Country Gardener

Widely regarded as the authority on gardening in the south west


Green manure – time to get planting

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:16 Post author: gemmastringer

After harvesting summer vegetables there are bound to be some empty spaces in vegetable plots. So now is the perfect time to sow green manure to boost the soil for next spring

Green manures can be any plant grown as ground cover to improve fertility and soil structure or to compost elsewhere. Crops such as mustard are sown across a bed, allowed to grow for a few months then dug into the soil before flowering. The ground will have been fed and be much more workable, so that new crops can be sown easily after a short break to make sure there is no residue of the manure crop.

Allotments are open for business

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 13:06 Post author: gemmastringer

Things are looking up locally when it comes to getting your hands on an allotment. Waiting lists are falling and there’s a promise of more plots to be available.

If you are on the lookout for a local allotment all is not gloomy.

Those seeking to work on their first allotment in the next twelve months are being given fresh hope. Waiting lists are falling and in the last month a survey of local authorities showed a significant increase in the provision of plots available for first time use.

Dahlias - seeing summer through to its close

Wed, 21/08/2013 - 12:57 Post author: gemmastringer

Sun loving and vibrant, dahlias are back in fashion in a big way and they are at their best in late summer right through to until late autumn when frosts arrives.

Dahlias are back!

One of the great plant revivals of recent years has been the comeback of these wonderful garden plants which have been getting better and better for some time now.

With their dazzling colours, dahlias are vibrant in the border and dramatic in the vase.

Plants which will survive holidays - and being without water

Thu, 18/07/2013 - 12:11 Post author: gemmastringer

It’s during high summer that gardeners can get stressful about having to leave house plants while they are on holiday. One solution is to opt for a variety of plants which store liquid and can be left untended for weeks

Houseplants brighten up almost any home. But there’s a time of year when those that need a lot of care and attention can cause some problems. It’s at holiday times when house plant lovers long to have plants which are drought resistant, hardy and almost look after themselves.

‘Dancing’ for a single day!

Wed, 17/07/2013 - 16:53 Post author: gemmastringer

by Rosemary FitzGerald

Ro FitzGerald continues her series on plants with West Country associations, this time looking at the wonderfully elegant daylily

Gardeners who appreciate Hemerocallis, daylilies, sometimes feel alienated. They grow, love and admire these easy, reliable, varied and stunningly beautiful plants, but find that most other gardeners despise them!

Nurserymen who offer the plants are familiar with the disdainful tone of voice when potential customers say ‘Oh no, I’ve got the yellow one’, or ‘They’re much too orange for my garden’.

As there are now 52,000 registered cultivars, in every imaginable shade from white to deepest crimson, these reactions show just how resistant people are.

However enthusiasts like me are ever hopeful that we can increase their popularity, and spread more widely the pleasure and satisfaction they can bring.

How late can you sow for autumn vegetables?

Wed, 17/07/2013 - 16:38 Post author: gemmastringer

If you have seeds left over from your spring sowings there’s still time to squeeze in another harvest this year - with summer crops well into the autumn

It happens to every gardener. Seeds get left unused in packets at the end of the season. But is it worth spending time and effort to sow more vegetables in July and even early August to get a late autumn harvest- and use up all those left over seeds?

The chances are that if July and August sowing is going to work anywhere it will work in the south and south west and increasingly gardeners are finding they get a respectable crop from July sowings which are well worth the effort.

It shouldn’t happen to a tree officer!

Wed, 17/07/2013 - 16:23 Post author: gemmastringer

by Mark Hinsley

Some people are plain daft when it comes to their relationships with trees - memories of Mark’s early days as a Tree Officer

I was a Tree Officer for three years. I started in May 1987, in time for the October Hurricane, and left in June 1990, after the January Hurricane. I believed if I stayed any longer, there would be no trees left! I have often looked back on that time and thought, if I had stuck it out longer, there was a book in it; something along the lines of All Creatures Great and Small with me as the James Herriot of the trees.

Statuesque - but wonderful to grow

Tue, 09/07/2013 - 11:36 Post author: gemmastringer

Artichokes, together with asparagus, are probably the favourite perennials of many gardeners and their stately appearance in gardens makes them a delight to grow

Planting artichokes used to come with a warning from some older gardeners.

It went along the lines of: ‘make sure you like them because they will be a fixture in your garden for years to come.’

The inference was that this perennial vegetable, a stately plant which grows up to five feet tall and produces up to a dozen edible heads does actually take some getting rid of and once established can become a significant architectural part of your garden.

All hands to the pumps!

Tue, 09/07/2013 - 11:32 Post author: gemmastringer

All the hard work in the garden can easily be wasted in August as the hottest month of the year threatens to damage plants which fail to get enough water

August is usually one of the hottest months of the year so if there’s one action above any other to take note of is to water, water and water. This is the month when normally it is essential.

Try to use grey water wherever possible, especially as water butts may be running low if it has been a dry summer. August is traditionally holiday-time, so you might need to enlist the help of friends and family to look after the garden while you are away.


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