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Garden practices and their science

Dixon, G. (2019) Garden practices and their science. Routledge, Oxford, pp. 1-416. ISBN 9781138485235

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Readers are provided with a well illustrated account of basic gardening practices and their underlying principles. Learning achievements are listed at the ends of each chapter identifying practical skills and underlying principles applicable to each area of husbandry. A Preamble offers advice describing the tools and equipment required for successful gardening including the use of protected structures such as glasshouses. The observation of health and safety rules is stressed especially where the garden also provides for children and pets. Simple tests which identify the conditions conducive for seed germination and plant growth are presented in chapter 1. These are accompanied by elementary descriptions of energy gathering by photosynthesis and its use in respiration, the distribution and utilisation of energy via organic materials and the manner by which plants grow from seedlings into garden produce are described. A series of simple tests using commonplace kitchen equipment, well-lit window sills or a greenhouse bench are explained. Soil development and care are covered in chapter 2 plus the use of healthy high-quality soil for growing potatoes and bulb onions. Included are discussions of soil components, conservation and careful husbandry. This chapter provides the gardener with explanations of the skills required for land preparation by adding organic matter, primary digging, secondary cultivation and the preparation of soil prior to and including planting processes. The range of soil types is explained, the ways in which these can be tested for the promotion of satisfactory crop growth, the use of fertilisers and liming, effects of deficiencies and excesses of nutrients are described. Legume crops are the backbone for successful vegetable gardening and their cultivation is described in chapter 3 including a simple understanding of seed production. Means for propagation in greenhouses and direct planting into the garden and the processes which these entail for cold tolerant and chilling susceptible legumes are explained. Preventing and encouraging variation in growth and reproduction are essential aspects of plant development, the structure of flowers and the passage of genetic traits between generations by pollen transfer are encapsulated in a Spiral of Life. Gardeners propagate, grow and harvest a range of small seeded vegetable crops and husbandry practices which deliver these are provided in chapter 4. The range of small seeded vegetables is explained. Details are provided for those which may be directly sown into the garden and those which for preference are germinated in the greenhouse. Understanding the visual components of plants, their underlying internal structures and the manner by which these factors influence competition in the garden governs the success of small seeded crops. Successful soft fruit growing is one of key achievements for gardeners. Practices which ensure this are delivered in chapter 5 covering strawberries, raspberries and blackcurrants with notes for other fruits. The range of types of these soft fruits, their fruiting periods and pre-planting, planting and post-plating husbandry are discussed in detail. Each of these crops grows perennially providing increasing yields for several successive years. Ensuring this productivity requires an understanding of crop care before during and after fruiting. A range of other soft fruits is also described. Included in this chapter is a discussion of the defining characteristics of monocotyledons and dicotyledons. Forms of stems, leaves and shoots are described and illustrated. Gardeners achieve vibrant displays of colour for their gardens by growing bulbous plants. These are described in Chapter 6 which gives details of the range of bulbous plants and how they will provide displays almost year-round. The successful planting in a range of locations, the structure and propagation of bulbous plants especially daffodils (Narcissus) and tulips and care before, during and after flowering is described. Comparisons are made between bulbs, corms, rhizomes and tubers together with details of flower formation, growth and blossoming. Herbaceous plants form key parts of the ornamental garden. In chapter 7 the range of hardy annual, half hardy annual, biennial and perennial and cold-tender forms is described. Propagation from seed, the usefulness of modular plants, growing techniques in the open and under protection, planning planting schemes and forms of propagation are discussed. Flowering in many ornamentals results from environmental cues which either stimulate or inhibit blossoming. These interactions are described and discussed. Skilled vegetative propagation is the hallmark of gardening proficiency and brings considerable pleasure. In chapter 8 techniques for the propagation soft-wood, semi-hardwood and hard wood cuttings, stem rhizomes and bulbs are described and illustrated. Also included are some details of micropropagation and the use of mist benches which are valuable for rooting cuttings and for weaning the products of micropropagation. A tailpiece discussed the reasons for gardeners’ successes and failures emphasising that gardening is an attempt at controlling natural processes. Consequently, there are pitfalls and problems which afflict even the most skilled and competent gardener.

Item Type:Book
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Agriculture, Policy and Development > Department of Crop Science
ID Code:78443


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