How To Plant Plants

Many very different kinds of plants may have to be planted in the garden, some large, some small, some with masses of fine roots, others with thick, thongy or tuberous roots. But whatever the character of the plant, the basic techniques of planting, the rules to be observed and the pitfalls to be avoided are much the same and so. To avoid constant repetition. I will deal with the whole matter of planting here. Leaving for mention under individual plants only those points where for some reason they depart from the normal.

First, there is the state of the ground. Ideally this should be neither very wet nor very dry. Certainly not frozen and preferably not very hot. A pleasant mean of all these things is best, and these conditions are most likely to be met in spring and autumn, so these are the peak planting seasons.

Even so it is quite possible that plants will arrive at an inconvenient moment, when one is too busy to attend to them properly. Or there has been a downpour which has made the soil impossibly sticky, or a sudden frost that has crusted the surface. Under these circumstances it is better to wait a while. If the plants have plenty of soil around their roots and this is kept moist, and some straw or sacking or other protective material is wrapped around the roots (but not over the shoots) to keep out wind and frost, they will take no harm for days. If they are likely to remain longer, a hole or short trench can be dug. The plants lined out in this as close together as possible, soil thrown back over the roots and trodden (irmly. This is known as heeling in, a temporary form of planting, and if properly done the plants may be left for weeks.

When the time for permanent planting comes, be sure to prepare a hole of adequate size for each plant. This may vary from a hole no more than 2 in (5 cm) wide and deep for a small rock plant, to one several feet across and as much as 18 in (45 cm) deep for a large tree or shrub. What governs this is the spread of the roots, so, if in doubt. Stand the plant on the ground for a moment where it is to go and spread out the roots evenly around it. Note just how far they go. And then dig a hole a little larger than this, but while you are digging do not leave the plant lying around with its roots exposed. Throw a sack or something of the kind over them as protection from sun and wind, so that they keep moist and fresh.

For big plants holes are best dug with a spade; for little ones a trowel is more con-venient. When you have a hole you think large.enough, stand the plant in it. Spread out the roots and make certain that there is room for all of them. If it is a tree or a shrub, look for the soil mark low down on the stem (or stems) which will indicate where the soil came to in the nursery bed. The hole should be sufficiently deep to allow this soil mark to be just slightly below the natural level of the soil. If in doubt, lay a stick across the hole from side to side and measure the soil mark against this. If the hole is not big enough, remove the plant and enlarge the hole. Do not try to crowd or press roots into too small a hole to save time. It is a bad way to establish plants. The Planting Operation When you have a hole the right shape, size and depth, put the plant into it, spread out the roots and throw some of the most finely broken soil around them. If the natural soil of the garden is lumpy, prepare a heap of sifted soil mixed with peal and even some sand, if this is needed to make it crumbly. Such a heap, kept dry under a sheet of polythene. Is a most useful aid to planting. A little bonemeal stirred into it will help the plant to make new roots quickly and strongly.

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