Archive for March, 2017
As we move towards the sowing and growing season, we thought a few tips on soil wouldn’t go amiss! Soil is the foundation of all you’re doing in the garden and worth getting it right if you want to succeed! Luckily, Alison treated us to a tweetorial on soil for last night’s #WoolliesAskAlison. Here’s your round up!
- Soil: primarily depends on underlying rock for pH and drainage; you cannot change what lies beneath but can improve soil.
- pH: measures acidity-alkalinity. Most plants need soil in the range 6 (acid) to 8 (alkaline); 7 is neutral.
- Ericaceous plants: Azalea, Acer struggle on pH >7 because calcium making the soil alkaline restricts the availability of iron. Yellow leaf.
- Well Rotted Organic Matter improves dry sandy soil by adding nutrients and increasing water holding capacity, it also improves wet clay and silt soils by opening structure and increasing drainage. Magic stuff!
- Sandy soils: slightly acid because free draining and calcium leaches out over time. Easy dig but also lose other nutrients
- Chalky soil: often shallow (15cm) topsoil as soil erodes from top of hills into valleys. Bulk up with organic matter, try raised beds.
- Light soils: Mulch or cover sand/chalk soil in winter to reduce nutrient leaching and dig in spring.
- Clay: retains water and nutrients so great for hungry feeders like roses but needs lots organic matter and work to sow small seeds
- Sustainability: try to compost all garden waste and return it to plot to replenish nutrients. Hungry soil is pale and thin.
You can read more about soil – and learn a little trick on testing it at home – here
What are you growing this year? Let us know in the comment below – or on twitter @WoollyGreen
Grim start down here in my corner of the South West – it’s more November than March out there today! Something to cheer me up? A little round up of Alison’s fab tweetorial from last night. All about growing herbs – something that I’m more than a little on board with!
Who does not like scent and flavour? Many herbs are hardy so if your herb garden needs refreshing here are tips…
- Herbs cover all plant types: hardy, half-hardy, annual, perennial or shrub so make sure you know what you are planting
- Grow herbs you regularly cook with and try specialist herb nursery to find a huge range including unusual varieties
- Tarragon is less common but fabulous; choose French not Russian for superior flavour. Needs protection in bad winter
- Bay will grow into full size tree if not pruned regularly so keep potted or pruned; great topiary if you lack space
- Only need small quantities of herbs for cooking so can grow a single pot of each on patio, balcony or even windowsill
- Oregano and marjoram are 2 varieties of same herb. I grow golden oregano for Mediterranean flavour and leaf colour
- Mulch herb garden with gravel or chippings: stops soil splashing onto underside of leaves, reflects warmth, easy weeding
- Dill: annual, sow in sunny spot after risk of frost and water to prevent bolting. Fennel: perennial, drought tolerant
- Many herbs have coloured forms that taste and smell same and add more interest to garden: bronze fennel, purple sage
- Grow gorgeous lemon verbena instead of invasive lemon balm. Needs sheltered spot & bit harder to find but worth it
For more ideas – check out our herb board over on pinterest (where all these images are from complete with sources and correct URLs)
Enjoy spring bulbs now but don’t forget you can have flowers from bulbs, corms and tubers in summer too, last night, during #WoolliesAskAlison, we took a look…
Alliums come first in May, if you missed bulbs last autumn then look for potted plants now and keep for years
Half-hardy tuberous Begonias are among most flamboyant flowers: then dry off and keep frost free over winter
Gladioli are right back in fashion and add drama to a summer hot border. Plant out of wind or stake flower stems
Crocosmia are hardy corms ideal for planting in a cottagey border. Look for named variety for bigger flowers
Nerines give brilliant pink or white flowers in October in well drained, sunny spot. Plant now for display this year
Blue or white Agapanthus, evocative of summer holidays: plant now in pots and keep fairly dry and protect in winter
There are articles, instructions and kits aplenty for growing in raised beds: here are our hints on how and why…
- Raised beds can be decorative, adding structure, divide a large plot and allow easier access from dry paths
- Raised vegetable beds can make it easier to protect crops from rabbits and other grazing animals
- Good for poorly drained soil or high water table to take the crown and roots of plants out of the wet zone
- This beauty gives access to wheelchair gardeners and those who can’t bend down, it even stores water
- If you build raised beds to garden standing up, get qualified advice to ensure walls strong enough to retain soil
- Raised beds help close cropping vegetables by squeezing more plants in same space: 20cm walls will suffice
- Close cropping only gives a greater total yield if the plants have plenty of water and nutrients so feed well
- For shallow beds, dig over the ground beneath, remove perennial weeds prepare it as you would for planting direct
- With deep beds add stones or gravel to promote drainage at the bottom and fill with prepared top soil
- Never use creosoted sleepers for bed growing edible crops check that timber is treated with a suitable preservative
Thanks Alison! For fab tips and more, head over to her site.
- If your roses are showing buds growing, now is the time to prune – some of them
- For Bush Roses, spring is main time to prune so that they grow back to desired height and flower in June
- Species and old fashioned shrub roses flower on older wood so prune lightly after flowering not in spring
- Rugosa, Damask, Alba and Musk roses are also pruned after flowering: remove oldest stems at base for new growth
- General housekeeping remove dead and damaged wood first then weak stems and anything crossing or rubbing
- Always cut back to strong outward facing bud and make cut just above. Don’t leave a ‘snag’ of wood or it will die back
- Early flowering climbers such as Rosa banksiae are trimmed mid summer to remove unwanted new stems
- Bush and modern shrub roses can be cut hard back to 20-30cm to encourage strong new flowering stems
- Aim for an open goblet shape with plenty air and light in the centre feed and mulch after pruning
- If in doubt, check when to prune your particular rose variety and you’ll have a great display this summer
Huge thanks to Alison for the tips! You can get help direct from Alison here