Improving top soil

‘We learn something new everyday.’ At our recent Gardening Club Meeting here at Chives we had a guest speaker, who is a recognised expert on ‘Soil’.

Now for years I have struggled with double digging my garden soil as per most garden books and horticultural training; but no; you dig no deeper that four inches, usually in the autumn, then leave the soil open, for frost and rain. Next you cover with manure and RAKE it in during early spring. By doing this you are enriching the top soil.

On the other hand, if you dig deep you bring brings stale soil to the surface which is not good for growing anything. So next time you see your French neighbours in their vegetable garden watch what they do – constant rotovating, but not deep, and raking and hoeing in the surface weeds.

And look at their end products – it puts us to shame. So, why break your back, start gardening like our neighbours do.

pink rose large<Roses

As soon as your roses start flowering, make sure you regularly deadhead them.

Do not just cut the finished flower off. Instead, hold the head in one hand, follow the stem down to the next set of double leaves, and cut the stem off at this point. Sometimes this can be quite some way down the stalk but do not worry as new growth will come from this cut along with new flowers.

Roses will need extra care this year (2007), as flowering from April to December, (as a lot of rose bushes do), takes a lot out of them so, feed them; mulch them; pick them.

Apricot trees

I have had several customers come to me with problems with apricots. Leaves falling off, bare branches, flowers forming and wilting.

If you have this problem, whatever you do, do not cut the branches as apricots bleed, and will bleed to death.

Just leave them until the autumn – by this time the tree will either have produced new leaves or it will have finally died. This will make the autumn decision easy – tidy up, or cut it down for firewood.

When you do cut branches of trees, ALWAYS seal with tree grease as this will help to control the bleeding, which can happen even in winter.

By Mike Curtis, An English Nursery in France; 00 33 (0)5 46 33 66 17

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