Friday, 13 June 2014

How to plant a low-maintenance allotment.

How to plant a low-maintenance allotment | Life and style |
When it comes to choosing low-maintenance crops, opt for
winter squashes,
drying beans,
maincrop potatoes,
globe and Jerusalem artichokes,
perpetual spinach and
All these crops, once planted, require a quick weed and water now and then, and no mollycoddling. If you don't religiously water any of the above, chances are that, when you do eventually visit the plot, there will be something for you to harvest, and it will be of good edible quality (OK, so yields might not be huge, but what did you expect?).

broad, French and runner beans,
courgettes and calabrese
- are also low-maintenance but their harvest window is brief, so you've got to visit the plot every few days to pick your moment.

Parsley, mint, oregano, thyme and chives are good candidates too (fennel also self-seeds everywhere on our site, so we're never without it).

Sinking bottles by the roots of large plants such as squashes and corn will make things even quicker – just fill up the bottle and walk away. The moisture will slowly soak into the rootzone, right where it's needed.

Low-maintenance pest- and disease-control is not going to happen – gardeners need to regularly check over plants and nip any problems in the bud. All you can do is grow crops that show resistance to diseases that are known to be prevalent on your plot, such as tomato/potato blight and clubroot, and follow the "prevention is better than cure" rule as closely as we can. Net all brassicas against pigeons and cabbage white caterpillars. Erect a wire perimeter fence if rabbits are a nuisance. If anyone knows of a low-maintenance slug and snail option, let me know – at the moment organic pellets are my best suggestion. I grow salads and other edible leaves in my back garden where I can give this pest more attention.

Use water copiously on newly-sown seed beds. In the case of planting out, you disturb the root ball and these disturbed roots need plenty of water to re-establish their roots firmly in the ground and remove air pockets. So again, don't spare the water after planting out new plants and continue the watering until the plant has fully established its foothold.
On established vegetables the most important to time to water them is at the cropping time. Potatoes need plenty of water when the flowers are formed and they are in the tuber forming mode. So do not spare the water and drench them once a week to allow those potatoes to grow and form. Beans and peas are thirsty plants when they are forming pods. This is their offspring and at this stage a once-a-week soaking will give a successful crop.
I never water root crops. They have long tap roots and the purpose of these is to seek out water and nutrients deep in the depths of the soil. This gives better roots for harvest and watering them only keeps a myriad of tiny roots at the soil's surface.
Leafy crops such as cabbage and lettuce do need a drink regularly or, if they go dry, they will ‘bolt’ and send up seed heads as stress tells them to protect the species and form seeds.
So in the vegetable patch carefully plan the watering regime, I prefer to get up early in the morning to give them a drink to start their day before the sun evaporates all that moisture into the atmosphere.
'via Blog this'

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Schizandra – Fruit with Five Flavors

Schizandra – Fruit with Five Flavors:
The magnolia vine, Schisandra chinensis, is beautiful and edible.
It climbs, has dark green leaves and bears long bunches of scarlet berries.

In China it is known as the fruit of five flavours, because the berries taste sweet, sour, salty, hot and bitter all at the same time.
It prefers slightly acid soil, but tolerates others.
'via Blog this'

Китайский лимонник.

Китайский лимонник: красота и польза:

'via Blog this'

Жимолость камчатская.

На сегодня известны следующие основные сорта: Камчатская, Съедобная, Турчанинова, Регеля, Алтайская, а также выведенных селекционерами недавно множество других форм раннего, среднего и позднего сроков созревания.

Для роначальника всех сортов жимолости камчатской характерно следующее. Это - сильнорослый кустарник высотой 1,2-2,5 м (другие сорта ниже, порядка 1-1,5 м), с диаметром кроны 1,5-3 м (у других сортов меньше). Немало вегетации, как правило, во второй декаде апреля. Листья крупные и средней величины, темно-зеленые, опушенные, на коротких черешках. Форма листьев эллиптическая, удлиненно-овальная, широколанцетная. Рост побегов начинается в мае. Они отличаются поэтажным расположением почек по 2-3 одна под другой. В это же время появляются довольно крупные желтые или желтовато-зеленые, трубчато-воронковидной формы цветки. Каждый из них в сухую и жаркую погоду цветет чуть больше суток, а в прохладную дольше.

Всего этот период длится 7-10 дней.

Откачала цветения до начала созревания проходит 30-42 дня, и к середине июня ягоды приобретают типичную для спелых плодов сине-голубую окраску с восковым налетом разной интенсивности. Иногда они бывают черные с сизым, налетом. Ягоды созревают на 7-10 дней раньше земляники, довольно крупные, их длина колеблется от 15 до 35 мм, диаметр от 9 до 18 мм, масса от 0,7 до 1,4 г (у других сортов все параметры соответственно меньше). Форма плодов разнообразная: цилиндрическая, узко- и ширококувшино-видная, грушевидная, овальная, веретенообразная, каплевидная, иногда весьма причудливая. Ягоды очень сочные и нежные, с тонкой кожицей и мелкими, почти незаметными семенами (8-22 шт.). Семена светло-коричневые, плоские, округлые с тонкими покровами.

Вкус зрелых ягод приятный, сладкий или кисло-сладкий со слабым ароматом, напоминает голубику. Плоды жимолости камчатской более крупные и сладкие, так как в них содержится меньше кислоты. У жимолости Турчанинова иногда ощущается слабая горечь.

Урожайность жимолости камчатской несколько ниже, чем жимолости съедобной и Турчанинова и не превышает2-3 кгс куста в пору наибольшего плодоношения.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Pruning roses.

Pruning roses - the Sissinghurst method | Sarah Raven:

'via Blog this'

Daphne odora var. rubra or Red winter daphne.

Daphne/RHS Gardening: "odora"
 It is an evergreen shrub.
Daphnes are grown for their beautiful and intensely fragrant blooms which are usually produced in winter or spring.
They are best planted near paths and doorways or at the front of borders where it is easy to enjoy their heady fragrance when in flower.
Some have attractive foliage or berries as well.
Daphne odora is a slightly tender evergreen, surviving best in the south and west of Britain. Soil pH is not important, but all daphnes dislike heavy clay and winter waterlogging, and prefer soil that is free-draining and rich in humus. A leafy annual mulch is beneficial. Though not suited to containers, it will do fine in light shade and grows well in a woodland garden. Daphne odora is never cheap, presumably because it grows slowly, and care after planting involves patience. By cutting sprigs off as it flowers, you are doing all the pruning required.

Daphnes are deep-rooting and many, other than the smaller alpine species, may not thrive in containers.

Mock orange - The Scented Garden.

BBC - Gardening: Plant Finder - Mock orange:
Philadelphus (Mock Orange)
Philadelphus x virginalis 'Virginal' has attractive, white, double flowers with an outstanding fragrance in the late spring to early summer season on a 6 to 8 foot tall shrub.

Planting Instructions

Plant container-grown nursery plants from spring through fall. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2- to 4-inch layer of compost. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the pot the plant is in. Carefully remove the plant from its container and place it in the hole so the top of the root ball is level with the soil surface. Carefully fill in around the root ball and firm the soil gently. Water thoroughly.
Mockorange benefits from regular renewal or rejuvenation pruning. The process typically involves removing one-fifth to one-third of the oldest and largest stems at ground level. Cutting the larger stems encourages vigorous growth from the ground, making the shrub full from the bottom up. Selective pruning also improves the shrub's flowering capacity by allowing more light to reach the interior of the plant.

The mock orange - Plants - Blog -
The large, white, deliciously fragrant flowers are what earns mock orange a place in the garden. This variety has double blooms that are produced in loose racemes from early to mid-summer. It is a deciduous, upright shrub that's fully hardy, but very vigorous, so needs to be given plenty of room to grow. The leaves are oval and dark green. To keep plants in shape, cut back shoots to a strong buds every year after flowering. On older plants, also remove roughly a quarter of the oldest branches each year to encourage new growth. To propagate, take softwood cuttings in summer or hardwood cuttings in autumn or winter.

Monty Don.

| Search Results | Mail Online: "You'll never need a florist again! Monty Don shows you how to create a flower shop in your very own back garden"

'via Blog this'

Galium odoratum | Sweet woodruff.

Galium odoratum | Sweet woodruff/RHS Gardening:

A froth of tiny white flowers makes a very clean contrast against the whorls of emerald green leaves beneath. This little perennial forms a low carpet and although it spreads well, division is best done in autumn or early spring. It is also known as sweet woodruff, a reference to the sweet vanilla smell of the plant when cut and dried: it was once used as an air freshener and hung in bunches with clothes.

The beautiful sweet woodruff, Galium odoratum, is a shade gardeners delight. Fast growing, quick to establish, beautiful, white spring flowers and attractive foliage through to snow, this treasure is seldom bothered by pest or disease. Its dried foliage has a sweet scent that has been described as a fresh-cut hay and vanilla fragrance, and it is used frequently in potpourri. It even used to be used as the stuffing for the winter mattress!

Don't put this flower in the perennial bed unless you want to spend a good deal of time pulling it up in the spring; it will take over quickly unless confined by pots or tiles buried in the garden soil. However, if you want a beautiful underplanting for your shady shrubs, this is the plant for you. Pair her with hydrangeas or rhododendrons and she will be in heaven.

Best of all, place her in the woodland, along a path or at the edge of the trees and let her amble along her own way. Sweet woodruff prefers a slightly acid soil pH of around 5.0, and loves moist, well-drained soil in the shade. As with other woodland plants, she likes rich, humus with lots of organic matter and dried leaves. Plant her under deciduous trees with just a bit of filtered sunlight and she will bloom her best. But she's not picky, she will take some sun as long as she doesn't dry out, and she will even grow well in full shade.

In addition to shrubs and trees, interplant woodruff with tall spring bulbs such as daffodils and tulips, an old-fashioned, spring-blooming bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis), mid-summer's snakeroot (Cimicifuga racemosa) or a tall late-season perennial such as Ligularia dentata.

In the spring, cut back any old growth from the previous years to keep it full and healthy looking.

Sweet woodruff has a long herbal history for use in a variety of ailments, including liver problems and jaundice. A tea made from the leaves was used for stomach aches, and a poultice from the brewed, crushed leaves was applied to wounds to promote healing.

However, it is recommended very cautiously for internal use today. The Food and Drug Administration considers it only safe when taken in an alcoholic beverage, so its traditional use as an herb in May Wine is still okay. Many people flavor a bottle of white Rhine wine with a few of the crushed leaves overnight for a spring treat.

This plant has also long been used as an insect repellent, and it was scattered in sick rooms and root cellars to keep the air smelling sweet. Secure the dried leaves in muslin sacks and place in drawers, closets or the pantry. Or, sprinkle the dried leaves around the outside of windows and doors, and in your cellar.

You can also use woodruff as a natural plant dye; the leaves will produce a light brown dye, and the roots a light red (it is in the same family as madder) when used with alum as a mordant.

Stevia Information - Growing Your Own Stevia

Stevia Information - Growing Your Own Stevia:
Raw Edible Plants: Stevia (Stevia rebaudiana):
'via Blog this'