Sometimes a piece of equipment proves so useful that I want to share its virtues. Much as I would love to have a fully installed irrigation system, the disruption and expense mean this is unlikely ever to happen. With a hillside garden on different levels, dragging a hose around usually results in kinks and bad language, but now I use a Hozelock multi-tap connector, life is so much easier. The connector is next to my one outside tap. From there I have run a connecting length of hose (discreetly hidden) to each of three reels in different areas of the garden. Each of the reels is clipped on to a Take Anywhere Tap (from Darlac). All I have to do is select which area of the garden I want to water by turning on the outdoor tap and switching the flow to the appropriate hose and hey presto, stress free watering.
- Ursula’s recommends growing sweetpeas up a circle of pig netting rather than a wigwam which narrows at the top and restricts flowering – unless you have the time and space to grow them as cordons
- She has found that planting a rye grass green manure in ground where sweet peas will grow the following year produces stronger plants that flower for longer
- Don’t use bamboo canes – the plants find it too slippery to cling to and need more tying in
- I asked one of her team about a problem I have had with my own sweetpeas failing to form flowers properly at the end of the stem I was told that this was caused by temperature fluctuations early in the season. Apparently I have done the right thing by removing these stems to encourage the formation of new flowers
- Pick, pick, pick to keep your plants as productive as possible for as long as possible
The corner underneath the mimosa tree has been looking rather sad and neglected. It’s a difficult spot because the roots of the tree make it difficult to get anything to grow there and at some point I will extend the paved area in front of it, where I have my pot pond and a selection of seasonal displays. We have also cut the ivy growing on the wall hard back before any birds start nesting. The ivy will recover quickly, but in the meantime I felt the need to make things a bit more interesting by moving pots of box from elsewhere in the garden, adding my collection of rhubarb forcers, the bottle dryer that holds some of my terracotta pots and a chimney pot topped with a stone ball. They draw the eye away from the bare wall for the next few weeks and form a more decorative backdrop to the spring bulbs.
If you call into Costa Coffee and pick up a free recycled coffee bean bag of used coffee grounds to use as a soil improver and you may find that you can give giant vegetable grower Kevin Fortey a run for his money. He has been using the coffee grounds this year and has noticed a significant improvement in the quality of his vegetables. The coffee grounds slow-release nitrogen, calcium and magnesium and add organic matter to the soil. They are also said to deter slugs and snails, but this has been questioned in the past. The grounds can also be added to your compost heap.