HOW TO GET RID OF DANDELIONS IN LAWNS

How to get rid of dandelions in lawns

For many gardeners a decent quality lawn is a badge of honour, so the existence of any obvious weed species can be considered a black mark against anyone who covets their horticultural reputation. One of the most pernicious of all lawn weeds is the dandelion - Taraxacum officinale. A native to the continental landmass of both Europe and Asia, it is a common lawn pest in Europe and north America, and has become naturalized throughout North America, southern Africa, South America, New Zealand, Australia, and India.

How to get rid of dandelions in lawns
The dandelion is usually first recognised by the bright yellow flower heads which are borne on hollow stalks and held as tall or taller than the foliage. The leaves are deeply toothed, and deep-green in colour and form a characteristically horizontal, spreading basal rosette.

The reason why the dandelion is so successful as a lawn weed is its ability to grow (mostly) below the cutting height of lawn mowers. In addition it has a long, effective and robust tap root which will snap off easily when carelessly dug out. Any remaining root left in the soil will branch out to the surface and quickly power new foliage growth.

As interesting as all of this is, it is the removal of dandelions that is the main concern of gardeners, and there are several methods of employment.

Just be aware that on mature specimens that have been allowed to mature for a few years can have roots as deep as 2-3 ft!. In this instance a selective, broad-leaved weed killer is your best method of control.

Digging out the entire plant

The easiest way to spot a dandelion is when it comes into flower, but act fast and remove the plant before it goes to seed. Do not just 'dig it out', instead remove a large plug of soil around the plant going down as deep as you go. Once the moved, split open the plug and remove the plant in its entirety. Reform the plug of soil and place it back into the  ground before watering in. This is my preferred, tried and tested method, although it is a little labour intensive.

How to get rid of dandelions in lawns
Block out the light!

Dandelions require direct sunlight to grow and establish, and there are two methods of control that take advantage of this. The first is to give up any passions you have for a finely cut lawn and instead allow the grass to grow to a minimum height of 2-5 inches and effective shading out the dandelions below. The second is to cover the dandelions with a disc of cardboard or black plastic. Secure in place to prevent it from blowing away and eventually the dandelion below will perish.

Chemical control

Perhaps the most widely used method of control is the application of selective lawn weedkillers. These can be either a specific broad-leaved plant weed killer applied as a spray or as a granule included in a lawn fertilizer. Never use a regular weed killer on a lawn as the lawn will also perish where contact is made.

Risks and warnings!

Be aware that there are plenty of other methods of getting rid of dandelions being promoted. For example, pouring boiling water or strong vinegar on them, sending out the chickens, and using weed torches to burn them are just a few. While these methods will indeed eventually kill of your dandelions they will also kill of the surrounding turf. Chickens loose in the garden? Only if you are keen to have your flowering borders destroyed in the process!

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HOW TO GET RID OF DANDELIONS IN LAWNS
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HOW TO GROW THE MAIDENHAIR FERN

How to grow the Maidenhair fern  - Boboli gardens, Florence 2014



The maidenhair fern is a common name generally attributed to species within the Adiantum genus, although it is perhaps most closely associated with Adiantum capillus-veneris. It has a wide ranging area of distribution across the world's warm-temperate and subtropical zones, more specifically from California through to Mexico, Central America and South America. It is also native to Eurasia, Western Asia, and Australasia, as well as having naturalised in many other countries including southern United Kingdom.

Image credit -  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:ST.
It can be found in the wild growing in damp, but not waterlogged soils in areas of high humidity. This would include a variety of forests and woodlands, north facing cliffs, and positions near watercourses.

The 'maidenhair' description has nothing to do with the foliage, but instead relates to its fine, delicate root hairs. In fact the species name 'capillus-veneris' is from the Latin meaning hair and venus (as in the goddess Venus) translating to 'Venus's hair'. Be that as it may, the common term of maidenhair is still the more expected term.

It is widely cultivated for traditional shade gardens and container gardens. In cooler, northern European climates it is more commonly grown as an indoor houseplant although it can be kept and overwintered outside in the more milder areas such as the south and west of England and Ireland.

The maidenhair fern is a small to medium sized species ;distinctive fan-shaped or wedge-shaped leaf segments on black stalks. Once established you can expect it to grow to approximately 15 to 30 cm in height. It has a pendulous, light-green, slightly glaucous fronds which arise arise in clusters from creeping rhizomes. It expresses an evergreen habuit in its native ranges but the further north it extends it displays more semi-evergreen to deciduous characteristics.

Plant the maidenhair fern in a semi-shaded position in a moist soil that has been previously enriched with leaf-mould or peat. To encourage growth work in some bonemeal according to manufacturer's instructions. Apply a further top dressing of bonemeal in the spring.

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HOW TO GROW ARGYROCYTISUS BATTANDIERI

Image credit - http://www.uib.no/arboretet/68117/vakker-blomstring



Commonly known as the Moroccan broom or Pineapple broom, Argyrocytisus battandieri is a popular garden shrub native to the mountainous regions of north-west Africa. Formally classified as Cytisus battandieri, it is a hardy, deciduous plant suitable for most temperate gardens. Argyrocytisus battandieri can be grown either as a large shrub or trained as a small tree although in colder northern European regions its will need to be grown as a wall shrub in a sheltered, sunny position. Despite is subtropical origins it is surprisingly hardy with reports of mature specimens capable for tolerating temperatures down as low as -12 degrees Celsius.

Under favourable conditions you can expect Argyrocytisus battandieri to reach a height of approximately 5 metres with a spread of 3-4 metres. It has an upright, almost tree-like habit with large, silvery, trifoliate leaves which have a soft, silky covering on the surface when young.

The golden-yellow pea-shaped flowers are gathered in large erect raceme up to 10 cm long, and have a distinctive fragrant reminiscent of freshly cut pineapples. They are borne along lateral shoots in May and June. Once pollinated, leguminous seeds pods are produced, but be aware that all parts of the seed pod, including the seeds, are toxic when ingested.

Argyrocytisus battandieri will always perform best when grown in well-drained, poor, acidic soil, in a position of full sun. It is tolerant of lime but it can prove to be chlorotic when planted on shallow chalk soils. Be aware that it does not like its root system disturbed and so once planted in its final position should not be transplanted otherwise it will go dormant. Avoid planting in soil prone to waterlogging.

The cultivar Argyrocytisus battandieri 'Yellow Tail' received the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1994.

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HOW TO GROW NIGHT-SCENTED STOCKS FROM SEED

How to grow Night-Scented Stocks from seed



Night-scented stocks are a fantastically fragrant, flowering plant and ideal for growing in the garden, particularly near seating areas where their heavy scent can be enjoyed during balmy, summer evenings. While they can always be purchased as pot grown plants in your local plant retailers, they are so easy to grow from seed it isn't really worth going for the added expense - unless of course you are short of time, space or inclination.

When it comes to growing night-scented stock from seed you get two choices. You can either sow them in pots under protection from the early spring onward, or directly sow outside up until May.

Over-sown pot of night scented stock seedlings
Using pots or modular trays fill with a good quality compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting'. Gently water the compost in and then sow the seeds onto the surface at a rate of one seed per module or four seeds spaced out in a 3 inch pot. Now I am aware that it is common practice to sow an entire packet in say a 10 inch pot, but the seedlings can become damaged when pricking out such a density and will often result in stunted, poor performing plants. Also, unless you are creating carpet bedding beds will you really need 100 or so plants?

Night-scented stock seeds require the presence of light to encourage germination so either do not cover or just cover with a very thin layer of compost or vermiculite. The compost should be kept moist but not wet at all times. Place in a warm right position at approximately 16-18 degrees Celsius, but avoid direct sunlight as this can dry out the surface and scorch emerging seedlings. Maintain humid conditions by placing the tray or pots in a propagator or seal inside a clear polythene bag. You can expect germination to occur within 7 to 14 days.

Night-Scented Stock flowers
Once germinated remove the pots or tray from the tray or polythene bag. Continue to grow in warm bright conditions and keep moist. After a few weeks the pot grown seedlings will need to be pricked out into individual 3 inch pots. The modular grown seedlings can be potted on once they have established their root systems. Grow on for a further 2-3 weeks before hardening off outside. They will now be ready for planting outside into their final position.

Outdoor sowing of night scented stock seeds can be made from early spring to early summer. Chose a sunny position with moist soil and prepare the ground well by digging in a humus rich compost to the soil before raking it into a fine tilth. Sow the seeds 6 mm deep in rows 30 cm apart. Gently water in and then once the seedlings have germinated, and are large enough to handle, then thin them out to an 8 cm spacing between plants

Water ground regularly, especially in dry periods, and after another week or sow, thin them out again until they are 30 cm apart.

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HOW TO GROW THE SHUTTLECOCK FERN

Image credit - http://gallery.new-ecopsychology.org/


The Shuttlecock fern - Matteuccia struthiopteris, is one of just three species within the genus and the only one in general cultivation. However current research may result in both the closely related Matteuccia orientalis and Matteuccia intermedia being moved to the genus Pentarhizidium which would leave Matteuccia struthiopteris as a Monotypic species.

Also known as the 'Ostrich Fern', it is a hardy, deciduous, moisture loving specimen, notable for its elegant, arching habit.  In fact the species name 'struthiopteris' comes from the Greek  meaning 'ostrich wing'.

It produces an circle of golden-green, sterile fronds which surround an inner circle of  shorter, dark-brown, fertile fronds. Both types of frond are elliptical-lanceolate and pinnately lobed. The crown produces several black stolons which form subsidiary crowns.

Native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere, though more specifically eastern and northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America, you can expect Matteuccia struthiopteris to reach an overall height of 1-1.5 metres with a width of between 75-100 cm.

It will perform well planted in any ordinary, moisture retentive soil. In soils that are particularly free-draining and prone to dry out over the summer, dig in plenty of organic matter before planting. In my own garden I also mixed in a handful of polyacrylamide crystals (water-retaining gel) to help the soil lock onto the moisture for as long as possible.

Matteuccia struthiopteris can occasionally be prone to scorching in full sun, particularly over dry periods, and so will do far better in a position pf full or partial shade. These plants will also require plenty of room for root development and so when planting multiple specimens allow a spacing of approximately 1.5 metres between plants.

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HOW TO GROW THE ROYAL FERN - Osmunda regalis

Image credit - https://static.99roots.com/



The Royal Fern - Osmunda regalis is one of just ten species of deciduous, clump-forming ferns within the genus. It is also the hardiest and as such is the one most commonly found under cultivation. In its natural habitat of woodland bogs and stream banks it can grow to an impressive 3.5 metres tall. However under cultivation it is more likely to reach an overall height and spread of just 1-1.5 metres.

Image credit - http://pixshark.com/osmunda-regalis.htm
Native to Europe, Africa and Asia, the royal fern is believed to have evolved in the southern continent of Gondwana. In fact it is considered to be a living fossil having changed very little since over the past 180 million years. Fossil records of this architecturally impressive plant were discovered in 2014 in volcanic deposits from southern Sweden near Korsaröd, northeast of the coastal city of Malmo.

The pea-green fronds are broadly lanceolate and bipinnate. The outer fronds are sterile while the central fronds have barren lower pinnae (a leaflet or primary division of a pinnately compound leaf) and fertile upper pinnae. The fertile pinnae have no pinnules, and their veins are covered  with spore capsules which turn brown when ripe and resemble the dead flowers of the Astilbe genus.The plant gradually builds up a mass of crowns and matted black roots 2-3 ft above the ground. Incidentally, the roots are often used as an ingredient in orchid compost under the name of osmunda fibre.

Come the autumn the foliage will turns attractive red-brown colour before dying back.

Plant pot grown plants during March or April, in full sun or semi-shade. They prefer a cool, moist, humus rich, acidic soil, and when planting keep the crowns at soil level. The royal fern is particularly useful in sites that are prone to waterlogging and will even tolerate alkaline soils so long as plenty of fibrous compost is dug into the soil before planting. Top dress with a humus rich mulch in the spring.

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PRUNUS SHIROFUGEN

Image credit - http://www.chewvalleytrees.co.uk/


Introduced to European gardeners in approximately 1900, Prunus 'Shirofugen' is a strong growing, deciduous, wide spreading ornamental cherry tree grown notably for its gorgeous, long lasting blooms. It is believed to have originally be a naturally occurring variety of Prunus serrulata and was originally named by the notable English plant collector Ernest Henry 'Chinese' Wilson as Prunus serrulata forma alborosea. It is considered to be one of the best hybrids for general planting and one of the very last Japanese ornamental cherries to flower.

Image credit - https://www.hickmanlandscapesshop.co.uk/
It is a particularly old cultivar having been being cultivated in Japan since the 16th century.  It is also known as Fugenzo, meaning ‘Elephant of Fugen’ and refers to the white elephant which represents the Buddhist saint Fugen.

It has a characteristic flattened, spreading crown and depending on conditions and culture will growth to a height and spread of between 4-8 meters. On mature specimens the branches hang over strongly and become as wide as high.

The young leaves emerge in the spring a deep coppery-brown colour which contrasts superbly with the blooms which appear from mid April to late May. The double flowers are produced in long-stalked clusters and are comparative large for Japanese ornamental cherries opening up to be approximately 5 cm in width. They are dull pink in bud, opening white and fading to purplish pink. Prunus 'Shirofugen' will also provide some reasonable autumn colour with the foliage turning orange before they drop.

Prunus 'Shirofugen' will perform best on moist, but well-drained soil in a position of full sun. Poor soils should have organic matter added to the backfill before planting. Avoid planting on waterlogged or permanently wet ground.

Prunus 'Shirofugen' has been received a couple of  awards by the Royal Horticultural Society. The Award of Merit (AM) was given in 1951, while the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) was given in 1984.

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HOW TO GROW THE HYACINTH ORCHID - Bletilla striata

How to grow the Hyacinth orchid - Bletilla striata


The Hyacinth orchid - Bletilla striata is just one of nine species of terrestrial orchids native to eastern Asia, and the only member of the genus found in general cultivation. It is a tufted plant with underground pseudobulbs that resemble flattened, globular tubers.

The Hyacinth orchid - Bletilla striata
It is a deciduous and almost hardy species of orchid which produces slender, lanceolate and pleated leaves. They are long and erect, mid-green in colour and arch over slightly at the tips.

From the centre of each tuft of leaves rises an arching, flowering stem which can reach a height of 12 inches or more. Around May time each stem can carry approximately 6 blooms, each one being approximately 2 inches in width. The petals are a rich mauve-pink, with a purple lip. The lips are noted for their characteristic crisped margins and 5 shallow ribs.

It is one of the hardiest of all cultivated orchids able to grow outside in the sheltered borders of northern Europe. Given the protection of a south or west-facing wall, the hyacinth orchid will happily over-winter with little protection. Avoid exposure to cold northerly or easterly winds. However in regions which experience extended periods of freezing conditions, they are better off grown under the protective conditions of a cool greenhouse.

Hyacinth orchid flower - Bletilla striata
When grown indoors as a houseplant or as a greenhouse specimen, grow the hyacinth orchid in 5-6 inch pots of equal parts by volume loam, leaf-mould, sphagnum peat, sphagnum moss and horticultural grade coarse sand. Shade the greenhouse lightly between May and September, watering freely over the growing period. However the compost will only need to be be kept moist while the plants are dormant. Do not allow the roots to become waterlogged during this time.

Feed with a liquid soluble fertilizer at fortnightly periods from the end of May until August and make sure that adequate ventilation is in place once temperatures rise above 13 degrees Celsius. Winter temperatures should not drop below 5 degrees Celsius.

Hyacinth orchids grown outside will be happy in any ordinary, moist, well-drained garden soil, but make sure that it has been enriched with plenty of moss peat and/or leaf-mould before planting. They can be grown in full sun or partial shade so long as the roots are not exposed to periods of drought. If freezing weather is forecast then protect the plants with a dry mulch of bracken or straw, or provide a thick layer of coarse or weathered ashes.

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WHAT IS A MARROW?

Image credit - https://melindaschwakhofer.wordpress.com/



Although rarely seen on the supermarket shelves, the humble marrow - Cucurbita pepo ovifera, was once a revered crop on the allotments of 20th Century England. It is a half-hardy annual with a bushy or trailing habit which produces large, ovoid or cylindrical, and sometime ribbed, edible fruits.

Image credit - http://www.the-gardeners-calendar.co.uk/
The fruits themselves are at least 12 inches long once mature with green, creamy-white striped skins and succulent flesh which is cooked as a vegetable. The fruits are produced from July until September and are used fresh or stored for winter use.

It has a mild flavour suitable for both simple and complex dishes.They are also a good source of several nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, folic acid, and iron.

Marrow is served cooked. It is usually either boiled or steamed in 2 inch rings, or baked in halves with the centre scooped out and stuffed with a filling such as sausage meat and tomato or Bolognese sauce.

It can be sliced into rounds and topped with cheese and baked. Or it can be cooked with onions, peppers and tomatoes to make a simplified version of ratatouille.. Marrow can also be combined with ginger to make jam, or as an ingredient in mixed summer vegetable preserves.

Image credit - http://goodtoknow.media.ipcdigital.co.uk/
Commonly known as a form of summer squash outside of the United Kingdom, it is a native to the Andes and Mesoamerica before being brought to Europe early in the sixteenth century. after the discovery of the New World.

In fact,  Cucurbita pepo is one of the oldest, if not the oldest domesticated species of squash in the world, the oldest known locations being found in southern Mexico in Oaxaca 8,000-10,000 years ago. Wild species of Cucurbita pepo can still be found in this region.

 The current record for the world's heaviest marrow is 93.7 kg and has been unbroken since 2009. It was grown by Brad Wursten in Sliedrecht, Netherlands.

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HOW TO PROPAGATE ABUTILON FROM CUTTINGS


The best time of year to take cuttings from Abutilon species and hybrids is between May and August.
However, before taking your abutilon cuttings make sure that the mother plant was well watered the night before with a view to taking your cuttings the following morning. This will ensure that the cutting material will be as turgid as possible, improving the chances of them taking root.

Image credit - http://www.growingwithplants.com/
Using a sharp, sterilized blade take 3-4 inch cuttings of half ripe lateral shoots, preferably without any forming flower buds or flowers. Remove the bottom 1/2 -2/3 leaves, then place them in a cool, damp polythene bag to prevent them from drying out before striking.

Use a good quality compost or prepare your own by mixing equal parts by volume moss peat and horticultural grade sand or grit sand. Pot the rooted cuttings singularly into 3 inch pots. You can dip the cut end into a rooting hormone powder but it isn't really necessary. Pre-drill a hole with a small dibber to prevent the rooting hormone powder from being wiped off the cutting as you strike it into the pot.

Gently water in and then place in a heated propagator at approximately 15-18 degrees Celsius. Keep the compost moist, but not waterlogged and periodically spray with a suitable fungicide.

As soon as the new roots form the cuttings can be taken out of the propagator and kept in cooler, bight conditions. Do not 'tug' on the cuttings to see if roots are forming as this can easily damage them. Instead, wait for new growth to commence and then allow a further week or so of growth to occur before removing from the propagator.

Grow on under protection, potting on as necessary until after their first winter.

Depending on the hardiness of the species or cultivar propagated either continue potting on into ever-larger containers or plant outside into its final position. As with all protected crops you will need to harden them for a week to ten days prior to planting outside and even then only when the threat of late frosts has passed.

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HOW TO GROW ACTINIDIA KOLOMIKTA FROM SEED



Actinidia kolomikta is one of the most eye-catching of all hardy ornamental climbers. It is a slender species suitable for training along a sheltered wall, fence or old tree. It is grown for its attractive foliage and round white flowers which appear in June. Actinidia kolomikta is dioecious meaning that male flowers and female flowers are borne on separate plants. The heart-shaped leaves are marked to varying degrees with pink or white at the tips.

Actinidia kolomikta fruits - http://farm3.static.flickr.com/
Actinidia kolomikta seeds are very small and need to be subjected to a period of stratification before they will germinate. If you are able to purchase seed from a reputable supply, then prior to sowing seal them inside a clear polythene bag containing damp vermiculite or perlite and place them in the salad tray of a fridge for approximately 3 months.

Seed collected from the ripe fruit of female Actinidia kolomikta plants will need to be dried off for a couple of days before sowing, usually during October or November.

When ready, sow the seeds onto the surface of a large modular seed tray at a rate of one seed per module. Now give the seed a very light covering of compost or alternatively provide a thin layer of vermiculite. Gently water in. Self-collected seed can be placed in an unheated greenhouse for the winter where germination will occur in the spring. Place a sheet of glass or clear plastic on top of the tray to maintain humidity. Fridge stratified seeds should be sealed inside yet another polythene bag and place in a warm bright position such as a windowsill. Avoid a position which receives direct sunlight as this can cause the compost to dry out. Keep the compost moist and you can expect germination to occur in 2-3 weeks.

Actinidia kolomikta seedlings - http://forums.gardenweb.com/
As soon as the seedlings begin to appear any covers should be removed. Actinidia seedlings are particularly prone to damping off so they must be kept well ventilated, Once the root systems have established in their modules, pop them out and pot in into 3 inch pots containing a good quality compost such as John Innes 'No 2'.

Keep the compost moist and and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Come the spring of their second year, begin to harden the young plants off so that they are able to cope with outside conditions. Only do this so long as there are no frosts forecasted.

Actinidia kolomikta will perform best in a damp, humus rich, well-drained and slightly acidic soil. Place in a position that is sheltered from frosts but which also receives as much sunlight as possible. It will tolerate a partially shaded position but the leaf colouration will not be as strong.

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TRACHELOSPERMUM JASMINOIDES

HOW TO MAKE A TRADITIONAL ITALIAN TOMATO SAUCE





There are many tomato sauces that claim to be 'traditional' in origin. Of course, adding the word 'Italian' will not always guarantee its authenticity, but it will summon images of the Tuscan countryside - which in many respects is good enough.

As is the way, some tomato sauce recipes are oversimplified while others are overly and often unnecessarily complicated.

However, we are in luck. The recipe below has been handed down through word of mouth in the family of an Italian colleague of mine. He (Gino) swears that it comes directly from his grandmother, and she has never left the home country.

Unfortunately, is has taken me over a week of persuasion to obtain the recipe and as it was never written down there are no measurements. This means that you will have to 'feel' the mixture of flavours until it returns the authentic taste. Of course, the varieties and quality of ingredients will also make a big difference here so it is not so much about making the sauce but more like 'living' the source!

There are some clues however:

Smaller tomatoes will return a stronger flavour compared to larger traditional 'beefsteak or plum varieties.

Roasting the tomatoes first boiling them down will also return a more 'tomatoey' flavour.
.
SERVES BETWEEN 4 AND 8 DEPENDING ON DISH

INGREDIENTS

Tomatoes - probably around 1 kg
Garlic – between 2 and 8 cloves depending on your personal taste - peeled and crushed
1 x large onion - roughly cut
Black olives - if you like cooked olives - try between 1 or 2 dozen, cubed
Glass of red wine - preferable, but not necessary
Rosemary
Basil
Olive oil – 2 x tablespoons full, and not extra virgin
Salt and pepper
.

EQUIPMENT

1 x large saucepan
1 x small saucepan
1 x colander/sieve
1 x bowl of cold water
1 x potato masher

To begin with, boil up a large pan of water. Place the tomatoes into the sieve and gently lower both tomatoes and sieve into the pan of boiling water. Leave them there until the peel starts to come away from the body of the tomato which should be no more and a minute or so. Lower the sieve of tomatoes into the bowl of cold water so that you can quickly take the heat out of them before the tiresome job of peeling them.

Empty the boiling water out of the large saucepan and replace it with the peeled tomatoes. Heat up the tomatoes then simmer for between 5-8 minutes.

While the tomatoes are simmering, place the small saucepan on the hob, and add the olive oil. Keeping the pan on a low heat, add the garlic and the onion. Allow them to sweat for a few minutes before taking the pan off the heat.
When they are ready, mash the tomatoes down using a potato masher then drain off any excess water. Pour in the red wine, then add to the small saucepan containing the garlic. Simmer for a further 10 minutes. While this is cooking, add the rosemary, basil salt and pepper. Regularly taste check and adjust the seasoning accordingly.

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WHAT IS A CRABAPPLE?

What is a crabapple?

The name 'crab apple' or 'crabapple' is the common name given to one of any of the 25-55 species of wild apple tree found within the Malus genus. As you would expect, Malus also includes all of the edible apple cultivars. Of course the 'crab' part of its common name really has nothing to do with genuine decapod crustaceans, although there are a number of inconclusive theories behind it.

The sweetest (and least likely) one is that the mature branches of the wild apple tree resemble crab legs - something I have yet to establish! Another postulation is that the word crab has been shortened from the adjective 'crabby'. Crabby, amongst other thing can be used to characterize someone or something as tart or sour, an apt description for its sharp, astringent fruits.

Typically, Crabapples are small to medium sized ornamental deciduous trees. They are noted for their prodigious blooms and ornamental, long-lasting fruits and autumn colour. They are chiefly grown for their attractive flowers but the acid, bitter fruits are an excellent source of pectin which gives them a more practical use in the making of preserves. Crabapple juice can be made into a ruby-coloured preserve with a full, spicy flavour.

Similar in habit and and display to the popular ornamental flowering cherries (in fact they are both members of the Rosaceae family), they can easily be distinguished by their flower and fruiting bodies. Malus flowers have five styles where the blooms of prunus species have only one.

The bowl-shaped flowers are borne in clusters as the end of the lateral spurs. Each bloom has five petals, which may be white, pink or red, with usually red stamens. The fruit is either round, or ovoid and apple-like. Depending on the species or cultivar they vary in size from 1–4 cm in diameter. The exception is Malus sylvestris sieversii which can produce fruit up to 6 cm in diametre. The centre of the fruit contains five carpels arranged star-like, each containing one or two seeds.

Some crabapples species and cultivars are used as rootstocks for domestic apples which help to improve cold hardiness for more susceptible varieties for orchards in cold northern areas. They are also popular for use as pollinizers in apple orchards, usually planted every sixth or seventh tree.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO GROW AN APPLE TREE FROM SEED
HOW TO GROW A CRABAPPLE TREE
HOW TO PRUNE AN APPLE TREE
WHAT IS A CRABAPPLE
WHAT IS A 'PAPPLE' ?
WHAT IS A WALNUT?