Soil preparation to include cultivation, addition of organic matter and/or fertiliser. Planting to include specification (bare root, container grown, planting techniques for herbaceous perennials and bulbs, corms and tubers.

ORGANIC MATTER Contain carbon. Plant - or animal-based. Organic matter from plant and animal debris starts to accumulate and has both physical and chemical effects on the soil. Over time, bulky organic matter gradually decays and becomes Humus. This colloidal state acts as glue in the soil as well as holding on to plant nutrients.

About 5% of soil content generally (80% hummus, 10%roots, 10% organisms)

Contain carbon Plant - or animal-based Living Organic Matter: Worms/bacteria/fungi/nematodes/moles/plant roots. • Byproduct of living animals or end product of death / decomposition: Dead Organic Matter: Worms/bacteria/fungi/nematodes/moles/plant roots, plus plant remains (natural or added as compost)

Animal by-products (manure/bones/hooves/blood).

*Farmyard manure 😘 • becomes Humus. • physical and chemical effects on the soil • generally acidifying.

Garden compost: • can be richer in plant foods; • unpredictable nutrient content.

Leaf mould • good physical effect on soil structure • limited foods value • time to produce

Quick Breakdown Mulches • Well rotted or coarse compost, strawy manure • breaks down to become Humus over a season • has other benefits eg reduce weeds, retain moisture as with slow breakdown mulches

Slow breakdown mulches: • Un- or incompletely- composted materials eg Bark, wood shaving, shredded paper • Breaks down over several seasons but used mostly for weed control and prevention of soil capping • Uses nitrogen as it breaks down which may affect fertility of soil for surrounding plants.

Humus: • Remains of bulky organic matter in the soil after decompostion • holds plant foods and water • creates soil structure

FERTILISER Providing plants with direct sources of nutrients. A substance containing a high proportion of plant food or foods related to its volume (organic fertiliser applied by the gram/bulky organic matter low in foods applied by the barrow full). Fertilizers (or fertilisers) are substances that supply plant nutrients or amend soil fertility.

They are the most effective (30 -80 per cent increase in yields) means of increasing crop production and of improving the quality of food and fodder.

Fertilizers are used in order to supplement nutrient supply in the soil, especially to correct yield-limiting factors.

Fertilizers are applied to promote plant growth; the main nutrients present in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (the ‘macronutrients’) and other nutrients (‘micronutrients’) are added in smaller amounts.

Fertilizers are usually directly applied to soil, and can also be sprayed on leaves as a foliar feeding.

Works immediately : In-organic fertilizers do not need a certain time to be broken down or decomposed before usage because these contain nutrients that can be readily absorbed by plants.

Contains all necessary nutrients that are ready to use: Inorganic fertilizers are designed to give plants all the nutrients, Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium that they need in appropriate proportions and amounts

Leeching happens

Inorganic fertilizers contain nutrients that have been broken down already into the most basic of its components for easy absorption by the plants.

Yet, it can also be washed away easily when watering or irrigating the plants.

This is called leeching. Leeching happens very often as you water your plants.

Hence, a lot of the fertilizer goes to waste.

Nitrogen is one of the elements that easily get washed away since it usually settles below the roots of the plants quickly.

When you’re using inorganic fertilizers you need to pay special attention to the roots of the plant when you’re watering it and not over water the area so that you’re not encouraging the leeching of the nutrients in the soil.

Accumulation of toxic wastes

Inorganic fertilizers are not entirely composed of the nutrients needed by the plants. It also contains salts and other compounds.

These are not absorbed by the plants so they are left behind in the soil and build up over time.

When found in large amounts in the soils, these compounds can alter the chemistry of the soil that makes it less ideal for planting.

Over times, the soil needs to be neutralized using other substances to return it to a normal state that is suitable for planting

Too much is not a good thing

Fertilizers are good sources of nutrients for plants.

However, too much of it can also be harmful to the plants.

Applying the fertilizer directly to the plants may burn the delicate plant structures such as the roots.

This could affect the over-all development of the plant.

Inorganic fertilizers have both good and bad points.

Should you consider using them, better maximize and the advantages and try to prevent all its avoidable disadvantages.

STRAIGHT FERTILISER These contain only one or mainly one nutrient. They are usually used to provide different nutrients at different times of the year, or to correct particular nutrient deficiencies. They are usually inorganic Fertilizers contain one food or one in a higher % than another; Sulphate of Ammonia 21% N; Hoof and Horn 14% N, 2% P.

COMPOUND FERTILISER These contain a mixture of different nutrients, and may be balanced (containing similar proportions of all the major plant nutrients) or may supply more of some nutrients than others, as per the requirements of different crops. They may be organic or inorganic, or contain both. A commercially produced mixture of fertilizers; Feeding differing ratio of N.P.K.; Can be as a powder (J.I. Base) or formed into a granular form Growmore; Easy to use; Differing products can be used to suit differing situations – Toprose/Top Lawn; Less chance of creating an imbalance in the soil; Compounds: Growmore 7, 7, 7% or 1-1-1; Blood, fish and bone 6, 7, 6 % (question the source of potash for true organic); Toprose 5, 6, 12; Top Lawn 10, 5, 3; John Innes Base 5-7, 5, 10.

SLOW RELEASE FERTILISER These degrade slowly, usually under the influence of soil micro-organisms to release their nutrients and again are dependant on soil temperature. These are usually organic and include hoof & horn and bone meal.

Needing time for bacteria to convert into a form that the plant can use; Often organic bone meal 4% N, 20 % P.

LIQUID FEED Liquid fertilisers or soluble powders and granules can be dissolved or diluted and watered onto plant roots during the growing season to give them an instant boost. They are mainly used for feeding glasshouse crops, pot plants and bedding. The nutrients in liquid fertilisers are instantly available. Care must be taken to avoid leaf contact, which can cause scorching.

As top dressing; Applied as a liquid to a growing crop after the effect of the base has worn off, 6/8 weeks after potting; To keep the plant growing – mostly containers/pot plants/hanging baskets (but can be applied to lawns/flower beds, etc.); Easily dissolving, quick acting, give weekly; Must be applied to moist compost so as not to scorch the roots; Miracle Grow (high ratio of nitrogen); Tomato feed, Seaweed liquid Crystals/or liquid form; Measured out into a watering can and watered onto the pot (small scale) (or applied through a dilutor into the water supply/hose pipe); Growers can manipulate plant more easily using liquid feeds as it is possible to change from one product to another. Fuchsia growers can use high nitrogen to promote growth then change to high potash to promote flowers; Constant heavy feeding can result in a build-up of residue salt in the compost that might need flushing through.

FOLIAR FEED This is the application of a dilute solution of fertiliser to the leaves of plants, useful as an emergency treatment for correcting nutrient deficiencies or for providing quick supplementary feeding. The absorption of liquid fertiliser is greatest where leaf surfaces are tender, particularly on the under surfaces of leaves or on young leaves that are just expanding. Foliar feeds should not be applied in bright sunlight because the foliage may be scorched.

Applied as a liquid, but direct to the leaves not the compost or soil. Leaves can absorb food direct through the foliage so bypassing the roots; Gives a very quick response; Good way of feeding if the roots are damaged such as newly planted bare root trees/shrubs/evergreens or just as a way of feeding (DOFF make a ready mixed tomato foliar feed – although expensive).


CONTAINER GROWN Container-grown plants can be planted any time of the year, but are easier to care for if planted in autumn or winter, as they need less watering than ones planted in spring or summer Restricted Root Volume: Compared to growing in an open soil situation the root zone can be considerably restricted in containers – especially for larger plants. Plants will be fully dependent on the gardener for water and feeding if sustained, healthy growth is to be maintained. Responsibility but also control and less weight.

Water Supply and Retention: Plants will be fully dependent on the gardener for water supply. Water should be of a suitable pH for the plant. May need to collect rainwater or treat stored water to maintain slight acidity. The compost needs to hold/retain as much water as it can after watering and drainage has stopped. Addition of water retaining materials such as peat or water retaining polymers (Broadleaf P4) to the compost is required. A volume of compost will hold a measurable amount of water for its structure. If the plant can lose this amount in less than 24 hours, watering needs to be more frequent than each 24 hours. Lighter plants are easier to transport.

Drainage: All containers must have drainage holes in the base. Containers should not get water logged. (There are special containers for hydroponic or self-watering). Plastic pots usually 2 layers of drainage holes. Permanent pots – clay may only have one hole- easily blocked.

Stability of Compost Materials: Some materials used in potting compost are fairly stable and consistent (uniform), e.g., peat/grits/bark, and these products do not shrink greatly during their season of use. Loam is variable by its nature and ideally medium loam is recommended, (Lawrence and Newell) though again it is stable. Some products such as composted green waste can be very variable and have poor stability (the contents of a seed tray shrinking to half its depth in a 6 to 8 week period). Measured by volume rather than weight 30 – 60 Lt, because of moisture levels, but can be misleading.

Nutrients: Loam (clay) in compost provides a basic natural complete nutrient content of major and minor plant foods held in soil by?. This is supplemented by the addition of a base fertiliser when being mixed into a potting compost (John Innes base fertiliser). By altering the rate of fertilisers used we get a range of potting composts (J.I. Numbers 1, 2 & 3) to suit different uses. All other potting compost whether peat or peat free has to have all the nutrients needed by the plant to be added, including trace elements.

Partial/Sterility: Peat and grit are assumed sterile (if stored correctly). Composted products: Green waste/bark/straw are assumed sterilised by the composting process?? Loam is partially sterilised to kill harmful pests/diseases/weed seeds and roots by heating to between 71ºC and 82ºC (160/180ºF) which kills all the bad things but not the bacteria of the nitrogen cycle.

Weight/Density: Heavier composts are the loam based ones which give greater stability to the plant roots in the compost and to the overall plant/especially taller plants. Tall plants fall easily or are blown over in the wind.

State the limitations of using soils in containers.

Though soil (loam) is a good additive to a compost mixture, on its own it is not a good material to fill pots and containers with. It can harbour pests/diseases/weed seeds, it can have variable soil texture and structure, it is prone to compaction/poor or excessive drainage and it has variable pH and nutrient content. Also pots can be heavy to move. Consider effects of taking5,000 x 50lt away each year.

ROOT BALL Bare-root and rootballed trees and shrubs are only available in autumn and winter. They should be planted immediately, but if this is not possible, then they can be heeled in (temporary planting in the soil to prevent the roots drying out) until planting is possible.

BULB PLANTING Planting techniques for bulbs, in the ground or in containers When to plant bulbsWhere to plant bulbsHow to plant bulbsProblems Suitable for… Bulbs are useful for adding colour to spring borders. Tulips come in all shades, from dark purple to white, and bloom at a time of year when many plants offer muted colours. Other bulbs, such as snowdrops and scillas, are some of the earliest flowering plants in the garden, brightening up the short days of very early spring.

Planting summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies and gladioli can provide dramatic, tall blooms that are scented.

Autumn-flowering bulbs, such as nerines, can brighten up the late season with unexpectedly colourful displays.

When to plant bulbs Autumn Plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as daffodils, crocus and hyacinths, preferably by the end of September Plant tulips in November Plant hardy summer-flowering bulbs, such as lilies, alliums and crocosmia, in September and October Spring Plant tender summer-flowering bulbs, including gladioli, in early spring Summer Plant autumn-flowering bulbs, such as nerines, by late summer Where to plant bulbs Some bulbs need specific siting;

Most hardy bulbs, including tulips and daffodils, prefer a warm, sunny site with good drainage as they come from areas with dry summer climates Bulbs from cool, moist, woodland habitats, such as Cardiocrinum, need similar garden conditions. Improve light or sandy soils with garden compost and heavy soils with compost plus grit How to plant bulbs Most bulbs are acquired and planted when dry, in a dormant, leafless, rootless state. Plant as soon as possible. They may flower poorly following later than recommended planting or after lengthy storage (see Problem section for more detail).

Planting in borders Aim to plant in groups of at least six, as the more bulbs that are grouped together, the better the display. Typically, 25 to 50 bulbs may be needed to make an impressive show.

This method applies to spring-, summer- and autumn-flowering bulbs:

Dig a hole wide and deep enough for your bulbs. Plant most bulbs at two to three times their depth. For example, for a bulb measuring 5cm (2in) high, dig a hole 10-15cm (4-6in) deep and sit the bulb in the bottom of it Place the bulbs in the hole with their ‘nose’, or shoot, facing upwards. Space them at least twice the bulb’s own width apart Replace the soil and gently firm with the back of a rake. Avoid treading on the soil as this can damage the bulbs If the ground is moist or the bulbs are autumn-planted, watering is not critical. Otherwise water straight after planting Some bulbs, such as winter aconites, bluebells and snowdrops, are thought to be best planted, moved or divided ‘in the green’, when flowering is over but they are still in leaf. However, dried bulbs are often offered and can be successful.

In containers Most bulbs are ideal for growing in containers, but this especially suits those with large, showy flowers, such as tulips, lilies, arum lilies and alliums. Here are some tips for success:

For bulbs that are only going to spend one season in their container, use a mix of three parts multi-purpose compost with one part grit. For long-term container displays, use three parts John Innes No 2 compost mixed with one part grit Plant at three times their depth and one bulb width apart Water bulbs once after planting then regularly when in active growth, but you can reduce watering once the leaves start to die down and then through the dormant season. However, continue to check pots in winter, ensuring they do not dry out completely To promote good flowering next year, feed the bulbs every seven to ten days with a high-potassium fertiliser such as a liquid tomato feed. Begin feeding as soon as shoots appear, and stop feeding once the foliage starts to die down at the end of the season If you bring pots of hardy bulbs indoors during flowering, put them in a sheltered spot outside as soon as flowering is over

Routine maintenance tasks to include support, watering, deadheading, feeding, and renovation by division.

PLANT SUPPORT Supporting plants

Methods of weed control to include Physical (Hand weeding methods), Chemical (Use of Herbicides) and Cultural (Mulches).

STEM AND BULB EELWORM Ditylenchus dipsaci the stem and bulb eelworm which can cause poor growth and death in a wide range of plants, not just bulbs Common name: Stem and bulb eelworm (nematode) Latin names: Ditylenchus dipsaci Plants affected: Very broad host range including vegetables and bulbous and herbaceous ornamentals (including Narcissus, Allium, Phlox, Hydrangea) Main symptoms: Swelling bulbs, stunted and distorted growth, plants dying Caused by: A microscopic plant parasitic nematode Timing: Early Spring - Summer

What is stem and bulb eelworm? Eelworms belong to the Nematoda and are also known as nematodes or roundworms. The Nematoda is a very diverse phylum of animals, there are more than 25 000 described species, and they are found in almost every habitat. Many nematodes are beneficial because they break down and recycle organic material in soil, marine and fresh water ecosystems and some are pathogenic in other animals, some of these have been developed as biological control agents.

Stem and bulb eelworm, Ditylenchus dipsaci, is detrimental to plants because they feed on and move through and between plant cells, causing cell death and distorted growth, a habit known as migratory endoparasitsum of plant tissues. They affect a broad range of host plants, proliferate in wet, cool conditions and have been reported in the UK and throughout Europe.

Stem and bulb eelworms are particularly difficult for gardeners to recognise as it lives inside the host tissues and is too small to be seen without the aid of a microscope.

The infectious fourth stage juvenile enters emerging plant tissue below ground, but can crawl up stems in a film of water and enter shoots via buds, petioles, or stomata. Once in the host plant, they destructively feed, molt into adults and produce eggs. The nematodes hatch from the egg as a second stage juvenile and continue to feed and molt into a third stage and later a fourth stage larvae while extensively macerating and distorting the plant tissue.

In adverse conditions such as when the plant is destroyed or during winter the juveniles can enter an environmentally resistant fourth stage. This fourth stage juvenile can survive without a host plant for up to two years in soil. It can also remain viable and spread in seeds, bulbs and through the movement of soil, run-off water, wind or via human assistance (e.g. garden tools).

Symptoms There are several different strains or biotypes of stem and bulb eelworm, they are distinguished by the range of host plants that are attacked. The strain that attacks Narcissus also attacks bluebell, snowdrop, primrose, onion, beans, peas, strawberry and some plants usually considered weeds in gardens, such as goosegrass, dock, rayless mayweed and chickweed.

Other D. dipsaci strains that may occur in gardens are those that primarily attack onion, phlox, tulip and hyacinth. There is a certain amount of overlap in their host plant ranges but only the tulip strain is also capable of attacking narcissi, in addition to the narcissus strain.

Symptoms on vegetables Members of the Allium family (onions, shallots, chives, garlic and leeks) tend to swell and distort. This is sometimes referred to as ‘onion blout’, ultimately the bulbs rot, crack and die.

In rhubarb, carrots and parsnips the crown and leaf bases will swell, rot and eventually split.

French and runner beans suffer from swollen stems which blister and brown, growth can be stunted and leaves will grow in bunches.

Symptoms on ornamentals On herbaceous ornamentals such as phlox, growth is stunted and foliage tends to die back, leaves turn yellow later brown, twisting and distorting.

Infested bulbous plants produce stunted and distorted foliage that has a yellowish colour. Small pale yellowish swellings or speckles develop on the underside of leaves. These speckled swellings are more prominent before flowering and can easily be felt when the leaf is run between finger and thumb.

In the bulbs the inner scales are usually more severely attacked than the outer scales. The bulbs become soft and brown and eventually rots. If an infested bulb is cut in half transversely, the feeding damage within the bulb can be seen as a series of brown rings or arcs. There is no sign of a maggot, as with an infestation of narcissus bulb fly. Bulbs may not sprout, or any resulting flowers and leaves are yellow and distorted. In large plantings of narcissus, the area of dead and distorted plants gradually increases each year as the pest spreads

Note that where many daffodils fail to appear, often in the second year after planting, this is more likely to be due to a fungal disease known as narcissus basal rot.

Control Cultural control Purchase nematode free plant material

Avoid introducing stem and bulb eelworm and other bulb problems into your garden by buying firm, good quality bulbs from reputable suppliers.

Good sanitation practices in the garden

Once the presence of stem and bulb eelworm has been confirmed, dig out any plant material showing signs of damage and also other apparently healthy host plants within a one metre radius. Removed bulbs and foliage should be treated as diseased material and not be disposed of in a garden compost heap.

Leave fallow: If possible leave infested soil bare for at least three years and during this time continuously remove weeds that could be potential hosts plants.

Hot water treatment: Hot water treatment can destroy the eelworms within the bulb. However, this is a difficult procedure without professional equipment, and usually limited to commercial production. Eelworms in bulbs can be killed by immersing the dormant bulbs in water held at 44.5°C (112°F) for three hours. Too much heat will damage the bulbs, while too little will allow the pest to survive. An insulated water tank with thermostatic controls is needed to maintain the correct temperature. After treatment, the bulbs should be planted in a different part of the garden with uninfested soil.

Chemical control There are no pesticides available to home gardeners for dealing with stem and bulb eelworm, and so cultural methods should be used to lower infestation and minimize damage.

Control of pests and diseases for appropriate situations.

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