Time’s up for baskets but the blooms live on

Mixed begonia
Mixed begonia
It's amazing what you can achieve with a broom handle, a pinch of seed and... children.

BRIAN KIDD: Get the children in your life to do the hard work

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Some of our flower baskets have come to an end, particularly where they were exposed to cold winds.

But in sheltered places the begonias are still brilliant and will continue to flower right up until the frosts arrive.

When? I don’t know but let’s hope there are no frosts for a few weeks.

Please remember that tuberous begonias can be grown in future years, so when they finish flowering don’t throw them away.

Begonia Non Stop and the lesser-known Begonia Apricot Shades have been stunning this year and as I write they are as good as they were in August.

Once the frosts kill the tops , all the nutrients travel down to the roots and at the base of the flower stem a tiny tuber forms.

The tuber swells quite quickly as the nutrients are passed down and this can be seen once the plants are taken out.

A lot of people don’t even look but gardeners are mostly optimistic and carefully part the compost to rescue the tubers.

I must stress the plants should be allowed to die down so that the stems and leaves are entirely dead.

Store the tubers in dry peat in a frost-free, mouse-free place all winter and water the peat at the end of February.

At home in the garden, groups of autumn crocus look lovely at the front of a curvaceous border and the colchicums planted only five weeks ago are brilliant.

The nerines are on time and provide a splash of pink on strong stems about 18 inches high.

I thought you might be interested in the final part of your gardening feature, especially if you are allotmenteers.

Reg has an allotment at Fareham and grew Maris Piper potatoes as this is his favourite roaster.

He tells me he is a bit disappointed because the roast potatoes are not cooking like they normally do.

In addition to this he had about five to seven nice large tubers on every root, a far superior crop than last year but there were about seven baby potatoes .

Potatoes need to mature in order to get perfectly-roasted tubers.

After about six weeks in store they will be perfect but if the potatoes are cut in half so that the largest area is at the base of the baking dish, this will ensure you get a mashy base. Very simple but it works.

The baby potatoes were produced because of the long spell of dry weather followed by heavy rain. Don’t despair, wash the baby ones and boil them in their skins.