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Archive for 2017

Top Tips on Gardening in Dry Weather

Friday, April 28, 2017 @ 08:04 AM
posted by Elizabeth

Whether you’ve had snow, late frosts, or just slept through the weird weather of this month, one thing we *can* all agree on is that it has been dry! In fact, the climate has been in the news a lot this week, with the RHS giving some tip top advice on what to do when the seasons don’t conform.

Frosted Rose

But what can you do right now? Assuming your gardening efforts haven’t been destroyed by frost, here’s the round up of Alison’s tweetorial from last night’s #WoolliesAskAlison over on twitter:

  • Capture rainwater from house, garage and greenhouse roofs in water butts and overflow into another one!

Water butts

  • Trees and shrubs with established roots can draw water from deep in soil, newly planted ones are more vulnerable
  • It’s generally better to water thoroughly and less frequently not little and often to allow water to soak down to roots
  • Mulch with any well-rotted organic matter or shredded bark to reduce water loss by evaporation

Bark Chippings

  • In sheltered, free-draining areas choose drought tolerant plants that won’t need watering; but hate winter wet.
  • Ground water is only increased by rain until trees fully in leaf. Thereafter rainfall is used up by plants as it falls
  • Keep compost 3+cm below the top of pots and containers to allow generous watering and place in a saucer to catch drainage
  • Plants with waxy, hairy or needle-like leaves lose less water through transpiration. Think of Mediterranean plants.
  • New planting, bedding and plants with big, soft leaves are most vulnerable to drought. Established plants much less so.

Good luck! Let us know how your garden plans are going this year – in the comments below or via social media :)

What to do in Garden this Weekend…

Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 08:04 AM
posted by Elizabeth

Over indulged over the Easter? A spot of gardening as the evening’s are drawing out wouldn’t go a miss! Maybe you’re the sort of Woolly who is organised and ahead of the gardening schedule – or, like me, you rely on top tips from Alison to get you motivated!! Either way, here’s a round up of some gardening jobs for this weekend…

  • Check your supply of potting compost and wash out containers, it’s nearly time to plant up with summer bedding.
  • Look at photos of last year’s bedding and containers and decide on changes or new colour scheme for 2017: benefit of annuals!
  • Pinch the growing tips out from Sweetpeas once planted out to encourage strong flowering side shoots

sweetpea seedlings

  • Start half hardy herbs like Basil in pots on windowsill, by the time it’s germinated you can move it outside

basil

  • Check that newly planted shrubs and perennials do not dry out; despite winter rains I am watering here in Kent (from butts)
  • Radish seed can be sown outdoors into finely crumbed soil. Only takes 4 weeks to harvest or they get woody
  • Start to harden off half hardy plants by putting outside during day but being in overnight – it’s still very cold!
  • Look critically at colour mixes in your borders – maybe separate hot colours from cool and pastel colours for different effects
  • Early flowering shrubs like Forsythia and Currant nearly over so get ready to prune immediately they’re finished

Take time to walk round your garden and appreciate the emerging leaves and flowers. Mug of tea  is ideal ‘stop watch’… bliss! :)

a place to sit and listen to the birds

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 14, 2017 @ 09:04 AM
posted by Elizabeth

It’s Good Friday and the household is still snoozing. Apart from the cat, who has specifically needy hours around daybreak(!) The moon was fab at 6am and the bird song was deafening. I’m quite pleased that the cat was only after his pouch of food actually, it gave me an excuse to watch the moon over the garden and listen to the birds in peace…

This long weekend I’m determined to get ahead, I’ve got more salad to sow – we’ve eaten the first batch of rocket and radishes! I’ve also got weeding and deadheading to do! Keeping on top of that has never been the top of my priority list if I’m honest… guilty, much?!

Last night, our tweetorial for #WoolliesAskAlison was all around seed sowing, with lots of fab input from twitter woollies with seed sowing tales and tips.

  • Growing from seed gives a much greater choice of variety for flowers and veg than buying plants
  • If you only want a few plants eg courgette, tomato, then maybe not worth sowing seed but buying 9cm plants*

courgette

  • Now frost is past, can sow HH Annuals direct and broadcast a seed mix for a meadow effect in any empty ground
  • Sow seeds as thinly as possible, mix small seeds in sand to help spacing and thin out excess once emerge
  • Sprinkle Vermiculite on top of tiny seeds instead of compost: you can see where it covers for a thinner layer
  • If growing on windowsill turn pots round every few days once seedlings emerge so they grow upright
  • Pouring water onto delicate seedlings can flatten them onto damp compost and cause them to rot off
  • Water seed trays from the bottom: stand them in a larger tray of water and let compost absorb it through base
  • Seedlings are susceptible to ‘damping off’ fungus thrives in damp so increase air circulation once germinated
  • If sowing salad crops direct into ground, sow a short row every 2 weeks for a succession of leaves to harvest

getsowing

 

*Or, as some of our twitter followers suggested, how about a seed swap with others?

We’d love to hear yours too! Add your comments below :-)

Top Tips on Lush Lawns

Friday, April 7, 2017 @ 10:04 AM
posted by Elizabeth

April! Now the clocks have gone forward and the evenings are longer there’s really no excuse *not* to get out in the garden and get it ship shape for the growing season. The soil is warming and you might have already started seed sowing. But what about the lawn?

lawn

  • Established, healthy lawn withstands dry summer without watering. Top may go brown but will recover when it rains
  • Spring and summer lawn feeds high Nitrogen for lush green growth, autumn higher potassium for tougher leaves pre winter
  • Newly turfed or sown lawns need to be watered in dry periods so roots don’t die off.  Early am late pm best times
  • Preparation of ground MOST important when laying new lawn: want it to be in place for many years so don’t skimp
  • Ensure good drainage under lawn especially on heavy clay soil else it will favour moss and coarser grasses
  • Choose turf or seed mix for situation and use e.g. shade, fine lawn, family football pitch all contain diff species
  • Moss in lawn usually means poor drainage and could be years of compaction.  Aerate and scarify in autumn
  • Maybe you don’t need a perfect grass lawn: low growing weeds are green too and some flower
  • Ensure mower blades are sharp to cut cleanly and not rip grass out by roots.  Strim very carefully round trees
  • Raise mower blades in summer to keep grass bit longer. Reduces water loss and lawn stays greener if hot

Thanks for the fantastic tips, Alison!

AND if you’re looking for a bit of online support, have you heard about Alison’s Box of Tricks?

So we’ll all have a splendid lawn come the summer, right…?

lawn

photo by:

How to get the best from your soil

Friday, March 31, 2017 @ 07:03 AM
posted by Elizabeth

As we move towards the sowing and growing season, we thought a few tips on soil wouldn’t go amiss! Soil is the foundation of all you’re doing in the garden and worth getting it right if you want to succeed! Luckily, Alison treated us to a tweetorial on soil for last night’s #WoolliesAskAlison. Here’s your round up!

S Harvard Blvd Dig-In

  • Soil: primarily depends on underlying rock for pH and drainage; you cannot change what lies beneath but can improve soil.
  • pH: measures acidity-alkalinity. Most plants need soil in the range 6 (acid) to 8 (alkaline); 7 is neutral.
  • Ericaceous plants: Azalea, Acer struggle on pH >7 because calcium making the soil alkaline restricts the availability of iron. Yellow leaf.
  • Well Rotted Organic Matter improves dry sandy soil by adding nutrients and increasing water holding capacity, it also improves wet clay and silt soils by opening structure and increasing drainage. Magic stuff!
  • Sandy soils: slightly acid because free draining and calcium leaches out over time. Easy dig but also lose other nutrients
  • Chalky soil: often shallow (15cm) topsoil as soil erodes from top of hills into valleys. Bulk up with organic matter, try raised beds.
  • Light soils: Mulch or cover sand/chalk soil in winter to reduce nutrient leaching and dig in spring.
  • Clay: retains water and nutrients so great for hungry feeders like roses but needs lots organic matter and work to sow small seeds
  • Sustainability: try to compost all garden waste and return it to plot to replenish nutrients. Hungry soil is pale and thin.

You can read more about soil – and learn a little trick on testing it at home – here

Our Vegetable Patch(1)

What are you growing this year? Let us know in the comment below – or on twitter @WoollyGreen :)

photos by: &