Hello lovely people and seasonal Samhain greetings to one and all!

This weekend I’m making a few Halloween preparations with my girls. The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced Saa-ween).

The Celts were essentially an agricultural people, marking the growing seasons with festivals and Samhain marked the end of the summer, the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter.

One of our much-loved and eagerly anticipated family activities (besides a bit of dressing up) is carving pumpkins.  Here is one I prepared earlier…

When you are carving out your pumpkin this year, why not save some of the seeds for planting out between May and July next year?

And, if you are lucky enough to end up with a glut of gourds, worry not! When my neighbour gave me a pumpkin last year I was slightly dismayed, as my lasting memory of pumpkin is a rather odd tasting homemade pumpkin soup. Since the staggering success of my pumpkin pie (I highly recommend you try it!) I have adopted a general rule of turning vegetables that people give me on the allotment into some kind of cake or dessert (who doesn’t love a bit of cake!). Parsnip & maple syrup cake is also pretty delicious too! I digress 😊.

 

Seed harvesting and dividing perennials

To return the subject of harvesting seeds, now is the ideal time to make a last sweep for seed heads in your garden before the task of cutting back perennials that have died down. There are advantages for wildlife in delaying cut back till the spring (but, I will talk more about that in the coming month).

Seed harvesting is just one way of increasing the plant population in the garden. As some seeds are trickier to grow than others, another great alternative is to divide herbaceous perennials – a great job for the autumn. While I was preparing a site for our Landscaping team last week I was doing just that; dividing a number of native peony plants, which will be going back into George’s planting scheme, once the hard landscaping is complete.

To divide peonies;

  • Remove the foliage and lift the clump carefully
  • Gently remove or wash off the soil to expose the roots and growth buds.
  • Using a sharp knife, remove sections of the crown with at least three dormant growth buds each and roots attached.
  • Replant the divided plants with the buds no more than 1-2 inches below the surface.

 

Apple harvesting

Another activity the girls always request for Halloween is apple bobbing. And now is the right time to be thinking about harvesting apples and pears in our gardens. Of course the blog wouldn’t be quite right without a peek at one of George’s glorious designs here in West Hagbourne which featured a large established apple tree.

One of the challenges of apple harvesting is determining exactly when the fruit is ready to be picked. The easiest way to do this is to place a cupped hand under the fruit, lift the fruit gently and twist. If the fruit doesn’t come away easily in your hand then it is not quite ready to be picked!

Next time we meet, it will be time for more Tips from Tim, yes, I know you have been on baited breath since first met him in my blog on all things hedgy. However, this time we will be talking about lawn care as now is the perfect time to rejuvenate those recovering bald spots and think about a final feed and weed before the winter arrives.

So, until then, happy gardening and enjoy the Halloween festivities!

Jenny

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