September Gardening

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If you have a fruit or vegetable patch, you’ll be busy reaping the rewards of harvest. It’s also time to get out and start planting spring-flowering bulbs for next year and you can collect seeds for next summer’s colour too. Make the most of the remaining warmth while you can!

Now that planting season is here again it’s time to talk compost. The secret to a healthy and thriving plant is a balanced and nutrient rich soil or compost. By using the right compost the rest is much easier but choosing the right compost for the job you have in mind can be tricky. There are 3 main types of compost Garden Compost, Potting Compost and John Innes.

Garden Composts: Are used to improve the health of garden soil. Garden Composts are natural organic matter that enriches soil by adding vital humus and nutrients. Which in turn improves soil structure and water holding capability. When visiting the garden centre you will see different types of Garden Compost available, they may be labelled as “Farm Manure” or “Soil Conditioners”. You can also make you own garden compost by composting green waste produced in your garden.
Multipurpose/ Potting Composts: There are a number of general purpose composts available to give your garden the perfect boost. It is ideally balanced for the majority of plants, including vegetables, fruits, shrubs and trees. Multi-purpose compost is suitable for all areas of the garden, such as beds and borders, pots and baskets, or for when topping up raised beds. Organic and peat free composts are also available and provide a sustainable additive for your garden. These organic materials promote healthy growth in your plants, vegetables and fruit. Peat free compost is much kinder to the environment (See January 2014’s edition “The Great Peat Debate”).
John Innes: John Innes is not a manufacturer, they are a range of composts developed at the John Innes Institute that are based on loam. Loam is a mixture of soil, sand, silt and clay. This enables you to grow almost any type of plant without having to add too much to the soil. The clay and silt help retain the moisture while the sand keeps the soil from compacting too much. This combination helps with the drainage and means that the soil can just crumble in your hand and yet still hold its shape. As loam doesn’t dry out in the summer or get waterlogged in winter, it is an ideal soil all year round. There are several formulae, depending on the use of the compost: JI Seed Compost is for sowing seeds; JI Cutting Compost is for rooting cuttings; JI No 1 Potting Compost is for pricking out young plants; JI No 2 Potting Compost is for potting on; JI No 3 Potting Compost is for established plants and shrubs; and JI Ericaceous Compost is for plants which cannot tolerate lime.
There are also specialist composts available including Houseplant Composts, Ericaceous Compost (for lime hating plants such as Azaleas and Rhododendrons), Top Soil (a nutrient free blend of soil for top dressing lawns or for raising levels of beds and borders), Bulb Fibre (contains charcoal to keep the soil ‘sweet’), and Seed Composts (low nutrient composts that are ideal for sowing seeds and rooting cuttings).
Here are my other Top Tips for September:
• Keep deadheading roses, perennials and annuals so they continue to flower until the first frosts.
• Prepare the lawn for winter by using an autumn lawn treatment and scarifying to remove moss and thatch.
• Pinch out the growing tips of cordon tomato plants to divert the plants energy into ripening fruit.
• Plant winter flowering pansies & violas in tubs & baskets.
Whatever September brings I hope you can spend some time in your garden, soaking up the last of the summer sunshine.

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