SCIENCE FOR THE GARDENER BOOK FINALLY LAUNCHED
AUTHOR BOOK SIGNING IN THE SOUTH WEST OF THE UK AT CHARD BOOKSHOP IN SOMERSET
What a wonderful month of the year to enjoy ,with every plant deciding winter is very definitely out and suddenly we are all caught out with plant growth ,where do we start to garden ?.
Have we tidied up all that winter detritus and done our essential maintenance of tool sharpening ,mower cleaning ,greenhouse cleaning and airing ,sorry to be boring but they do come first!
What comes next
The garden whatever size requires healthy soil ,so often taken for granted as everlasting and not requiring maintenance !! Its not !!.
- ADD SOME MYCOHRIZZA FUNGI TO ROOTS ESPECIALLY FOR TREE PLANTING AND ROOTGROW BOOST.AVAILABLE IN HORTICULTURAL SUPPLY RETAILERS .
- Lightly rake over to bring much needed oxygen to compacted winter soil surface and remember your plants breathe ( respiration) through the plant roots to a large degree so lightly digging over with a trowel in the root area NOT DAMAGING THE ROOT BALL ,will make a big difference to health and energy for growth of your garden in sping . Add some light mulch of fresh compost for soil improvement and preferably manure that contains the vital biological nitrogen producing microbes ,its like giving them a treat.
Soil is often so forgotten and therefore neglected but its soil that contains the vital food –nutrients that plants depend on ,nitrogen N for green growth ,phosphorus P for strength and potassium K for flowering .Look for NPK on your fertiliser and decide from your soil and plants what you require for ornamental or vegatable growth .Vegetables generally require alkaline soil for additional liming with a calcium product that may be required to avoid club root .
- May I strongly recommend an inexpensive but really useful pH meter to simply stick in to moist soil for an instant guide to your soil .These meters also give a fertility and moisture reading at a click of the settings.
- To add to these foods top up the soil with a dressing of fresh loam (clay –sand –silt mixture ) and then compost and manure that contain the living microbes producing the all important nitrogen mix for a really surprising thank you from your garden plants ,just enjoy the rewards as the season progresses.
- If you have Ericaceous plants ,Rhododendron family ,Heathers ,Camellias ,Pieris ,Enkianthus and kitchen growing Vaccinnium fruit shrubs such as delicious blueberries ,cranberries etc do not use ordinary clay loam ,use branded ericaceous soils that do not contain lime hating calcium ,but iron and manganese instead mixed in with grit, bark and plenty of organic (compost).As a chemist I favour generous ericaceous liquid feed this time of the year and especially when flowering occurs from now onwards.
Where to start ,at the beginning, but where in a garden !?
May I suggest perhaps a sheet of paper and simply list the following range of plants to think over and start looking for what you want out of planting in your garden and where ,sun or shade ,dry or moist its very important to the planting .
Small trees and shrubs ,some evergreen for winter pleasure ,some flowering such as Prunus ,winter Prunus , Amalankia is superb for all year round three leaf colour changes, Crab apples have all year colour and superb late ornamental fruits not forgetting quincies and so many special small fruit trees worth searching around for what you want from your garden .
Cane fruit should be cut hard back from old growth as all fruit is on new growth and start feeding . Plant broad beans and most vegetable seed sowing can commence with some protection from heavy rain and snails
Spring bulbs such as moisture loving tall Camassia, Erythronia (dogs tooth violet),fragrant Convallaria (Lily of the valley ) many can be grown in containers .
Borders and Beds ,Aquilegia ,Anemonies,Phlox ,and Armeria ,so many to chose from and tough Herbaceous perennials are superb ongoing value on sale soon.
Climbers divide Clematis into early woody , mid summer and late summer entirely new growth late summer long flowering to first frosts worth planting now .Grape vines ,attractive Ivy ,climbing hydrangea petiolaris ,sweat pea ,and try some easy grow colourful annuals from seed,Convallaria –blue convolvulus and orange Thunbergia-black eyed susie in a container with a cane ,what can be simpler to grow from seed in a pot.
Ground cover consider for difficult steep banks and difficult soil ,Cornus canadensis is a good choice but look in books and websites to see what they look like when covering ground .
Hedges can be bought on line with whips and I have found a mail order service of one (uk) hedges -for -u company really excellent in delivery packaging and healthy condition .
Now April is commencing I advise visiting garden centres and quality websites but make your orders worth while with delivery charges about a fiver ,just enjoy a relaxing look around as a ’plant hunting tourist ‘ travelling or on line the choice is wonderful but decide whats going to work for you and your garden plan first .
Take your time ,and above all enjoy the wonderful start to spring .
Tony Arnold MCIHort
Author Science for the Gardener Book
Secondary Science Resource to RHS Schools Gardening