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  • : frank beswick
  • : The blog of Frank Beswick. It deals with my interests in religious, philosophical spiritual matters and horticulture/self-reliance
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January 1 2012 1 01 /01 /January /2012 12:52

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When planting a garden you must realise that a garden is an ongoing process. You do not simply plant, sit back and enjoy. Instead, you enjoy, but there is ongoing work for the whole life of the garden or your time there. A garden never stays the same, it evolves and grows over time.

 

The first requirement is to have a structure in mind, as a structure allows you to organise your thoughts and activities. Some gardeners create a structure of paths and beds. The paths may be wood chip, gravel or brick. The beds may be raised or at ground level. If they are to be raised they need wooden or brick sides, though brick is expensive. In a flower garden it is possible to demarcate the paths and beds with box trees, which must be kept pruned to below knee height. But these need renewing every few years.

 

Gardeners must take care of their soil. Most soils fall into the medium pH range. This is the acidity scale. A pH of 6.5 -7 is considered fine for plants, but there are soils that differ on either side of the extreme. A friend of mine with a place on a Welsh mountainside had a soil pH so acidic that little or nothing would grow, so she had to use raised beds to grow anything. You can get your pH tested by purchasing a kit from a  garden centre.

 

Gardeners must ensure that they nourish their soil. This is done by the addition of compost and or manure, which can be laid on top of the ground or dug in. The manure should be well-rotted. Nowadays manure pellets are available from certain suppliers, but if you add these you would need to add compost to provide some structure to the soil, as pellets add little of this. Seaweed meal, ideally as liquid seaweed, should be applied in diluted form, as this enriches the soil with trace elements. However, the nourishment of the soil is an ongoing process that must occur constantly through a garden's life. Leaf mould is another useful addition to soil. This is made from leaves that have taken a year or so to rot down. It adds some structure to the soil

 

The beds should be well dug prior to planting. Dig them over and leave them for the winter, then break up the soil with a hoe until it turns into a fine tilth.Tilth is a crumbly soil made up of fine particles. If you are growing vegetables add a base dressing at this time. this is fertiliser applied to the ground before planting.You might need to add fertilsir during the growing season, but never in excessive quantities, as this can burn the roots.

 

Vegetables need a crop rotation. This means growing plants in sequence in each bed. The Standard British rotaton is four fold. Potatoes, followed by root crops, beans and peas, then brassicas, members of the cabbage family. but this is the most simple rotation, and professional gardeners can be quite sophisticated in their rotational patterns. Rotating crops prevents a build up of plant diseases and pests in the soil.

 

Flowers are divided into annuals, biennials  and perennials. Annuals die yearly and need replanting. Biennials take two years to live and perennials live indefinitely. Herbaceous perennials die back to their roots and regrow. It is a god idea to lift them once every two or three years and divide them. This involves spliting the root clump into two and replanting. Rhubarb can be treated in this way. I do it to rhubarb once every five years. Woody perennials, those with woody stems, do not die back and are not divided in the manner that I have just described.

 

Bulbs and coms should be planted to a depth of twice the size of the bulb. Do this in Autumn according to the advice given by the bulb seller. Onions, however, need to be peeking just above the ground. But you might need netting to protect them from curious birds, such as wood pigeons, which are becoming  nuisance in gardening.

 

In cold climates you might need to start young plants off in a greenhouse or cloche. This brings me to an important point. Some planting books give planting times for the south of Britain. But the planting dates are later as you go further north. Take into account the likelihood of frost before you plant. Beans in particular die quickly in frost, as do tomatoes. Not even a greenhouse will protect against frost, unless it is heated.

 

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