Action plan: CIAR BYRNE’s essential jobs for your garden this week
- UK gardening expert says early autumn is the best time to start harvesting pears
- READ MORE: CIAR BYRNE’s essential jobs for your garden this week
PREPARE FOR PEAR PICKING
Fruit trees seem to take it in turns to have bumper crops.
Last year, we had more plums and damsons than we knew what to do with. This season, we have hardly any in our garden.
Our two pear trees, having enjoyed a rest in 2022, are now laden with dozens of lovely golden blush fruits.
Early autumn is the best time to begin harvesting them, depending on the variety. To check whether your pears are ready, put a finger on the stalk and gently prise it away from the branch.
If it comes away easily, it is ready to pick. If there is resistance, leave it a little longer.
Depending on the variety, early autumn is the best time to start harvesting pears
Pears should be handled carefully to prevent bruising which can lead to rotting.
Place the fruit in a trug or basket, then store on a cool, dry shelf, making sure that the individual pears are not touching each other.
Take a few at a time and ripen them on a sunny windowsill. When the top is soft to the touch, they are ready to eat.
This is also a good time to think about buying bare-root pear trees to plant over winter.
A list of good varieties to choose from includes Concorde, Conference and Beurre Hardy.
HARDY ANNUALS CAN TOUGH IT OUT
Start cornflowers, calendula, candytuft, and larkspur now
It might seem counterintuitive to sow flower seeds in September, just as the nights are lengthening.
But hardy annuals which can survive over winter will benefit from having time to get going before the first frosts.
You can either sow them in trays or pots in a greenhouse or cold frame, or directly into a prepared seed bed in a sheltered spot.
You can also sow them where they are to flower in a border if you have the space.
Cornflowers, calendula, candytuft, and larkspur can all be started now in this way, leaving you more time to concentrate on other tasks next spring.
YOUR OWN ISAAC NEWTON TREE
Sir Isaac Newton saw an apple drop at Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire, which led to the physicist to ask why fruit always fell to the ground
Ten saplings propagated from the apple tree that inspired Sir Isaac Newton’s theory of gravity are being auctioned to raise cash for the upkeep of his birthplace.
Woolsthorpe Manor in Lincolnshire is where he saw an apple drop, prompting the physicist to ask why fruit always fell to the ground.
The National Trust alongside Blue Diamond Garden Centres will sell the saplings in an online auction which will go live on Monday September 4 until September 29 at bluediamond.gg/ newtons-apple-tree.
The reserve for each tree is £500 — the ten highest bids will get one each.
PLANT OF THE WEEK
Tithonia Rotundifolia is also known as the Mexican sunflower
I first saw this vibrant orange annual, also known as the Mexican sunflower, in the hot border of the gardens at Glyndebourne.
It is well suited to the opera, as it adds a touch of drama to a planting scheme.
This year I have grown it from seed in my own garden, and I’m delighted with the effect.
Growing to a height of up to 1.8m, it prefers full sun, and is ideal for the middle of a flower bed.
Sow seeds in mid to late spring and plant out once the risk of frosts has passed, for a dazzling late summer display.
I would like to grow amaryllis to give as Christmas presents; how should I go about it?
T. Eadie, Hexham, Northumberland.
Amaryllis or Hippeastrum take six to eight weeks to flower, so to have them ready for Christmas plant by mid-September.
Soak the bulbs for a few hours, then plant in a container filled with compost. This can be smallish as they prefer to be potbound.
Only the roots need to be covered, leaving the top of the bulb exposed. Place somewhere warm and dry like an airing cupboard, until you have an inch or two of growth.
Then give the amaryllis some light, but keep them warm to promote the flowers.
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