• IvyShepherd

Potatoes for Christmas - This week in the garden

Weekly advice to keep your gardens looking good all year round

Welcome back to my weekly jobs, gardeners.

It is the last week of July. The year is marching on and there has been a distinct nip in the air this week. Autumn is coming.

But there is still plenty to do in the garden, harvesting in particular being a priority, after all your hard work of sowing and growing.

There are many crops to harvest now, but there are also still some to sow, like radish and beans that are quick to crop. Winter crops such as cabbages should be planted out now and it’s also the last chance to plant out courgettes and squashes.

So, here are a few other jobs to keep you busy in the next week to come.

Happy planting, gardeners!

Sow forget-me-nots

Myosotis, or the lovely forget-me-not, is a wonderful flower of the spring garden. It does well in any garden situation, including pots and containers, and adds so much to your borders.

Myosotis self-seeds itself quite readily, in sun or shade, but it can be sown now to give it a head start, any time between May and September.

If leaving them to naturalise in the garden, why not try lifting new seedlings to plant them where you want them to grow. This is a great method of propagation, making new plants for your garden.

Plant autumn bulbs

It is the last chance now to plant some lovely flowering bulbs for blooms in autumn.

Gladiolus and nerines are particular autumn favourites. But if you have a shady spot, why not try Cyclamen hederifolium. They are hardy, beautiful and will naturalise very nicely in your garden.

Give wildlife a chance

If we’re lucky enough to see wildlife in our back yards, then why not give them a little helping hand?

There is so much going on in the wildlife garden in July. Baby birds are fledging and baby frogs are on the move too.

If you have a pond in your garden that attracts the frogs, it’s a nice idea to provide some shelter for the baby frogs leaving the pond by growing some low plants around the edges. They love long grass too, so be careful when mowing these areas.

And what about the baby hedgehogs that are starting to leave the nest too? They would also appreciate a bit of extra food and water, to help fatten them up in time for hibernation in autumn. Dog or cat food that is meat-based is best for hedgehogs and water too, but not milk.

Don’t cut hedges

Another way to help the wildlife in our gardens is simply not to cut our hedges, but to leave them for a while longer.

Some birds, such as blackbirds and sparrows, carry on nesting into August. So to give them a chance, we should leave cutting our hedges until after these birds have fledged and left the nest.

And this gives us chance to watch the birds in our gardens for a little bit longer.

Plant potatoes for Christmas

Have you ever grown your own new potatoes ready in time for Christmas dinner?

They’re delicious and there is nothing like harvesting your own spuds for Christmas. And it is perhaps not as hard as you might think.

When growing your own potatoes, they are usually planted in early spring and ready to be harvested around July. By planting your tubers a little later in the summer time, this will ensure that they are ready by Christmas.

The best thing to do is to buy seed potatoes, which are on sale now at garden centres. There are loads of different varieties to choose from. I particularly like the Charlotte variety, as you can never seem to go wrong with them.

When planting seed potatoes, dig a long trench and place the potatoes about ten to twelve inches apart. Fill the trench back up and water the potatoes in well.

When new shoots start to appear above the surface, mound up the soil to cover the shoots. Keep doing this every time green shoots appear, until you can’t mound up the soil any more.

This is important, as it stops light getting to the tubers and lengthens the growing stem, meaning a bigger yield of potatoes.

Happy seed potato sowing, gardeners!


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