Posts Tagged ‘garden diary’

Garden Lessons

January 8th, 2010

 

Garden -Dec09 025

If you, like me, inherit an old overgrown garden, resist the urge to hack it down and dig it up. Instead stand back and watch the gifts your garden wants to give you through the seasons. The spring may bring bulbs you never knew were there. You can also make notes about how much sun each garden bed receives. Weed, mulch and take notes. Also, stroll around the streets in your neighbourhood and see what grows well. More notes in your garden diary.  Check out the climate!  Is it shady?  Which parts will get direct sunlight and for how long each day?  Then chat with your local pant nursery to choose the ideal plants for each section.  Buy ones that are rugged survivors with the gift of spreading, propagating themselves and staying lush all year round.  Position plants together that have similar watering needs.  This will give you a huge headstart.
While you are waiting make a mulch heap of all your lawn clippings and bland vegetable peelings. Never put in onions, garlic or chillies. Avoid rotting fruit, which could attract the dreaded fruit fly! And definitely no meat! Choose a hidden sunny spot for your mulch heap, because warmth gets the break-down microbes working. Mine was under a rangy, sparse-leafed tree near the back fence. A lot of goodness will seep down and feed the roots, but keep the mulch heap away from the trunk as it could cause rot. Incidentally, you will probably soon find wonderful worms breeding at the bottom of your mulch heap. Spread them around other parts of your garden.

If you inherit a backyard of ancient trees they probably haven’t been loved or pruned for years. Buy a bag of blood and bone, throw it around their roots and water it in. Old folk need special care to get their energy back!Garden -Dec09 028

Old citrus trees, such as orange, lime or lemon, need to be checked for fruit wasps burrowing in the trunk or old branches. Usually these are found near the forks where limbs meet. Instead of poison, I give the hole a good poke with a metal skewer, followed by a flooding of vinegar and water mixed 50:50. Next day, poder the area thoroughly with borax. When pruning citrus trees, cut recent growth that has green stems. Then trim the height so you will be able to reach the fruit next season. Ideally, citrus should be trimmed into a ball shape, so the sun can ripen all the fruit. Pruning is best done in autumn, when you will recognise recent growth because the stems are still greenish.

Weeds in a brick-paving courtyard can be a problem. Resist the urge to tackle them with a spray or pour-on weedkiller. Instead try boiling water, this does the job nicely! Just make sure you pour on enough to cook the roots. Putting some salt over them first helps too.  Well these are just some of the lessons I have learned from trial and error in my back yard.

Happy gardening.

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January Gardens

January 2nd, 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

The new year has arrived! Happy 2010! Suddenly, the holidays are here and it is time for us all to look back on our accomplishments over the past year. For the first time in a great many years I am not too behind with my garden chores and am feeling pretty smug really about enjoying my trim and tidy garden. I managed to mulch well in October last year, pulling out those weeds as I went. And for the first time I managed to get this accomplished before they (the weeds) seeded! Happy days!

I am just about to start my new garden diary for the coming year. I like to record when I plant, prune and do my chores so I can learn more about my garden. I note down when I prune my roses and when they flower after so I can have some idea how long it takes for flowers to develop. It has helped me improve my pruning skills too.

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

I have had a few losses over the year. I miss my Curry Plant (Helichrysum Italicum) with its silver leaves poor little dude just got covered over with a larger bush rose and it just got too dark and gloomy for him. I had forgotten I had put him there to tell the truth and discovered his poor little remains when clipping and weeding. Never to mind!

My salvias continue to flower and bring joy and I am always finding new ones. They seem very easy additions. Easy is good!  Anyway, I hope you have a really good 2010 and happy gardening!

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Easy Care Gardening

December 31st, 2009

Garden -Dec09 090I came into my garden when I bought my home, it was overgrown with weeds but the bare bone garden beds were waiting for me underneath. There are lots of  things I have learned along the way!  My garden diary was a real treasure and a useful tool on my garden journey. I began by drawing a plan of my garden. Then I spent a day watching how the sun affected my garden. Which were the shady spots?  I noted down the ‘hot’ spots that got full sun all day long. Remember, morning sun is kinder than hours of burning afternoon sunlight. There are different plants for ‘garden climates’.  Then I marked my different climates on my map & wrote the date at the top of my plan. Between midsummer and midwinter there is a big shift of direct sunlight from north to south. Direct rays from the sun may be completely blocked out in winter and you may need hardy plants that can cope with various conditions. So I did this each season and found it really helped me to understand my garden and what plants would work best   in certain spots.

Another useful exercise is to check the natural drainage and dry spots. In dry weather, spend an hour or so one morning to give your whole garden a thorough soaking. After a full day’s sun, inspect the results by trowelling down a finger depth into the soil. If the soil is still moist, but not soggy, you will know that section has nice drainage. Note this in your diary also.

Garden -Dec09 008If you have plenty of shade like me, you can create a forest garden with bird’s-nests and other ferns. These plants do best in damp, shady conditions. They prefer a warmish, even temperature and they hate frosts.

If you are short on time, like me, forget planting seedlings. Snails and slugs usually get the lot and it can be very depressing. The same goes for bulbs such as tulips, tiger lilies etc. You wait for months and months for something to happen, and if you are lucky you get one blossom that lasts a week. Instead spend your time planting jonquils, freesias and snowdrops. These planted in tight clumps are very rewarding and easy! The only annuals that are worth all the effort are common balsam (also known fondly as busy Lizzies) and nasturtiums. But, I can sometimes not quell my natural urge to try some of those seedlings – they seem to draw me to them in the nursery. If you too seem determined you will need to use snail bait. Good luck with that then.

If you are just starting out you can’t go past good old perennials – such as pelargoniums, geraniums, roses, gazanias, any sort of daisy, red salvia, ferns, cannas or violets. These will flower season after season and need very little care. The scented pelargoniums are wonderful mixed with rose petals in potpourri.  Most perennials are improved with light pruning after each flowering.  Don’t let them get straggly.

lemon balm

lemon balm

 

The thing is to work with your garden and not against it. If a plant is where it is getting its needs met, such as shade or sun it will be a happy plant and grow well. 
Happy gardening.

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