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Starting a garden in 2017

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Help for beginners with a new garden
Become a gardener in 2017 with a GardenAdvice Gardening Course

Course available at local venues or in your own garden – we come to you and carry out the course in your own garden for you and upto 12 of your friends

If you are new to gardening it’s difficult to understand where to start with all the Latin plant names, different types of soils and different species of plants needing a range of growing conditions and environments. In response to this need and with feedback from our members and viewers the GardenAdvice Team have created a number of gardening courses especially created for the new gardener. The aim of our gardening courses is to provide you with a basic knowledge of gardening to get you started and provide you with ongoing advice from your own gardening expert for a full year through the Gardenadvice MyGardenTeam system, every course we provide comes with 12 months membership to our MyGardenTeam service
For more information visit

http://www.gardenadvice.co.uk/gardening-courses/index.html

What to Grow: Fruit and Vegetables in the UK

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

  • For the greater number of the UK the thought to grow your own vegetables seems a menacing chore of lengthy hours spent in the garden after the novelty of growing your own wears off and a lot of people give up. However Suttons and Dobies are here to offer a helping hand! As top-end seeds retailers we can provide you with the best fruit and veg to grow in your garden, as well as how you can include them into some healthy snacks.

Spring Onions and Radishes
Both vegetables are capable of growing in a pot or in the garden and are perfectly suited as an ingredient to a succulent salad; the radish brings a natural pepper taste to the dish and the spring onions provide a sweet edge. These vegetables tend to grow better with plenty of sunlight, the end of spring is usually a good time to start planting the seeds.
Potatoes
A great vegetable to grow during the spring is the potato. They’re the staple for a vast number of dishes and go lovely with a lean steak or as a jacket with a tasty filling of your choice. The growing process is fun too: plant the seeds in a potato bag and as the green shoots begin to sprout recover them with compost. Carry on doing this until the bag’s full, then you can begin to water them. Wait until the foliage begins to go a yellow colour (around 10 to 20 weeks) then turn it upside down to reveal the potatoes you’ve grown
Blackberries
Blackberries are really easy to grow in the garden and are a British classic that go perfect in an overnight porridge. To create your fresh, nutritional breakfast first take your oats and pour in soy milk, just enough to soak them before mixing in your blackberries and leaving this in the fridge overnight to chill. In the morning, when you take the porridge out it’ll have a creamy texture to it which is sublime for a spring day. To grow these and make them easier to harvest when they fruit, train the stem into wires. Blackberries can grow anywhere in the garden as they don’t require a great deal of light or assistance. If you’re not a big fan of thorns an Apache plant will be better for you.
Peas
These are easy to grow and sprout in cooler weather, therefore the beginning of springtime is an ideal to get started on growing them. The peas once they’ve been planted need support from the stems, so be sure to use chicken wire or another netting between supports at the end of each row. Peas also taste delicious straight from the ground and are a great asset to a vegetable assortment or alongside a steak to finish off a lean dish.
Goji Berries
Goji Berries are more than capable of growing in Britain’s climate even though they are exotic and are surprisingly tough for a shrub, they can even grow at the windy coastal areas. However, they do need to see plenty of sunlight when the spring turns into summer months. The berries are also rich in nutrients as well as being extremely juicy. Mix these in a blender with other fruits and natural yogurt to create a superfood and help you take on any task the day has ahead, or alternatively, you could place a few off these over your cereal to give it an exotic touch.

Get ready For The Garden Slugs This Spring.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

It looks like a mild winter is with us in the UK and to make matters worse it just wet enough to help the garden slugs so its time to get ready for the attack of the slugs

Slugs Problems

The GardenAdvice guide to controlling Garden slugs and snails in your garden in order to tackle this common problem. After you have read our guide to controlling slugs, you should be an expert on slug repelling.

 

There are 24 different species of slug in Britain, about half of which can be found in the garden. Most slugs eat decaying vegetation, but readily switch to young or delicate plants, feeding on the leaves, stems, roots and tubers. They evolved from snails and in the course of doing so lost all, or most of their shell. All slugs are hermaphrodite, that are they have both male and female sex organs. Mating and cross-fertilisation is the norm, but every individual produces the spherical translucent eggs. These are laid in batches in damp places in the soil or under stones. A small replica of the adult emerges from the egg, and takes between 2 months and a year to mature. The activity of slugs and snails is highest in the spring and autumn. Slugs need to keep moist at all times otherwise they will dehydrate and die: thus they are nocturnal, and more active when it is wet.

For the GardenAdvice.co.uk 6 steps to slug control in your garden follow this link http://www.gardenadvice.co.uk/howto/pests/slugs/index.html

Garden Design on a Budget

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

With spring fast approaching I’m sure I’m not the only one looking forward to waving goodbye to the winter cold and getting back in my garden! At the moment my garden is looking a bit tired and worn out from storms and rain so I’m planning on re-designing with a tight budget in mind, but I thought I’d share my advice so you too can have a new look for your garden in 2017 without parting with too much cash.

1. Use cuttings

One very easy and very cheap way (free, even!) to transform your garden is to make use of cuttings. I will certainly be taking cuttings of Dahlia’s – my favourite – but other great plants to take cuttings from this time of year is: Chrysanthemums, Bidens or Fuchsias. All of these are great options to inject a pop of colour in your beds!

Before you take your cuttings make sure you research the correct way of doing so online for each plant. These techniques are easy to find and will ensure you get a healthy growth from the cutting.

2. Grab a paintbrush

One way you can re-design your garden cheaply is to give it a good lick of paint! This can be anything from painting a dull fence, a bare brick wall, a shed or even plant pots! I’m planning on experimenting this year with a teal colour on my fence panels to really brighten it up.

If you have any terracotta plant pots spare you could get creative and paint some innovative designs on them yourself. The possibilities are endless; you could get really creative with vibrant patterns or draw on some novelty characters. This could also be a great activity for your children to get involved in, maybe with finger painting and hand prints. Personally, I plan to stick with neutral colours but label the pot with the name of the plant on it.

 

3.  Garden Furniture

If, like me, you love socialising in your garden it’s important to have some garden furniture for those summer garden parties and barbeques. It’s tricky to find garden furniture when you’re on a budget but at Primrose they have a large range of garden dining sets that start from £39.99. Be sure to have a think about what material and style is important to you when you start your search for furniture as it needs to be perfect for your garden.

If your budget cannot stretch that far, then it may be worth considering what you could recycle and use as garden furniture as an alternative. Try to think out of the box for this, even things like car tyres can be transformed into tables

 

 

4. Focal Point

If you want a WOW factor without a huge price having a focal point is a great idea. This means you can draw all your attention to one point in your garden whilst keeping the rest of your garden in a simple style.

There are many ways you can create an interesting focal point cheaply, such as: planting a collection of brightly coloured plants in an interesting shape, or recycling certain items to create a unique centerpiece. Take some time to look at your garden and choose a spot that you want to focus on, a central location can be best if you have a bigger garden.

 

5. Lighting

If you enjoy sitting in your garden once the sun has set, you can create a wonderful ambience simply from using candles or fairy lights in key areas.

If you have a tree in your garden you may wish to consider solar powered fairy lights that will leave a pleasant glow in the evenings, or perhaps trail these along your fence. Fairy lights are a great way to compliment your favourite part of your garden even in dark evenings. The great thing about solar powered lights is that they are not expensive as they collect the solar rays during the day saving you a big electricity bill!

6. Strong Colour

My last suggestion for garden design on a budget is sticking to a strong colour scheme throughout. Although this sounds simple, by incorporating a strong colour in key places this will really help to make your garden feel like a different place! Think about the key elements of your garden and try to match the colours.

For example; my sail shade, furniture cushions and planters are all in a blue colour which really works in my space. This helps to distract from other areas of your garden and makes my design seem thought out and matching.

Of course, on a budget you may think about doing this by dying your furniture cushions yourself, planting a particular colour plant in your beds and also painting your furniture or fencing.

 

Designing the perfect conservatory

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

 

A conservatory is every garden enthusiast’s fantasy home improvement, providing a space that’s neither indoors nor outdoors. While in your conservatory, you’re just a step away from all the home comforts that you could ever need and the peace and solitude of your perfect garden. Surrounded by glass on all sides, you’ll be able to relax among your flowers whatever the weather. Although conservatories were traditionally used to house all manner of plants, these days the space is as much about homeliness as it is the great outdoors. A conservatory is a room for all weathers and every occasion, and will no doubt complement your lifestyle accordingly.

Tips for creating your perfect conservatory

Before you go any further, consider how your conservatory will be used. Are you keen to create a garden room that will house all manner of plants and flowers, or do you want to design an extension for your family home? Will you dine in your conservatory or use it for toy storage? What kind of plants will you house in here? Your intentions will go a long way towards shaping the space and helping you to finalise some of those trickier interior design decisions. Now that you know what you’re looking for, it’s time to go out and get it…

Flooring

Aside from choosing the size and shape of your new space, the kind of flooring that you lay is likely to be the most important decision you make regarding your conservatory. Will it be wooden or easily cleaned laminate? Will you opt for tiles or soft, smooth linoleum? What styles and colours will suit your theme best? It’s important to consider the kinds of activities that you’ll be getting up to in your new conservatory before setting your heart on a certain kind of flooring; what suits an entertaining couple may not be right for a family with young children. A heated floor is a luxury that will allow you to enjoy the great outdoors for a little longer each year. Rugs will add home comforts to a predominantly outdoorsy space.

Making use of natural light

Made predominantly from glass, conservatories are perfect for sun worshippers and those who like to spend their time surrounded by natural light; whichever way you look, you’ll be immersed in the wonders of your garden. While the enjoyment of streaming natural light is one of the best reasons to get a conservatory, there will probably come a time when you’d like a little more control over its brightness. Full-height shutters, and wooden shutters in all manner of shapes and sizes, are the perfect accompaniment to any conservatory, allowing you to manage the flow of light in and out of your conservatory. During the height of summer, shutters can be adjusted to add a little shade, and to encourage a breeze to circulate. In the winter, they will add an extra layer of warmth that will heat your home.

Heating and cooling

Shutters can be a fantastic way to control the temperature in your new conservatory; during the summer months, they will entice a breeze through your open windows, while trapping additional heat in the cool of winter. You may also want to consider the kind of glass that you’ll be using. Glass coating is incredibly popular and will protect your furniture and accessories from fading. Such a coating is also a great way to maintain a steady temperature. Besides glass, under-floor heating, small radiators, and heating systems can be used to warm your conservatory, and a ceiling fan and air-conditioning unit can be used to keep things cool.

Furniture and accessories

The furniture that you choose to fill your conservatory will depend upon the uses that you have in mind for this new space. A toy or storeroom will need plenty of clever storage options, while a study is going to require a desk and chair, with bookcases for good measure. Perhaps you’ll use this new room as a gym, and equip it with a treadmill or cross trainer. Choose furniture that’s going to complement your lifestyle. Your theme is essential when it comes to decoration and accessioning. Only you know whether a vintage theme, Mediterranean feel or contemporary design is going to work best.

These days, conservatories can be used for so much more than plants. On warm, summer days, your conservatory is a gateway to the great outdoors, perhaps housing the salad bar that will accompany your barbecue, or the wine bar from which your friends will top up. On those cooler, autumnal days, your new conservatory will be the perfect place for watching raindrops racing one another. Whether you use your new conservatory as a playroom, a study or somewhere to entertain, that new space will allow you to surround yourself with the elements. Don’t forget to take a little time to enjoy it as you intended.

Advice for Landlords: Letting a Property with a Garden

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

 

If you’re a landlord, you may be aware of the pitfalls of letting a property with a garden, but there are ways that you can avoid these issues. Offering a garden with your property may even help to boost your profits!

Some landlords prefer to provide as little as possible for their tenants, to avoid as much damage as possible. But those hoping to maximise profits and appeal to a wider range of tenants may find that marketing a property with a garden is an easy way to get it let quickly to reliable tenants.

Are you tempted to let a property with a garden? Here are the pitfalls associated with doing so, and how you can avoid them:

Tenants must maintain the garden – Ensure they know

Unless you specify otherwise, it is the tenant’s responsibility to maintain the garden to the standard it was provided to them while they live in the property. However, many may not know that this is their duty.

Along with details of what else they must maintain, such as keeping the home clean, make sure that the tenancy agreement states that they must maintain the garden and reinforce this face-to-face when they sign the contract.

The tenants aren’t keeping it neat enough – Hire a gardener

Your tenants may comply with their responsibilities, but don’t do a good enough job by your standards. They may simply do the minimum, which may not be neat enough for you.

If this is the case, you may decide that you’d prefer to hire a gardener and ensure that the garden is kept to a high standard.

Tenants aren’t complying – Put a clause in the tenancy agreement

On the other hand, you may have tenants that simply do not comply with their responsibility to maintain the garden. This could leave you with an extremely overgrown and unkempt garden at the end of the tenancy.

Before letting the property, you must make sure that a clause is written into the tenancy agreement that means that tenants must fulfil their duties, or face losing some of their deposit. This will prevent you having to pay for any damage caused.

There are too many tenants coming and going – Offer longer tenancies

If you offer short-term tenancies, such as six months to a year, you may find that the sheer number of tenants moving in and out of the property leads to the garden becoming messy and/or unmaintained.

Taking the decision to provide a garden may mean that you also choose to offer longer tenancies to prospective tenants, such as three years-plus, to ensure that they take real care of the whole property.

There’s confusion over the tenant’s responsibilities – Remember that expertise requires experts

While the tenant must maintain the garden to the level it was provided to them, they cannot be expected to complete dangerous, specialist or risky tasks, such as cutting down branches.

Remember that if there is a big problem with the garden, you cannot expect your tenant to conduct this task. Instead, it is your job to sort the issue yourself, or hire the appropriate tradesperson.

I’m worried about the garden becoming messy – Take a deposit

With confusion over whose responsibility it is to maintain the garden very common in the rental sector, it is just as common to find that the tenants do not maintain the garden and it becomes messy over the tenancy.

This is why award-winning Landlord Insurance provider Just Landlords suggests taking a deposit for every tenancy. This will enable you to cover the cost of any damage that the tenant has caused or as a result of negligence by the tenant.

What about disputes over the condition of the garden? – Take photos

Nevertheless, even if you do take a deposit and wish to deduct an amount from it following damage to the garden, a dispute may arise between you and the tenant over whether any damage was caused.

It is essential that you conduct a thorough inventory report before and after the tenant moves in/out. This should include photographs, so that you have some evidence as to the condition of the garden and rest of the property.

Issues are arising too late – Conduct periodic inspections

Although you can take all the precautions suggested above, you may still find that issues are arising with the garden, and later than would allow you to resolve them easily.

To prevent turning up at the end of the tenancy with a garden that really has got out of control, you should conduct regular periodic inspections throughout the tenancy and raise any problems you have with your tenant there and then. This way, you are addressing an issue soon after it’s surfaced, rather than months or even years later.

This advice for landlords should help those thinking of letting a property with a garden understand the pitfalls they may face, and how to avoid them.

Garden Mole Season Is With Us Once Again.

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

For a growing numbers of gardeners especially with gardens in rural locations early spring is the start of mole season. With the temperatures start to warm up and the soil becoming easier to dig combined with the earth worms on the move the garden moles start work on a spring offensive focused on feasting on the earth worms in your garden.
Moles are great little critters unless they are in your garden and then they are a problem making mole hills in your perfect lawn, although its not all bad news as the soil in the moles hills is ideal for making your own potting compost.
If you have a mole problem click the link below for some advice on how to move them on to the garden next door !!

http://gardenadvice.co.uk/howto/pests/moles/index.html

Cleaning your greenhouse the key to pest free crops

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

One of the most important tasks you can do in growing plants in your greenhouse is to make sure it is clean and free of pest and disease before you start. The greenhouse is a fantastic place for disease spores and pest eggs such as aphids to overwinter ready to pounce on your new crop of young plants in the spring.
The pests and diseases hideaway in the cracks and crannies between the grass and the grazing bars, down the side of water butts and just about anywhere they think themselves to be in a safe haven. 
In cleaning your greenhouse first we need to remove any plant growth leftover from last year and dispose of it in your rubbish bin rather than composing it as a lot of the pest eggs and particularly the disease spores can last for up to 5 years in a dormant state ready to activate and attack your crops. Next using general disinfectant such as jeyes fluid give everything a good wash with a hard scrubbing brush washing pots, seed trays, trellis tables, windows glazing bars and even the path paving to getting your greenhouse pest and disease free. Next once the greenhouse is dry you can use a sulphur smoke bomb or sulphur candle which comes in a small tin can and is used similar to a candle and fills the greenhouse with sulphur smoke which hopefully kills off any remaining pest and disease left after washing. 
Cleaning the greenhouse in winter is one of those jobs nobody really wants to do on a cold wet day but it’s a job at certain to pay dividends later on in the summer as it will greatly reduced the person disease attacks to your plants

Simple ideas for increasing the summer colour in your garden this year

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe
As with most things gardening is all about planning ahead. The key to creating some summer colour in July and August is to take action now and start to grow a few seedlings and start a few corns and tubers.  The GardenAdvice team have come up with 10 ideas for plants to produce summer colour that you can start to work on now.
  • Sweet peas sowing a few seeds now on a windowsill and planting out in the spring will produce a great show of flowers available as cut flowers in late summer.
  • Dahlias pot up a few tubers in a 100 mm pots and water keep in a warm place then when the shoots start to show place them inside in a summer position then plant out in the spring if the springs late and they start to produce lots of growth this can be used for stem cuttings producing more plants.  A great plant for summer colour. 
  • Sun Flowers start a few seeds in pots now inside on a windowsill ready to plant out in the spring a great project for children. When the flowers have finished they can be cut and hung to dry a a wildbird food to feed your garden birds in the winter.
  • Cosmos and Pyrethrum  sowing a few seeds on a windowsill now will produce plant that can be planted out in the spring to produce some summer flowers. 
  • Skimmia Japonica  At this time of year one of the easiest plants to take stem cutting from  placing the cuttings on a windowsill in 75 mm pots the cutting will root in 10 to 20 days ans start to grow away to 
  • Clematis jackmanii a couple of clematis jackmanii planted at the base of a couple of the larger shrubs in your garden. The clematis will steady grow through the shrubs almost unseen 
  • Rudbeckia Godlsturm sowing a few seeds now directly in the grown under a cloche or bell jar will produce a some later summer flowers with the plants lasting year after year. 
  • Campsis or Trumpet vine – sow a few seeds now under some mulch as the base of a fence or a tree and these plants will germinate as the weather warms and grow away into climbing plants to provide colour in the late summer. 
  • Wall flowers or Cheiranthus Sowing a few seeds directly into your garden soil  now under a small bell jar or cloche . They will germinate and grow on and the protection can be removed in the spring. Not traditionally a late summer flowering plant  but with climate change flower now seems to start in August if sown early in the year. 

GardenAdvice hotbeds for early season vegetable and salad crops

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe
Hot beds have been round for a number of years introduced by Victorian gardeners to produce additional heat in the winter to produce crops such as strawberries and salad crops out of season. Hot beds us the heat created by bacteria and other soil organisms as they try to break down organic matter fuelled by nitrogen in fresh farmyard manure or fresh horse manure horse manure being the best source. 
Although it might seem strange one of the problems with hotbeds is to try to maintain an even temperature and not to allow the hot bed temperature to become to high as hotbeds can produce a significant amount of heat.
The GardenAdvice version of hotbed beds uses old brick or builders pallets cut in half to form a square raised bed.  The outside walls are stuffing with straw to insulate and hold the heat in. Next into the raised bed place some straw to 150 mm deep then on top of this place 75 mm of fresh manure, its important to use fresh manure as this will contain the nitrogen in the form of urine from the animals to start the process by feeding the bacterial to generate the heat. Finally cover with  75 mm of clean weed free top soil or compost and water well.
With the hotbed constructed you can now cover with a clear plastic to create a type of cloche using wire or similar to dome the plastic cover. You will need to remove the plastic later to sow the seeds. 
After a few days the hot bed will start to heated up and you can start sowing seeds or placing plants such as strawberries in pots directly into the soil on the hot bed underneath the plastic sheeting. A suitable temperature is maintained by watering and if required ventilating. 
Once the hotbed has finished and been cropped it can then go on to be used as a raised bed for growing Marrows or cucumbers or if it’s in a greenhouse melons. Then after the second crop in the autumn the hot bed contents which will have rotted down can be dug into your vegetable plot to supply a valuable source of humus too improve the soil.