In the garden 08/01/2010

  • In the nursery, our rule of thumb has always been that cuttings of deciduous plants should be in by now but you have perhaps another week up your sleeve. If you have a controlled propagation set-up of some form (a heated mat, hot box or similar), you can get more difficult cuttings to root. Easy plants like hydrangeas, some viburnums and grape vines are not so time sensitive, but now is optimal. The general rule for most cuttings is to pick fresh season’s growth which is still green but firm, not floppy or brittle.
  • Don’t even think about major re-organisation in ornamental gardens or planting trees and shrubs. Full summer is not the time to do this at all. It is, however, ideal for lifting and dividing bulbs. The spring flowering ones are dormant now while the autumn flowering ones are just going into growth so do them first. When bulbs get too congested, they don’t flower as well or as long. When replanting, remember that they always need good drainage as they can rot out, especially when dormant. Most also do better in full sun.
  • Learn from our schools and the current generation of children. Be sun smart. Work in the shade or move a sun umbrella around the garden where you are working during the heat of the day. It is quite pleasant sitting out digging and dividing bulbs under a sun umbrella.
  • If your container plants are so dry that water just runs straight through, you will need to take action. Adding a squirt of detergent or surfactant to the water can help as can plunging the entire pot in water, if you can. A little water often is more likely to soak into container plants so water dry plants twice a day.
  • In the vegetable garden it is the very last chance to get main crop potatoes in. You can still get a late tomato crop through if you plant strong plants. Corn can continue to be sown until the end of the month with a reasonable expectation of success.
  • While some of us are still waiting for summer to make its full statement as opposed to the teasers so far, vegetable gardening is such that one is always looking ahead, in this case to winter (ssshh). If you are really keen, you can be sowing Brussell sprout seed now. February is the month to start swinging into planting most winter veg.
  • We are currently harvesting raspberries, loquats, a few strawberries when we beat the birds who have built a secret tunnel into the cloche, rhubarb, tangelos, early season plums (the red Phillips plum), pawpaws, the never ending oranges and avocados. Alas the vegetable repertoire is a little more limited but Mark promises to try harder.