Gardening - December
December marks the start of winter and the time of least work for the gardener. Don't think, though, that you can totally give up on your garden as there is still plenty you can do in the garden this month. From now, until March is the ideal time to plant bare rooted hedging. Bare roots are the most economical way to establish a hedge. Bare root plants are so named because the plants are dug from the ground when they are dormant (leafless) and their roots are shaken free of soil. The roots of bare roots are pruned. Plants store energy for growth after dormancy in their root systems and cutting these roots promotes additional shoots to be formed helping the plant to develop a more fibrous root system. Pruning the roots creates a more balanced root system which helps to eliminate air pockets when replanting. Transportation costs are also reduced by root pruning. Because they are root pruned bare root hedging and trees really benefit from the use of mycorrhizal fungi. Mycorrhiza are beneficial fungi that are found growing in association with plant roots. They exist by taking sugars from plants, in exchange for moisture and nutrients gathered from the soil. Mycorrhiza acts as an extension to the host plants root system. Neither fungi nor plants could survive in many uncultivated situations without this mutually beneficial arrangement. Mycorrhizal fungi are crucial in gathering phosphorus which is often in very short supply in natural soils, in particular sandy soils (like ours) are most susceptible to phosphorus leaching. Phosphorus-rich fertilisers are thought to suppress mycorrhiza fungi for this reason it is best not to use the two in conjunction.
In summary the benefits of using mycorhiza fungi include:
• Healthier and more dense root system with hugely increased ability to uptake nutrients from the soil – resulting in more abundant flowers and fruit. • Reduced need for synthetic or chemical fertilisers • Higher resistance to drought • Reduced stress during transplanting • Improved resistance to soil pathogenes and environmental stress Mycorrhiza fungi can be purchased in products such as root grow, or Neudorff Rose & Shrub fertiliser. To plant bare roots prepare a trench, preferably a week or so before planting to give the soil a chance to settle. Wait until the ground is neither sodden or frozen for planting. Follow the manufacturers instructions on the mycorrhiza fungi when planting. Here are some other jobs to do in the garden in December: • Check winter protection structures are secure, and check that your greenhouse heater is working. • Take hardwood cuttings • Reduce Watering of houseplants • Prune trees, shrubs and vines that are prone to bleeding sap including Birch, Walnut and Grape Vines. Whatever you are planning for your garden next season, Paul and I are available to offer advice, we look forward to meeting all of your gardening needs in 2017. Have a merry Christmas. Rachel Sobiechowski BSc (Hons) P&R Garden Supplies, Fengate Drove, Brandon 01842 814800 www.p-rgardensupplies.co.uk