• IvyShepherd

Ericaceous plants and green manures - This week in the garden

Weekly jobs to keep your garden looking good all year round

Welcome back to my weekly jobs, gardeners.

It is the first week of August and now is the time to reap the rewards of all your hard work this year. Your harvests should be coming in thick and fast now and remember that the more you pick, the more that will be produced.

Continue your sowings, especially of the quick and easy crops, such as salad leaves and radishes. These will be fast croppers and can be grown in between rows of your more established veg that takes a little longer to crop, such as brassicas.

So as well as your sowing and harvesting, here are a few other jobs to keep you busy in the next week to come.

Happy harvesting, gardeners!

Make new strawberry beds

Summer wouldn’t be summer without strawberries. And growing your own strawberries makes it even more special, because they taste so much better.

They are fun and easy to grow. They are also very prolific in forming runners, so this means that you will never be without new, fresh strawberry plants.

If you have heavy soil in your garden, then one option is to make a strawberry bed by growing them in raised beds. This will actually make the strawberries easier to pick and is practical too, as netting can be fastened to the sides to stop the birds getting to your fruit before you do.

Strawberries are such a versatile plant, as they can be grown almost anywhere. Not only in raised beds, but they also do well in pots, window boxes, hanging baskets and growing bags, as well as in the ground.

Water camellias and rhododendrons

Camellias and rhododendrons are pretty special really, in that they flower from early spring, at a time when the garden is still looking a bit sparse.

They are evergreen shrubs, with green, glossy leaves, that do not mind a little shade. And because they are ericaceous, that is acid-loving plants, camellias especially make a really good choice for growing in pots and containers.

At this time of year, the buds on camellias and rhododendrons will start to form. This is why it is really important to keep an eye on their watering. These buds will produce the flowers for the following spring.

Check the soil regularly and try to keep it moist. A great way is to check the soil about four inches down and if it is dry, then give your plants a good soak.

Remember though to stop feeding after the end of July, as excessive feeding after this time can cause the buds to drop.

Stop deadheading roses

It is very tempting to us gardeners to carry on deadheading our roses in order to keep the flowers blooming for longer well up until the autumn.

However, did you know that by not deadheading and leaving some or all of the last of the roses on the plant, that these will form into the loveliest rosehips.

These not only look wonderful and decorative, but more importantly, they are a really great source of food for birds in the autumn and winter, when other food starts to become scarce.

Rosehips are also very high in vitamin C. So by leaving the rosehips to soften after the first of the frosts, a very nice rosehip syrup can then be made. This can give us a great boost to our immune system, particularly over the colder months of winter.

But if you would like to grow rosehips for the birds, then the best roses to grow are climbers or ramblers, as these produce masses of hips. Try ‘Kiftsgate’ or ‘Madame Gregoire Staechelin’.

For the very best hips though, these can be found on our species roses, such as Rosa canina, the wild dog rose, or Rosa rugosa.

Sow green manures

If you have bare patches of soil or raised beds that you have recently cleared, why not consider sowing some green manures.

Green manures are wonder crops. They are easy and quick to grow, but their powers lie in their ability to sop up nutrients from the soil that would otherwise be washed away by the rain.

The crops grow and hold onto these nutrients. And then when the green manures are dug back into the ground the following spring, all of these essential nutrients are released back into the soil, ready for the sowing season.

As well as capturing essential nutrients, green manures are also great for reducing soil erosion, as well as providing a valuable shelter for wildlife and beneficial insects in our garden.

Try green manures such as red clover, mustard, winter tares or grazing rye.

See you next week, gardeners!


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