Charlie Albone’s Autumn Gardening Tips!
I love March as I get some of my favourite veggies I love to eat in the ground. Brussels Sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and onions can all go in the ground now and put on great growth before the weather cools down.
To ensure you get the best crop for your autumn and winter, here are some of my tips:
1. Increase Biodiversity – To confuse pests a bit you need to mix it up starting with increasing biodiversity. The traditional way of growing vegetables is to grow them in rows, as this makes keeping tabs on them easier. It also gives specific pests all the food they need in one place, so it’s easy for them to multiply at an exponential rate. To help stop this mix it up, by interspersing some of your vegetables and herbs in with your ornamental plants – Artichokes look great bursting out of a flowering boarder and garlic chives make a good border edging too.
When planting up a vegetable patch try and replicate a rainforest as this will get the best out of each individual plant– large plants like tomatoes can form the canopy for more shade resistant plants such as lettuce
2. Companion Plant – Companion planting is also a method that should be adopted to add another weapon in the arsenal against pest fighting. This is where you plant specific plants together to gain maximum yields, such as planting basil and tomatoes as its thought the smell of the basil deters white fly, tomato hornworm, aphids, houseflies and asparagus beetle – it’s also thought to make the tomatoes taste better too!Another great example of companion planting is planting Nasturtiums in with all your veggies.
Aphids are attracted to yellow flowers so if you can get some yellow flowering nasturtiums you’ll find aphids flock to them over all your other plants. The trick here is to keep an eye on the nasturtiums as you want them to be the trap but you’ll need to pull them out and get rid of them so the aphids don’t multiply and then jump over to your other plants – as soon as you see eggs forming on the leaves of the nasturtiums – it’s time for them to go.
Marigolds are also an excellent companion plant as they attract aphids (as well as adding a splash of colour to the garden) but they can be used to protect against nematodes, which are a worm type animal that devastate the root systems of plants. To keep these nematodes away mass plant your marigolds and let them mature to a solid block, then in autumn dig them through the soil and leave them to compost down over winter. The following spring plant directly into your soil with the marigold mix and you won’t have to worry about nematodes for a long time.
3. Keep plants strong and healthy – The best protection from pests and diseases comes from having healthy strong plants and this starts with giving them all the food and nutrients they need. Try to think of soil preparation as having a healthy diet and fertilising as super boosting this with vitamins and bio hacks to be as healthy as possible.
To prep your soil, remove any weeds or plants that will return after cultivation. Spread over the top to a depth of 100mm a mix of Richgro Mushroom Compost and Richgro blended manure as this will fill the soil with organic matter that will help retain moisture and nutrient holding capacity as well as improving the structure of the soil. Turn this into the depth of your spade, this will also free up the soil so new roots find it easy to penetrate.The idea is to break up the soil but not to pulverise it into a dust as roots need both air and water to succeed.
Once your plants go in, top dress with an organic fertiliser such as Richgro’s new organics range for fruit and vegetables, this addition of specific nutrients will ensure your patch gets all it needs to perform to the best of its ability, which is just another way of saying you’ll get bigger, better and more veggies for your time investment.
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