Author Archive | tejvan

Tips for Composting Leaves

Composting Broad-leaves

  • Broad leaved trees produce prodigious volumes of leaves in Autumn.
  • Their leaves should be composted or rotted separately to other garden waste. They can take upto 2 years to decompose properly.
  • It is worth persevering because they make an excellent soil conditioner.
  • The leaves will decompose in punctured plastic bags or a custom made leaf bin.
  • Often these custom made leaf composters are made with a simple wire mesh.
  • The advantage of using open bins is that they enable worms to enter and help the process of decomposition. It is important to have 2 bins / bags on the go at the same time, as they will not be ready in less than 1 year.

Accelerators for Composting Leaves.

  • It is possible to buy a special liquid which helps to speed up the process of decomposition. These accelerators are worth adding as they will speed up the process.
  • Basically, these accelerators help add nitrogen to the leaves.
  • If you have access to manure adding it to leaves will work very effectively.
  • Even accelerated decomposition will not increase the nutritional value.
  • Oak Chestnut and conifer leaves take far longer to rot down than others. I keep leaves as separate as is practical as my Acers rot quickly and can be used around my Rhododendrons to good effect.

See composting accelerators.

Digging in Half-composted Leaves.

If you don’t want to wait 2 years to decompose leaves, you can simply add them at the bottom of a trench and then add soil, they will naturally disintegrate over time.
Worms are crucial to the decomposition and are also good for your soil conditioning.
It is far better to collect the leaves than leave them on your lawn.

Tips on Making Leaf Mold Easily

  • Rake your leaves together into a pile. Bits of soil, grass and a variety of leaves are not a problem but make the pile predominantly leaves.
  • Put the leaves in a wire cage cover and leave to rot. alternatively put the leaves into a large plastic bag and puncture to allow air to enter.
  • Leaves should be damp and can be lightly watered but not left soggy. The rotting will not create heat like normal compost and decomposition will be slow.
  • The volume of leaf mold will be a tenth of the leaf pile you started with.
  • Conifers and evergreen leaves will take three years to compost and are best added in small quantities.
  • Shredding leaves or chopping with a lawnmower first helps to speed up composting.
  • Do not include nuts or tree seeds
  • Burn any diseased leaves and avoid honey fungus
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Flowers for Mother’s Day

Mother’s day in the UK is fast approaching. If you have a habit of forgetting until the last minute, you can always rely on a bunch of flowers to save the day. But, rather than just a standard bunch of daffodils from the petrol station, what else would make your mother really happy and inspired to bake you more cakes?

Speciality Narcissus
Narcissus tazetta

Narcissus Tazetta. A late flowering daffodil. Warm spring has brought it out down here in Oxford. A lovely delicate flower with lovely colour contrast.

Daffodil selection

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Plants for Hanging Baskets

hangingbasket

A simple single colour Petunia gives a good effect.

The typical plants seen in hanging baskets include Lobelia, Petunia, Begonia, Marigolds, Fuchsias and Pelagoniums. The F1 varieties of these plants have a long flowering season making them ideal for summer hanging baskets.

Obviously in any hanging basket, trailing plants add an extra interest. For example a variegated ivy helps to offset and provide a balance to the more colourful varieties.

Plants for the Spring / Autumn Hanging Basket

Try Primulas, Violas, pansies, miniature conifers, ornamental cabbage and cyclamen. All can offer a good season of winter colour at a time when it is most appreciated.

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Best Plants for Damp Shade

dryshade

Fritilliary in damp shade

Previously we looked at plants for shady areas. Damp shade is another more specific problem area. In nature, we are likely to get damp shade in a woodland setting, with a combination of shady tree growth and a peaty soil.There is a combination of low light and potentially wet surfaces. Nevertheless, even if you have some damp shade, the following plants should work quite well.

Japanese Maple – Acer Palmatum. Japanese maples can offer excellent colour in autumn. They also make an excellent small tree / shrub for the small garden. Benefits from some mulch in winter to protect from heavy frosts.

Astilbe – False Goat’s Beard. An easy plant to grow. After flowering it’s deadseed heads are also quite attractive

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Bleeding Heart – Dicentra Spectabilis. A lovely plant with delicate shaped flowers in Spring. Dies back in mid summer. Don’t forget where you planted it. Dicentra Spectabilis

Clematis  ‘Kasmu’ Ideal for planting at the base of a shrub of tree. This clematis will grow up through the shrub offering wonderful flowers from July onwards.

Clematis Montana – likes to keep its roots cool, so damp shade helps here.Use a good Foliar feed every 7-10 days and a good root drenching weekly.

Lilly of the Valley – A lovely delicate white carpet flower. The main thing is it likes permanently moist soil

Fritilliary. The fritilliary is another flower which likes and needs a damp soil. Will flower fine in shade. Important it never dries out.

Hydrangea Serrata – a lovely compact Hydrangea

Cowslips / Primulas. Primulas do well in cool damp conditions, flowering in spring and also later in autumn. E.g. Primula viallii is a great plant for damp shade with wonderful purple flowers.

 

Related

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Geranium Cranesbill Variety Review

The hardy perennial geranium is a good ground cover plant with many varieties to choose from. Do not confuse hardy Geraniums with Pelargoniums which are also sometimes referred to incorrectly as Geraniums.

Geranium Splish Splash

Geranium ‘Splish Splash’

Geraniums are one of the easiest and most versatile low growing plants. They are not fussy, but given a reasonable level of care they will reward the gardener with ground cover and 1 or 2 extended flowering periods.

Care for Geraniums

  • After flowering cut back geraniums to their base. Feed and water and you will get a second flush of leaves and flowers later in the year.
  • Geraniums are easy to divide. It is best done after the growing season is over in October. Just use a spade and divide their crown into two or three. If cut back, Geraniums can be divided at any time of they year but they will need more attention with watering.
  • Geraniums grow best in full sun or partial shade but they are versatile and in our experience not that fussy.
  • The great thing about Geraniums is that the mature plants seem relatively resistant to the most common pests – slugs and aphids. However, plug plants will need the usual protection from slugs and snails.

Geranium Plugs and Bare Roots

Dwarf hardy geraniums from Jersey direct

Geranium from Thompson Morgan

G. Johnsons Blue pictured is a strain of G. pratense and is a strong growing, self spreading plant. Mrs Kendall Clark is another clear blue but Rozanne has a longer flowering period from early summer to late autumn.

A pink geranium G. sanguenium is commonly found in many cottage gardens with it profuse pink flowers that have two flushes if cut back after the initial show. G Anna Folkard with lime green leaves has a trailing habit and needs some control in my garden.

Along with Johnsons Blue and Anna Folkard, Kashmir White has an Award of Garden Merit but I recommend you see plants in flower if you are looking to acquire it for a special colour or habit so that you make sure you are getting a good base stock that is worth the AGM.

The black Mourning Widow G. Phaeum like shade and self seeds profusely. My stock is also a weedy short lived flowering example that I am trying to throw out.
Greanium renardii has sage green leaves and delicately purple-veined flowers.
Geranium himalayense ‘Birch Double’ is vigorous and versatile. this superb cranesbill tolerates almost any situation; even full shade. A mass of double purple-pink blooms stand above the delicately serrated foliage which turns to shades of burnt red and orange in autumn. will quickly blend with other herbaceous perennials to create colourful groundcover and looks equally attractive in herbaceous borders and shady woodland gardens. Height: 25cm (10”). Spread: 60cm (24”).

Geranium wallichianum ‘Sweet Heidi’ have rich purple, cup shaped blooms with clean, white centres that are decorated with distinct maroon veining. Forming loose mounds of attractive lobed foliage, this robust hardy geranium makes excellent ground cover through the front of informal borders


Geranium cinereum Laurence Flatman”

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Biological Pest Control The Pros and Cons

Biological controls work best when it is warm and activity is highest. The more pests the more there is for the control to eat and treat.

pestcontrol

Biological controls are pest predators that can be bought mail order. Once introduced to the greenhouse or garden they can naturally take care of the relevant pest, enabling you to garden organically and free of pests. If you are considering using Biological pest control, these are the pros and cons

Advantages of Biological Control

  • They are totally organic and provide a natural solution to your pests.
  • They can be effective for upto two months.
  • Some biological control you don’t have to buy mail order. E.g. planting marigolds may encourage hoverfly and they will eat aphids.
  • Using Biological control means you won’t kill the natural predators like Thrushes for slugs, and ladybirds for aphids.
  • They don’t create an eyesore like slug pellets do.
  • Saves you having to kill pests, if you are squeamish at going round your lettuce leaves cutting slugs in half.
  • Some insects may develop resistance to domestic sprays.

Disadvantages of Biological Control

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