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Gardening Tips

images-2Thinking about next year is really important. Starting in the dark days of winter let’s look ahead to the spring and do some planning for the vegetable garden and what we need to do in the greenhouse. Not just the vegetable name and variety but the proposed date of planting as well. If like me, you’ve not planted your broad beans, onion sets and garlic, you can still start them off in the greenhouse. Then catch a mild day outside when the broad beans are showing growth above their pots or their containers to get them transplanted into their rows. Try dwarf varieties and plant 9 inches apart. Don’t plant too close, this stretches the growth; makes the stems weak and they topple over. You can always cane at the ends and down the row and help support with rough string, around the canes. Try 18 inches between single rows, 2 foot between double rows. Planting early this year gives you a longer harvesting season next. Onions once showing some growth can be planted 3 to 4 inches apart in the row with a foot between the rows. You can sow at this time when soil conditions allow, sowing finely in the row; about three quarters of an inch deep; again with a foot between the rows. You can thin these as and when to get regular spacing. Keep pot plants well watered! For garlic? Look for virus and nematode free varieties. When you get the bulbs, split them into individual cloves and plant 3 to 4 inches deep with 6 inches between and row spacing of a foot. Top dress with nitrogen (sulphate of ammonia) over the winter and make sure that the beds in the case of broad beans, onions and garlic are kept cultivated. Regular hoeing allows you to check for pest and disease, forms a moisture retaining surface and keeps the plants free of weeds. There is nothing to stop you from growing fruit trees in even the smallest garden and even in pots; but you require to select the right stock type for the variety. Always plant at the same depth as the original. Make a good-sized hole to accommodate all the roots then put in the stake first. Place the tree on the leeward side of the stake, spreading out the roots and put good topsoil around them. Firm the soil gently in layers around the roots. Use John Innes No. 3 Compost in spacious pots. Look for varieties in your area that produce good crops. You may have a neighbour with a good variety. Go for that. Apples in the north are notoriously difficult to ripen and getting the right variety is essential. Find a spot for planting that receives stacks of light or direct sunlight and a wall or fence is ideal to give support to the young tree and absorbs heat which is given out over a long period. Look for a suitable apple stock which controls the eventual size of the tree. You will find that M9 or M26 (M stands for Malling, the name of the research station that bred it) are the best. M27 is too weak a rootstock and the MM 106, MM111 and M25 produce trees too large. You won’t need to get a ladder out to pick fruit and standing on the ground is a safer bet to prune, spray for pest and disease and train. Horizontal training wires 2 feet apart starting at 2 foot should allow branches of cordons, espalier and fan trained trees to be tied in neatly! This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; TP: 01977689858 MO: 07967730010

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