Greenfingers - October 2018

I’ve seen two humming bird hawk moths this summer, and whilst they remind me of dragonflies with their ability to hover and dart, I have yet to see one land. Photographing dragonflies is relatively simple when they perch on a prominent twig, but the moth is trickier. It’s more like the swift of the moth family – it never lands.

Having cleared some of the vegetable patches, it may be worth considering sowing a green manure to overwinter and keep the weeds down. This would be dug in before it flowers in the spring, a few weeks before planting up the new season’s vegetable crop. There are several options available which can be sown during the autumn; Grazing rye (Secale cereale), Winter field bean (Vicia faba) and Winter tares (Vicia sativa). Take precautions against slugs and snails which may overwinter in the greenery.

It’s time to plant up pots of Christmas flowering bulbs. ‘Prepared’ hyacinths need between 8 and 10 weeks in cool, dark conditions followed by about 3 weeks indoors to flower. Check the pot while roots are being established during the cool period, ideally at around 9°C, to ensure that the compost is not too wet or dry, and don’t be tempted to bring the arrangement into the light until the shoot is 1.5” to 2” long. The flower spike and leaves should then grow at the same rate, so move it into a cooler, darker position for a few days if the leaves grow faster. Think about support for the flower spike before it becomes top-heavy, and plant the bulb out in the garden when the flower is over.

Pete Smith