What to do.....

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What to do.....

Post by Angela Fuller on Sat May 25, 2013 8:40 am

I wonder if any keen Gardening folk amongst us all would like a reminder of what we should be doing on a monthly /weekly basis. I know I am the world's worse and always seem to be late sowing seeds and planting. Maybe a remnder on this site would help us keep on track and encourage us to get on and just do it ? If a few of us did think it was a good idea, maybe we could take in turns to post ?
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Re: What to do.....

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Sat May 25, 2013 2:24 pm

Mmm a very big topic... veg flowers , trees or everything...? We have found a for veg our local ferramenta has a leaflet come calendar each year that tells you what you should be doing, this alongside our local veg/plant shop having the relevant plants in stock...

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Re: What to do.....

Post by Angela Fuller on Sat May 25, 2013 3:53 pm

Yes, Steve, our Consorzio also gives out a calender which gives you a planting / sowing guide, according to the phases of the moon. However, I prefer to grow most plants....trees, shrubs, flowers, veg etc from seeds and cuttings....I am not an instant gardener. The problem with information here is they only list plants of interest to Italians and do not mention more interesting species...... and yes, many people are happy to buy plants, veg and flowering from the market or anywhere and good luck to you...it.is easy but not as satisfying as growing from seed or cuttings....
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We do both....

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Sat May 25, 2013 6:22 pm

We do both and will move over to more seeds and cuttings once we know what we are doing and how things work in here Italy as opposed to the cold North of England.... Very Happy

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Re: What to do.....

Post by Vicino on Sun May 26, 2013 4:49 am

I would indeed like a monthly reminder, probably more realistically for me more of a what things should be ok on a south facing bank, which gets pretty scorching heat in the summer (if we have one this year !). weeds seem to do well !
It almost seems easier just to restock every year.
Also, how on earth do I STOP couch(?) grass................??
V
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Re: What to do.....

Post by Gala Placidia on Sun May 26, 2013 5:49 am

Weeds always seem to do much better than most plants. At times, I wonder why do we insist on our ways and start growing weeds instead. Some of them are quite pretty.Another good idea may be to concentrate on natives or plants from countries which endure difficult conditions. Some of the Australian natives do very well in Italy such as the callistemons or bottle brushes. Another plant that does wonders in Italy is the lantana and it brings plenty of colour to difficult banks. As for a calendar... I would suggest looking at what the neighbours do... they are always right Very Happy
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South facing banks and couch grass

Post by Angela Fuller on Sun May 26, 2013 6:18 am

We too have a south facing bank and find the best ground cover is thyme or rosemary which will form a dense mat and help retain moisture in the soil. Other more interesting plants....all the grey leafed ones will do well and so do certain roses (var 'The Fairy' pink small flowers) does well on my bank and grows to approx 1m x 1m, very disease resistant. Cerinthe mentioned in post past is also worth trying, just direct sow the seed. The most important thing I have found is to plant everything at the right time ideally an early Spring planting when the soil is warming up is best, and yes, things will need watering when no rain, but only for the 1st year. A 2 / 3 ltr water bottle buried behind the plant and filled with water does help alot..... As for couch grass the only best way to get rid of it is dig out the rhizomes (usually 8" deep) with a fork...spade will just chop them up....or using systemic weedkiller another alternative. Are you sure it is couch, there is another very similar grass that dies back in the winter....but once the temps rise creates a lush green space...that requires little maintenance so perfect for hot dry summers.....what are they ?
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Update

Post by Vicino on Sun May 26, 2013 6:58 am

Thanks a lot Gala & Angela, most helpful...........
The said bank is actually a rockery, with gravel and stones, 6/7 mtrs long and about 2 metres wide and as mentioned, totally south facing and in full sun.
I have a range of plants/bushes (maybe 10 in number) dotted along it. All of the plants having been sourced from the local garden centre(s), explaining in my best Italian (which is BAD) pretty much as I have here.
I will certainly try Cerinthe and bottle brush, I have already the lantana which does indeed survive and provides good colour.
Re the 'couch' (pronounced as in the sofa or 'cooch' ?), good question ! We have some of what appears to be the same on our 'lawns' (ha!) and also in the rockery, where it has forced it's way through the matting underneath the gravel and it is a bit of a job getting it (and the roots) out!
One positive is that it is very good exercise for my calves standing on the upward slope trying to get at the roots.
Thanks again,
V
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Re: What to do.....

Post by Gala Placidia on Sun May 26, 2013 12:25 pm

As Angela said, the problem is to completely eliminate the rhizomes... otherwise, the weeds will keep on growing. Try this: boil water and when it is at boiling point, pour it on the weed. The water has to be at boiling point, as hot as possible. Pour it as close as possible to the rhizome. You will see that the weed starts to wilt after a day or two (or you can repeat the treatment) making it easier to remove. I prefer this to the use of weedkillers as you are not poisoning the soil... and other plants in the process.
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Re: What to do.....

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:25 am

Angela, this was a very good idea! It would be nice if posts like this could stay and be completed throughout the year. Having just returned after being away for over 3 months we have found the weeds over 1' tall already, some 2'! So a lot of strimming and lawn mower work been done already. I've said before those looking to buy and wanting a lot of land, be very careful you can manage it all. It's very heavy work for 2 on just under 1ha, would hate to deal with any more than that. Weeding the 2 veg patches and strawberries also started. Missed the broccoli as it had been and gone when we were away longer than intended. But have onions, garlic, spinach, cauliflower, fennel and asparagus all to eat now... Local veg plant place has loads of stuff in for the warmer areas, including tomatoes, but we will need to wait a while yet. Bought 3 vines and two kiwi on our travels, so more work there in clearing the land and  planting them...

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Re: What to do.....

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Mon Mar 17, 2014 10:32 am

... ah did mean to add this which was posted on Abruzzolutely forum the other day No-Dig LINK Was wondering what people here thought? We intend to try out an experiment with the melons and squash to see how things compare. Also thought our new second row of strawberries might benefit partly from this also. We are going to buy several 20l bags of compost, wrap them in ground cover plastic from the ferramenta's (lots of Italians here seem to do this to suppress the weeds in their strawberry beds ) and plant straight into them, sure the extra layer of plastic will help and certainly the compost will be loved by the strawberry plants (grown from last years suckers).

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Re: What to do.....

Post by Angela Fuller on Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:14 am

Steve, I am keen on the NO-Dig concept and used it in the UK but here our soil even when mixed with compost forms a brick like surface after a few weeks of sun if not worked....This causes watering problems as it just runs off so I have to hoe.... I am trying to start a small / hobby like buisness of selling plants and cut flowers....I live 500m on a white rd from a main rd and will not be able to advertise on the road....If anyone was interested in joining my mailing list of availability just let me know....
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gramignia -couch grass

Post by sebastiano on Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:11 pm

Vicino wrote:I would indeed like a monthly reminder, probably more realistically for me more of a what things should be ok on a south facing bank, which gets pretty scorching heat in the summer (if we have one this year !). weeds seem to do well !It almost seems easier just to restock every year.Also, how on earth do I STOP couch(?) grass................??V

always assuming that you aren't into heavy chemical solutions the only real way to eliminate this deadful grass/weed is to double dig making sure that you take out by hand everything including the deep roots hence the double dig take it all away .usually it's such a big task that it's worth doing section by section,some will return but generally like this you can /will get rid of it.We've cleared in about two years a pretty huge area like that.....sorry it's not easier...
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Re: What to do.....

Post by Angela Fuller on Mon Mar 17, 2014 4:29 pm

Double digging was something 'Adam' the Gardener would have recommended.....If nothing better to do I suppose it is a start.....However I would blitz with chemicals once and then manage it....Who was it who said, 'There's more to life than stuffing a mushroom'...I expect you will disagree Sebastiano....
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Re: What to do.....

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:25 pm

Double digging is very hard work, but it is the way I was brought up to do... However, reading the link I added heavy mulch looks a promising way of avoiding digging at all and kills almost all the weeds as you go. To me it seems well worth trying on a small area and see how it does. As to it becoming rock hard in the blazing sun, as with everything here it needs to be watered very regular, but yes a little breaking of the top layer does no harm and is absolutely nothing like digging.

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Re: What to do.....

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Mon Mar 17, 2014 6:49 pm

Should have added that in the hotter weather water until the evening. In fact most is done in the middle of the night as we employ water timers to do so. If you don't and use mains water you are putting very cold water on to warm roots, sure way to kill off/damage your plants here. I wondered for a while why so many here had those 1000L square water tanks and then realised they are essential in very hot weather for both watering (strored temp is ideal) and in case of the water supply going off.

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Re: What to do.....

Post by ghiro on Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:06 pm

stevegwmonkseaton wrote:If you don't and use mains water you are putting very cold water on to warm roots, sure way to kill off/damage your plants here. I wondered for a while why so many here had those 1000L square water tanks and then realised they are essential in very hot weather for both watering (strored temp is ideal) and in case of the water supply going off.
Lucky you Steve.  In our neck of the Italian woods using mains water for your garden/lawn/orto is strictly proibito.  Sad  Sad
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Re: What to do.....

Post by Angela Fuller on Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:17 pm

Umm Steve, I know many peeps like you and Sebastiano like the traditional method.....but there are other ways that are better for maintaining a good workable soil .....including adding on the surface good  compost and working it in etc etc.....slowly slowly eh !  Lookiing forward to hearing how your experiment goes....I am trialing comfrey in a trench for sweet peas....
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Re: What to do.....

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:17 pm

ghiro wrote:
stevegwmonkseaton wrote:If you don't and use mains water you are putting very cold water on to warm roots, sure way to kill off/damage your plants here. I wondered for a while why so many here had those 1000L square water tanks and then realised they are essential in very hot weather for both watering (strored temp is ideal) and in case of the water supply going off.
Lucky you Steve.  In our neck of the Italian woods using mains water for your garden/lawn/orto is strictly proibito.  Sad  Sad

I would hazard a guess it is here too, but hey we are in Italy and I see my neighbours and other folk around here doing it, and worse (watering grass), all the time...    Laughing  Laughing  Laughing

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Re: What to do.....

Post by modicasa on Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:03 am

Stored water in the south is too hot to water with in the summer - and burns the roots - so you can't win.  The only answer is lots of cacti. 

Has anyone grown watercress in Italy?

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Re: What to do.....

Post by Angela Fuller on Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:23 am

Interesting question Modicasa....I would love to find a source of  Water Cress...Surely somone grows it, maybe up in the north...after all it was originally a wild plant.... A good substitute for Water Cress is Land Cress which tastes the same, is easy to grow and ready to pick in a couple of months....
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Re: What to do.....

Post by stevegwmonkseaton on Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:42 am

modicasa wrote:Stored water in the south is too hot to water with in the summer - and burns the roots - so you can't win.  The only answer is lots of cacti. Has anyone grown watercress in Italy?

I bow to your experience of the South Modi, but would suggest for vegetables (flowers are the OH problem, well until there is a problem, then it's also mine...) that it's worth experimenting. We too have a problem at certain times of the year with heat and the potential for damage, hence another reason for the water timer and drippers as opposed to soak hose they favour around here. Two significant thing with these  :-

        a) you can place the drippers so you know exactly where the water will go
        b) you can pick the best time to water 3-5 AM I've found to be the coolest

To be honest, using the above I've found I can even (don't tell) get away with mains water. Th drippers need to be far enough away from the plant and at a rate (they are adjustable) where they won't spray beside the base of the plant. Around 6-8" (10-20cm) I've found to be ideal for most plants. The time of night and the fact the water takes a while to hit the roots I assume gives it time to cool/heat to the right temperature. Perhaps another factor is the planting of the crop as we were shown by a neighbour that we need to almost bury everything. All start with around a 8" (20cm) hole, mix in compost, fertiliser (if that way inclined), good water amount and plant in the bottom as deep as you normally would. Cover with a little drier soil from the heap, then no water for 2-3 days, after which you water normally except a little more soil is added over the wet from the heap. Once level everything is as normal as you get here! I did have zucchini one year where only the tip of a leaf was showing above 8" of rain water mind!! But still got a crop as good as ever from the plant. Think the deep root planting, which I knew would work very well on toms, peppers etc as they generate more roots if buried, but was surprised it seems to work for everything here.

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Re: What to do.....

Post by The Original Relaxed on Tue Mar 18, 2014 11:57 am

Growing watercress. I've never done that, but I have had great success with water plants - lotuses and water-lilies in ponds, and other damp/wet loving plants in pots which sit in a trough of deep water.

In the ponds I have always had fish, which eat any mosquito larvae, and in the troughs I have sometimes put a drop of greenfly killer (which is, of course, very poisonous to fish) to stop any mosquito larvae surviving.

The great plus to water-gardening is that the plants never suffer from drought, and you can never over-water them.
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Re: What to do.....

Post by Angela Fuller on Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:45 am

Steve I find using a plastic water bottle....bottom cut off when buried nozzle down into the soil works quite well too....I also re-route water from washing machine to water established plants.....I try not to use mains water as much as possible.....
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Re: What to do.....

Post by modicasa on Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:47 am

I put in a simple irrigation system last year, and water from midnight on - seems to work, had a great crop of grapefruit this year!

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Re: What to do.....

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