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Gardening with Jill

Hi Gardeners,

Would you like to be more productive? That doesn’t mean jogging around the block or going to the gym. Consider the physical exercise associated with gardening, growing your own flowers and veggies and enjoying the fruits of your labour.

As we start to downsize our lives, the space also becomes limited when growing your veggies. Why plant 10 lettuce when they will all be ready for harvesting at the same time? Instead plant six one week, then plant another six in three weeks’ time. You now have a steady supply over many months rather than a glut and it will stop wastage.

With Spring on the way, start preparing your bed with compost or well-rotted animal manure. Remember your veggies are generally heavy feeders, so a good rich soil is required.

To stop any back-breaking work, think about investing in a compost tumbler. Turn lawn clippings, leaves, weeds, veggie scraps and even paper into rich garden compost. This is a great way to recycle material and help your garden in the process.

GRASS ENVY

If thinking of establishing a new lawn for Spring, by either seeding or laying turf, remember the ground needs a smooth surface. Prepare the ground to a minimum depth of 10cm, either by using new topsoil or hiring a rotary hoe to dig up the ground. Then rake over the area for an even surface.

Remember new lawns need frequent watering.

For your established lawn, you should never cut young grass to short. An ideal height is 5cm. This is the best way to control any weed problems, as cutting too short helps germinate the weeds. Let’s get those lawns looking lush and green.

TOOLS

Treat your tools with respect. For those just starting to garden it can be an expensive business. Buying good quality tools is a long-term investment. A wheelbarrow, spade, fork, secateurs and a handsaw are a good start.

Keep the tools in a room or shed out of the wet weather. If they have wooden handles, treat with oil to prevent drying out and cracking. When buying your handsaw, make sure it has replaceable blades and oil the blades to stop them rusting.

Safety first

Always wear protective gloves, sturdy shoes and watch how you lift and bend to prevent back problems.

TIPS

Strawberries are beginning to flower so to help growth and fruiting apply some sulphate of potash this month.

Sterilise your secateurs in a shallow tray of methylated spirits after pruning.

To prevent rose fungicide, use triforine (which is safe for both flowers and foliage and on most roses at all stages of growth) to control black spot, powdery mildew and rust.

TIPS CONTINUED

24 hours after you have sprayed your plants for aphids, hose down the plants with a strong jet of water to remove dead insects that might be protecting others still living.

WATERCRESS

Watercress has a high Vitamin C content and one of the herbs I buy and enjoy using. It has been hinted that it could be an aphrodisiac and a possible cure for baldness, with the juice of watercress being rubbed onto the scalp to promote hair growth.

CUCUMBER AND WATERCRESS SUMMER SOUP

600ml chicken stock

2 large cucumbers, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons of each of the following - onions, chives and parsley

1 large bunch of watercress, chopped

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

120 grams of natural yoghurt

Place the stock, cucumber, herbs and watercress in a pan and simmer until tender. When cold, liquidise and add lemon juice and yoghurt, mixing well. Season with salt and pepper. Leave to chill. Serve with a swirl of yoghurt, watercress leaves and some thin slices of cucumber.

Where to relax and unwind from the constant stress? Why your garden, of course, a great place to recover.

Happy gardening,

Jill

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