Posts Tagged ‘garden advice’

Getting Rid of Weeds

August 22nd, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

weeds-are-a-bane-to-gardeners-but-they-can-be-rid-of-without-using-weedkillers

Weeds are a bane to gardeners. The combination of persistence and resistance makes them so frustrating.

Weeds can employ some pretty underhand tactics to get the better of us – breaking off bits of root that then regrow, throwing up seedheads that blow all around the garden, or sending their roots deep underground to evade capture.

To outwit weeds you’ll need to wage a concerted campaign on several fronts, but it can be done – and without resorting to weedkillers.

Read on or watch the video for tips and tricks on how to win the war on weeds.

The Enemy

There are two types of weeds: annual weeds and perennial weeds.

Annual weeds complete their life cycle – sprouting, flowering and setting seed – in one season. They’re easier to control, but spread quickly by seed.

Perennial weeds continue growing for a number of years but have far-reaching roots, making them harder to control.

tackling-an-overgrown-weed-riddled-garden-can-be-a-daunting-task

Fight Back

Starting with a weedy garden can be intimidating and demoralising.

Begin your campaign to gain back control by cutting or mowing weeds to the ground, then cover with a light-excluding membrane or mulch to deprive the weeds beneath of life-sustaining sunlight. Black polythene is very effective for this.

Alternatively, you can use pieces of cardboard. Remove any staples or tape, then position the cardboard so there is a wide overlap between each piece to make it harder for weeds to push through. Weigh the cardboard down to stop it blowing away. You will probably need to replace the cardboard as it rots down.

Perennial weeds with deep or spreading roots including bindweed, ground elder and nettles can take a year or more to die off but all those weeds will eventually rot down, helping to feed the soil for the plants that follow.

Remain Vigilant

With the ground cleared, it’s important to act quickly to remove any resurfacing weeds.

Carefully dig out the resurgents with a trowel or fork, taking care to remove all of the roots. Fragments of perennial weeds can easily re-root and spread, so dispose of the root away from your compost heap.

dispose-of-your-weeds-away-from-your-compost-heap-to-avoid-re-rooting-and-re-growth

Sink Them

Another option is to submerge roots in a bucket of water for at least a month, until they turn into a sloppy ‘goo’ which can then be poured over your compost.

Zero Tolerance

Tackle recently germinated weeds in existing beds by disturbing the surface of the ground as soon as they appear. Use a sharp hoe to skim the surface and dislodge the seedlings.

Do this in the morning if possible, and on a windy or sunny day, so that the exposed seedlings quickly wither. Regularly sharpen your hoe so that the blade slices through the weeds like a knife.

Act fast – a little effort now will save you considerable trouble later on! Revisit growing areas once a week to remove young seedlings before they’ve had a chance to establish.

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Quell the Uprising

The adage ‘one year’s seeding makes seven years weeding’ is very true!

Prolific weeds such as dandelion quickly spread if they’re allowed to produce seeds, so always aim to remove weeds before they get a chance to flower and set seed.

Keep on Top of ’Em

Organic mulches like compost and leafmould help to suppress weeds while feeding the soil for the crops you’re growing. Lay them around existing crops to give them an advantage over the yet-to-emerge weeds beneath. Mulching like this also means you can adopt a no-till method of gardening. By sowing and planting into this top layer of compost there’ll be no need to disturb the soil below, so the weed seeds within it will never reach the surface to germinate.

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Ground Resistance

Resistance is far from futile!

Consider covering bare soil with a cover crop or green manure to crowd out weeds and add valuable organic material. Fast growers like mustards may be sown as late as Autumn to cover the soil surface in a matter of weeks. Weeds won’t get a look in! Then, just before the new growing season, dig them in or pull them out to reveal clear soil ready for planting.

Intensive cropping using leafy vegetables to stop light from reaching the ground is another efficient way to clean the soil of weeds. Potatoes, for example, have masses of lush foliage that are great at excluding light.

Every gardener should aim to keep soil covered as much as possible, whether through efficient use of space with multiple crops grown side by side, or with generous layers of organic mulch or a temporary cover crop to nourish and protect the soil.

Peace Treaty

Peace at last! Once your garden is clear of weeds, you’ll want to keep it that way.

Check new plants for lurking weeds like creeping buttercup, and check that any bought-in manure or compost is well rotted and free of weed seeds too.

Keep compost heaps and potting mixes covered to prevent blown in seeds from settling, and maintain clean tools and boots to minimise the spread of weeds.

If you have any tips or tricks for doing battle with a weedy, jungle-like garden, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

Help Your Garden Survive a Summer Drought

August 17th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

gardening-during-a-summer-drought-can-be-a-struggle

Struggling with a summer drought is no fun, and keeping your plants quenched and happy can feel like a non-stop battle.

Don’t be a slave to the watering can!

Read on or watch the video for top tips on how to keep your garden healthy in drought conditions. They’ll save you time – and a lot of water too!

Watering

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Prioritise watering

When water is precious it pays to be prudent. Concentrate your watering where it is needed; young seedlings to help them establish, leafy salads to stop them wilting, fruit and vegetables like tomatoes, and anything growing in a pot.

Balance and speed

Using a watering can? Try two! One for each hand. It will help you balance and you’ll be able to water twice as quickly. If your water source is some distance from your beds, it also means less walking back and forth.

Another option is to use a portable tank, to cart water to where it will be dispensed.

Don’t blast your plants

A strong spray from a hose can knock plants about, or blast potting soil out of containers. Get around this problem simply by placing the end of the hose in a watering can so that it fills as you pour. This means you can water carefully and precisely, enjoying the convenience of a hose without wasting a drop.

Water from the bottom

Watering pots from the bottom, rather than the top, can save a lot of time and water in hot weather. Fill up a suitable sized reservoir, adding any liquid feed you’d like to apply at the recommended rate. Sink your pots into the water and leave them to soak up the liquid for at least an hour.

You can speed things along by adding a splash of water to the top of the pot before it’s left to soak. This technique helps ensure a thorough watering that makes very efficient use of your water.

Automate watering

An automatic irrigation system connected to a timer will take the strain out of watering. Set it to come on very early in the morning, before things heat up. The best set up to use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to deliver water is right at the base of your plants, near the roots.

Some can even be fitted to water barrels, so you can make the most of any rain water you’ve managed to collect.

Keep their Cool

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Drought can play havoc with seedlings, hampering germination and causing young plants to struggle. Here are a few ideas to help:

Success with seedlings

In hot dry conditions getting seeds to germinate can be tricky, particularly those of cool season crops such at lettuce. The solution is to wet the seed drill before sowing to give them the cool, moist surroundings they crave. Water along marked out drills, allow the water to completely drain away, then fill and drain once again before you sow.

Once you’re done sowing cover the seeds back over, but don’t water again until after germination. The moisture in the drill will drain through, encouraging the seedlings’ roots to follow.

Add some shade

Young seedlings, and cool season crops in general, perform better under the protection of some shading in hot summers. Prioritise shady areas for crops that prefer cool conditions, such as salad leaves. You can use taller crops to shade shorter ones, but in scorching weather drastic action may be needed.

Shade cloth can cast just enough shade to keep your plants happy in severe heat and can be easily removed when the weather turns cooler. Suspend it over plants to help them keep their cool.

Soothe the Soil

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Mulch around plants

Mulches are a must in any summer drought, and a mulch of organic material such as compost, leafmould or even dried grass clippings is best.

This extra layer serves two purposes; it shades the soil from the sun helping to keep it cooler, and it acts as a barrier to the sun, dramatically slowing evaporation.

How to apply a mulch

Thoroughly soak the ground before adding your mulch. If it’s exceptionally dry, water again a few hours later to recharge all that valuable soil moisture. Lay the mulch so it’s at least an inch (2 cm) thick and feed it right around all your plants.

Fruit trees, canes and bushes can be mulched with chunkier materials such as bark chippings, or fibrous materials like straw. Mulches may not be very high-tech, but they are incredibly effective in a hot summer.

 

If you have any tips for gardening in a hot, dry climate, comment below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page.

The Big Bug Hunt: How to Prevent Common Garden Pests Damaging Your Crops [video]

June 27th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Prevent Common Garden PestsPests are an inevitable garden presence, they’re frustrating but it’s important to not get too irritated. It’s just another gardening challenge to overcome. This post looks into how to prevent common garden pests.

  • Slugs and snails are the bane of many gardens, they demolish leaves.
  • Prevent them by putting up barriers. Copper rings around the base of plants will deter them from nibbling at leaves by giving them a small electric shock.
  • Eggshells are also a great way to prevent slugs and snails from attacking your leaves.
  • Beer traps are another effective method, slugs will be attracted to the yeasty scent and will drown attempting to get to the scent.
  • Installing a pond in your garden can attract frogs; they are great at eating pests in the garden and steering them clear of your plants.
  • Cabbage white butterflies (cabbage worms) carry an appetite for the cabbage family.
  • Stop them laying eggs by laying butterfly netting over your plants. This can be draped over a simple wooden frame. Ensure it’s well secured.
  • Planting decoy plants at the end of a row can protect your important plants from the cabbage butterflies.
  • Aphids can attack your vegetables.
  • Spray colonies of aphids with soapy water, this offers some control.
  • Many bugs feast on these like ladybugs and hover flies. You’ll need to attract beneficial bugs, which can be done with particular plants and bug hotels.

These are just a few tips and tricks that you can put into practice, keeping your garden pest free. The video below discusses further advice and introduces the Big Bug Hunt. Find out more on the Big Bug Hunt site. If you have any pest prevention techniques you would like to share, please let us know in the comments below. 

The Big Bug Hunt: How to Prevent Common Garden Pests Damaging Your Crops

Succession Planting: How to Harvest More From Your Vegetable Garden [video]

June 25th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Succession Planting - Nation of Gardeners SaladSuccession planting allows you to make the most of your garden, by enjoying multiple harvests from a single patch of ground in any growing season. It takes careful planning and this post will guide you through the process of succession planting.

  • Succession cropping is the sowing/planting of one crop, immediately following an early crop has finished. This particular method of growing increases productivity.
  • Succession planting maintains soil cover from the constant sowing of crops, provides less opportunity for weeds to appear.
  • Many vegetables need only half the growing season to reach harvest. This leaves plenty of fine weather to start a new crop.
  • Vegetables that may finish early enough for a succession crop are; french beans, salads, early potatoes, carrots, onion, garlic and beetroot.
  • After clearing the first crop, clean the ground of any weeds and use a rake to break any clumps.
  • As your previous crop should have been covered with organic matter, your second crop shouldn’t require anymore. But if it does, add compost before sowing or planting.
  • Aim to have your young plants and seeds for second crop in immediately following the removal of first crop seeds.
  • Some crops may be need to be planted from young plants if the growing season in your area is relatively short. You can find our range of vegetable plants here.
  • If you feel the ground is too warm and dry before sowing, you can water the seed drills before sowing. This will cool the ground.

These are just a few tips and tricks on succession planting, the video below offers further detail and a list of plants that are suitable for this method of planting. If you have any tips yourself, do let us know in the comments below or on our social media. 

Succession Planting: How to Harvest More From Your Vegetable Garden

 

Garden Trellis – How to Make the Best Supports for Climbing Vegetables [video]

June 22nd, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Garden Trellis Support for Climbing VegetablesClimbing vegetables need plenty of support to ensure they offer up fruitful harvests. Garden trellis is a effective and attractive method of keeping climbing vegetables well supported. This post discusses how to make the best supports for climbing vegetables.

  • Simple supports include bamboo canes, poles and stakes. If they have been securely pushed into the ground, they offer an immediate support for vining plants.
  • Some young plants may at first need tying into supports, this will ensure they grow up in the correct direction.
  • Canes and poles can be arranged in rows, with a cane along the top to provide structure.
  • Tie in the canes where they cross with string.
  • You can also create a wigwam or teepee. Space 4 – 8 canes at equal distance in a circle then tie these together about a foot from the top. These are perfect for climbing vegetables.
  • Trellis panels can also be used to support climbing vegetables. They can be screwed to walls and fences or alternatively be left to hang freely.

You can create the perfect bamboo frame with the instructions below:

To make your own bamboo frame you’ll need:

  • Two short lengths of 2×2 inch timber at 32 inches long
  • Two medium lengths of 1×2 inch timber at 5 foot
  • Two longer length of 2×2 inch timber at 7 foot 4 inches
  • Two 4 inch screws
  • Four, 2.5 inch screws
  • 12 bamboo canes at least 7 foot in length
  • Garden wire
  • Screwdriver, drill, sandpaper, pencil, measuring tape

To create the frame

1. Sand down any rough edges on the timber.

2. Put together the top of the frame, using the short and medium length sections

3. Prevent the wood from splitting by drilling pilot holes, 1 inch in from both ends of the two medium length sections.

4. Screw these to the end of the short lengths with the 2.5 inch screws.

5. Measure and mark halfway along the two shortest sides of the top section. Drill pilot holes through these two points.

6. Screw the top section of your frame to the longer lengths of timber, using the 4 inch screws.

7. Dig two holes to accommodate the frame, holes should be at least a foot deep. Lift into position and back fill the holes, firm the soil so the frame stays in place.

8.Set the bamboo canes in position with the frame. Evenly place them in soil along the frame and tie them securely to the top bar.

9. Now plant the beans, one to each bamboo cane.

10. The stems will then latch onto the frames and grow upwards.

This is just a quick tutorial on creating your bamboo frame, the video below offers further detail and a visual representation of building the frame. Be sure to let us know any tips you have for supporting your climbing vegetables. 

GrowVeg – Garden Trellis – How to Make the Best Supports for Climbing Vegetables