Gardeners Blog

Date: 11th December 2018

Gardening in December

Although it’s tempting to stay in the warm during December, there is still plenty to be done in the garden, and in fact, certain plants actually thrive in cold conditions!

Trees
It’s your last chance to plant fruit trees. But make sure they are protected by using tree guards and rabbit guards to stop them from getting damaged. They may also need to be protected from wind and frosts – this will be dependent on the variety.

In the Greenhouse
As there are more frosts and the weather is getting much colder, it’s important to insulate your greenhouse with bubble wrap if you’ve not already done so.

Greenhouse heaters will also come in handy! Ensure that the temperature is accurate at all times. During milder conditions, open vents for an hour or so to allow air circulation and to keep the greenhouse well ventilated.

Protect your Flowers
After storms and frosts, check on tender plants to make sure they have not been damaged and protection is still in place.

Raise patio containers on bricks, so they are not directly on the ground and are not sitting in rain water. Large tubs are also a risk of cracking, so wrap them in any form of protection, such as bubble wrap or fleece. You will more than likely have some leftover after using elsewhere in your garden. If you have run out, BHGS stock them. Pop into our Evesham showroom on email us.

Tender plants can also be brought indoors if they are exposed to extreme weather conditions.

Wildlife
Wildlife, especially birds, needs extra care during the winter months. It’s important to keep your bird feeders topped up so that they have a good supply of food, when it is harder for them to find this time of year.  BHGS supply a large range of bird food and feeders, browse our website or visit our showroom!

If you have a pond, make sure it doesn’t freeze over, as this can be fatal to fish and other pond life. There are precautions you can take, however, to ensure that this doesn’t happen. If you have a pond heater or can purchase one then that would be ideal, or if you don’t have one, there are other solutions. For example, if your pond does freeze over, you can make a hole by holding a saucepan of hot water on the surface until melted through. Don’t crack the ice as it is harmful to fish.

Gardening Tools & Equipment
when putting your lawn mowers and other equipment away for the winter, make sure that they are clean and dry before storing. It is also a good idea to drain out any fuel, as unleaded petrol will go off and may cause problems next year when you try and start it up again.

Clean and sharpen your tools so that they are kept in good conditions and don’t get damaged and rust.  Wash them thoroughly and allow to dry completely before sharpening the necessary tools. A lot of your tools will most likely have wooden handles, and special care needs to be taken to prevent them from splitting and breaking! They should be sanded and then rubbed in linseed oil to create a protective barrier. They need to be dried before storage and stored indoors.

Date: 20th November 2018

Grow your own parsnips

Roast Parsnips are a must on your Christmas dinner and on any Sunday roast for that matter! They are also delicious in a soup or coated in honey and mustard. So as the festive period is looming, we thought it would only be right for our next blog entry to be about growing parsnips.

Sowing
Long-rooted parsnips need good, deeply cultivated and stone free soils, however, there are also shorter varieties that will grow in most soil.

Prepare the ground in autumn by digging the compost and removing any stones and then when spring comes, just rake over the soil surface. It is not advisable to use manure as this may rot the roots!

Sowing freshly bought seeds is a must as the seeds do not remain viable for very long and only sow them when the weather has become warmer. February is still too early for sowing as the ground will still be cold. The earliest you should do it is March and even then, it may be a good idea to warm the soil with a cloche for a week or so beforehand and keep it there until the seedlings have a few leaves.

Sow the seeds 2cm deep, 15cm apart in rows 30cm apart. Sow two or three seeds at a time and thin the seedlings to leave the strongest plant. Water after thinning to settle the soil back in.

Grow
Thin seedlings to 10cm apart for long rooted parsnips and 7cm apart for smaller roots making sure that the area is weed free, doing any weed removal by hand if they are close to the plant to avoid damage. If there is a period of dry weather, water accordingly to prevent the soil from drying out as this can cause the roots to split in the ground.

Carrot fly can also be a problem so perhaps consider growing under a mesh or using clear polythene around your plants to keep the flies out.

Harvest
Parsnips will take around 16 weeks to mature and when they are ready, the foliage will start to die down. This will be in autumn. It is advisable, however, to leave them until we have had a couple of frosts for best results as the flavour of the parsnips are actually improved by frost. You can leave the vegetables in the ground during winter and lift when needed.

To harvest, lift the roots carefully with a fork, trying not to spear them as damaged roots will not store well and will need to be used straight away. You should also consider pulling a few extra out in November so that you don’t run out if the ground freezes. All parsnips should be lifted and stored by February.

Now you know all there is about growing your own parsnips, why not give it a go next year?

If you would like to know about the different varieties of parsnips, visit the RHS website.

Need some ideas on how to cook your parsnips? We have the perfect recipe.

We hope you found this useful and if you would like to enquire about a particular product, contact us on 01386 444100 or email sales@bhgsltd.co.uk.

Date: 31st October 2018

Getting Ready for Winter

Winter is almost here; the weather is getting colder and the nights are getting darker. Although it might be nicer to stay inside in the warm, there is still plenty to do in the garden to ensure it survives through the winter months.

Keep on top of weeds – Those determined weeds will carry on growing where the soil is still warm. Uproot as many as you can or use lots of mulch to stop them growing.

Compost – It might be tempting to leave your compost heap until spring. However, you still need to keep an eye on it by turning full heaps over every month so that all of it at some stage is in the middle of the heap where it gets the hottest. This allows full and even decomposition.

Tidy your edges – Grassy paths will make its way onto bare beds and start to look untidy. Why not do this now whilst you aren’t as busy in the garden as you will be during spring.  An edging knife will do the trick.

Cover bare soil – Use a weed control fabric or any material that’s suitable in order to stop weeds from taking over.

Straw up root crops – Cold winters seem to be more frequent in the last couple of years, therefore the ground freezes. Maincrop carrots, parsnips and Jerusalem artichokes are impossible to life from frozen soil.  Using mulch will insulate them as well as popping a tunnel cloche or any other suitable frost protection over the row and pack with straw.

Protecting your leeks – They aren’t so easy to insulate and will perish if you try to lift them from the soil and store them. The best way to keep them protected is to ‘heel them in’ which means to lift them and replant them in a more sheltered area of your garden or in a big bucket of compost indoors if keeping them outside isn’t an option.

Rake up leaves – This is not just to keep your garden tidy but are actually so you can make leaf mould, which is great for potting composts and to use as a low-nutrient mulch. Raise your mower to the highest setting and mow the leaves up, this will collect grass clipping too which is useful as it speeds up rotting. Put the whole lot in binbags and pierce a few holes. The leaf mould will be ready for use this time next year.

Bamboo Canes – Clean and store them in the shed or any dry place to ensure that they’re still in good condition to be used next year. It’s the little things that helps the environment.

Garlic cloves – Plant in modules inside a cold frame or outdoors in mild areas in its final position. They need to be in free-draining soils and low rainfall areas only!

Plant debris – Remove all remaining plant debris from your veg plot. This keeps the area tidy as well as making sure that you don’t put any diseases material into your compost.

Now you have a few jobs this month you can start to prepare for winter.

For more tips, visit the RHS website alongside our advice page on our website.

 

Date: 5th October 2018

Welcoming wildlife

As the weather starts to get dramatically colder, wildlife will be looking for shelter, food and warmth. Here are some useful tips to make your garden a homely area for autumn and winter wildlife.

Messy Areas
Having a bit of an untidy area in your garden is great for hibernating wildlife. Insects will wedge themselves into hollow plant stems and frogs will often hide underneath fallen leaves. Hedgehogs may also find shelter where there are lots of logs and leaves. It might also be an idea to give them a little opening in your fence so that they can find food and warmth, maybe even a little hedgehog house with some food is sure to entice them. BHGS sell hedgehog food, so if you see the four-legged friends around your garden, pop into our showroom.

 If you do decide to clean up your messy area and want to make a bonfire, it is really important to make sure there are no wildlife underneath before you light it. If you are gathering lots of bits for your bonfire, ensure you light it straight away so no animals have a chance to sneak inside for shelter.

Feeding Wildlife

As winter is fast approaching, it is harder for wildlife to find food.  Making sure your bird feeders are kept topped up and there is a good supply of water from ponds or bird baths will keep a good array of birds around your garden as well as giving them food and water. BHGS have a large selection of bird care products, visit our website, email us or visit our Evesham showroom.

You may also be wanting to cut back your ivy, however, it may be an idea to let it grow. As well as providing shelter, the berries are particularly popular in winter.

Providing A Safe Haven for Birds

Autumn is a great time to tidy your bird boxes, this time of year is perfect as nesting season is over! Put on a pair of gloves, remove any old material and give it a good clean with hot water. Perhaps you haven’t got a house for birds to nestle in? why not buy or make one? Read our ‘Benefits of a Bird House’ blog entry or click here to learn how to make one.

Planting & Maintaining Shrubs

Shrubs can provide shelter and warmth for a number of different wildlife. Hedgehogs are a prime example of animals that struggle to find warm areas to hibernate during the winter months. They act as a wind break and a shelter from heavy rain and frosts as the weather starts to get colder from autumn through to winter.

Hopefully, you have found this article useful and has given you lots of tips to encourage wildlife into your garden this season.

 

Date: 11th September 2018

Pest Control Tips

Pests and diseases can often be a problem in the garden and it can be hard to control it. We have some tips to help reduce pests but rather than getting rid of them harmfully, trying to find natural resolutions instead.

How to beat slugs and snails?
Sometimes using poisons seems like the only route to take when trying to get rid of slugs and snails. However, there are much better ways to go about controlling them. 

  • One strategy is ensuring you have the correct timings for sowing, this is to enable seedlings to thrive in helpful conditions and are able to grow away from any creatures.
  • Sowing seeds in controlled environments e.g. greenhouses are also a factor to take into consideration. This will allow your seeds to grow undisturbed making them strong and sturdy and able to survive an attack from slugs/snails.
  • Keeping your garden tidy is also a huge factor. Any overgrown weeds, long grass and overgrown plants are fantastic shelters for pests, who will cause damage especially in damp conditions.  So, keeping the area clear is vital as well as getting rid of any dead leaves and putting them on the compost heap.
  • Although keeping your garden tidy is necessary, if overgrown areas that have recently been cleared, they may have been home to insects and pests. They suddenly have less to eat than before so may start looking for other means of foods i.e. your plants. To avoid this from happening, in the first year of cropping, avoid growing slug-prone vegetables such as salads and carrots.
  • Even if your garden has always been kept tidy, if there are walls in the area, their holes may provide homes and shelters for slugs and snails. It is suggested that growing perennial flowers, fruiting trees and bushes near walls and keeping your vegetable patch away from that area.

Frequent Harvesting

  • Even in bare soil there are still plenty of slugs about and will often find homes particularly on the outer leaves of lettuce. Therefore, smaller crops that are picked frequently are less likely to be damaged and eaten but still provide tasty produce.

Helpful Predators

  • Animals that eat smaller pests like slugs and snails can be useful in reducing numbers. Although these pests are part of the garden and the eco system, it still would be nice not to have all of your crops eaten and destroyed. When picking crops such as spinach, there are often toads using the leaves as shelter- they like the same damp conditions as the slugs and so are great predators in the garden. However, you will never illuminate them completely because if there were no slugs then there would be no food left for the toads.

Slug Traps

  • As you may or may not know, slugs like cool, dark and damp places – By laying an old wooden board on the soil will often result in being able to remove any slugs that have attached themselves to the wood overnight.
  • If you are running out of options and are struggling to control the pests, BHGS do sell organic slug pellets in various sizes. Visit our Evesham showroom or our website to place your order.

Slug & Snail Resistant

  • There are a few flowers that slugs and snails do not like. Plants like; penstemons, foxgloves and lots of other perennials can offer shelter to the plants that they like. They may also provide shelter during damp conditions, so it would be a good idea to clean up the area every so often.

For more tips and advice, visit the RHS website. Providing you with reliable information and solutions to help solve your slug and snail’s problem.

Our experienced sales team are available Monday-Friday, 8am till 5pm to offer any advice. Contact us on 01386 444100, email us or find your nearest Sales Rep.

 

Date: 13th August 2018

The Garden in August

August is still an incredibly busy month in terms of gardening and there is a lot to do to keep your garden looking at its best. We have plenty of useful tips to help you on your way and hopefully there will be lots of opportunity to enjoy your garden as we have done during the previous couple of months!

Flower Garden
Lilies – As soon as the petals start to fall, remove the flower stalk by cutting the stem just below the flower head using a pair of secateurs.  The plants will then produce food, which allows the bulb to build up its reserves so it can flower again next summer.  Once the faded flowers have been removed, the plants will benefit from a general purpose liquid plant feed.

Dahlias – It’s important to support your dahlias to ensure the weight of their beautiful flowers doesn’t cause their stem to break.

Deadhead your flowers – Some flowers such as sweet peas, pelargoniums and cosmos will keep blooming if you deadhead them every few days, getting rid of any signs of a midsummer fade.

Drought resistant species – including these into your flower garden will give you easy care plants that cut down on your workload, especially with this month being busy gardening wise. Consider lavender, thyme or sedums for a low maintenance option.

Spring Flowering Bulbs – It’s not too early to start thinking about your spring flowering bulbs. We’ll be taking orders soon so contact us to request a bulb catalogue and order form.

Vegetable Garden
Tomatoes – Keep an eye on your tomatoes by making sure that they are well fed and watch out for any signs of blight and other diseases.

What needs to be harvested? – Check your runner beans regularly and keep picking them before the beans begin to bulge otherwise they will become tough and stringy.
If the weather continues to stay hot, sweetcorn may be ready towards the end of the month. The silky tassels should have turned from yellow to brown. But don’t leave them until the tassels have withered up or the sweetcorn will be past its best and tasteless.

Mulch
Mulch is incredibly useful during the summer months as it helps you to cut down on watering. The good news is, if you have a lawn, you already have your mulch.  All you need to do is collect all grass cuttings, spread them in a sunny place and leave for 24hours, turn and leave for another 24 hours or until the grass has started to brown.

Once the cuttings are ready to be used as mulch, spread around your thirsty plants such as phloxes, asters and aconitums. Much can attract slugs so make sure you don’t use it around their favourite food such as hostas and dahlias.

BHGS supplies an extensive range of products perfect for your garden in August. Contact us on 01386 444100, email sales@bhgsltd.co.uk or visit our website. Our sales team are experienced and will be happy to offer advice.

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