Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dahlia Lifting (video)

I lifted a couple of Dahlias this morning. Most advice is to lift when they have been frosted but I lift some before they have gone black. There are two reasons I do this.
Firstly, I think the blacked foliage initiates rot. I've no proof either way, its just a gut feeling, and I waited for frost once only to find the first freeze came with a foot of snow! I was forced to leave them in for too long and lost some stock. Secondly, I have little spare time and need to get some of my Narcissus in. But the Dahlias are in the way!

Techniques vary I imagine, but this is how I do it.
I chop the top growth to eight to ten inches above ground. Chopping to above a node is not required at this stage as the tuber will be trimmed again before storage. Then lift the tuber with a spade (I find forks damage the tuber sometimes). Once the tuber is free from the ground, use the remaining stem to lift it up (don't be scared, they are usually tough). I then grip the stem with one hand and whack the top with a rubber mallet or block of wood to loosen the soil from around the tuber. Make sure you wire on a label at this point too. Line a tray with newspaper and just lay it in angled with the stem down, not to densely though as airflow around the tuber is vital. I then put the tray indoors to 'dry' the tubers for a week or so (I use the utility room)
For storage I just leave in a very open basket or tray, indoors over winter (utility room cupboard actually).

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Penstemons are top of next years plant list!

I have overlooked them for too long. Plants that flower for so long deserve space in every plantsmans garden. I put a couple in as gap fillers last year. These two became six all on their own and have divided with ease again this year, making twenty or so.

Most penstemons are herbaceous perennials. They are very easy to propagate now with semi ripe cuttings. Most of mine have an abundance of cutting material right now. In fact, most have air layered, with early stems having roots on the bottom few inches of stem.

I'm going to look for some interesting varieties for next year to go with my Sour Grapes (pictured) and Etna.

Love gardening.........making the most of that room outside. My favourite room in the house!

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Garden skills undervalued

I have seen so much demise in gardens this year. All by homeowners that think having a gardener is lavish and costly. They know how to do it themselves you see. Or think they do!

However their lawns and hedges are nearly dead now. All due to the fact they failed to spot the warning signs. Easy signs to spot, especially by the knowledgeable gardener. Lovely lawns ravaged by chafers. Beautiful conifer hedges sucked dry by aphids. Clipped Laurels riddled with shot hole disease. All for the sake of saving money on a professional. Years of self manicure erased in one season of thrift.

Now some money will be thrown at turf because the lawn is dead. They will lay it themselves, badly, and spend endless Sundays fixing it up. I've seen it all too often. Easter weekend will commence with supermarket sweep at the 'DIY stores' garden bit. Plant slaughter initiated......

Rant over........