Fooling Around in the Garden

I missed April Fool’s Day in the garden but there’s still plenty of time left for mucking about this month.

It’s a good time to compost with plenty of green wastes from the summer’s veges and the new leaf fall of deciduous trees – this leaf litter makes a georgous potting mix or seedraising medium.

It’s harvest time for pumpkins, but these lovely beauties do better with a frost or two, to harden them off. Wait until the leaves die back and the stalk of the pumpkin has dried and hardened before harvesting, preferably in a fruit/fire day, and cut the vine so that you leave a good 10cm or so (5 inches) of stalk. That way the pumpkin won’t rot easily. They can be stored in a cool, dry, airy spot away from rodents and keep well for many months. We have some fabulous types at the garden – cinderellas, hubbards, japs, golden nuggets and more. There’ll be plenty of soup in Newstead over winter!

It’s also timely for feeding the soil with compost and minerals before planting garlic. I like to plant mine in autumn while the soil still has some warmth to get roots established and some green growth for photosynthesis. Think about a crop of carrots, beets and parsnips as well while the root sign is around.

Later in April, from 15th – 30th, is good for making insect peppers for those pesky critters without wings, according to Brian Keats. This could include the slugs and snails that are running amok in our garden this season. See the photo gallery for a guide, just substitute wingless pests for locusts.

Go to the April Garden Notes for opportune dates.

2 thoughts on “Fooling Around in the Garden

  1. Genevieve Barlow says:

    I’ve planted my first lot of garlic just yesterday – just a few bulbs and very experimental ‘cos I don’t really know how far down to plant the garlic. Any tips?
    The fruit trees at the garden are suffering badly from what I think is pear slug. Can you advise what to do about this? Helen Watters suggested dusting talculm powder on the leaves. Is this kosher for a bd garden? Any other suggestions as to how to manage them? The garden is very dry and the fruit trees need watering. Perhaps their dryness made them vulnerable to attack?

    • janet barker says:

      Garlic doesn’t like to be planted too deeply, 2 – 3cm below the surface is ideal.
      Sounds like pear and cherry slug, a small black beast that creates a lacework of leaves?
      You could could try a biodynamic pepper – 15th to 30th april is a good time for this and other slugs and soft bodied insects.
      I have heard wood ash from fireplace spread over the trees may help deter them.
      The other methods are to spray with chilli, garlic and pyrethrum mix (careful with pyrethrum as it kills good bugs as well; you could try without it first) or there is a product called Naturalyte which is derived from a naturally occurring soil organism (actinomycete), a fast-acting insecticide that controls caterpillars on fruit and vegetables including cabbage white butterfly, diamond back moth, heliothis (budworm), light brown apple moth, pear and cherry slug. I’d be careful with this one too.
      The lifecycle of the slug means it will over-winter in the ground and next season be more damaging, so if you can control them now, all the better. Banding the trees with goo will stop them crawling back up the trunks to complete the lifecycle.
      Perhaps dwarf trees are less robust than their full sized counterparts?

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