In the garden 27/06/2008

We were certainly right predicting that the weather could well turn to custard straight after the shortest day and it is unlikely that anybody but the hardiest of gardeners is going to feel motivated to be outside until matters improve. You can however look at drainage patterns and areas of ponding which fail to drain quickly and resolve to take action. Only bog plants like wet feet for long periods.

  • In coastal areas at least, the depths of winter only lasts about six or eight weeks. We warm up remarkably quickly by the end of August and real enthusiasts will be preparing garden beds now for the spring planting of vegetables.
  • If you are planting fruit trees, remember that they will perform best if you give them optimum conditions of good soil, space, protection from wind and all day sun.
  • Now is the traditional time to sow garlic and shallots but if you have followed our advice earlier, yours will already be shooting.
  • If you have fires, save your ash for the garden (as long as you have not used any tanalised timber or burned any plastics or polystyrene) but make sure that you spread it very thinly. The ash from wood burners can be concentrated. You can put the ash through the compost heap but make sure that the ashes are cold first. Wood ash is a fertiliser which can be used on lawns and in the vegetable garden.
  • Winter is the time to prune deciduous trees while you can see the shape and the tree is dormant.
  • If you plan a brutal prune on rhododendrons, do it now. You will lose the flowers this spring but cutting back to bare wood means that as the plant comes into growth in spring, you will get a much rejuvenated plant. It can be a bit of a kill or cure method but if it is a strong plant with just tufts of leaves at the end of its stems, it will usually shoot again well.

Mark Twain opined that a cauliflower is a cabbage with a college education. He may have written this prior to the popularity of broccoli and certainly prior to the appearance of broccoflower, both of which are commonly ranked even further up the social scale of vegetables.