As you work on perfecting your homemade wine, it is important to spend a little time each month tending to your garden. Here I have broken down by month some of the things that you will want to do to ensure a bountiful harvest that you can use when making your own wine at home.
Little can be done this month, and much will depend on how much has been done in previous months. If the weather is mild the planting of fruit trees and bushes may be undertaken, but do this only if the weather appears likely to stay mild for a few days at least.
Look to blackcurrant bushes and remove any swollen buds and burn them.
Get in supplies of insecticides and fertilizers.
Make sure all trained fruits are tied to their supports securely, and give each a mulch of manure if there is plenty available. If only limited amounts of manure or compost are available keep these till later on. Loganberries and raspberries not already cut down should be attended to and the new canes tied in. If the weather is mild a light forking of the top soil round fruit bushes and along rows of canes, followed by a dusting of lime, will do a lot of good. This will also unearth a few pests for the attention of birds.
All fruit trees and bushes should have been planted by now; if they have not, get them in before the end of the month.
Gooseberries and currants should be sprayed this month with paraffin emulsion to safeguard them against brown scale and red spider.
Watch blackcurrants for “big bud” and pinch off any suspects and burn them. Care must be taken now because the buds may be at the point of opening. Fork round bushes and canes as for February if this was not done last month.
Spray blackcurrants with a lime and Sulfur wash where “big bud” is suspected. Repeat if necessary. The main activity in the garden now will be spreading compost or manure and keeping down weeds before they get a hold. Any weak growths on fruit bushes may be cut out so as to leave the stronger growths to bear the fruit. This will also help the growth of new wood on which next year’s fruit will be borne.
To keep strawberries clean put clean straw round the plants. Before doing this dress the bed with two ounces of super phosphate per square yard and hoe this in lightly. Give all fruit a mulch of manure or compost, or dead leaves. Begin weekly feeding with liquid manure.
Watch all fruit for signs of pests and diseases and spray with proprietary brands of insecticide.
Gooseberries often need thinning at this time of the year. Do this so that the smaller fruits are left to develop fully. Make wine with the thinning. If the weather is very dry, mulch fruit bushes with manure, compost, leaves, straw, lawn mowing or whatever is available. Mulching conserves moisture in the soil and helps the fruit to swell. This can increase the annual yield by as much as a third. If green-fly appears spray with a proprietary brand of insecticide.
Fruit bushes and trees make rapid growth at this time of the year. If there is any suggestion of overcrowding, cut out some of this new growth, leaving the strongest to grow on.
Look to the vines; if there is an abundance of long straggling growths, cut some of them out, leaving those you will want for cutting back in the autumn. Runners from strawberry plants may be pegged down to make new plants. Peg down the strongest young crown on the runners that come from the plants bearing the heaviest crop. Pinch off the runner an inch beyond the crown to be pegged down. If this is not done the runner will continue to run and develop new crowns; this will weaken the parent plant and will also produce an abundance of new weakling plants. If tree-fruit crops are heavy, thin to two or three fruits to each cluster. Far better to have three good fruits to each bunch than five or six under-sized ones.
Keep down weeds with the hoe. Gather apples and pears if ready and look to later varieties: thin these as necessary.
Loganberries and raspberries that have borne fruit may be cut down now and the new canes tied in.
Clean up round trees and bushes and burn all leaves if pests and diseases have been prevalent. The ash, if there is enough of it, should be stored for hoeing in round fruit bushes in the spring. Hoeing now will help to prevent weeds growing from seeds dropped earlier. Pegged-down strawberry runners may be lifted now, severed from the parent plant and planted out. Strawberry beds need replacing every three years; it is a good plan then to replace a third of the bed each year with these new plants.
Clean up and burn all rubbish round fruit bushes and canes. If loganberries and raspberries have not yet been cut down and the new canes tied in, do this now.
Prune currants and gooseberry bushes.
Plant fruit bushes and early varieties of tree fruits.
All those jobs that you should have done during August, September and October must be done now.
Look to blackcurrants for “big bud”; pinch off infected buds and burn them.
Plant and prune vines, fruit trees, bushes and canes.
Make sure that you are getting a good supply of compost ready for next year.