Save your garden after the floods

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IF you’ve been affected by this week’s floods, you need to act fast to save what you can once the water has subsided.

Firstly, wash down paths and drives and clear debris to prevent drains blocking.

This will help stop pollutants contaminating the soil. Wear gloves and protective clothing.

Keep off the soil until it is workable, to avoid compacting it.

Remove yellowing or damaged shoots from affected plants.

I’m afraid food crops should be discarded – there’s no guarantee they haven’t been contaminated.

Avoid growing salads and other “raw” crops for two years in case disease spores remain in the soil.

However, it should be safe to grow veg for cooking next year. Apply a balanced fertiliser next spring, as the flood will have washed away nutrients in the topsoil.

Foliar feeds during the growing season may help improve leaf colour, and encourage new root growth.

Ironically, water thoroughly in dry spells after a waterlogged period, as plants will be susceptible to drought stress.

As so many of us in this area have to garden on heavy clay, (including me), you may need to think about long-term improvements.

Digging in bulky organic material will improve the structure, creating air pockets so the soil can drain more easily.

When planting, don’t compact the sides of the hole – prick the sides with a fork to aid drainage. This avoids creating a sump which fills with water, which can lead to death. On heavy soils, protect the finer surface feeding roots by planting trees on a slightly raised mound.

If all else fails, install raised beds and choose permeable surfaces for drives and paths (like gravel) so rain can soak in.

Plant of the week

For autumn colour, sedums are a no-nonsense species that will enhance any garden.

One of my favourites perennials, I’ve had one of the most popular, Autumn Joy for about 20 years.

For a stunning alternative, try Purple Emperor.

The succulent stems are child’s play to root from offshoots or cuttings and bees and butterflies adore them.

The creeping varieties are the go-to plants for green roofs – and their leaves are edible, I’m assured – but I haven’t tried them!