Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Spending time gardening outside in your open space is or should be a fun occupation. Whatever your situation is, do organise it so that this objective is achieved, as, if it becomes too much or a bit of a chore, you will not have your heart in it. Things will go downhill fast and you will have failures.

Spring fever

Everyone knows the burst of energy we get when the longer days of spring arrives and this enthusiasm can be extended by getting things done and not thinking about it, and that includes gardening.

If at this stage you have missed out or have hit a wall as things are getting on top of you, then it’s time to take stock and reassess the plan for the rest of the summer.

A common problem is to take on too much and then it can go pear-shaped when weeds take over your planted areas and you become disillusioned.

Natural look

For whatever reason, if your garden has gone wild, do not despair. Set to and tackle one area at a time whenever you can manage it, as the ‘one bite at a time’ quote will work wonders with, say, spending 30 minutes a day catching up. You’ll see a huge difference at the end of the week.

It’s at this stage that you might get a ‘light bulb’ moment and think about embracing the ‘wild garden’ look that is currently gaining popularity. Well, you might as well know that wild gardening takes about as much time as the normal routine and it takes a bit of effort in establishing it.

Lazy beds

There are a number of ways of reducing the time you spend on the garden. Included in this is letting your garden grow ‘on the wild side’ and not be too particular with having a neat and regimented design.

The range of hardy trees, shrubs, conifers and climbers are probably the easiest to cultivate with minimum input and if they are grouped and merged into beds together there is not much to do except keep it weed-free until the plants cover over the ground. Pruning with a hedge trimmer when needed every so often will keep them in a reasonable shape.

Wild flowers

With the current fashion for wild gardening, there is an increasing awareness of the need to help our pollinating insects by creating wild flower areas. The big mistake is to scatter wild flower seed among an established grass area and expect them to grow, because they won’t.

Wild flowers grow in relatively poor ground and do well when not in competition with grass. It’s best to start with clean ground, free of any perennial weeds such as couch grass and bindweed, and if this means delaying the sowing for a season then do this and wait a year.

Sowing is best completed from April to July and after spreading the seed, rake it in so there they are covered and mixed with the soil.

After that, it’s a case of waiting for germination and foliage to appear which might be slow with only a few flowering come the first season but the following seasons should be full of blooms from spring until the frosts.

Maintenance of these areas is best achieved by cutting the foliage once in the spring and then again once in the autumn, taking away the dead material. At the same time, any bare patches can be topped up with additional seed.

Tip of the Week…

The time for growing vegetables is closing fast but there are many that you can still sow and if the weather is reasonable the crop will mature enough to give you a good harvest.

The crops for sowing now include some varieties of broad beans, beetroot, cabbage such as ‘Winter Jewel’ to overwinter for spring harvesting or plant cabbage plugs for eating in the autumn such as carrot, ‘White Lisbon’ onion and of course salads including lettuce.

Those who have a protected structure such as a tunnel or glasshouse will be able to grow a wider range but either way once we’re into August, I find it’s not worth the trouble to attempt any new crops. Water regularly and feeding twice a month will ensure better harvesting.

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