Paraic Horkan On Radio 1's Today with Sean O'Rourke

Paraic Horkan on Radio 1 – Autumn Gardening

While we have enjoyed some lovely weather in recent times, we have also had our share of rain! The upside of this of course is that plants are thriving and lawns are lovely and green. Trees, shrubs and hedging plants have all put on lots of growth due to the mild temperatures and high levels of moisture.

Dahlias, Arum Lilies and roses are some examples of flowers that are blooming and growing very well right now. Summer flowering hydrangeas are absolutely brilliant at the moment. Hydrangeas do really well in Ireland, even though they originate from places like China and Japan, we have the perfect climate for them here in Ireland. They come in a whole range of colours and sizes. One great variety is called Snowball. This can be planted in the garden in July and August, it is just coming into flower now. It is a white hydrangea, and the interesting thing about white hydrangeas is that they will hold their white colour regardless of the soil type. They will flower from now right up until late November and often even into December.
Another wonderful variety is a red hydrangea called Red Baron. It has a wonderful deep pink, bordering on red, colour. It is a nice and easy to grow variety. Another great variety of hydrangea is the Black Steel Zambia, it has a wonderful blue lacecap flowers and simply amazing black stems.
Adding some rose fertiliser now will help the plant to thrive and increase the number of flowers. If they are in pots or containers make sure to keep them well watered. Even with the very moist weather we are having they can dry out very easily.
Pruning is done in early spring. You prune back some of the old flowering wood. It is a bit late for this now as they are just coming into flower.

Right now is also a great time for harvesting from the garden. All fruiting plants, such as berries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, apples, pears, and plums are thriving! We had a wonderful May which meant lots of bees were out pollinating plants so we should all be seeing a nice large harvest!

Most people will have memories of picking, topping and tailing blackberries and it’s that time of year again now. Blackcurrants and blueberries need to be harvested, and while you are harvesting them it is a good idea to prune them back as well. Once you take the fruit off, simply prune back some of the old growth. Feeding is also important at this time. Blueberries, apples, pears, plum trees and cherry trees will all benefit from a feeding of Sulphate of Potash. Potash is the element which encourages fruiting in plants. So if you feed them with potash now the fruit will ripen better and you will also prepare them for flowering next year as well

Apples are starting to grow and swell at the moment! We’ve gone through the ‘June-drop’, this is where the time of year where apples abort some of their fruit and thin out the fruit naturally. This time of year you’re really just allowing the fruit to develop, feeding it as mentioned above, but you also need to do some summer pruning. This is where you shorten back a lot of the whippy growth that has spread since March. So if you notice on your apple trees two or three foot of new growth this should be cut back to within 6 inches of the original growth.

Carrot root fly is a pest of carrots; it flies in to the carrots, navigating by the scent of the carrots. When you thin your carrots, the carrot scent is thrown into the air and the root flies hone in on this. They will then lay their eggs and when the larvae hatch they attack the roots of the carrots. There is an organic treatment called SuperNemos, that is developed here in Ireland. It is natural parasitic that you simply add through the watering can onto your carrot crop and it will kill off the developing maggots. July is the month to control carrot root fly. If you use a treatment now, it is also beneficial against leatherjackets, and even catterpillars on cabbage.

July and early August is the time to be aware of Potato Blight as blight generally comes with this humid but moist weather. The first symptoms you will notice is the foliage will start to turn yellow, particularly the older leaves. You will also notice little black spots appearing on the underside of the leaf and the plant will begin to look sickly and loose its vigor. But prevention is always the best cure, and I would advise putting on a preventative treatment now. Bayer Systemic Blight Treatment is a great choice as it’s systemic in nature which means it enters into the system of the potato crop, so as the plant is producing new growth it’s fully protected. The great thing about Bayer is that it also have curative properties, so if you have a small infestation of blight it should be able to cure it. The best practice would be to apply a treatment now, and another treatment in two to three weeks time.

Temperatures are perfect right now for sowing seeds. Particularly, autumn winter and spring vegetables. Kale, Swiss Chard, all the winter cabbages, spring cauliflowers can all be sown now. Even pea plants can be sown now, they will germinate very quickly and you will be able to use them by the end of Autumn. Also all the herb varieties can be sown now to give you a crop in late August/September.

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