Gardening for the Autumn By Bob Coutts. Wednesday 16th October 2019

Autumn is time for looking forward to next year, when all the seed catalogues arrive and one can plan for next years growing. This was how Bob started his talk on an optimistic note. This is the time to sow Broad beans suitable for Autumn planting such as Aquadulce Claudia and Sweet peas for an early crop next year, but beware of mice who love to eat them in their early stages.  Tender plants such as geraniums need to be brought in under cover to protect from frost    Now is also the time to take cuttings . For geraniums ensure material is clean and healthy and remove calices, put round the edge of a pot with a mixture of compost and sharp sand for drainage, water in with a fungicide and do not water again until they have roots. Protect from sunlight and leave in pot until February.         Cuttings can also be taken of Penstemons, Fuchsias, Hydrangeas and evergreens, leave the top growth on Penstemons growing in the garden to protect the crown.     Bob then went on to talk about fruit. Tidy up strawberries and pot up well rooted runners, only take from year old plants to avoid viruses. Cuttings can also be taken of currants and gooseberries waiting until the foliage drops off, pencil thickness, cut with a flat bottom and slanted top to identify the right way up. to avoid suckers particularly on gooseberries rub out the bottom buds that will be under the compost.       Bob then showed us how to plant up a big container by layering the bulbs and not stinting on the compost, he uses 1/2 potting and 1/2 John Innes no 3. The layers were, at the base narcissi, next tulips, then hyacinths, firming the compost in between each layer. He finished of with a wallflower in the middle and polyanthus and pansies round the top. Once again protect from predators particularly squirrels who love tulips and if planting in the ground avoid a scent trail.  A very entertaining and amusing talk from Bob enjoyed by all.