Gardeners World 2020 Episode 15

Episode 15 – Friday 26 June 2020

Elephant Garlic – when to harvest ?

Monty Don is harvesting elephant garlic and they look fantastic. Elephant garlic is not technically a garlic but a leak. You harvest them as the leaves start to die back and after they have flowered. The flower is a sign the plant is putting its energy into seed rather than growth of the bulb. Once dug up they should be left to dry. In dry conditions you can leave them on top of the soil for 10 days or so. If more damp conditions take inside eg the shed or greenhouse. Leave enough time for the leaves to have dried out so that all the goodness is absorbed into the bulb and then chop off the foliage.

How can we save rainwater for the garden ?

Adam Frost tells us about innovative ways to save water. You forget during the winter how plentiful water generally is but into summer the plants do need essential watering. Make the most of the rainfall when it happens. In the UK Adam lives on the eastern side which tends to be drier so he picks plants accordingly. Even on wet days you can find plants under the rain shadow of tree canopy that are not getting enough moisture. Perhaps you can cut back so that there are less leaves until the more prolonged  wetter conditions return. Also add some mulch to help these plants through the season.

Water butts can be great ways to catch rainwater but deeper in the garden (especially larger gardens) you may want to place some water tanks/ mini ponds in which you can plant pond plants. If you spot a plant nearby that needs water dip your watering can in and feed it.

Fit some drainage guttering and downpipes to the greenhouse and capture the water as it falls. This will provide another natural water supply in drier conditions

How to grow gherkins ?

Gherkins are essentially cucumbers and they pickle really well. Monty is growing them in a pot which is plastic but which has been reused over many years. Put compost at the bottom as this will act as a sponge. Gherkins like lots of water. Ideally they should be put into a greenhouse as they grow well in heat but it is possible to grow them outdoors also. Monty Don uses a mix of peat free compost with some sieved garden compost and a bit of grit for drainage. 

Take a few canes and position these into the pot so that the gherkin plant can attach itself to them as it grows and the little fruit will hang down.

Growing lemon trees in the UK climate 

Lemons are quite easy to grow and quite hardy. If you want to grow citrus then start with lemons. But you need to pick the lemons before they fall to the ground. Italians say you should never pluck a lemon but cut it off to prevent damage to the tree. On a young lemon tree you need to limit the amount of fruit as this puts big demands on the tree. Once more established you can leave the tree to be able to harvest more fruit.

Growing your lemon tree in a pot makes good sense as it means you can move it around later in the year. Many people take their plant indoors and enjoy the citrus smell and yellow colour but beware as centrally heated houses make the air too dry for the plant. A porch or cold greenhouse would be a more sensible idea if you have it.

Frances Tophill visits a garden by Jim and Joel Ashton

Frances visits a garden in Bishops Stortford which is superb for wildlife. Despite only being a stones throw from Stansted airport the brothers Jim & Joel have designed a garden which is a veritable haven for wildlife. The small fence around a seating area doubles up as a screen but also as an opportunity for wildlife to get established too.

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