Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Gardeners ‘should plan ahead for next year’

There is a great deal of work for green-fingered enthusiasts to be getting on with throughout the fall, particularly now the summer has firmly given way to the colder conditions of the end of the year.

However, the importance of planning ahead for next year's gardening activities should not be understated.

Mark Diacono, who runs the Otter Farm – the only climate change farm across the border in the UK – acknowledged that this year has been a tough one for gardeners. He added that most are going to be happy to see the back of it, rather than feeling like they are somehow better gardeners because of it.

Speaking to UK national newspaper the Daily Telegraph, the expert asserted that there is plenty of action for people to be taking if they wish to prime their green space and make the most of the next year.

He advised that people first ask themselves if there is anything they can do to make their garden less vulnerable to imperfect conditions. A list of what has and has not worked well in the past can be one of the most effective ways to establish some good rules of thumb in this respect.

In terms of his own efforts, Mr Diacono said that herbs, perennial veg and most soft fruits were fabulous performers as far as he was concerned. Globe artichokes, asparagus, currants and wineberries in particular seemed to deal with a tough year very effectively.

However, annuals – and leafy greens, salads and brassicas in particular – suffered from a lack of sun and frequent attacks from pests like slugs. Potatoes and other root vegetables seemed to deliver an unusually poor crop.

Gardeners who intend to plant anything that sprouts from bulbs may wish to get to work on this task sooner, rather than later.

In an article for the Guardian, professional garden and landscape designer Dan Pearson underlined his belief that the ideal time to plant certain bulbs is right now. he explained that if this is done, they can be planned and organised so as to offer flashes of brightness throughout the entirety of spring. This will allow the good mood offered by a bright and pretty space to run right the way through until the summer season.

Mr Pearson said that the Silver Chimes variety is a highly attractive kind of plant that could be ideally suited for this purpose. A single stem gathers together many of its white flowers – and this led the expert to weave them in to the base of a single hedge on either side of a perch in his vegetable garden.

However, Mr Diacono said that he intends to be reserving a larger portion of his own green space for the growth of perennial plants – and this could be particularly advisable for those who wish to use their plants for the kitchen.

"Each spring, annuals have to germinate and grow quickly, battling the conditions and the slugs' attentions to reach maturity, he explained, adding: "Perennials have it easier: their root system is already established, allowing them to get off to a good start in spring and to draw on nutrients and water from further down in the soil profile, especially in times of drought.

"It makes perennials more resilient to whatever the weather or pests throw at them and so more likely to thrive, Mr Diacono continued.

"There are plenty of perennial fruit, vegetables and herbs to consider and now is the perfect time to buy plants and get them in the ground before winter begins. Strawberries, gooseberries, buckler-leaved sorrel, sage and lovage are among those that will benefit from the last of the warmth in the soil and be ready to take off in spring."