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Green Fingers in June & July

It’s a busy time of year for Bridget at Caves Folly Nursery in Colwall, who has some useful advice for gardeners.

I have just been over at the Malvern showground planting our permanent garden up for the RHS Malvern Spring Festival. We have been planting the garden up to three times a year for the past 30 years! Over this time the soil has transfomed from compacted stone to a lovely humus-rich free draining soil.

It occurred to me, watching all the other gardeners young and old, that the proportion of time and energy we all spend on plants and the finished garden far exceeds the care we take preparing the soil.

Adding artificial fertilisers and chemicals is not the solution to creating a healthy living soil. Before the advent of artificial fertilisers, generations of farmers and growers worked with nature and the seasons to put humus back into the soil that was taken out by the growing of crops.

As an organic grower, certified by The Soil Association, growing plants without artificial fertilisers and chemicals is the only way I have been able to grow. Over the years the biodiversity of flora and fauna on the nursery has increased and the pest and disease problems have decreased. Just by adding a mulch to the surface of your garden a couple of times a year (no digging required!), you can provide humus for the myriad of amazing little creatures that make up the constituent of a healthy soil. These creatures such as worms, beetles, springtails, sowbugs, spiders, mites, centipedes, millipedes and ants all work away to create fertility, aeration and water solubility.

Many of these bugs are also predators of garden pests and help keep your plants pest free. So let’s make soil sexy, get down with the beetles and feel the crumb!

Every gardener should have a compost bin and use the compost in the autumn to spread over the soil. If you have not got space for a compost bin buy some green waste from Malvern Recycling Centre (also known as The Tip!). It can be bought cheaply in bags and is an ideal mulch for borders and vegetable gardens in autumn and spring.

Here are some jobs for the next couple of months:

• Regularly hoe borders and the veg garden

• Container plants need regular feeding with a seaweed liquid feed

• Keep containers and all newly planted shrubs, trees etc. watered in hot weather

• Be vigilant and spot pests and diseases before they take hold. There are many biological controls that can be used for slugs and snails, leatherjackets, vine weevil or chafer grubs

• Dead-head roses and other plants such as penstemon as it encourage new flowers

• Keep tomatoes and other climbers such as beans tied up and pick fruit regularly

• Keep sowing lettuce and salads to last through to the autumn

Perhaps the best job of all is to sit down and enjoy the fruits of your labour, it doesn’t get any better than summer in the garden.

‘The soil is the great connector of lives, the source and destination of all.’ Wendell Berry - American poet and environmentalist

Caves Folly Nurseries, Evendine Lane, Colwall, WR13 6DX

Peat free & organic compost (RHS approved)

Perennials, Alpines, Herbs, Bulbs

Organic vegetable plants and plugs

Thursday - Saturday 10am - 5 pm

Tel: 01684 540631