Two Hour Gardening Project: Stage 6

This fortnight we make a start on the first of the permanent features in our garden – the patio. It’s a great asset, for sitting out, eating out, enjoying relaxation in the sun. Not hard work if you take it gently. Bull-at-a-gate techniques will give you backache for months. Slow and easy does it. Extend the time budget if you need to. Also some bright ideas on what to do with the soil you dig out. Some other novelties too.

Needs list: broken brick/gravel/ course sand; square wooden pegs; 1 ball string; 1spirit level; 1 pkt nasturtium seed; 1 pkt Canary creeper seed.

Time budget: 6 hours in 2 weeks

Mid June weather/soil

clip_image002The longest day of the year approaches, but summer still lags behind. There are hot days yet to come in July and August. More northerly districts benefit most now from the long days, and at last catch up with more southerly areas. Still not too late to sow seeds that failed first go.

Flower of the Fortnight

Here’s another high-speed annual to provide instant screening, the ornamental hop – Humulus japonicas ‘Variegatus’. It’s variegated, which means the leaves are splashed white and cream as well as green: beautiful ! It’s a twiner, so it needs supports to climb. Twines clockwise. Take a pencil, wind a piece of string round it clockwise. Note the string ascends from right to left. Botanists say it ascends left to right. That’s because they’re looking outwards from inside the pencil. Crazy? No. They’re just trying to solve a problem. South of the Equator this plant twines anticlockwise: like the bath water running out business you know. For planting procedures, see Stage 3.

Groundwork

1. Time to meet two of the creepiest, crawliest, slimiest and most destructive of all garden pestsslugs and snails. There’s nothing sluggish about slugs when it comes to eating their way through the stems of your favourite garden plants, and snails don’t move at a snail’s pace when it comes to eating plants either. Both set to work at night, which makes them harder to catch, and they often do their damage just underground, so you don’t see the damage, only that the plant is dead. By day they hide in dark, cool, moist parts of the garden. Catch them by placing a tile or slat 1-1/2 in. above soaked earth, put lettuce leaves or half orange under, largely cover with earth: two weeks later remove, scrape slugs and snails off underside with a board into incinerator.

2. The sword-like leaves of the gladioli should be up by now. Sow left-over annual seeds between them to cover bed. Reseed bare patches in the annual bed.

3. Check the height of the lawn-mower cut: aim for a blade height of 3/4 in. Keep all seeds moist, in semi-shade and labelled.

Project work: starting the patio: some original ideas

The British and Americans face a peculiar gardening dilemma other nationals don’t seem to have: is a garden a place in which to garden or to relax? The French, Spanish, Italians are quite decided: it is a secluded place in which to relax. From the Taj Mahal through the Persian gardens to the Moorish gardens of Spain, gardens are for relaxation. A good garden combines work with a rest place. A patio. Time to start making it, start using up that growing pile or bin of stones you’ve been weeding out of the borders. First peg out your patio area with stakes and string. Ours is 6 ft. by 4 ft. – including the garden path. Excavate the patio area 6 in. deep. Put excavated soil to one side for use on the rockery/rock garden later. (Borrow a wheelbarrow if you don’t have one.) Cover the bottom 4 in. deep in large-stones, hard core. Then cover with 1 in. smaller stones. Then a 1 in. layer of builder’s sand.

Schedule your work so the path can be used while work is in progress. Make level. Since you’ve got all this soil out of your patio area, use it for something useful. Make a mound of it, and plant potatoes in it. Use sprouting seed spuds, and plant 4 in. deep. Sow seeds of climbing nasturtiums (Nasturtium major) which come in a riot of colours. Buy a packet of mixed colours and sow seed like the sunflower seeds (Stage 4) but press 1 in. down. Also sow seeds of Canary climber to use in tubs, containers, later. Blanch the leaves of any dandelions growing in the garden by placing a large flower pot over them. Any dandelions will do – but proper culinary ones are best. Never eat leaves of dandelions off the lawn. You never know what weedkillers someone else may have used on them. Lastly, save your toilet roll tubes, halve, fill with soilless growing mix, put in box of soil, sow annuals in them. Restricting roots produces small, colourful flowers.

23. August 2011 by admin
Categories: 2 Hour Garden, Gardening Ideas | Tags: , | Comments Off on Two Hour Gardening Project: Stage 6

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