Archive | Tips Hints and Ideas

Help for the new and not so new gardener

Hosta Little Tips

otley show hostas 035

I am no great fan of large leaved hostas probably due to lack of space in my garden where I prefer to grow other plants. However the dwarf varieties are easy to get on with.

An alternative name for Hostas is Funkia. That appeals to me and helps describe how the plants can create congenital abnormalities and abnormal formations. (Teratology).

Small Hosta Tips

  • There are a host of varieties to start to growing and collecting may become an obsession. There are 49 named varieties of ‘mouse-ear’ varieties alone.
  • Water well in spring even before the first leaves show. Roots need water particularly as the light increases.
  • The better the roots the better the plants will display.
  • In spring restart the plants with slug bait, slow release fertiliser and a mulch.
  • A weak solution of Tomorite makes a good foliar feed.
  • Epsom salts will provide needed magnesium when the leaves have hardened in early summer.
  • Water  lightly  in autumn to fatten up the roots for winter.
  • Allow plants to make good clumps. Leave for 3 years or so before dividing. I tend to be too impatient dividing to get more plants.
  • Encourage flowers and collect seed to increase your stock.
  • The more light a hosta gets the more water it needs.

otley show hostas 050

0

Tree Stump Removal

Are you stumped about how best to remove the stump and roots of  a tree after you have taken down the trunk and branches? This is the stump of an over grown Eucalyptus that was removed in spring. The slit was intended to hold weed killer but as the side shoots show it hasn’t worked. (Thank you EU for no help at all see below.) The scale of the stump and thus the size of my digging out problem is shown by my spectacles. I guess I should have known Eucalyptus are successful at regenerating.

Reasons to Remove Old Stumps

  • Stumps left in the ground after felling can cause replanting issues. Roots may get in the way, nutrients may be missing and the stump may look unsightly.
  • When simply felled the old tree can produce new shoots and suckers.
  • Roots can play host to various fungus and disease’
  • Roots may continue to cause uneven surface problems.

Removal Methods

  • Grubbing out by hand, spade and mini digger are the first port of call.
  • Winching out using the old trunk as a lever can be done with the right machinery and is often seen in operation on forestry land.
  • The root can be ground out and turned into coarse saw dust with a grinder or chipper often owned by a tree surgeon.
  • Applying brushwood or weed killer containing commercial strength  glyphosate or ammonium sulphamate. Drill holes in the stump around the circumference and fill with the weedkiller. Roots should die within a couple of months but the stum will take years to rot away depending on the species.
  • Root Out was a popular,  RHS recommended, product that encourage rotting. Crazily it has had its approval for use as a  herbicide, weed, tree and bramble killer withdrawn by EU and  it is now only sold as a Compost Accelerator. It was used, amongst other purposes to help prevent the spread of Honey Fungus Armilleria
  • Nature will eventually rot down your stump slightly quicker if you cover it in garden compost so the micro organisms can get to work. In the meantime it can be ‘tarted up’ for other purposes such as part of a stumpery or support for a decorative pot.
0

Sowing Vegetable Seed in Summer

Late Sown Peas

Reasons for Summer Seed Sowing

  • If you want a regular supply of salad crops and continuity of fresh vegetables then sow through summer.
  • Some crop failures can be retrieved by a summer sowing.
  • Some crops prefer a late sowing. Runner beans soon catch up if sown now.
  • Summer sowing lengthens the harvesting period and late sowings come into their own as early sowing begin to peak.

Tips for Summer Sowing

  • Salad, carrots , radish and cut and come again crops are suited to direct sowing.
  • Increase the organic matter in your soil during autumn to increase the water retention ability.
  • Water your weed free seed bed a couple of days before sowing to increase the moisture level to a depth of at least 2″.
  • In very dry conditions water a deep drill before sowing and leave a U shape furrow to focus more water to the seedlings
  • A fine tilth and firming down will help the seed make good contact with the moist soil.
  • If the soil is prone to forming a crust cover seeds with proprietary compost rather than garden soil.
  • Covering new seed drills with fleece or newspaper reduces evaporation as would any temporary shading.
  • A tip for lettuce germination is to sow in the afternoon – lettuce need a cool period to germinate.

Look after your summer sown children – Do not go on holiday – ‘do not collect £200 for passing go.’

0

Summer Pond Care

Summer is another tough season for small garden ponds. The warmer weather can spoil the balance between the amount of vegetation and the levels of sunlight.

Pond Weed

Observations and Summer Tasks

  • Aquatic plants help maintain a balanced pool free from algea in summer.
  • Free floating plants reduce the amount of sun reaching the depths and keep the water cooler. Gently place new plants on the surface.
  • Maintain 50% of the water surface clear of vegetation thinning when necessary.
  • Deep water aquatic plants with floating leaves like water lilies benefit from regular dividing.
  • Submerged oxygenating plants are vital to pool hygiene 5-20 stems per square yard of surface is needed.
  • Excessive plant growth replaces oxygen with carbon dioxide at night potentially causing fish to die.
  • Thin out and avoid invasive species such as Mtriophllum acquaticum.
  • Good housekeeping involves topping up water levels and removing dead and rotting vegetation.

Thorpe Perrow Lake

0

Summer Pruning Lavender

bee lavender

Lavender will not sprout willingly from old wood. So when pruning make certain some green wood remains. Lavenders bloom on the stems that grew that year. Pruning is designed to encourage more flowering branches and give plants a longer life.

  Lavender Pruning Tips

  • Lavender angustifoila (English Lavender) should be pruned every year.
  • Keep the plants tight, shapely and compact
  • Remove flower stalks after flowering
  • Prune an an inch or so of this years growth and a third of the older bushes without cutting into older leafless wood.
  • Late summer is an ideal time to prune English Lavender.
  • Less hardy varieties Lavender stoechas (Spanish Lavender,  French Lavender) and intermedia Lavendin should be trimmed immediately after flowering and if necessary again in autumn.
  • Start gentle pruning when the plants are young and be heavier on older plants.
  • Pruning in spring can delay flowering.

Lavender can make a neat informal hedge but follow a good pruning regime. Trim twice a year to maintain shape and general performance.

0

Favourite Liquid Fertilisers

We all have favourites and when it comes to fertiliser the liquid variety are mine. If the soil is in good heart then simple water is probably as good as anything for disolving nutrients and tranfering them to your plants. However some plants need more help from extra or special fertilisers.

Background on Fertilisers

Most fertilisers are based on the three major plant nutrients:
Nitrogen (N): For green leafy growth
Phosphorus (P): For healthy root and shoot growth
Potassium (K): For flowering, fruiting and general hardiness (RHS advice)

General multi purpose feed 3.5 – 3.5 – 3.5 dilute 20ml in one gallon of water. Continue Reading →

0

Mowing Techniques & Tips

When one man went to mow it was to mow a meadow. Do you want to let your lawn get into that state? If not here are some tips but probably not enough to get you a stately home lawn.

Technical Approach

  • Little and often is usually a good plan. One a week in spring, during dry spells and autumn but more frequently in summer.
  • Aim to cut about one third of the height with each mowing
  • An occasional cut during mild weather in winter with the blades set high.
  • Start the year with the blades set high, upto one and a half inches for coarse grass down to a quarter of an inch for a bowling green standard fine lawn.
  • The best cuts are made by cylinder mowers with a large number of blades. I now use a lithium battery model.
  • Rotary mowers, strimmers and hover mowers are best for long tougher grasses.

Mowing Problems

  • Remove clippings otherwise you may encourage worm casts, weeds, aeration problems and disease.
  • Some recommend leaving clippings in hot dry weather to reduce evaporation but I find it unsightly and ineffective.
  • Avoid scalping off the top surface by taking turns too quickly of dropping of the edge of the lawn.
  • Setting to low can scalp the grass.
  • Keep blades sharp and correctly set to avoid tearing the grass rather than cutting it.
  • Alternate cutting horizontally and vertically to get the football pitch chequered effect.

Mowing in Special Situations

  • Inspect the area for hazards such as sticks, stones and animal droppings.
  • On a slope always mow side-to-side, not up and down the hill.
  • Choose the right mower, ride-ons are not good for steep slopes. Electrict mowers can be dangerous in wet conditions.
  • On wet grass raise the mowing height and keep the speed down to reduce the load on the motor.
  • The stripes you see on a lawn or playing field is simply light reflecting off the grass blades that have been mowed in one direction then the reverse. A mower with a roller helps accentuate the effect.
  • Treat weedy or moss infested lawns with proprietary weed and feed 3 days before cutting and leave for 3 days after dressing.

Book Cover

0

Quick Guide to Chelsea Designers & Gardens

Book Cover

‘Take Chelsea Home’ by Chris Young shows the “Best Garden Design from the Chelsea Flower Show”. Below is a brief preview of the 2010 gardens and designers.

  1. Tom Stuart-Smith; The Laurent-Perrier a champagne of gardens featuring a woodland of birches.
  2. Roger Platts; The M&G garden roses for the main sponsor.
  3. Sue Hayward; The Stephen Hawkins MND garden with unusual plants.
  4. Pual Stone; Place of Change a large community design.
  5. Leeds City Council; Hesco garden trying to pretend Leeds is  a tourist destination.
  6. James Wong;  Malaysia tourism garden, now here is a tourist destination.
  7. Robert Myers; Cancer Research garden, charities normally perform well at Chelsea.
  8. James Towillis; The L’Occitane garden a landscape of Provence.
  9. Andy Sturgeon; Daily Telegraph garden with international plants
  10. Thomas Hoblyn; F&C Investments garden that should grow better than the investments.
0

Bonanza of Nasturtium Flowers

When it gets backendish as October begins to give way to colder nights, have a look around your garden.
The Nasturtiums are still flowering strongly as they clamber up this wall but one good frost will see them turn soggy and die. As Nasturtiums are good at self-seeding I will doubtless get many new plants next year without any effort.

Nasturtium
Tips Growing Nasturtiums

  • Nasturtiums do well in poor soil. If the soil is too rich then you will get more leaf than flower.

Continue Reading →

3

New for Ponds or Renovated Ponds

I may be behind the times but here are some new, or new to me, ideas to enhance your garden pond this summer.

New Pond Design

‘Islandscapes’ and Floating Planters

‘The Next Big Wave In Ponds’ (Oh please) ‘enhance the beauty and biological health of ponds, providing innovative filtration and a lush growing environment for terrestrial plants. lslandscapes offer food and fun for fish, frogs and other wildlife’ according to the blurb on Freedomponds.com
Velda do several floating planters made in covered styrofoam.


Ecopond Tadpole Food

I have to admit to never thinking of feeding tadpoles but if I did here is the answer. Ecopond Tadpole Food provides the nutrition that tadpoles need up to the point where they develop back legs (4-6 weeks after free swimming begins). See also frogspawn tips on Gardeners Tips

Preformed Ponds

Pond

Rubberised or rigid plastic ponds are one of the easiest methods of creating a new pond. I bought one in a kidney shape with 3 different depths created by shelves. It saved a lot of hard work once I had dug an appropriate hole!
In one garden I saw such a preformed pond raised up rather than buried and think that is a creative idea if you can support the weight of water.

Pond Liners

Now you can cover black PVC liners with a stone coating. This makes the black edge of a pond look natural with a pebble or stone finish. Sold in various widths it could be used to finish off a butyl lined pond or as a run off into your garden proper. The brand I have seen is Oase Stone Liner.

All these products are available from the links above or a specialist like Bradshaws of York. Amazon supply the preformed ponds.

Pond Renovation

  1. As winter approaches all ponds need a bit of tlc to see them through the winter.
  2. If removing dead leaves and waste from the bottom of the pond leave the sludge on the edge so any small creatures can crawl back into the water.
  3. Repair leaks to prevent having to regularly top up the water. Evaporation is unavoidable so you may want to think of easy top-up methods.
  4. Create ways of stopping leaves dropping into the pond. Nets are unsightly unless semi submerged. Barrier hedges of box to stop prevailing winds may help.
  5. Make edges safe and secure. Reinforce and renew if necessary any childproof measures.

Read more on Preformed Pond Shapes including installation tips.

1

Powered by WordPress. Designed by WooThemes