Rockvale Stone & Garden

Mud & more mud – very sticky underfoot with the frequent bursts of rain and lack of drying winds or frosts to firm ground. Probably the year to lift Dahlia tubers if sitting in saturated ground to prevent rotting of those you do not want to lose.
Full on pruning here now, pruning through the day, then removing thorns from fingers at night. Some thorns are stubborn to remove, requiring a dab of Magnesium Sulphate paste held in place with a plaster – this helps to draw the thorn closer to the surface of the skin. Roses live without pruning, but being deciduous they respond well to a good prune in Winter. Doing this will give you new shoots to replace the old ones and keep the plant young with more flowers per season on shapely bushy plants. Roses are very forgiving if you get it a bit wrong – so don’t worry! It is handy to have a good set of tools to make pruning easier (leather gloves, secateurs, loppers, and a pruning saw.
New seasons Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas and Daphnes will be on offer soon, with fat healthy buds to tempt the gardener and moist soft ground is perfect for getting these settled in the ground. Early Sasanqua Camellias are flowering now – these Camellias are fast growing and probably the most sun tolerant of all Camellias. They are extremely tolerant of shaping, clipping or espaliering and are ideal as hedges, screens or growing in containers.
If young trees or shrubs need transplanting, now is a good time to do it whilst they are at their most dormant stage. Plant with a firm stake if height is involved.
Even though frosts are few here on the coast, continue protecting tender plants inclined to produce soft growth during a mild Winter – they will be badly effected by the arrival of severe frosts.
Turn over compost – add some lime now if you have not already done so and moisture if the pile is dry.
On the coast plant in full sun seedling veg plants that are now on offer. If your veg garden loses sun in Winter, use this time to dig in manure/compost and a sprinkle of lime to sweeten.
I have long known the advantages of growing Comfrey, but have lately been reading up on it again – such a useful plant. If you can get your hands on some, I suggest you plant root sections in an area of garden where it can spread and send roots very deep into the soil to tap into much needed nutrients. It is fast growing, high in potassium and can be cut back again and again. I have listed below some uses for Comfrey around the garden.
Compost activator – add to your compost bin to heat up the decomposing materials and enrich the compost.
Cram Comfrey leaves into a bucket, add water and let them rot down. The leaves soon turn into a repulsive smelling sludge and after two weeks the mixture will be like brownish, green soup – strain it and put the sludge on the compost, then bottle the liquid to use as a base fertiliser. Use 1 part to 10 parts water.
Lay Comfrey leaves in a Potato trench and leave for 3 days prior to planting the tubers, to give a potassium rich boost of fertiliser.
Use as a Comfrey leaf mulch around plants, by layering leaves around the stems of plants. Potassium will slowly be released to the plants as the leaves break down – Great for Tomatoes, Beans and Fruit bushes.
It has been discovered that wilting Comfrey leaves become irresistible to slugs and snails – strew them around the plants they chew to distract them. Happy to share a section of Comfrey root if contacted.
Cheers, Linda

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