June 27, 2019

In the garden: violas, espalier trees and strawberries

Get out into the garden this weekend to plant some strawberries or violas, or espalier citrus trees.

Plant some violas

This is a massive group of annual repeat flowering plants that are often confused with pansies. There are subtle differences, but both belong to the same family. Generally, violas can be planted a little closer together.

How to grow:
Prepare the ground as you would for any flowering annual; use well-drained soil with added compost to ensure great results. While they enjoy sunshine, protection from the hot afternoon summer sun is necessary. Regular feeding is essential for peak performance.

In flower:
Violas will flower from mid-winter if you continually pick and feed them. Plant them in pots or garden beds and you will be guaranteed hundreds of floral faces in your garden for months.

Going sideways

Citrus trees respond well to espaliering, and winter is a great time of year to get them started. There are several techniques, but essentially this growing method refers to training plants to grow in a particular pattern, generally on a flat surface such as a fence or gate. Use stainless steel wire or lattice as a platform, making sure it’s strong enough to cope with future growth. Select a site suited to the plant, and choose a specimen with long, whippy growth that’s easy to train. To do so, use soft ties (not wire) to direct it along the framework. 

Plant some strawberries

If there is one crop you should consider planting this winter, it’s strawberries. They’re easy to grow and can be planted in the garden, in pots and in hanging baskets.

How to grow:
Choose a protected sunny spot, even in a raised foam vegetable box. Well-drained soil with Dynamic Lifter will help get your plants up and running. Use plants from certified, disease-free stock or runners from an established clean strawberry plant. It’s important to keep cutting the runners off as the plants develop. Feed regularly. 

When to harvest:
Keep a lookout for fruit as spring approaches, and one day you will be pleasantly rewarded. Tioga is an old faithful producer during spring through to autumn.

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