Rockvale Stone & Garden

Spring has sprung…. well it seemed that was the case last Monday when we were delivered a perfect Spring day. Hellebores, Snowdrops, Camellias and Jonquils have persevered through the coldest months, to be the first bloomers of Spring here in Rockvale garden.
This week I had the hose out to the rockery – it did not take long for that raised ground to dry on top after a warm wind. Raised gardens dry out quickly and need moisture kept up now to sustain Spring growth. Folia feeding is also beneficial now,, as roots are forming and looking for nutrients. Worm tea at weak strength or diluted to (weak tea colour) – horse / cow manure is an inexpensive folia / root food for newly planted annuals, perennials, Roses and Shrubs as new buds swell. This is the time of the year I notice yellowing of some plants. The ground gets depleted of nitrogen during Winter, affecting those shallow rooted Camellias, Azaleas and Rhododendron – acid fertiliser especially formulated for them is available. ( If powder, water in well)
Potted plants outgrowing their containers will soon show poor growth. These plants can be revived by reducing the root mass by half, then re-potting back into the same pot or potting on into a larger pot. Remove the root bound plant from the pot and lay it on the ground – I use a sharp spade to chop the root ball in half. The use of tin foil, (shiny side against the inside of the pot ) will help with the pot sun baking and the use of a heavy tree and shrub mix is best for moisture retention. With all the slow release fertilisers on offer now, it’s made it easy to choose the right one for all plants.
As days warm, weed spraying starts again and unfortunately will remain an ongoing task from now on until next Winter. If Children or pets are a concern, there are safer, selective weed killer options these days, utilizing potassium salts of fatty acids to kill weeds and unwanted grasses.
A natural alternative to herbicide (for driveways and paved areas only), is a cocktail of vinegar, salt and liquid detergent. Acidic acid in the vinegar and salt has all the ingredients needed to quickly kill weeds, by drawing moisture. The detergent adds sticking ability. DO NOT use this combination anywhere near a garden, because it is non selective of what it kills and will also be extremely harmful to soil life.
Recipe: 1 gallon white vinegar, 1 cup salt, 1 tablespoon detergent. Combine ingredients and spray at the sunniest time of the day for best results.
Moss can be dealt to in lawns, pathways and garden structures. There are a lot of products out there to deal with moss, but killing the moss in lawns is simply a short term measure – it does not address the basic problem. If you really want to eradicate moss from your lawn, then you have to find the problem causing it. The reasons are varied, but not too difficult to isolate.
Things that would be causing moss in your lawn could be:
Water logging, Poor feeding regime, Soil too acidic, Shaded Lawns, Mowing lawns too close, Drought – not to be confused with a bit of Summer-browning and Compaction.Treating areas of moss in lawns can be carried out with sulphate of iron, watered on at the strength displayed on the pack per sq metre. The moss will turn black and after a couple of weeks, rake out the dead moss and re-seed.
Moss rarely competes with strong growing lawns. The first lawn feed can be as soon as new growth is noticed. Slow release grass fertliser is ideal when the ground is wet and rain is about to happen – powdered grass fertiliser must be watered in either by rain or hose – if left to sit it will burn new growth.
Here on the coast get Spring sowing off to an early start. Plant peas and Broad beans and veg seedlings on offer in Garden Centres.
Further inland, the soil will take a bit of thawing before any planting – but an early start may be achieved by using a row of cloches or a stretch of clear polythene to warm and dry out the soil. Plenty to do preparing veg gardens by digging in humus/compost in readiness for the big plant out. I see seed potatoes are available for sprouting, then into the ground for early crop on the coast. People have been telling me of the benefits gained from planting Potatoes on a bed of pine needles. I lay them on comfry leaves, but will use some pine needles as well this year – I am sure there will be many other Potato planting traditions out there.
My Peach tree is just about at bud burst, so will spray with a copper spray for leaf curl – once in blossom it is too late to spray.
If you have not already pruned your Peach or Nectarine tree that’s ok – they are best left until after the coldest weather. I will run through how to go about it.
1. Standard type trees are easily trained to an open centre or vase shape with 3 or 4 primary scaffold branches, or they can be trained to V-shaped trees with just 2 scaffold branches. Cut larger branches needing removal close to the trunk, leaving only a small collar to prevent decay in branches.
2. Remove small weak upright branches on trunk or main branches.
3. Leave 50 to 75% pencil thick shooting wood per tree.
Both Peach and Nectarine fruit on wood developed last Summer. Inspect the buds on newer wood – single buds are leaf buds, double buds are immature fruit buds and triple buds are mature fruit buds. Cut to an outward facing double bud, leave triples.
Cheers, Linda

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