The whole of the world is in crisis but the garden is still there happily growing away and requiring our attention. We gardeners are quite used to self isolation as we wander around in our own world digging, weeding, sowing, pruning and generally just enjoying the joys of nature.
Right, that’s enough of that philosophical stuff, let me tell you the good news. Cruella (my wife) has decided to remain at our English house in case our idiot son becomes ill. She is applying all of her considerable powers to keeping him healthy. She has draped a garland of garlic round his neck, and topped it off with a large wooden cross. Not satisfied with that his personal space is enveloped in a series of spells and hexes and she has drawn a large pentangle in chalk around the whole perimeter of his apartment block. In addition she spends each night flying around his tower in a menacing and malevolent circle that keeps everything away. She has been picked up on London City Airport radar and most flights have been grounded.
When I queried what sort of protection I could expect from her she merely laughed and recommended I get some Paracetemol.
20th March. Things I have been doing lately:
🍴 Feeding and composting citrus trees. I mentioned the importance of this in my last post, but I thought I would return to it because people are constantly asking me how I have so much fruit and they haven’t got any. If you feed and compost your trees you are more or less guaranteed a good crop of fruit. This should provide you with the impetus to get a compost bin, or start a compost heap.
There are four key stages to feeding your trees:
Weed – The first thing you need to do is to hoe under each of your trees making sure you remove all weeds.
Feed – Scatter under each tree the appropriate amount of a good quality granulated, slow release fertilising citrus food. I generally find that about two handfuls are appropriate for a mature tree. Remember you will also be using liquid feed later in the season.
Water – Using your hose pipe drench the soil under each tree. This has two purposes. Firstly, you are washing the feed into the soil and making sure it makes good contact with the soil. Secondly, you are preparing to seal in the moisture before applying compost.
Compost – Apply a thick layer of compost, at least two inches thick, under each tree. When you apply compost under a tree you are adding the magic ingredient and creating a number of benefits. You are suppressing weeds, feeding the tree with micro nutrients, and encouraging worms to pull the compost down into the soil which will stop soil compaction under your trees.
The photos below show each stage of the process: Click on each photo for a larger view.
One word of warning. Most fruit trees are grafted on to a strong root stock which will usually not be of the same species as your tree. This is not normally a problem and makes for a strong tree. However, it is important that you do not cover over the graft with compost as this may encourage the root stock to start growing in its own right. The graft is normally right at the bottom of the trunk and can be recognised as a bulge in the trunk. When you apply compost make sure you clear a space around the graft. See photo below.
🧟♀️ Undoing Cruella’s handiwork. Whenever Cruella goes away she leaves a series of deadly traps to keep me on my toes. Usually these consist of her normal everyday antics: ladders sawn through, grease on stairs, bare electric wires linked to door handles. I never know where they are, or when they will happen, so it came as no surprise to me that a water pipe in the garden suddenly erupted into a geyser of water 20ft high. Luckily, there is a stopcock for this particular pipe and it does not affect the house supply.
At the time I assumed that as this was an old pipe it had just rusted and given way. However, on closer inspection the base of the pipe showed the unmistakable marks of a hacksaw that had successfully weakened the pipe. As if this was not conclusive enough, I found Cruella’s trademark offerings of a dead animal skull and maggots at the base of the pipe. My problem now is that as everything is closed and I can’t mend the pipe. When I confronted Cruella with this fact she denied all responsibility and said it could have been anyone. When I showed her the dead animal she merely smiled and muttered something about corona virus affecting animals.
The first photo below show the devastation caused by you know who and the cut pipe that I now cannot repair. The second and third photos have all the hallmarks of Cruella. Click on each photo for a larger view.