Dig over the soil in your veggie beds and include any home-made compost to enrich it.
Choose your plugs with care – don’t buy any that have dried up on the garden centre benches or are very leggy. Select compact plugs even if they are on the small size. Before you plant them ensure that the soil is moist. If you like to grow broad beans soak the seeds overnight and plant them directly into the soil or into small pots, whichever you prefer. Remember to leave a good space between the rows as they will quickly grow and may need staking later on.
There is a weather window here in which to take cuttings of plants and because the compost is still warm, they will make roots quickly. It is far easier to keep cuttings going through our winter than wait for the spring, when the young plants will have to endure a hot summer shortly afterwards.
Spring flowering bulbs are in the garden centres now. Check each for mildew or softness and choose only firm bulbs. Ensure the ground is damp before planting or the bulbs will not make roots. As a general rule, plant bulbs 2-3 times their height, but some bulbs like amaryllis and ‘Paperwhites ‘like to have their heads and shoulders above the soil. Daffodils and hyacinths can grow on for several years, but as time goes by they will reduce in size. Tulips will only give of their best in the first year despite your best efforts and they are often grown in tubs because of this. Freesias are another good choice in a great variety of colours. Small bulbs like muscari have very dainty blue flowers, but beware as they reproduce themselves everywhere! Before long, tiny cyclamen leaves will be appearing in shaded areas to charm us as we approach winter. Many are natives of this end of the Mediterranean and have been tucked away from the heat all summer, to emerge and give us cheer in the coming months.
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