I didn’t want to start this post with such a downbeat heading, and I don’t want to be writing a misery memoir, but to be honest I think that Cruella (my wife) is beginning to grind me down. Despite my best efforts at cheery gardening her wilful destruction of all my efforts is taking its toll. I outline below some of my recent efforts to mitigate her malicious activities, but to make things worse she is now manipulating the weather against me. I mentioned to Cruella last night that the garden was somewhat dry and I wish we could have a bit of rain. I should have known better, she instantly retorted “if it’s rain you want I am sure we can arrange that”.
Anyway, the results of my careless wish were visited upon me this morning. We are in the midst of a biblical deluge that would have swamped Noah and his family. The whole garden appears to be floating on a tidal wave. It’s so bad that even the Labradors are refusing to go out and dig up the lawn. When I complained about the rain to Cruella she mockingly replied that I should be careful what I wish for next time. The photos below give you a small picture of what’s going on. Click on each photo for a larger view.
7th March. Things I have been doing lately:
🚜 Turning my water feature into a rockery. Long term readers of this blog will remember that I created a stream like water feature a couple of years ago. This involved much back breaking work collecting large rocks from fields in the local area, transporting them home and then hauling them into place. Cruella never liked this feature as she claims it was a desecration of an ancient burial site of her ancestors. When I pointed out she came from Wales she huffily said there was a Spanish branch of the family El Jones; but I think she made that up.
Anyway the upshot was that when I was away recently she conjured up an army of mice to eat the water proof membrane of my water feature. Despite my best efforts at patching up the mice returned every night to feast, even eating my patches. The photo below shows my water feature just after I had finished construction.
Having given up the battle with Cruella’s mice army I set out to creat a rockery in my destroyed water feature by planting up the stream bed and cutting off the stream thereby just having a water spout. The photos below show my construction efforts. Click on each photo for a larger view.
The photos below show the final outcome. To be honest I am rather pleased with it as the new plants complement the existing plants that have matured since first construction. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🧟♀️ Cutting back the Solanum that Cruella touched. Regular readers will remember in my last post I told you how Cruella had touched my much loved Solanum and made many of the stems go black. I was then faced with the dilemma whether to wait and see if it could be revived in any way, or, to cut it right back to the ground hoping for new growth.
In the end we took the decision together (the plant and me). I sat beside her (all Solanum are ladies) for most of last Wednesday evening and we talked over the choices. She said she had dreams about a white light drawing her towards the compost heap. But, I pleaded with her not to go into the light. I said there was hope and if I just took out the blackened stems then she may recover. “No”, she said “I’m too far gone, there will be other plants and other days and you will soon forget me…you go on and enjoy your life”.
Sadly the decision was taken out of my hands. Despite an all night vigil she passed away about 4 in the morning. When Cruella asked why I was crying I told her I had lost the Solanum. She mockingly pretended not to know what I was talking about saying “oh, I didn’t know it was ill you must let me know if there is anything I can do to help” As she walked away I saw her rubbing her thumb and forefinger together, and black dust was falling on the floor. The photo below shows my lovely Solanum 3 years ago.
The photos below show the big cutback, whilst the final photo shows my hope for the future; she looks just like her Mum. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🍊 Tidying up citrus trees. Now on to some more positive stuff. By now your citrus trees should be starting into blossom, so it is time for you to do your annual round of tidying up to ensure you maximise your fruit crop. By removing suckers and opening up the tree to light and air you will get a bigger more healthy crop next year.
The first thing you need to do is to cut back any branches that are going to be too high for you to reach fruit. I use an extendable long reach loper, but you could use ladders and medium lopers. Just cut back anything that is just too high.
Next you need to get into the heart of the tree and cut back any suckers. Suckers are those bright green new shoots that will either come off the bottom of the trunk, or shoot up from branches at the heart of the tree. In most cases they are growing straight up. You need to remove these as they suck energy from your growth. Suckers are mainly a problem on old trees, but they can be seen on some young trees with a compromised graft at the base of the trunk. If you catch suckers early they can just be removed by pulling down on them sharply. Once you have removed the suckers open up the canopy so that you can see a good amount of sky through it. The photos below show suckers and their removal followed by the open sky letting in air and light to the centre of the tree. Click on each photo for a larger view.
🍔 Beginning to feed plants. Over the next few weeks you will need to start feeding your plants as they begin to burst into growth. It is important to remember that plants are like people, they don’t all like the same food, and some have real preferences. Over a year I will use a wide variety of feeds including long-term Rose feeds, but my mainstays are shown in the photo below. From left to right:
- General purpose liquid feed to perk up potted plants
- Specialist feed for fruiting plants
- Specialist citrus feed for orange and lemon trees
- Specialist orchid feed for potted plants
- Specialist feed for acid loving plants
- General purpose slow release granulated food that can just be scattered around