Monday, July 15, 2024

Action plan: CIAR BYRNE’s essential jobs for your garden this week

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YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT

It might not be news that certain foods are better for gut health than others, but did you know that just being out in your garden or allotment growing vegetables can have a beneficial impact on your microbiome? 

The Bowel Research UK Microbiome Garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea showed people how they can rewild their diets by harnessing the power of edible plants and the soil microbiome to improve physical and mental health. 

Designers Sid Hill and Chris Hull created an edible meadow with Persicaria bistorta, Camassia quamash and Lupinus luteus

Research shows that plants grown in healthy soil are better for our guts — something ancient cultures knew when they tended and harvested the landscape 

The leaves of bistort can be eaten raw or cooked to remove their bitterness. Little camas bulbs can be eaten raw or baked to make a chestnut-style dish. Yellow lupin seed needs to be washed several times to remove toxic alkaloids, then it can be dried and used as a snack or ground down to make flour. 

Other edible plants that featured in the garden include herbs such as chervil, dill and chives, and trees such as elder, hazel, and hawthorn. 

Research shows that plants grown in healthy soil are better for our guts — something ancient cultures knew when they tended and harvested the landscape. 

DEADHEAD ROSES FOR HEALTHIER PLANTS

First-stage deadheading is when you remove a single bloom. Cut where the stem joins the plant

First-stage deadheading is when you remove a single bloom. Cut where the stem joins the plant

Don’t forget to deadhead roses once they go over. This not only improves their appearance but also helps it put its energy into new blooms. 

Wear gloves and use a sharp, clean pair of secateurs. First-stage deadheading is when you remove a single bloom. Cut where the stem joins the plant. 

The second is the removal of a cluster, cutting back to the leaf node. Once-flowering roses don’t need to be deadheaded. 

SOW LEAFY VEG NOW

Sow spinach, chard and kale now to provide you with leaves later in the year. 

Sow spinach, chard (pictured) and kale now to provide you with leaves later in the year

Sow spinach, chard (pictured) and kale now to provide you with leaves later in the year

Whereas spring sowings are best started in pots indoors, the soil is now warm enough to sow the seeds directly into the ground. 

Weed your bed first and add plenty of organic matter, then form a drill and sow your seed by hand. 

Water well during dry periods and you should have your first harvest in around eight weeks. 

PLANT OF THE WEEK

Sisyrinchium ‘Californian Skies’ 

Sisyrinchium ‘Californian Skies’ (pictured), also known as blue-eyed grass, is perfect for a sunny rockery

Sisyrinchium ‘Californian Skies’ (pictured), also known as blue-eyed grass, is perfect for a sunny rockery

This pretty little perennial, also known as blue-eyed grass, is perfect for a sunny rockery. 

It grows to only around 20cm high with upright blade-like leaves and starry blue flowers with a dark throat and yellow eye. 

Flowering between June and August, it is fully hardy, forming small clumps before dying back over winter to reappear the following year. 

Plant in a sheltered west or south-facing position and divide in spring every few years to maintain its vigour. 

It prefers well-drained alkaline to neutral soil and goes well with dianthus, saxifrage and thyme. 

READER’S QUESTION

When should I plant out cucumbers? 

Paul Masters, Ledbury, Herefords. 

By the first half of June, it should be safe to plant out outdoor varieties of cucumber that have been sown undercover. 

Wait until the rootball holds together so that it is not too disturbed, then transplant to well prepared, moist soil. 

Protecting your young cucumbers with horticultural fleece will produce better growth and yield. 

Pinch out the main shoot when it reaches five to six leaves to encourage branching. You may also wish to put black plastic or membrane on the ground to protect the cucumbers as they grow 

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