Looking after our prickly friends

During the summer hedgehogs are very good at eating slugs, snails and other pests in our garden. When tidying up our gardens, we forget that they need somewhere to hibernate for the winter. A loose pile of sticks and leaves in a sheltered spot can act as a winter home for them.

Alternatively, you can build a hedgehog home like my sister and her husband did. They have been rewarded with having lodgers for the past two winters. There are lots of plans on the internet. Ones with a hinged lid lets you have a peep in to see if anyone has taken up residence!

Plantain salve to the rescue!

Take care at this time of year as wasps seek out a nice cosy spot to hibernate. Last week I got stung when putting on a pair of gardening gloves that I hadn't worn for a while.

Fortunately I had some plantain salve that I had made in the summer. It took the pain out of the sting almost instantly. I also use this salve for horse fly bites to great effect. Recipe to follow soon!

Saving the onion crop

If you have not already done so be sure to take in your onion crop now, as they will rot if left in the damp soil. When lifting your onions they should be dug out gently with a fork, as pulling them can bruise the flesh, resulting in rot developing in storage.

Having lifted the onions leave them to dry in an airy place under cover. Any that are misshapen or look like they might not keep, lay to one side and use these first. The remainder can then be tied up and stored in a dry shed for use over the winter.

Garlic planting time

Now is the time to get planting your garlic for next year. It needs to experience a period of cold to encourage the bulb to break into individual cloves. Don't use supermarket garlic as it may have been sprayed to discourage sprouting or may not be suitable to grow in our climate.

Break the bulb into individual cloves and discard the very small ones (eat them!). Plant the rest into prepared soil a couple of inches deep and 4 - 6 inches apart It can sometimes be hard to find garlic but I finally located mine in 'The Sweeny Garden Centre' New Ross.

Hydrangeas

Am loving the fact that ‘hydrangeas’ are the height of fashion at the moment! This one is called ‘hydrangeas paniculate pinkie winkie’!!

It slowly turns from white to a dusky pink, giving months of flowering value.