Weekend Work: Time to clean out the vegetable garden


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The Independent Online

What to do

* Vegetable gardens need a clean out at this time of the year, removing runner beans (and shelling any dried off pods for seed), clearing out French beans, and shelling any overgrown pods for haricots. Overblown lettuces should also go on the compost heap together with the rotting leaves that tend to lie round parsnips and celeriac. Celeriac roots hump out of the ground as they grow and you need to clean off old leaves regularly, leaving ones that are growing upright.

* Start to spread muck over cleared ground in the vegetable garden. This prevents annual weeds from germinating and protects the soil from rain splash. Digging it in is a job that you can spread out over the rest of the winter.

* Transplant self seeded biennials and perennials that have put themselves in the wrong places. Seedlings of aquilegia, verbascum and foxgloves can all be shifted now. Fill in the spaces between with masses of bulbs. A trowel is a better planting tool for bulbs than a dibber, which has too pointed an end. There is a danger your bulb will be left hanging in space underground, with nothing to get its roots into.

* Insulate greenhouses with bubble polythene to cut down on heating costs. Constructing a double insulated corner inside the greenhouse saves even more. You can then heat just this space and leave the rest sub-zero. Bring in succulents that have spent the summer outside.