Gardener’s World Review – 3rd June 2011
The team is back again with their weekly dose of gardening tips and ideas.
- Makes plant supports
- Plants out his annuals
- Tends to his Citrus plants
- Visits Wisley to learn about the ‘Chelsea Chop’
- Helps a viewer to decide upon shade loving bee friendly plants
Structured support for plants
With the strong fast growth of summer, some plants are struggling to hold themselves up, particularly in strong wind and rain. The trick is to support these plants before this happens as propped up previously flopped plants never quite look the same again.
Monty explains how lengths of mild 6mm steel can be invaluable to make supports for all shapes and sizes of garden plants far more cheaply than buying ready made supports.
Lengths of steel can be bought cheaply from your local steel merchant and, once home, can be bent around all sorts of objects to create supports. In this case, Monty uses an old bin to bend the steel into a curve, before putting it between two length of plank, standing on it, and drawing the ends towards him, thus creating the desired shape.
When it comes to using your support (s), simply push them into place around the plant, without either touching or squashing your plant. On one hand it needs to be close enough to the plant to provide support if need be, and on the other hand you don’t want to restrict its growth or damage the plant.
Materials to make supports with are readily available – you can simply keep tree prunings and twigs to support your plants – even the smallest of branches can be used to support vegetables such as peas.
Planting Out Annuals
Annuals are great to add density and colour to your borders once hardened off and ready to plant. Particular favourites of Monty’s are Cosmos and Mexican Sunflowers which are bright, vibrant, and make a real statement in amongst a mixed border.
They are far cheaper and satisfying to grow from seed and have the added bonus then of giving you hundreds of plants to grow in large groups rather than a few plants for the same money.
Insects and butterflies are attracted by their bright colours and readily available nectar.
TLC for Citrus Plants
Monty has several citrus plants in post at Longmeadow which are looking a little sad after having been inside out of the extremes of the weather over the winter.
He explains how these need to be repotted every 5 years or so, the best time for this being early June.
When repotting these plants remove some of the old compost carefully from around the roots and plant in a mixture of organic peat free potting compost, grit, and a generous helping of home made compost. This combination provides just the right levels of nutrients and all important drainage.
After potting up simply top up with mulch and feed with a liquid seaweed food weekly throughout the summer months.
Whilst repotting his citrus, Monty removes some of the root ball in order top fit the plant into his pot but stresses that this should not be done more than every 5 years or so as more often would be detrimental to the plant.
Rachel visits Wisley to learn more about the ‘Chelsea Chop’.
The Chelsea Chop isn’t nearly as gruesome as it sounds. It is in fact a practice used by many gardeners in the know to strengthen the plant and encourage it to produce more flowers for longer over the summer. It can be applied to almost any herbaceous plants which have leaves branching out from the stems. Good examples are Sedum, Phlox, Asters and Pulmonaria.
It is recommended that around 50% is cut off the shoots which may sound a lot but it actually encourages fresh foliage and more flowers to be produced. This should be done no later than mid June.
Plants such as Sedum also benefit from this technique in that left unchecked, they will develop huge flowers which weigh the plant down and can actually result in the plant splitting in the middle. Clever stuff, eh?
It is a little known fact that we absolutely rely upon bees for 1/3 of our food production but unfortunately these little creatures are in decline due to many factors.
Carol visits a beekeeper in Wiltshire to help her find shade loving bee friendly plants to go in an awkward part of her garden.
They inspect the offending corner and Carol points out that there are already bee friendly plants there, although they might be seen as weeds. Brambles, cow parsley and poppies are already quite happy there and bees love them.
It is decided to leave some of them there and Carol plants spotted dead nettle, a rose and geranium nodosum, a shade loving geranium.
Another little known fact is that double headed flowers for example some varieties of rose aren’t as attractive to bees as you might think. They are complicated for bees and other insects to get at the nectar and in fact they don’t produce as much nectar as other, single headed roses.
Jobs for this week
- Sow climbing beans
- Sow foxgloves and other biennials ready for next year
- Remember to give your plants a really good long soak in the evenings – until the hosepipe ban, that is!
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