Around the garden

Potted runner beans are the most productive vegetable and the most attractive.

Instant displays can be achieved by using potted colour from nurseries to brighten up bare or dull areas in the garden while waiting for spring and summer flowers to bloom.

Going potty

Plant bare-rooted trees and shrubs now but container grown plants can be planted at any time. Evergreen plants do well if planted in early spring.

Pine needles gathered from beneath Radiata pines make a good mulch for acidic loving plants like the camellias, azaleas, ericas, rhododendrons, blueberries and strawberries.  

Place needles 15cms deep remembering to leave space around the stems.

Potash is used to encourage flowering and to slow down leaf growth and is particularly beneficial  for tomatoes, potatoes, peas and beans.

Incorporate plenty of organic material into the vegetable garden ready for planting the heavy feeders such as corn and tomatoes.  

Re-pot container plants that have been in the same pot for more than three years because, after this length of time, potting mixes tend  to lose their quality.  

Use a good quality potting mix and add some water-storing crystals to improve the ability of the mix to absorb and retain water.

For the smaller gardens, pot-grown runner beans are not only one of the most productive vegetables but also their eye-catching scarlet flowers allow them to double as ornamental  plants. 

Use a 60cm pot with four support canes, to make a tee pee, then plant three seeds per cane and thin to leave the strongest one.  

Nip out the tip of  each plant when the required height is reached.  

Stop and Share

On my way home on Sunday afternoon I passed a gardener attempting to shift a huge pile of woodchips using  a shovel.  

From my many years of experience I know that the best tool for this job is a garden fork.  I know you will say ‘surely the chips will fall between the tynes’ … well as long as the mulch is tightly packed, which is usually the case when unloaded from a truck, the chips should stay together.  

I turned the Land Rover around and  drove back to find a hot, muscle sore gardener almost at his wits end. When I told him about using a fork he was very grateful indeed.  

That evening, both of us would feel all the better, both from giving and for receiving some good advice. That is, after all, one of the joys of gardening, the sharing of ideas and knowledge.

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