Thursday, February 01, 2007

Starting a garden

Over on get rich slowly there is an informative post about starting a garden so if its your first year, read on and roll up your sleeves.

J and M came over today. J has about 27 varieties of apple trees and last July I asked whether he would be willing to show me how to prune my 3 apple trees. He did some research in the varieties and armed with my secateurs I was shown the following :
Find the leader and cut by about 1/3 to 1/2
lateral shoots - prune to an outward bud 3 or 4 out.

It sounds simple, then you have to cut out all the branches that are crossing from the outside in. He told me that the shape you are aiming for is the shape of a bowl( on standard trees). The reason we did not have many apples last year is because I had not pruned them and all vigour was going into growth not fruit. He also suggested for one variety to be staked with a 2 m stake as it is a 'whispy' tree and when laden with fruit would bend over. He was reassuring. He did not do the work but made me cut the branches and just made suggestions.

The potatoe bed needs forking over, compost added and that is a job for the weekend. Its been drier and thus we can start making a giant bonfire to deal with branches left over after storm damage. Surprisingly the grass is already growing, about 4 weeks in advance so I am going to take a gamble and take that as my cue to do some planting. I guess it will be about 6 weeks before we have no frost in sight. The onion seeds are in. M gave me another tip, she buys onion bulbs but plants them in pots at this time of the year and when they have grown roots they are planted out. If not, the birds take them all out too easily.

We enjoyed eachother's company and shared a simple lunch. We only meet at this time of the year as in the summer we are all too busy. We also share tomatoe plants, meaning that I sew one variety and she does another and we swop plants. That way, we get variety. It is their ninth year in their garden so she has worked out what she needs to plant and sow and how much each plant will yield on average. A very scientific method. I got carried away with the seeds in the book, planted too many and had a bumper crop, too much to eat in many ways. Canning was good but why can things you actually do not like?

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