Horticultural Society

Gardening Notes for  
The cloudless skies and balmy days which we enjoyed in late spring were wonderful but, right on cue, at the beginning of the meteorological summer, the weather changed from glorious to very changeable. Who knows how it will be by the time you read this? But whatever the weather, during lockdown those of us lucky enough to have a garden are benefiting enormously.  To be free to enjoy one’s own space is a real privilege.

We have taken time to think about how we use our garden. A small paved area that used to house an old garden shed has recently been something of a dumping ground. But now we realise that it could make a lovely sitting area, shady at midday but sunny in the evening. Work will start with the removal of a misplaced conifer (how come we have tolerated it for so long?)  We will wait until September to do this just in case there are any late-nesting birds. Our garden lacks a pond so we are going create a little water feature there using an old galvanised bath. It doesn’t sound too promising but we think we can make it work. Like all gardeners, we love a new project, especially one that uses recycled materials!!

We concentrate on growing a variety of fruit rather than vegetables. Here are some of the jobs we will be tackling in July and August. Our tayberry will have finished fruiting so we will cut out all the old canes, right down to the ground and tie in the new ones to the horizontal wires on the fence, replacing
broken wires as necessary.

Early fruiting raspberries will be treated in the same way, old canes will be cut out and the new ones tied in to wires. Some early strawberries may give a second crop so we will remove the old foliage,  give them a feed and a good watering if necessary. Our blueberries grow in containers in ericaceous compost. They do well and give a plentiful crop; the secret seems to be regular watering with rainwater and some protection from strong midday sun…..Oh, and protection from birds!  Blackcurrants should be pruned about now. We cut out the fruited stems, leaving the fresh young growth which will carry next year’s crop.

Apple and pears usually shed excess fruit in June (the ‘June Drop’). If the fruit remains over-crowded, we will thin it some more, especially the cordons. Cordon fruit trees do need some summer pruning…. clear advice available on line. Growing a peach tree is not for the faint-hearted but still we have given it a go, with limited success. We have a fan trained tree against a south west facing brick wall, which is ideal. Despite some rather dodgy pruning it produces some delicious fruit…………. a view shared by ants, earwigs and wasps!  Perhaps one of you can tell me how an earwig manages to find its way inside a peach without leaving a mark on the outside?!!

But not everything succeeds.  We have three clumps of rhubarb, growing in a raised bed, which fail to thrive, probably because the ground is too dry. We do water and feed it but still it sulks!
Last year we had a good crop on our little lemon tree (it grows in a pot and lives in the back porch in the winter) so this year I planned to make some marmalade from the fruit. I should have known better! Despite regular feeding and watering with precious rainwater there is not a single lemon on it this year! And then there is the melon plant, kindly given to me by a friend. Planted in the greenhouse a month or so ago, it has hardly grown at all. Why? I wish I knew the answer. Years ago, when we knew absolutely nothing about gardening, we grew a melon plant from a seed. The plant thrived in a ramshackle little cold frame, knocked together out of a pile of old bricks and a reject window! It produced several delicious fruits. …….Beginners luck!                                    
Gill Taylor