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Archive for the ‘Gardening Advice’ Category

Cloches And Tunnels

By admin On October 17, 2008 No Comments

Cloches are a kind of miniature portable greenhouse. Properly used they can be of great help in increasing and improving edible crops and in helping to grow ornamentals especially the tender ones.

Although small their mobility gives them an advantage over frames and with a carefully planned programme they can be in use over successive crops all year round.

They can be used to mautre crops early, to keep plants cropping longer in autumn and for ripening sub tropical crops such as melons, grapes, vines, peppers and so on. For taller crops they can be used standing on end, two round a plant.

Soil can be dried and warmed before sowing outdoors by putting them over the seed bed some weeks beforehand. Cloched strawberries will ripen at least three weeks earlier than uncloched ones.

Slightly tender herbaceous plants can be protected through winter: sweet peas, gladioli, bedding plants and half hardy annuals can be planted early and cloched and so on.

There are many types of cloches - The chase barn cloche was one of the first and there are now wire reinforced glass cloches, opaque white or clear plastic cloches and plastic sheet tunnels on wire hoops. Cloches can be barn shaped, round, flat topped or triangular.

As with greenhouses the glazing should be kept clean unless shading is applied in summer.

The Compost Heap

By admin On October 17, 2008 No Comments

Mystery surrounds the compost heap but its really just a simple means of making your own manure. Every garden should have two.

Make them side by side. Two post and wire enclosures 3 or 4 feet square mean that while one is full and rotting the other is being filled. With just one heap the whole business becomes confusing and messy.

Make both fronts removable so that the finished compost can be easily extracted.

What Goes In

All annual weeds, vegetable waste, lawn mowings, cabbage leaves, potato peelings, tea leaves, coffee grounds, pea pods, crushed egg shells and soft prunings.

What Stays Out

Thick rooted perennial weeds and woody stems. Household food (because there is the risk of encouraging rats and mice).

So far, so good, but how do you make it all turn brown? The answer is to mix all your ingredients together so that theres no concentration of one thing in one place. Firm the heap regularly by trampling. Turn a hose on it at the first sign of dryness and throw a piece of old carpet or sacking over the top to keep moisture in.

Over every 9 inch layer add a sprinkling of garden soil and a couple of handfuls of sulphate of ammonia or a propriety compost accelerator. Theres no need to turn the heap at intervals provided everything is mixed up when its put in.

Three to six months later (the cooler the weather the slower the rotting) you will be able to dig out brown and crumbly goodness and dig it in or spread it on your soil. You will notice the difference in plant growth.

Garden Buildings

By admin On October 13, 2008 No Comments

Choosing the right colour and finish is especially important in the case of buildings such as conservatories and sun porches, which are extensions to the house. On the one hand they need to blend with the house and its materials, on the other they need to blend with the garden and maintain a look that is light and airy. Marston & Langinger’s range of interior and exterior paints includes an extensive selection of shades designed to suit this particular situation.

See for more information

Nyssa Sylvatica - Wisley Bonfire

By admin On September 18, 2008 No Comments

Nyssas or tupelos are grown for their brilliant autumn colour and as you might expect there is a fine specimen of Nyssa Sylvatica ‘Wisley Bonfire’ growing at Wisley, the RHS famous garden in Surrey. It draws many visitors in autumn who come to see its orange leaves. When young, the ovate or obovate leaves of ‘Wisley Bonfire’ are a dark green and have a pale, downy underside. Its flowers are not interesting as they are small and green.

Growing Conditions - ‘Wisley Bonfire’ needs a moist acid soil to thrive and should be planted in a sheltered position in partial shade. It does not fare well in full sun or in excessively hot or cold situations.

Propagation - Take greenwood cuttings in early summer or semi ripe cutting in midsummer.

Rural Gardens

By admin On September 8, 2008 No Comments

A meadow is a lawn that is managed so that plants other than grass are encouraged. This style suits rural gardens perfectly, but even a small area in a town garden, carefully managed sot hat it looks attractive and colourful and not like a piece of waste ground, provides a breath of the countryside and a valuable refuge for wildlife in an urban setting. Long grass provides food for many caterpillars and a home for insects that help to control garden pests.

Your ideal meadow may well be populated by what some people would consider weeds, but they must be the right kind of weeds, and this needs careful planning and some management. You may also wish to add more conventional border plants and bulbs and to encourage them to naturalize informally. The effects you create can also be planned to vary with the season.

The important point to remember about wildflowers is that they need porr soil, so you need to think in a completely different way to when gardening conventionally. You must not improve or add nutrients to the soil as you would in beds and borders, nor feed, scarify, aerate or top-dress as you would a lawn. The kind of regime needed to maintain a meadow is not labour-intensive, but it may encourage undesirable weeds among the wildflowers and these will need to be removed.

Because a meadow is a more natural environment than a lawn, and it is to be hoped that the plants you introduce will naturalize, account must be taken of your soil conditions and what will thrive in them. It is well worth taking a look at local wild areas, perhaps with the aid os a good wildflower guide, to see what grows well locally. A moist area will support different plants to dry chalkland, and working with your soil will make it easier to establish plants. But however authentic you wish your meadow to be, never be tempted to dig up plants from the wild.

Specialized plants such as terrestrial orchids will only flourish where conditions suit them, and are usually an indicator that the meadow is ancient and has been well cared for. An old meadow will have a richly diverse floral and become home to a wide range of insects. However even a young meadow can be a useful oasis for wildlife and with time more plants will encroach fromt he surrounding countryside.

Having a meadow is not an excuse for not mowing. It must be cut twice a year, in early summer, after spring flowers have set seed, and again in late autumn. Mowings must be raked up and removed to prevent their nutrients being added to the soil and encourageing course grasses at the expense of wildflowers. Most lawnmowers will not be able to cope with such long grass. The traditional mowing tool is a scythe, but this is a dangerous tool and a nylon-line trimmer is much safter for small areas or hire a long grass mower.