This week 12 January 2007

  • If you are planting ornamentals with established root balls, make sure you plunge the whole root system into water and hold it down until the bubbles stop rising, to make sure that you don’t have dry patches. It is risky planting this late (summer may make an appearance one day soon) and you will need to water any plants in thoroughly and to keep watering a couple of times a week to give the plant a chance to establish its roots.
  • Dampening down soil by hosing really only prevents dust. Worse, it can encourage plants to keep their roots very close to the surface which makes them more vulnerable if you don’t water for a while. Effective watering needs to be able to penetrate well below the surface and a slow soaking is more effective than a quick sprinkle. Watering soon after rain such as we had on Wednesday will help get the moisture deeper if you have dry areas.
  • Divide nerines now. Bring autumn flowering, they will be going into growth soon so don’t delay. Nerines are one bulb where the crown is above ground and the base plate below. They tend to flower better if they are a little congested in a clump, but established clumps can get too large.
  • Early spring bulbs such as daffodils, snowdrops (galanthus), snowflakes (leucojum) and bluebells are all dormant now so can be lifted and held to be planted out in March or April.
  • Plant winter brassicas, leeks and winter spinach as you make space by eating the summer veg.
  • It is very important to keep successional planting going of practically everything. Succesional sowing is the key to ensuring continued supply and avoiding having a feast or famine.
  • After this moist, humid weather, tomatoes will need spraying with copper to keep on top of blight. Keep pinching the laterals out on the tomatoes and keep plants to one or two main stems only. The reverse applies to melons and pumpkins where you pinch out the terminal buds to encourage the laterals to grow on which the fruit is set.