Gardening Through The Seasons with Margaret Finch

This is the time of year when a prominent site displayed on our doorstep is the Pumpkin shining bright orange with a scary or beaming smiley faces, but Pumpkins are not just for Halloween.They are well worth growing for a great soup vegetable and for fun although 90% water. To achieve the British record of 1000kg you need to be extremely dedicated and of course the right variety. My efforts of growing one to 120 kg now seems small but I was delighted at the time and an average weight being from 1kg upwards still makes me feel proud .It’s a fantastic hobby and well worth growing.

There’s lots of different varieties with great names a lovely small Pumpkin ‘Becky’ is a manageable size or Ghost rider, Howden Big Boy and Hundredweight much larger makes them exciting to grow. The Squash has a great flavour to mix with the Pumpkin as a soup. It has similar growth patterns, some growing on ground vines or a bush like Courgettes.


My favourites being the Uchiki Kuri which is sweet and nutty and Sweet Dumpling with it’s distinct cream and green striped skin. I like growing the ornate Turks Turban for decoration although edible. Squashes Store well and will keep for months being sweet and high in fibre unlike the Pumpkin.

My tip for cooking both is to cut in large slices or in halves for the smaller ones.

Place skin down on a foil covered baking tray with a drizzle of oil ,Nut oil the best a little 

Pepper and salt, roast for half an hour until soft and enjoy as a roasted vegetable or use in soup or risotto .

A vegetable well worth growing and definitely not just for Halloween.

Enjoy your Gardening and stay safe.


Questions and Answers with Margaret Finch

If you have any gardening questions you would like answered, please e mail us at

  1. When is the best time to prune roses?

Rose Pruning – in the South of England March is a good Pruning time, in Scotland- April.Cut to the ground any Dead, Diseased and Damaged parts and  
cut out any crowded and crossing stems.

If H.Ts. Cut down to three to four buds above ground 
Leaving shorty study stems of about 6 inches.

Take out the above 3 D’s and 2C’s. Any old stems as flowering will be on last year’s growth. Fan out and tie in these new stems and reap the benefits of your hard work.

2. We seem to be having a problem with white fly on our hellebores?

Sorry to hear the problem I’ve not ever seen the white fly on Hellebores but understand 
the problem.
I would cut to the ground affected leaves as soon they need cutting down anyway.
Give a good mulch to help energies plant and keep moisture in the ground. You could use an insecticide if there are still white fly and do this after flowering again next year. 
Good luck would hate not to see them growing.

3. What is the best way to manage fruit trees?

Always a good idea to water in very hot weather and when planting any tree s, a plastic pipe planted with top just at soil level so the tree can be watered and reaches roots. Look in Garden Centres for winter insecticides to protect against any pests left from this year and sticky bands for Spring on the trunks to protect  against codling moth.

Young Apple trees can be tip pruned in the Summer to reduce leaf cover and promote fruit growth.

We prune old very old trees from January to February back to two buds. Don’t forget the 3D’s  remove Dead Damaged and Diseased Wood and 2C’s Prune out crossing and crowded branches.

Only prune Plums after flowering 
Only prune cherries  and pears lightly.

And I hope you have plenty of Fruit .


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