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Garden Ramblings, Issue #053
January 15, 2009

 

January 2009


Monthly Musings on the Garden Scene

 

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If you prefer, you can view this month's issue online where you can also subscribe if this copy has been forwarded to you by a friend.

If you are reading the text version you will need to go online to see the videos.

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In this issue:

- Letter from the Editor
- Winter Garden Care in a Mediterranean Climate
- Growing Asparagus Plants
- Get Free Plants By Division
- Special Offers
- Tailpiece

 

 

 

 

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Hi

Welcome to the January issue of Garden Ramblings. We have three articles by guest authors this month.

The first contribution is from Jonathan Ya'akobi who has been featured here on several occasions. "Winter Garden Care in a Mediterranean Climate: Why Mulching is Better than Hoeing" is a useful reminder of the benefits of mulching, not only to keep down the weeds but also to improve soil structure.

I have never had much success when trying to grow asparagus. In fact I have to confess that after a couple of failed attempts, I gave up. But the prospect of being able to pick fresh asparagus spears from your garden is very appealing. So if you feel like giving it a try, Gareth Taylor tells you how it should be done.

All gardeners will know that you can increase your stock of plants by division. You dig up a plant and split it into two or three pieces which you then replant. But Richard Allen claims that you can produce up to two hundred new plants by careful division. And if you wonder why you would want that many new plants, his website www.makemoneygrowingplants.co.uk might give you a clue.

As usual there is a Special Offers section with all the bargains that I've managed to find this month.

The video this month is "Flowers from Ollies garden 2008".

Enjoy the issue.

Hugh

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Different types of flowers from Ollies garden 2008

 


Different types of flowers from Ollies garden 2008 @ Yahoo! Video

 



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Winter Garden Care in a Mediterranean Climate: Why Mulching is Better than Hoeing
by Jonathan Ya'akobi

In Mediterranean and other mild winter climates, the ground during the winter is usually soft enough to permit hoeing and other forms of cultivating. In fact hoeing the soil used to be the universally accepted method of breaking up the top surface that especially in heavy, clay soils, tends to cake after a rainfall. It was also thought to be the natural and best method of dealing with annual weeds, by killing most weed seedlings. In both cases though, spreading an organic mulch is preferable to hoeing.

Before seeing why this is the case, let's remind ourselves of the benefits of hoeing. Primarily, breaking up the caked, top layer significantly increases the percentage of oxygen that penetrates the soil, a fact that results in the far quicker and more satisfactory growth of new plants. While root development will be enhanced amongst trees and shrubs, herbaceous plants, especially winter annuals, often "take off" after hoeing.

Weed Control

With regards to weed control however, the benefits of hoeing are offset by the increased rate of germination that is effected by the exposure of weed seeds to light, no matter how brief the duration. Therefore, while the act of hoeing may deal with existing weeds quite reasonably, it will also cause more weeds to sprout during the coming months.

Soil Erosion

The beauty of mulching with a suitable organic material is that the positive results of hoeing are retained, while avoiding its negative consequences. However, the most important role of a mulch is to protect the topsoil from the erosive affects of rain and wind. Turning the soil periodically does not protect it from erosion.

A layer of organic mulch such as shredded bark or decorative wood chippings, may not prevent existing weeds from growing through it, but if spread to a depth of about 10cm (4in) will prevent seeds from germinating that are on or near the soil's surface. Furthermore, most seeds that land on the mulch will not germinate, while germination rates can be irritatingly high with inorganic mulching material such as ornamental pebbles. It is no exaggeration to say that organic mulch is the most effective, eco-friendly, and labor-saving method of suppressing annual weeds available to the gardener today.

A Healthy Soil

Indirectly, mulching also improves the oxygen levels in the soil, by providing raw material for earthworms and other organisms essential to the soil's health and balance. Earthworms, by virtue of their burrowing up and down through the soil, are far more efficient as aerators than a gardener and his hoe. In addition, their secretions enhance the soil's crumbly structure that is so crucial to the plants physiological processes and resistance to disease.

In short, spreading a layer of organic mulch may involve considerable initial expense. This is surely balanced not only by its immense benefits to the soil and therefore to the garden plants, but also compared to hoeing, in immeasurable savings in time and labor.

About the Author

My name is Jonathan Ya'akobi. I've been gardening in a professional capacity for 25 years. I am the former head gardener of the Jerusalem Botanical Garden, but now concentrate on building beautiful gardens for private homeowners. My job is to help you get the very best from your garden, so visit me at http://www.dryclimategardening.com and download FOR FREE, the first chapter of my book Go to http://www.dryclimategardening.com/Products/tabid/55/Default.aspx



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Growing Asparagus Plants
by Gareth Taylor

Asparagus plants are truly magical, especially in the spring. Those gardeners who were wise enough to plant their patch more than three years ago are able to enjoy a wonderful harvest throughout April to May. At the grocery store, fresh asparagus is quite expensive. It is a simple yet elegant vegetable that adds class to any menu. Baked in butter, steamed with sauce, grilled with balsamic marinade - however way it is cooked, asparagus is best eaten when fresh.

To those who do not already grow asparagus, don't take this to heart as growing asparagus is really easy to do. With patience, desire and just a small plot of earth, it would not be long before fresh asparagus is available for picking at one's desire. In three years time, your asparagus garden will be ready for harvest each spring.

First, one has to prepare a bed - asparagus likes to grow in its own space. Choose a sunny site for your spot. Make it large enough for all asparagus crowns. Double dig your soil and remove all weeds. Establish your plants so that weeds will not get the best of them. Enriching the plot of earth with rotten leaves manure or compost is essential in making the asparagus plant healthy.

This can be done gradually. Start on a small pile then keep on adding to it until it is time to plant next spring. Asparagus plants love rich organic soil. A bed of Asparagus can produce fresh products for decades to come so care and effort at the beginning will certainly pay off in quantity as well as quality.

Asparagus, a member of the lily family, is difficult to grow from seed - home gardeners should buy 1-year-old crowns, which are already rooted. Look for bundles with roots that are dormant, meaning showing no green shoots; look for crowns that are fresh and firm, not limp. Your local garden centre, mail order catalogues, hardware store and nurseries carry these asparagus crowns.

Plant them as soon as possible upon purchasing. Dig a trench around the bed of about 6 inches; set the crowns a foot away from the other. Cover with two inches of organic soil and gradually work the soil into the trench. This should be done throughout the first season. Plants will begin to grow in about two weeks. Do not fill the trench quickly to avoid stifling the plants.

Keep on adding soil throughout the season until the trench levels. Do not cut asparagus shoots the first year, this will allow for foliage to grow and die on its own. Allowing this will provide food for the roots. When winter comes, cut the foliage and haul it away to avoid harboring the eggs of the asparagus beetle.

You can cut asparagus stalks on the second year, but only those that are bigger than your finger. While waiting for it to grow, keep on watering and mulching with compost and manure. The third year is the magical year for the asparagus plant as at last it can be enjoyed at the dinner table. Allow a number of shoots to mature to full growth and die to provide food for roots for a healthy next harvest.

This cycle will be repeated every year for many years to come. Asparagus is enjoyed by many - especially when served fresh. Cutting right from the home garden patch is as fresh as fresh asparagus comes.

 

About the Author

Gareth Taylor is author of this article on Growing Asparagus Plants. Find more information about Growing Asparagus Plants.



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Get Free Plants By Division
by Richard Allen

A lot of perennial plants can be grown by division. This is a lot easier than taking cuttings. If you have friends who have large gardens you can usually get your plants for free by dividing their plants up. You can get 50 to 100 little plants from one large plant, which means if you have a few friends with biggish gardens, you can stock your whole nursery for free. Also Perennial plants need dividing every two or three years. So you are doing your friends a favour by having all these free plants off them.

When should you divide perennials?

The best time to dig up and divide perennials is late autumn through to early spring. Personally I like to leave this until after Christmas, as the plants start to shoot and grow in January.

How to divide your perennials

Dig around the plant and lift the root ball out of the ground shaking it. Once you have got it out of the ground kick as much soil away as possible. Try make it so you can see all the buds of the plant around the crown.

If possible pull the plant apart with your hands, If not use a sharp knife. For larger plants you may need to sharpen a spade to use. If you read nearly every other book it will tell you to be very careful, when you do this, and do not damage any part of the plant. In reality whether you use a knife, a spade, a fork or even a saw, 90% of the plants you divide will live. When doing it for myself I chop these perennials Into very small pieces. I will sometimes get 200 small plants out of a large plant. The one thing to remember is try and get a piece of root connected to a piece of the crown, if you manage this the plants should grow.

PLANTS SUTABLE FOR DIVIDING

The easiest plants to divide are the perennial plants listed below Including:

Achillia, Aconitum, Agapanthus, Alcea, Alstromeria,.Anemone, Aster, Astilbe, Astrantia, Bergenia, Campanula, Chleone, Crocosmia, Delphinium, Dicentra, Digitalis, Echnacea, Erygium, Geranium (The perennial variety), Hellenium, Helleborus, Hemerocallis, Hosta, Iris, Kniphofia, Liatris, Lupins, Monarda, Paeonia, Phlox, Primula, Rudbeckia, Salvia, Sedium, Sidelsea, Tradescantai Trollis, Verbena, Verbascum, Veronica.

A lot of other plants will divide, if you are nor sure either look in the R.H.S propagation guide or just try some.

The advantages of dividing perennials rather growing them from seed, is you get bigger plants which have more growth and flowers on them.

This means you can sell the plant faster, and for more money.

About the Author

Richard Allen has been growing and selling plants in the UK for over 20 years. He has released a course Including a FREE ecourse to let you earn from your hobby and create the perfect lifestyle business growing plants - go to www.makemoneygrowingplants.co.uk

 

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Special Offers

 

 

Now that Christmas is over the Winter Sale at Gardener's Supply Company is in full swing. Some 270 items are on sale at prices ranging from under $10 to $300 and more.

 

 

 

Gardener's Supply Company

 

 

Dutch Gardens have finished their sales and are featuring their new perennials for spring, but you can still save $25 when you spend $50 as shown on the banner.

 

 

Dutch Gardens, Inc.

 

 

 

 

Gurney's Seed & Nursery Co are offering Ka-Bluey Blueberry at 55% off and, as you see from the banner, you can still save $20 when you spend $40 or more.

 

 

Shop at Gurneys.com for your vegetable and flower seeds!

 

 

 

 

This month Nature Hills Nursery are offering savings of 10% on over 175 Trees plus free shipping on all orders over $100.

 

 

 

 

 



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Tailpiece

 

Irish Country Garden

 

 



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Please feel free to pass on this newsletter to your gardening friends. Do let me have your feedback and suggestions to: hugh@garden-supplies-advisor.com

That's all until next month but in the meantime you can always look at my Blog Garden Supplies News

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