Episode 24 Gardeners' World


Episode 24

Monty Don has advice on how to successfully store an apple crop, and Carol is dividing her perennials to continue the cost-effective stocking of her new beds.


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Transcript


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Hello. Welcome to Gardeners' World.

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Now, whilst the weather lasts,

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this stage of October is a fantastic time of year.

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It's so rich and fruity and ripe.

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Everything just ready to be enjoyed at its peak.

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This week, I'm planting wallflowers,

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which although not the most glamorous of plants

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are guaranteed to provide a big hit of colour next spring.

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Carol is at home, creating new plants from old

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by dividing perennials to stock her recently-made borders.

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Any amount of time and effort that you invest now

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is going to be repaid tenfold in the spring.

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And Alan Power, head gardener at the National Trust Stourhead,

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takes us on a trip back to Northern Ireland

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and to the garden that has always inspired him.

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HE SNIFFS

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I'm picking quinces,

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and quinces, I think, are one of the most romantic of all fruits,

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and certainly the best fragrance.

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If you just put one in a bowl, it will fill the room for weeks

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with just a hint of beautiful scent.

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And, in fact, they have an ancient history.

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These were the fruit of good and evil.

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It was this that tempted Eve - not an apple.

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As a gardener, they're dead easy to grow.

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They make a small, sort of compact but rather untidy tree,

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That's part of their charm. You don't prune them.

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They tend to corkscrew off and grow irregularly.

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They store pretty well.

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The idea is to pick them before they fall and bruise.

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There we are. That's come away. Can you see there,

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it's got a little downy covering,

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just on here?

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And I love the story how, in the 17th century,

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a poultice was sold as a hair restorer,

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and it was fundamentally just mashed-up quince.

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It's got lots of pectin in it, so it's really quite mucilaginous.

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And then you just slap it on your bald pate

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and presumably, it's so that your hair

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will regrow these little baby hairs. And it may not do much

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for your baldness, but you would smell lovely.

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The best reason for growing quinces is that they taste delicious.

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You have to cook them, but they improve any apple dish,

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are great with roasted meat,

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and the combination of quince jelly and cheese is sublime.

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There you go.

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Now, obviously, the orchard is where the action is in October.

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We have apples falling every day. And what I do, in fact,

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is I put down crates underneath each tree and pick up the windfalls,

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so they don't get too eaten by the chickens and mice and slugs.

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But the point about windfalls is they can't be stored.

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They're good to eat and we eat them now. This is a Herefordshire Beefing apple.

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And you can see lots of windfalls. It's a very old-fashioned cooking apple.

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In fact, it was used for drying.

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Whereas, if you want to store apples, then you'll really need to look after them.

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Storing apples is one of those things that is a treat

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because when you get to Christmas time, to February and March,

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you can have an apple that you've grown,

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tasting perfect - in fact, they tend to get better as they store -

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so it's not just a question of growing your own, but also storing your own.

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They're dead easy to do. However...

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you mustn't store a bruised apple.

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It's really a question of handling them with kid gloves.

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When they're ripe, and you've got an apple here... This is Blenheim Orange,

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which is a good cooker, although as it gets older, you can eat it.

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If that's ripe, I'll know because it'll come away in my hand.

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So I just hold it like that and twist.

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Now, that's not ripe.

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That is not ready for picking, so we'll leave it.

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That one there looks as though it should be.

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So we come here, just go up, and it's just come away in my hand.

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Just hold it carefully, treasure it, and put it into a basket. Don't chuck it.

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It doesn't matter what it looks like - if it comes away, it's ready.

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And the whole point about growing apples is you're so limited in the supermarket

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in the varieties, but there are HUNDREDS of different apples that you can grow,

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a lot of them good. So, for example, in this orchard,

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I've got quite a few that you only get in Herefordshire.

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And so... I need a ladder! As well as an orchard,

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which is a lovely thing, you've got the romance of the apple.

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You store it carefully, and then when you eat it,

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you're ingesting part of the history of them.

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Let's go over to this one.

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Now, there are lots of ways of storing apples, but essentially,

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what you're looking for is somewhere cool and dark.

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We've got this shed. We store lots of things in it,

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and it's fine for apples as long as it's not too cold,

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and if it is, we have to come in and cover them.

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But I use these. These used to be my grandfather's, and I inherited them from my mother.

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You can buy similar things, and make them.

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The beauty of them is that you get lots of air

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and ventilation, and they stack.

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You're looking for somewhere that is not too dry,

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so the fruit don't dry out.

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And just stack them in rows, and again, don't chuck them on.

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And also, they shouldn't be touching.

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Just keep them apart. And the reason why I don't want them to touch

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is because if there is a bit of bruising or damage,

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that will spread from apple to apple,

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but if they're not touching, there's no danger of that.

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Now, if you're thinking,

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"Why take so much trouble just over some apples?",

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well, the answer's simple - because they taste so good.

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Your own apples, grown and stored carefully, are a delicious fruit.

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It's not just any old thing that you eat all the time. They're absolutely beautiful,

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and they'll stay good right through till next March or April.

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So I think they're worth taking any amount of trouble over.

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Now, this is very much the season of harvesting

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and of looking forward,

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and down at Glebe Cottage, Carol has been preparing for next spring

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by making new herbaceous plants from old.

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October has to be the most delicious time of the year.

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This wonderful sort of quieting-down,

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where everything begins to mellow and all the colours soften.

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It's easy to just sink into the whole thing.

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But for gardeners, this is the beginning of the gardening year,

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and I'm going to get cracking with my brand-new beds.

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The plan is to stock them by propagating my existing plants.

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Back in September, I began by collecting and sowing seed.

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Now I'm into stage two and I've already placed some plants.

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A lot of the plants I want to use are in the garden already

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and now is THE perfect time to divide them.

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Now, I've already taken plants from here and divided them,

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but the plant I want to deal with right now

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is this delightful Sanguisorba.

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These beautiful pink, fluffy heads

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are borne right into the autumn.

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How's this for a great big clump?

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In fact, it's even bigger than I'd imagined,

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so it's going to take me a few minutes to get that out of the ground!

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The plant is just beginning to go to sleep. Beginning its dormancy.

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So, I couldn't really do it at a better time of year.

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Hope me wheelbarrow's up to this!

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Now for the important bit.

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Well, the whole idea of these beds

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is that I'm employing sort of ribbon planting.

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I'm going to let the same plant drift through from one bed to another

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so it gives the whole planting some sort of cohesion.

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And this Sanguisorba fits the bill.

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So, I really need to see this from above,

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because I'm going to use a spade to slice it up.

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And it looks so horribly brutal,

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but everywhere I'm cutting through one of these roots,

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it's going to persuade this plant to make lots of fibrous feeding roots,

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which is exactly what we need to establish those new divisions.

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The general rule of thumb with perennials is to divide them every three to four years.

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Plants become congested and woody,

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the centres become less productive and there are fewer flowers.

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By lifting and dividing, and using only the healthy outer growth,

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plants are reinvigorated

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and, in return, we get more, more, more.

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This piece is ideal.

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We can see here these embryonic shoots

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which are just dying to burst forward,

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which is just what they'll do next spring.

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But over the winter, it's going to be making a fabulous root system,

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which is going to support it all the time it spends in here.

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When I put this in here, I want to make sure

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that none of those roots are wrapped around.

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They should just rest gently in the hole.

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Fill in the soil round about

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and have it just sticking up above the surface,

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and that should be brilliant. It's going to give me

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the most lovely, pink, fluffy flowers all summer long.

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But, before that even thinks of flowering,

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there's something else over here that's going to have been

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at its very best, and I'm going to divide it now!

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This is Ranunculus aconitifolius 'Flore Pleno'.

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It's one of spring's delights, it flowers in late May

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with these wonderful little white pom-pom flowers.

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As soon as the canopy fills in overhead, it goes to sleep,

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but underneath here, there are lots of wonderful roots.

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Delve in and just loosen up all this soil.

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Grab hold of the crown, shake it all off,

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and then give it a wash.

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Just washing it makes it easy to see these separate,

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individual little buds,

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and each one of them is at the top of a spider of growth,

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and you can actually just pull them out like that.

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And every one will make a separate, individual plant.

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Now, I'm going to plant them straightaway,

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I don't want them to dry out.

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I'm going to make these holes nice and deep and put each one in.

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The great thing about dividing these plants like this -

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they're going to have all winter to make up and become brilliant,

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big specimens by the spring, so any amount of time and effort

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that you invest now is going to be repaid tenfold in the spring.

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The great thing about dividing plants now,

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or even planting new plants, is that the soil is still warm,

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so the roots grow for the next month or so,

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and next spring, when the top grows,

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there's a decent root system to support it.

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I'm going to be planting into this piece of ground some wallflowers.

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I've got a great big box here.

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I've got 100 plants, and that cost less than 30 quid,

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so they're relatively cheap and now is the time to plant them.

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And I love wallflowers,

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they're not particularly fashionable or trendy,

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it's old-fashioned bedding!

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But none the worse for that, because

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as well as having a range of fabulous colours in April,

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they also have really, really good scent,

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perhaps the best scent of any plant.

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The whole point of putting them into this part of the garden is that it's all green.

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It's deliberately green in summer - you've got the box, the acanthus -

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so the two make a perfect combination.

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Now, this ground is just full of box roots,

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which normally would be a bad thing,

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because it'll make anything else growing in there struggle to compete.

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Wallflowers, if you think of the name,

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will grow out of a wall. I've seen wallflowers growing

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out of a tower, just in the joints between the mortar.

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They like fairly alkaline conditions and poor soil,

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and putting them in couldn't be easier.

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You just pull them out, and you buy them like this.

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I've been soaking these for the last hour,

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but you can see they're on a root system,

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nice, healthy plant, squat,

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what you're looking for is not a tall one,

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lots of branches on it, and just pop them in.

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I'm going to pop them in fairly close together too,

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because then they'll support each other.

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That'll just go in there...

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Now, these are all Blood Red,

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because I want a dramatic hit of red against the green of the box.

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Remember, these are biennials,

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so they will have been sown in May, grown on throughout summer

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to get a decent root system and structure,

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and the roots will go on growing well

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right until the cold weather comes along.

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And then the flowers will appear in spring,

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and in the case of wallflowers, April -

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April is really their month - and by mid...to the end of May,

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they're completely finished.

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Now, they will live as perennials,

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but they get very sprawly and they'll flower less and less.

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Wallflowers are members of the brassica family and they're tough.

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And they need to be, especially here, because this is a cold garden and slow to warm up in spring.

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It always amazes me how gardens further north can be ahead of ours in April and even May.

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That's certainly true of parts of Northern Ireland,

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where I've seen some amazing gardens with a wide range of plants.

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But none of them matches Mount Stewart, which is probably

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the most famous garden in the whole of Northern Ireland. And Alan Power,

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who's now head gardener at Stourhead,

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used to work there, and he's made a return visit.

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11 years ago, when I started as head gardener at Mount Stewart,

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the task was actually quite terrifying.

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There was such a new variety of plants for me to learn,

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such different soil conditions,

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and a completely different climate to what I was used to.

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But all of these years later, I still love coming back to Mount Stewart,

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it's very much one of my favourite places.

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The garden was designed by Lady Edith Londonderry,

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and when she arrived at Mount Stewart in 1915,

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she set about creating a diverse garden that took advantage of the local climate.

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Warmed by the Gulf Stream, the climate here may be damp,

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but it is temperate, surrounded by the sea.

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It has an island climate, and so despite its northerly latitude,

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the gardens here are filled with tropical and tender plants.

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And this is the Italian garden.

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What I really love about the Italian garden is that you're bombarded with plants,

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and the narrow little pathways that run through these planted areas

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really invite you to explore, whereas if this was a deep,

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herbaceous border,

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you wouldn't necessarily have the opportunity to get that close to the plants.

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Lady Edith really knew what she wanted,

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and her influence is still felt by the gardeners today.

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Neil Porteous has just taken on the role of head gardener here,

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and has plans to revitalise

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the Italian garden using her original designs.

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She kept diaries and garden books,

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and just where we are, in the west, the part here,

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there's this colour scheme of blood red

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and plum colours based around the central fountain

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like a sunburst,

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fading into mauves and purples and clear yellows.

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And will you be using exactly the plants that Lady Edith used?

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No, it's a chance for us really to use modern varieties, newly discovered things,

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plants that are really going to slow people down

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as they walk through, but keep to the colour scheme.

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One of the talking-points of the Italian garden was what to do with the hedges.

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-What are your thoughts?

-Well, we can't use box,

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because Lady Edith didn't like it in the garden at all.

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-There's a challenge in itself.

-At the moment, we have

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hebe and heather and berberis, and they're beautiful to see in flower.

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These things will only last for three or four years,

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then we'll replace them and try new things.

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The lovely thing about Mount Stewart is that, hopefully, every time you come, there'll be changes,

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and you'll see it progressing.

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This is the Spanish garden.

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It's always been one of my favourite compartments at Mount Stewart.

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What really throws me about this compartment is the way

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the planting is overlaid next to this architectural design,

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and it's a simple approach to the planting.

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You have the architectural plants,

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like the arundo donax in the background,

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the kirengeshoma just here, and the magnificent standard wisterias.

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And then, moving forwards to the real draw, these wonderful red hot pokers,

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a very distinctive plant at Mount Stewart.

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I used to sit in the Spanish garden,

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but it's very hard to sit still for long,

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because you have these magnificent leylandii arches,

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and between each arch, there's this brilliant glimpse

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out into something very, very special.

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I was too curious as to what I was going to see

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once I went through these arches.

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I love the less formal parts of the garden at Mount Stewart, as well.

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And this is one particular area

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that's extremely attractive at the moment.

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You have this beautiful tree fern giving it a very...

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tropical, exotic feel,

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leading into these brilliant agapanthus and on to this astelia,

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which I struggle to grow in my garden at home in Wiltshire,

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but it's growing in really rough, tough conditions

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underneath this eucalyptus that's just spiralling up into the sky above.

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And these plants have come from the other side of the planet

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and are surviving very happily.

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Now, if the formal gardens at Mount Stewart aren't enough,

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then surely this is the icing on the cake.

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As you look across the lake,

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you can see that the skills that are used to create

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such magnificent formal gardens

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have been transferred out into the lake area.

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Look across and you see repetition in the purples,

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in the distance, of the Japanese maples.

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You can see the lovely white stems of the birch trees

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right across the lake. Then, to the left,

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you can see the magnificent architectural leaves of the gunneras.

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And this amazing sight will bring me back to Mount Stewart

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time and time again.

0:21:030:21:05

This year, I tried out some grafted tomatoes,

0:21:260:21:29

along with the normal seed-raised ones.

0:21:290:21:31

And I asked if any of you had done the same and, if you had,

0:21:310:21:34

if you'd contact us to let us know how you got on.

0:21:340:21:37

Now, this wasn't a scientific test of any kind, just anecdotal evidence.

0:21:370:21:40

And, of those of you that replied,

0:21:400:21:42

two-thirds were very happy with them

0:21:420:21:44

and we had responses that went along the lines of this one

0:21:440:21:47

from Derek Johnson, which is pretty typical,

0:21:470:21:49

saying you grew Conchita and Dasher, they went extremely well.

0:21:490:21:53

"I cannot praise these plants too highly.

0:21:530:21:56

"They're not the best flavour we've tasted,

0:21:560:21:58

"but are saving a fortune not having to buy any."

0:21:580:22:00

And then we have Ann and Steve Selby.

0:22:000:22:03

"Grown grafted tomatoes, grown three plants.

0:22:030:22:07

"And they've gone bonkers!

0:22:070:22:08

"I eat so many tomatoes, I'm sick of them."

0:22:080:22:10

Well, try freezing them. Make them into a sauce and keep them.

0:22:100:22:13

Of the one-third that weren't so happy, this is a pretty typical response.

0:22:130:22:17

This is from Peter Dixon, who said that you found the grafted tomato -

0:22:170:22:21

and you only grew one - grew like Topsy.

0:22:210:22:24

"So much so, it pushed its way through the roof of the housing.

0:22:240:22:27

"By mid-July, it was laden with large, green fruits.

0:22:270:22:30

"Sadly, that's the way they stayed till late August.

0:22:300:22:33

"Back to seed for me."

0:22:340:22:36

I think the truth is that

0:22:360:22:38

all tomatoes have had a really tough time this year.

0:22:380:22:40

It's not been easy to grow a good, tasty tomato.

0:22:400:22:44

So, on balance, all we can say is that, as a general experiment,

0:22:440:22:48

it went pretty well.

0:22:480:22:50

And most people were happy with the way they performed.

0:22:500:22:54

But, as I repeat, that's not a scientific test,

0:22:540:22:57

it's simply anecdotal.

0:22:570:22:59

Anyway, the time has come

0:22:590:23:00

for me to put an end to the performance of mine.

0:23:000:23:02

These are still ripening, we've still got some fruits on them,

0:23:020:23:06

but I know they won't ripen very much more.

0:23:060:23:08

And I've got a bed here, which I could fill with parsley plants

0:23:080:23:12

and use the warmth of late summer, early autumn,

0:23:120:23:15

into getting them growing strongly and they'll carry me through winter,

0:23:150:23:19

whereas if I keep the tomatoes in, I'll only get a handful more.

0:23:190:23:22

I'm going to plant my first garlic of the year now.

0:23:540:23:57

Now, garlic is normally planted between October and February,

0:23:570:24:02

although I like to get it in by Christmas.

0:24:020:24:05

And the reason for that is

0:24:050:24:06

because garlic needs a period of cold weather.

0:24:060:24:10

That triggers it into good growth, and very often if you plant late,

0:24:100:24:13

you'll find that the cloves never divide.

0:24:130:24:16

You end up with just one large bulb, instead of about a dozen,

0:24:160:24:21

circled around like the segments of an orange,

0:24:210:24:24

and that's a lack of cold weather, as often as not.

0:24:240:24:26

So you can plant from any time from September onwards,

0:24:260:24:29

and I'll probably make three plantings - one now,

0:24:290:24:32

one next month and one just before Christmas.

0:24:320:24:34

They tend to do best on alkaline soil -

0:24:340:24:38

limestone, well-drained, full sun, but they like plenty of water.

0:24:380:24:43

Now, I've got two varieties here - I've got Sprint,

0:24:430:24:46

which I've grown many times before

0:24:460:24:49

and is a good, reliable variety.

0:24:490:24:51

And I've got another one, which I've never grown before,

0:24:510:24:54

with a difficult name to pronounce, Vallelado - too many L's there -

0:24:540:24:57

which has been developed especially for northern climes.

0:24:570:25:02

This comes as separate bulbs.

0:25:020:25:05

There.

0:25:050:25:06

Now, what you're looking for when you plant a garlic...

0:25:070:25:10

If you're growing your own, I wouldn't keep seed for more than two years.

0:25:100:25:14

Get fresh stock every two or three years

0:25:140:25:17

and that way, you'll avoid the build-up of viruses.

0:25:170:25:19

And break it apart but don't plant really small cloves -

0:25:190:25:23

there's no point.

0:25:230:25:25

You'll get a better return from nice, big, juicy cloves.

0:25:250:25:30

Eat the small ones.

0:25:300:25:32

Planting them's dead easy.

0:25:320:25:34

For all alliums, it's really important to keep them weed-free

0:25:340:25:38

and well watered when they're growing,

0:25:380:25:40

because the size of the bulb depends upon the health of the foliage.

0:25:400:25:43

And plant them about nine inches apart.

0:25:430:25:46

That might seem quite wide spacing,

0:25:460:25:48

but you get a healthier bulb if they have room to grow.

0:25:480:25:51

If I hold it up like that, you can see the bottom has a flat plate.

0:25:510:25:56

That's the plate the roots come out of, and the top is vaguely pointy.

0:25:560:26:01

Pointy end up.

0:26:010:26:02

That's the key to success.

0:26:020:26:04

And then don't plant them like onion sets,

0:26:040:26:07

which stick out the ground, but like a daffodil,

0:26:070:26:09

so its own depth down in the ground.

0:26:090:26:11

And I just use my finger - but any dibber would do -

0:26:110:26:14

and just push it down in the soil.

0:26:140:26:16

Plate down, in they go.

0:26:190:26:22

Now, all I have to do is just rake this over to cover them up.

0:26:240:26:27

Don't need to water them in - there'll be plenty of water before winter is out.

0:26:270:26:31

The time that garlic needs water is in spring, when it's growing.

0:26:310:26:37

And these should start to appear

0:26:370:26:39

some time in the next four to six weeks.

0:26:390:26:42

So before the worst of the cold weather comes,

0:26:420:26:45

there should be about six inches of growth above ground.

0:26:450:26:48

Right, that's a job I've meant to do for the last week or so,

0:26:490:26:53

but here are a few more jobs that you can do at home this weekend.

0:26:530:26:57

At this time of year, the weather can change direction overnight -

0:26:570:27:01

you come down in the morning and find a precious crop

0:27:010:27:05

either battered into submission or shrivelled up.

0:27:050:27:08

This is where cloches come in.

0:27:080:27:10

Put them on young plants now and they will keep on growing

0:27:100:27:14

and providing you with a harvest right into winter,

0:27:140:27:17

whatever the weather.

0:27:170:27:19

If your plants are mysteriously sickly,

0:27:210:27:24

it could well be vine weevils causing the problem,

0:27:240:27:26

and I know that once in a garden, they can be terribly difficult to get out.

0:27:260:27:30

The larvae eat the roots of plants

0:27:300:27:32

and the parent will eat the top growth.

0:27:320:27:34

However, there is a nematode that attacks the larvae

0:27:340:27:38

and now is the perfect time to apply it.

0:27:380:27:41

You buy it mixed in a clay suspension,

0:27:410:27:44

and following the instructions on the packet,

0:27:440:27:47

dilute this down accordingly.

0:27:470:27:49

Then, water it on to the soil of the plant.

0:27:490:27:52

The nematodes burrow inside their host

0:27:520:27:54

and eat them from the inside out and will go on doing so

0:27:540:27:57

until there are none left, at which point the nematodes themselves die.

0:27:570:28:02

And finally, probably the most important thing

0:28:050:28:08

you can do this weekend...

0:28:080:28:10

is to stop.

0:28:100:28:11

Whatever the weather's like at the start of October,

0:28:110:28:14

you can guarantee it'll get worse.

0:28:140:28:16

So if the sun does shine, and you have a chance, sit down.

0:28:160:28:22

Enjoy the garden while it lasts.

0:28:220:28:25

And whatever the weather's like, I'll be back here next week.

0:28:250:28:28

See you then. Bye-bye.

0:28:280:28:30

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:520:28:55

Email [email protected]

0:28:550:28:58

Monty Don has advice on how to successfully store your apple crop so it will last through winter, and explains why he thinks it high time wall flowers came back into fashion. With tomatoes now over, Monty clears his greenhouse and plans for next year by planting garlic in the vegetable garden.

Carol is home at Glebe Cottage, where she's dividing her perennials to continue the cost-effective stocking of her new beds.

Alan Power, head gardener of one of Britain's best loved gardens, Stourhead, travels to Mount Stewart in Northern Ireland to see how the gardens there have influenced his ideas.


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