A Primrose Hallowe’en!

It is Hallowe’en which is traditionally associated with pumpkins and today we have a treat for you from Paul Peacock aka Mr Digwell:

What is the best variety of pumpkin to use for Hallowe’en?

By far the best pumpkin is the variety ‘Hundredweight’ which is a big beast of a fruit and fairly easy to grow.

What is the best way to grow it?

Place two seeds in an 8 cm pot of compost in April and keep indoors, but not too hot. Discard the worst growing seedling and then let the other grow on to at least a handslength.

When the roots appear at the bottom of the pot, transfer them to an 18 cm pot and grow on until the first week in June.

The ground should be well manured and full of rich compost and choose a warm, sunny spot. Plant out the pumpkins on a small hill around 30 cm tall, and space them at two metre intervals.

Feed weekly with tomato fertilizer and water every other day. As the fruits grow, place them on some wooden planks for protection, and keep them to two or three fruits per plant.

When the fruit skin just starts to crack it is ready for harvest.

Here is also a video of Paul discussing giant pumpkins:


 

Some of the Primrose staff couldn’t resist and came into the office dressed up. See them in all their glory:

The staff member with the best dressed costume will win a special sur-prize, but we need your help in choosing! head over to our Facebook page and vote!

Happy Hallowe’en from all of us!

Mr Digwell gardening cartoon logo

Paul Peacock studied botany at Leeds University, has been the editor of Home Farmer magazine, and now hosts the City Cottage online magazine. An experienced gardener himself, his expertise lies in the world of the edible garden. If it clucks, quacks or buzzes, Paul is keenly interested.

He is perhaps best known as Mr Digwell, the cartoon gardener featured in The Daily Mirror since the 1950s. As Mr Digwell he has just published his book, A Year in The Garden. You can also see more about him on our Mr Digwell information page.

wedding-meCat works in the marketing team and is responsible for online marketing, social media and the newsletter.

She spends most of her time reading about a variety of interesting facts, such as oddly named Canadian towns, obscure holidays and unusual gardening.

She mostly writes about Primrose news and current events.

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Autumn Garden Jobs

I’m getting tired of writing about the weather – and I dare say you are getting tired of reading about it. Besides, there are so many jobs to get on with we won’t have time to pause for breath, and it all starts with my favourite plants – Dahlias!

Dividing Dahlias

Likely as not, frost will hit us sometime in October, and this marks the end of the dahlia season. It is time to lift, divide and store them for the winter.

You will need some sulphur powder for this job, and a sharp knife.

Dividing Dahlias - dig up tubers

Remove the stalks and dig up the tubers, giving them a good wash to remove the soil / compost.


Cut down the plants and carefully dig up the tubers with a garden fork. Wash them clean and dry them with an old towel.
Dividing Dahlias - cut the tubers

With a knife or scissors, cut out the tuber as close to where it joins the plant as you can.


You will have a stem with lots of tubers that look rather like fat fingers. With a sharp knife, cut the fingers away at the base.
Dip the Dahlia ends in sulphur

Dip the cut end in sulphur powder to fight off any infections. Repeat with all the decent sized tubers you have.


Dust the cut surfaces with sulphur powder and then wrap the lot in newspaper – lots of layers, and store them in a frost-free place until spring.
Insulate dahlia tubers

Either wrap in several layers of newspaper or in a saved bubble wrap envelope for insulation. Place in a cool, dark place until Spring.


Label divided Dahlias

Don’t forget to label your dahlias with their name and the date they were stored.

Runner Beans

For perfect runner beans next year, now is the time to start a trench. Dig a trench that is around 18 inches deep. Mark it so you don’t fall down it and pile the soil along the side of the trench. Over the coming weeks, fill 3/4 full with vegetable matter – kitchen waste, potato peelings etc, but no gravy or meat, and when there is about 6 inches free space, top up with the soil leaving a little mound.

The vegetable material in the trench will rot and create heat, and it is amazing how long this heat lasts. It will give your plants a good start when you get to sowing, or transplanting in the spring. Actually, I sow in late February, covering the area with a cloche, protecting the seedlings from cold and rain and giving them a head start in their warm soil.

Roses

Roses have had a torrid summer and some of this can be alleviated now. Take cuttings of new growth and place them in compost – say 5 per six inch pot. Remove the lower leaves and cover with a plastic bag and around 60% at least will root, giving new plants for next year. Keep them in a frost free place, I use the polytunnel, and this is heated a little when the weather gets really bad.

Transplant them in April into a larger pot – 8 inches per plant will do, and give them generous water and feed every month. Plant them out next October.

This method is ideal for climbers and bush types where the root stock is not important – and don’t be too careful, I have had great results simply chopping at climbers with shears to control them, and using the most likely ones for cuttings.

Sweet Peas

The real promise of a summer of colour and fragrance is sown now: Sweet Peas! The best are sown in October, and I sow mine in pots and keep them in a cool greenhouse until spring, when they are transplanted as small plants. They get such a good start this way, rather than sowing them in spring. If you are in a sheltered area, spend some time preparing the soil, so they can grow rapidly in a nutrient rich soil – give them plenty of rotted manure. Plants that have to make lots of colour or aroma need a lot of nutrients, and this rule holds true for any plant.

Frost

Furry plants need protecting from frost – if you have furry leaves in the rock garden (sempervivums and so on), they need to be covered. If you can get a cloche in place, all well and good, but sometimes you need a sheet of plastic held down as firmly as you can, or a covering of straw held down with plastic.

Hedges

Making a good hedge is an October job because these shrubs take well if planted now. I recently made a hedge of blackthorn, berberis, mahonia – each planted about a foot apart, in a slight zigzag. As they grow, I train them into each other and, having made a backing fence of stout garden wire attached to stakes, I will tie them into their supports. Once they are in place, they need little looking after and are particularly good at living together. Mahonia especially is very colourful and makes for a super autumnal display.

Vegetables

In the vegetable garden it is time to take down the asparagus fronds. Don’t let the fronds settle on the ground, but cut them off and bring them away to the compost heap. This will keep the asparagus beetle at bay next year. I give them a mulch of compost and well rotted manure mixed at 50-50 proportions, and they seem to come on a treat using this regime. Here’s to next June!!!

Plant out cabbage ‘All Year Round’ and cover with a cloche. This way you will get cabbages right through the winter that look good. It’s one thing being able to actually get this variety to grow in Winter, it’s quite another to get great specimens. The wet wind plays havoc with them, and they soon look messy. A cloche will do the trick!

Don’t forget to earth up your leeks against the winter storms and go round heeling in the shrubs and young trees to make sure they are really firm in their beds before they get rocked about by the Winter weather, like a dentist pulling a tooth!

Mr Digwell gardening cartoon logo

Paul Peacock studied botany at Leeds University, has been the editor of Home Farmer magazine, and now hosts the City Cottage online magazine. An experienced gardener himself, his expertise lies in the world of the edible garden. If it clucks, quacks or buzzes, Paul is keenly interested.

He is perhaps best known as Mr Digwell, the cartoon gardener featured in The Daily Mirror since the 1950s. As Mr Digwell he has just published his book, A Year in The Garden. You can also see more about him on our Mr Digwell information page.

Where is your favourite place to relax?

We recently ran a competition on Facebook giving you the chance to win 1 of 3 Feng Buddha Water Features. Our winners were Emma, Kerry and Sheila and they have already been notified.

We’ve had 959 entries and we thought we would share some of our favourite ones here.
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September’s Gardening Tips

We regularly post gardening tips on the Primrose Facebook page. Here is a selection of the best ones from last month.

wedding-meCat works in the marketing team and is responsible for online marketing, social media and the newsletter.

She spends most of her time reading about a variety of interesting facts, such as oddly named Canadian towns, obscure holidays and unusual gardening.

She mostly writes about Primrose news and current events.