In the old days farmers used to fallow fields occasionally, leaving them bare for a whole season to allow bacteria to build up fertility and to allow the weather to improve the soil structure. This practice has greatly declined in agriculture and has almost no place in gardening, although the vegetable plot is mainly bare in winter and so it can be considered a short term fallow.
Despite the absence of true fallowing, a special form of fallow is widely used in the vegetable garden. Some forms of soil-born troubles such as, club root and white rot can live in the ground for several years. Following an attack, the land must be at least part-fallowed – that is, no susceptible plant must be grown on it for the period specified in textbooks.
Forcing is the process of inducing growth, flowering or fruiting earlier than normal. To do this there must be a change in the environment, and gentle heat is the most usual stimulant, the factors which will force one plant may fail miserably with another plant.
Spring bulbs are forced by keeping the planted bowls cool (40 degrees Fahrenheit) and in darkness for about Eight weeks before moving to warmer conditions 50 degrees F. and then 60 – 70 degrees F. Daffodil bulbs for extra-early flowering are prepared by keeping in cold storage for several weeks in late summer.
Rhubarb, Seakale and Chicory are forced by being kept in the dark and at a temperature rising from an initial 50 degrees F. to 60 degrees F. as growth progresses. Many other plants in pots can be forced at a similar temperature, but require light conditions in a greenhouse or cold frame. Examples include Potatoes, Strawberries, French Beans, Roses, Spiraeas and Azaleas.
A garden fork is not really a digging tool, although it can sometimes be easier to dig a heavy soil with a fork rather than a spade. Forking is really a method of cultivation – lumps are broken down by hitting them with the tines of the fork and the surface roughly levelled by dragging the tines across the surface crust, but you must be careful not to damage surface roots.
The garden fork has several purposes, including moving compost, lifting Potatoes and aerating lawns.
Fumigation is a method of destroying pests and/or disease organisms by means of a gas, vapour or smoke. It is almost always restricted to greenhouses and the usual applicator these days is a firework-like cone. Doors and ventilators must be closed after lighting or much of the benefit will be lost.
This is the last of the letter ‘F’ in my A – Z in my mini series to help the new gardeners of today, there is plenty more to come so keep in touch and up to date.
About the Author
A fantastic amount of my time is spent in my garden, but as I am getting older and things have become harder to do. I have decided to make use of a firm called Gardener London, up to now they have given me all the help and advice that I have asked for. I still do a bit of pottering around my own garden though.
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