Gardeners Blog

Date: 6th September 2017

Harvesting & storing pumpkins

The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting colder and Halloween will soon be here.  Now is the time to start harvesting and storing your pumpkins ready for winter.  It is really important that you take the time to properly dry them and they will last through winter, even as late as February.

Here is a step by step guide to make sure everything is done correctly.

1)It is essential to leave fruits on the plant for as long as possible.  It might be an idea to raise them using bricks as this will increase air circulation.  If they’re not too big, turn them every few days and remove any leaves which are shading the skins.

2)Pumpkin plants will die down naturally at the end of the summer.  When the leaves start to turn yellow, tap the fruit and if they sound hollow, they’re ripe.  Ensure that there is a good seal at the top of the fruit; this can be done by leaving the neck intact and cutting them away with 10cm of the stem attached.

3)Curing the skins hardens them to protect the flesh beneath.  This process takes about three weeks.  To cure them simply lay your pumpkins out in a single layer on the floor of your greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill and turn them every couple of days so that they cure evenly.

4)Pumpkins need to be stored somewhere dry and well ventilated and placed on a rack for good air circulation.  Lay them down with the stalk downwards and padded with newspaper.  They will keep like that for around four to six months. 

Problems

  • Frost - It’s important to ensure that the fruit is stored before the first signs of frost start to appear.  If your pumpkins are frost damaged, they should be consumed as soon as possible.
  • Mould - If the fruit are not cured properly, they are more likely to go mouldy.

 

Pumpkin Varieties - Here are a few varieties that will be on show this month.

  • ‘Jack Be Little - These are mini pumpkins and great if you have limited space.
  • ‘Atlantic Giant’ - A large pumpkin with a red-orange skin.
  • ‘Invincible’ - The skin on this is a lovely sliver-blue colour with an orange flesh.
  • ‘Becky’ - This pumpkin is perfect for carving your jack-o-lanterns. They are medium sized, prolific and high yielding.

Want to know more about different varieties? Click here.

 

Recipe of the month- pumpkin and goat’s cheese lasagne.
We have a fabulous new recipe just in time for your pumpkin harvest.  Super easy and delicious.

 

Serves: 6 Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Ingredients: 700g pumpkin, 150g soft goats cheese (sliced) , 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, tbsp. tomato puree, 8 lasagne sheets (preferably fresh but you can use dry and soak them in boiling water so they’re soft) , 2 onions (chopped) , 4 cloves of garlic (chopped),  50g parmesan and  a few sage leaves for garnish.

 

  1. Firstly, preheat the oven to 180°C.  Cut the pumpkin into chunks, place on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 15 minutes or until soft.
  2. For the tomato sauce, melt some butter and add the onions and garlic.  Fry for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and tomato puree and simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  3. Now it’s time to layer!  Place the butternut squash in the bottom of a square oven dish, place the lasagne sheets over the top and then pour the sauce over.  Add the slices of goat’s cheese.
  4. Finish off with the grated parmesan and sage leaves.
  5. Cook in the oven for 45-50 minutes.
  6. Serve with a lovely green salad.

Fancy something sweet instead?  Why not try this gorgeous pumpkin pie courtesy of BBC Good Food.

Date: 21st September 2017

Harvest Time!
This is the time of year when the majority of vegetables are being harvested.  You may have an endless supply of potatoes, runner beans, onions and leeks but running out of different ways to cook them.  We have some fantastic and simple recipes to help get your taste buds tingling.

Potato Dauphinoise
They are creamy, crispy, moorish and a great accompaniment to any dish.  Our recipe has a slight twist to make it even more luxurious. 

Serves: 6              Prep: 10 minutes               Cook time: 40 minutes - 1 hour

Ingredients: 1kg floury potatoes (e.g. Maris Piper), 400ml double cream, 2 garlic cloves, 1 onion, 5 rashers of smoked bacon, salt & pepper to season, grated parmesan  

  • Preheat your oven to 180°C
  • Heat a splash of oil in a frying pan and cook the bacon rashers so that they are crispy.  (If you’d rather not include the bacon then miss this step)
  • Thinly slice your potatoes and onions.  Finely chop the garlic cloves and place them in an oven proof dish.  Once the bacon is cooked scatter over the potatoes
  • Season the cream with salt and pepper and pour over the potatoes, top with grated parmesan and cook in the oven for around 40 minutes or until golden brown and slightly crispy on top
  • Serve as a side with a roast dinner. 

What’s more perfect?  If you want to add some extras, broccoli and a scattering of basil leaves would go really well.

French Onion Soup
This has such a unique flavour and will help use up all those onions. 

Serves: 4              Prep time: less than 30minutes                   Cook time: 30 - 40 minutes

Ingredients:  5 onions, 3 garlic cloves, knob of butter, 2 glasses of red wine, 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 750ml beef stock (or you can use vegetable stock but the soup won’t be as rich)

  • Peel and thinly slice the onions and garlic adding them to a frying pan along with the butter and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes or until browned
  • Add the wine, vinegar, stock and sugar and stir well.  Leave this for another 10-20 minutes and the soup becomes lovely and thick with the onions caramelised.  If you need to add more liquid to make the soup thinner then add a few drops of boiling water or add some double cream.
  • Serve with toasted crusty bread with either gruyere cheese or parmesan.

Creamy Leeks
What about a beautiful side dish of creamy leeks?  Click here for a fabulous recipe by the wonderful Jamie Oliver.   So full of flavour and incredibly easy.

Adding More!

If our delicious recipes have given you something to get hungry about with the night’s drawing in and weather cooling it is not too late to think about planting more onions or shallots

We have a range of autumn planting sets at our impressive Evesham showroom on Vale Park.  Why not come and have a browse?  We also have broad beans and pea seeds available.  Contact us on 01386 444100, email sales@bhgsltd.co.uk or click here to order online.

Date: 6th September 2017

Potatoes are ready to harvest.

Potatoes are extremely versatile and a great staple to any meal.  Whether they’re boiled, mashed or roasted the list is endless to the amount of ways you can cook a potato.

When to harvest?
As maincrop potatoes are in the ground for longer than first and second earlies, from now until October they should be ready to lift.  Not sure if they’re ready?  For winter storage the easiest way to tell if the potatoes are ready to harvest is to wait until the top of the vines have died.  The temperature of the soil and air is also a factor to consider before lifting your potatoes.  Potatoes can tolerate light frost, however, when a frost is expected it’s time to dig!  In areas that are slightly warmer, the temperature of the soil needs to be above 45 F. That’s when it’s time to pick your potatoes.  Not sure on the temperature? We have soil thermometers in store so why not browse our impressive showroom with an array of feeds, fertilisers, composts and pots to name a few.  Or simply visit our website.

How to harvest?
Knowing when to harvest is fairly simple so now all you need to know is how.  There’s no trick and it requires little skill, all you need is a shovel or spading fork.  If you’re having your home grown potatoes for dinner, drive your fork into the soil around the outside of the plant.  Lift the plant and take what you need then put the plant back in place ensuring it is set back into the soil, water thoroughly.

Winter storage
You will need to decide when to dig up your potatoes for winter storage, ensuring they have matured and have thick and firmly attached skins.  If the skins are thin and easily removed then they need to be in the ground for a little longer.  Once they are ready, be careful not to scrape, bruise or cut the tubers.  If the tubers are damaged, they will rot during storage. Potatoes must then be cured after harvesting and left in temperatures of 45-60°F to give the skins time to harden and seal any minor cuts. Once your potatoes are cured, they need to be stored at about 40°F in a dark place as too much light will turn them green.

Want to know more about potatoes? Click here.  This will tell you all about first and second earlies which are dug out earlier in the year, usually from June through to August.

Our potato list and information will help you choose the perfect varieties as you will need to start thinking about ordering your seed potatoes ready for planting in mid-march.  To enquire email us or ring 01386 444100 and we will be happy to help or let you know when our seed potatoes will be arriving in store.

Date: 10 August 2017

The BHGS Guide to Planting Spring Flowering Bulbs

Planting bulbs really help to add colour and brighten up your garden during spring. Spring flowering bulbs require very little care and are easy to grow.  We’ve put together a handy guide to help you get the most out of your garden next spring:

When

Spring flowering bulbs should be planted during autumn so start thinking about your colour scheme and the plants you want to display now.  We have a wide selection in store and we are always happy to offer our advice.

Where

Choose a warm and sunny environment with good drainage to get the best possible results.

How

Containers - Planting in containers allows you to extend your flowering space particularly when space is minimal. When you are planting in containers it is important to try and plant them at a depth that is 3 times the height of the bulb. Ensure there are good drainage holes and place broken crocks or polystyrene randomly within the container, making sure no drainage holes are blocked. Half fill with compost, place the bulbs on top, cover with more compost and water well.

Open soil/borders - Bulbs prefer free draining soil. Digging a week before planting the bulbs and adding some course grit will help with drainage if the soil is compacted or heavy. For best results rake some fish, blood and bone or pelleted chicken manure into the surface of the soil.

Make sure the bulbs have plenty of room and loosen the soil at the base of the hole. If it is heavy clay add a layer of grit or course sand and place the bulb on top. Mix the rest of the soil with compost and cover the bulb, patting down gently to ensure there are no air pockets.

We stock a complete range of competitively products in store and online and we’re always happy to advise what’s best for your soil type.

Problems

Preparing your garden for a glorious spring display should be straightforward and enjoyable. There aren’t too many problems to worry about. Just make sure the bulbs are healthy from the start and discard any that are soft or shows signs of rot. Look out for slugs, snails and squirrels particularly with tulips and crocus. We sell and can advise you on the appropriate pest control to keep unwanted creatures away from your bulbs/plants.

Click here for more useful tips.

Advice and ordering

Getting advice or placing an order is simple and our expert team area always on hand to offer advice.  Why not visit our impressive Evesham show room and enjoy a hot drink while browsing our extensive range of products and chat with our experts

Call us on 01386 444100

Email: sales@bhgsltd.co.uk

Order via our website https://www.bhgsltd.co.uk/. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to help.

If you are interested in our spring flowering bulbs and would like to place an order, click here to complete our order form. Remember to order early to avoid disappointment.

Date: 12 July 2017

As I was looking through the Grow your own magazine, I came across a very useful step by step guide to make a bird house and it got me thinking. What are the benefits if any to encouraging wildlife to visit your garden?

Birds visiting your garden are sure to brighten up your day but there are many reasons why this is a good thing.

  • They control pests- Birds eat insects so they will get rid of any pests that are unwelcome in your garden. And therefore there is no need to use harmful pesticides
  • Birds are great at weed control- They love eating weed seeds and so eliminate the need to remove thousands of weeds that appear to have grown overnight.
  • Flower pollination- With the bee population diminishing, there are many birds that like sipping nectar from flowers which in turn helps them to pollinate.
  • Wildlife conservation- More habitats are becoming threatened through development, so it is critical to attract bird to your garden to help with conservation.

Once you’ve decided you want to attract more birds to your garden, you’ll need a bird house; there are lots of different styles to choose from. Keeping the colour light and neutral will allow it to keep cool during hot days and will encourage frequent visitors.

As well as the environmental benefits, having birds in your garden can benefit you. Watching birds is enjoyable and relaxing and you can enjoy the different species of birds gathering in your garden. You may even consider joining a birdwatch scheme.

 If you want to encourage more feathered friends into your garden, we sell a range of bird seed. Click here to look at our range https://www.bhgsltd.co.uk/horticulture-wildlife-bird-care-c-1_187.html or pop into our Evesham showroom and we will be happy to help. We also sell a range of bird feeders and houses in store. Enquire today on 01386 444100 or email sales@bhgsltd.co.uk. 

 

Date: 5th June 2017

As a Horticultural Suppliers based in the Vale of Evesham it seems fitting that our first blog is about asparagus. So we thought we'd share with you some tips on how to care for asparagus this season.

Once established, asparagus will deliver spears from April to the middle of June every year. This will only happen if they are looked after, making sure you keep up with watering, weeding, feeding and pest control. Having healthy crowns is also essential! making sure there is a good mass of summer fern to allow crowns to refuel and in late autumn, making sure the soil drains well. If you keep caring for your aspagus and achieve a good amount of spears, you can now focus on the next stage. 

  • Stop cutting spears after six to seven weeks and ensure you weed around the plants. Make sure you control the weeds as you don't want them overpowering the asparagus. Be careful when doing this and NEVER use a hoe as it will damage the shallow roots.
  • It is a good idea to feed again as the fern grows. Use a general purpose fertiliser or add well rotted manure into the mulch. 
  • During drought periods, give the bed a soak. Whilst the soil is moist you can then add an 8cm layer of garden compost in order to conserve moisture.
  • Keep a close eye on your fern! The stems often have slugs at the base which need moving. Asparagus beetles and their larvae can damage the fern unless they're removed

So now you have a simple guide for caring for asparagus, you may feel more confident to give it a try. If you have a space in your vegetable plot, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity to grow these delicious vegetables.

Pop along to the Asparagus Festival in Evesham this weekend (2nd-4th June) if you're in the area. And why not come and visit our showroom on Vale Park, Evesham. We're open on Saturday, 8.30am to 12.00noon and Monday- Friday 8am to 5pm. We stock and supply all types of compost and fertilisers for all your growing needs.

http://www.britishasparagusfestival.org/ Here is everything you need to know about upcoming asparagus events in and around Evesham.