Quiet Garden Trust Gardeners Question Time… Aka QGT GQT! Your questions answered by Patrick Swan, Garden Designer and QGT Trustee.
Submit your questions for next time using the QUESTION SUBMISSION FORM section below.
Can I grow veg in between the flowers & shrubs? My border is so small & narrow, I’m even using the communal alley as an allotment! Thank you Marilyn Forest of Dean
Is it possible to grow fruit & vegetables amongst your ornamentals? Yes, is the simple answer. They are all plants after all, and vegetable plants are in the main annuals. So if you think of them as annuals then think how you would incorporate these into your garden. They like a decent soil in good heart, plenty of sunshine for much of the day and plenty of water. So if you have a suitable space for say annual Salvias or Marigolds, then it would be just as suitable for many vegetable plants too. Just remember that they will grow and if pushed for space that something like a savoy cabbage takes up a lot of room, but salad crops, or dwarf French beans for example can be slotted in amongst border perennials just as easy as a patch of Antirrhinums. Many vegetables have coloured leaf varieties and you can be as artistic as you want to be. Vegetable potager gardens, all the rage in France two hundred years ago, can be just as pleasing to the eye as a flower display
This is a very practical question about upkeep of Quiet gardens in an ecologically-sound way. We have cracks between our paving stones which host outbreaks of grass and weeds each spring and summer and mar the appearance of the garden. I am allowing some attractive participants to stay but would like to oust the grass particularly. Can you advise on the best way of doing this?
A big consideration will also be the time and means you may have to deal with “weeds” in paving, especially as the days of chemical warfare in gardens are drawing to a close. Non chemical ways to remove stubborn unwanted plants in paving are developing, but all will require some time & dedication. First of all there are the various tools, angled and pointed metal gadgets designed to reach down into cracks & crevices between paving. There are also narrow wire brush tools to deal with the Mother of All weed nightmares that is block paving. These work quite well but be prepared for a painstaking task at first and if you suffer from weak or arthritic hands, maybe not for you. The next option is to land your weeds in hot water. Professional gardeners have access to hugely expensive steam generating weeding machines; at home you can simply (& carefully) pour boiling water from a kettle onto the cut root stump of a dandelion (or any perennial weed) which will cause its cell structure to burst. Any weak regrowth can be re treated in the same way. Further up the tech scale are flame gun weed burners, not as scary as they sound, we’re not talking mass apocalypse stuff here, just a simple small blow torch. Aim the flame at the weed, just to shrivel, not combust, the foliage. Then re-treat again in a couple of weeks. As with all weeding, get to them before they seed… and eventually the seed bank in the ground will dry up and the problem will become less over time.
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