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Welcome to the wonders of winter gardening.

Bare rooted fruiting and ornamental trees and rainy days is the inspiration for gardening this month. While soil is wet and trees are dormant it’s the perfect time to establish young trees or move existing to a different area in the garden.

All those plants that are in the wrong place have the best chance of survival if moved this month.

 

Tricks for Successful Transplanting

  • Reduce root disturbance as much as possible.
  • Start digging further from the main trunk than originally intended. Find out where the roots are and then bring it into a more manageable size.
  • If the plant is to be moved to a different garden and is being transported via an open trailer. Lay the plant down and cover both the root ball and the foliage with hessian or an old sheet to minimise wind damage.
  • When replanting place into a hole that has had soil improver added and water in well with Seasol. This will encourage new roots to develop.
  • Large plants will require staking until the root system establishes itself again. Call into your local store for some great deals on soil improver and Seasol.

The Art of Espalier

The perfect solution for growing trees, climbers and shrubs in small spaces is the practice of espalier. Espalier is the term used to describe a fruit tree or shrub whose branches are trained to grow flat against a wall supported on lattice, cable, wire, or a framework of stakes. Espalier is not a new gardening practice, in the 17th century it was the word initially used to refer to the actual trellis or framework that a plant was growing on. Over hundreds of years it has come to describe the art of training the plant and the plant itself as a complete unit.

 

Essentials for successful espalier

  • Decide if the espalier is a permanent feature in the garden or it will be portable and build frame work or trellis to suit.
  • Observe the position in the garden. Is it sunny in summer and shady in winter or does the position receive all day sun?
  • Select plant species to suit the position, sun loving plants are never going to thrive in a full shaded position. When does the garden area need to look its best, is it screening an outdoor area that’s used throughout the warm months or a winter sun courtyard?
  • When using fruit trees for espalier focus on creating and training the correct shape for the first 2 or three years and remove any fruit if it sets in this time. There will be plenty of time for fruit in the future.
  • Prune the plants at the correct time; this depends a little on the varieties planted. In the case of flowering plants most training and pruning is carried out immediately after flowering.

Sweet Strawberries

All children love fresh home, grown strawberries and there is no better time to plant the new crop. Virus free runners are available in the garden centres over the next few weeks.

These runners are ready to flower very quickly, so the kids (and the big kids too!) don’t have to wait very long for fresh fruit. They are such great value as one plant will mature quickly and supply lots of fruit. Don’t scrimp on plants, they make a great groundcover and if you have extra fruit left over I’m sure there will be no shortage of takers. Strawberries grow very well in pots, hanging baskets or in the garden in their own bed or filling in any bare spots where you can see soil.

Don’t forget the Seasol. Research has proven over again that Strawberries grown with Seasol are sweeter than those that haven’t.

 

Weeds

 If you have a great crop of weeds in the garden you are not alone. If you want to avoid spraying, smothering plants is a good control method. Stomp the weeds down and apply a thick layer of quality mulch before the weeds are flowering. This will go a long way to killing them, stopping the seeds setting for the following season.

An alternative and attractive solution to avoiding weeds is to plant groundcovers where there is any bare soil. Groundcovers cover the soil quickly and block out the sunlight to dormant seeds. Light is an essential requirement for plants to grow and because it’s dark under the foliage cover germination doesn’t start. When we don’t have to spend time weeding gardening becomes more interesting.