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In many ways this month can be regarded as the start of the new gardening year. Now is a good time to take stock of the successes and failures of this year and make plans to ensure that next year will be the best ever. Also, if you are starting out from scratch you will have plenty of time to prepare the ground whilst planning your dream allotment.
Top of the list has to be onions and potatoes they need to be got out of the soil before the cold, damp days of autumn arrive. They have completely the opposite storage requirements. Onions must to be kept in the light and potatoes need to be stored in the dark to prevent them from turning green, but both have to be stored somewhere that will keep the frost out.
Harvest apples and pears as they become ready and pick the late season strawberries and raspberries to keep them ProfileFruit_raspberriesproducing fruit. They will keep cropping right up until the first frost.
Cut courgettes and marrows regularly because they will be finished by the end of the month, as will outdoor tomatoes. Remove any green tomatoes and place them in a drawer or shoebox to ripen.
Sowing and Planting
Now we have shorter, cooler days it is the perfect time to sow the seed of the Oriental vegetables. They will germinate quickly and are hardy enough to withstand the cold of winter and will provide a steady supply of fresh leaves well into the Spring of next year Also make a sowing of hardy winter lettuce and spinach. There is still time to sow an early variety of turnip to be able to use the tops as greens.
Plant out earlier sown spring cabbage and protect with netting or fleece.
Complete the summer pruning of soft fruit bushes, apple and pear trees. Continue with their training and tying in.
Feed all late crops with a general fertiliser such as pelleted chicken manure.
Dig up and compost any plants that have finished their season.
Clear the soil of spent crops and leave it rough dug over for the winter. It is also a good time to sow winter grazing rye as a green manure. It can be dug back into the soil as part of your spring preparations.
Pest and diseases
Wasps are attracted this time of year due to the ripening of your fruit. Hang wasp traps in fruit trees and protect any grapes from wasps with netting or mesh. But also remember that wasps are the gardener's friend because they are major predators of aphids and caterpillars at this time of the year.
If you want to dig your own well you will need the following equipment:
• Heavy Duty Bags
• Wood to shore up the sides of the hole
• Fence post spikes
• Fence posts
• Fence post digger
AND PLENTY OF ELBOW GREASE
AND KEEP SAFETY IN MIND ALL THE TIME
Mark out an are a of about 1.5m square and using your shovel start digging. Once you have reached about 30cm then knock in the fence spikes as far as you can and start putting wood behind these to avoid the hole from collapsing in on itself. Don't forget to have a lot of heavy duty bags ready to collect your soil, sand etc. It will need to be moved away from the hole to avoid the excess weight collapsing the side of your hole.
As you start digging deeper you will have to put the fence posts into the fence spikes and knock these so that the deeper you go the more you knock the fence posts in. Don't forget to keep on putting wood behind the fence posts to avoid the hole from collapsing.
REACHING THE WATER TABLE
As you dig further down you will start to come across moist soil then you will hit water. It will take a lot of effort but keep on digging as much as you can from under the water. This will help with the next step.
STRUCTURE OF THE WELL
I used to water butts to create the walls of my well. I cut the top and bottom from each of the water butts
PLACEMENT OF THE WATER BUTTS
I placed the first water butt in the hole I had dug and then using a post hole digger I started to dig from the inside of the butt and every so often stamped on the top of the water butt which slowly but surely started to disappear below the water line ...
... I then placed the second water butt (again top and bottom cut off) onto the top of the submerged first water butt. Once I was happy with the location of both water butts. I started to back fill the area outside of the water butts with the bags of soil I had taken out previous.
FILLING IN THE HOLE
I filled in around the well that had now been created by the water butts and every so often compressed the soil before putting more soil on and repeating the process. The only thing that should be showing out of the ground should be about 15cm of the top water butt.
I built a brick wall around my well and topped it with a heavy piece of wood for safety purposes. Now with the aid of my buck and rope I have water for my plants whenever I want.
CHOOSING WHERE TO LOCATE YOUR WELL
The best, and safest, place to dig your well is in a corner of your allotment that is hardly used. I located my my well at the bottom of my allotment, next to my compost bin.