Posts Tagged ‘garden tips’

How to Make Willow Structures for Your Garden

April 24th, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Willow is very satisfying to work with and lends itself to making rustic screens, structures and supports for a beautiful natural look. Willow is very satisfying to work with and lends itself to making rustic screens, structures and supports for a beautiful natural look. No special tools needed! It’s quick growing and produces lots of flexible stems – they are natural materials that you can work within the garden. This post and video will show you how to create a handsome hurdle, step by step. 

Both willow and hazel have a long history of use in a manner of different garden structures. In order to encourage the long straight stems required, the trees are periodically ‘coppiced’, when the stems are cut right back to a stump to encourage replacement shoots. You can buy ready to work with bundles of hazel or willow stems, or you can grow your own, cutting the stems right back to ground level then allowing new stems to grow in their place.

Willow grows quickest and produces highly flexible stems that are ideal for weaving. Dogwoods are also an excellent option for weaving with stems coming in a range of colours, from red to yellow. Hazel stems tend to be a little thicker and therefore make excellent beanpoles. Fences made from hazel or willow look stunning and they also help to filter the wind rather than deflect it avoiding the damaging eddies sometimes found at the bottom of solid walls. Lower woven hurdles make very pretty edges to raised beds, though bear in mind that close contact with the soil will reduce their lifespan. Alternatively, use woven hurdles as handsome screens to hide ugly pots or less attractive parts of your garden such as a compost area.

So how do you make a willow hurdle?

The video below offers step by step instructions on how to make a hurdle for your garden. If you have any top tips for willow structures, then please do let us know in the comments below.

Growing Carrots from Sowing to Harvest [video]

April 21st, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Growing Carrots from Sowing to Harvest - Mr Fothergills BlogEvery vegetable garden needs carrots and it’s actually quite easy to grow them from seed – but you must bear in mind some golden rules! In this post, we offer you some top tips on where to grow carrots, what type to grow and when to sow. The following video goes on to tell you the best way to plan your carrots and follows through to their harvest!

Where to grow carrots

  • You can grow carrots in raised beds or in patio tubs – the choice is yours, carrots can be grown just about anywhere.
  • They prefer full sun and well-dug, stone free soil.
  • Beds improved with well-rotted compost are ideal, though recently-manured beds may cause the roots to fork.
  • For best results, follow carrots on from a heavy feeding vegetable such as cabbage.

What type to grow

  • There are so many different carrots to choose from – sometimes it can be confusing on which one is best for you to grow!
  • Stump-rooted and finger-sized carrots are the quickest and can be grown on heavier soils that would cause longer roots to fork.
  • Medium or long-rooted carrots can be grown in lighter soils or in raised beds or deep containers filled with potting soil.
  • Maincrop types are perfect for sowing later in spring to produce roots for winter storage.
  • Carrots don’t just come in orange they have many colourful varieties!

When to sow carrots

  • Sow carrots from early spring to mid-summer, to then be lifted from late spring to early winter.
  • Stored roots will tide you over until the following spring.
  • Make the earliest sowings of fast-growing early varieties into greenhouse or polythene tunnel beds or pots kept under cover.
  • You can also sow earlier outside by using row covers or cold frames.

If you have any top tips on growing carrots then let us know on our blog or social media.

GrowVeg – Growing Carrots from Sowing to Harvest

Growing Fruit and Vegetables In The Shade! [video]

April 10th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Growing Fruit and Vegetables

What can you grow in the shade? Surprisingly, quite a lot of things! This video will guide you through the fruit and vegetables you can grow in the shade.  If your plot is a bit gloomy, then embrace shade gardening!

Shady, and often shady and damp spots, offer a few challenges for the home gardener but it is possible to get growing if you choose the right plants that with thrive with lower levels of light and warmth.  In the video we have plenty of  tips on how to utilise the light that you do receive in your garden.

  • A first point to make on light is that it is often seedlings that require as much light as possible, in order to start their growth process strongly. Therefore it is important that you locate your seed beds in the sunniest part of the garden to give them the best possible start. You can plant seeds in pots or in a seed bed which can then be replanted once they have grown enough to cope with the darker areas of the garden.
  • You may be able to grow seeds indoors with full spectrum grow lights if you don’t have a sunny windowsill, especially if you are starting growing early.  This can offer seedlings a good start in life so they are well developed by the time you move them outside.
  • In shadier parts of the garden, paint walls white or use mirrors to reflect the light that is available.
  • You can also use covers for individual plants that may struggle to keep warm during spring in the shady cold pockets. Watch the video for more tips on this.
  • Slugs are likely to appear more in shaded areas, so be sure to set beer traps, lay out copper, coffee grounds, sharp stones and any other techniques you can think of to keep them at bay!

These are just a few tips on growing fruit and vegetables in the shade and how to make the most of the garden you have.  The video below talks more about what can be planted in the shade and further tips on growing in shady conditions.  Feel free to comment with your own tips in the comments below.

What to do in the Garden in April

April 1st, 2017 | The flower garden, The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

April is perhaps the busiest month in the garden. With temperatures fast warming, it’s time to get all your plans in place for the season ahead (but don’t forget about Mr Frost, who can still catch you out!).

By this stage in the season you more than likely already have vegetable and flower seedlings to tend to, along with ambitions to get plenty more sown for a productive and colourful summer season.
Hardy annual flowers and vegetables can now be sown outside, directly where you want them to grow, reducing your work load.

April offers the ideal conditions for planting out a wide range of larger container plants, too. Perhaps you over-wintered last year’s sowings of herbaceous perennial plants. They can now be moved from cold frames and nursery beds and planted in their final positions.

Strawberry Sweetheart - AprilTrees and shrubs can also be set out this month to provide shape, structure and ‘backbone’ to your border and container displays. Hardy fruit trees, bushes, canes and runners can all be planted too. Strawberry runners for example are despatching from the nursery now.

With so much to be done this month, the question is how will you fit it all in to your schedule. Our breakdown of essential jobs for April, should help you get your plans and plants in order.
In the flower Garden/on the patio

April - Sweet peas from Mr Fothergill'sSweet peas sown last autumn or during the winter months should be ready for planting out this month. These tough scented climbers will cope with cooler soils and late spring temperatures, quickly establishing for a show stopping display of early summer colour. Just make sure to harden them off before planting, by placing them outside by day and back under cover each evening for a week or so. Then set them out in well prepared soil, with lots of added manure.
If you haven’t already sown sweet peas you really are missing out. These easy to grow climbers offer some of the best scent and colour for the garden (and for indoor vase displays). Fortunately they can be sown outside this month too.  If you don’t have space for the climbing varieties, try dwarf types such as ‘Patio Mixed’ or ‘Dwarf Explorer’.

  • Plenty of life left in spring containers and bedding displays

Spring bedding plants such as pansies, primrose and bellis, whether set out in the soil or in patio pots and baskets, should have enough reserves to carry on until late May when you can replace them with summer options. To ensure they go the distance, use these three top tips:

  • Deadhead: remove all spent flowers to prevent plants diverting their energy on setting seed. Removing flowers encourages more to develop, carrying colour through to summer.
  • Chop back: If plants have become straggly you can cut them back by half. They’ll lose their looks for a week or two but will soon be flowering again over neat and tidy foliage.
  • Offer a regular feed: With plants in full swing, offer a liquid feed every two weeks to support their growth and encourage the best looking displays.

 

Ornamental grasses from seed

Ornamental grasses add a touch of elegance to mixed summer borders, creating movement with their nodding seedheads, and going on to add autumn interest – the dried golden seedheads and foliage look stunning when caught by an autumn frost.
As you make your flower sowings this month, save some space for these classy border additions. Sow indoors or directly outside where they are to grow.
Top choices to try include Bunny tails (Lagurus ovatus,), cloud grass (Agrostis nebulosa), goldentop grass (Lamarkia aurea) and silky spike melic (Melica ciliate). For a winning mix of annual and perennial ornamental grasses try the Mr Fothergill’s Grasses Collection:

Hardy herb containers

grow new herbs - AprilWhile tender herbs need to stay on the windowsill, you can get creative with hardy herbs in the garden this month.  Not many gardeners have the luxury of a dedicated herb garden, but fortunately most hardy herbs grow under the same conditions and will thrive together in a mixed herb container.
Avoid traditional herb planters with side planting holes, unless you can be sure you’ll keep up with watering. These dry out very quickly and are hard to rewet fully. Instead, select a wide container and add a mix of herbs as you would a mixed summer patio container.  A 50:50 mix of multipurpose compost and loam-based John Innes no.3 is ideal for herb containers.  Top tip: Use a high nitrogen feed with low potassium levels when feeding herbs. This will encourage lots of leafy growth rather than flowers.

  • Deadhead spend spring flowering bulbs such as daffodils and tulips. But leave their stems and foliage to die back naturally, placing energy back into the bulbs for the best display next year.
  • Treat fences, sheds and other wooden structures with a paint or preservative before spring growth makes access difficult

 

On the veg patch

  • Successional sowing

When it comes to vegetable sowing don’t, do it all in one hit, this will simply lead to a glut of produce later in the year. Instead, adopt the successional sowing method – smaller batches of seed sowing done every two weeks or so, which leads to a constant supply of ready to pick produce through the season, with few gaps and no gluts.

April - Broad Beans AguadulceHardy vegetables to sow outside this month:

Broad beans
Beetroot
Brussels sprouts
Calbrese
Broccoli
Summer and autumn cabbages
Cauliflower
Chicory
Carrots
Leeks
Pak Choi
Parsnip
Radish
Spinach
Spring onions
Swede
Swiss chard

Also plant out onions sets and seed potatoes

  • Hand pollinate early fruit trees

Early flowering fruits such as cherries, greengages, nectarines and peaches will benefit from hand pollination, as it may be still too early for most pollinating insects to do the work for you. Use a small artist’s paint brush to gently transfer pollen from one flower to another.

 

In the Greenhouse/ on the windowsill

  • Focus on Half Hardy Annuals

With hardy annual sowings now being made outside, you can give windowsill and greenhouse space over to half hardy annuals that need a bit of extra warmth to get started. If this is not possible, wait until the second half of May and sow half hardy annuals outside where you want them to grow.

  • Plug plants

If sowing isn’t your thing, or you’ve simply run out of space already, our bedding and vegetable plug plant varieties become ready for despatch this month. Here we’ve done the finicky first-stage work for you, simply pot up our plug plants on delivery and grow on in frost-free conditions until ready to plant out in late May/early June. If you’ve got the space to grow them on, you can even set them directly into hanging baskets and patio containers, for effortless displays come summer.

  • Early start on summer herbs

It’s too early and too cold to think about sowing or planting tender herbs outside, but you can make an early start with your favourite flavour boosters this month by sowing small pots on a sunny windowsill.  Basil, coriander, oregano, chervil and other frost tender herbs can be sown every four weeks or so between April and July for consistent supply of succulent fresh leaves. If sowing your favourite herbs this way is too time consuming try the Mr Fothergills’ Pot Toppers – a range of popular herbs embedded into seed mats – simply fills a large pot with compost, place a seed mat on the surface, cover lightly with more compost and water in. With 3 x 20cm mats per pack you’ll have a full summer of fresh herbs ahead of you.

Greenhouse growers will already have their tender crops well underway, but if you grow tomatoes, peppers and chillies out in the garden, April is the ideal month to sow their seeds. This ensures that the plants will not get too big before planting out in early June, once all threat of frost is gone.April

Sow seeds in trays, modules or small pots of multipurpose compost and set on a warm windowsill or in a heated propagator, aiming for around 21C.  Turn off the heat and remove covers once the majority of seedlings are on show. Transfer individual seedlings

Greenhouse growers can now prepare greenhouse borders, or stock up on grow bags and containers ready to plant out or pot up tomatoes, chillies and peppers. Other things to plant in the greenhouse include watermelons, cucumbers, sweet potatoes.

  • Sowing sunflowers

There’s a simple pleasure in watching a towering sunflower develop through the season, especially when you’ve raised it from seed yourself. If you are looking to grow a giant this summer, it pays to start as early as possible, giving your plants the longest growing season. Sow seeds indoors through April, ready for hardening off in late May for planting out.

For the tallest plants try Sunflower ‘Giant Single’. For the largest flower heads and lots of edible seeds, try Sunflower ‘Titan’. For a shorter, decorative addition to your summer displays try Sunflower ‘Sunburst’, ‘Magic Roundabout’ F1 or ‘Little Leo’.

  • Keeping cool

On sunny days, greenhouses can quickly overheat- even this early in the season.  Prevent this with a three pronged approach:
1) Open vents and doors on hot days (think about fittings auto openers)
2) Put up shade netting or shade paint so vulnerable plants and young seedlings don’t frazzle on sunny days.
3) Damp down the floors and staging once or twice a day to raise humidity levels and bring the ambient temperature down.

 

What to prune in April

  • Stone fruit trees such as cherries and plums can be pruned now that the risk of contracting silver leaf disease has passed (it enters plants on winter rain).
  • Fig trees to can be pruned to keep their shape and size.
  • Check all shrubs and hedges for bird nesting activity before carrying out any pruning. If nests are spotted, wait until summer before trimming your plants – it is illegal to intentionally damage or destroy the nest of any wild bird whilst it is in use.
  • Winter-stemmed shrubs like Cornus and Salix should be cut back hard to encourage new shoots for next winter’s display.
  • If not already done, remove any dead foliage growth left on herbaceous perennials before new growth takes over.

 

Weed control

By mid spring weeds start to grow rampantly, annual weeds will be germinating freely in unworked soils, and perennial types will be setting down roots to really take hold.
Ideally dig out perennial weeds by hand, but be thorough. Many perennial weeds, including dandelion and couch grass, will regrow from the smallest piece of root left in the soil. If hand weeding is not possible use weedkillers responsibly, seeking organic options where possible.
The best way to keep on top of annual weeds such as chickweed and shepherds purse is to hose your border and veg patch soil at least once a week. Aim to do this on a sunny or windy day, so dislodged weeds wither on the surface – rainy weather can actually set them back into the soil!

How to Plan a Bigger, Better Garden

March 28th, 2017 | The vegetable garden | 0 Comments

Garden Planning for a Better GardenPlanning at the start of the growing season is important – you must consider what you’re going to grow, where you are going to grow it and when you’re going to sow or plant it. This post is going to help you plan for your most successful growing season yet!

  • It’s important to get to know your garden – observing where the shade falls, this way you can plant in the appropriate area. Tender crops like tomatoes, peppers and squash will thrive in the sunny area of the garden. Leafy greens, herbs and salads prefer a part-shaded area.
  • Knowing the windy areas of your garden is also handy – climbing beans can get damaged in a windy area of the garden. Corn, on the other hand is preferable in the wind.
  • Keep track of what you plan to grow where, this will make crop rotation a lot simpler. Rotating crops from the same family to a new bed each year reduces the chances for pests and disease to build up in the soil. As a bonus it keeps the soil in great condition!
  • Varying crops place different demands on the soil. Cabbage is a very hungry plant so it’s a good idea to grow it after beans or peas – this will also help to enrich the soil by fixing nitrogen. Once you’ve harvested cabbages the soil will be less rich so you could replant with root crops such as carrots which don’t need high fertility to thrive.
  • Once you’ve chosen what you’d like to grow it will help to know when everything can be sown, planted and harvested – a good garden plan will include key dates of these activities. This plan will ensure that nothing is missed out or forgotten as the season gets busier.
  • Planning your garden means you can buy just the right number of seed containers, seeds, potting soil and plant supports.
  • Proper planning means you can keep your plot as productive as possible, for as long as possible, so as one crops finished, another is waiting in the wings to replace it.

Planning your garden can save you time, money and unnecessary disappointment. We hope these tips have helped you plan your garden! If you have any top tips for garden planning then please let us know in the comments or on our social media.

How to Plan a Bigger, Better Garden – Easy Vegetable Garden Planning