Quick Links
Expert supplier Media Clips Info Sheet Expert Advice

Best Gardening Tips For Each Season

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

A garden has many personalities that are dependent on the tilt of the earth and the local climates and seasons. As much as gardening is a science, it is also an art, and these tips are starting guides for garden care in each season. Take these ideas and see how they relate to your garden and create your own personalised gardening timeline.

 

Spring

Plant any bare-rooted plants, such as soft fruits and roses. Pay attention to your bulbs, your tulips and daffodils, which should look magnificent this time of the year. After they flower, take off any wilted flowers and seed heads and tease out the bulb with its leaves and replant them about 60-75mm apart.

A lawn treatment is a great way to spruce up your lawn and should be applied on a dry day with a thorough watering after three days, though check the specifics on your specific fertilizer. 

There is so much to do in spring, especially if you are a vegetable grower. If the atmosphere and the ground is still too cold for your vegetables then you will need a gently heated propagator to give them a boost. As soon as the seeds are up, transfer them to a cooler and turn them every day by a quarter for a well-rounded plant.

 

Summer

During the dog days of summer, water your plants early in the morning and late in the evening to maximise your water efficiency. This is also when your pollinators will be blooming and keeping your bees happy. These include sunflowers, zinnias, and other wildflowers which are great additions to your yard and keep the ecosystem moving.

During periods of good weather is the time to tackle any large garden renovation projects such as installing patios, garden paths and ponds. Plus, this is the perfect time to visit national gardens to get inspiration for next year, get any tips for flowers that haven’t done as well as you planned, and bask in the beauty of nature.

 

Fall

Autumn is the time to clean the garden and prepare the beds for next spring. Bulbs that bloom in spring, your asters, pansies and chrysanthemums, will do well getting used to your garden’s soil at this time. Additionally, plant new shrubs and trees now as there is plenty of ambient moisture and the tree will be dormant which reduces the effects of transplant shock.

Clean up unwanted growth now; your spent vegetable plants and any weeds. Prepare the flower beds by clearing away leaf debris. This can be a chore, especially if you have a lot of dead leaves. 

Removing plant debris is essential for reducing plant disease risk and pests. Empty your compost bins and start a new batch with the falling foliage. Your compost can be used as a heat blanket around your most sensitive plants to keep them snug for next season.

 

Winter

In general, winter temperatures won’t kill ornamental plants. A higher risk time for them is spring when there are occasional warm spells that wake them from dormancy followed by cold spells. Protect your flowering plants with a frost cover, not a plastic sheet which produces an oven effect if the sun is strong unexpectedly.

During winter, you can relax with regards to clearing bulb foliage and regular watering schedules. Additionally, don’t fertilise at this period because you will stimulate new plant growth which is dangerous during this period.

Each season has its own needs and its own treasures. Gardening is a wonderful, varied pastime that can help you keep tabs on how your environment is changing and nurture something that will grow more beautiful over time. Do you have your own seasonal gardening tips or successes? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Staying safe when using BBQs: An expert Guide

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

As the warmer months are upon us, there’s nothing quite like dining under the sun, amongst the great outdoors. Therefore, there’s no surprise why so many of us, (when the weather is just right) jump to the chance, of bringing out those paddling pools and fire up the BBQ at every opportunity.  Hosting a BBQ, gives excuse to bring friends and family together, but let’s not forget the potential of health hazards brought along with it.

From ensuring food is cooked thoroughly and at the right temperatures, to keeping people at safe distances away from the heat of the grill, it’s important to stay aware of the safety so that everyone can make the most out of your BBQ without the risk of injury.

That’s why Flogas, provider of Gas for BBQs, offer precautions to consider.

Preparing your food
Across the UK, each year there is an estimate of one million reports of food poisoning. With that in mind, it’s clear to assume that many of us are still not taking the appropriate precautions when handling and storing food.

Sadly, the warmer weather can bring a hot spot for bacteria to breed (which increases the chances of food being contaminated, which then leads to food poisoning risk) but fear not, after following these guidelines, you can keep all you BBQs guests safe as possible.

Start by sticking by the rules of the four ‘c’s:

  1. Chilling 
  • Always defrost your BBQ food overnight in a fridge, rather than leaving it to defrost at room temperature. 
  • Allow any leftover cooked foods to cool and then store them in a fridge (within a two-hour window).
  • Don’t overfill your fridge – overfilling stops air from circulating properly. 
  • Regularly check the temperature of your fridge with a thermometer. In-built fridge temperature gauges don’t always give the correct temperature!
  1. Cooking 
  • When cooking meat, ensure it reaches the right temperature for long enough to kill any bacteria. If in doubt, use a cooking thermometer! For beef burgers, before eating the inside temperature should be roughly 71°C. Sausages should be 65°C, and it’s 73°C for chicken.
  • If you slice into the cooked meat, it should be steaming hot throughout.
  • None of the cooked meat should look pink when you cut into the thickest part.
  • All of the juices from the meat should run clear once cooked.
  1. Cleaning
  • Always clean any utensils, plates and chopping boards before and after cooking.
  • Don’t wash chicken or any other raw meat as splashing water containing harmful bacteria could spread to your food preparation areas.
  1. Cross-contamination
  • Cross-contamination often occurs when raw food touches or drips onto surfaces. Always use different plates, chopping boards and utensils for raw food and cooked food.
  • Washing hands in hot soapy water before and after handling food will reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
  • Ensure that any raw foods are kept separate to food that’s ready to eat.

Safety Precautions around Gas BBQs
Choosing to use a gas-powered BBQ brings many advantages over a charcoal BBQ. As well as being quicker to set up and easier to get going, they give users greater control over the temperature, meaning food is more likely to be cooked properly before serving.

With any gas-powered appliances, it’s important to follow some basic safety rules when cooking with gas cylinders:

  1. Cylinder safety can vary from brand to brand. Always follow the manufacturer’s advice when handling and using BBQ gas cylinders. 
  2. If you need to change your gas cylinder, make sure that the tap is properly switched off before you start.
  3. If you think there’s the possibility of a leak on the cylinder or pipework, isolate the source and call your cylinder supplier’s emergency number immediately.
  4. After you’ve finished cooking, turn off the gas cylinder first (to ensure that any remaining gas is used), then turn the BBQ off at the controls.

Safety precautions around BBQs in general
Along with understanding the values of food safety and staying safe when handling gas, next comes some general safe BBQ tips to bare in mind to help prevent unwanted incidents:

  1. It may sound obvious, but never barbecue indoors or on balconies.
  2. Be aware of where you are placing your BBQ. Keep it on flat ground as far away from flammable surfaces as possible (this includes sheds, fences, trees and tents).
  3. If there are children or pets nearby, keep them well clear of the cooking area. 
  4. Keep a bucket of water or sand nearby in case of an emergency.
  5. After cooking, do not attempt to the move the BBQ until it is cool.

Despite the dangers associated with BBQs, they shouldn’t prevent you from impressing your guests with your amazing cooking skills, but just bare in mind to keep safety upfront.

Top Tips for Getting the Beautiful Garden You’ve Always Dreamed of – On a Budget

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

It’s the perfect season for it. We’re on the cusp of summer, and the tropical weather is (hopefully) on it’s way in Great Britain. This means your garden will shortly become the main attraction in your home, whether that be for you sitting peacefully, enjoying the outdoors   and your morning coffee, or if in fact you’re the person who is known for hosting the hottest summer barbeques every year. Whatever your purpose, chances are you’ll want to get your garden looking perfect for its peak season, and you’ll not want to break the bank doing so.

With these top tips, you’ll have the secret garden of dreams in no time, without having to spend up.

 

 

Tame Your Lawn

It goes without saying that after a long winter, you’ll probably need to cut the grass down to make it appear tidier. However, it might be the case that the grass itself is looking a bit tired, and needs a little help along the way. If this is the case, be sure to rake and water your lawn to give it the boost it needs. If it’s in need of some extra TLC, invest in a treatment specifically for your lawn, and it’ll be looking a luscious green in no time.

However, getting your lawn looking tidy isn’t going to add the wow factor to your garden, but there are ways that you can give it that extra pizazz. Why not consider cutting your lawn into a clearly defined shape, like a smaller square or circle? This is an easy and effective way to make your garden look immediately more interesting, and you guessed it, it’s cheap too. It’s as easy as marking out the shape you desire with string, and digging out the excess

with a spade, which will take an afternoon at the most. Consider filling the gaps with gravel or flowers to frame your lawn in a beautiful and effective way.

 

Plants are Everything

A garden is only as good as its flower bed, isn’t it? So ensure to make yours colourful and full. A super cost effective way of doing this, is by opting for perennial plants that you can divide up into sections – and it’s not as complicated as it sounds. It works especially well for forming a clump of flowers such as geraniums and astrantia – you don’t have to spend loads of money on exotic, expensive plants to give your garden a tropical feel! It’s as easy as splitting the plant, digging holes, and spreading each part around your flowerbed. Doing this will give you the overall effect of a wonderful flower display with several different breeds of flowers springing up around your flowerbed. It might take a little while for them to grow to their full potential, but it’s a cheaper way of getting the flower display you’ve always    wanted. Next stop, the Chelsea Flower Show!

 

Don’t Neglect Your Brickwork

Chances are if you have brickwork in your garden, for example a wall, it’ll have been there for a fair few years, probably before you even moved there. Because of this, it’ll be looking tired and probably in need of a little refresher. If hosing down and cleaning up the brickwork in question just isn’t doing the trick, consider hiring a  Repointing Specialist to do the work for you. It’s not expensive, and it means an expert does the hard work for you, and probably does a more professional job.

 

Invest in a Tree

Considering their longevity of life and the quality they bring to your garden (not to mention the oxygen they bring into the environment), trees are completely inexpensive given the purpose they serve. Small trees, like crab apple trees, are great for an average sized garden, because they’re not too big and they’ll remain in proportion. Plus you get to grow your own crab apples!

 

Light it Up

Last, but certainly not the least, the piece de resistance of your garden can easily be the lighting you add to it. Again with it being entirely inexpensive, solar powered lighting can change your space from the average back garden, to a magical outdoor haven. Whether you opt for solar powered ground lighting, or outdoor fairy lights draped over the wall or the fence, they’ll make the garden an artistic space, and will make those summer nights just that little bit cosier. It’s amazing the difference lighting can make, for such a little price.

 

Top Tips to Get Your Garden Ready for Summer

In CategoryTim Whitcombe
ByGardenAdvice Tim Whitcombe

Time is ticking, the year is flying, and the sun is (hopefully!) coming. With the hot weather  on it’s way, your top of the list place to host parties, chill out, and thoroughly enjoy over the summer months will inevitably be your garden. But after a long, cold and rainy winter, how can you give your garden the care and attention it needs in order for it to blossom into the centrepiece summer location you deserve when dragging the BBQ over the long bedraggled lawn the winter has left behind just won’t do? A little TLC goes a long way, and with these top tips, your garden will be the top Summer Soiree location in the neighbourhood.

 

Love Your Lawn

Without the foundations of your home, it’s infrastructure is nothing. Similarly, without a cared for lawn, your garden is nothing too. There’s nothing more appealing than a green and luscious British garden lawn in the sunshine, so make sure yours is in tip top condition! Be sure to re-sow any poor patches that are looking a bit tired before you begin doing anything. Before you water, also ensure that you’ve scratched back the main bits of grass with a wire rake, in order for the water to soak into the soil and successfully gain access to the roots. Of course, if your lawn is overgrown be sure to trim it, however be careful not to take off more than a centimetre in height. Cutting it too short will actually make it look less luscious and healthy, and you don’t want that.

 

Say Goodbye to Weeds

It goes without saying that eliminating weeds is a MUST in the preparation for your summer garden. It seems like a never ending task – you pull out the weeds, they grow back, you pull out the weeds, they grow back, and the cycle seems to loop around in a constant circle.

Unfortunately, the best way to eliminate weeds is to stay on top of them all year round, and that includes the winter months. However, if you’ve neglected to do so, as most of us admittedly do, have no fear because there are is help out there. Specifically designed weed control sprays/solutions are a great way of stemming the growth of weeds, before they invade and populate your garden. Sometimes it’s best to nip it in the bud, before the  problem is out of your control. By doing this, not only will your garden be fresh and tidy for summer, but it could also highly benefit you in other scenarios too. For example if you were to want to make a quick house sale, for example if you’re selling to a cash buyer that pays the best prices, you’ll be likely to make more money from a house with an attractive and well kept garden.

 

Clean Up the Summer Essentials

It’s inevitable that in the upcoming months you’ll be using your essential summer furniture and appliances, so you’ll want to make sure they’re up to scratch.

First of all, make sure your Summer furniture is polished and ready to use. Hopefully you’ll have moved all cushions and material items indoors within the winter months to keep them fresh for use. However, if you’ve forgotten, not to worry, just be sure to put them in the wash and hang them out to dry!

Before throwing the Barbeque of the year, you’ll want to make sure that the BBQ itself is in clean and working order. Chances are if it’s been outside all year, you’ll have a fair amount of rust to remove from your BBQ before use. If you’ve been sensible and stored your BBQ away, then you’ll only have to give it a quick Spring clean. Sometimes it pays to be over prepared!

 

Don’t Forget the Fence

Last but certainly not least, remember not to neglect your fence. Unlike the aforementioned, you unfortunately can’t take your fence indoors and protect it from the harshities of winter, however a treatment and paint is the next best thing. Using substances such as creosote can give it protection from the wear and tear of hot, cold, wet and dry weather alike.

Even something as small as a lick of paint or varnish can completely revitalise a fence withered from the winter months. Once dry, it’s completely up to yourself how you’ll decorate. Maybe you’ll invest in some flowerbeds beneath the fence, some climbing plants like ivy or honeysuckle, or you’ll even consider some solar powered fairy lights. It’s as easy as that to make your garden look magical, and feel cared for.