Difficult Garden Sites

Shaded sites

Try to avoid shaded sites for vegetables and fruit. But if this is out of the question—one can generally do nothing about the shade cast by large trees and tall buildings—then it will be a case of growing only those fruits and vegetables which will thrive under these conditions. Firstly, of vegetables and herbs which will take light shade, land cress, lettuce (if only very light or partial shade), peas (partial shade), angelica, mint and parsley (partial shade), should all do well. Of the fruits which will take partial shade, there are Morel lo cherries, blackberries, gooseberries, raspberries (only moderate crops in shade) and red currants. All of these can, if desired, be trained against north-facing walls. .

Waterlogged sites

If garden soil is prone to long periods of waterlogging, either during the winter or in very wet weather at other times of the year, then you will not be able to grow good crops. It is essential, therefore to install a good drainage system.

There are, of course, many plants which like a moist soil, although this does not mean very wet or waterlogged conditions. Of the vegetables, runner beans like plenty of moisture in the soil. As do celeriac, celery, cucumbers. Endive, gourds, lettuce, marrows, peas. Radish. Rhubarb, spinach, turnip. Angelica, chervil and mint.

Fruits which like plenty of moisture include blackcurrants, raspberries blackberries and loganberries.

On a very moist site you could assist the drainage of surplus water by digging in plenty of coarse sand or grit to keep the soil open. It is usually the heavier soils like clays which tend to be wet.

One trouble you may have in moist conditions is damage from slugs and snails, so you will need to protect your plants, vegetables especially, with pelleted or liquid” slug bait. Woodlice can also be a nuisance in such conditions, eating the bases of young plants, so spray or dust with gamma-BHC.

Windy sites

Generally speaking, crops need a reasonably sheltered site to succeed, and, in very exposed places subject to high winds, it is essential to erect some form of windbreak. Gales and high winds can rip the leaves of many vegetables to pieces, blow over tall crops like Brussels sprouts, bring down fruits from the trees and cause stunted growth. There are some crops which do not particularly mind windy, exposed conditions and these include kales, kohlrabi, leeks, potatoes, swede and turnips. Fruits are really unsuitable for windy areas, mainly because the flowers will not be adequately pollinated by bees in the spring and am supports for fruits like raspberries, blackberries and so on are liable to be damaged. Also, the canes are likely to be lashed around and severely damaged if not adequately tied in.

Sites close to walls

What problems is the gardener likely to find on a site which is very close to a house or high boundary wall? A wall can cast shade, which results in weak, spindly growth in many plants. However, as has been discussed, some plants do quite well in shade, so it is possible to get over this.

Another problem, however, would be dry soil, especially under an east-facing wall. The answer here is to add plenty of organic matter to the soil and to water copiously whenever the surface of the soil starts to become dry.

It is not a good idea to train apples against a wall otherwise they will be subject to apple mildew. Try to give them an open position. Fortunately, many other fruits actually benefit from being grown near a wall—especially a south- or west-facing one—as the heat reflected off the wall helps in the development and ripening of the fruits.

Due to the warm conditions near a sunny wall certain pests can build up in the summer and attack plants. The main one is the red spider mite which feeds on the leaves of plants causing fine yellow mottling and eventual defoliation. Spray as necessary with a suitable pesticide such as dimethoate.

Sloping sites

A gentle slope to the south is ideal for growing fruit and vegetables. But often one is faced with a very steep slope—one which is really difficult to manage. What are the problems with such a site? Firstly, soil erosion—heavy rain can wash the topsoil down to the bottom of the slope, leaving very little, if any, at the top. Then, too, a steep slope is often very dry because rain and irrigation water simply run straight to the bottom. Nutrients are also washed to the foot of the slope, leaving the upper part deficient in plant foods.

Cultivation will be difficult on a steep slope. When digging it is necessary to throw the soil uphill, which can be very tiring.

If you wish to grow fruit and vegetables on such a site it would really be best to terrace it so that you have a series of flat surfaces. Terracing generally means shifting large amounts of soil. It is really best to remove the topsoil and make the alterations with the subsoil, returning the former when the terracing is completed.

The terraces can be retained by a number of materials. Logs are ideal for this purpose, and gives a very ‘natural’ looking effect. Old railway sleepers are also suitable, although now quite difficult to obtain. Alternatively, you could build low walls in brick or concrete walling blocks, preferably to match or complement the materials of your house.

If you are unable to create terraces, then you can also get over the problem of dry conditions and nutrient leaching by mulching plants with black polythene sheeting; this also helps check soil erosion.

Frost pockets

If your garden is in frost pocket then it is really quite risky growing fruit as the blossoms may be killed by late-spring frosts. Generally speaking, it is wise to go in for the really winter-hardy vegetables, such as the kales, winter cabbage, Brussels sprouts, sprouting broccoli, swedes, leeks, and parsnips. There is also a very strong case for investing in one of the modern plastic-skinned ‘greenhouses’ so that tender crops like tomatoes are not cut by late frosts.

Gardening in polluted areas Atmospheric pollution, such as the fumes from traffic and industry, and also dust from mining operations, can have an adverse effect on plant growth, for layers of grime on the leaves prevent the plant from breathing properly and manufac-turing its foods within the leaves. However, most of the subjects we grow on our food plot will tolerate normal atmospheric pollution.

It would be advisable to wash off the leaves of plants regularly with a hosepipe so that they are able to function properly.

Also, if you have a greenhouse, keep the glass clean at all times. Dirty glass will reduce light intensity within the house and this results in weak, spindly growth.

Gardening by the sea

This is generally rather pleasant for the gardener, but being ‘beside the seaside’ often creates problems for the plants. In many coastal resorts it is necessary to erect or plant windbreaks before one can start growing. These are mainly to stop the plants being damaged by salt-laden winds off the sea.

Very near the sea the soil would be saline to a greater or lesser extent. Many plants do not object to this but again it is necessary to improve soil conditions generally by adding plenty of organic matter and feeding the plants regularly and liberally. There is no reason why you should not grow a wide range of plants near the sea, provided you have adequate wind protection. Indeed, in some coastal areas there are well-sheltered gardens which have such light frosts that quite tender plants really flourish outdoors.

Patios, roof gardens and indoors

Often with patios, and certainly with roof gardens, wind protection will be needed. Wind will not only tear leaves of plants and cause stunted growth, but will dry out the soil in containers.

It is unlikely (in Britain, that is), that plants on patio or roof will suffer from too much sun. Hut if you do notice scorching, especially in young plants and seedlings, cover them temporarily with fine-mesh plastic netting. This can be supported on a wooden framework.

One of the main problems of growing vegetables and fruit indoors is lack of light, so that the plants become ‘drawn’ and spindly. They should be grown as near the window panes as possible, and turned regularly so that they do not lean towards the light. Whenever possible, stand the plants out of doors in the summer—they will make far better growth, especially if in a sheltered spot.

Never allow plants indoors to be subjected to draughts from windows and doors or to fumes from gas and oil heaters. All of these conditions can result in leaf drop. Also, never allow the plants to actually touch the panes of glass in winter. This is because frost can damage the leaf tissue; double glazed windows do not transmit the cold as readily.

10. July 2013 by admin
Categories: Featured Articles, Fruit Gardening, Uncategorized, Vegetable Gardening | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Difficult Garden Sites

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