Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

How to Plan How Ow to Plan for a Perf Fo per PE for a per Erf Rfe Fect Plot in 20 Lot I 2 T PLO Lot Ot in 2016; from Improving Soil and Caring for Tools Ordering the Best Bulbs and Creating Bo New Borders, Make Your Plans for 2016

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

How to Plan How Ow to Plan for a Perf Fo per PE for a per Erf Rfe Fect Plot in 20 Lot I 2 T PLO Lot Ot in 2016; from Improving Soil and Caring for Tools Ordering the Best Bulbs and Creating Bo New Borders, Make Your Plans for 2016

Article excerpt

Byline: With Carol Klein of TV's Gardeners' World

SO, IS it really worth making New Year's resolutions? I've usually broken mine within the first week, especially when they involve food or strenuous exercise.

Mind you, if I manage to keep all my gardening resolutions, it shouldn't matter too much if I do occasionally eat a piece of cake and the exercise quota might just get taken care of too.

First priority in any garden is the soil. So I resolve this year to do everything possible to improve its quality.

This doesn't necessitate loads of digging - in fact quite the opposite.

Digging actually destroys the structure of the soil because it cuts through and breaks up the complex goings-on between micro-organisms that make our soil come alive.

Other important characters in the health of the soil are earthworms. Charles Darwin called earthworms nature's ploughs. They incorporate organic matter into the soil so it can be used by plants.

We'll mulch as soon as each bed has been cleared. In some places, especially in the shady "woodland" areas, we'll use compost and leaf mould.

On the open sunny side, our supply of old muck will be the mulch of choice and we'll pile it on quite thickly. It's astonishing that, after a few months, before most of the bulbs are through and while herbaceous perennials and shrubs are still sleeping, most of that mulch will disappear.

And it is thanks to the action of worms and micro-organisms.

But what about the main course - the plants? My resolutions here are manifold. Firstly, when we've bought plants or divided our own, they have to go in the soil promptly.

Plants were never meant to grow in pots and it's cruel to keep them there any longer than necessary.

After a certain stage, plants in pots will begin to deteriorate.

They will have used up all the nutrients in the limited supply of compost any pot can contain so they need to escape and get their roots into the soil.

Planting has to be one of gardening's many joys - and possibly my favourite activity.

To push down the garden path a barrow full of plants and arrange them while thinking about what they will become and how they will associate with each other - and then finally to put them into the moist earth, having prepared it and enriched it with compost - that is a delight.

And even more so if you have grown them yourself.

As the months progress and you revisit the site, looking at the progress plants have made and the exciting pictures that are beginning to emerge, you feel that informs real gardening, the sense of the cycle of the year and the part you can play in it in your garden.

Into the end of one of my borders will go Geum "Princes Juliana", Iris pseudacorus "Variegata", Achillea "Fanal" and Rheum palmatum "Ace of Hearts" to join some of the other hot-coloured flowers already in the border. …

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