No-Dig Gardening: An Easier Way to Grow

February 9th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

No-dig-gardening-tips-using-mulches

You dig, you toil, you reap the rewards. But just how necessary is digging? No dig gardening is gaining ground with gardeners across the world. So let’s explore the benefits of No-Dig gardening:

The Downside to Digging

The logic behind digging says that it should help incorporate nutriments hold in organic matter such as compost, as well as creating looser and fluffier soil for sowing and planting.

Digging and turning soil around however, disturbs all the insect life held in it. Setting back the natural processes that lead to healthy soil. Leave soil undug and organisms can thrive undisturbed, which is good news for plants. And it also allows more natural balance between soil pests and their predators.

Make new beds without digging

  • Clear the surface
  • Mow down grass and cut back weeds to the ground.
  • Add a thick layer of organic matter this will suppress the weeds beneath by excluding light. It also provides rich material for the roots to grow into.
  • A few months later, all weeds will have rotted down, and earth worms will have integrated the organic matter in the soil below.
  • If there are a lot of weeds on the ground you would like to grow, lay down a layer of cardboard before adding your organic matter.
  • Mark out parts between the beds using thick cardboard. This will help kill off the weeds between growing areas.

Mimic Mother Nature

Using materials like wood chips slows down evaporations and constantly feeds the soil below, so that no additional fertilizers are ever required.

  • Lay a thick layer of cardboard over clear ground.
  • Add compost.
  • Add a layer of wood chips of over 2 inches.
  • Make sure not to mix the two layers.
  • Push the wood chips on the side to plant into the compost beneath.

Mulches not Spades

Mulches cover the soil’s surface protecting it from erosion, locking in soil moisture and suppressing weeds. As they rot down, they add fertility into the soil, while at the same time improving its structure without the need to dig. Replace old mulch as it rots down or when it becomes incorporated into the soil, so that the ground is constantly fed.

You can also ad mulches around mature plants, or wait until the end of the growing season.

Suitable mulches include:

  • Compost
  • Leaf mold
  • Hay
  • Wood chips
  • Grass clippings
  • Straw
  • Sawdust

No-Till Gardens

These gardens fit in gardens of any sizes. Including small city plots. Aim for beds not wider than 4 feet and you’ll never need to step in the soil or in the beds. Through time your wees will become less and less as mulches weakens the weeds below. And because you are not digging, weed seeds in the soil below may never come to the surface to germinate. No-Till really does save you time.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to embrace no-dig gardening. If you have any top tips that you can offer us let us know in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page

Sow now? Wait? Or buy plants?

February 9th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Begonia 'Santa Cruz Sunset' with young begonia plant

If you read what it says on the seed packets, you’ll be sowing seeds of begonias, geraniums and lobelia in the propagator or on the windowsill now – if you haven’t done so already. But is this really wise?

Early sowing is recommended because the seedlings take so long to develop and, of course, it would be good if they started flowing before August. So an early start is essential. But looking after young seedlings in the short dark days of winter is tricky if you don’t have ideal facilities.

On the windowsill most of the light comes from the side so you have to turn the seedlings every day. And the fact that the feeble sunlight must pass through the window or greenhouse glass and through the plastic propagator lid means that less light reaches the seedlings. They get leggy. Commercial growers often use artificial light.

Damping off disease is always a danger, it can wipe out your seedlings in just a few days, especially now that we have no treatments for it.

So what’s the answer? Sow later and your seedlings will be easier to look after but flowering will be delayed.

If you don’t have good facilities I’d suggest that you buy plugs or young plants instead. That way, you transfer responsibility for the most difficult part of the whole process to the nursery and receive plugs, large plugs or young plants, ready to pot up or plant out when it suits you.

Begonias, geraniums and lobelia are the top candidates for this plants-instead-of-seed approach but I’d also suggest antirrhinums, calibrachoas and petunias. It may cost more, but what you’re paying for is certainty.

RHS Harlow Carr Exhibition: Women in Horticulture

February 8th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

RHS-Display-Women-in-HorticultureCelebrating a century of achievement, this fascinating display looks at the highlights of the careers of a series of talented women working in horticulture.

Discover this exhibition at the RHS Garden Harlow Carr, featuring women who are represented within RHS Libraries’ original art and photographic collections. They include information on Gertrude Jekyll, Ellen Wilmot, Marion Cran, Dorothy Martin and Constance Spry. As educators, scientists, artists, writers and gardeners these women have changed the way we garden and left behind an enduring legacy.

The exhibition is open Monday-Sunday from 11am-4pm.

 

Mr Fothergill’s is proud to have entered into a new partnership with The RHS to bring out a range of flower seeds and vegetable seeds for home gardeners.  The extensive flower seed range creates beautiful garden displays with excellent performance. Additionally they have been awarded RHS’s perfect for pollinators, as the best source of food for pollinating insects.  The vegetable collection, of 56 AGM varieties, includes excellent modern strains as well as much-loved, trusted favourites.

The RHS Award of Garden Merit is a mark of quality, awarded to garden plants with excellent garden performance. Each award is given only after a trial at an RHS Garden and judge by a team of experts.

Royal Horticultural Society

 

To browse all the RHS events follow this link to the website.

Take a look at the RHS Range of flower seeds and vegetable seeds on the Mr Fothergill’s website.

 

 

Visit the Japanese Gardens Exhibition at the Harrogate RHS garden

February 5th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

The most northerly RHS garden in Harrogate is turning Japanese in the New Year as it hosts an exhibition telling the story of Japanese gardens and how their design and planting styles inspired the British to build Japanese-style gardens here in the UK. There will also be a display devoted to the ongoing restoration of the 1920’s Japanese-style garden in Harrogate’s nearby Valley Gardens.

A pop-up Japanese Shop will set up in the garden, selling authentic Japanese products and gifts throughout the exhibition and each weekend there’s a chance to try your hand at Japanese-inspired crafts such as calligraphy, origami, and the Chopstick Challenge under the expert guidance of Japanese tutors in traditional costume.

The exhibition takes place from 10am – 3pm daily until the 25 February.

RHS-garden-Harlow-Japanese-Gardens-Exhibition

 

Mr Fothergill’s is proud to have entered into a new partnership with The RHS to bring out a range of flower seeds and vegetable seeds for home gardeners.  The extensive flower seed range creates beautiful garden displays with excellent performance. Additionally they have been awarded RHS’s perfect for pollinators, as the best source of food for pollinating insects.  The vegetable collection, of 56 AGM varieties, includes excellent modern strains as well as much-loved, trusted favourites.

The RHS Award of Garden Merit is a mark of quality, awarded to garden plants with excellent garden performance. Each award is given only after a trial at an RHS Garden and judge by a team of experts.

Royal Horticultural Society

 

To browse all the RHS events follow this link to the website.

Take a look at the RHS Range of flower seeds and vegetable seeds on the Mr Fothergill’s website.

 

 

RHS Award Winner: Best Behaved Convolvulus

February 2nd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Convolvulus 'Blue Ensign'

I’ve often wondered why so few plant breeders have worked on improving the annual convolvulus, the dwarf morning glory. The wild species, Convolvulus tricolor, grows around the Mediterranean, especially on the African side, as well as in the Balearic Islands and it’s impressively colourful even in its natural wild form.

With blue edges to the bold trumpets, there’s a white ring and a yellow eye and in the spectacular ‘Blue Ensign’, included in the new Mr F range of seeds that have received the prestigious RHS Award of Garden Merit, the blue is a deep and shining shade.

‘Blue Ensign’ has the neat and restrained growth habit of a semi-trailing petunia with a combination of flower colours never seen in a petunia – and it’s a hardy annual. It’s related to bindweed, yes, but the whole plant dies after flowering.

And here’s the thing. The ‘Flagship’ mixture gives us a glimpse of the potential: so many other colours. Most of the colours have that starry yellow eye with a white zone round it but as well as flowers with deep blue edges there’s red, pink and pale blue edges as well as simpler pale blue and yellow and pale pink and yellow. They’re very pretty.

AGM winning ‘Blue Ensign’ is prolific and good in baskets and the front of sunny borders. ‘Flagship’(not an award-winner) is a little more variable in habit and flower-power, sometimes rather straggly, but I’m sure that with a little work neat and prolific plants could be developed in some lovely colour combinations.

In the meantime,‘Blue Ensign’ is easy to raise from seed sown outside and a packet of a hundred seeds costs only £2.05. I haven’t grown it for years but it’s on the list for this year. I’m going to plant it on the corners of my 1.2m raised veg beds – to hide my less than expert carpentry where the boards join!

  • Please take a look at my article on RHS award-winning lobelia for containers and borders in this week’s Amateur Gardening magazine – print edition only.