This week, I'm focusing on sweet and conventional potatoes, how to get things right for lime-hating plants, transplanting evergreens and planting now for colour and scent during winter and spring.
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Vegetable harvesting, storage and planting
- If you haven’t already, you should harvest your main-crop potatoes now. Store the unblemished ones in a frost-free, dark place.
- Salad potatoes such as ‘Pink Fir Apple' may still be growing so leave a little longer until the tops die off.
Pink Fir Apple salad potatoes are late to mature
- Lift and store sweet potatoes in the same way as conventional potatoes.
Sweet potato 'Beauregard
- If you are trying to grow lime hating plants and your soil is naturally alkaline aka 'limey', add sulphate of iron and gently hoe it in. This will lower the pH of the soil and enable you to grow plants such as Rhododendron, Azalea, Camellia and the summer-flowering group of heathers. Don’t exceed the recommended dose, it's better to make this an annual routine than add it all at once.
Azalea Mothers Day
Colourful winter and spring bedding plants
- Plant winter flowering pansies. Look for those that are already in flower or have buds showing, as those without buds now may not flower until spring. Don’t forget to take precautions against slug and snail attack, and watch for greenfly even in winter.
Winter Flowering Pansies
- Plant wallflowers out to provide a great display and fantastic scent in spring. These traditional bedding plants still offer a superb show and look fantastic when under-planted with tall tulips.
'Apeldoorn' tulip with 'Tom Thumb' wallflowers
- Transplant evergreen shrubs. Dig them with a generous ball of soil to protect the roots and minimise disturbance. Some large roots may have to be cut but retain as many fibrous roots as possible, as these are important to get your plant re-established. Don’t be afraid to remove some leaves and reduce the top growth. Add plenty of organic matter to the planting hole and water them in thoroughly. Continue to water, mulch the roots and shield the tops from drying winds until they get established.
Digging a large root ball to transplant a palm
Don't forget the wildlife
- Put up ladybird, lacewing or mason bee over-wintering lodges to help these useful insects over-winter. They will help you with pest control next year!
A Wildlife World bumblebee nest box
- Install toad shelters, hedgehog and bat boxes. Both these will encourage these beneficial and fascinating mammals to visit your garden.