Tag Archives: plants

Nature Loves to Propogate

We all love the opportunity to acquire free plants, so when nature hands them to you on a platter it’s only right to make the most of them.

Here’s a succulent pup I came across lying forlorn on the decking back in the Summer.  At that point it was just one leaf, probably knocked off it’s mother plant at some point.  I popped it into it’s very own terracotta pot with a mix of multipurpose compost and horticultural grit for good drainage and held my breath!

In a very short space of time it has rooted well and is growing happily.  I’m pretty sure it’s Aeonium ‘Blushing Beauty’ and am thrilled at the prospect of having another of these fabulous plants to add to my ever growing collection.

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The Spiral Aloe

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Here’s another beautiful Aloe which I have yet to add to my collection. A. polyphylla is a stemless Aloe with an amazing spiral arrangement of leaves giving it its common name of Spiral Aloe.  Spiral phyllotaxy is common in the … Continue reading

Growing Garlic

Garlic has long been known for its health benefits and I eat rather a lot of it, so this year I thought I’d have a go at growing my own.

 

 

Garlic prefers a light, well-drained soil in full sun, it won’t tolerate wet and heavy soils.  If this is your soil you can plant in modules in the autumn and plant out in Spring as the weather improves.  Garlic can only be grown from bulbs because viable seed is extremely difficult to produce at present.

Garlic Bulb

There are two types of garlic, ‘hardneck’ and ‘softneck’ referring to the way they grow.  The hardneck varieties produce a flower stem known as a scape which can be used in soups, curries and stirfries and has a more delicate flavour than the bulb.  The softneck varieties don’t produce a scape but have a longer shelf life.

Garlic Clove

Garlic needs a cold period to grow successfully so the best time to plant is the autumn though there are spring planting varieties available.    The bulb should be carefully split into it’s separate cloves and each clove planted 2.5cm below the surface with the root scar facing down, the clove should be sitting just below the surface.  They should be planted 10cm apart in rows that are 30cm apart.  Addition of compost at the planting stage will help the soil structure keeping it light and feed the cloves as they grow.

Garlic plants …

Garlic needs limited maintenance except for keeping it weed free, watering during long dry spells and protection from birds who’ll be tempted to pull the bulbs out of the ground.  There are two diseases to look out for which are white spot which will rot the roots and eventually the bulb too and rust which shows up as rusty spots on the leaves.  There is no cure for either and you should avoid growing garlic in the same spot for at least 3 years if you have either of these problems.  Crop rotation will help to discourage these pathogens.

Autumn planted garlic can be harvested around June or July the following year. You know when it’s ready to harvest when the leaves start to turn yellow, don’t put this job off or you may find the bulb re-sprouts causing it to rot later and thereby reduce its shelf life.  Take care when lifting the bulbs out of the ground not to damage them with your trowel as this too will compromise their keeping qualities.

Lavender’s Blue

Not actually blue, but a rather lovely purple.  Lavandula is in the family Lamiaceae and within the genus Lavandula there are around 25 evergreen aromatic shrubs and perennials.

Lavandula stoechas, pictured here, was used widely as a toiletry herb and antiseptic by the Arabs, Romans and Greeks.  It is not widely used today except as an ornamental plant.  It’s oil has a pungent odour and contains 24-72% camphor.  In Australia this species is considered a weed and bound by statutory control.

Lavandula stoechas subsp. pedunculata (Spanish Lavender)

You can propagate this plant by seed sown in Spring or by taking semi-ripe cuttings in Summer.

Gladiolus Flower Bud Update

Finding this hard to believe but the bud now measures 1’7″.  If I got my measurements right a couple of days ago that’s quite a growth spurt!  It’s leaning over for light too, caused by deep afternoon shade.

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Sedum “Mr Goodbud”

Living up to it’s name!

Introduction to Green Manures

Green manure plants are grown specifically to improve soil structure and fertility. Knowing what soil type you have is key to understanding how to improve it and what plants to grow, or not as the case may be.

In clay soils, green manures can help by breaking up the soil.  In silty soils they can be used to protect the soil surface from inclement weather during the cooler seasons and help to improve the structure.  On sandy soils where sharp drainage and erosion are a problem, bulky green manures can provide organic matter helping to retain nutrients in the soil.

As I am gardening on clay I have sown Phacelia tanacetifolia in some areas of the garden to help improve structure.

Here are some other benefits of using Green Manures:-

  • They can help protect soil life from extremes of temperature and moisture;
  • They attract beneficial insects to the garden;
  • They take up nutrients that might otherwise be washed away, these nutrients are then returned to the soil when digging in;
  • They can act as ground cover and a weed suppressant;
  • Some, such as clover, take up Nitrogen from the air and fix it in their roots, in turn adding fertility to the soil, (Nitrogen is an important plant nutrient);
  • Others, such as grazing rye, are particularly good at improving the structure of the soil;
  • Some can look attractive in the garden in their own right.

There is a green manure to suit most sites, some can be grown very quickly in a matter of weeks whereas others are left for a year or more.  Most green manures are actually agricultural crops such as winter field beans, Vicia faba or grazing rye, Secale cereale and as such will compete well with weeds.  When using green manures from the legume or brassica families, careful consideration should be given to the crop rotation cycle to avoid encouraging related plant disorders.

Over the coming weeks I will be covering the different plants available as green manures, but if you have any questions in the meantime please don’t hesitate to ask.

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Painted Lady’

L. odoratus ‘Painted Lady’ is a heritage variety developed in the 17th century and is still very popular today, for good reason.  The bicolor flowers, pink and white, are highly fragrant. This cultivar is one of the early flowering varieties blooming from June onwards if sown October to late February under glass for planting out in April.  

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Gladiolus Flower Bud

Gladiolus Flower bud

We’re on tenterhooks, can’t wait to see this flower. The bud is magnificent, should be a real beauty. Updates will follow.