Year after year we are engaged in operations that we did the year before, and by doing, so we learn. We learn what has succeeded, what has failed and hopefully and more importantly, why.
it’s worthwhile bearing in mind that it is good practice with all trees and shrubs to cut back or cut out the weakest shoots, and to avoid cutting the strongest shoots hard. You will remember that hard pruning results in strong shoot production and not necessarily more flowers. The one thing that can be said about cutting out strong shoots of bougainvillea, for instance, is that they will provide good wood for converting into cuttings. Strong, thick shoots provide the very best wood for cuttings because they provide shoots which are best able to withstand the separation from the parent plant and produce roots very quickly.
Gardeners a very long time ago discovered the ability of plants to produce roots. From long cuttings several feet long (as can be the case with willows), to plants produced in test tubes from single cells in laboratory conditions.
I know that I have mentioned before that the reasons that Americans refer to the English as Limeys dates back to the 18th century when the British Admiralty required all Royal Navy ships to carry limes as part of the diet for the sailors. This was to prevent a very unpleasant disease called scurvy, caused by vitamin C deficiency. Nowadays a small pill does the trick, but naval officers (never ones to miss a trick) invented gin and tonic with a twist of lime, and to them we must be forever grateful. When I lived in Barbados I was astonished to find that hardly anyone grew limes. They were imported by the ton. Barbados is, of course, a coral-based island, which means that plants that do not like lime have a hard time of it unless you can make special arrangements to neutralise the effects of the limestone, and this may be why lime trees were not so plentiful there.
However, in Guyana there is no such excuse. One can grow almost anything, and anyone with a small piece of ground ought to be able to devote a part of it to one of the members of the sweet-smelling citrus family, say an orange, tangerine, or mandarin, as well as a lime. In Britain as well as Guyana these citrus can be found growing, flowering and fruiting in concrete tubs in the larger conservatories, and this isn’t a bad idea for those of you with smaller gardens but larger patios to grow them in these areas. They flower and fruit very well in pots, and the scent, if you can bring them into the house is heavenly.
I don’t suppose that many readers have thought about eating their way through the occasional side plate of broccoli seedlings (very easy to grow) as part of their green diet. They grow like cress and after three days are just ready to cut at soil level, and eat. There is tremendous interest in the use of broccoli and for very good reason. Broccoli seedlings apparently contain very high concentrations of a cancer blocking agent called Sulforaphane. Some scientists even suggest that it may be able to destroy cancerous cells in the colon. Actually, seedlings of broccoli 3 or 4 days old shouldn‘t be too bad to eat raw as part of a normal healthy salad and I reckon none of us would be any the worse off for trying it. Maybe even better off.
Until next week may your God go with you wherever you may be.