Make your bed

It’s a great time of year to con­struct raised beds, which are par­tic­u­larly suited to grow­ing veg­eta­bles and soft fruits, says Mary Lovell-smith.

The Press - Your Weekend (The Press) - - Gardening -

EDI­BLES • Beans, beet­root, broc­coli, car­rots, co­rian­der, cel­ery, let­tuce, peas, radish, spinach, and spring onions may be sown di­rect into the gar­den now – as long as the soil is not still too wet. • As­para­gus crowns may still be planted, prefer­ably in soil rich in com­post and seaweed. Plant 40cm apart, 10cm deep, with fine soil on top. Re­sist pick­ing for an­other year. • Plant yams in a sunny spot with blood and bone and sheep pel­lets added to the soil. As the shoots grow the plants should be mounded up with soil, in a sim­i­lar way to pota­toes. • While straw­ber­ries are usu­ally planted in au­tumn or win­ter to let them es­tab­lish be­fore fruit­ing, they may still be planted now. Pre­pare bed by dig­ging in com­post and sheep pel­lets. Do not let the plants dry out, and en­sure the crown is at soil level – not buried – when plant­ing. • Feed cit­rus with com­post and/or a com­mer­cial

cit­rus fer­tiliser.

RAISED BEDS • Raised beds are good for grow­ing veg­eta­bles and soft fruits in par­tic­u­lar, be­cause they al­low greater con­trol over drainage, soil tem­per­a­tures and soil type and con­di­tion. • Beds are best no wider than 1.5 me­tres so you can reach across from both sides. Paths be­tween the beds should be at least 30cm, or up to 45cm if you want to get a wheel­bar­row along them. • Use un­treated tim­ber for the frames (or rocks or bricks). Or buy a kit. If plac­ing on a hard sur­face, such as paving slabs, lay at least 10cm of coarse gravel on the bot­tom, then a thick layer of card­board or news­pa­per. Fill beds with or­ganic mat­ter, such as a mix of top­soil and com­post. Ex­tras such as well-rot­ted an­i­mal ma­nure, leaf mould, grit, sheep or poul­try pel­lets and straw may also be in­cor­po­rated. • Let soil set­tle for a fort­night or so be­fore sow­ing

or plant­ing. • Af­ter plant­ing, mulch with com­post, peas­traw,

pine nee­dles etc. • Ex­ist­ing beds may need to be topped up ev­ery

year or so.

ORNAMENTALS • Do not re­move daf­fodil, leaves and other nar­cis­sus

for at least an­other two months as they are needed to make food for the bulbs. Re­moval now will starve the plant and make for a poorer dis­play in fu­ture. • Feed roses with well-rot­ted ma­nure, or a

com­mer­cial rose fer­tiliser. • Plant peren­ni­als and sow an­nual seeds. • Trim new hedges – quite hard for their first cut, and keep bases clear of weeds. Ap­ply a layer of com­post or well-rot­ted ma­nure around their bases. • Cut back aza­leas, camel­lias and mag­no­lias af­ter flow­er­ing to en­cour­age new growth for next sea­son’s blooms. • Sow new lawns or re­pair old ones.


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