Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.
Les Foden.

The year seems to be flying by. One minute we were planting out summer bedding and in the blink of an eye we are preparing for next year.

Of course, at this time of year we should be undertaking jobs to make our gardening efforts next year a roaring success.

One of the jobs to be done is digging the various trenches for both vegetable growing and flowers.

The first one has to be for sweet peas. A trench two spits (spades) deep needs to be dug. Dig the first spit of top soil placing the soil, say, on the right of the trench. Then dig out the second spit of soil and place that on the left.

Don’t get the two soils mixed.

Once the trench is dug place plenty of manure and vegetable waste in the bottom.

It doesn’t matter if it hasn’t rotted down because it will rot before planting time.

Whilst the trench is still open collect some stones about two inches in diameter and place of pile of these every four feet or so in the bottom of the trench.

Then, cut lengths of plastic pipe (the same diameter as the waste pipe from the kitchen sink). The lengths need to be long enough to go from the stones up, and to protrude above the soil when the trench is filled in.

The pipes need to be put amongst the stones which will prevent them from blocking up.

The idea of the pipes is so water can get right down to the roots easily.

The reason why sweet peas and other plants such as the garden pea get powdery mildew is because of dryness at the roots. Rain water does not always get deep enough so the pipes enable water to reach the roots. The pipes can also be used for feeding purposes.

This trenching method should be used for garden peas, broad beans and runner beans as well.

To get the most out of sweet peas they need to be sown on a piece of damp kitchen roll and covered with another damp piece.

Left overnight most should have swollen to twice their original size by the morning but the few that haven’t will need a little assistance to germinate.

Chit a small piece off the seed coat opposite the eye and the seed should germinate. It just means that the seed coat was too hard.

Before placing the germinated seeds in trays or pots make sure the containers are very clean and new compost is used.

Garden ponds need attention as autumn moves into winter.

Where possible clear leaves and other end-of-season debris from the water. An accumulation of decaying matter will contribute to a build-up of toxic gas.

Cut down surrounding perennials and fork over the soil.

Giant leaves of gunnera manicata should be folded over the crown of the plant to provide protection during the cold weather.