Just over a week ago we were once again allowed to burn up garden rubbish on open bonfires when the actual ‘bonfire ban’ was lifted on 15 October. To many of us this was very obvious because of the palls of smoke that covered the countryside where so many people had lit fires.
If you are not cutting up twigs and tree cuttings to use as fire wood then they can go on a bonfire to be burnt but there must be limitations. As always we are told to be very careful to never leave an open bonfire unattended and to always have access to water nearby. Also make sure that the whole is extinguished down to the last spark before leaving the area for the night . I know this all may seem very obvious but it is always surprising how some little accident can turn into a complete disaster so always light outdoor fires with caution.
The ash from a good fully burnt out bonfire is a really good top dressing for the garden and really serves as a deterrent to slugs and snails, it seems they are not able to slither over ash. I don’t think it actually eliminates them but it does keep them off any plants that are surrounded by ash and that is a good enough help when you have a newly planted up bed of anything be it flower or vegetable.
A subject hitting all news these days is ‘global warming’. I am sure we are all very aware of this, especially when we are shown pictures of the Amazon cut back for logging or in South East Asia the natural forests cut back to plant palm oil trees. Actually we can do very little about this matter because it has been happening for decades just as long as we all need to be fed.
There is of course that little bit we can do to help, be it in a garden or even a plant pot on the terrace.
Trees are said to be the greatest help so let’s all plant a tree or two if we can. In some gardens, my own being one of them I am always aware of self-seeded trees sprouting up all over the place. If they are not in the way of anything really special in the garden then I just leave them where they are.
There must about a dozen or more self-seeded trees that I have discovered over the years, not that I live in a forest or anything like that, some trees I can trace back to just over the garden wall, others I have no idea where they have come from, a bird dropping a seed perhaps or simply ‘on the wind’. Trees can of course be bought at the garden centres already well established and mature enough to be transplanted either into a larger pot on your terrace or into the garden.
Here I am referring to either fruit trees or ornamental trees, most will have a picture of what the tree will look like and give you an idea if it will fit into your own space that is available. Our local gardening book tells us that now during the month of October, is the ideal time for planting trees. If they are bought from a garden centre to be transplanted into the garden a hole must be dug no deeper than the size of the pot the tree comes in, fresh soil, compost, even a little fertilizer sprinkled in the bottom of the freshly dug hole and a good bucket or two of water.
It doesn’t matter if the water all drains away, at least the root ball will be settled into a nice damp environment, try not to knock too much of the soil off the roots as you transfer it from the pot unless of course the tree is completely pot bound in which case it will be better to disentangle to roots a little so that they are all splayed out on the bottom of the hole. This is the best time to place a good supporting stake down beside the trunk where you can actually see that you are not forcing something through a root or damaging the lower trunk in any way.
Now fill the rest of the hole up with soil but never above the point where the trunk was exposed in the first place. Press the soil firmly down, even water carefully and tie the trunk to the support, this is very important due to the excessive strong winds that blow during the winter months even if the temperatures are fairly mild the wind can cause more damage. The same applies to transplanting a small tree into a larger pot for the terrace which will of course need to be done every few years as the tree outgrows its pot.
So as I have just mentioned, October is tree planting time. Another October chore if you look around the countryside is to prepare any soil that has not yet been planted up, dig all those intrusive weed in or pull them up, my pet hate now is Oxalis that is already popping up all over the lawn and flower beds. It has been said that getting it all out before Christmas helps eliminate Oxalis altogether but I have yet to find that trues, it gets just everywhere and doesn’t allow the sunshine to get to anything that grows under it. OK so it looks lovely all along the roadside and along the mountain walks but I just don’t want it in my garden.
It doesn’t look as if there is too much to do in the garden at this time of year but just keep looking and you will find something that needs doing, the lovely thing is that here in the Mediterranean climate we can enjoy being outside gardening more than during the extreme heat of the summer months.