A Few Gardening Techniques.

By: Rick Skew

Dibbing In:
Dibbing in is an easy and quick planting technique compared to using a trowel. The standard dibber is a stout wooden or metal spike bought from a disbuddinggarden shop or made at home from an old spade handle. These dibbers are for large seedlings. For pot culture and for small seedlings outdoors use a pencil or dowel. The tip of the dibber should be rounded rather than sharply pointed.

Dibbing in (or dibbling) calls for inserting the dibber sufficiently deeply into the soil so the roots will fit comfortably. Place the plant into the hole and then firm the ground by re-inserting the dibber point about 1 - 2 inches from the stem. Move the dibber towards the plant in order to press the soil all around the roots.

This is certainly a good technique for planting vegetables which have been raised in a seed bed. Brassicas, such as Cabbages, Brussels Sprouts etc, are well known examples. It is also widely used for planting cuttings, but in all cases you must ensure that the hole is no deeper than necessary. The role of dibbing in is limited - use a trowel and not a dibber for large size planting material such as bulbs or tubers, and do not use a dibber in heavy, wet soil.

Generally, flower buds in the garden are allowed to develop and open naturally to provide the maximum display. For exhibitors however, and others interested in the size of individual blooms, the flower stems are disbudded. This calls for pinching out side buds the minute they can be handled, leaving the central bud to grow to be a sizable specimen to catch the eye of the judge or earn the envy of the neighbours. Chrysanthemums, Dahlias and Carnations are frequently treated this way for show purposes. Many Hybrid Tea Roses produce more than one flower bud at the end of every shoot. With this flower it is nearly always desirable to seek the maximum size, so disbudding of side shoots is recommended. Delay taking off side buds if you want to hold back flowering for the day of your show. If the Rose variety produces very full blooms which spoil badly in wet weather, reverse the process and pinch out the terminal bud so that your side buds develop.

Earthing Up:
There are a number of reasons for earthing up, this means the drawing up of soil towards and around the stems. Potatoes are earthed up to avoid the tubers being exposed to light. When the haulm is about 9 inches high a draw hoe is needed to pile loose soil against the stems to create a flat-topped ridge. The greens (Broccoli, Kale, Brussels Sprouts etc) are earthed up for a different reason - soil is drawn up all around the stems of well developed plants to boost anchorage against high winds.

The stems of Celery and Leek are blanched by earthing up. This begins with Celery when it is about 1 foot high - with Leeks it is done in phases, the height being increased a little bit at a time by drawing dry soil all around the stems.

Earthing up is important on the vegetable plot but it has a place in the herbaceous border. Shoots can appear early during a mild spell in early spring, it is advisable to draw loose soil over them using a hoe so as to avoid damage by severe frosts which can come later.

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I have been involved with the Do-It-Yourself and Gardening industry for over 30 years. So I think now is the time to spread the word a bit about Home Improvement contractors within the companies operating in the UK.

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