Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Garden's Polytunnel

"A lot of people do find it hard doing the heavy work - the digging and bending down. So a lot of it is based on raised beds."
The garden has produced an array of salad and vegetables, and Karen is particularly proud of the lettuces which have grown.
"It's fantastic and they get used in the church kitchen," she said.
Carrots, radishes, and tomatoes are grown in the garden's polytunnel.
However, as the seasons change and the temperature falls, Karen explains how it's not always easy to maintain the garden.
"In the winter you have tidying up to do and the compost to sort out - It's not quite as glamorous as gardening in the summer."
But for Suzie and Karen, growing produce at the church is not only a great way for their students to learn and get involved with gardening - it is about creating a sense of community spirit.
Karen says: "It gets the place connected into the community and anything to do with healthy eating goes down really well in places like Aspley, as there's not a lot of posh food shops."
Suzie, director of Life, has a vision in mind for the future of the project as she hopes to head towards a social enterprise, a non-profit making company working for the community.
The aim is for the produce to be sold to the public.
"We have had a couple of ideas about edible bouquets, with things in it that look pretty like parsley," she said.
The group recently set up another base at Clifton Community Centre and Suzie hopes the group can continue with its achievements and develop an allotment there with the same success as they have had in Aspley.

Adults learn the beauty of gardening at church plot

A BEAUTIFUL garden which started life as grassland behind a church has been given a new lease of life.
Suzie Wright and her scheme Learning in a Fun Environment (Life) obtained the land near Aspley Methodist Church in February 2009.
Life was set up in September 2007 for adults with learning difficulties and disabilities.
The members now help to run the garden alongside Suzie and colleague Karen Fry.
The allotment took shape in spring 2009 and with the help of Karen, who taught gardening through New College Nottingham, the group turned it into a nurtured and cultivated plot of land.
Karen, who studied botany at Newcastle University, said the whole idea was to create somewhere to grow food and flowers and get the students involved.
"We've done a lot of learning on what the different vegetables are and what sort of things we can grow," she said.
"It's quite difficult for people to understand the link between a tiny seed which grows in the ground and quite a long time later comes up as a plant - so I've been trying to connect that together."
As a number of the students have mobility problems and are in wheelchairs, it can be difficult for them to take part in practical gardening.
Karen said: "We have to have somewhere that they can reach.

Cold weather means gardening challenges; The bigger the root system the more rapid uptake of fertilizers, whether you're using synthetics or organics

It has been an interesting gardening season so far. Thoughts about the low soil temperature and the miniscule plants being sold in the stores.
As a lot of gardeners are aware, this spring so far the weather has been a lot colder than normal. We have had many reports of plants, particularly hardy nursery stock in gardens, getting killed off by the frost. As we said in a column a few weeks ago, this is not a season where you can force your plants into early development. An example in our area, which is not normally particularly cold, the 1st of May's minimum night temperature was minus 2F (1 C). The ground temperature, which is the most important link in the survival of bedding plants, is in most areas way below normal for the first week of May.
It is going to take a lot more than a week of sunny days to bring these ground temperatures up. You are going to need at least three weeks, minimum. As we have said before, don't plant your corn early this year, otherwise you will be going out to put a second seeding in.
Miniscule plants for sale. I find it mind boggling that gardeners will go and buy one inch (2.5 cm) high impatiens plants being sold in a local food store and two inch (5 cm) high tomato plants in four inch (10 cm) pots.
All these miniscule plants have only just been planted up, so the likelihood of the root system penetrating the whole of the growing medium in the container is highly remote.
Yet with today's modern day bedding and vegetable plants, a large fully developed root system, even to the degree of appearing to be pot bound, is a far better thing to spend your money on than plants that have just been put into the pot and shipped out of the greenhouse a week later. The bigger the root system, whether you are planting in a container or in the ground, when the ground is warm enough, the more rapid uptake of fertilizers, whether you are using synthetics or organics.
This is the number one controlling mechanism in plant growth. If the roots cannot take up sufficient food, then the plant is going to grow very poorly and very slowly, which translates, if you are growing flowering plants, into very few flowers. And if you are growing vegetables, such as tomatoes, it means it means you might just get five pounds of fruit.
Where we know from experience, getting large plants and we are talking real large plants at three feet high (90 cm) on the 1st of June, you can get at least 25 to 35 pounds of fruit off of one container grown plant if it is properly watered and fed.
Talking about plant sizes, I came across an interesting piece of marketing in geraniums. Plants in a hyped up four-inch (10 cm) pot in a big box store were twenty five per cent more expensive and not as good quality as a four-inch (10 cm) geranium out of one of the garden centers.

Natural Habitat

"Perfect pale flowers with an egg-yolk centre held on stems the colour of baby birds above rosettes of dark, crinkled leaves, the primula epitomises the coming of spring.
"In its natural habitat, it seeds itself around, each new plant becoming an established clump, spreading out gradually in search of nutrients among the debris of leaves and moss.
"Initially in the garden, though, it needs a helping hand.
"It is a sociable plant and always looks its best in colonies."
Her observations are detailed in Life In A Cottage Garden, a new six-part BBC Two series which started yesterday, accompanied by a tie-in book.
If you have a shady spot with a canopy of trees, rake up the leaves in autumn and make as much leaf mould as you can, she advises, which can then be used as a mulch or to enrich other parts of the garden.
Use some as a natural mulch around trees and groups of larger plants, but keep mulch away from young plant stems, as it can rot them if too much comes into contact.
"Don't just leave the fallen leaves because they may be hiding some of your tiny treasures such as erythroniums and pretty epimedium grandiflorum and versicolor.
Don't leave fallen leaves on hellebores because they grow so close to one another that any disease will spread."
Research the plants you want to incorporate in your woodland area, as some have different needs to others.
"You need to put things in places you know they would grow naturally.
"Epimedium versicolor, for instance, will grow in very dry shade and will grow in tree roots, but that wouldn't work with trilliums because they need a good root run."
Whatever your soil type in your woodland space, the ground will need to be well prepared.
Weed areas and dig well-rotted manure or compost into the ground, especially in areas of dry shade, where plants may take a bit longer to establish.
Once they are planted, water them in well and cover them with a mulch of leaf mould or compost, which will help retain the moisture. Even in small woodland corners, make space for a rustic seat where you can relax and enjoy this dappled shady spot on a hot day.
Before you know it, summer will be here and you can take shelter in your cool, quiet woodland haven.

Woodland puts a new spring into gardening expert's step

IN the depths of winter, TV gardening expert Carol Klein cannot wait until the spring when she can wander through the woodland area of her Devon garden to see what gems are emerging.
"I love that feeling of intimacy and enclosure in my woodland garden," she enthused.
"I've chosen plants which typify the setting, starting off the year with snowdrops, which resist any amount of wind, yet those heavy bell flowers stay suspended on little, skinny stems which allow them to move around without coming to any harm.
"They look best in crowds. Left to their own devices they will colonise and spread."
Woodland gardens traditionally welcome plants which will thrive in shade, or at least dappled shade.
Snowdrops are followed by a succession of other bulbs, hellebores and pulmonarias, primroses, springtime trilliums and erythroniums (dog tooth violets), woodruff, wood anemones and bluebells in the shady garden.
Epimediums are among Carol's favourite woodland plants.
They will thrive even in dry, dense shade, and are grown primarily for their foliage, heart-shaped leaves borne on wiry stems and changing colour as the season progresses.
When planting epimediums among tree roots, add plenty of humus-rich material around the roots but avoid strong manure, as epimediums in their natural habitat would be fed by leaf litter.
"In March, our native primrose is at home among oak leaves and ferns," she said.
"If the primrose was a new introduction from some far-off place, gardeners would fight each other to possess it.