Posted by UsedCarCheck.info at 12:01 PM | Labels: animal, blight, freezing, frozen, green manure, ice, ISOLATED, mike and bernie winters, moving plants, peelings, snowball, SNOWED IN, SPRING GARDEN, TOOLBOX
Although we have been frozen in for a couple of weeks (much to my delight), I have still managed a bit of gardening work which didn’t involve careering down an ice-covered driveway on a surfboard…such fun, apart from the wall…. The only plants easily worked on were the hedges, so they got a good trim.
As we are into the New Year I thought we could snuggle down in the warmth with a hot cuppa and check out some top tips and answer questions from the gardening.ie website. The website is having a spring clean this month with new features, a forum and a clearly laid out section to make it more user friendly. It is looking like my toolbox at the moment; I can never find anything I am looking for.
Top Tips for a great spring garden
· Try not to remove mulch from perennials too early. A warm day may make you think spring is almost here but there may be more cold weather yet to come.
· Branches of forsythia, pussy willow, quince, spirea, and dogwood can be forced for indoor bloom. Make long, slanted cuts when collecting the branches and place the stems in a vase of water. Change the water every four days. They should bloom in about 3 weeks.
· Look over your trees now and remove dead, dying, or unsightly parts, sprouts growing at or near the base of the tree trunk and crossed branches.
· This year plan to grow at least one new vegetable that you've never grown before.
· Check all five growing factors if your houseplants are not growing well. Light, temperature, nutrients, moisture, and humidity must be favourable to provide good growth.
Questions for 2010
Q. I saved lots of runner bean seeds last autumn, far more than I need to sow this year. Can I eat them in the same way that I would other dried beans?
A. Runner bean seeds - be they black, white or, more usually purple with black streaks - are all edible. Soak them until they are plump, and then make sure they boil for at least 10 minutes to destroy the toxins that are in all drying beans. Then continue to cook as usual.
Q. I need some manure for my garden, and can easily get fresh strawy horse manure. Can I use this straight away? If not, why not?
A. Animal manures should always be composted or left to rot down before use. The urine in the mix is rich in plant foods, but these are easily washed out by rain - and can also burn young plants. The composting process stabilises these nutrients, so they are released slowly. Horse manure is likely to contain residues of products use to worm the horses, and it is important to give these time to break down. Composting also reduces or destroys pathogens and weed seeds, and makes the materials easier to handle and apply.
Chitting potatoes light or dark
Q. I'm getting conflicting advice about chitting potatoes. Some say they should be kept in the dark until first buds appear while some say they should be chitted in light areas. Any thoughts?
A. Try putting your seed potatoes to chit in daylight. Having said that, if they are chitted in the dark, it is not the end of the world. I have tried planting tubers with shoots up to 20cm long (produced in the dark) and they still grew, but they were a bit awkward to plant without damaging them.
Spud peelings in the compost?
Q. A friend told me that you shouldn't put potato peelings onto the compost heap but didn't know of any reason for this. Is this correct?
A. The only reason for not composting potato peelings is that they are a potential source of the fungus that causes potato blight. Blight spores can survive only on living plant material. Potato peelings can provide this when the buds in the eyes of potato skins grow into potato plants. To ensure that the peelings don't sprout, bury them well down in the compost and ensure that you turn the heap regularly. If you do this, it is fine to compost the peelings.
Q. When would be the best time to move various plants to a new site in my garden?
A. The best time to move plants will depend on the type of plant. Herbaceous plants (those that die down in the winter) are best moved in the autumn or winter - though not when the ground is frozen. Deciduous shrubs (those that lose their leaves) are also best moved at this time, once they have lost their leaves. Evergreens, on the other hand, are best moved in March so get planning now, as it will soon be here.
Smokeless fuel ash and the organic garden
Q. Can I use the wood ash from my stove on the garden? I sometime also burn smokeless fuel. Would this ash be safe to use too?
A. Wood ash is rich in trace elements and potassium, so it makes sense to use it on the garden. As rain can quickly wash these nutrients out of the soil, it is best to process the ash through a compost heap. Store it in a dry place, and add to the compost material as you fill the bins through the year. Ash from smokeless fuel and coal is not suitable for garden use.