Sunday, 25 April 2010

Warmer Weather

It will soon be time to hear all the warnings regarding sun protection but it’s never too early to protect your precious things. Plants need protection too, sometimes from the same dangers.

The sun can scorch tender young leaves if left exposed. Water droplets act as tiny magnifying lenses and burn the surface cells causing serious damage. It is worth remembering that morning dew or light frosts can leave the water droplets, not just rain or watering. Watering late in the evening is always a better idea than a rushed morning drowning for these reasons. It also means the sun’s drying heat can’t absorb the moisture before it soaks down to the roots.

Watering is a key act as the younger underdeveloped rots of new seedlings will not be able to take up nutrients unless they are diluted with additional water.

Protection is also essential should we get any drying winds. Locating a new planting means taking into consideration any wind flow, including rolling currents caused by fencing or thick hedges. Strong winds will roll over obstacles and curl around at ground level, causing turbulent and dangerous wind currents for anything planted too close to the foot of a fence or wall. Always leave a large enough space between the two.

Older, developed shrubs can be used to filter and slow down strong winds if planted well. Starting with a primary windbreak, such as a thick evergreen hedge or a wall or preferably a fence, then a row of mixed dense shrubs, a further lower row of perennial herbaceous or semi herbaceous plants, then the more tender or susceptible plants. By using this system of planting, you can gradually break down the wind effect so that very little more than a breeze filters down to the edge of the border.

I mentioned a fence is preferred to a wall because of the simple fact that even a close woven fence panel will allow a certain amount of wind to slip through, lessening the force rolling over the top.

An old Japanese saying is that the tree that bends stays up while the solid wall will crumble, and in that light, a fence or hedge that will flex in the wind will always be better than a flat wall which will act very much like a sail, catching all the energy of the wind.

Remember to, being like a wall when you work in the garden will be destructive to yourself too. Flex when you are lifting heavy loads, bend when digging and make sure your muscles and joints are warmed up before starting anything too arduous!

Gardening is exercise too, so warm up like an athlete and warm down after to avoid that aching stiffness the next day!

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