The basic method of composting is given this month in our Flower Gardening section, however, although most spent organic materials from the flower garden can be placed on the compost heap when it comes to vegetables there are several items that should NOT be put on the compost heap. The most important category to avoid are the remains of plants that contain soil pests, such as carrot fly and cabbage root fly, and soil borne diseases such as club root of brassicas.
Any vegetation that is known, or thought, to be suffering from any of the above should be either burnt on the bonfire or put in the dustbin. If added to the compost heap, there is always the risk that the pests and diseases will survive and attack again next year. Another potential problem is weeds, which, unless the compost heap reaches a high enough temperature, can still set seed.
Although there is little risk of a severe frost this early in the autumn in the Midlands and south, northern gardeners are less fortunate. If you live is an area susceptible to early frost, bend or break an outside leaf and lay it over any semi-mature or mature curds to keep the frost off. Most modem varieties have a self protecting habit, so it is always best to grow them where early frosts are common. Australian varieties, such as 'Barrier Reef' and 'Brisbane', are especially good in this respect.
Lift main crop potatoes by the middle of the month. Dig them up carefully, lay them out to dry, and store them in bags in a cold, dark, frost-free place. One important point with all root crops is that when lifting them you must be very careful not to stick the fork through them. Any damaged ones should be used up quickly or they will rot.
A final sowing of lettuce can be made in frames in the first half of the month to give a supply in the spring. Choose a hardy variety, such as 'Valdor' or 'Plus'.
Spring cabbage plants should be planted out in their final positions as soon as possible, if not already done. If left any later, they may fail to make good plants by the onset of winter.
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