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Notes from the Garden Shed

December Notes

The season to remember Guy Fawkes and his band of plotters is now gone, this of course means fireworks and bonfires , these bonfires need fuel, which could mean prunings from the garden, which may be tree or shrub prunings and hedge trimmings which need to be disposed of.

This could be a good time to look at pruning tools that can be used in the garden. For serious pruning of larger branches etc., there are various small chain saws available, including small petrol or electric saws on extendable handles which can reach up to about 3 metres. It is important to be careful when cutting off branches above your head, that they do not fall on you, please wear goggles and helmet when carrying out this work.

A hand saw is an essential piece of kit, there are many types available in the form of bow saws and specially designed pruning saws. Carpenters saws have finer teeth making them unsuitable for cutting green wood. I find ‘pull saws’ are the best for tree and shrub pruning, as these little saws are designed to be pulled towards you on the cutting stroke, rather than pushed away from the body as you would with most saws. I find the brand ‘ Silky Fox’ are really excellent for amateur and professional users (available from MGM Carmarthen, and also online )

You will need some good loppers for cutting thick stems, again there are several types available, some have a ratchet mechanism, this means less effort is needed to cut through thicker stems than would be attempted with non ratchet pruners. A pair of secateurs are invaluable for general pruning work in the garden. In my opinion it is false economy to buy really cheap secateurs, as they do not last and sometimes break when put to hard work. The old Anvil type of secateurs tend to crush soft stems if not kept really sharp, this can damage plants and let diseases into damaged stems. I think that the type now more readily available, which have blades that cross each other ,leave a cleaner cut, but also need to be kept sharp. If you can persuade someone to give you a good pair for Christmas , I would recommend one of the ‘Felco’ range, they are easily serviced and all parts are replaceable, not the cheapest but they will last a lifetime if looked after.

You may need to reach up a bit higher for pruning taller shrubs and fruit trees, ‘long arm’ pruners are available for this job, these useful gadgets will add another 2-3 metres to the length of your arms , and some have the facility to remove the pruning head in favour of a saw blade for thick branches etc.

With the pruning finished, let the prunings dry a bit before building your bonfire, but make sure you check for hibernating hedgehogs before setting bonfire alight. Did you try putting some large potatoes in the hot embers to cook, Baked potatoes taste good when freshly raked out of the fire.

Hopefully, you gave old Guy Fawkes a thought while you were tending the bonfire, and ponder on what might have happened if he had been successful in blowing up Parliament !

Enjoy your Gardening

Old Gumboot

September Notes

Old Gumboot is on holiday but sent a postcard saying “weed, weed, water and weed again are the main tasks at the moment. More next time………..”

Fun Garden & Craft Show Saturday 9th September

As you will see from the back pages of Clecs Bro Cader, it is Show Time again, so have a look at the schedule and decide what you are going to enter this year.

Even if you are not into “growing your own” there are plenty of other classes to choose from, so get baking and making! There is a Children’s section too, so why not while away the last few days of the school holiday and get creative.

All entries must be brought to the Pavilion between 8.30am and 10am on Saturday 9th September. Prize giving will start at 12.30pm and items can then be removed between 1pm and 1.30pm.

Further information from Chris Fuller 01559 384499

June Notes

Spring has finally arrived here in West Wales, we have been enjoying a really fine display of wild flowers in the fields and road verges, let’s hope that the local authority do not cut them down before they have set seed.

During the recent spell of good weather, ‘old gumboot’ took himself and the Memsahib across the sea to the south east of Ireland, where we enjoyed visiting several historic sites and ‘heritage gardens’. By far the most impressive was a 2 acre walled vegetable and fruit garden known as Colclough garden ( pronounced “Coke-Lee”) it was set up in the 1830s as part of Tintern Abbey.

As this area suffers from a higher than normal rainfall, most of the crops are grown on ‘ridges’ which are banked up prior to planting, these are like potato ridges but bigger. Rhubarb seems to thrive under these conditions as there were about 30 rows in full leaf, they looked enormous as they were also grown on top of these ridges. Potatoes too were being grown in this manner, but their ridges were 4-5 foot wide with 2 rows running along the top of each ridge, this is a very labour intensive method of growing, but it would help to prevent the tubers from rotting in the wet conditions.

I would recommend a trip to the Wexford/ Waterford area to see the interesting rural landscapes, lovely little villages and of course the extremely friendly people.

This part of the year is usually the busiest in the garden, with planting, seed sowing etc taking place. but with so many jobs to do, it is easy to overlook the dreaded weeds, which are now beginning to grow strongly along with our border plants and vegetables.

Small young weeds may be simply sliced off with a sharp hoe, and left on the soil surface to wither in the sun. Larger weeds in amongst plants can be removed using a hand fork or a larger border fork, these larger weeds should be removed by the roots if possible. If you are happy to use a herbicide, there are many types available at the garden shop. I find the most effective ones to be ‘Glysophate’ based, but be sure to ask in the shop, or read the directions on the packing, to check on safety advice before buying.

Be very careful to avoid ‘spray drift’ from the sprayer nozzle, as a small amount of drift on to your plants and crops can be disastrous, so avoid spraying when the wind is blowing.

There are also ‘flame weeders’ available, these are like a blowlamp and run on either butane gas or kerosene, these literally scorch the weeds into submission .

Which ever method you use to control your weeds, it is still important to keep on top of them, by not allowing them to set seed, thereby preventing another generation of seedlings to germinate, indeed some seeds remain viable in the soil for several years. The old saying is very true even today “One years seeds means seven years weeds”.

Enjoy your garden and try not to become a slave to your weeds.

“Old Gumboot”