Sayings offer more than grain of truth

There are often several routes on the way to success in gardening, and when we find one that works for us, we tend to stick with it.

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 28th January 2016, 2:13 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th January 2016, 2:20 pm

Sometimes, this is based on sage advice from someone more experienced at growing a certain type of plant, say fruit, but occasionally it’s something innovative we’ve tried ourselves that brings the warm glow of success.

As far as gardening folklore is concerned, more often than not there’s grain of truth lying behind a well-known saying.

‘One year’s seeds mean seven years’ weeds’ is a typical example. Who can argue with that when the autumn air is filled with willow herb and thistle parachutes, and we are helpless bystanders as they land on our plots?

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Vigilance the following year in identifying the seedlings and removing them mechanically on a regular basis, is possible, but seeds of these perennials may lie dormant a year or two before germinating, and we’d probably be better off combining regular weeding with tracing the seeds back to their source and appealing to the responsible authority to adopt some method of control.

Meanwhile, as we welcome the return of longer days, keep checking for troublesome perennial types and dig them out.

Warm summer days were made for zapping annual weeds. Spend 15 minutes with the hoe to loosen their foothold and let the hot sun finish them off before composting.

And it is wise to ‘plant courgette seeds on their side’ because when they’re laid flat in compost or soil and it becomes waterlogged, there’s every chance of rotting-off.

‘Carrot fly is a low-flyer’ prompts some sections of the media to suggest surrounding the carrot bed with a fine mesh barrier 6ocm high.

Sometimes it works, but friend Jim planted his show crop in tall, disused oil drums, anticipating the adult insects crashing into it and suffering from headaches.

You guessed – the pests accessed and damaged his crop. The fly is attracted to the smell of crushed foliage, so sow thinly to avoid thinning-out.

The best approach is to sow in drills and cover the whole area with fleece, which allows entry to light and moisture, then leave it in place until the crop is harvested.

But none of these compare to advice offered on greenhouse purchases.

When you buy one, a whole new world opens up with so many wonderful options, but don’t be tempted to follow a variation of Parkinson’s law by filling every available space with plants.

According to the philosophers you should decide what size you need and how much you can afford to spend, then double both figures!