Posts Tagged ‘garden tips’

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.

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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.

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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.

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.