I’ve been looking at my dad’s old gardening book, not that we’re doing much more in the garden than clearing the dreadful overrun of weeds, brambles, ivy, buddleia, climbing hydrangea and manic non-flowering honeysuckle. Practical Gardening and Food Production in Pictures, maybe nearly eighty years old, but I bet if you were wanting to really get into gardening it would be invaluable even today.
Richard Suddel, the author has a section of monthly guidance, a double page per month:
Weather: first frosts probable. with luck, and perhaps a little extra care, summer flowers may be kept unharmed through the first night frosts, and if so, there is a probability they will continue to produce blooms for several extra weeks. Keep your weather eye open!
The gardener’s year begins this month. Plan autumn alterations to the garden. Fresh from your holidays, you ill be full of ideas. By planning to carry these out while your ideas are fresh you will get better results.
Each month’s instructions then proceed in the same way, September work, food plots, fruit garden, flower patch, general maintenance and under glass. The garden is a place to supply the family’s needs from day to day, and also by storing, pickling, bottling, jamming and drying, much more produce is ready for the months to come. There were few fridges then, let alone freezers. Nothing was wasted – except the weeds which were burnt, but even then, the ashes were of use. Everything is neat, tidy, cared for, not for appearance but because that’s the way to get the most from the garden, vegetables, fruit, or flowers.
What is ready for harvest? Potatoes, onions, runner beans – and the last of the other summer vegetables, roots such as Jerusalem artichokes and parsnips, tomatoes green or ripe and apples and pears. What is being planted now, and what plants are being prepared for winter? Endive, celery, leeks, cabbages, winter spinach and onions, spring cabbage, and cuttings from small fruits such as gooseberries, red, white and blackcurrants can be taken and strawberry runners rooted and planted out.
Autumn and winter will be just as busy as the other seasons, and of course, Mr Suddel’s favourite activity, hoeing has to continue, he instructs, almost severely. I wish i could take more pleasure in the garden and apply myself more… but writing always calls!