Revision Notes

More Gardening Techniques

Guest Article
Stephen Drummonsy


Dibbing in is a simple and quicker planting technique than using a trowel. The standard dibber is a stout wooden or metal spike bought from a garden shop or made at home from an old spade handle. These dibbers are for large seedlings. For pot culture and for small seedlings outdoors use o pencil or dowel. The tip of the dibber should be rounded rather than sharply pointed.

Dibbing in (or dibbling) involves inserting the dibber sufficiently deeply into the soil so that the roots will fit comfortably. Place the plant into the hole and then firm the earth by re-inserting the dibber point about 1 – 2 inches away from the stem Move the dibber towards the plant in order to press the soil around the roots.

This is a good technique for planting vegetables which have been raised in a seed bed. Brassicas, such as Cabbages, Brussels Sprouts etc, are well known examples. It is also widely used for planting cuttings, but in all cases you must make sure that the hole is no deeper than necessary. The role of dibbing in is limited – use a trowel and not a dibber for large size planting material such as bulbs or tubers, and do not use a dibber in heavy, wet soil.


In general, flower buds in the garden are allowed to develop and open naturally to provide the maximum display. For exhibitors however, and others interested in the size of individual blooms, the flower stems are disbudded. This calls for pinching out side buds as soon as they can be handled, leaving the central bud to develop into a large specimen to catch the eye of the judge or earn the envy of the neighbours. Chrysanthemums, Dahlias and Carnations are frequently treated in this way for show purposes. Many Hybrid Tea Roses produce more than one flower bud at the end of each shoot. With this flower it is nearly always desirable to seek maximum size, so disbudding of side shoots is recommended. Delay removing the side buds if you want to hold back flowering for the day of the show. If the Rose variety produces very full blooms which spoil badly in wet weather, reverse the process and pinch out the terminal bud so that the side buds develop.

Earthing Up:

There are several reasons for earthing up, the drawing of soil towards and around the stems. Potatoes are earthed up to avoid the tubers being exposed to light. When the haulm is about 9 inches high a draw hoe is used to pile loose soil against the stems to form a flat-topped ridge. The greens (Broccoli, Kale, Brussels Sprouts etc) are earthed up for a different reason – soil is drawn up around the stems of well developed plants to improve anchorage against high winds.

The stems of Celery and Leek are blanched by earthing up. This begins with Celery when it is about 1 foot high – with Leeks this is done in stages, the height being increased a little at a time by drawing dry soil around the stems.

Earthing up is important on the vegetable plot but it has a place in the herbaceous border. Shoots may appear prematurely during a mild spell in early spring, it is advisable to draw loose soil over them with a hoe so as to prevent damage by severe frosts which may come later.

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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