Monday, 11 February 2019

FLOWERING TREES


FLOWERING TREES

The dormant season (November to March) was
Apple Red Falstaff
always the time to plant trees and shrubs as most came as bare root plants, but today they are mostly container grown so planting can be done all year round. However with flowering trees we do not want to miss the flowers so planting in winter is a good idea. As gardens vary in size the selection of plants will depend on how much space is available. The small garden is not left behind as there are quite a few flowering trees that do not take up much space. Trees add scale to a garden, provide shelter from wind and shade from sun as summer climates get warmer. In my early gardening days my small council house garden still managed to find room for a Laburnum vossii and the upright growing flowering cherry, Prunus Amanogawa. However if space was really limited then the dwarf weeping cherry, Prunus Shidare Zakura was perfect. Later on as my
Eucryphia rostrevor
gardens got bigger I went for the brilliant Prunus Shirotae with horizontal branches which got covered in a mass of pure white flowers in spring. Flowering cherries were very much in fashion in the sixties and the pink Prunus Kanzan was so popular that it became the number one of choice, but those with a wee bit of experience avoided it before our horticultural street cred went oot the windae.
Lilac Michel Buchner
Lilacs were not a huge tree but flower potential was enormous and the white Mme Lemoine is still very popular. The red Charles Jolly is still outstanding and most lilacs benefit from a great scent. Many lilacs come as hybrids grafted onto the common Syringa vulgaris, so keep checking for suckers growing from the rootstock and remove these as soon as seen.
Another less common tree suited to the small garden is the Euphorbia Rostrevor with white flowers towards the end of summer. It grows slowly with an upright form so suits the small garden with limited space.
Prunus Amanogawa
For those who like to try something different there are a couple of medium sized trees a bit less hardy than most, but with climate change who knows if global warming comes to Scotland what we can achieve. The Australian bottlebrush tree, Callistemon citrinus 'Splendens' is a red flowered beauty but needs a sunny sheltered spot. It grows very well outdoors in London as a street tree, but their climate is just a wee bit kinder. Another worth trying is the Pocket Handkerchief Tree, Davidia involucrate, with white bracts in early summer.
Prunus Kanzan
The common hawthorn is very hardy and comes with a pink flower, Crataegus Pauls Scarlet, beautiful in spring and not all that common.
Some people may with to grow a flowering fruit tree, and apples, plums, pears and cherries will all
laburnum vossii
give a great flower show in spring then follow on with a delicious harvest in the autumn.
Apple Starline Firedance grows upright taking up very little space and produces a great crop of red apples in autumn. Another form of apple is the stepover  trained type on a dwarfing rootstock.
Both cherries and peaches can come on very dwarfing rootstocks suited to the small garden.
upright apple Starlight
Many tall growing shrubs can also give the same virtues as smaller trees.
Cornus kousa chinensis has always been one of my favourites after seeing it in full flower in Wisley gardens down south, and Cytisus battandieri, the Pineapple broom tree is a great spectacle but needs a bit of space or a wall to lean against.
Other tall and impressive shrubs include Forsythia, Philadelphus, Ceanothus and Magnolias.

Wee jobs to do this week

Sweet peas
Sweet peas are usually the first seeds to sow as they are quite hardy and like a long season to grow. They can be sown in the autumn and overwintered in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse, or sown in late winter to early spring. The seed coat is quite tough so you can soak the seeds in water overnight, or chip the seed coat with a sharp knife. Sow seeds three to a pot then after germination transplant one to a pot, or you can sow one seed to a cell in a cellular tray. After germination grow on in a cold greenhouse and harden off towards the end of March, for planting out in early April.
END

Tuesday, 5 February 2019

CROP ROTATION


CROP ROTATION

Crop rotation plan for 2019
We may be in mid winter and as it’s a wee bit cold outdoors, and the first snow flakes have arrived, so better to do some indoor gardening. Now is a good time to look at the new allotment plan using last years plan as a template and sorting out where this year’s crops are to be grown. I checked over last years seed list a few weeks ago, then adjusted the list for 2019 and ordered my seeds online from a
Peas, leeks and onions
well known trusted supplier. I always follow a rotation of crops over a four year cycle to try and keep ahead of diseases such as clubroot and onion white rot as well as giving plants the best growing conditions as their needs all vary individually. I also integrate my strawberry beds into the rotation as these get replanted every three years onto fresh soil.
Crops with similar needs are grouped together. Thus the brassicas, cabbage, cauliflower, sprouts and kale are grown in one block. This block gets compost dug in over winter, then limed in late February. This assists the prevention of clubroot disease which is
Sweet corn radish and mezuna
a major problem on my allotment. Unfortunately, some salads, i.e. rocket, and radish are also prone to clubroot as well as the root crops, Swedes and turnips. Then care must be taken with use of green manures as mustard, a great crop for green manuring, can also attract and carry over clubroot disease. I use clubroot resistant vegetables where ever possible; intercrop some salads with widely spaced sprouts and cabbage early in the season to catch a crop before the big leafy plants take up all the room.
The brassica patch becomes the heavy feeders patch the following year. These are the peas, beans, onions, leeks, sweet corn, courgettes and pumpkins. These crops are fine on land limed the
A good year for sprouts
previous year and are given the lion’s share of compost or manure during the winter digging. I also hold back some extra compost to add to the courgettes and pumpkin bed to improve fertility and retain moisture. The pumpkins, courgettes and sweet corn are tender plants so they don’t get planted till the end of May or early June. This gives us time to sow a fast growing green manure crop like clover or rye grass to be ready for digging in about three weeks ahead of planting.
This area the following year becomes the root crop patch for parsnips, carrots, beetroot, Swedes and turnip. This land does not get compost during the winter digging as there is plenty of well rotted organic matter left over from the heavy feeders, and anyway the roots are liable to forking if there is fresh compost in the soil. Salad crops are also fine in this patch as they are short lived and do not need a lot of space. In my rotation I add some flower crops such as dahlias, chrysanthemums and gladioli for cut flowers as well as brightening up the plot.
Digging in the green manure
My last rotational crop is the potatoes, which get both plenty compost and usually follow an autumn green manure crop. They do not like an alkaline soil which makes the tubers liable to scab, but should be fine on land a few years after liming for the brassica crop. I also hold back some compost to spread along the bottom of the furrow taken out when planting the seed potatoes.
Salads in succession
Strawberries are another great crop to help with the rotation. I grow an early row of Mae, Honeoye or Christine, two maincrop rows of Symphony and Florence and the autumn variety Flamenco and crop for no more than three years before digging in. This gives me extra land to bring into the rotation. New strawberry beds come from strong healthy runners from the older beds in autumn after cropping has finished, then the old plants are dug out and added to the compost heap together with any straw bedded down between the rows. Be careful with the autumn fruiting varieties as good runners are only produced on young plants. Once they are three years old they can be very reluctant to throw out new runners.

Aconites
Wee jobs to do this week

Winter may now be with us as the mild weather could not last forever, but it has allowed the first spring bulbs to flower. The snowdrops first appeared in December and the aconites in January and February, but enjoy them while they last as before too long the crocus will be coming out to let us know winter is coming to an end.

END