Gardening News and articles

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Gardening Articles for week ending 22nd December 2018

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Written by Wally Richards.

Another interesting year is coming to an end as our thoughts reflect over the past 12 months and focus more onto the festivities of this time of the year.
We are now in the middle of the gardening year and after the 21st the hours of light will slowly shorten as we head into autumn and winter.
Has it been a good gardening year? A good question but as with most gardening endeavors we have some successes and some failures.
The weather plays a big part and a mild winter will mean more problems of pests and diseases where a really cold, frosty winter will tend to make for less problems in summer.
Which means obviously you need to get on top of problems before they become so bad it takes a lot of effort to get them under control.
On annual plants such as tomatoes and cucumbers pests such as whitefly and psyllids can be reduced by removing older leaves that have been hosting large colonies of young nymphs and sealing these in plastic bags to rot away.
Insect problems on citrus; thrips on rhododendrons, are easy to solve by simply scattering Wallys Neem Tree Granules onto the soil in the root zone.
It takes about 6-8 weeks to clean all the pests off the plants.
If you use the same method on other plants or shrubs/trees and find it is not working so well then make up a solution of Black Strap Molasses and unrefined sugar (not raw sugar) using a table spoon of each dissolved in a little hot water then added to 2 litres of water before watering or spraying over the Neem Granules on the soil.
This gives the plant a boost of sugars which makes the Neem Granules more effective. It also feeds the beneficial microbes in the soil increasing their numbers making for better gardens.
If you water with chlorinated tap water or chemical fertilisers and chemical herbicides then these knock back the soil life and your plants health is reduced.
'Yellows' are a direct cause of soil health damage from ongoing use of herbicides such as glyphosate killing soil life, reducing a plants ability to feed and placing the plant into stress.
It also allows pathogens (diseases) to multiply resulting in even more damage to the plants.
If you have a disease in the soil including club root then use Wallys Terracin Soil Pathogen Suppression as a soil drench followed up with a Mycorrcin soil drench.
If you want to keep your strawberry plants producing well through the summer spray the foliage with Mycorrcin every two weeks. It makes a big difference.
You can add Magic Botanic Liquid (MBL) to the Mycorrcin or just use it on its own.
Spraying your preferred plants with MBL once or twice a month will amaze you on how better your plants are. A little Black-strap Molasses added to the MBL will take your spray up to the next level of health.
One of the New ways to grow plants; thanks to a fellow gardener from Gore, was the introduction of Wallys Hydro-flow Growing System.
A bit like hydroponics without the returning of nutrient to the holding tank. Using of a special manual valve that opens to flood the tray that your containers are sitting in then shuts off till it is dry and then opens up again.
Using Wallys Super Plant food with MBL added gives the vegetable plants all the minerals and elements they need to easily produce great healthy vegetables in about half the time it would take in the garden.(That is in a glasshouse or similar)
The system is simple; one or more containers connected to a tank of nutrients situated in a sunny sheltered place outside or inside a glasshouse. (Outdoors you need to place a plastic cover over the top of the container to prevent rain water from further diluting the plant food)
It was my Gore Reader that told me about how he planted 10 sweet corn plants into two 15 litre Hydro-flow containers and was able to harvest 4 or more cobs off each plant in half the time it would have taken in the garden.
Talking to the same gardener this week he told me that he had grown a hearting type lettuce in a 8.5 litre Hydro-flow pot and after it grew a nice big head he cut off the head and left the trunk in the container to remove later.
After a few days the trunk sprouted new foliage around the perimeter and now he has a ongoing supply of nice fresh lettuce leaves.
I know brassicas such as broccoli and cabbage will do that in open ground but did not realise the same with lettuce.
It is the continuous rich food diet that makes for prolific growth quickly, for instance my sweet corn seedlings I placed into the system just over a month ago are now 5 plus feet tall and starting to produce cobs while the male tassels are appearing. (They are in a plastic house with 6 plants in a 8.5 litre pot)
I have watermelon and rock melon plants flowering and doing well but have to hand pollinate.
Harvesting cucumbers every day and even the Telegraph cucumber plant I put in 6 weeks ago now have foot long fruit already.
This would have to be the most fascinating method of growing vegetable plants I have ever come upon and one thing about it is that with tomatoes there is no chance of having blossom end rot as long as the tanks are supplying solution.
So if you want to treat yourself for Christmas or someone you know then invest in a one pot or twin pot system which you can try and see how you like the system.
Later you can increase the number of trays and containers and you have a growing system that is going to give you years of pleasure. Once you have run a small system and seen the fantastic fast results, you will be hooked and want to increase the system.
A tip about grapes: I just learnt this week from a reader, whom owns a vineyard, about 'Shaking Grapes'
It is very logical and I should have realised it previously.
When the grapes flower then set the fruit there is a little bit of flower debris left and as the fruit swell this rubbish can get trapped in between the fruit.
As it rots it can spread the rot to the healthy grapes and cause botrytis (rot). The old one bad apple in a barrel of apples rot problem.
So in a vineyard what they do is to have a machine come in and shake the vines to knock off the spent flower petals.
I was told to put one hand under a baby bunch of grapes and shake the bunch with the other hand and see how much stuff falls into your open hand. Yep that works.
So those with grape vines get out there and do a bit of vigorous shaking. I presume a moderate jet of hose water could do the same and wash away the bits that can cause rots later on.
This time of the year I normally take a break from writing the weekly articles so this will be the last one for 2018 and hopefully we can all meet up again later in January to continue the growing season.
As we have no plans to go anywhere other to the house we have just purchased in Marton where the Ammonium Sulphamate is going to come in handy to clean up the jungle of weeds and vegetation that has taken over under some great trees at the back of the section.
So I will be around to answer questions on the 0800 466464 phone number (or leave a message)
and look after any orders you may have.
My compliments of the Season (political response) but I prefer to Wish you an old fashioned (not politically allowed) Very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year in your gardening and other pursuits.
PS. A quick thought for the New Year if you are dissatisfied with the way things have deteriorated over past few years and have less money to buy necessaries, now becoming relatively poorer than say 10 or 20 years ago; then maybe invest in a Yellow Vest to protest against the few immensely rich while more and more people are becoming poorer and homeless.
Wally Richards