Planting season is now in full swing with more seasonal favourites like Roses, Camellias, and fruit trees becoming available in the garden centres.
Speaking of Roses, now is the perfect time to prune your existing roses. It can sometimes seem a little overwhelming but Roses are a little tougher than people give them credit.
Make sure you have clean, sharp bypass secateurs and a nice dry day. Each cut you make should be at 45 degrees so that water does not collect on the cut when it does rain. Pay particular attention to the direction of the buds on each stem. When you prune back you want to cut just above a bud. The new growth will grow in the direction the bud is facing, so we generally want to cut back to outward facing buds to promote a nice open shape and reduce the number of inward or crossing branches.
Start by removing any dead or diseased wood, next remove any branches that are crossing, this helps to prevent rubbing which can let disease get a foot hold, removing these branches also helps to open up the centre of the plant; finally take away any thin, weak branches.
You should now be left with just the nice healthy strong branches. you want to reduce branches by around 1/3 to 1/2, the aim is to create an open centre so air can move freely and a nice pleasing overall shape. If your vegetable patch is going to be empty over the winter months there is still time to plant a ‘Green Manure’ crop which will not only keep weeds at bay, but will improve soil fertility.
Green Manure crops include Lupin which is a Nitrogen fixer; Oats which add Carbon and organic matter to the soil; and Mustard which helps to sterilise the bed.
Choose which type of crop you’d like to sow, then after a couple of months - before it's gone to seed - cut the crop down, allow it to dry out, and then dig it into the soil. This will add valuable nutrients and humus to the soil.