Vertical Herbs

Following on from this post about growing herbs with limited space it is possible to take this one step further and create vertical herb gardens.

Using either a custom kit (widely available) or if you are good at DIY creating your own the key is to use good quality compost and water regularly. Also by harvesting your herbs you will keep it all in check.

How to Divide Rhubarb

If you grow rhubarb in your garden or allotment you should be thinking about dividing it over the next few weeks if you haven't done it for a while. Rhubarb plants should be divided every five years or so giving you additional plants but also healthier ones too.

How to divide Rhubarb
Dig up the crowns and roots taking extra care not to damage the crown. Divide the roots into 4 to 8 pieces depending on the size of the plant you are lifting. It is best to divide the dormant crowns between two large buds called eyes so that at least a 5cm or so section of storage root is left attached to each bud. Remember to take care not to break off the delicate buds as these can easily be broken, but other that that the roots are actually pretty tough and can tolerate quite a lot of rough treatment. Small buds will give you small plants for the first few years after planting until the newly divided plant bulks up again, while four to ten new roots can usually be obtained from crowns that have been grown a few years.

Take care not to allow the divisions to dry out or to freeze if you are not to going to be planting the straight away. Remember that when you are dividing crowns for re-planting, it is a good idea to identify the most vigorous plants the previous summer and use these as planting stock in the Autumn. The depth of planting should be so that the top of the plant is at, or only just below the soil surface. Gently firm the surrounding soil and water the new plants in well. The space between plants should be approximately 75cm (30in) for smaller varieties, and up to 120cm (48in) for larger varieties. It is a good idea to identify where the newly divided crowns have been planted with a cane until new shoots appear above the soil surface in February or March.

It should be obvious but crowns from diseased plants should not be divided from.

Soil Preparation
All Rhubarb varieties develop a deep root system and will grow best in a fertile, partially shaded, free-draining soil. It is a good idea to prepare the ground in advance, start digging over your soil four weeks before planting and remove any stones you find and adding as much organic matter as possible.

Heres a useful video:

Planting for Spring

As we wave goodbye to summer for another year, many keen gardeners will no doubt be thinking ahead to what spring has in store.

Although decent weather might be at a premium over the next few months, there's no reason why you can't get your spring flowering bulbs into the ground.

Bulbs are generally some of the easiest things to grow - providing they are planted well, they can pretty much be left to their own devices.

When should I plant spring flowering bulbs?

If you want a colourful garden in the spring, then you need to think about planting your bulbs between October and December. Frosty conditions can make life difficult for bulbs, so try to get them in the ground before temperatures plummet.

What conditions should I be planting the bulbs in?

The easiest way to know where to plant bulbs is to look at the guidance on the back of the packaging. Some will thrive in certain types of soil more than others - it might be a good idea to look at what conditions you have in your own garden before making a purchase.

For example, crocus bulbs particularly enjoy moist and light soil and are perfect for planting at the base of trees or in shaded areas. Tulips, on the other hand, appreciate sandy soil with good drainage.

What is the best way to plant bulbs?

Experts often recommend that spring flowering bulbs are planted at around two to three times their own depth, and approximately two bulb widths apart. This will give them ample space to grow without affecting other plants in the area.

You will also need to make sure the bulb is facing upwards when it is placed in the soil - if you're not sure which way this is, then put it on its side just to be sure.

If you are short on space, there is no reason why you can't plant spring bulbs in pots. If you have an especially large container, then you can place bulbs at different depths for a really impressive and colourful springtime display.

When can I expect to see flowers?

Depending on the variety, you should start to see your bulbs flower during the spring and summer months.

Crocus, daffodils and hyacinths are usually among the first to emerge, followed several weeks later by lilies and alliums.
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