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The Grumpy Gardener - June

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In this part of the French News Online "Lifestyle" Section, professional gardener Mike Alexander, takes us, gently, through those tasks you should be tackling in the garden this month.

You have to be quick (or very early) to beat the birds!

Cherry Thieves

Cherry season is upon us and one of my clients has a beautiful cherry tree for which I am responsible.

This is no polite little tree over which you can cast a protection net but an ambitious monster specimen which provides the local bird life with great sport. Part of the problem is that this particular garden is inhabited by two rare sub species. One being the Pot Bellied Blue Finch and the other the Gut Bucketed Great Finch both of which are huge fans of my fruit.

I have tried the computer disks on pieces of string trick with no appreciable result. I gather the principal of this system is that the little fruit thieves take a look at themselves in the reflective surface and then say:

" Oh my gosh I've put on sooo much weight"

... with which they fly off and stick to a low fat seed diet, at least until you have had time to collect a few cherries for yourself. My birds however, having gorged themselves on the fat balls I so generously provided for them all winter, have come to terms with their rotundity and appear to believe that what you can pack inside of you is what is important and what is inside of them are cherries.

This would be acceptable if they ate whole cherries or at least stuck to the ones at the top of the trees which I cannot reach, but they insist on pecking little beakfuls here and there leaving only unpalatable leftovers.

bird scarer
Bird scarer!
More effective than CD's or computer discs?

Short of buying a high powered rifle, the only method I have come up with to get a bit of the fruit for the client is to get to the tree early and pick a bowl or two that have ripened overnight while the birds are still at choir practice.

... Nor any drop to Drink

Drought is becoming serious with thirty three departments now having been placed on water restrictions.

I have a couple of courtyard gardens with a lot of potted displays and to keep these going in weather like this becomes a real problem. I line all terracotta pots with plastic before putting in the best potting compost I can buy. Drip trays which are not always attractive are essential for holding water that trickles through during watering. This will then be absorbed as the soil dries out. I have tried water retentive crystals but have found they are only useful for short periods and not really worth the cost. I prefer to put a thick layer of bark mulch over the soil instead.

Hand water potted plants  often
Potted plants need constant watering

Some time ago I built a garden and commissioned a steel worker to make up some impressive steel pots which I lined with a thick layer of old news paper before filling. I am sure it will have broken down by now but it provided important water retention and root insulation at that crucial stage while the plants were getting established. The bigger the pot the longer the potting medium will stay moist and on those rare occasions when one is placed near to an irrigation system a drip feed can be sneaked up to the base of the plant. These however are rare occasions and for most of us hand watering will just have to be a chore to contend with for the next couple of months and do remember, feed pot plants regularly.

Previously - click an image below
To read February's gardening tips article - click this image
Is a world without bees possible? Read about this crisis that will affect us all - click here
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
What you should have done in January!
Prune your roses - click here
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
Grumpy Gardener April - It's War Out There. Click to view
Click to read this article
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring...

Grumpy Gardener
Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Article: Mike Alexander

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