Cheerfully going to water

THERE is nothing more soothing than the sound of water on a hot day.

And a water feature, with a small fountain and water plants, such as water lilies, is becoming popular among people with limited space such as a unit balcony or a townhouse.

The container can be ceramic or a wooden barrel, though you have to be careful to avoid the problems of contaminated water if there are fish in the container.

It’s also a good idea to keep the mosquito larvae under control.

I SAW this great idea while in Holland earlier this year. Similar to a round plastic kid’s floatie, it’s made of plastic with a ring suitable for fitting in a 200mm plant container. The whole ring floats and there is no soil in the base of the container, resulting in clean water for fish. Replacing the waterplants or if the plant dies it’s just a matter of lifting the pot out of the “floatie” and replacing it. But remember, in water features chemical fertilisers cannot be used if fish are in the water. I showed this idea to Bruno at The Heritage Nursery and, in no time at all, he now has these in stock.

I SAW this great idea while in Holland earlier this year. Similar to a round plastic kid’s floatie, it’s made of plastic with a ring suitable for fitting in a 200mm plant container. The whole ring floats and there is no soil in the base of the container, resulting in clean water for fish. Replacing the waterplants or if the plant dies it’s just a matter of lifting the pot out of the “floatie” and replacing it. But remember, in water features chemical fertilisers cannot be used if fish are in the water. I showed this idea to Bruno at The Heritage Nursery and, in no time at all, he now has these in stock.

A LITTLE more on potting: last week I alerted gardeners to modern potting mixes that drain a little too well, which means liquid fertilisers run through the mix and are largely wasted.

Originally, peat was used in potting mixes to hold moisture. However, for obvious environmental reasons, peat is no longer harvested. So, for hanging gardens, try mixing one third clay soil in with the potting mix. Then add a plant food that, in itself, holds water and slowly breaks down adding nutrients. Neutrog Seamungus, a combination of pelletised seaweed and chook poo, is ideal for this purpose. It is certified organic and can be used on any and every plant.

ANOTHER misconception with potted plants, as Nigel Colborn, of the UK’s Royal Horticultural Society points out, “is that ailing plants, whatever their affliction, will recover more quickly if given an extra feed”.

“This is fallacious, of course,” he says. “The addition of a good dose of nitrogen-rich fertiliser on the root zone of a sick plant is likely to be its execution.

“The sick plant may be nothing to do with feeding, but simply a case of over or under watering. In the drought, when called upon to give garden advice, I found more plants died from overwatering than any other cause.

“If the soil is looked after, the plants will, once established, largely look after themselves”.

Finally, there is nothing better than your own compost, as you know exactly what it contains.

Jottings…

• Cut back Michaelmas Daisies by two thirds, even if buds are forming. This will quadruple the blooms at flowering time in early autumn.

• Cut back scraggly cooking thymes to encourage fresh growth. Finely chop and freeze the cut pieces for later use.

• A good organic way to get rid of “pear and cherry tree slug” is to simply throw fine sand over and under the leaves. The sand sticks to these critters and they will simply fall off.

• It’s still not too late to plant dahlia tubers, but do get on with it.

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