Monday, 18 March 2019

Why it’s useful to have a shed

As a gardener, seasoned or new, you will know that gardening can be one of the most rewarding pastimes; immersing yourself in your garden and seeing the results. However, taking care of your garden can require a lot of hard work and tools, this is where your garden storage comes into play. There is nothing more irritating and time consuming than having to go back and forth to the house to get your tools. The UK's premier retailer of quality garden and leisure buildings, GBC Group, recommend that a shed could be the perfect solution for you; it provides a safe and practical place to store your tools and provides easy access whilst you’re gardening. Sheds compliment gardens perfectly so if you feel like your garden is lacking something, it could well be a shed that you are looking for.

The primary use for a garden shed seems pretty obvious; to store gardening equipment and tools. However, the uses are actually vast, and you don’t have to limit yourself to one thing. A shed is a great place for storage; both of gardening tools and miscellaneous items, having somewhere outside the house to store things means you can free up space inside. Storing tools and equipment inside a shed means it can be locked and everything kept safe.

If you want to use your shed for something completely different, that’s not a problem. Sheds can serve as a space separate from your house where you can relax, work, enjoy a hobby or basically do whatever you please. Many people choose to use their shed as a workspace or hobby room, this way you have somewhere completely your own to enjoy. If you work from home, you can use your shed as a home office and enjoy sitting in your garden whilst you work. If gardening is your main hobby or interest you can even use a shed as an indoor greenhouse or garden during winter months.

The key to a successful shed is building a good base, if you have a stable and strong base to your shed you can be sure that it will be long lasting and secure. If you’re wondering how to build a shed base, it’s quite simple. In general sheds are easy to build, so it shouldn’t be a worry. If you’re not keen on the building aspect, you can always enlist the help of an expert.

There are many advantages to having a garden shed; for starters it completes the garden. It may come as no surprise that sheds are the perfect accessory for any garden, after all they were created for that sole purpose. There are many different sheds you can choose from, there are some stunning designs to bring your garden to life.

Having a shed or garden room can actually add value to your property, something worth considering if you are going to be selling your home or renting it out. In general, sheds are a straight forward, cost effective way to add space to your property. What you choose to do with the space is entirely your choice and the opportunities are endless.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Handy Ways to Restore and Renew Your Tired Garden

You aren’t afraid to say that you take great pride in your garden. When your backyard is looking a little tattered and torn you don’t quite feel complete. Your house can be as messy as you like, but the garden is definitely a place of peace and sanctuary for you, so you want to get it up to scratch again. You want to renew your garden so that it feel fabulous again, even during the cold winter months. There are so many different ways that you have revive your outdoor space right now so take a look at some of the following ideas.

Fabulous Fences

There is nothing more annoying than seeing your fences become tattered, tired and worn during the cold, treacherous months. Panels may have come loose and the colour might have faded due to bad weather. If this is the case for your fences, then you should definitely consider ColourFence. They can not only help you restore your old fences, but they could also install completely new ones for you. Look into their services and see how they can help to revive your sleepy garden, so it can look glorious again.

A New Shade For Your Shed

Every avid gardener knows that there is nothing uglier than an old shed in the corner of the garden. You could have the most beautiful flower arrangements and stunning hedges, but a sad shed can completely ruin the entire vibe. If you’re not quite ready to get rid of your beloved shed just yet, why not paint it a fun colour? It could really become a statement feature outside, instead of a gloomy outcast. Choose a calming pastel hue or a bright and bold red tone to really make it stand out.

Beautiful Blooms

One of your favourite pastimes definitely has to be planting bulbs and seeds so that they can blossom and bloom over the months. Whether you’re dreaming of daffodils or crazy about chrysanthemums, there are so many different options you can choose from. It’s time to get a little creative with your colour schemes, so that you can truly inject some zest into your garden.

Happy Herb Patch

There are many reasons why you should start a herb garden of your own. Imagine stepping out of your back door and picking fresh sprigs of rosemary or mint for your favourite dinner dish. This could all become a reality if you just start up your own herb patch in the back garden. Choose your favourite flavours and smells, tend to them carefully over time and you will end up with a proud patch in your back garden that will serve you well for life.

So find your favourite ideas for your garden and roll with them. You have enough creativity and technique to make something special out of your outdoor space. Whether you’re planting the perfect flowers or creating a happy herb patch, there are so many different options for you to explore. Find your winning idea and your garden will be looking glorious in no time.

Wednesday, 30 January 2019

Friday, 18 January 2019

Things to do in January

Prune apple & pear trees
The winter period is quite a good time of year to prune your apple and pear trees as they are now dormant. Trim back to one or two buds, thin out branches that are congested or rubbing against other branches. By doing these jobs you will increase the  light and air flow through the tree. Remove any "mummified" fruits still hanging on your trees as these can be a source of rot going into the new season.

Despite it being January there may still be plenty to harvest, Leeks may well be standing ready but if a sustained freeze is expected then you can dig a few up and heel them in to dug ground. Parsnips and swedes in the ground can also come up when you are ready, but until then cover them over with fleece or straw to stop them freezing solid into the ground. The cabbage family should be providing some sustenance and beet leaves (perpetual spinach) and chards will be available. On a sunny day it is worth emptying your potato sacks and check for any that are starting to rot before it spread

Protect tender plants
Tender perennials such as Cordylines and Fuchsia should be kept out of the frost, so bring them into the green house or conservatory.

Brush heavy snow off trees
If you get a heavy snow fall then brush shrubs and conifers with a broom to prevent branches getting damaged.

If the ground is now frozen finish off any digging over you still need to do.

Thoroughly clean and oil your loppers, secateurs, and other hard worked tools so they’re fit for another years maintenance in the garden. Start off by giving them a good scrub with some hot soapy water and leave them to dry thoroughly before wiping over with an oily rag to stop them going rusty.

If you dont have any (or enough) then this is a good time to plant in the green especially if a friend of neighbour can provide them to you.

Thursday, 17 January 2019

If you grow just one new thing in 2019 make sure its this!

How cool are these, not a melon and not a cucumber but a cucamelon. One of the highlights of James Wongs recent book  "Home Grown Revolution".

Described by the seed company as follows:
An heirloom that packs a lot of flavor in an adorable, teaspoon-sized treat! These little charmers are like no other, packing a powerful, sweet, cucumber flavor with a tangy, citrus twist. Delicate foliage and fist-fulls of fruit that look like doll-sized watermelons make these plants pretty enough to grow trellised in a flower garden or cascading in a hanging basket.
They are very small, just an inch and a half tall, light-green fruits with darker mottling look like watermelons for a doll house, which gives them one of their common names, mouse melon. The scientific name of this plant is Melothria scabra and it comes from Central America. The flesh is white, crisp, crunchy with a slight lemony tartness. The flavour is closer to a cucumber than a melon with a dash of lemony zest thrown in for good measure.

Wednesday, 16 January 2019

Five Reason to Choose Composite Decking

Gardens can be an ideal retreat in the summertime. When you’re not cutting grass, weeding or trimming bushes they give you the opportunity to extend your relaxation space outside. To properly enjoy it and love spending time out there can take some design and planning.

What’s the deal with gardens anyway?
Until the 19th century, only the rich nobility had maintained gardens. The land was traditionally used for farming so being able to use an area for decoration with a lawn was the equivalent of parking a Ferarri on your drive. The commoners were much less fortunate, needing their land for growing vegetables. As time has passed, property owners have been keen to show off their well-maintained lawns as a subtle broadcast of their excess land. The invention of the lawnmower made a tidy lawn even more accessible and a well trimmed, flower trimmed area of grass became the ultimate statement.

People are now moving away from grass and flowers, choosing to create more useable space for eating and entertaining.

There are lots of ways to create your perfect outdoor space; concrete, pressed concrete, patio stones, crazy paving, block paving, decking or composite decking. Each requires different skills to install and have different costs. But taking all factors into consideration Composite Decking Boards are the best option. Here’s why:

1. You will probably leave your home before you need to change your deck.
Composite decking is very durable and comes with extensive warranties – often as long as 15 years for residential installations. In addition, the expected life expectancy of composite decking is between 20-30 years. What you won't need to do is invest in the costly and time consuming annual cleaning, sanding, staining and waxing required for maintaining timber decks. Similarly, with concrete installations, the question is when not if the cracks will start to appear. Concrete is especially susceptible to weather changes and settling.  Unlike composite decking, making repairs to timber, concrete or patio slabs can be almost impossible to maintain surface and colour consistency so any repairs will always be noticeable. If any damage occurs to your composite boards, you can simply replace the board with a replacement of the same colour.

2. Responsibility for the environment.
Considering the environment is becoming a major factor for consumers, from car emissions to recyclable packaging. Composite decking is manufactured from a mixture of recycled wood, recycled plastic and various additives (colours and bonding agents). This process proves to have no impact on deforestation and every deck produced prevents some plastic ending up in a landfill.

3. Composite boards can stand up to animals.
Young children especially love being outdoors. Learning about the world and environment by crawling around and investigating all the things we would often like them to not be investigating is a great stimulation. The implications of owning pets should be considered with decking. However well they are trained it is inevitable that your dog will use the decking as a toilet at some point. The non-porous nature of composite boards means that urine won’t soak in and leave smelly patches. This is a common problem with timber and concrete. A quick spray with water will have it removed from composite boards. Gardens also invite wild animals that are also relieving themselves on our lawns and decking. Knowing this can be simply washed off without worrying about little hands and feet creeping through the residue is reassuring.

Aside from their toilet habits, dogs are inherently messy and if you have a lawn area in addition to a deck you are likely to be challenged by muddy paw prints. Composite boards are much more resistant to moisture than timber boards. A full clean with a pressure washer every time you are planning to entertain in the garden is therefore not necessary. A simple wipe with a mop and water is all you need to make it pass the rigorous inspections of your guests.

4. Safety is a consideration when in the garden.
A composite decking installation is generally safer than timber and reduces the risk of accidents. This is especially true where children and animals are concerned. Composite boards have no exposed fixtures, resulting in a clean and seamless finish. There is no potential for loose screws to pop up above the board which can be a hazard for little feet, big feet and paws. Splinters can be a nasty surprise and are an unavoidable feature of timber boards.  When it rains, the wood fibres get wet and expand as water is absorbed. They then contract as the water dries out. This constant wet/dry process causes the timber boards to crack, warp and splinter. Especially around screw holes where the wood can be more exposed to the elements. This is unavoidable with timber, even with regular sanding, sealing and coating with a UV protective substance.  Vets have reported a number of cases of broken limbs caused by the timber decks. If you have a dog who is a ‘chaser’ and bolts at the sight of a cat, squirrel or random shadow they can easily lose their balance on a damp timber board. Careering directly into a wall, table or off the edge of the deck is often accompanied by an expensive vet bill.  Composite boards are designed to have anti-slip properties allowing your pet a fair chase. Good news for your dog, but maybe not so much for the neighbour’s cat!

5. It’s important that a garden installation matches the surroundings.
Everybody’s idea of colour coordination is different and it’s important that you can choose a product that will suit your surroundings and personality. There is an array of colours to choose from with composite boards. You can ensure you get exactly the finish that will complement your space. What’s more, the anti-fade formulation of composite boards means you can be confident the colour you love at the time of installation will not change throughout the years as you are enjoying your deck.  But how can you choose the best colour for your own garden? Sample packs are generally available on request so you can see exactly what you will be getting before you commit.

Orchid Care

It is often suggested that more orchids fail as a result of an incorrect watering regime than any other reason. When it comes to watering these epiphytes there are two elements to consider when considering your watering regime, these are When and How. The vast majority of orchids grown by hobby growers are naturally found on trees above the ground where the light is more plentiful. Most orchids that are not terrestrial need their roots exposed to light, air and water.

When should you water your orchids?
Orchids should be watered as they start to dry out. Don't allow them to completely dry out, but just before. This rule generally works for most orchids with variations depending on whether the orchid is able to store its own water. Orchids such as cattleyas and oncidiums should be allowed to dry completely between watering while orchids such as phalaenopsis and paphiopedilums that have no water storage organs should be watered before they dry out.

There is no strict rule on how to water that can apply for every grower, and every grower will have their own rules. This is because your local growing environment will not be the same as anyone else's. Key climatic differences such as temperature, humidity, air movement, the potting mix (type and age), and light levels all influence the watering requirements of individual plants.

When deciding whether to water, there are several identifying clues to determine when a potted orchid is almost dry:

  • the surface of the potting mix will appear dry when the potting mix is moss 
  • dry pots will feel lighter when lifted.
  • clay pots feel dry;
  • If you insert a pencil or wooden skewer into the potting mix when removed it will come out almost dry.

Generally it is best to water your plant in the morning to give the moisture on the leaves time to dry off during the day, this will reduce the risk of fungal damage. If any water remains in the center of the plant then use some kitchen towel to dry it off.

Many people prefer to use natural water rather than tap water to avoid any of the added chemicals or to have water with a different PH. If you use water treatment then this can help increase the range of plants you are able to cater for.

During the summer months when temperatures are higher then you will need to water more frequently, and conversely in the winter months water less frequently. Keep in mind that temperatures close to the window on a windowsill will be colder or hotter than your general house temperature. Keeping your plant away from radiators in winter will help minimise premature drying.

When orchids are watered, they should be watered copiously, infrequent and plenty is better than little and often. Place your plant into the sink and let the water run freely from the drainage holes for about a minute. Do not use salt-softened or distilled water. Allow the plant to drain completely. This is an opportunity to examine how the potting mix behaves. If you cannot pour water rapidly through the pot, the potting mix is too dense and you run the risk of starving the roots for air. If you see finely divided material that looks like coffee grounds in the water coming from the drainage holes, your potting mix is breaking down and it's time to repot into fresh mix.

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Orchid Propagation

Propagation from seed requires specialist laboratory equipment, but some orchids can be successfully propagated at home by other means:

From plantlets: These appear from the growing points of stems of some Dendrobium, Epidendrum and Phalaenopsis species. Detach the plantlets when they have developed several good roots, and pot them up in orchid compost. Water them sparingly at first, and mist daily.

From stem cuttings: These can be taken from many Dendrobium orchids. Cut off a stem up to 30cm (1ft) long and cut it up into 7-10cm (3-4in) sections, with at least one dormant bud on each section. Place the cuttings in a tray of damp sphagnum moss, and keep them humid and shaded. Detach and pot up the plantlets that form from the buds.

By division: This method can be used to propagate orchids such as Cattleya, Cymbidium and Odontoglossum in spring, just after flowering. Only divide plants that are overcrowded in the pot. Cut through the rhizomes that join the pseudobulbs, making sure that each division has at least three healthy pseudobulbs. Trim off any dead roots and remove any brown and shrivelled pseudobulbs before re-potting the divisions individually.

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

Storing your gardening tools

Good tools are the key to a good garden and any keen gardener will know they make your life so much easier when they are well maintained. Great tools are an investment worth making as we are rewarded with beautiful gardens, but in order to get the most out of your tools it is incredibly important to take great care of them and this includes storing them correctly. It not only makes your life so much easier but also extends the lifespan of your tools. Prior to storing your tools, they need to be cleaned and sharpened in order to last longer and perform better. Once this is done it is important to consider the best storage option for you such as location and organisation. The best option for tool storage can vary depending on the type of tools. Correct tool storage is valuable all year round but even more so in winter as they are typically being stored for longer.

Small and Manual tools
Thankfully, the easiest to clean tools are the smallest and most often used, such as pruning shears. It is important to maintain clean, sharp and rust-free tools in order to make your life easier and ensure you get the most out of your time and tools. Before storing your tools make sure they have been properly oiled and lubricated as this will ensure they stay rust free and it will extend their life. Another way to ensure you keep your tools rust free is to keep them in a bucket of sand, soaked in oil. This keeps rot and rust away from them. One key thing to note when storing your gardening tools is that you should keep them in a dry environment, the enemy of gardening tools is damp. It is important to make sure you are keeping heat and humidity away from your tools. The smallest tools can be kept in a box if you would prefer however an excellent way to store your tools is on a toolboard on the wall of a garage or outbuilding. It makes them easily accessible, saves space, avoids rust and keeps them off the ground where they are less likely to come into contact with damp. It can also make for an aesthetically pleasing garage if that is what you are after. Organising your garage can save time and effort whilst keeping everything looking tidy. It means everything is kept in one place, you can even arrange things like gloves to be close at hand so that you are ready to go as quick as possible.

Power Tools
Power tools are arguably the hardest ones to maintain, luckily they are usually used least often. When preparing your power tools for storage, the first step is to, obviously, unplug them. Once they are unplugged you can easily dismantle them and clean, oil and lubricate the individual parts accordingly. The best way to store power tools is in their respective cases, if this is possible. This prevents any confusion and tangling of wires. Storing your power tools individually means easy access and that there’s no challenge of sorting through a mess of wires. Storing them in their cases means they are protected from any accidental damage.

Winter Storage
Correct storage of your tools is important all year round but especially in winter as this is usually when your tools are stored for the longest time. It is particularly important to clean and oil your tools for this reason as if they are not cared for properly prior to storage they are less likely to survive the winter. In the winter, frost is a big threat to both gardens and gardening tools. Therefore, it is important to make sure that, wherever they are kept, they are kept protect from the wet and frost.


Tuesday, 1 January 2019

Dividing Rhurbarb

If you grow rhubarb in your garden or allotment you should be thinking about dividing it over the next few weeks if you haven't done it for a while. Rhubarb plants should be divided every five years or so giving you additional plants but also healthier ones too.

How to divide Rhubarb
Dig up the crowns and roots taking extra care not to damage the crown. Divide the roots into 4 to 8 pieces depending on the size of the plant you are lifting. It is best to divide the dormant crowns between two large buds called eyes so that at least a 5cm or so section of storage root is left attached to each bud. Remember to take care not to break off the delicate buds as these can easily be broken, but other that that the roots are actually pretty tough and can tolerate quite a lot of rough treatment. Small buds will give you small plants for the first few years after planting until the newly divided plant bulks up again, while four to ten new roots can usually be obtained from crowns that have been grown a few years.

Take care not to allow the divisions to dry out or to freeze if you are not to going to be planting the straight away. Remember that when you are dividing crowns for re-planting, it is a good idea to identify the most vigorous plants the previous summer and use these as planting stock in the Autumn. The depth of planting should be so that the top of the plant is at, or only just below the soil surface. Gently firm the surrounding soil and water the new plants in well. The space between plants should be approximately 75cm (30in) for smaller varieties, and up to 120cm (48in) for larger varieties. It is a good idea to identify where the newly divided crowns have been planted with a cane until new shoots appear above the soil surface in February or March.

It should be obvious but crowns from diseased plants should not be divided from.

Soil Preparation
All Rhubarb varieties develop a deep root system and will grow best in a fertile, partially shaded, free-draining soil. It is a good idea to prepare the ground in advance, start digging over your soil four weeks before planting and remove any stones you find and adding as much organic matter as possible.

Heres a useful video:
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