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Garden Hygiene

garden hygiene...

garden hygiene...

I remember when I was about 14 years old I’d been given this summer project of my parents front and back garden. Lopping shears, shears and my secateurs in hand I went for it.

The place had become quite overgrown. Of course when filled with plants like the Fuchsia, Forsythia, Eleagnus, Senecio, Spirea Ligustrums and the like… the types guaranteed to grow and what also would have been so popular and reticent of the 1980’s. I took them right down from about 10/12′ tall to about 2-3′. The place hadn’t been touched in ages. Within no time at all, Mom was out and I was being labelled a butcher!

One must appreciate that at this stage I had been working and reading up on my plants since I was about 5 years old and whilst I had done and been paid to do this for others…. Mom wasn’t impressed, at all! I think she liked things nice and very neatly trimmed… but never cut back for the benefit of the plant long term wise….

it left an unsightly appearance…  

The plants had become very woody. Extremely woody in fact. But as I said they are that genre. That is what this group of plants do.

The plants had grown into each other so much so that the bases of some had begun to rot. The flower quality wasn’t the greatest either and minor problems, albeit nothing that the more mature plant couldn’t cope with, had begun to appear on the foliage. Again, whilst not wasn’t such a problem for the bigger boys, the smaller more delicate plants nearby were getting a battering from insects, disease vectors and wind/ rain transferable diseases.

Garden hygiene as it is known is of great importance…

hygiene...

hygiene...

Assuming you have trees growing in your garden that will not grow to 60′ tall…. and assuming you live in a garden where that is not the case… one should prune upwards of the stem rather than ‘top’ the tree. Crown raise as it is known.

The more vigorous ‘shrubs’ should then be cut back and hard. This allows the regeneration of the new growth, the removal of dead and diseased wood from the plant and equaly as important the removal of a season long of debris falling to the base of the plant where micro climates may build up increasing the possibility of pest  and diseases.

The ideal scenario to create is that there is wind movement through the plants and this in itself will help prevent pests and diseases from harbouring within an extremely sheltered space that is your garden.  

This then also allows for the removal of any weeds or plants growing where they really shouldn’t be….

weeds...

weeds...

Once this is done… a good layer of bark down and you’re pretty much good to go. The key now is to remember how big the plants actually grew… so as you don’t end up putting plants into a gap where it won’t be seen in 6 months time or/and where overcrowding may once more occur. I guess a lot of this comes back to good planning and good design.

Do remember that it is a garden and it is supposed to be for enjoyment rather than endurance 😉 Also most plants are on the verge of dormancy and now is not such a bad time to get at this laborious chore. If the next question is ‘is now the righ time….?’ The answer is, if your garden requires some tending to and it will save the plant, even though it may not flower, then it is…

If you are unsure of what and not to do… don’t be afraid to pay for some advice and guidance and whatever you do make sure and get someone who really knows what they are talking about. Yes… someone as intelligent and as good looking [if that is possible…] as me 😆

Of course you can also leave a comment below…

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Peach Leaf Curl

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As a by the way…. just because its called peach leaf curl, it doesn’t mean it only affects peach trees. It will affect most Prunus related species.

Anyhow, I don’t like this one at all. It simply looks so ugly…. caused by the fungus Taphrina deformans [the second part of the name says it all…], it is spread by rain and wind where it will hibernate in stem cracks, scars or wounds and there is literally damn all one can do about it.

The leaves become distorted and bubble up like big ugly red blisters. En mass, it is pretty ugly to look at and I kind of feel sorry for the plant…. especially when all of the leaves fall off.

Whilst chemical control via any sort of fungicide will do the job… in my own garden I prefer to let nature do what it must and maybe from a biological control point of way I may get involved…. But the leaves do grow back and hopefully the plant will come good. But isn’t that what gardening is all about…

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Snails…

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Some may call the mollusc one of the greatest pests known to mankind the plant world. I’ll give them one thing…. they’re not the prettiest looking fellas on the planet.

Famed for eating anything thats green leafed, the damage they cause can often be confused with that of bird damage. The difference is birds will eat through the veins of the leaf where the snails mouth eating parts will not allow them eat anything greater than just the leaf matter. ie the damage they cause is considered interveinal only.

For controlling snails once must start at the very start and that is with good garden hygiene; ie. a good cleaning, pruning and removal of debris regularly from around plants. There is also the use of ‘slug pellets which burns the belly of the mollusc when they move across it. Personally I like to pick them up and throw them into the hens.

What I find facinating is the varied and so many methods of controlling snails I have heard on my travels…. from copper wire placed in a loop around the base of the plant to a cup of beer placed near, which I personally find an awful waste 😉

How do you do it….?