Gourock School Garden is Top of the Form.

 In George Irvine

Moorfoot Primary School set out to develop their garden just a couple of years ago and in that short time they have made a great job of it. It was not easy task, however, as the site was a quite a distance from the main school building and was very much an uncultivated plot of land.

Indeed, there was a lot of back-breaking work to be undertaken but the teachers and some of the pupils certainly got down to the serious business of creating a masterclass garden that the children could enjoy and be really proud of.

As part of their Eco-Schools project, these young gardeners soon had plans on the drawing board and with a bit of help from a number of adults and friends plus a few local firms the garden soon took shape. Gourock Community Council also helped by giving the school a donation with helped to defray some of costs for which the school was extremely grateful.

Raised beds were constructed and various vegetables  have been grown by the children, bird boxes have been built around the trees and water buts put in place collect water from the sheds of neighbouring houses. These neighbours also keep an eye on the garden which is indeed very welcome. Old tyres were partially dug into an area of the garden to form an outdoor classroom – quite a unique idea- and something which the children really enjoy on good days.

This year the school entered the Gardenfest garden competition for the first time and won first prize and the trophy for school gardens. The green-fingered pupil’s hard work also gained them the Judges Discretionary Award.

What To Do With Dahlias for Winter.

Those large showy Dahlias which we enjoy during the summer months start to die off at this time of year and the big question is what should we do with them and when. As the first frosts arrive the leaves of the Dahlias will turn black and this is a sign that we should be doing something about them. When you see the leaves turning black you should cut back the stems to just two or three inches above the soil. Use your spade rather than a fork to gently lift the tubers out of the soil. Shake the bulk of the soil from the tuber and tie a label showing the name and colour of the top the stem.

You should then turn the tuber upside down and lay it on a greenhouse bench and keep it in a frost-free place to allow all the sap to drain from the hollow stems. This will probably take at least a week – maybe a bit longer. Once this has been done clean all the excess  soil from the  tuber before dusting it with sulphur   before wrapping it in dry newspaper and storing it in a frost-free place for the winter

Some growers opt to leave their tubers in the ground over the winter, but we have a really cold winter the tubers may be destroyed by frost unless a very thick mulch is applied over the soil.  Also, if the winter is very wet and the soil becomes almost saturated then the tubers can rot.

It’s Time for Tulips.

Tulips are the last of the spring bulbs to be planted and November is the traditional time to do this. If you plant Tulips too early then you risk a fungus disease attacking them and for this there is no known cure and all your bulbs will be lost – not just for this year –but for a few  years you will be unable to grow Tulips in the same area of soil.

However, looking on the bright side you can safely plant your Tulip bulbs now and there is an abundance of varieties to choose from. Indeed, Tulips come in all shapes and heights and colours and the heights range from the tall growing varieties down to the smaller rockery type. Tulips also are available in different flowering times –for example – early flowering and late flowering – and you can choose from single and double varieties.

When we come to colours available we are certainly spoiled for choice.  There are stand-alone types – both tall and short varieties- but there are other types where the blooms can exhibit blotches of different colours and on some varieties the leaves can be variegated providing gorgeous combinations.. There are other kinds which produce feathery-type flowers and these can  create lots of interest in the garden.

Tulips can be planted in the spring beds and borders, but the bulbs are just a tad fussy.  The most important factor is the soil must be well drained. It is advisable to add a handful of grit to the planting hole to prevent the bulbs from rotting should the soil be too wet. Tulips do not like the soil to be too wet.

On the other hand, Tulips are ideal for growing in large pots or other containers and  you can create lovely colourful displays that will provide lots of colour  during April, May and often into the first half of June

IN next week’s garden blog, I will provide more information on growing Tulips in pots and containers.

When You See the Grass Glistening.

When you come out of the house first thing in the morning – especially on a nice dry morning- do spare a little time to take a quick glance at your lawn.  If you see the grass is glistening and has some globules of water on it, then this is a definite sign of frost.

Indeed, this is air frost which really means the temperature is probably is between zero and four degrees Celsius. Unless plants are frost hardy, they will suffer at such low temperatures. Later in the year you might just see the grass covered white frost. This is hard frost where the ground temperature is usually below zero.

Watch Out for Hidden Wild Life.

As we approach the season of bonfires and garden clean-ups please exercise great care if you intend to have bonfire.  Before you light the fire please make sure that there are no wild life hibernating among the garden rubbish and make sure the fire is well away from anything combustible and the house or outbuildings. Keep children away from the fire and fireworks.

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