April Gardening

April is an exciting and busy month to be a gardener; however the weather can still be unpredictable. Beware of frosts, and keep vulnerable plants and new shoots protected at night if a frost is forecast
Without doubt the star plants of April are members of the ericaceous family, including Azalea, Camelia, Pieris and Rhododendron. Ericaceous plants are known as ‘acid-lovers’ or ‘lime haters’ as they do not like growing in soils that contain lime (Alkaline soil) or soil that has a high pH. If you try growing ericaceous plants in alkaline soils they produce yellow leaves. This is a condition known as chlorosis, and the plants will not grow or flower well, and eventually die.
The main reason for chlorosis is that acid loving plants need plenty of iron, and other soil nutrients, that become insoluble or ‘locked up’ in high pH soils so that the plants can’t absorb them. Breckland soil is unique and variable, with underlying chalk being largely covered with wind-blown sand, resulting in areas that have an acidic top soil but alkaline sub-soil. Often, when planted in our soil, ericaceous plants initially thrive, until their roots reach lime. It is better to grow ericaceous plants in large pots (not terracotta which contains lime) filled with ericaceous compost. Also by growing ericaceous plants in containers it allows you to grow them in the right place in the garden, and you can move the plant to a more visible location when it’s looking its best. The plants listed above prefer a position in light shade, or out of direct sunlight – especially early morning sunlight which can cause the flower buds and flowers to turn brown and drop off.
The other thing you need to ensure fabulous flowers and healthy growth is to feed the plants with an ericaceous plant feed which contains specific nutrients. This can be either granular or liquid. Because Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias set their flower buds from June to August, its essential to keep them well fed during this period. They are also prone to drying out during prolonged dry periods so it is important to keep the compost moist, this is particularly important during the flower bud setting period in summer, if the compost is allowed to dry out the bud set can fail. As our tap water contains lime do not use it to water ericaceous plants, instead use collected rainwater. Dead-heading Rhododendrons after flowering not only makes the plant look more attractive it is also important to prevent the spread of fungal disease and to stop the plant setting seed which will be detrimental to next years flowering. Dead-heading is fairly easy as the central axis or truss will break free from the plant with a simple twisting method between your thumb and forefinger. When dead-heading take care not to damage the growth bud or new shoots directly below the flower cluster as this will also be detrimental to next years flowering.
Here are my other top tips for April:
• Tie climbing plants into their supports
• Lift & Divide congested clumps of bamboos and grasses.
• Pinch out the growing tips of bedding plants such as fuchsias.
• Feed, Weed & Mosskill lawns.
• Sow seeds of marrows, courgettes & squashes indoors in 3 inch pots of seed compost.

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I have banged this drum before but the latest figures are even more worrying. There has been a very significant increase in UK population in the last ten years, net immigration last year was 330,000, at that rate, every three years there could be an increase in population of one million due to immigration, that is in addition to the increase due to people living longer. One million of population could mean 200,000 children, with classroom sizes of 30 that implies an additional requirement for at least 6000 teachers every three years, and, of course, school buildings to go with them. Currently there are approximately 400,000 teachers in the UK, assuming an average service of 35years, there will be 11,000 teachers retiring each year. An additional requirement of 2000 teachers a year is a 20% increase in the annual recruitment.
Furthermore, the logic of these numbers is that, every three years it could mean an additional 200,000 cars on the roads, bigger demands on the NHS hospitals and GPs, all this at a time when, due to mismanagement by successive governments, there is s dire shortage of nurses, teachers and doctors, whilst many are leaving their professions. At a time of a serious housing crisis when we are not building houses at anywhere near the rate necessary, there could be an additional requirement for 250,000 homes. Trains are seriously overcrowded already. There is concern over the ability of the electricity generators and the power grid to cope with any increase in demand
This migration of low skilled workers had led to a depression in wages in this category, The Bank of England estimated that there are 6million low skilled workers that have suffered financially as a consequence. All very well for those comfortably off getting lower priced goods, and those reaping the profits from cheap labour, but not much fun for the poor seeing the gap between rich and poor getting even wider. These statistics would not be so depressing if one could see that action was being taken to control the situation, but Cameron failed to win any real relief from the principle of free movement of workers and the influx of refugees in Europe will eventually lead to an increase in people holding EU citizenship free to come here when they wished, so that there is no end in sight for people coming to the UK. None of this would be quite so bad if action was being taken at an appropriate rate to make good the deficiencies in housing, public services and infrastructure. Sadly this is not so and the government appears to be turning a blind eye to the consequences of rampant immigration.
Ron Watts

What Does The Doctor think – April

Whatever happened to talcum powder?

Those readers who are of my generation and have had children will have vivid memories of terry towelling nappies, nappy liners, a bucket full of Napisan masking a soup of poo and urine, waiting for the contents to be boil washed and dried, ready for the next time of use. Those of us with limited funds did not have many nappies and keeping up with the baby’s use was quite testing. Fitting the nappy to the baby was quite a skill. Most people seemed to prefer the triangular approach but I much preferred to make a box nappy which seemed to me a lot squarer and neater. The whole process of caring for our seven babies relied heavily upon Johnson’s Baby Powder and this was used liberally to good effect. I still have some in the bathroom cupboard, 40 odd years later!
We now have 18 grandchildren and I usually invoke the Grandfather’s right not to be involved in nappy changing. However, I did get involved the other day and I realised that Johnson’s Baby Powder was not in evidence. I asked the daughter what was going on: “Oh, Grandpa” she said (have any of you noticed how your kids call you Grandpa instead of Dad as soon as they breed?) “That stuff is really dangerous and went out years ago”. Following my favourite maxim It is better to keep your mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it and remove all possible doubt I kept quiet and went away to look it up.
The powder is made by grinding talc rock to a fine powder which is highly absorbent, stops rubbing and absorbs odours. Breathing it in can cause coughing, eye irritation, diarrhoea, vomiting, collapse, respiratory failure, rash or fever (I just thought the child was tired!) and they may require oxygen, a breathing tube and intravenous fluids. Workers in the factory tend to develop serious lung disorders and even lung cancer. The powder’s physical structure is very similar to asbestos and we know how dangerous that is.
I was beginning to understand why talc has disappeared when things got worse. Without going into details and upsetting your sensibilities, apparently many ladies use/d the product to powder their nether regions in order to prevent chafing and to absorb odours. From there, the powder migrates north and internally and ladies who use the product have a 33% increase in the risk of ovarian cancer. An American lady, who died of the disease, has just been awarded $72 million compensation by Johnson & Johnson, who are appealing the verdict.
All in all, I can see why the product has fallen out of favour and I shall keep mine locked away when we have small visitors. As a substitute, use cornflour, rice powder, baking soda or oat flour! We won’t go any further down that road – it is a recommendation for absorbing moisture, not a recipe).
While on the subject of female nether regions, here is a joke: A very prestigious cardiologist died, and was given an elaborate funeral by the hospital where he had worked. A huge heart, covered in flowers, stood behind the casket during the service and, at the end of the service, as all the doctors from the hospital sat watching, the heart opened, and the casket rolled inside. The heart then closed, sealing the cardiologist
in the beautiful heart forever. At that point, one of the mourners just burst into laughter. When other doctors glared at him, he said “I’m so sorry… I was just thinking of my own funeral … I’m a gynaecologist!”

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West Dereham Parish Coincil – March Meeting

PRESENT (5 Councillors): – Claire Cann (CC) – Chairman, Pam Bullas (PB), Tom Foy (TF), Paula Kellingray (PK), and Pam Walker (PW).
Clerk: – Sarah Thorpe
Sandra Squire (SS) – Borough Councillor
5 members of the public were in attendance.
Papers presented to Councillors: (i) Financial Management Report (spreadsheet); (ii) Expenditure (for approval); (iii) Glazewing report; and (iv) Comparison of Cemetery fees.
The Chairman welcomed everyone present and opened the meeting.

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