Les’s Patch column

Les Foden.

Les Foden.

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Well established ornamental trees do not usually require annual feeding.

However, large specimens standing in an area of lawn, close to the street or other exposed areas, do need an occasional feed to maintain health and vigorous growth.

Any trees that show signs of mineral deficiency or unsatisfactory growth should be fed as soon as possible. Plants that receive late doses of feed may continue to produce new, soft growth long into summer, which then does not have sufficient time to harden off before winter.

To fertilise trees properly during the growth season the nutrients must quickly pass the roots of lawn grass, herbaceous perennials and any other voracious neighbours, into the soil depths where the tree roots can absorb them at once.

Most of the active feeding roots of a tree lie in the area just below the drip line (the outer edge of the foliage). Use a sharp instrument to bore holes 18 inches deep and 18-24 inches apart, in a circle. Insert a quick acting fertiliser and water the tree thoroughly.

Alternatively, make holes by driving a spade into the ground under the drip line at an angle with the tip directed towards the trunk to avoid severing roots. Press the spade forward and apply the fertiliser behind the blade.

During dry periods give newly planted trees and shrubs a thorough soaking once a week for as long as the drought lasts. Do not use mulch on dry soil. Give the soil a good watering, wait a couple of days and then loosen the surface and spread the mulch.

It is quite feasible at this time of year to propagate enough plants for a hedge from hedge clippings. To take these cuttings select a shoot about four inches long, cutting just below a leaf node.

Remove the lower leaves and also the tender tips which would wilt. Make sure the rooting medium is thoroughly moist before inserting the cuttings.

You should be able to get up to six cuttings in four inches.

Many cuttings taken in spring and summer can be rooted under a plastic bag. Use three sticks or two hoops of wire to prevent the plastic bag from touching the leaves.

Before inserting the cuttings dip in rooting hormone if the cutting is semi-ripe. If it is a softwood cutting dip in fungicide.

Make a hole with a dibber and insert the cutting one and a half inches deep in suitable rooting compost which needs to be an open medium – 50/50 peat and coarse sand is a sure bet for this job.

Place the pot somewhere warm and out of direct sunlight. Check to make sure the compost doesn’t dry out and stand the pot in water for a short while if this happens.