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Category: Gardening

General gardening tips and hints

Lawn Edge Trimmers

Lawn Edge Trimmers

Hover Mower Tips on Use and Safety

 

mow

Hover Mower Tips

  • Hover mowers are quick and easy to use but they do not leave stripes in your grass.
  • Use hover mowers to keep your grass tidy but consider a cylinder mower for a top quality look to your lawn. It is the roller on a mower that makesdefines the stripes on your lawn
  • The special mowers for long grass are an excellent way of clearing space like a hovering scythe.
  • The electric Hover mowers are fine for small lawns and are far lighter than most other lawnmowers but they are unlikely to collect up the cut grass.
  • When mowing a bank or slope stand at the top, attach a rope if you need too then swing and lower the mower.
  • Mow up and down not across a slope and take extra care on any uneven ground.
  • Handles generally fold so the machine can be hung from a shed or garage wall making them extremely space efficient

For Safeties Sake

Before Using Your Mower

  • Read the instruction book, it may seem obvious but best to be prepared.
  • Fill the petrol tank before you start as pouring petrol into a hot engine can be as dangerous as smoking.
  • Examine the area to be cut for stones, bits of metal, toys or pets.
  • Set the cutting height, not too short!
  • When starting the machine keep it still, perhaps by putting your foot on the hood.
  • Hover mowers do not have wheels so they must be carried onto and off the lawn.Lift with care and buy one that is light enough for you to manage.

While Mowing

  • Wear heavy shoes with a good grip and keep children away from dangerous machinery.
  • Do not carry the mower whilst it is running it will not float from one lawn to the next.
  • Keep the mower flat as it is designed to stop ‘flying stones’ by hovering close to the ground. Do not mow over gravel.
  • Do not try to use your mower as a cultivator some areas may be so overgrown they need a machete.
  • Don’t take risks or walk backwards as you may pull the machine on top of you.
  • Safety regulations require all new electric mowers to have elaborate safety switches that usually require two handed use and a constant grip.

mower

Cloche Crop Protection

Cloche Crop Protection

Octagonal cloche

A cloche is used as a protective covering to shield plants, usually vegetables from the undesirable effects of cold, wind, and predator damage.

  • Cloches may be just smaller poly-tunnels used to protect a small number or individual plants.
  • Cloches made from plastic are much lighter than glass making them easier to move around. The advantages of glass is that the temperature within a glass cloche will be slightly warmer, they are less likely to be blown around and look better.
  • A home made cloche can be made from a cut down plastic pop bottle.
  • There are attractive bell shaped cloches available and various shapes like the one above.

How to Use a Cloche

  • Put the cloches in place a month before sowing to help warm the soil.
  • Sow seeds or plant out under the cloche for protection.
  • Cloches can be used in September to protect late crops of Lettuce.
  • Consider ventilation and watering when buying a cloche. The roof of this cloche can be lifted off.
  • I use a cloche to keep mice away from germinating peas and beans.

A Floating Cloche can be made from sheets of polypropylene fleece which are placed over the seed bed – when the seedlings emerge, the polypropylene is light enough to float up as the plants grow. I like this method for Broad beans peas and early potatoes.

A floating cloche is cheap, easy to put in place and protects the seedlings from three or four degrees of frost. Water permeates the fleece.

Poly Tunnels are another alternative.

Poly tunnel’s supporting hoops should be no more than 2½ feet apart. If spaced further apart the plastic sheeting will droop over the crops and may damage them in rainy or snow conditions.
Make sure the height is adequate for the crops you want to protect.

Related

Garden Frost Protection

Deter Club Root with This Tip

Deter Club Root with This Tip

Club root is a fungal infection of brassicas that causes distorted, swollen roots and stunted growth. Your cabbage seedlings and Broccoli, Cauliflower, Calabrese Sprouts and Kale can all be prone to club root but especially your cabbages.

Club Root Tip

Start plants off in larger than normal pots say 4-5 inches. This gives plants a good  head start and they can be planted out surrounded by safe uncontaminated compost. Line the planting hole with a rhubarb leaf to improve the effectiveness of this method. That seems counter intuitive when you would lime the soil as a normal safeguard and the rhubarb leaf in acidic in nature but it works.

More on Club Root

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Weed Free or So I Thought

Weed Free or So I Thought

I bet you spotted my weed as soon as you looked at the picture. ‘Where’s Wally’ you may ask, well he is the gardener that not only let the dandelion flower but seed as well. Back to gardening school. Depending how you look at it there has been a great profusion of dandelions this year but you just wait until next year. The ‘clocks’ have been distributed far and wide since the beginning of May, the breezes were light, the conditions just right and the air and ponds filled with seeds so dandelions are not going to be a threatened species anytime soon!

One dandelion may be excusable but what about your sweetpea zone you may be asking? My excuse for all the self sown seedlings  from last years dark purple poppies include that I found the poppy so entrancing. I fully expected to transplant them into a suitable area but tempus fugit (a good name for a weed). I have other excuses on request.

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Lush Time in the Garden

Lush Time in the Garden

Where has all the rain gone? In winter there were floods aplenty so I was predicting water rationing by summer. Now it is mid May and the ground is parched and rock hard.

I was struggling to plant my dahlias when I heard my neighbor having even more trouble getting his spade in deep enough. I said I was worried about my next water bill and low and behold there it was on the doormat by lunch time.

Lush is as Lush Does

  1. To me green is the lush colour for all seasons. Other colours supplement or provide great highlights but the framework is green.
  2. Evergreens are therefore a mainstay of my garden particularly the 50 plus evergreen conifers that look lush through the year.
  3. It seems sad to eulogise dying foliage but this year the daffodils and blubells have clung on to the strappy leaves and provided some ground cover until I can get some annuals ready.
  4. The water table and morning dew has been enough to keep the grass green and I am resisting the temptation to cut too close.
  5. Two water barrels are not enough to allow me to water lavishly and 2 outdoor taps are a temptation. I and the garden will survive the rest of the year even though I predict summer floods.
Plant Viruses and Viral Infections

Plant Viruses and Viral Infections

Plants in your garden can suffer from infections caused by many different viruses. Once a plant is infected there is no chemical treatment that will destroy the virus without also killing the plant.

Signs of Virus Infection

  1. Irregular white or yellow mottling on normally green leaves such as rings, mosaic patterns or other mottling.
  2. Distorted leaves with curling and or crinkling
  3. Malformed flowers, damaged fruit and early leaf fall.
  4. Once a plant is infected the plant may be stunted and unable to produce flower or fruit.
  5. Some plants are just carriers and do not demonstrate symptoms other suffer from wilt disease.

More About Viruses on Plants

  1. Viral infections are generally transmitted from plant to plant by insects such as aphids, thrips, whitefly, eelworms, and some beetles.
  2. Some control can be provided by keeping these pests at bay.
  3. Viruses can be prevalent and long lasting in soil.
  4. Each virus is plant species specific and some varieties are more prone than others. Potato blight decimates crops, tomato mosaic virus damages fruit, cucumbers suffer as do many flowering plants e.g. carnations, roses and chrysanthemum.
  5. Plum pox potyvirus  the variants of which causes Sharka the viral disease of stone fruit crops.

Other Plant Health Problems

  1. Fungus and fungal infections
  2. Virus and Viral diseases
  3. Bacterial diseases
  4. Pests
Rhodo labels & Records

Rhodo labels & Records

Widgeon

Kenneth Cox at Glendoick   Offers some of the best advice on rhododendron identification and recording. …..Using GPS handheld devices would allow reasonably accurate mapping to made by taking positional readings in each area of the garden and recording what is planted there. If you want  you can then allow garden visitors to access these records on their own devices. There is no limit to the interactive potential if you are prepared to invest time and money…..

The three best examples of private (as opposed to botanic garden) record keeping I have seen outside the major botanic gardens are Philip de Spoelberch’s collections at Herkenrod in Belgium, Lord Howick’s collection in Northumberland and the late James Russell’s plantings at Ray Wood, Castle Howard, Yorkshire. All of these gardeners believe passionately in the value of accurate and detailed records……

Rhododendron Golden Eagle Label at YSP

Labels

  1. To a gardener a label should be easily seen unobtrusive, legible, long lasting and easilt fixed so that it is not broken off by wind or clumsy gardener. To a plant seller the label is designed for one purpose, to relieve you of your cash.
  2. I am still seeking the ideal label and hate those little white plastic sticks that become too brittle.
  3. The longest lasting labels are embossed metal labels I have some thin copper labels to scratch the details into but they are hard to see. Glendoick recommend aluminium labels written on with a soft pencil tend to last well
  4. Beware of label death, where a branch or stem is girdled metal, by the failure to loosen a label as the plant grows.
  5. Dymo labels are surprisingly long lasting
  6. Most botanic gardens use expensive engraved labelled on UV stabilised plastic or modified acrylic laminate.
The Mother of Inventions

The Mother of Inventions

Rust Bucket Barrow

Last autumn I realised I needed a new wheel barrow but thought I would defer the purchase until spring 2020. In February I found a galvanised builders barrow that I coveted and resolved to purchase one. At the first attempt I discovered my wives car wasn’t big enough to take it home. A bit later, low and behold, I’d missed the boat or more accurately caught the over 70’s travel restrictions and subsequent social distancing rules.

So along came the mother of all inventions (or nearly) in the form of a simple mat to cover the rusty hole. It wont last long and can’t hold heavy loads but I am making do by mending.

In addition I made a contraption that isn’t a riddle or sieve but my own sifter shown below. It is made from plastic coated chicken wire and to prevent large particles escaping I doubled it over. It is surprisingly easy to lift the detritus and put it into another compost bin.

Home Made Sifter

Time now for a ‘garden o’clock snifter.

Big Up Your Garden Compost

Big Up Your Garden Compost


Goodnews, I have 3 good sized compost bins. The bad news is I am filling them very quickly which if they rot down soon enough will become more good news. The black bin heats up quicker but contains less material and is hardest to get at to turn the waste so I guess that is a scoring draw (using football pools terms).

New Discoveries

  1. I should have known all along that hay rots into a soggy lump and isn’t great for garden compost making. It probably contains far more seeds that I or the garden can cope with.
  2. I should have known all along that forgotten tools may turn up in heaps as they do not rot but rust even my spare pair of Felcos had some rust.
  3. I should have known all along that rats like a warm friendly space to live and breed. A neighbor has had to call out the pest control twice during the lock down and I’ve discovered an unusual depression and hole in one of my heaps. I hope my early action will work.
  4. I should have known all along that I would get better compost if I sieve out the tougher bits.  A full bin has realised 50% fine sieved parts with the rest going back to restart the new bin. I also found fruit labels and sundry bits of plastic.