More TLC for your garden by Andrew Trott

Onions are a versatile vegetable and easy enough to grow. Growing onions requires some patience as they can take 5 to 6 months to mature. Plant onion seedlings in June and they should be ready to harvest in January. Plant the seedlings about 10cms apart in free draining soil, no more than 3cms deep. Because they take some months to grow, weeds will try to establish themselves amongst the young seedlings, so regular weeding is required. Onions like a sweet soil so after planting they will really appreciate a side-dressing of lime. In springtime give the plants a feed of blood and bone. Harvest when the tops fall over. If the onions are left in the ground too long after that the bulbs will start rotting.

June is also the month to plant garlic. The old saying is to plant on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day. Buy certified bulbs from your garden supplier and plant the cloves in a sunny, sheltered spot. Separate the cloves from the bulb and plant each clove pointy end up, 10cms apart and about 2cms deep. These will soon develop roots and produce their first green stalks. Garlic easily handles frosts so no frost covers are required.

Now is the time to protect citrus trees from frost damage by covering the tree with frost cloth, or by spraying the tree with a wax-based organic liquid frost cloth. If using a spray, apply every 6 to 8 weeks. Spread a few handfuls of citrus fertiliser under the lemon tree, from the trunk out to the drip line, to give the maturing lemons a good boost.

The fruit trees also need some TLC at this time of the year. Give them a good prune to thin out the branches, lower the tops, and cut out any diseased or dead branches. Prune to create a vase shape, which gives good air circulation and allows maximum sunlight into the centre of the tree. After pruning, give the fruit trees a spray with copper oxychloride and spraying oil to kill off any pests or diseases that might like to hibernate in the nooks and crannies over winter. Repeat this spraying exercise every six weeks until September.

Give your compost heap a boost by adding fallen leaves, shredded paper, a few handfuls of blood & bone and some animal manure. If you do not have ready access to animal manure, throw in a few handfuls of sheep pellets. Fork the pile over to mix in the new material and to aerate the compost. If you have a plastic compost bin you probably won’t be able to turn over the compost easily with a garden fork so use a steel rod “corkscrew”, which are available at most garden centres. Screw the corkscrew right down into the centre of the compost, and then lift it up and out. This will aerate the compost heap nicely. If you are feeling energetic you can do this in another couple of places in the same bin.

Happy Gardening.