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Welcome to Damhead Nursery’s advice columns.

From time to time we’ll post a wide range of useful tips, ideas and advice on all aspects of your garden. Keep an eye on this area and you never know, you may find an idea you can use in your own patch!.

February 6th 2009

Tip – Ground Elder

If you have both outdoor guinea pigs and ground elder, they go well together! Position your guinea pigs’ run over the ground elder and they’ll give it a good cropping as well as benefitting from all the vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium and carotene (especially when the plants are young) it has to offer them.

The Romans introduced this plant to Britain to supply their legions with nutritious fresh vegetables on the march. Why not join the guinea pigs and try eating it yourself? It’s good in vegetable pies, soups, quiches, omelettes, salads, mashed potatoes, pancakes, bread, muffins, pesto … or just cooked by itself with butter. Crop it heavily enough and it will disappear altogether, by which time you might even be missing it …

February 27th 2009

Pruning soft fruits

Question: Please could you tell me when to prune soft fruits?

Our answer: Raspberries – the summer fruiting varieties should be pruned after fruiting, and autumn fruiting varieties should be pruned to the ground in February. Blackcurrants can be pruned between November and March. Gooseberries should be pruned between November and March.

February 27th 2009

Pruning conifers

Question: I have a slow growing conifer similar in type to a leylandi. I have had it 7 years and it’s about 9ft high. I would like to cut 3 feet off the top. What’s the best time of year to do this?

Our answer: The optimum time to prune Evergreens/Conifers is springtime. But you will need to be careful when pruning the top three feet off your Conifer – do not cut it straight across as this will look quite odd. Try to reshape it.

February 20th 2009