For anyone who has planted out young veg plants this autumn, or who has mature veggies still growing in their plot, here are 3 ways to make sure they grow well over the next few months.
- Protect well from slugs and pigeons – these are most likely going to be the main pests over the next few weeks, so get your plants well-defended… beer traps work well for keeping slugs off plants that are growing in the ground. You can use copper tape around pots, wool pellets and grit barriers are a good option spread around the base of plants. For pigeons, a mesh net over rows of brassicas is a very wise move.
- Give plants as much warmth as you can – as the weather turns colder, one of the best things you can do for your plants is to keep them a bit warmer. Most of the winter veggies (winter salads, spinach, chard, kale, brassicas, mustard leaves and roots) will stand well in cold weather and frosts, but they will do better if they are warmer, so it is well worth covering with horticultural fleece, or possibly building a small hoop tunnel to cover with clear polythene. Cloches and cloche tunnels are really useful for covering smaller plants. You can usually buy them easily in the garden centre – just choose those that seem like they will last several seasons.
- Feed plants – it seems a bit strange to be feeding plants at this time of year, but it is such a good idea as a boost in nutrients will help them to withstand the winter ahead. You can either use a liquid feed or mulch around the base of plants with comfrey/nettles that have been soaked in bucket of water for a week or two. A good quality compost or very well-rotted manure also makes a good mulch at this time of year. Sprinkle some wormcast on the surface of soil as well, as it will break down with rainfall and be worked into the soil without you needing to do very much at all!