Gardening with Joe Smith.

A well kept garden can be a thing of beauty which is easy to look after and it’s a pity that quite a number of people get poor results and think that the whole thing is an expensive drudge. Given that a few simple measures, (if followed) can improve things massively the object of this article is to point the way to achieving a position where the average gardener can look at the garden with pride, enjoy time there and know that a fortune is not being spent on it.

1. Get the basics right!
Firstly recognise that unless your soil is really heavy you don’t need to dig once a border is planted. I haven’t, for the past 4 years, using mulch to control weed and the worms to “pull down” the organic matter two tasks are completed in one exercise! I use a variety of mulch types according to the crop from forest bark by hedge bases, to well rotted manure beneath roses and spent hops (usually free from a local micro brewery) for mixed borders.

2. Find out how your plants grow!
This is especially important with regard to roses, shrubs, and fruit trees where the pruning varies according to type. Here, a little background reading via the internet, or a good library book will ensure that you don’t make mistakes which reduce yield, growth, or flower display. The moral here is if you don’t know don’t cut. One years observation WILL TELL YOU how the plant grows whereas a bad decision can set you back for up to 3years.
Also by learning how to divide herbaceous plants or take softwood cuttings means that you can multiply the stock for ZERO COST.

3. Buy plants for planting at the right time!
NEVER buy and plant tender annuals/perennials all risk of frost has passed (usually the first week in June in this area), or buy “bare root” evergreens for planting in January and February when the ground is frozen they can’t take up water and will usually die.

4. Join a good horticultural society!
Locally the Cellarhead & District Horticultural Society meet at Wetley Rocks Village Hall on the first Tuesday of each month between 8 and 10pm, the 8 talks given by a garden expert are FREE. WHAT HAVE YOU GOT TO LOSE.

Have a good gardening season in 2017, follow the advice above, and you WILL walk down your garden path with a spring in your step.