First of October

Largely concerned with bulbs

Today I have been working in my garden. Well, ‘working’ hardly covers it really. More a case of flitting between tasks. Mostly I have been planting bulbs in pots and containers. The bulk of my ornamental containers are still fully occupied with summer stuff which hasn’t quite finished yet. Dahlias, Penstemons, Pelargoniums are alright for a bit longer yet, but those which had annuals in them can be emptied. I take out the plants and most of them go in the compost, barring a few which will go into the greenhouse for a bit, or those which I want to gather seed from. I tend to leave some of the spent compost in the bottom of the pot, add some feed, put in the bulbs and then fill up with new peat-free compost. Bulbs are not hungry at this time of year as they already contain the food which will see them through to flowering – it’s after that they need feeding and caring for, making sure that the bulbs will be good and healthy before going into store for next year. But I am getting ahead of myself.

I’ve kept back the nicest new Narcissi and Tulips for the big planters when they’re emptied, but a lot of the smaller bulbs – Puschkinia, Anemone blanda, small Allium varieties like A.moly and A.neopolitanum – I have planted in old plastic pots. They can grow on here for a few months through the winter until there is ample cleared space in the garden for them to be planted out straight from the pots, ready to flower. I top the pots with horticultural grit, which protects them from both heavy rain and squirrels, as well as making them look neat and tidy. Some of the potted bulbs will doubtless be taken to plant at the allotment if room here gets tight, as it always does. Blue and white Muscari, which grow like nobody’s business once they’re established, will also go to the allotment to brighten things up, and where they can spread as much as they like.

I’ve also ordered some Sweet Peas from the redoubtable Higgledy Garden. If you’ve not come across Ben Ranyard, the Higgledy seedmeister, do have a look at his website:

I’m not entirely convinced by autumn-sowings of Sweet Peas, as the ones sown under glass in March always seem to catch up very quickly. By the time it’s alright to plant them out it’s hard to tell which are which. Again, most of these will go to the allotment, as this garden is too shady for them ever to do very well in containers. I tend to sow these in plastic pots too, and then plant them out by the pot-full which minimises root disturbance and gives them a strong start once in the ground

Incidentally, when I mention plastic pots I am talking about pots which I have used and re-used for years. Of course we’re all trying (I hope) to restrict the use of plastic in gardens and elsewhere, but if the pot has been manufactured and is in my possession it would be counter-productive to bin it. I’ll keep using them until they get broken at which point they’ll be recycled. I reckon that by that point the carbon footprint of the pot will have been dented somewhat by what I’ve grown in it in the meantime. Though I am guessing – I’ve not seen any statistics on this: has anyone?

Sadly too, most plants which we buy are still coming in (black) plastic pots as well, which means some will sneak into the garden come what may. I am not so puritanical that I will deny myself a plant that I want just because it’s in a plastic pot. Mea culpa.

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