The Beechgrove Garden episode 26 2020: In the last episode of the series, Chris and Frances have taken on a new allotment and they are starting from scratch to create an easy, low maintenance fruit and veg patch.
Meanwhile, Kirsty is looking at how to extend the season by using late-flowering perennials that complement autumn colours, while Brian is taking advantage of the season to plant cost-effective bare-root trees.
Beechgrove is a hardy annual TV gardening series which sets out to deal with, glory in and celebrate Scottish horticulture and growing conditions. Beechgrove is and always has been a firmly practical, get-your-hands-dirty gardening programme which delights in success but also learns from failures in the garden and never takes itself too seriously.
The Beechgrove Garden episode 26 2020
Trees and shrubs
Planting new trees and shrubs is not a difficult job, but one to get right, if you want your new plants to have the best start in life. The most important considerations are root health, weather, soil conditions and aftercare.
Planting is best done between October and April. Avoid planting in waterlogged (water sitting on the soil surface or pooled in the bottom of the hole) or frozen (too hard to get the spade in) soil. Container-grown plants can be planted any time of the year, but are easier to care for if planted in autumn or winter, as they need less watering than ones planted in spring or summer.
Bare-root and rootballed trees and shrubs are only available in autumn and winter. They should be planted immediately, but if this is not possible, then they can be heeled in (temporary planting in the soil to prevent the roots drying out) until planting is possible.
Drought stress is common with newly planted trees and shrubs. Even in a cool, wet summer, the rain rarely replenishes soil moisture stores fully. The soil may be dry around the roots even when the surface appears moist.
Dry, windy conditions are especially likely to lead to water shortages. With experience, it is possible to detect the dull, lifeless foliage indicative of drought stress but by then the tree has already been damaged. Ideally anticipate water loss, and irrigate to prevent damage.
Watering aids can assist watering of newly planted trees such as irrigation tubes (biodegradable tree irrigation pipe made from potato starch is available) or watering bags.
Overwatering is possible, especially on poor draining soils and with automatic irrigation systems, which leads to rotting roots and symptoms similar to drought. If in doubt dig down with a trowel to the side of the rootball to see if the soil is beginning to dry before watering. The quantity required will vary with soil type but typically 30-50 litres per square metre (4-6 watering cans) each week in dry weather during the growing season will be necessary.
Broad beans are easy to grow and utterly delicious, heralding the end of the hungry gap between late autumn and the beginning of bountiful summer harvests.
In sheltered, southern gardens with well-drained soils, broad beans can be sown directly into the soil in early November or February for harvests as early as May. Sown in November, seeds will germinate within two to four weeks and young plants should overwinter and recommence growth as soon as conditions are favourable in spring. In cold areas, or when winters are severe, plants will need fleece or cloche protection.
Elsewhere, sow beans in pots under cover in February for planting out in spring or direct into the ground in March, April and even early May, for harvests throughout the summer. Pot-raised plants are especially useful where soils are wet or rich in clay (as these soils can lead to seeds rotting in the ground).