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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Importance of Keeping Plants Cool inside an Orangery

Orangeries are ideal for allowing certain kinds of plant life to have a healthy and long life, but helping them reach their full potential while preventing them from the risk of getting damage is a constant struggle.

Orangeries are usually thought of as being an extra room of a house by homeowners, but they are actually designed to act a form of greenhouse for cultivating certain kinds of plant life. In fact, this was the originally intended use for those structures when they were first introduced into European life during the 17th century.

An orangery setting was considered perfect for used to cultivate tropical plants that would otherwise be near impossible to grow in the harsh UK climate.

Plants can still thrive still in modern designs of both orangeries and conservatories; however, doing this effectively is often overlooked due to confusion over the temperature needed to raise plants healthily. But what are the best methods of keeping plant life healthy in a contemporary orangery.

Stop overheating your orangery
Regardless of whether your orangery is comprised of steel or is made from a plastic material like the kind used in PVCu orangeries, it is inevitable that at the height of summer the structure will become extremely hot inside. In British summertime a conservatory can reach temperatures of 40 degrees inside an orangery.

Although some heat is needed for plant life, the sheer volume of this heat can cause strain on the roots and dry the plant out. Watering plants regularly may sound like an obvious solution, but such a practice runs the risk of over nourishing the root. To prevent this from happening, it is essential to ensure that a good cycle of cool air is frequently pumped around the orangery.


Good Ventilation
Keeping your orangery cool can be easily achieved through leaving a window open during the day, especially during late morning and early afternoon when the sun is at its hottest. But alternatively you can leave the door inside your home nearest to the orangery open to give cooler air from the rest of the house the chance to circulate in a manner that evenly distributes it.

If possible, keep an air conditioning system on during the day to keep your plan life cool. Air conditioning can be set to an automatic timer which is particularly useful if you are going away for a day or two and don’t want to leave a window unlocked while you’re not at home. 

Fresh air is also necessary to stop plants from developing fungal diseases. Citrus trees in particular necessitate sufficient air ventilation or else their fruit won’t ripen correctly and may fall prematurely.

But can plants get too cold?
Of course the flipside of overheating plants is allowing them to get too cold instead. Generally speaking, there is no one orangery temperature to keep plants at as they are all different and require diverse forms of maintenance.

However, it is advisable to store subtropical plants at a temperature of around 5-8°C, which will ensure they are kept warm during the winter months.

Taking these few points into consideration can make all the difference to the health of your plants.

If you want to become the owner of a bespoke conservatory or orangery that will be custom made to cater to the health of your plants, contact Auburn Hill where you will find the finest designs made from a range of durable materials.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Forcing Rhubarb



Rhubarb produces its tasty pink stems throughout thr spring and early summer. However, you can extend the season by 'forcing' a significantly earlier crop by covering over the crown before it starts to sprout in say January or February with a bucket or an ornamental terracotta rhubarb forcer.

You then need to cover over the bucked with straw to keep the temperature up especially if the weather is cold.

Plants need light to photosynthesise and produce chlorophyll, which in turn makes foliage green. Exclude every last shard of light and plants cannot photosynthesise. Your light-excluded plant will then desperately reach out in search of light, producing smooth, pale stems in the process.

If you want an even earlier crop then you can grow some rhubarb in a greenhouse and force in there, the extra heat and protection as well as the rhubarb forcing pot will bring in on far earlier than in the open allotment.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Garden maintenance tips for the beginner

Gardening nourishes the mind, body and soul when you spend time caring for your plants, helping them to thrive and enjoying the meditative benefits of enjoying nature. If you love to garden but are not always sure how to keep your plants green and healthy, look no further, here are some great tips for newcomers on how to keep your garden thriving:

Keep pruning
By regularly pruning your plants you will prevents them from growing out of control. Just go through and trim the ends off your plants every so often to keep them tidy. What’s more, keeping your plants trimmed helps then to grow more healthily. It’s just like your hair; if you let it grow and grow it will become long and straggly, but when you trim off the dead ends, both your hair and your plants are able to thrive.

Weeding
It is important to weed regularly in order to prevent them from taking over all the healthy soil. Weeds should be taken care of as soon as possible by pulling them out by the root. If you miss the root, they will only grow back with a vengeance. You might decide to spray the area with a weed killer after you have pulled them out. There are different varieties to choose from, some more natural than others. Using groundcover plants or mulch will help prevent weeds from spreading, because without light they are unable to grow.

Use mulch
When it comes to soil, you have lots of different options for what to use for your plants. Mulch is a rich, healthy type of soil that will give your plants all the nutrients they need to grow strong. Spread mulch over the soil straight after planting your latest purchases to help prevent weeds from growing. Mulch also helps cool down the soil in the summer months and keeps it warm in the winter.

Mowing
The best way to maintain a healthy lawn is to make sure you keep it mowed regularly. Mow as high as you can, because the lower you mow, the more you leave the grass vulnerable to weeds or other problems. When you are mowing use an even pattern across the lawn, moving up and down until you have covered the entire space. This will ensure that you cut all areas evenly. If you have moved into a new property with a large lawn, do not be intimidated by the area to be cared for. With the proper mowing equipment it will simply be a weekly task to maintain the quality of your lawn. A specialist garden tool supplier is a great place to find all the gardening equipment you will need.


Irrigation system
It is important to maintain a constant supply of water to your garden, no matter what the time of year. In the rainy season, you obviously get a pass here, but during the summer or dry months, you might like to set up an irrigation or sprinkler system to ensure all your plants stay nourished. Clean out your irrigation several times per year to make sure the system does not become blocked.

.DG

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Your garden as another room

If your garden seems impossible to maintain, tired-looking, or feral you might need to rethink your way of looking at the space. It could very well be time to start imagining your garden as another room in the house and lavishing as much attention upon it as you do the living room, dining room, or kitchen.
By maintaining your garden properly, it can be enjoyed just like any other room and provide an extra area of functional leisure space for you and your family. We vacuum our lounge carpet and dust our shelves regularly, so why is it so hard to imagine keeping the grass clipped and the shrubbery trimmed? A well-kept garden is a brilliant addition to any home: an open air living room, it makes the perfect place to spend summer afternoons with the family, and can be used for everything from picnics to football.

Softening the transition
The transition between the indoor and outdoor space is key to making the garden another room in the home; the first step is to bring a little of the outside into your front room, and a little of the lounge into your garden. An easy way to do this is with French windows, patios, and decking. Push out the living room windows to make terrace doors that open directly onto the patio or terrace, and get yourself some comfortable outdoor furniture perfect for enjoying a cup of coffee on a sunny morning – or relaxing on long, summer evenings.

Finding the right style
Just like any other part of the house, the garden should reflect your own personal style while at the same time being an extension of the decorative trends present in other parts of the house. Are you going for a more contemporary urban look, or a rustic country feel? Most individuals associate gardens with country living, but a city garden can be even more effective – your own personal oasis away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Features
Features – or points of interest – help give a garden focus. Just as a dining room is not a blank, empty space but rather is dominated by the dining table and chairs, so can a garden gain a sense of purpose with the addition of a gazebo, or a patio, deck, or terrace equipped for outdoor dining. Invest in a barbecue or gas grill and you can even cook out there.

Water features have grown in popularity in recent years – at least in part because they are such a talking point – and have the added dimension of sound; the sound of flowing water is incredibly soothing, and even a small water feature such as a fountain can bring plant and animal life into your garden, even in the heart of the city.

Window shutters

When considering the garden, don't forget about the windows that will face out onto it. Well-made shutters produced from all natural materials can add to the look of both the facade of the house and your garden. Fitted wooden shutters can transform a home into a romantic, warm setting no matter where it is placed geographically.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

What do do on the Allotment in April



Hopefully this cold weather wont stay too much longer and we will get into a more normal spring. With that in mind its a good time to remind ourselves what to be doing in April.

Tomatoes
Tomatoes are an essential crop on my allotment, and whether you have a big space or just a few pots on a balcony it's one you should not be without. There are fortunately many types that can be grown outside in the UK in summer so you don't even have to have a greenhouse. However in saying that the earliest crop of fruit will come from plants grown in a greenhouse. Tomatoes are very easy to grow from seed, so start sowing now to raise indoor varieties, they are a great plant to get children interested in as the fresh young fruit you pick will be very sweet - ideal introduction to grow (and eat) your own for younger gardeners.



Strawberries 
You can also be planning to plant your Strawberries out now. Don't forget that it is better to remove any  flowers that form in the first year so that the strength goes into growth rather than fruit production so that you will and get bigger crops in future years. Choose several different varieties to spread the harvest season from June until late summer. Rooted runners, sometimes called crowns, are best obtained from specialist fruit nurseries. If you cover your strawberries with a cloche this will encourage earlier flowering, but you'll need to open the cloches during the day to allow insects in to pollinate the flowers.

Potatoes
Set out your seed potatoes in trays and stand in a cool, bright position for shoots to form (known as chitting). You could have planted the early varieties in March but with the cold weather many gardeners have not done that this year. The main-crop potatoes are planted out later in April. Potatoes can be planted in deep drills or in individual planting holes, with a couple of inches of soil mounded over the top of them. If you are expecting a frost cover over with fleece or straw to protect the ground from freezing.

Shallots
Plant shallot sets in March or early April, spacing them about 15cm (6in) apart separating the rows by about a foot (30cm). Normally when the conditions have warmed up in late March, the onion sets can be planted out into a firm seedbed, but this year the temperatures are delaying things. Hopefully we will get a good summer and autumn so we don't get too many delays in the allotment.


Fruit trees
Container grown trees can be planted out at any time of year. Bare root trees should have been planted by now so don't be tempted to save money on them now. Protect any fruit trees that are about to blossom from the frost using fleece as the frost could kill off your crop for the year.  But when in blossom take off the fleece during the day to allow insects to reach the flowwers. Hand-pollinate the flowers of peaches and nectarines with a soft brush. Outdoor trees will also benefit from a fortnightly spray against peach-leaf curl.

Rhubarb 
Cover emerging rhubarb shoots with forcing jars or old buckets to exclude light and encourage long tender stalks.

Celery 
Sow seed in pots in the greenhouse during late March and April to raise plants that you can plant out from May to June.

Enjoy the allotment!
DG
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