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 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.
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.
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.
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