Posts Tagged ‘improve your soil’

Make Your Own Seed Starting Mix

March 5th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

It’s that time of year again: seed sowing time. Sowing the first seeds of the growing season is always incredibly exciting. Think about all the fresh, home-grown products to come.

If you are planning on starting to sow in containers, you will need seed starting mix. And since buying this is often quite expensive, we will show you how to make your own.

 

Seed starting Mix

The perfect seed starting mix, should not be too high in nutrients, which could harm delicate seedlings. The mix should also hold on to moister without becoming soggy. Overly wet conditions can rot seeds and encourage fungal diseases such as damping off.

Here is a very simple recipe: It’s a soilless recipe so it’s beautifully light and fluffy. All the ingredients are natural too, promoting good strong growth and healthy, happy seedlings.

Seed-starting-mixBegin with 2 parts compost as your base. All parts measured by volume; So it doesn’t matter what you use to measure your ingredients, as long as you are consistent.

The compost adds slowly released nutrients to the mix, which will help to feed seedlings as they grow. You can use your own garden compost or buy some.

Break up clumps with your hands or screen/sift it to get a fine even texture.

Then add 2 parts coir or coconut fiber. If your coirs come in a block, rehydrate it first by soaking it in a bucket of water until you can easily break it apart. If you prefer you could substitute well-rotted leafmould instead of the coir.

Finally, add 1 part perlite, which will both lighten the mix and improve its air content. You can substitute perlite with sand, but it will give you a heavier mixture.

Mix all the ingredients together, create a consistent mix with all the ingredients evenly distributed. Once done, store the seed starter mix in a lidded container or in a plastic sac. Store your mix in a dry cool place.

 

Using your seed starting mix

Moisture your seed starting mix a little bit before using it, for it to be damp but not sodden. You can use your mix for sowing into plug trays, plastic pots, seeds trays or any other container suitable for seed sowing.

Gently press down your seed starting mix as you fill your container and take particular care to properly fill out the corners. Top up with more mix if required. Sow your seeds according to the package’s instructions and water. Watering requires some care if you don’t want to blast the mix out of the container.

Once the seedlings have germinated, it is best to water them from below. Put your containers in shallow trays of water, until the surface of the mix is moist.

Marigold-young-plants

 

Potting on

Many seedlings need potting on into larger containers at least once before it’s time to plant them out. Most will be happy in the same seed starting mix. But for hungrier seedlings like tomato for example, they will appreciate something a bit richer. Adding some worm compost, gives it the nutritional boost for after.

 

Container Potting Mixes

Try this potting mix for plants to be grown in larger containers.

Combine 2 parts garden compost with 1 part coir or leamould. Now add some perlite for drainage. 2-3 generous handfuls to every 10 gallons or 40 liters of the coir/compost mix. A similar amount of worm compost can also be added for hungry plants. Or incorporate a slow release organic fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Plants grown in the same container for a very long time need a potting mix that holds its structure. Loam or good quality garden soil offers this.

Simply combine 1 part loam or garden soil with 1 part garden compost. Then add some slow releasing organic fertilizer.

 

Making your own potting mix will save you a lot of money, but the other benefit of these recipes is that they can also be tweaked depending on what you are growing.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you create your own sowing mix. If you have any additonal tips let us know which ones in the comments below or head over to our Facebook and Twitter page and tell us what you would recomend.

Complete Garden Health Treatment in a Bottle

February 26th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

New seaweed concentrate set to transform plant performance for gardeners.

Our new Seasol Seaweed Concentrate is an all-natural plant tonic for the healthy growth of plants, flowers, vegetables and even lawns.

Mr-Fothergills-new-Seasol-Seaweed-ConcentrateDerived from a blend of the finest, sustainably harvested kelps from the oceans around Ireland, Norway, Canada and Tasmania, Seasol offers a complete treatment for all areas of the garden. The concentrate contains useful micro-nutrients, is rich in trace elements and has been proven to provide excellent chemical-free plant nourishment.

Ian Cross, Mr Fothergill’s retail marketing manager said: “More and more of our customers are seeking to move away from garden chemicals. Bringing Seasol to the UK market offers the opportunity to garden in a much more environmentally friendly manner, and also the chance of bigger, better results in all areas of the garden. Whether you grow flowers or vegetables, or a mix of both, Seasol will bring benefits where ever it is used.”

As well as being applied directly to soils for uptake at the roots, we have also seen improved germination and increased initial root growth from seeds soaked in Seasol before sowing.

Seasol can be applied regularly, at any time of year on all garden plants and is available now in selected garden retailers in our online shop.

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

Soil Health: How to Improve Your Soil

January 25th, 2018 | News | 0 Comments

Soil-Health-How-to-Improve-Your-Soil-gardening-tips

Healthy soil is the secret behind good harvests. Good soil provides moisture, nutrition and support for crops. Understand your soil type and you can work to improve it. Ensuring more robust plants and even better harvests. First of all, identify your soil type: Soil can be split in four distinctive categories: sandy, silt, clay or loam. Each soil type has its own characteristics:

Sandy soils

Are made of very large particles, which gives a gritty texture. They drain quickly, so seem to be dryer than other types. They also don’t hold on to nutrient very well, which can be challenging for hungry crops. However, they are easy to work with and warm up quickly in Spring. Root crops grow well in sandy soils.

Silt soils

Have smaller particles, giving them a slippery feel. This type of soil holds on to moisture and nutrients for longer.

Clay soils

They consist of very fine particles. Clay soil holds it shape when moulded into a ball and is smooth to the touch. It is slow to both absorb moisture and drain. This means that this type of soil can be hard in the summer and waterlogged in the winter, making them difficult to dig. However well cultivated clay soils are very fertile and are preferred by cabbage, beans, peas and salad leaves.

Loam soil

Loam soil is the ideal soil that gardeners dream off. It’s fertile, drains well but not too fast and is easy to work. It supports any fruit or vegetable.

 

Improving your soil

All soil types can be improved by adding organic matter. Organic matter can take many forms such as: leaf mold or garden made compost. When incorporating your organic matter to the soil, make sure to check for roots of weed to avoid future problems. Organic matter improves soil structure and nutriment content.

You can add organic matter at any time of the year. But the end of growing season is an especially good time. Spread your organic mater over your soil, it is not necessary to dig it in. Just leave it on the surface over winter. By Spring the worms in the soil will have done  a great job of incorporating most of that organic matter into the soil. Organic matter can also be laid around established fruit trees and around perennial vegetables.

You can also test your soil’s PH. Knowing your soil’s PH will help you to decide what to grow in it.

For example, particularly acidic soils is great for acid lovers like blueberry. While soil with an alkaline PH is preferred by cabbage and cauliflower. You can test your soil using a PH test kit.

 

 

These are just a few tips and ideas to help you get started with recycling and repurposing old items into new ones in your garden. 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