dilute as described on the packet and water the nematodes into warm, moist soil. Keep the soil moist for several weeks after application and they will make short work of removing these voracious pests.

Every packet comes with complete instructions and packets can be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to apply them. Use nematodes such as Nemaslug to control slugs and snails in the border. You can also scatter Eraza slug pellets  for a fast result around seedlings and young plants or try a new approach with Grazers slug and snail spray.

If you spray your ornamental plants against bugs always read the label carefully. Pesticides such as PY spray Garden Insect killer containing natural fatty acids are the most eco-friendly

Clear pests from the lawn

Two pests that infest lawns from August onwards are chafer grubs and leatherjackets. Chafer grubs are the larvae of Chafer Beetles, and Leather Jackets are Crane fly (Daddy Long legs) larvae; both will cause damage to grass. The grubs hatch and eat the roots and the resulting damage is made worse by birds and mammals that dig up the grass in search of the tasty larvae.  Nemasys Leather jacket Killer and Nemasys Chafer Grub Killer will control these pests. Water nematodes in to moist soil. Every pack comes with full instructions and the packs can be stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to use them.

Compared to many garden pests, ants aren’t such a serious pest, but they can disturb the soil around plant roots in beds and borders and they are often a nuisance in lawns or when they invade containers. Nemasys NO ANTS ant control attacks the nests, killing the ant larvae and effectively removing the nest.

 

Keep the kitchen garden productive

If you grow your own vegetables this is a time of plenty! Courgettes and marrows are still cropping, and spring planted potatoes, onions and garlic are safely stored.

 But it’s also the time for autumn planting onions, shallots and garlic. The autumn planting varieties such as Onion ‘Unwins First Early’, Shallot ‘Yellow Moon’ and Softneck Garlic White, can all be planted now, in the sunniest part of the vegetable plot; the mature bulbs will be ready to harvest in early summer. We have a great offer when you buy these autumn planting onions, shallots and garlic varieties together.

There is also just enough time to sow salad leaves and hardy herbs to fill gaps in the kitchen garden and if we get a warm autumn and winter, hardy lettuces such as Winter Density will be providing nutritious salads for weeks on end.  

Broad beans are another great over-wintering crop. If you have a windy garden, choose Broad Bean ‘The Sutton’, it’sa shorter bean that won’t need much support; Aquadulce Claudia’ is another hardy bean that is good for autumn planting. Sow seed in warmth, a warm windowsill or a propagator is idea. If you’d rather buy these autumn planting vegetables as young plants, order them now and they’ll be delivered next month at the right time to plant.

When ground becomes spare in the kitchen garden or veg plot clear the soil of pests and weeds. The nematodes in Nemasys Grow Your Owntarget a wide range of fruit and veg pests.  Just follow the instructions on the packet and water them in to moist soil.

 

Get the kids involved

September is traditionally the ‘back to school’ month and if children are involved with a school garden, let them help sow seeds such as hardy Broad Beans that can be planted at home too. These are a good crop for children to sow; the large seeds are easy to handle and they’ll germinate quickly. Here’s how to do it

Start Broad Beans off in individual cell trays of multi purpose compost.

Sow each seed on its side and push it gently into the soil to cover.

Water using a watering can with a fine spray to avoid washing the seed out of the compost.

Label the pots and put the trays on a warm windowsill, greenhouse or propagator; germination, normally takes a week or so.

When the plants are growing strongly, and have made a good root system plant them 20cm/8in apart outside in their final positions. Broad beans are hardy but if severe weather is forecast give them a protective covering of fleece.

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