• IvyShepherd

Strawberries and mulch - This week in the garden

June in the garden

It is June and we are now starting to reach towards summer. There is so much to sow and grow in the garden at the moment.

Being creative in our gardens is a great way to keep our minds, as well as our bodies, active. Sowing seeds and growing on young plants is so beneficial to our mental and physical health. A soothing exercise for mind and body.

Not only is there lots to do, but there is also a lot to see. The garden birds are busy with the nesting season, the swifts and swallows are arriving and the butterflies are emerging.

It’s a lovely month to be out in the garden. So here are a few gardening jobs to keep you busy this week.

Pinch out tomato side shoots If you are growing upright, or cordon tomatoes, then you may find that your plants are starting to produce a lot of side shoots. You will find them growing at the junction between the stem and a branch. They are easy to remove by pinching them out with your fingers.

It is very beneficial to the plant to remove them, because otherwise your tomato plants will become too bushy and they will focus their growth on producing foliage, rather than putting energy into ripening the fruits.

Check your tomato plants every week for new, emerging side shoots to keep them in check.

Mulch thirsty crops Mulching is a wonderful thing. It is the process of spreading a mulch on the ground and around plants and there are a few reasons why it is so worthwhile.

Firstly, by spreading mulch a few inches thick, it will suppress weeds and secondly, the mulch will help the soil to retain moisture, which means less watering will be needed. Mulches can also improve the structure of the soil, as over time worms will work the mulch down below the surface.

But there are a few thirsty vegetable crops, in particular, that would really benefit from a mulch, such as beans and courgette plants. Also, fruit trees and bushes when the fruit is developing, underneath hedges and around perennials, particularly if they have just been divided.

There are many different types of mulches, organic and inorganic. Both work well depending on the type of mulching you are doing.

Organic mulches include compost, bark, grass clippings or manure. These will break down into the soil over time.

Inorganic mulches include gravel, rocks, rubber mulch or landscape fabric. These will not break down and also will not provide nutrients to the soil, but they are good for weed suppression.

Propagate your strawberries Strawberries are a great value-for-money plant. Not only do they produce delicious fruit, but they are so prolific at making new plants.

You will start to see new shoots coming from the mother plant. These shoots are called runners. By pegging these runners into a pot of compost or directly into the ground, the runner will then put down roots.

Once the roots are firmly established, you can cut away the runner from the mother plant and you have yourself a new strawberry plant.

Strawberry plants tend to last a few years before they start to lose their vigour.And so it is a good idea to pot up a few runners every year to keep your plants strong and healthy and to keep the succession going. You will never be without them.

Lift and divide bluebells There is nothing like seeing a carpet of native bluebells in a spring woodland. Why not try your hand at a bit of propagating it you have bluebells growing in your garden. This will help to improve the strength and vigour of your plants, particularly if they have become overcrowded.

Division of plants also makes new plants for your garden.

The best time to divide bluebells is after flowering and before the foliage has completely died back.

Dig up the clump of bluebells, divide it up into strong, healthy sections and replant these sections back into your garden. Your bluebells will be all the happier for some space to grow bigger and stronger.

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