Discover a new stand-up foxglove and a practical way to perfect your wild onion

It may be winter, but there is plenty to do in the garden to provide great fruit and vegetables this season.

A new variety of foxglove was so straightforward that it was nicknamed Viagra during breeding experiments. I can’t imagine why.

By now, gardeners, both old and young, can enjoy the benefits of the stand-up foxglove Candy Mountain, the first upward-looking variety.

This unique variety, marketed by Thompson & Morgan and Dobies, has the unusual property of allowing pollinating insects to look into the magnificent rose-pink inflorescence.

They can literally look down on freckled throats that strangle the stem, unlike others that tend to hang over their heads.

Isle of Wight County Press: Candy Mountain foxgloves.

Isle of Wight County Press: Candy Mountain foxgloves.

The amazing Candy Mountain foxglove stands upright.

As far as I know, Candy Mountain is currently only available as a potted plant, not as a seed yet, so it’s not particularly cheap – unless you’re lucky with a special offer …

But like all foxgloves, it’s also perfect for planting in a drift, perennial or in the middle or back of a holiday garden.

They add interest, color and height to edges that reach a height of 4 feet with a spread greater than 1 foot.

Digital plants purchased now need to be planted in pots and grown in frost-free conditions for later planting outdoors.

Get them used to outdoor conditions for a week before planting them in edges and pots in sunny or partial shade.

Although foxgloves prefer fertile, moist soil, they will tolerate almost any soil happily except those that are bone dry or wet.

Tips for a good forecast in several ways.

Recently, sweet and sour tips and comments have been received from readers.

A friend of this column, Eddie Grove, replied that he could not plant sweet, award-winning wild onions because the soil was too soaked.

He always likes to plant his stocks on the shortest day so they are ready to harvest on the longest day.

Isle of Wight County Press: Eddie's Onion.

Isle of Wight County Press: Eddie Scallions.

Eddie’s shallots in their deep tray.

Eddie planted his top 20 bulbs in a deep tray (and there’s still time for the same) so they can get the best out of it before planting them in their patch when conditions are right.

Before planting, add a bucket of organic matter, such as manure or garden compost, and work moderately with any general purpose fertilizer.

They can be planted through a black weed control membrane to facilitate weed control and avoid the need for hoeing.

About lemons: The problem with lemon, which is plentiful this year, does not seem to depend on the variety chosen, but on the growing environment.

Peter Wellington, who lives not far from me, had a similar problem as he has minimal meat on his fruit and max.

Isle of Wight County Press:

Isle of Wight County Press:

Richard’s problematic stinky lemon.

Peter said, “In the last ten years we have planted lemons in the ground,” he says.

“A few days ago I picked some of these and found the same as you, i.e. no meat but all guts.

“It’s never happened to us before, and I picked them regularly over the past year.

“Our bush is about 5 feet high and 6 feet wide and is in good health and we get about 60 to 80 lemons a year.

“Therefore, my impression is that this problem should be temporary and not due to the variety planted.

“I look forward to this permanent change in crop patterns, or possibly a temporary change in climate.”

You and I, Peter.

RICHARD’S RIGHT TIP:

  • Dig up perennial weeds like nettles, dandelions and the dock – the roots and everything else – to get started before the weather warms up and really start to grow.

  • Move deciduous trees or shrubs that need to be replanted, provided the soil is not frozen or wet. If it is too wet, it will condense around the roots.

  • Start with early potatoes. Put them in a modular tray or egg carton and place them in a bright, cool, frost-free place. Make sure mice hungry for starch are out of reach at this time of year. The Jubilee Garden Center in Newchurch is brilliant if you only want to buy a few of each variety, not a big bag.

  • Cover perennial vegetables such as asparagus and artichokes with well-rotted manure or garden compost. It helps suppress weeds and later retains moisture.

Are you a gardener on the isle of Wight and does Richard have some green-sleeved news? You can email him at richryde@tiscali.co.uk

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