WHEN DO YOU CUT BACK A LEYLANDII HEDGE?

When do you cut back a Leylandii hedge

There has been a lot of controversy regarding planting Leylandii hedges, almost always due to the 'antisocial' height and size they achieve. They block out the sun, casting large areas of shade on neighbouring properties. Furthermore, older specimens can take up a huge amount of space in the garden as well as render the soil beneath dry, and unable to support other plants.

Overgrown leylandii
The current legislation regarding overgrown Leylandii hedges in the United Kingdom comes under Section 8 of the Anti-Social Behaviour Act (2003). This allows local councils to take action when the hedge has grown to a height where...

“...the hedge is adversely affecting the complainant’s reasonable enjoyment of their property...”

When properly cut back and maintained, leylandii hedging can produce an absolutely stunning, compact hedge. However unlike most other hedges which will only need cutting once a year, leylandii hedging will need two and even three cuts a year to keep it in check. Forget to cut it back one year and it may already be too late to get it under control!

Leylandi hedge
For a newly planted hedge, trim back the overlong side-hoots at the beginning of the growing season. In northern Europe this will be around April. Come July make a second cut to lightly trim the sides. Then in July tie in the leader branch to a supporting cane.

In its second year trim the side-shoots again. This will encourage the formation of dense growth and leave a neat appearance over winter. Leylandii hedges can grow up to 1 metre a year and can quickly reach your desired height. Once the required height is reached, shorten the leading shoots to 15 cm  below the required height. The subsequent lower new growth will soon make up the height difference and form a thick top

For all other existing hedges, prune 2-3 times a year between April and the end of August.

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HOW TO GROW A LEYLANDII HEDGE
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WHEN DO YOU CUT BACK A LEYLANDII HEDGE?

HOW TO GROW TOMATOES IN POTS


I have a passion for freshly picked tomatoes from the vine. The flesh is considerably more succulent, and far more flavoursome. More importantly, the experience of eating homegrown produce is so much more satisfying than eating a shop-bought tomato straight from the fridge.

Luckily, tomato plants are very easy to grow from seed, and even if you are limited on garden space you can still bring a tomato plant to fruition in a pot or container. Just make sure that the container is of a decent size, that you can place your tomato plant in full sun, and that it is regularly watered and fertilized when necessary.

When growing tomatoes in pots, the chances are that you will only be growing a few plants in which case you would probably be better off purchasing pot-grown tomato seedlings from your local plant retailer. Equally so if you intend to grow a number of different cultivars. If more plants are required then consider growing your own tomato plants from seed.

How to grow tomatoes from seed

How to grow tomatoes in pots
Tomatoes originated from the South American Andes and as such are not hardy in northern European climates. As such they tomato seeds will need to be sown under protection from March to April so that they are ready to grow outside as soon as the threat of late frosts have passed.

Using 9cm pots containing a good quality seed compost, sow tomato seeds onto the surface at a rate of three seeds per pot. Press the seeds firmly into the compost but do not bury them as they require the presence of light to help initiate germination.

Water from the base to prevent the seeds from being disturbed and place in a heated propagator with an approximate temperature of between 15-20C. If you do not have a propagator then seal the pots inside a clear polythene bag and place on a warm bright windowsill - but one which does not receive direct sunlight. You can expect germination to occur between 7-14 days, at which point the pots can be removed from the propagator or bag. Maintain bright, frost-free conditions, and once the seedlings are large enough to handle remove the two weakest seedlings.

Growing tomatoes in pots

How to grow tomatoes in pots
You will need pots or containers of at least 25 cm diameter, filled with a good quality soil-based compost such as John Innes 'No 3'. Keep the compost moist but not waterlogged and once the first flower trusses begin to show they can be hardened off over a week or so before placing outside in their final position. For northern Europe this will be around the end of May, but check the weather forecasts beforehand to make sure that there is no longer any threat from late frosts. Where possible, place in a sunny, sheltered position.

Tie the main stem of the plant to a vertical bamboo cane for support or wind it round a tall section of stiff, plastic netting. Water regularly to keep the compost evenly moist, and feed with a specific high potash tomato fertiliser every 10-14 days one once the first fruits start to set.

Remove the side-shoots regularly when they reach about 2.5cm long, and remove any yellowing leaves which occur below developing fruit trusses.

Main image credit - Mason Masteka https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en
In text image - Dennis Brown https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en
In text image - Tigris Lagoona https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

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HOW TO GROW A CHRISTMAS TREE

How to grow a Christmas tree

If you have bought yourself a rooted or pot grown Christmas tree and would like to grow it on in the garden for subsequent years, well the chances are you can. Unless it has overheated, been over-watered, under-watered or plain old 'dried out' over the festive season, in which case it probably won't.
Christmas trees - https://www.sapcotegc.co.uk/
The most popular Christmas tree species in the United Kingdom is the Norway spruce, closely followed by the Nordmann fir, but the growing requirements for most Christmas tree species are largely similar. Just be aware that mature Christmas trees can easily reach a height of 50ft or more once mature and so may not be suitable for suburban gardens.

Christmas trees will do best in deep, moist soils with a moderate or high acidic content. Plant outside as soon as you can, however any Christmas trees keep in warm conditions may need to hardened off first for a week or two before planting outside. If the weather is relatively mild and no immediate threat of frosts then hardening off may be unnecessary. If in doubt, provide frost protection such as horticultural fleece. If only heavy soils are available then delay planting until the spring.

Christmas tree cones - http://forums.gardenweb.com/
Christmas trees will prefer to be planted in full sun, but a partially shaded position will do. Avoid exposed conditions as the new growth on young plants can be susceptible to damage from late spring frosts.

Apply a phosphate rich fertilizer such as 'Fish, Blood and Bone' when planting, and a nitrogen rich fertiliser each May and again in June when growing on sandy soils. Maintain a weed-free root-run about a metre across for the first few years.

During it first year you may to to water during extended periods of low rainfall.

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THE SILVER BIRCH - Betula pendula


HOW TO GROW DELOSPERMA COOPERI




African succulent plants always bring a touch of the exotic to northern European gardens. Unfortunately they are often frost-tender and as such their time in the garden is usually short lived. There is one species however that has not only proven itself to be frost hardy, but also has an outstanding floral display. Commonly known as 'Cooper’s Ice Plant', this particular garden gem is Delosperma cooperi.

Native to the Free State province of South Africa, Delosperma cooperi is a mat-forming, dwarf, perennial plant notable for thriving in dry, hot environments. Once established you can expect it to grow to a height of between 3-6 inches and a spread of approximately 1-3 ft in diameter depending on growing conditions,

The succulent, fleshy leaves are cylindrical in shape and mid-green in colour. Under cold conditions the leaves can turn to hues of red. They are also covered with light-refracting, bladder-like hairs that look similar to tiny ice crystals, which explains its common name.

The neon-pink, daisy-like blooms are up to 2 inches wide and appear from June to September. However it will need to be in a position of full sun to achieve the exceptional display associated with this species. There is a certain amount of colour variation which can result in plants displaying vermillion or magenta blooms.

Delosperma cooperi will do particularly well in a Mediterranean environment, but as it reputedly capable of surviving temperatures as low as -29 °Celsius it should therefore do well in cooler northern European climates. Well yes and no. while Delosperma cooperi is more than happy coping with the cold, what it particularly dislikes is the wet.

With this in mind, plant Delosperma cooperi in dry, sharply-drained soils. Avoid clay soils or any other ground that prone to waterlogging, otherwise it will grow poorly or even fail.

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HOW TO GROW MESEMBRYANTHEMUM FROM SEED

How to grow mesembryanthemum from seed

Commonly known as the 'Livingstone Daisy', Mesembryanthemum criniflorum is a popular half-hardy annual noted for its brightly coloured blooms and glistening succulent leaves. While the botanical name Mesembryanthemum criniflorum is the most widely used within the gardening industry, it is currently classified as Dorotheanthus bellidiformis.

Mesembryanthemum seedlings
Despite its exotic looks it is surprisingly easy to grow from seed. However to make the most of the shorter northern European growing seasons, sow mesembryanthemum seed under protection from late winter to spring.

Using modular trays filled with a good quality, well-drained compost such as John Innes 'Seeds and Cutting', sow the seeds on the surface at an approximate rate of 10 seeds per module. Do not cover the seeds as they require the presence of light to help initiate germination. Instead gently firm down the compost without sinking the seeds into the compost.

If you are watering from the surface you may wish to add a thin layer of vermiculite to prevent the seeds from being washed around the seed tray. Alternatively water from the base so that water naturally rises through the compost. Once the surface of the compost darken remove water from the base of the seed tray.

Mesembryanthemum flowers
Place the seed tray inside a heated propagator at approximately 15-20 degrees Celsius. Alternatively seal the tray inside a clear, polythene bag. Keep the compost damp but avoid direct sunlight. You can expect germination to occur between 15-21 days.

Once the seedlings emerge, remove them from the propagator or polythene bag but they will still need to be kept in a warm, bright, frost-free position.

When the roots have become established in the modules they can be popped out and potted on into 9 cm pots and grown on in cooler conditions for a further 10-15 days to harden off. They can be planted outside into their final position once all risk of frost has passed. Plant Mesembryanthemum criniflorum plants 30 cm apart. To flower they will require as much of the available sunlight as possible. They will perform best planted in a light well-drained soil.

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THE HARDY TRAILING ICE PLANT - Delosperma cooperi

HOW TO PRUNE FUCHSIAS




While fuchsias are mostly native to the tropical or subtropical native regions of South America, there are a significant number of cultivars that are hardy enough to survive the freezing winters of northern European climates. While some cultivars such as the popular Fuchsia 'Tom Thumb' will only reach approximately 50 cm tall when mature, most shrubby forms (when left to their own devices) will reach up to 4 metres.

Although it may seem a little drastic, cut hardy fuchsia species and hybrids down to ground level in November, or (if you miss this key period) in March to April. Alternatively, cut back the stems to a permanent low framework.

In colder, more northerly climates consider apply a dry mulch to help prevent the soil from freezing. The root systems of healthy fushia are surprisingly robust and even reasonable fragments of mature roots can produce new shoots under favourable conditions.

Of course, in milder mediterranean climates hardy fuchsias can be left as they are. But should you wish to prune to reshape your plant or remove any dead or diseased branches this can be done in April or May.

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HOW TO GROW PORTULACA FROM SEED

How to grow Portulaca from seed

Native to the tropical and warm temperate regions of the world, Portulaca is a genus of succulent, evergreen, annual and perennial plants. In countries which experience freezing conditions over the winter period, all portulaca species will need to be treated as annuals. So when propagating plants for garden use they will all need to be sown under protection in the early spring.

Portulaca seedlings
Sow portulaca seeds under protection (as in a heated greenhouse or warm, bright room) from February to March. Using modular seed trays filled with a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting', sow approximately ten seeds per module. Do not cover the seed with compost as portulaca seeds require the presence of light to help initiate germination, instead place on the surface and gently firm down. If you wish, you can apply a thin layer of vermiculite to the surface, Gently water the compost by allowing it to rise up from the base of the seed tray. This can be achieved by partially sinking the tray into a suitably sized bowl of water. Place the tray inside a heated propagator at a temperature between of 18-21 degrees Celsius. Alternatively seal the seed tray inside a clear polythene bag and leave in a warm bright position, but one which does not receive direct sunlight. You can expect germination to occur within 7- 14 days. Do not exclude light, as this helps germination. Keep the compost moist but do not allow the roots to become waterlogged.

How to grow Portulaca from seed
Once the roots have established in their modules and are large enough to handle, they can be popped out of their modules and potted on into 3 inch pots at a rate of one module per pot. Try to disturb the rootball as little as possible, the roots do not need to be teased apart prior to planting.

The newly potted portulaca can be grown on in cooler conditions such as an unheated greenhouse or cold frame but only once the threat of late frosts have passed - usually by the end of May. After 10-15 days they can be planted outside into their final position.

If you do not have the facilities to grow seedlings under protection then direct sow the seeds from the middle of May onwards.

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THE HARDY TRAILING ICE PLANT - Delosperma cooperi

HOW TO GROW PORTULACA GRANDIFLORA - THE SUN PLANT


Portulaca grandiflora is a half-hardy annual suitable for growing in borders and rock gardens. Native to Argentina, southern Brazil, and Uruguay, it is a succulent plant with semi-prostrate red stems. It is a small, but fast-growing plant growing to 30 cm tall under favourable conditions however this is usually around 15 cm under garden conditions.

The narrow, fleshy leaves are cylindrical in cross-section and bright green in colour. Each leaf can be up to 2.5 cm long, and arranged alternately or in small clusters.

The saucer-shaped blooms are approximately 2.5-3 cm across with a central boss of bright yellow stamens. The blooms can emerge in a variety of colours, most notably red, purple, yellow and white. Numerous cultivars have been developed producing forms with additional petals, double flowers and increased variation in flower colour.

Plant portulacas outside in May, and only then once the threat of late frosts have passed. They will perform best in any well-drained garden soil, thriving under hot, dry conditions in full sun. Consider adding a general purpose, high nitrogen fertilizer when first planting, with a second addition of high Phosphorous fertilizer just before the plants come into flower.

When planting in groups, spaced at a distance of 30 cm apart, and deadhead spent flowers to promote more blooms.  Portulaca will only require watering when the plants show signs of wilting.

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HOW TO GROW IVY FROM CUTTINGS



Ivy is a genus of 15 species (although some in the scientific community argue that there are in fact only 12) of hardy, evergreen, climbing or ground-creeping woody plants. They are a wide ranging family native throughout Europe, Macaronesia, northwestern Africa and across central-southern Asia and as far as Japan and Taiwan.

Image credit - http://themountaineer.villagesoup.com/
Luckily all ivy species and cultivated varieties propagate readily from cuttings, and usually with little provocation. The best time of year is during July and August. Using a sharp, sterilized blade, take 3-5 inch cuttings from the tips of vigorous running shoots. Make each cut directly above a leaf, and the lower cut below a leaf node. Remove the the lower two thirds leaves. Large leaf cultivars may require the remaining leaves to be cut in half to help reduce transpiration while the new roots are waiting to form. That way the risk of the cuttings drying out before they are able to root is reduced. If non-climbing, bushy growth is required then take cuttings only from adult stage growth.

Using a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. or make own using an equal part by volume mix of moss peat and horticultural grade sand, fill to within 1/2 inch from the top your required number of 3 inch diameter pots. Place 1 cutting per pot and and gently water in. There is absolutely no need to use rooting hormone powder when propagating ivy from fresh cuttings.

Move the pots to an outside coldframe or unheated greenhouse. Once the roots have established in the pots they will be ready for planting into their final position.

Alternatively, take 6 inch cuttings from ripe shoots in October or November, removing the soft tips. The are then inserted into a prepared nursery bed of sandy soil in a sheltered position outside.

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Image of High Castle in Malbork - https://upload.wikimedia.org/  


The majority of ivy - Hedera, species and cultivars are vigorous, large growing evergreen climbing plants and so when ivy is planted alongside garden walls or trellis it can easily become overgrown. Once it has become unwieldy or has covered the space required, begin cutting it back close to its support during February or March each year. Cut stems back to leave at least 18 inches on each healthy vine.

Image credit - http://www.public.asu.edu/~camartin/
Ivy can be pruned again over the summer to remove excessively long runners or any other unwanted growth.

When grown against houses, garages or other substantial garden building, prevent the top growth from venturing into the gutters or onto the roof. If left unchecked, gutters can be blocked and even pulled away from the wall while roof tiles can be lifted allowing rain to enter the roofspace.

Even in situations where unlimited growth is not considered a problem, you should periodically prune out sections that become too matted and heavy as the plant may break away from its support.

Tired, old specimens can be rejuvenated by removing the older vines. New growth can be stimulated by pruning the tips back to about 1/2 inch above a leaf or bud.

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STRELITZIA 'MANDELA'S GOLD' 3 SEEDS - 'Seeds of Eaden' Seed shop

Image credit Liz Hardman - http://natureontheedge.com/



Strelitzia reginae 'Mandela's Gold' is a rarely-offered, yet stunning golden-yellow cultivar of the common bird of paradise plant - Strelitzia reginae. This spectacular cultivated variety was developed at the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, but only after 20 years of painstaking hand pollination and deliberate selection. It is currently available at the 'Seeds of Eaden' Seed shop, however numbers are in short supply.

Image credit - http://www.oryxmedia.co.za/
The first, small quantity of seed became available in 1994 under the name of Strelitzia reginae 'Kirstenbosch Gold', but this was changed in 1996 to 'Mandela's Gold' in honor of Former President of South Africa, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.

Growing to approximately 4-6 ft tall, 'Mandela's Gold's most identifying feature are its highly ornamental and architectural blooms. Each one displays 3 yellow sepals and 3 deep purple petals that sit on top like the crest of an exotic bird's head - hence the 'Bird of Paradise' common name of its parents.

It is smaller sized and slower growing than the regular species, Under favorable conditions you can expect to boom in three years, but it will take two or three further years to achieve a decent sized clump.

Native to South Africa, Strelitzia 'Mandela's Gold' will require warm, subtropical to tropical conditions, in rich, moist, loamy soil. It is sensitive to cold, and in particular freezing conditions, which can damage both the flowers and foliage.

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HOW TO OVERWINTER GRAPEVINES

How to overwinter grapevines

If you are growing grapevines in the warm commercial regions of southern Europe, then issues with overwintering grapevines are not something you would usually need to worry about. However, northern European growers with have more work to do, depending on how far north they are and the specific cultivars grown. Of course if your grapevines are grown within the protected environment of a greenhouse, you will have no choice other than to make preparation for the oncoming freezing weather - usually shutting the windows and doors and adding heat depending on the varieties grown.

How to overwinter grapevines
In areas with expected colder conditions, it makes sense to plant hardier vine cultivars as well as make the most of the natural topography. Consider growing the more cold tolerant varieties such as Vitis vinifera ‘Phoenix’,‘Pinot Noir’, ‘Siegerrebe’, 'Spetchley Red' and 'Vroege V. D. Laan', and avoid planting in frost pockets unless temporary protection can be provided.

To protect the roots of grapevines in cold conditions, cover the base of the plant with approximately 8 inches of mounded soil. If you are only growing a few plants then consider covering the vines with horticultural fleece. Regions that experience freezing temperatures will require a taller mounding of soil of at least a foot or so or a further insulation of a dry mulch such as straw or shredded cornstalks. Areas that are prone to snowfall will require less work as the snow itself can insulate the vines, particularly from lower, overnight temperatures and freezing winds.

Under cold, wet conditions, mounded soil can still freeze as it is exposed to the weather. However deep ditch cultivation can prove to be a more successful in this instance. Prior to planting out the vines, dig ditches approximately 4 ft deep and 3 to 4 ft wide. The vines are planted at the bottom of the ditch and soil is added progressively as they grow until the original soil level is reached.

How to overwinter grapevines
In regions that experience extreme cold then a more robust method of protection can be employed. The grapevines are planted into shallow, gently sloping trenches approximately 1 ft deep and 2-3 ft wide. After leaf-drop, cover the trench with a layer of dry mulch (such as straw) and remove the grapevines from their support structures. Allow the vines to gently fall to the floor of the trench and cover with yet more dry mulch. Secure the mulch in place by covering with old blankets, burlap or sack cloth anchored into place with soil or rocks. You may also need to consider adding fine wire mesh to prevent mice from eating the vine's buds.

Come the spring, and once the new buds begin to emerge, the grapevines can be uncovered and re-attached to their support structure. Be aware that light protection (horticultural fleece or suitable geotextile fabric) may need to be put in place to prevent damage from late frosts.

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HOW TO GROW GRAPEVINES IN A GREENHOUSE


Grapes are one of the most popular of all edible fruits, and there has been evidence of their cultivation as far back as 6,000–8,000 years ago in the Near East. Be that as it may, they were not introduced to the Britain until the Roman conquest in AD 43 under Emperor Claudius.

Image credit - http://www.jibberjabberuk.co.uk/
Despite the creep of global warming, many of the popular dessert grape cultivars perform poorly in the cooler northern European climates. So to encourage a more flavoursome crop they will need to be grown in a protected environment - such as a greenhouse or polytunnel.

When growing in greenhouse borders, make up a bed from a mixture of 3 parts loam to 1 part well-rotted farm manure by volume. Plant out pot-grown grapevines in late autumn or winter (preferably around late October) at intervals of 3-4 ft. Train the plants against wires, which will need to run the entire length of the greenhouse, attached to the frame every 10 ft or so, 6 inches away from the glass. The wires will require a vertical spacing of approximately 12 inches. water the young plants liberally over the first season to encourage as much growth as possible, but only allow one stem (known as a cordon or rod) to develop.

In their first autumn (when the leaves have changed colour, but before they fall), remove half to two-thirds of the growth of the first year rods, cutting back to a bud on well-ripened wood. The following spring, train the leading shot up, and the laterals along the wires on alternate sides. After flowering, stop the laterals at two leaves beyond the fruit clusters and remove an further subsequent shoots (known as sub-lateral shoots) at one leaf. Remove all other shots by rubbing them off the stems, and allow only 2-3 bunches of grapes to set in the first cropping year.

In the autumn, remove one-third to a half of the new growth for that year, back to well ripened wood on the leading rod. Cut these selected laterals back to 2 buds. These lateral shoots will form the basis for next year's fruiting spurs. Cut back the main rod and lateral shoots each autumn, for one or two more years to fill the available space and to build up a strong rod and fruit spurs.

Rest the vines over the winter by providing full ventilation and allowing some frost into the greenhouse. Apply a 5% tar-oil winter wash to the rods while they are dormant and renew the top inch of border soil. Untie the rods in late January and let their tops arch over unimpeded to encourage even breaking of new shoots along their length.

Come February, and it is time to warm up the plants in readiness for spring growth, so close the windows and door to help retain the available warmth. Tie the rods back into the supporting wires and wait for the buds begin to break, Most grapevine cultivars will not require additional heat, however varieties such as 'Madresfield Court' and 'Muscat of Alexandria' need a longer growing season and will produce a better flavoured crop if kept at a temperature of 10-13 degrees Celsius. Syringe the rods freely with tepid water in the mornings to encourage bud break and maintain humidity until the buds indeed finally emerge. Once the buds show on the stems stop syringing and begin to improve ventilation, especially on warm days.

When the young shoots are about an inch long they can be thinned out to just two per spur, and when these are 3-4 inches long remove the weaker of the two.

Maintain a humid atmosphere, especially on hot, sunny days, until flowering begins, Once blooming commences, Ventilate freely,the flowers are unlikely to be naturally pollinated in the greenhouse and so pollinate by hand using a soft brush.

Thin the resulting bunches of fruit to one bunch of grapes for every 12 inches of lateral stem. As each berry begins to swell, cut out any small or overcrowded fruits in the centre of each bunch to improve its shape. Maintain a minimum temperature 18 degrees over the growing period and dampen down the floor regularly to maintain humidity.

Feed the grapevines with a water soluble liquid fertiliser or water in proprietary dried blood at 1/2 ounce per sq. yard every 10 days until the fruits have ripened.

When about half grown, the fruits will cease swelling temporarily while the seeds develop. During this period try to avoid fluctuations in temperature and humidity. As the fruits begin to ripen, increase ventilation and reduce humidity Once you have harvested your grapes, reduce watering and provide maximum ventilation. Remove all sub-laterals to help ripen the laterals.

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HOW TO GROW CHINESE RADISH FROM SEED

How to grow Chinese Radish from Seed





Chinese radish, also known as winter radish, are an excellent and flavoursome salad crop which can be harvested right up until Christmas time. Typically the roots are eaten raw, but they can also be cooked in soups. cakes pickles and sauces. The fast-growing sprouts can also be washed and used in salads and stirfries.

Chinese radish seedlings
Chinese radish prefer cool temperatures and unlike most varieties of radish (which can grow very quickly), they need 60-70 days to fully mature.

This means direct sowing winter radish seeds outside from April to July. For successive cropping, re-sow every two weeks.

You will require loose, free-draining soil that has been enriched with humus-rich, garden compost. Avoid any fertilizers or compost that are high in nitrogen. Full sun will be preferable but you can still produce a crop in semi-shade.

To reduce the incidence of clubroot ensure that the soil pH is between 5.8 and 6.8.

Sow winter radish seeds thinly at a depth of ½" in drills 6" apart. When the seedlings emerge, and large enough to handle, they can be thinned out to 2" apart. Hand weed regularly to prevent competition from weeds. Do not use metal implements for weeding as these can easily damage the swelling roots.

Avoid your winter radishes from running to seed by keeping them cool and well watered, particularly during hot, dry weather. Do not water excessively as this will encourage leaf growth at the expense of root development. As the cold weather arrives, protect your crop from frost damage by covering them with cloches.

Companion planting

All radish cultivars are at risk of damage from flea beetles. Consider growing them alongside culinary mint to deter the flea beetles,

Harvesting

Winter radishes can stay in the ground being lifted as they are need. This can continue up until Christmas time when to prevent them from being damaged by freezing temperature they can all be lifted and stored. Loosen the soil around each radish before pulling them out of the ground by their leaves.

Be aware that even when stored in a cool, dry environment they will only last for a few weeks, and if left in the ground, the roots become woody and unpalatable.

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CHINESE RADISH 'CHINA ROSE' 500 SEEDS - 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop


If you are looking to grow your own Chinese radish then you are in luck. Not only are they available as part of the standard range of 'Salads and Herbs' section at the 'Seeds of Eaden' seed shop, they are surprisingly easy to grow.

Image credit -& https://www.horizonherbs.com/
Chinese Radish 'China Rose' is a traditional winter hardy variety, popular for producing long, edible tapering roots. While many of the traditional chinese radish varieties are white in colour, Chinese Radish 'China Rose' differs by displaying attractive rosy pink skins, although the flesh beneath remains crisp, and pure white. It has the same distinctive, slightly pungent taste as other varieties, making it an excellent choice for adding a little bite to winter salads. Furthermore, the fast-growing leaves are also edible, the most tender of which can also added to salads and stir fries.

Sow Chinese Radish 'China Rose' outdoors into a prepared seedbed from April to July. They can be harvested as required up until Christmas, after which they can be lifted and stored when the roots are approximately about 4" long.

Not only are they good to eat, Chinese radish are also valued in Chinese medicine for controlling indigestion and food stagnation.

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HOW TO GROW A GRAPEVINE FROM SEED

Image credit - http://www.wallpaper77.com/

Grapes are one of the most popular of all fresh fruits and have been under cultivation by mankind for approximately 6,000–8,000 years. They are even mentioned in the bible when Noah grows them on his farm (Genesis 9:20–21). While it is a simple process to purchase bunches of supermarket grapes, why not take up the challenge of growing your own grape vines from seed. Be aware they they are unlikely to grow true from the parent plants so (as long as you have the space) grow a selection of seedlings to fruition, retaining only those plants which produce the most flavoursome fruits.

If you want to grow your own grape vine from seed then it is a fairly straightforward processes. However you will need to make sure that your seeds are viable and then you will need to break the seeds natural dormancy before sowing.

Seed viability

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Wherever you get your seeds from, be it either from a friend or collected yourself, you should check the seeds viability first.

1. Firstly check that each seed is firm to the touch. Discard any soft seeds

2. Look at each seeds coloratio. A healthy grape seed will have a pale gray or white endosperm under the seed coat.

3. Place your seeds into a container of water. The viable seeds will sink, so discard any that float.

Breaking dormancy

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Remove any fruit pulp stuck to the seeds as this will contain chemicals which inhibit germination. Next, soak the seeds in warm water overnight. Now depending on the time of year you can sow the seeds directly into individual pots and place outside allowing nature to work its magic or you can stratify the seeds artificially. Be that as it may, vine seeds have a low rate of germination and so aim to sow 3 seeds for every one you expect to germinate.

If you are in the northern hemisphere then the best time for sowing will be December, just before the freezing winter weather arrives. Using 3 inch pots containing a good quality, well drained soil-based compost such as John Innes 'seed and potting', sowing each seed 1/2" deep. Water in then place outside in a cold frame until the spring, protecting them from mice and or squirrels. Water periodically but just to keep the compost moist. Do not allow the compost to become waterlogged. You can expect the seeds to begin germinating from late May onwards. Once the risk of late frosts have passed the cold frame cover can be left open. Pot the seedlings on as required using a soil-based general purpose compost and provide the support of a cane. Once they are approximately 1-1.5 metres tall and with an established root system they can be planted out into their final position outside.

Image credit - http://www.dahlonegavineyards.com/
At other times of year you can break the seeds natural dormancy the following way. Place a good handful of damp sphagnum moss or a damp paper towel inside a sealable polythene bag and then add the seeds. Seal the bag and put inside the salad compartment of a refrigerator. The temperature will need to be at approximately 1-3º Celsius.

The seeds can remain in the fridge for 2-3 months, after which they can sown into 3 inch pots containing a good quality, well drained soil-based compost. Gently water in and provide a germinating temperature of 20-25º Celsius. You can expect the seedlings to emerge between 2-8 weeks depending on conditions. Once the roots have established in their pots and have produce at least 6 true leaves they can be potted on into 1 liter pots and then hardened off over a period of 7-10 days before being kept outside in a warm sheltered position. Do not put the plants out if there is a threat of frost or if freezing temperatures prevail. Provide a supporting cane and once they established in their new pots can be planted out into their final position outside.

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HOW TO CARE FOR CARDINAL TETRA

How to care for cardinal tetra - http://fishlaboratory.com/fish/cardinal-tetra

Looking like a beefed-up neon tetra, cardinal tetras (Paracheirodon axelrodiare) are often the shoaling fish of choice in any amazon effect or community aquarium. Native to the upper Orinoco and Negro Rivers in South America, it is a freshwater species most usually found in blackwater environments. Blackwater streams and rivers are characterised by a low mineral content and humic acids.

Blackwater stream - http://www.seriouslyfish.com/
They grow to a considerably larger size than the similar marked neon tetra with an approximate adult length of 5 cm. There are differences with the iridescent colouration also. Where the red lateral stripe of the neon tetra is limited to only half its length, the cardinal tetras red stripe extends along its whole body length. There is even a selectively bred gold strain that sometimes becomes available.

Like most tetra species, cardinal tetras are a shoaling species in the wild, so when introduced to an aquarium environment they will need to be kept in groups of at least six but preferably far more. Low shoal numbers, combined with a lack of suitable places to flee to, will result in nervous behavior which can subdue its immune system leading to stress-related illnesses. That being said they will shoal with other tetra species but most successfully, and rather unsurprisingly, with neon tetras. It should go without saying that you should not keep cardinal tetras in the same aquarium as boisterous or aggressive companions.

Cardinal tetra - http://justpetsappleton.com/
They prefer their water warmer compared to many other tropical fish, so provide a temperature of between 75-82 °F. While captive bred cardinal tetras are fairly tolerant to hard water conditions they will be at their best with a KH 2-6, a pH 5.5-7.5 and overfiltered conditions to keep the water in a relatively stable and clean condition.

Like their native environment, provide a well-planted conditions with subdued lighting and plenty of places to hide. Bogwood, and live plants such as cabomba, amazon sword and vallisneria are some of the more popular choices. Cardinal tetras are a nervous fish species and can become easily stressed, so anything that can be done to reduce their stress will improve their condition, their temperament, and their longevity within the aquarium.

Once settled in their aquarum, cardinal tetras will readily accept most forms of dry food. However to maintain the condition of your fish feed live foods such as daphnia, bloodworms and brine shrimp.

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HOW TO CARE FOR NEON TETRAS

How to care for neon tetras

Neon tetras are among the most popular of all aquarium fish, but they have a reputation of being difficult to keep. They are a South American, freshwater fish, native to the blackwater and clearwater streams of southeastern Colombia, eastern Peru, and western Brazil. In their native habitat you can expect neon tetras to have a lifespan of up to ten years, however under aquarium conditions that is usually closer to five years. Of course in a general community tank it is not uncommon for individuals to start dropping off before the week is out, with further deaths every few days thereafter until your shoal completely expires. This is usually a result of unfavourable water conditions, or more worryingly neon tetra disease - Pleistophora hyphessobryconis.

Blackwater stream - http://www.seriouslyfish.com/
In their natural habitat neon tetra inhabit very soft, acidic waters which usually range between 20 and 26° C. These rivers and streams are often swollen by frequent and heavy downpours.

For optimum conditions with an aquarium, neon tetras will be at their happiest in a densely planted tank with subdued light and plenty of hiding places, a dark substrate and an ideal temperature of 21–25 °C, cooler than usually found in most tropical aquariums. To resemble their native Amazon environments provide a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 and a KH of 1.0 to 2.0. It is also recommend to carry out frequent water changes. Be aware that if your Neon Tetras have been raised in an aquarium with a significantly different water chemistry, a rapid change in conditions can cause more harm than good. To be on the safe side, neon Tetras should always be gradually adjusted to new water conditions.

Neon tetras are a shoaling fish and as such display nervous characteristics if only a few are kept together. If possible try to keep them in as large a shoal as possible to reduce stress as this will lower the fish's immune system allowing disease to take hold. Three or four neon tetras do not make a shoal, so when purchasing fish you are looking for at least a dozen individuals - preferably considerably more.

Neon tetras - https://petrydesigns.wordpress.com/
Avoid keeping large, fast moving or aggressive fish in the same aquarium as your neon tetras as again they will become stressed as well are increasing the risk of them becoming eaten. Instead, keep them in a community aquarium with other non-aggressive fish species of roughly the same size.

Neon tetras are naturally omnivorous, meaning that they feed on plant matter as well as crustaceans, worms and other small aquatic insects. Under aquarium conditions they readily accept both processed and live foods, including flake, frozen and freeze-dried foods. Avoid feeding just flaked foods, instead supplement with occasional treats such as daphnia, brine shrimp, bloodworms. Maintaining a varied diet will help to prevent physiological issues due to nutrient deficiencies.

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HOW TO TREAT NEON TETRA DISEASE

How to treat neon tetra disease



Neon tetra are arguably one of the most popular of all species of freshwater, tropical fish. In fact an incredible 1.8 million neon tetras are imported into the United States for the aquarium trade each month! Unfortunately neon tetra are a timid species, especially when kept in low numbers as they find confidence in the protection of the large shoals. A nervous disposition combined with their reasonably specific water quality requirements (pH of 6.0 to 6.5 and a KH of 1.0 to 2.0) means that they can be prone to stress related illness and disease, be it environment stress for bullying from larger, more aggressive fish species.

Neon tetra disease - http://i.imgur.com/XMoC09q.png
One of the more serious illnesses contracted by neon tetras is the rather unimaginative 'neon tetra disease' otherwise known as pleistophora disease. Neon tetra disease is a highly contagious illness caused by the parasite Pleistophora hyphessobryconis, a single-celled organism. It is also fast acting often killing the fish with just a few days of the symptoms becoming obvious.

Spores of the parasite enter the neon tetra usually through consuming the infected flesh of a dead or dying fish. It is also believed that the popular live food, tubifex worms, may also be a carrier of the Pleistophora spores. The sudden incidence of neon tetra disease usually occurs after the introduction of newly purchased infected aquarium fish.

Symptoms of neon tetra disease include restlessness, loss of their iridescent coloration, the formation of grey or white patches on their flanks, and lumps on their body as cysts develop. Further clues include a difficulty in swimming, a progressive curving of the spine, and an incidence of secondary infections due to a suppression of their immune systems such as fin rot and internal bloating. Infected fish tend to be separate for the shoal, often hiding under aquarium plants or ornaments, and showing a distinct lack of appetite.

Treatment

While there is currently no 'off-the-shelf' cure for neon tetra disease, there is evidence to believe that when kept under optimum conditions healthy specimens are capable of fighting off the disease, killing off the parasite using their own immune system. Antibiotics prescribed by a veterinary surgeon may be administered. The antiprotozoal agent 'Toltrazuril' has shown to be an effective remedy to neon tetra disease but it is currently unavailable as a commercial medication.

Aquariums with hard water or comparatively high temperatures allow the parasites to progress within the fish while the immune systems are depressed due to environmental stress. Remove infected fish as they become apparent, and maintain a more suitable temperature of approximately 72 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and as mentioned previously a pH of 6.0 to 6.5 and a KH of 1.0 to 2.0.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO CARE FOR CARDINAL TETRA
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