PETER SEABROOK

How to get the gar­den back into shape if you’ve been away

Amateur Gardening - - Contents -

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

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