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Category: Gardening

General gardening tips and hints

Extra Gardening Storage

Extra Gardening Storage

Where do you keep all your gardening needs if you don’t have a special shed. Mine is spread over the garage with seedlings being raised on the window ledge in a variety of containers.

Nailed to the wall

  • Double U hooks support several bags. The cloth bag holds bulbs or plant material awaiting planting. Other bags are bags of bags including plastic bags,  bubble wrap, cloths, fabric pieces, string and a bag for recyclable specials.
  • Above the window is a home made shelf for bits not in use like hanging baskets mesh supports and general gibb.
  • On the right is a shelf for dry goods, fertiliser, and sundry potions and  …icides.
  • G hooks are fixed to wooden battens and hold tools
  • The white line on the left hangs from the roof and is a device to warn me when the car is far enough into the garage. The black line half way across the window is a power cable between the heated sand bed and the other wall and the plugs.

Quick Ideas in the Greenhouse.

  • I have a stock of pegs on one of the aluminium supporting struts. They are thus ready to hand and can be used as temporary fixing devices. You don’t know what you will want until you want it.
  • I also have support wires strung across the length of the greenhouse which helps support tomato plants.
  • Under the staging I have a tub formerly containing growmore for greenhouse bits, support clips and odd pieces.

Being Rooted and Rooting for the Planet

Being Rooted and Rooting for the Planet

My roots are in the north of England but I enjoy an occasional trip down to ‘the smoke’ as London used to be called. Fortunately there is far less smoke than 50+ years ago but the same can’t be said for air pollution nor particulates around major roads. We walked from Kings Cross along Euston Road to the Wellcome Collection and the ‘rooted beings’ exhibition. Breathing in the fumes caused some coughing and spluttering on the way so subsequently we walked through back streets seeing another side of London. Whilst the air was not as fresh as Ilkley Moor it was OK particularly when we stopped in Russel Square garden.

About Rooted Being Exhibition Free until 29th August 2022

  • ‘Plants sustain life on earth. They are sensitive, complex and interconnected beings, playing surprisingly active roles in ecosystems and human societies’  wellcomecollection.org/exhibitions
  • ‘The exhibition reimagines our relationship with plants and fungi, exploring what we can learn from plant behaviour and how we can rethink the significance of plants beyond simply resources for human consumption. The curatorial team have brought together works from the Wellcome Collection’s archive of botanical illustrations with artists’ commissions to form an open-ended narrative about vegetal life in the context of the climate crisis, from the perspective of environmental and social justice’. Anna Souter
  • In addition to the Wellcome Trusts usual medical information the  contemporary ‘rooted’ project in the main gallery includes art work,  botanical illustrations, a fifth century Papyrus and a 19th-century study of fungi.
  • Mandrake, Brugsmania and hallucinogenic plants are covered in a free brochure about the work of Patricia Dominguez
  • Two of my favourite exhibits included a large wrack sculpture and lobster pots filled with construction and plastic waste.
  • Not a massive exhibition but  the subject is dwarfed by hidden meanings notably a holistic view about plants and the consequences of human interaction with the natural world.

 

2022 Lilies

2022 Lilies

If you missed an autumn planting of lily bulbs now is a good time to plant some to catch up for this year.

Quick Tips

  • In spring plant the new bulbs at a depth of three times the height of the bulbs. If you plan to leave bulbs in the ground leave about twice the width of the bulb inbetween  (closer if you will be lifting them each year).
  • Planting in threes or fives will give a good show if you chose healthy bulbs with plump scales.
  • Lilies like  a rich fertile soil so incorporate some slow release fertiliser. As they start flowering give them a liquid feed of high potassium fertiliser.
  • Keep watered during dry spells but never let them be waterlogged.
  • Lilly beetles can be a red pain. The eggs eat leaves and stems and deposit a black sludge. Pick off and crush the beetles, they can fall to the ground to avoid the slow gardener.
  • After flowering cut back the seed heads before they leach out the goodness from the bulb  trying to set seed. Leave to die back then cut off at soil level.
  • Try some bulbs in big pots.

 

Look After Your Containers

Look After Your Containers

Routine Care

  • Neglect spoils many a display.
  • Water and feed remember containers are a constricted environment.
  • Good hygiene is important, remove debris, weeds and dying foliage.
  • Deadhead and consider cutting back a bit harder. Keep plants in good shape and prune topiary regularly
  • Remove plants that are not doing well or are finished
  • For permanent planting such as shrubs remove and replace the top inch or so of soil annually.

Seasonal Care

  • In hot weather consider shade and check water levels.
  • Spray leaves early in the morning to avoid scorching.
  • Prepare and make arrangements to look after pots if you are going on holiday.
  • In winter protect from plants and pots from frost damage. Move to safety and shelter.
  • Damp increases the risk of cracking from frost damage. Keep good drainage and keep on the dryside.
  • Plants in small pots are more vulnerable to problems.
  • Group pots together for mutual protection.
  • Reduce height of plant to avoid pots being blown over.
  • Use bubble wrap, hessian and fleece as needed for frost protection.

Pests & disease & General

  • Clean and disinfect pots before reuse.
  • Start with healthy plants.
  • Use fresh compost.
  • Regular care and maintenance including keeping on the lookout for problems
  • Position pots from wind or consider screening

 

 

Rooted in Nature

Rooted in Nature

Mankind has proved to be adaptable at least enough to survive as one of nature’s multitude species. However there are warning signs that for the long term all is not well in our environment. As one small contribution to a ‘rooted in nature movement’ we should consider the gardener as a key player and influencer.

Lest we forget nature is essential to provide our current and future sustenance, health and wellbeing. Food and shelter are axiomatic to the survival of the human race and us as individuals. In a small way gardeners can root each of us in nature and provide a significant contribution to our understanding and appreciation of our natural surrounds. Enough of the overview now a few words on a micro perspective.

Helping Nature One Potato at a Time

  • The hippocratic oath has a useful phrase ‘first do no harm’. Thinking about this in the garden can be a good starting point. Consider e,xcess chemical use, limited native species, plastics galore, food mile products failure to consider cause and effect.
  • Helping nature should help the gardener and local environment. There are many healing, mood enhancing and medicinal plants to grow beyond the humble potato. Colourful and scented plants are just some examples.
  • Designing and operating a garden in a ‘rooted in nature’ manner  is very therapeutic helping develop emotional and wellbeing. Calming water features and contemplation space may be inspirational for mind, body and soul.
Weeds to Worry About

Weeds to Worry About

Are weeds just plants ‘whose virtues have not yet been discovered’? Ralph Waldo Emerson Are weeds all bad to be dug out or killed off in your gardens and public spaces? Are native weeds worse than alien invaders? First lets see what plants we are talking about

Invasive or Noxious Native Weeds under the Weeds Act 1959,

I don’t know about you but there is a chance some of these weeds appear in my garden along with other miscreants such as willow herb (Chamaenerion angustifolium) , ground elder, convolvulous and bluebells. And that is just the start of my weed trail.

Invasive non native alien plants

  • American skunk cabbage Lysichiton americanus
  • Chilean rhubarb      Gunnera tinctoria
  • Curly waterweed      Lagarosiphon major
  • Floating pennywort             Hydrocotyle ranunculoides
  • Giant hogweed         Heracleum mantegazzianum

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Green Guerrilla Gardening

Green Guerrilla Gardening

Plant by lampost
              Plant Around the Lampost

Guerrilla Gardening is a movement which seeks to take unused often ugly plots of neglected land and grow plants and vegetables. It is a loose movement with a variety of aspirations and ecologically green projects. It has been described as ‘The Illicit Cultivation of Someone else’s Land.

If you look around your city town or landscape, there are bound to be a neglected areas full of weeds and unnecessary concrete that would benefit from your green ministrations.Guerrilla Gardening may begin as an illicit activity of just planting in a certain area. In a way the thrill of guerrilla gardening is a combination of the illicit activity and the action of improving the local environment. It could be viewed as a beautiful form of vandalism. A kind of reverse graffiti.

There are many different and simple things that can be done as part of Guerrilla Gardening in a green manner.

  • Planting bulbs / plants in an area devoid of colour
  • Protecting weeds grown in unusual places.
  • Clearing up litter
  • Taking up unnecessary concrete and planting in it.
  • Watering, feeding and generally looking after a bed of plants to give a different level of aesthetic or practical result.

Guerrilla Gardening and the Move to Legitimacy

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Readying the Greenhouse 2021

Readying the Greenhouse 2021

It is Mid February and the milder weather encouraged me to focus on my greenhouse in preparation for the new year. For once I made a list of more than a dozen greenhouse related actions and as I progressed down the list more items were added. Without the list I would drift off to do other jobs with lower priority but higher instant gratification.

Before

I started by read a couple of books on ‘cold greenhouse & conservatory’ and ‘greenhouse gardening’ and picked up some obvious and less obvious tips.
Plants need air, water, a medium to root into and sustenance. For the air part I turned the soil in the bed where I may grow direct into the soil but resolved, henceforth to provide more ventilation. A disaster struck when I left the door open and a pheasant walked in and was too thick to find its way out without my firm handed help. Jumping and flapping its wings it managed to break a pane of glass and I spent ages doing unplanned  reglazing and there was no pheasant for supper.

As you may see in the before photo above I had suffered an excess of algae and moss. This was caused by lack on regular ventilation, an excess of nutrients and low levels of winter gardening. Using water from an old water barrel may not have helped. I now plan to feed little and often and to keep the soil aerated.

After

Planned Uses for my cold Greenhouse

  • Overwintering and care for delicate plants needing shielding. I had few losses except a couple of chrysanth stools and with care could have contained more items and grown early Daffodils, Vallota, & Fucshias
  • Just visible is some of the paving I have placed under the staging. I will use this for keeping dry goods, tools and fertilizers together and accessible.
  • The 4 station tomato growing box with a fertiliser sump is in place for later . I may add some ring cultured plants or, like previous years have tumbler tomatoes in pots on the bench. I had potted up some strawberry plants to try on the staging but am still thinking about that.
  • I have left a strip between the path and staging where I will grow lettuce and may be the odd sweetpea like the weedy example

Gizzmos for my Greenhouse

  • On the diagonal struts I have a collection of household pegs that I use for lots of holding purposes during the year. Currently open, half used packets are pegged closed.
  • As an aluminium greenhouse the frame has grooves to accept support devices to string moveable plant ties. I also wire across the length of the greenhouse at varying heights for more support or for short strings
  • I may move the bench below to go across  the end of the greenhouse to support seed trays when the need for temporary benching arises. So the next job is to sort the items currently overwintering by the fence.

Garden Crime Prevention

Garden Crime Prevention

                           Garden Sculpture Fishy Business

When theft and wanton damage  happens  you and your garden suffer so safeguard your property. You do not need to be paranoid but take appropriate care by just walking around your garden and see what you can improve in the way of prevention

Protect Tools

  • Power tools and lawn mowers have a high theft value as they are easy to steal and turn into cash.
  • To stop opportunist thefts do not leave tools in the garden unattended or visible in open sheds or garages.
  • Mark your tools with your postcode and name. Keep a record on serial numbers and identifying marks.
  • When not in use chain them down so they are harder to take.

Secure Sheds and Outbuildings

  • Fit good quality, strong locks  and use them not just last thing at night.
  • Use secure hinges on doors
  • Fit locks or grills on windows
  • Only store valuable items in the shed if it is fully secure.
  • Consider an intruder alarm and lighting systems.

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Ecological Disaster in My Garden

Ecological Disaster in My Garden

My garden helps some wild life but I recognise eco-disasters are all my fault when I consider how I am contributing to environmental problems. I do try make adjustments to my consumption of resources but in reality it is a net failure.

Some of my 2020 ecological  disasters

  • I use a lot of water with 2 outside taps, 2 very small ponds, 2 equally small water butts and lots and lots of hand watering.
  • Plant miles created by me have hitherto been quite excessive. I drive to garden centers on a regular basis buying plants that have probably been raise abroad in electrically enhanced hothouse conditions then driven 100’s of miles to market.Packaging will generally be in plastic pots or some similar wrapping
  • Most of the seeds I buy are in multicoloured packets and contents are progressively fewer in number.
  • This year there are no frogs visible in my main pond despite early frog spawn. Do adult frogs find it too hard to get out of the water from this plastic molded version that replaced a leaky cement home made version. Either that or the major temperature changes this year have had an effect.
  • Dare I admit I use peat!

  • It may be unfair to blame corvid for the weather which confused lots of plants with an early dry summer, sharp frosts, droughts and then torrents of rain. On balance flowering plants have held their own with my patio roses managing three good flushes so far!
  • Htdrangeas did less well and I allowed perennial sweet peas to grow through the shrubs for a bit of colour.
  • Delphiniums failed but first early potatoes did well