Helen's Garden Renovation Project

Tuesday 30 June 2009

Gardening in a heatwave

Filed under: Progress — Helen @ 8:07 pm

The Met Office has arranged for us to have a heatwave this week. We may be getting some heavy showers on Friday, but in the meantime it is important to make sure that nothing collapses from heat exhaustion, including me.

Gardening in a heatwave is fine as long as you follow these simple rules:
(1) Go out as early in the morning as you can manage, and go indoors at eleven o’clock to have a nice cup of tea. Or, if you are unlucky enough not to have the week off work, go out in the evening, but you will have to wear insect repellent and put up with stinky barbecues.
(2) Don’t attempt to move much soil, or swing a pickaxe. Just do some nice gentle pruning, weeding and repotting.
(3) Wear a hat. You can even walk to the shops wearing a hat and no one will laugh at you.
(4) Drink plenty of water as you go along.
(5) Work very slowly. Remember that if it were raining, you wouldn’t be doing any work at all, so anything you can do is a bonus.

The willowherb competition is still wide open. The willowherb could win it by miles, or by kilometres, or by inches. There were some patches of soil which were so hard and dry that I decided to cheat by spraying the area with glyphosate to get rid of the weeds, but I did remove all the willowherb by hand first.

I am worried about the thuja that I planted last year. I started watering it a few weeks ago, and am wondering whether I should have started earlier. There are brown patches on the leaves. However, most of the leaves look healthy and the plants are evidently growing. I shall be giving them a good drenching three times a week while the heatwave lasts.

I fed all my potted plants today, apart from the lime-hating ones, which get a specialist slow-release feed made of pellets. I have used up all my Wilkinson’s Wondergro, so I decided to try some B&Q general purpose liquid plant food. The Wondergro is a crystalline solid, which takes time to dissolve. The liquid doesn’t need to dissolve. However, it is much easier to spill the liquid on the patio than it is to spill the solid. The biggest disadvantage of the liquid is its price. Presumably it is similar in quality to the solid. However, it costs about the same price for 180 litres of food solution as the solid does for 900 litres of food solution. I used more than half the bottle this morning (I have so very many leaves to feed) so I shall have to buy some more, and I think I’ll get some more of the solid next time. The plants are supposed to get fed every week, but considering that they didn’t get fed at all last summer, I think they will be happy enough with once a fortnight.


Monday 29 June 2009

Annual Willowherb Elimination Stakes

Filed under: Greenhouse,Progress — Helen @ 10:58 am

It is now coming up to the end of June, and this is when I enter the annual competition against the willowherb. The game is to pull it all up before it sets seed. The willowherb has its name inscribed on the trophy for every one of the past thirteen years. What makes me think this year will be any different? Two things: I’m not going away on holiday this summer, and this week, I’ve got a week off work!

The state of my garden in June 2009

The state of my garden in June 2009

The forecast is for a heatwave, gradually turning cooler by the end of the week. There could be thunderstorms and heavy showers, but generally the South should be fairly dry. So I am hoping that I will be able to manage two hours a day from today until Friday. If so, this is what I am going to do:

(1) Pull up every single willowherb plant.
(2) Pull up any other weeds that get in the way.
(3) Collect up all the random pots in my garden and arrange them in stacks according to size.
(4) Repot all parts of the Portable Herbaceous Border that need repotting, and pull out the weeds in the pots.
(5) Trim the marjoram (this is on the left hand side of the garden so you can’t see it in either of the photos in this post).
(6) Prune the apple trees. (OK, this is getting into the realms of fantasy now, so maybe I’d better stop here. It is, after all, a week I’ve got off work, not a year).

And anyway, the right hand side of the garden doesn’t look too bad:

Greenhouse and temporary pond

Greenhouse and temporary pond

It’s a bit green, but that’s hardly a bad thing in a garden.