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July 2009

June 2009

Wildflowers in a small space update

since my last blog post about my vergeside wildflowers, they've enjoyed baking sunshine, and so here are some more pictures for you
DSC_0086

i've had several people asking me which mix I used as well, DSC_0093 so here are all the details so that you can plant a lazy border too.

Flowering lawn mix from Suttons, - Harebell, Cowslip, Poppy and others £2.85

Wildflower mixture from Suttons - Cornflower, Corn Marigold, Poppy and others, £2.85

Pictorial Meadows Contrasting Mix, - Cornflower, Red and Blue Flaxs and Larkspur.

Corncockle (agrostemmon) from T&M - £1.99

plus it is mixed in with some grass seed (a patch pack)- £2.99

Yes that's the whole summer flowering border for less than £15


Have you got space for wildflowers in your garden?

I spent some time in my own garden today, - I even had some help from a new friend (thanks Brenda) and I feel slightly more on top of things now. I was finally getting round to planting some pots of perennials in the front garden border that have been hanging around for ages, drying out and looking sorry for themselves, when someone pulled up in the road outside, wound down the window and said " I just wanted to say that I love this and I've been looking at it every time I go past and I just wanted to let you know" - The this that she was talking about was my Wildflower verge, on the roadside outside my house.
WildflowervergeJune
Of course being English, I blushed and said thank you, but really what I wanted to tell her was
" I only did it because I didn't want to mow the grass."

This patch of ground outside my front fence is really poor soil, that was made worse last year from all the tradesmen parking on it when we had the plumbing and electrics sorted.  My neighbours all have grass verges, which need mowing every week and it's pretty obvious if you've been neglecting it as we are the main road through the village.  My solution when we finally banished the last workman was to tip 4 packets of wildflower seed into my measured grass seed pack, and broadcast sow the whole lot onto the raked verge back in early March. I've also planted a lot of bulbs, so hopefully i''ll have several seasons of interest, and at this time of the year I can enjoy the compliments safe in the knowledge that I have until the 3rd week of July before I have to do any cutting, - at which point on a dry day i'll get out the strimmer, let the flower seeds fall where they are and see what comes up next year. If you've got a strip of poor land in full sun, that you'd like to ignore for most of the year, why don't you have a try?


Feeding for extra fruit and flowers

Mid June is a great time for plant growth, and left to their own devices, plants will do well enough at this time of year, however, if you want to have bumper crops of fruit, veg and flowers, you should be feeding on a weekly basis for the next couple of months.

What type of plant food you should be using depends on what you're feeding and how much time and effort you want to put into it.

Controlled release fertiliser. - If you are no good at remembering to feed your pots and planters, then
this is an excellent choice for youOsmocotefertiliser , as controlled release fertilisers break down when the compost is watered, (either by rain, or can or hosepipe) and supply a "ration" of feed over the season.  Almost all shrubby plants grown on British nurseries will have a controlled release fertiliser in with the compost when you buy them. - These are often mistaken for slugs eggs, - but these pop if you squeeze them, slug eggs are soft and will just deform if squashed.

The most common brand of controlled release fertiliser is Osmocote, and it is sold in packs with a handy scoop to take the guesswork out of how much is needed. - my recommended choice for use when planting up hanging baskets.


Liquid fertiliser - this is the most direct way of getting food to the plants roots,- most liquid fertilisers can be diluted in watering cans, either from a concentrated liquid, or from granules or crystals, so that they can be watered on to the garden. Another way of applying liquid to the plants, particularly if you have a large area to do, is to use a hose end feeder.  These have come on a long way from when I first used to get drenched as a trainee garden centre manager, and there is now a new system that uses a liquifeed screw in bottle to a hose end feeder. I've just entered a competition to try it out for free, - (1000 kits to be given away) if you want one too, just fill out a small questionnaire and enter the competition click here

Fertilisers that come into this category are numerous, but include worm leachate, Tomato food, Miraclegro, and Seaweed extract. If you have just a couple of pots to do, or a greenhouse of tomato plants to feed, I recommend using a liquid diluted in a watering can.

Granular fertiliser - this is great for lawns, and some feeding in borders (usually in the Autumn). In  Granularlawnfertilisers my experience granular feeds are the hardest to apply at the right application rate, and this can lead to scorching (overfeeding) which can leave foliage yellowing, and weak.

To ensure this doesn't happen, particularly when using a lawn feeder like the one in the photo, clean it out before using, and walk at a brisk pace, ensuring that you don't overdose at the end of each row as you turn.

I recommend using these on lawns that need a feed and weed, which are a reasonable size.


Now you know which type to use,  there's no excuse, get out there and feed your garden, - i'm off to eat Strawberries grown fat on my worm food.


Gardeners World Live show review

Well I had a great Saturday at the Gardeners World Live show, - we went early in the morning, so we were at the NEC just after nine, (for anyone that hasn't been there the NEC is a massive convention centre, and although this show was huge, it only took up 3 of the halls plus some outside area)

There was a full days viewing, so it was worth getting there early.  This year the show was partnered with the BBC good food show, so there was a hall of food goodies before you got to the plants, - Bacon butties later, we started on the display stands.

Rocketstackof tableandchairs My first bit of interesting new garden stuff was this garden furniture set. 


This plasticised woven set is waterproof, but the interesting thing is that when you don't need it out, it stacks up like a rocket.(yes the phallic brown shape in the background)

It was actually very comfy to sit in, although it wasn't a full size eating table, and I do like to do dinner in the garden

After some demonstrations of various gardening gadgets, and finding out about Eglu chicken houses, We succombed to buying a tool sharpening device (not as easy to use as it looked at the show, - i've been trying it out today)

I then got to do a bit of plant retail therapy, and wandered first the inside plant stalls, and then the RHS pavillion to get ideas about the best colours, varieties and bargains.

Celebratingbritishhort  I was very pleased to see that a lot of the stalls in the plant pavilion were displaying Supporting British Horticulture signs, showing that their plants have been grown in Britain rather than imported. Paeonias, Clematis, Hosta and Fuchsias later, I was laden down and ready to look at the show gardens.

Which were a very impressive batch of gardens, and I really liked the theme running through of lots of recycling and lots of Children in the garden, - one garden was an outside classroom, with a fantastic shade sail and a fence of Raspberry and other fruit.

My favourite though was the credit munch garden, - showing just how great fruit and veg can look as well as taste

GWLcreditmunchgarden All in all I had a great day at the show, I came home with some goodies, - which I must get in the garden this week! - I would go again, but next time i'm going to see the gardens first while the light is still better, - the midday sun didn't make for easy viewing of the displays.


How to plant out and support your Tomato plants

I love homegrown tomatoes, ever since I was bought a greenhouse as a present 14 years ago, i've been stuffing it full of different types and trying out different growing methods. After failing miserably with grobags and growing in the greenhouse borders, I now use ring culture with recycled florists buckets with the bottoms cut out, - these are on their 6th season and still going strong, so well worth seeing if your local florist will part with any.  Although I love growing tomatoes and don't mind the pinching out, I don't like tieing in plants to canes, but also on my 6th season are my gro spirals
Tomatoongrosprial

these sturdy metal bendy canes can be pushed into the ground or the compost and the growing plants can be trained through the middle of the spiral as they grow, - for the first couple of weeks it is a good idea to check every few days and encourage the plant to grow up the centre of the spiral, - the leaves will still be flexible at this stage and can be moved round to help the stem grow upwards. No extra tieing in is needed.  They also make it easier to see shoots that need pinching out between stem and leaves.

Pinchingouttomatoshoots

Plants that are Cordons not bush types, - i.e. most greenhouse varieities need their sideshoots pinching out at regular intervals, - this insures that the energy of the plant is used for growing upwards and creating flower buds, rather than creating extra growth stems.
Pinching out is best done when the shoot is small, as in the above photo, and with a thumbnail while the material is soft and parts easily from the stem


Lily Beetles, - how to spot them and get rid of them

Lilybeatle As garden pests go, the lily beetle is the brightest coloured and the most devastating to an entire crop of summer flowers.  When I started in horticulture, although being established in Surrey for years, it was a fairly new introduction to the rest of the country, and it took until the 2000's for it to spread to the north of England and Scotland.  It is now to be expected in most of the gardens of the UK, and so if you are growing lilies or daylilies (hemerocallis), then make sure you are vigilant. As a couple of lily beetles can munch holes in the leaves and flower buds of your lilies very quickly.

At this time of year, you will often see pairings of red lily beetles, - if you can get to them before they produce young then you have a better chance of getting rid of them. They are thought to only produce one lifecycle in a year.
The Eggs are found under the leaves and are tiny and orange in colour, the lavae that hatch after a week normally cover themselves with their own black muck that looks like birds' droppings, which is often found at the join between the leaf and the stem. Both of these can be washed off with water.

The adult beetles are quick at escaping but easy to spot and should be crushed on sight (no mercy here from me). There is also a  spray which can be used, - Bug clear ultra

Happy hunting