How to get the garden back into shape if you’ve been away
GARDENING is easy when we stay ahead of the game. For example, slicing through the surface soil on a vegetable patch each week before seedling weeds become established takes very little time. Let the surface set hard and those same weeds will get a foothold, then it is a tough job clearing the land.
It’s a similar case with the lawn. Mowing every seven days is easy, even with my Ransomes Ajax push mower. Leave the turf uncut for two weeks or more, when growth is rapid, and a powered rotary mower is needed to regain control.
Cutting overgrown grass down to size is better done in stages. First, cut with the blade set high and then lower slowly over several weeks to avoid a lawn sheared back to yellow basal growth. A summer slow-release lawn food, followed by a good watering if the weather is very dry, will soon have the grass green again and looking good.
May and June are difficult months for me, with everything in the garden growing at a rate of knots and too much time spent away on such shows as Chelsea. When it comes to that sunbaked weedy soil, the top growth is thinly sliced off with a spade and surface chipped up enough to sow and plant.
This is no time for deep digging, but needs must, as they say. Cordon sweet peas left untied get into a right tangle and it sometimes pays to run your eye down the stem, find a strong side shoot and cut the top off just above it, as such treatment can invigorate plants.
The overlong side shoots of tomatoes need cutting out cleanly, although with grafted plants I train up three stems from above the graft. The vigorous roots are well able to support three cropping stems.
“Cordon sweet peas left untied get into a right tangle”
“It’s a privilege to promote gardening and great new plants at Chelsea and other shows, but I have to work doubly hard to reclaim my garden when I return,” says Peter