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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Greenhouses For Beginners

There are all sorts of challenges to gardening in the UK. From the unpredictable weather to unwanted garden visitors, it’s not always easy to grow things at the bottom of your garden. One solution to the problem is to invest in a greenhouse. The beauty of greenhouses is that you can buy them in different sizes, making them ideal for gardens of all descriptions. Gardening in a greenhouse brings about its own trials and challenges, so it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
 

Photo credit: Pexels
 
Read on for some useful information about greenhouses for beginners.
Space
When building your greenhouse, you’re going to need to decide how much space you’re going to need. It makes sense to get a larger space than you think you need, as you’ll likely increase the number of plants and vegetables you grow in there once you find your feet. Remember that some plants also need plenty of headroom to grow effectively, so make sure you factor this into your plans.
Material
Traditionally, greenhouses are made from glass - allowing easy access to sunlight and providing plenty of heat to help things grow. However, there are more versatile options available to you now that you should consider. A polycarbonate sheet greenhouse is a great alternative to the glass variety. It’s a lighter material that makes it easy to move around, and is also much cheaper to buy - ideal for those replacements for damaged panels due to weather or stray footballs. It might also be worth thinking about materials you can keep to hand for when the weather gets too hot - some sheeting or ventilation that can stop your plants from frying in the strong summer heat.
Location
Another key consideration for your greenhouse is space. If you place your greenhouse in an area that tends to be shaded, it’s not going to have the best effect on your plants. When siting your greenhouse, think about where the sun will be and how much sunlight that area gets in the day. You’ll also want to make sure the greenhouse is near your home, to make sure you actually maintain its upkeep. You’ll need to be able to get water and even power to your greenhouse with ease, so placing it near these access points will be a huge benefit to you. If your garden has a lot of trees, you might want to consider some grow lights to help keep your plants thriving during the summer months.
Timing
Timing is everything when it comes to growing vegetables and fruit in your garden. Take a look at this great list of what vegetables to grow in your greenhouse and when to help give you a better indication of what to plant at different times of the year to help you make the most of your greenhouse.
 
Like regular gardening, greenhouse gardening involves a period of learning until you get it right. Having a greenhouse is one of the ways you can prolong the growing season and get the best results from your efforts. Sometimes it’s a case of trial and error, but by doing your homework in advance - you’ll stand a much better chance of greenhouse gardening success.
 

Monday, 30 October 2017

How to Prolong the growing season


The UK might not be known for its fantastic weather, but it doesn’t mean us Brits can’t have success in the garden! The average growing season is now a month longer than it was in the 1990s, but due to our long and cold winters it’s still much shorter than other places in the world. However with the right know-how and equipment it’s easy to prolong the growing season, and achieve more crops. Here are some of the ways you can go about doing it, to get the most out of your garden.

Grow Houses

Growhouses such as greenhouses and polytunnels will absorb heat from the sun, and protect tender and half-hardy plants from the frost over the winter. To go a step further, you could insulate your structure with a layer of bubble wrap, or have heating installed. The temperature you’ll need to maintain will depend on the crops you’re growing so be sure to thoroughly research everything. Having a warmer environment in the garden allows you to keep growing produce right into the year. There would be no chance of this otherwise in the frosty UK winter!

Cold Frames and Hotbeds

Cold frames and hot beds are useful accessories to a greenhouse. Frames are boxes which lie flat on the ground with a glazed, sloping lid. A cold frame is left as it is and will provide protection from frost and a natural greenhouse effect from the sun. A hotbed is a cold frame but with an added heating device. This can be in the form of manure or nitrogen-rich compost. You can take advantage of this natural energy and chemical reaction by putting it where both the fertility and warmth will have the best impact.



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Mulch

Adding a layer of mulch, organic material such as bark, chippings, leaves or compost, is useful over the winter. It adds a protective barrier which helps to keep the base and roots of plants warm and avoid evaporation so that it doesn’t dry out. Mulch prevents soil compaction and also keeps out weeds which will prevent root competition. An easy, inexpensive way to protect your plants and keep them happy right the way through the year.

Cloches

Cloches are glass or plastic covers which will protect single plants. They 'buffer' temperature for late-ripening crops, reducing the sharpness of early frosts. As well as protecting from the elements, it will also protect against pests. Cloches act as mini-greenhouses and will help to keep your more tender plants protected. Taller cloches promote ripening of aubergines, tomatoes, and peppers. Cucumbers. Wind protection increases growth rates and leaf surface area, and also promotes ‘softer’ growth. This is useful for leafy crops such as salads, spinach, and cabbage where soft growth is desirable. Cloches also offer a favourable environment for cuttings as well as helping to germinating seeds. You can buy specially made glass cloches, or also make your own out of simple materials you’d find at any DIY shop.


Do you have any tips and tricks for extending the growing season?

Friday, 20 October 2017

Planting Winter Onions


Following on from a previous post about how to grow onions its worth reminding ourselves that there are actually quite a number of different varieties of onions from sets that can planted in your vegetable plot or allotment now. Sets are the simplest way to grow onions yourself much easier than from seed. They have the bonus that they can be harvested earlier on in the year as well.

Electric is a good red set, Radar a good yellow and Shakespeare is a highly reliable white.

You can also sow some spring onions now: White Lisbon Winter Hardy is a good one that we like to use. Check your local garden centre as quite a lot of them will have shallots available now for planting. Jermor is already available in my local garden centre. These are good to be planted about now or though until just into the New Year.

Friday, 13 October 2017

October Jobs in the Garden

Many believe that the cooling weather means it's time to pause gardening efforts for the year. However, if you're hoping to have healthy plants growing when next year rolls around, you'll want to do a bit of planting in the coming weeks, sowing seeds that can survive and grow through the winter to sprout and bloom in the spring!

Specifically, there are a number of delicious vegetables that you can plant during the autumn and early winter so as to harvest in spring. If this is something that interests you, and you like the idea of plotting a vegetable garden before the real cold weather sets in, here are a few tips for cool weather gardening, as well as a few great vegetables to plant.

Tips For Cold Weather Gardening Comfort

  • Purchase Gloves - Generally, some manner of gardening gloves are recommended for your yard work in any season - but particularly with the weather cooling off, it might be a good idea to buy new gloves. Cold, stiff hands make it very difficult to handle equipment and go about gardening, and it's an easily avoided problem!

  • Wear A Winter Hat - This may seem like a very obvious suggestion, and for some it is. However, it's important to emphasize the hat above other cool weather attire. Bulky jackets and overcoats can make gardening tricky, as they make it harder to be flexible bending to plants, getting on the ground, etc. Keeping your head warm warms your body effectively, however, and a winter cap doesn't get in the way of your activity.

  • Address Seasonal Irritation - Allergies are generally more closely associated with the spring season, but different people react differently to cold weather. One example is in eye irritation that can result from spending time outside in your garden in an unfamiliar season. If this is an issue for you, a quick visit to Acuvue can help you to identify potential reasons for irritation, as well as different solutions - eyedrops, contact lenses, etc. - to keep you more comfortable.

Vegetables To Plant This Season

  • Asparagus - This is a long-term project, as Asparagus beds require 2 years to be ready for picking, but it's nonetheless a vegetable that can be planted in cool weather.

  • Onions & Shallots - There are many varieties of onion that can be planted now for harvest in the spring. Telegraph notes several suitable varieties, and even sells them in their garden shop online.

  • Spinach - A common favourite among home vegetables, sowing spinach now can give you a beautiful salad supply come spring. Merlo Nero is one recommended variety.

  • Cabbage - This is a great option because it will be ready in some capacity by early spring, but will continue to grow thicker and heartier after your initial harvest.

  • Peas - Another delicious option, fairly easy to grow and which will be ready by spring or early summer if planted in the next month.
Whatever you opt for I hope they do well for you.

DG

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Conquering Mole Hills And Other Mountains In Your Garden

If you are an avid gardener, you’ll know that it can be difficult keeping your yard beautiful. There are numerous common issues that gardeners deal with everyday they get down on their knees and stain their trousers with green. Thankfully, most of these problems have fairly simple solutions. If you have had any annoying issues when you’ve been gardening, you just might find the solution right here.

Water Water Everywhere
 

Perhaps your biggest issue is that there is just too much darn water flooding your garden. Water is obviously essential for plants to grow but too much, and you’ll essentially drown them. If your soil density is too high, it won’t be permeable. There might also be an issue underneath your soil that means water builds on the surface, turning your grass into a soggy mess. If you have this issue, you can look into permeable solutions. You can get this laid down underneath your garden by a professional landscaper.

Alternatively, you might just want to check how dry your soil is before you try planting new flowers in your garden. Give your soil a squeeze. If water drips out, it might be best waiting for it to dry out a little more.

Chomping Insects
 
All gardeners know that feeling when you wake up, check your plants and veg in the backyard only to find little chunks taken out of leaves, flower petals and even the potato. If that’s the case, snails and slugs are the most likely culprit. They’ve sneaked in, albeit slowly and devoured your plants while you have been sleeping. There is a way to fix this issue too though. You can use copper slug tape to protect your plants and vegetation in your garden. With a trick like this, you should easily be able to make sure that no more damage is done to your plants by hungry insects in your garden.

You can also use slug pellets and insect repellents, but it’s far better to just keep those bugs away from the plants and vegs. That way, you can avoid damaging the soil or even the plants with chemicals.

The Black Spot!
 
It’s not as bad as it sounds, but the black spot on your plants can be a real nuisance. You’ll often find it on the leaves of roses in particular. The black spot is quite simply a fungus that grows in murky environments. You can treat it with fungicide, and as such it doesn’t have to plague your plants forever.

Mole Mess
 
Finally, you might have a problem with moles in your garden, leaving little hills that really can seem like mountains, messing up your lovely garden. You can fix that by tackling the food source of these beasties. Moles eat worms so if you kill the worms with pesticide the moles will soon disperse. People often get expert exterminators in to deal with moles, but there is really no need. Once the worms are gone so is their food source, and things will quickly be back to normal in your beautiful garden.


DG


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Onion Soup, fresh from the allotment



Following on from our post the other day about how to grow onions, we thought it would be a good time to think about what to do with some of them! Onion based soups have been popular at least as far back as Roman times. They were then usually seen as food for poor people, as onions were plentiful and easy to grow. The modern version of this soup originates in France in the 18th century, made from beef broth, and caramelized onions. It is often finished by being placed under a grill in a ramekin traditionally with croutons and gruyère melted on top. The croutons on top is reminiscent of ancient soups
INGREDIENTS
  • 6 large red or yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced.
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups of beef stock
  • 1/2 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 teaspoon of dry thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 slices of toasted French bread
  • 1 1/2 cups of grated Swiss Gruyere with a little grated Parmesan cheese
METHOD
1 Cut each onion in half lengthwise, then slice into half-moons. Slice these half-moons in half again. Place them into a large saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil on medium high heat until well browned, but not burned, about 30-40 minutes (or longer). You can let them cook even longer — an hour and a half will give you deeply caramelized onions! Just let them cook, stirring at times, as you see dark colour emerge. After 45 minutes they will look pale mahogany in colour. You can let them get even darker if you like — just don't let them burn or get black. Adjust the heat as necessary.

2 Add the sugar about 10 minutes into the process to help them to carmelise. The rich flavour of the base is not due just to the broth, but to the caramelized onions (typically, the pot is full of sliced onions, which will shrink down to less than half the volume on cooking).

3 Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add the stock,  wine, bay leaf, and thyme. Cover partially and simmer until the flavours are well blended, about 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bay leaf.

4 To serve you can either use individual oven-proof soup bowls or one large casserole dish. Ladle the soup into the bowls or casserole dish. Cover with the toast and sprinkle with cheese. Put into the broiler for 10 minutes at 350 degrees F, or until the cheese bubbles and is slightly browned. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Backyard Buildings: Your Guide To Garden Construction

agriculture, architecture, building


The outdoor space that comes with most properties is severely under used. Most people will let this area fall out of shape, making it hard to use them for hosting guests or entertaining the family. Of course, though, there’s an excellent way to get more out of this part of your home without having to do regular work; building. To help you out with this, this post will be going through some of the best construction projects you can undertake in the backyard.


  • Sheds


A lot of people like to use their outdoor space for storage for large items which can’t fit within the home, like patio furniture and bikes. This sort of option won’t set you back very much, but you might need to get some help to put it up, as they need solid foundations to be safe. Most shed retailers will offer a building service for a minimal fee. So, it’s worth seeing what you can get when you weigh up your options.


  • Stables


Of course, you don’t have to think about a conventional approach when you’re adding to your outdoor spaces. Instead, you can take a walk on the wild side. A company like Vale Stables can help you to find a great stable for your garden, enabling you to keep large animals like horses, sheep, or pigs. You just have to make sure you have enough space for them. Not a lot of people consider this sort of idea, but it can have a huge impact on your garden, even if you only use it as storage or shelter.


  • Summer Houses


When you’re spending time, money, and effort on building something in your garden, you’ll want to make sure that you can get the most out of it. One of the best options to achieve this is a summer house. Being similar to a shed, but designed to be comfortable on a summer or spring day, this sort of option can give you a great resource in your backyard. It will enable you to stay out of the sun, while also enjoying the wonder of the outdoors.


  • Gazebos


A gazebo is fairly similar to a summer house, but it lacks a very distinct feature; walls. Providing shade and shelter, but still leaving you in the elements, this sort of option is great in most gardens. They are cheaper than summer houses while offering most of the same benefits, giving you the chance to save a little bit of money. Of course, though, you’ll have to do some research to find the right style.


  • For The Kids


If you have children, your garden is a great tool which you’re probably under using. Most kids will be happy to spend hours at a time playing in the backyard. But, you’ll need to make sure they have the resources they need to do it. Summer houses for little people can be found fairly inexpensively, and items like swingsets are also cheap. Adding these elements will take some work. But, for the joy it gives, it will be well worth it.


Most people ignore the space they have behind their home. A lot of gardens fall to ruin, their space wasted and going unused. This is a shame, though, as it doesn’t have to be hard to make good use out of this sort of space. You just have to do the right work.


Saturday, 23 September 2017

Growing Herbs with Limited Space

Following on from this post about growing herbs with limited space it is possible to take this one step further and create vertical herb gardens.

Using either a custom kit (widely available) or if you are good at DIY creating your own the key is to use good quality compost and water regularly. Also by harvesting your herbs you will keep it all in check.



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