December 13 2013 Latest news:
Monday, March 5, 2012
It is official, spring has arrived and with it all the attendant gardening jobs that this entails such as weeding, sowing, potting and planting.
During the cold spell that we experienced when January gave way to February, I tucked myself up in one of our glass houses where, thanks to the sunshine, it was warm and cosy whilst I gave it a jolly good spring clean.
I also potted on lots of our stock plants for use as propagating material. I know that the glass house is on the large size but, I am always amazed at just how much detritus in the form of dead and dying leaves, cobwebs and other rubbish that I find, I was also surprised at the number of slugs here too. These were obviously on the move too, for I found quite a bit of slug damage on the leaves of one or two plants.
Suffice to say that these have been dealt with as have some whitefly and aphid infestation. It is especially important that any pests under glass are dealt with promptly at this time of the year for on sunny days the temperatures inside glass houses quickly rise making it easy for pests to multiply until suddenly we have a plague on our hands.
On February 2 I went to the Garden Press Event in London, this is an annual event which is very useful from the point of seeing new gardening products. I was astounded by just how much the exhibitors are prepared to give away; I could have come home with everything from weed killers and patio cleaners to seeds and general gardening sundries.
I didn’t because I did not wish to weigh myself down but there were plenty who did, in fact, I noticed several gardening writers who appeared to have come prepared bringing with them small trolleys!
Of all the items that I saw, the one that I thought quite innovative was called a BarbeSkew, a conventional barbecue with a rotisserie attachment so that the food cooks evenly instead of being burned on one side and raw on the other! As well as skewers, there were special metal cages for steaks or fish and thanks to an innovative idea where the charcoal tray can be raised or lowered it is possible to cook whole chickens too and all ‘Hands Free’!
I spoke to the managing director, a charming young man called Ed Wray, and he told me that he had taken his product to the ‘Dragon’s Den’ and although he did not get funding from them, his product was selling very well. He will be at the Garden Show at the Norfolk Showground late this year.
With all the interest in green roofs, it was nice to see Nigel and Lucy Jupe from near Fakenham with their stand which has another innovative idea, a shallow curved roof that can be planted with sedum which will encourage all manner of wildlife including butterflies and ladybirds.
The roof reminded me of the roof on my grandfather’s shepherd’s hut which he used as a grain store and egg packing shed for the chickens that he kept. The great beauty of it is that the curve being shallow, you can actually see and enjoy what is growing on it. The roof is both lightweight and strong and can be fitted to existing buildings as well as new structures. If you are interested give them a call on 01328 878507 or look at their website www.enviroden.co.uk I particularly liked the wood which was very picturesque and a pleasure to look at, if only we hadn’t just bought the wood to make one of our own!
Liquid Technology had a product that I thought might interest us in the garden here. Our kitchen courtyard is very shady on one side and this, of course, is exactly where we walk every day. It is here that the brick paving gets a covering of slimy, slippery green algae making walking quite treacherous. Green Clean is a product that is applied using an ordinary garden sprayer to just such areas, it kills the offending algae, moss or lichen and the great thing is that there is no need to scrub off the debris. The product takes effect within a few hours although on shady areas it may take a little longer, this coupled with the fact that it has a long lasting effect up to one year and is kind to the environment makes me want to try it, let’s hope that my paths will be safer from now on.
Tozer seeds are one of the largest seed merchants and breeders in the world today with a head office based in Surrey. You can imagine my surprise when I was approached by a very personable gentleman who exclaimed, “You have that very special garden just around the corner from where my father lives”. He turned out to be Dr Jamie Claxton, a senior plant breeder with the said seed merchant and he had some rather interesting information to impart. At the moment Tozer’s are working towards creating more decorative kales introducing cream and a rich papal purple into their leaves thus making them attractive as well as edible. They were the breeders of the purple-hued Flower Sprout that is marketed by one of our leading food retailers as an innovative stir-fry vegetable.
As well as speciality greens, they are working on that delicious herb from the Mediterranean, basil, with the hope that it can be made more cold tolerant so it can be grown outside by more gardeners. I hope that they succeed for it is a very tasty. Another herb that they are also working on is coriander. Anyone who has grown this plant will know that it has a propensity to bolt and run up to seed so they are trying to redress this problem which will help all of us. They are also working on hybrid radishes too hoping to make these much more useful with larger, more flavoursome and colourful roots for use in salads and for cooking.
With all this to look forward to, I feel that we are in for a rainbow-coloured future making our vegetable gardens more beautiful, who knows, given time, we might combine vegetables and flowers giving us a multi-purpose, multi-functional, multi-coloured where we not only see great beauty but, taste it too!