In the garden 02/01/2009

Not so much In the Garden This Week as New Year’s resolution time for the garden this year. You may like to resolve all or some of the following:

  1. Keep a garden diary. They are genuinely useful to refer to in the future and the more detailed, the more use they are in avoiding repeating mistakes and in getting timing right.
  2. Stay on top of weeds and prevent them getting large enough to seed. One year’s seeding really can lead to the next seven years of weeding.
  3. Curtail the routine use of chemical sprays and fertilisers and only resort to these when absolutely necessary. Replace plants which you have to spray regularly to keep looking good.
  4. Plant at least one good long term tree or gift same to somebody with more space if it is not practicable for you. Planting many good long term trees is better, but one is a start.
  5. Plant a fruit tree at home for both yourself and future residents.
  6. Compost your own green waste at home. Spare the landfill, save money and enrich your soil with your own compost.
  7. Resolve to lay mulch on your garden this year to nourish the soil and to reduce water loss.
  • If you have yet to try your hand at vegetable gardening and are wondering where to start, now is the time to prepare a patch for sowing winter crops. Make sure you have an area with maximum sunshine all year, good drainage and preferably not too exposed to wind. Start digging. If it is currently in grass, you need to remove the layer of turf completely (you can compost it) or all the grass will just grow again and choke out your little vegetable seedlings. Once it is dug over, push hoe all the first flushes of weed seeds which will germinate rapidly. Don’t rush this first stage of soil preparation. If you have a well cultivated patch to plant in to with at least some of the weed seeds dealt to, your chances of success are much greater and you still have plenty of time to get winter veg in.
  • There is time to sow seed of summer annuals for late summer and autumn colour. You will have more success if you sow the seed in trays and keep watered for planting out in a few weeks time when they have some size. Gaily broadcasting dry seed onto the garden beds is much easier but generally a waste of time.
  • If you have a problem with thrips on rhododendrons (the leaf sucking critters which turn leaves silver), you can get a really good hit rate by spraying now. If you use a systemic insecticide, the plant sucks it in so you do not need saturation coverage. If you use a contact insecticide, you need to get good coverage underneath the leaves where the thrips hide because it will only kill where it touches.

To close, some advice from Anne Raven:

Don’t wear perfume in the garden – unless you want to be pollinated by bees.