Horticultural Gardening Tips/Irrigation
Various non plant related tips (Add your tips NOW! by clicking 'Edit this page'. No registration/login required.)
Soak ground thoroughly but not frequently - you want to plants to search deep down for roots. Mulch like hell after heavy rain/watering. Some plants benefit from being planted deeply (tomatoes, potatoes). Earth up tomatoes/potatoes as they grow to prompt more root mass. Add water retaining crystals to soil. Mix ground soil with shop bought compost. Line terracotta pots/wooden barrels with old plastic/compost bags. When drilling holes in pots, don't drill at bottom of pots- but slightly up the sides. Bury newspaper underground to help retain moisture. Add Mycoorhizal fungi when planting trees/roses/grapes/woody perennial plants to increase plant surface in contact with soil moisture and nutrients. Redirect roof drain pipes into water butts/bins. Re-use water from the house - from baths/showers, rinsing/washing machine rinse cycles. Never use dishwasher water - it contains too many salts. Washing machine water generally ok, especially the final 2 rinses -phosphates in washing powders may even give plants a boost - but may cause overfeeding. Experiment. Consider drought resistant plants if soil is too stoney/dries out too quick: carrots, tomatoes, peppers, rosemary, lavender, cape gooseberries...
Getting rid of weeds
Grass: skim with spade horizontal. Nettles: dig out yellow roots. Bindweed: spray or paint leaves with glyphosate.
Reasons for mulching: Prevents weeds, keeps soil moist, prevents drying out, prevents ground cracking. Mulch especially when weed plants seed (after flowering/late summer).
Materials to use: leaves, compost, manure (cow better than horse - 6 stomachs to destroy grass seeds), newspaper, black plastic weed mulch (versions with holes are best), old compost bags (v effective but unsightly), rocks, cut grass, paving slabs, carpet (eventually rots and weeds seed into it), cardboard (anchor down), kitchen worktops, weeds (not bindweed/nettles or any with seed heads). Pile weeds and cut grass (grass cut with shears is better than with lawnmower), around base of trees - but leave inch gap of air around trunk in case weeds/grass cuttings generate heat during decomposition. Use dug/pulled up weeds to mulch other weeds. Add gravel/pebbles/bits of card to soil surface of plants in pots - prevents weeds and evaporation. Plant crops with large leaves - rhubarb, courgettes, pumpkins, cabbage etc or vigorous plants e.g., potatoes/nasturtiums/raspberries/trees. Mulch with impermeable plastic during winter to prevent nutrients leaching away and to retain surface tilth. Don't mulch if tilth is bad - frost will help shatter clods.
Stuff nettles/comfrey in bucket/bin and add water. Leave for 3 weeks, dilute and use. Bouquet-garni of manure - stick perforated bag of manure into bucket of water. Potage - Submerge weeds in large bucket/bin - and leave for 3 weeks. Stick weeds into water butt and use concentrated runoff through tap (make filter from chicken wire to avoid blockages) 3 months later. Pee on a bail of straw and add to water filled bucket - and use 3 months later. Ensure seeds within straw won't germinate. Cover bare soil to prevent winter rain leaching out nutrients. When planting in pots mix slow release granules into soil when preparing compost.
Plant protection from weather
Frost protection: use fleece (very effective when doubled over), newspapers, cardboard boxes, cloches, portable coldframes. Consider keeping some plants in pots - which can be hauled into a shed/greenhouse/indoors. On low growing plants, cloches, old glass sheets, corrugated plastic sheets are good for keeping winter rains off things like garlic (which rots easily). Make a tall thin greenhouse by sticking 3 or 4 bamboos vertically into the ground, tying them at the top to make a cylinder or pyramid. Wrap clingfilm or clear polythene around the bamboos and secure. Gives plants extra boost and protects them from rain, cold northerly winds. Help tender plants get through winter by keeping soil drier. Ridge soil up to avoid water logging. Build raised beds using old pallets/bricks/soil also to reduce waterlogging. In summer dig 50cm wide 40cm deep trenches to create micro-climates for small sub-tropical plants (peppers, tomatoes, aubergines etc). Mound soil from within trench on north side of trench to block cold northerly winds. Also makes plant watering easier. Add insulation to greenhouses using fleece, bubble wrap, newspapers. Keep greenhouse interior dry in winter to keep temperatures up. Keep interior moist in summer to reduce temperature and increase humidity (good for plants). Stake trees/tomatoes/beans when planting, before gales rather than after.
Distinguishing your seedlings from weeds: Sow in rows. Mark out rows with sticks/bamboos. Grow a few seeds in a pot indoors - and compare outdoor seedlings/weeds with your pot specimens. Damping off: a fungal disease when seedlings grow to 3 cm, then suddenly fall over and die. Prevention: lots of ventilation, light and space between seedlings. Don't overwater. Direct sunlight kills the fungus - but beware of seedlings getting cooked. Sow seeds in vermiculite. Apply fungicide to soil before sowing seed. Use fresh, sterilised compost. Water seeds with tap water only - never rain water. Seedlings not germinating: may be due to seeds/soil drying out - shade sown seeds with newspaper, cardboard, walls. Put seed tray in supermarket carrier bags. Spray with fine water spray daily (but reduce spraying when seed germinates to avoid damping off). Plant seeds in several different trays and pots and put in different locations/conditions - experiment! and note which place/cover is most successful. Add your results here!