Posts Tagged ‘Pruning’

The year’s garden, week by week.

Friday, March 11th, 2011

March 11th. 2011

March 2nd week

A bit more structure to my blog this week.

Kitchen garden

The spring is in full swing now. Farmers are extremely busy cultivating the land and sowing , so take a leaf from their book and get busy.

1. If you haven’t already got the maincrop potato tubers, onion sets and garlic, planted, do so this weekend.

2. Prepare the ground for the beans. See item no 10 Second week Feb. blog.. Do not plant Beans out yet, much too cold. Get them started in root trainers or small deep pots, indoors in the greenhouse.

3. Parsnips can be difficult to germinate. I sometimes sow a batch in Feb/March, when conditions allow, sometimes it works, sometimes, they fail to rise to the occasion. If you want to take the chance out of parsnip success, leave until May to sow them.

4. Get all the cultivation of your outdoor growing areas done now if you have not already done so.

5. Areas already prepared, keep an eye for sprouting weeds and remove immediately before they seed and spread. For ease of maintenance of kitchen garden, all areas surrounding should be kept weed free at all times.

6. Sow some early carrots in the greenhouse

7. Consider harvesting the rainwater. We purchased 2 new large plastic oil tanks and rigged them up to the two large sheds. Great for watering the greenhouse, especially the seed trays and seedlings. The mains water is very hard.

8. Home composting. If you can get a tumbler composter it is the fastest, most efficient type. You would need two. Make sure, when they are full, that you will physically be able to turn them. Some designs are painful! Otherwise, simple heaps in the kitchen garden, well composed of different layers of green & brown material will work fine. Compost happens!

9. Mulch the fruit bushes, especially Raspberries & feed

10. Gardening Tools should be cleaned thoroughly. At the beginning of winter a bucket of sand with some waste oil mixed in, is a great way of cleaning and preserving tools in good condition. Just plunge the steel part in and out, wipe off and store. The bucket of sand without oil is a great quick cleanser at this time of the year when you are using the tools constantly.

Ornamental Garden

1. There is still time to plant bare rooted trees, hedges, roses etc., but hurry, the sap is rising!

2. Divide and transplant snowdrops now

3. The lawn can be cut if ground conditions allow. Raise the mower a notch. Cutting it too short now will encourage new soft growth which will damage in cold spells. Do a critical survey of the lawn now. Are there weeds, moss, bare patches, build up of thatch, looking bedraggled after the winter? Talk more about this in April.

4. If your lawn mower was not serviced after last year’s season, bring it in now for a service. Blunt blades leave jagged grass. Not a cool look!

5. Keep ahead of the weeds. Tip along the beds with your hoe. A few minutes regularly hoeing in early spring will save hours of valuable BBQing and relaxing time, later in the summer. When you have beds all clean and fresh, apply a 75mm layer of fine bark mulch. It keeps the moisture in and annual weeds to a minimum. Perennial weeds like Docs and nettles will persist unless the root is removed by manual or chemical means.

6. Clean out all last years pots. Put a layer of stones in the base, then a layer of fleece blanket, then some good top soil mixed with compost and grit sand. All set for planting later in the spring.

7. Pruning. When Forsythia is finished flowering, cut out the flowering branches. Winter heathers, give them a shave after flowering. Dogwoods, prune back young dogwoods hard, by about 2/3rds. Old overgrown shrubs can be rejuvenated by cutting back hard now. Never cut the following back hard, Broom, Lavender, Heathers. Escallonia hedges have been suffering badly from blight and frost damage for the past 3 years. My advice in coastal areas is to cut back hard now, feed with pelletted chicken manure and keep them weedfree at the base. Inland Escallonias, if the frost doesn’t kill them this year it may next year, consider planting a hardy hedge. They are not so great in areas prone to heavy frost. The same applies to Griselinea hedges. Hardy hedges include, Beech, Holly, Hawthorn, Laurel, Hornbeam, Yew.

8. Plant some Lillium bulbs in pots. Will give a great show later and if given a bit of protection for the winter will come back next year.

9. If you want to cover an unattractive wall or fence, fix lines of vine eyes with rust proof heavy wire and plant Rosa Madame Alfred Carriere, along with Clematis Jackmanii superb (in the same planting hole). Train the stems onto the wires as they grow. Enjoy!

10. Bring a bit of nature into your garden, butterflies & bees. Plant Verbena bonariensis x lots, Buddleia, Sedum spectable, Cotoneaster, Fuchsia, Lavender,

11. Visit your local garden centre and see what,s looking good now. Plant if you are ready to do so, otherwise take a note in your new hardcover garden note book of what’s looking good and take a photo, for future reference.

12. Enjoy your garden this weekend!

My plant of the week:

Contorted Hazel

Contorted Hazel

Tip of the week: When planting onion setts, snip off the little dead shoots. This will help prevent birds from lifting them out of the ground.

The year’s garden, week by week

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

March First week

Golden treasure!

Golden treasure!

I wander’d lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o’er vale and hills,

When all at once I saw a crowd,

A host of golden daffodils,

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,

Fluttering and dancing in the breeze

W. Wordsworth

What a beautiful description of this wonderful sight at this time of year. It lifts your heart and spirits.

There is something about spring, March in particular, that just energises me. Maybe its the emergence of new life from the barren, frozen ground. The magic of it never ceases to amaze me.

Now for some more magic.

The garden is really awakening now in my neck of the woods, which is a mild area. Camellias have been in bloom for a month now, Daffodils, Crocus, Snowdrops & Hyacinths are showing off their new spring coats. The winter Cherry (Prunus Autumnalis) is putting on a grand finale show of little pink, fairy-light, flowers. The beautiful red stems of the Rhubarb are glistening in the sunshine. Spring has definitely sprung!

So, what should we be doing in the garden?

  • Sow some lettuce seed indoors. It germinates fast. Use Jiffy 7’s for a change. The seed germinates in this peat disc and then you can transplant it without disturbance into the ground or into a pot. Sprinkle a little gritty sand around it to deter Mr slimey!
  • Mulch the Raspberries
  • Get some strawberry plants and plant them indoors (greenhouse or cloche) or outdoors. Existing outdoor strawberry plants should be tidied, removing old leaves and rubbish & letting air flow around the crown. To save space in the greenhouse, you could plant the strawberries in a raised planter, and sow other crops underneath. This makes it easier to remove the plants after fruiting. I never leave strawberry plants in the greenhouse after fruiting because of the risk of inviting vine weevil and they never fruit well indoors in the second year anyway.
  • Take advantage of the last couple of weeks of the bare rooted season. Bare rooted hedges & trees are cheaper! Get your skids on though, the sap is rising!
  • Buy yourself a soil thermometer to check the temperature of the soil before sowing seeds. if you sow seeds in soil that is too cold, they will die a miserable cold death!
  • Have a look at the finances. See if you can rise to a small greenhouse, polytunnel or even a simple coldframe. We have a polytunnel approx 13m x 6m. We grow the following in there; potatoes, strawberries, garlic, chilies, peppers, tomatoes, more tomatoes (we like tomatoes), mangetout, basil, more & more basil (we like basil very much) parsley, rocket, lettuce, coriander. We also like to bask in our polytunnel in the winter sunshine or sit for a glass of well earned wine… lovely!
  • Catch up on all the work you did not get around to in February.
  • Get lots of early nights because next week I am going to give you a lot of work. March is the busiest month of the spring.

Plants of the week:Prunus autumnalis (Winter Cherry, small tree) Cornus alba Sibirica (Red Dogwood)

I feel a tart coming on!

I feel a tart coming on!

Talk to you next week.

The year’s garden, week by week

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

February Second Week

February can be a mixed bag, as far as weather goes. In the south east, the daffs are just starting to bloom, an early Camellia is in full bloom and the birds are starting to reward us with some singing in appreciation for their winter feeding. And now, down to business!

  1. Investigate making your own garden compost if you don’t do so already. With a bit of seaweed added it is the best feed, organic or otherwise, you can give your plants and its free.
  2. Check all the stakes and straps on all your young trees. Adjust the straps to avoid damaging bark. Ensure that the top of the stake is not damaging the tree bark.
  3. If rabbits and cats are scratching the barks of young trees, slit a 300mm length piece of 75mm diameter, drainage pipe and secure on to base of tree. This will also help to prevent strimmer damage.
  4. Continue planting bare rooted hedging, ornamental trees, indigenous trees, fruit trees, roses & fruit bushes.
  5. In mild areas, the weeds are starting to peep up their little invasive, prolific heads. Out the hoe and show them who’s boss. Catch them before they flower and it will save alot of work later in the year.
  6. All fruit trees could do with some sulphate of potash now (1/2 oz to sq. yd) This will help them produce fruit. If the trees are weak, a feed of pelletted chicken manure will help. Avoid over doing this. You do not want a lot of leaves and no fruit!
  7. Bit of shrub pruning. Buddleia, Winter Jasmine, Red & yellow Dogwoods, Winter flowering heathers (after flowering)
  8. Divide herbaceous perennials now, lupins, Asters, delphiniums etc. (Avoid Montbretia, crocosmia, scabious, Paoenie Rose)
  9. Roll lawns if the ground is not wet
  10. Make a trench outdoors for sowing some beans. The runner beans look fantastic and can be used as a summer screen for a patio area. (Apart from their great protein value) Dig a good trench, approx 18″ deep. Put in a good layer of dung or compost from your compost bin, even if it has not rotted. Cover this with some top soil mixed with Peat. Build up a little over ground level to allow for settlement. Get the Runner Beans started indoors in root trainers or deep, small pots. Wait until May before transplanting them outdoors. Harden off for a week or two before putting them outdoors. Sweetcorn are also great for a summer patio screen. Preparation must be well done though.
  11. Remove last years veg roots if not already done. Use them in your new compost heap.
  12. If weather / ground conditions allow, prepare ground for kitchen crops.
  13. If you have never grown an edible crop before, choose one and grow it this year. Onions are easy. start small, try not to get carried away. Pea & bean family are interesting for children. It may just do the trick in getting them to eat THEIR greens also.

Garden tip: If at first you dont succeed, dont get disheartened. Its like riding a bike, a few wobbles and falls, grazed knees, grazed egos and all of a sudden you are sailing.

The year’s garden, week by week

Thursday, February 17th, 2011

Welcome to my blog, gardeners. I am going to take you through the gardening year, week by week. Ok, so this is the third week in February, so we will have to do a little catch up. I will do first, second & third week in Feb now and get up to date! Your comments and feedback are appreciated.

February First Week

  1. Polytunnel & greenhouse owners can get their early potatoes, early carrots & strawberries in now. Some garlic bulbs can also be planted in the greenhouse. Sow some parsley seed also.
  2. If the ground outdoors is nice & dry, you can start preparing for onions & outdoor veg
  3. Start off some beans in deep pots or root trainers and keep indoors in greenhouse or cold frames. Good compost is necessary eg. John Innes no 1 or 2
  4. Fruit tree (Apples, figs) pruning should be completed this week or next week.
  5. Prune gooseberries.
  6. Cut autumn fruiting raspberries back down to approx 300mm (1′) from the ground
  7. New hedges are available ‘bare rooted’ until mid March. Much cheaper than potted. If frost & snow has devastated your Escallonia & Griseliniea hedges, you probably need to replace them with ‘frost hardy’ hedges eg, Beech, Hornbeam, Laurel, Hawthorn etc. There has been a huge tendancy in the past 15 years to plant non frost hardy plants in inland cold districts. Winters are back to stay, so suit the plants to your garden location.
  8. Do not be tempted to cut lawns on a lovely sunny February “pet” day, if the ground conditions are very wet. Compaction will occur. Stay off lawns in frosty weather also as damage to the grass will occur. The lawn cutting will start soon enough so take it easy for another few weeks!
  9. Visit a good garden centre (that actually has plants in stock!) Very important to visit garden centres every month to see whats looking good. That way, you will have a good spread of seasonal colour & interest in your garden.
  10. Bulbs available now for Lilliums and Begonias. Lovely for pots for summer colour. Get some & get them started in a greenhouse or conservatory. They will come back every year if you protect them for the winter!
  11. Rhubarb stools available now also. You could plant one or two through the shrubbery. They look fantastic as an ornamental plant and taste yummy in a Rhubarb tart. Snails love them too!
  12. Plan what you are going to sow in the kitchen garden and start organising your seed. Dont bother sowing stuff you dont like to eat.. you would be surprised at how many people plant beetroot automatically but never actually harvest it.
  13. Check out GIY and join. Great meeting for people growing their own food, learners and well seasoned growers.
  14. Sign up for my gardening classes starting in March.

Gardening Tip: Do a bit and leave a bit!