The speaker at the June meeting of Littleton and Harestock Gardening club was our own Club President, Ray Broughton. Ray is a highly qualified horticulturist, teacher, lecturer and examiner, with over 30 years experience of addressing gardening clubs and societies. His talk, illustrated with slides, referred to new developments in horticulture, and we were also given detailed gardening information, much of it updating previous practice, as follows;
Legally milk, vinegar and salt are not now approved as garden chemicals.
A special polythene, now available, appears to be clear but is in fact coloured; the blue makes plants more stocky, whilst the red encourages vigorous growth.
Cornflowers are especially nutritious to bees, and can be planted now.
Hebes are soon to be called Veronicas which was their original name. If one is overgrown prune it when it is in full flower.
Gooseberries are now better grown in fans/cordons, against a fence or wall.
Make a clamp for storage, using 4 inches of grit, (not alkaline; this is important). Add barley straw (organic-very important-) and place heavy duty netting over the top. Store potatoes, carrots, parsnips and beetroot in July for consumption in February. Brussels sprouts will still be fresh after 3 months.
Cuttings. Ray recommended taking cuttings from the middle of the plant where the hormones were more balanced, this creates a better quality plant.
Avoid storing seedling plants near any equipment, for example hoses, which are plasticized, (because of the vapours from the plastic could damage young seedlings).
Ray showed us special polythene sheeting, used as a mulch. It has many perforations, which close at night.
He recommended “Raspberry Red” rhubarb which is very sweet.
Use two layers of metal grinding paper to scarify seeds, (for two minutes,) to stimulate germination.
To deal with crane–fly larvae: water infested grass in the late afternoon and place a sheet of polythene over the area.
At 6.30 am remove the polythene and gather up the larvae for disposal.
Block planting of lettuce, (then known as Baby Veg), is more effective than separate planting.
Note: any brown marks on lettuce indicate bacteria are present throughout the plant. So beware!
Tulips: in mid-November place in a high temperature environment for 4 days, then go inside the flower and cut off the female sexual organ. This prolongs the plant’s life.
In early Spring in the greenhouse, plants get “leggy”. Place a box filled with manure among them. Then cover and pierce the box. This releases CO2.
Overgrown potted plants: remove from the pot,, take off the top layer of compost then put a sharp spade through the rest. This stimulates the growth of more roots.
New to the market is a hedge trimmer with a supporting harness.
A dog-wee post: a post covered with a treated plastic membrane which encourages the dog to use it, and saves the lawn!
Hedges:- Feed and prune in October.
Use organic barley straw for potatoes and other plants.
Smart seeds, (expensive at the moment,) have a coating containing nutrients and growth stimulants.
Composting boxes need only a little air between the slats, to work effectively on the layers inside.
The use of Bonemeal is inadvisable.
Mycorrhizal powder is very effective but must be applied directly on the roots, not spread around on the soil on top.
A recommended gourd is “Sweet Lightning”.
When buying a Mulching mower a good model is where the blades are perforated at the end of the blade.
Coffo Compost: organic composted cardboard coffee cups are better than peat,
Shoddy – dig it in, to open up the soil.
Nutro Pots – made from cereal, contain nutrients.
Use organic canes to create a “Bee Home”.
Use sulphate of Iron to deter moles,
Buy Conversion Pots, for good drainage and ventilation.
Prune rambling roses only in August.
New Regulation:- all outside taps must be fitted with a return valve.
New this year – seedless strawberries and raspberries.
This is a sample of the up to date developments and gardening tips in a detailed talk delivered with Ray’s characteristic gentle humour, and well received by an appreciative audience.