May 1, 2009 In the Garden

* It is great to see the NPDC hort staff offering practical workshops on technical gardening skills. First up tomorrow (Saturday) and again on Monday is a free demonstration on pruning stone fruit trees. For absolute novices, they are the fruit which have large seeds called stones (rather than small pips) – in other words plums, peaches and apricots. Whoever is taking it will know what they are doing and if you are have fruit trees at home, here is an ideal opportunity to learn more. Just turn up tomorrow or Monday at 11am at the orchard in Brois St.

* It is autumn clean-up time with a vengeance in the ornamental garden. Try not to keep putting it off because when winter really bites and the ground gets cold, it can be much harder to motivate yourself. Cut back leggy perennials, rake up (or rake out and disperse) large patches of fallen leaves which can get blown into one area, cut back plants which flop onto the lawn or path at this time of the year and generally get right through the garden, even if you do much of it with the ever useful leaf rake.

* Look out for spring bulbs, many of which are just pushing through the surface. Stomping on them does not do them any good and can break off the one flowering shoot on some varieties.

* Mark disappearing plants which you want to lift and divide. Some plants are what are known as deciduous perennials – in other words they go underground entirely in winter. It can be very difficult to remember their exact location later.

* Don’t delay any longer on sowing lawns and if you are in a cold spot you may already have missed the boat. You want enough warmth to germinate the seeds and get the growth started before the cold of winter.

* If you followed our advice a couple of weeks ago about making the first cuts to wrench a larger plant that you wish to move, you can follow up now with the second cuts to the other two sides of the roots.

* Veg gardeners have pretty well harvested everything harvestable, bar late potatoes and have long ago sown and planted their winter veg. It is now planning time for spring. While some advocate fertilising and mulching the bare ground now as part of preparation, we don’t see any logic to doing this until there are plants in the ground to benefit. We subscribe to the sow it down in a green crop brigade. You can however be preparing the garlic patch which will be planted soon. Sow broad beans and in mild areas you can get a crop of carrots in for the spring. Rocket and micro greens can be sown in favoured spots, under a cloche, in a glasshouse and in seed trays for a quick out of season green harvest.

* The quote this week comes from British story teller and author Sam Llewelyn: In gardens, beauty is a by-product. The main business is sex and death.