Category Archives: Sunday Best

This Weeks Top Ten ………

Rhododendron

 

Top Ten Gardening Tips for the week ahead……………..

  1. Time to buy your summer bedding plants.
  2. Apply a mulch to bare areas of earth to hold in moisture and suppress weeds.
  3. Apply a liquid feed to bulb foliage to give them a boost for next year.
  4. Sow radish and spring onions.
  5. If you have a glasshouse time to put on some shading.
  6. Feed houseplants weekly till the autumn.
  7. Pick off the dead flowers on rhododendrons and camellias.
  8. Cut the lawn at least weekly.
  9. Weeds are growing as fast as the grass. Keep under control.
  10. Chelsea done so plan your next garden show trip.

 

Have a great week and see you next week.

Andrew

 

 

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Blooming Frames!

Last Saturday I had some free time (which is unusual!) and I thought, “I know, a visit to a garden!” However the power of Facebook and a message form Steve Roach (or “Roachy” as he apparently known to certain friends!)

He was advocating a trip to the Brentwood Garden show and to a stand called “Blooming Frames”! Well it takes a lot for me to be impressed by anything horticultural, unless it is very unusual! So my afternoon was sealed to a trip to the Garden show! As I walked in the first tent there they were “Blooming Frames in” all their glory and was I impressed, hell yes!

Basically the idea is that you have plants growing in a frame that you hang up like a picture frame! No bending down to weed and a perfect display at eye level that can be changed as quickly as any pot plant.

Bedding plants, succulents, moss, the skies the limit in what you can grow in these frames!

If you want to know more you can find Blooming Frames on Facebook at /Blooming Frames or on Twitter@BloomingFrames

I interviewed them on my show last Sunday. A link on how you can hear this again will be here shortly.

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Planting Lilies in Pots

Planting Lilies in Pots

This is the time of the year to plant Lilies in containers. Almost all Lilies grow well in containers, and a really good way to display them if you don’t have a garden. Choose your bulbs for the space you have available. If you have a lot of space you could choose the giant varieties or tight for space choose the dwarfer types!

Preparing the container:

Containers can be anything from plastic to earthenware pots. Planting Lilies in plastic pots means you can add them to a spare place in a border. Earthenware pots clearly are more permanent.

Clay pots need drainage so add an inch of crocks (broken pots) or shingle to the bottom of the pot. Plastic pots usually have enough drainage holes.

Crocks

Planting density & depth:

Plant three to four smaller bulbs 2-3in diameter into 9-10in diameter containers. Allow 2in between bulbs and use only deep containers. Half fill the pot with a good compost. John Innes No3 being the best (in my opinion!) Lilies are hungry so always add a slow release fertilizer to the compost.

Planting Lillies

Finally fill up the container but leave an inch from the rim of the container to allow for enough water. Don’t forget to add a label.

Add label

Aftercare:

Make sure the compost is moist at all times, but not wet. Feed with a high potassium liquid fertiliser such as tomato feed every fortnight during summer.

Lilies can be grown on in the same pot for years providing that they are well fed and watered.

In the south of England Lilies can be left outside in their pots.

After a few years though they will need re-potting. This can be done just after flowering in the autumn or in the spring but be careful to avoid knocking off the new shoots.

Problems:

Lily Beetle is a major problem. Squash the beetles as soon as they are seen!

Lily Beetle close up

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50 Sheds of Grey!

Sheds

 

Well it is the week after Valentines Day and there has been a lot about “that” Film!!

The novel Fifty Shades Of Grey has seduced women – and baffled blokes. I’m sure the film will be exactly the same! Now a spoof, Fifty Sheds Of Grey, offers a treat for the men. The book has author Colin Grey recounting his love encounters at the bottom of the garden. Here are some extracts, but if you are sensitive person don’t read on…

 

We tried various positions – round the back, on the side, up against a wall… but in the end we came to the conclusion the bottom of the garden was the only place for a good shed.

 

We stood alone on the idyllic white beach. She shed her clothes. I shed my inhibitions. At that moment I knew it would always be about sheds.

 

She stood before me, trembling and naked in my shed. “I’m yours for the night,” she gasped, “You can do whatever you want with me.” So I took her to Nando’s.

 

She knelt before me on the shed floor and tugged gently at first, then harder until finally it came. I moaned with pleasure. Now for the other boot.

 

Ever since she read THAT book, I’ve had to buy all kinds of ropes, chains and shackles. She still manages to get into the shed, though.

 

“Put on this rubber suit and mask,” I instructed, calmly. “Mmmm, kinky!” she purred. “Yes,” I said, “You can’t be too careful with all that asbestos in the shed roof.”

 

“Harder!” she cried, gripping the potting bench tightly. “Harder!” “Okay,” I said. “What’s the gross national product of Nicaragua?”

 

I lay back exhausted, gazing happily out of the shed window. Despite my concerns about my inexperience, my rhubarb had come up a treat.

 

If you want more you can buy the trilogy of 50 Sheds of Grey at your local bookshop or follow them on twitter: @50ShedsofGrey or on Facebook /50ShedsofGrey.

 

More “real”  gardening next week!

 

Andrew

 

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What do you get if you cross a Brussels Sprout & Kale?

Answer = A Kalette

Kalettes

Kalettes, the product of a marriage between Brussels sprouts and kale, are an exciting new vegetable — the first to be introduced in about two decades.

Most people don’t eat enough vegetables. Kalettes are a new way for consumers to help make veggies exciting, new or different for themselves and their families. The variety helps us all eat more healthfully.

 

Kalettes are extremely easy to prepare and versatile. They cook faster than Brussels sprouts with less prep work than kale. Find recipes for Kalettes at www.Kalettes.com

 

• Roast Kalettes in a roasting pan or on a baking sheet, coated with olive oil in the oven at 475 F for 10 minutes.

• Sauté them in a large pan for 5-7 minutes, covering for increased tenderness.

• Grill whole Kalettes in a grill basket and place on medium heat for 10 minutes or until slightly charred.

• Leave them raw and maintain their nutty flavor by slicing Kalettes from stem to tip or slicing off the bottom for small salad leaves.

 

Kalettes get their great taste by combining the best flavours from the Brussels sprouts and kale, resulting in a fresh fusion of sweet and nutty.

Kalettes are a Brussels sprout-like plant with a tall stem and rosettes forming all the way up to a frilly-leaved top. Their leaves are purple and green.

Tozer Seeds, the largest family-owned vegetable seed breeding company in England, hybridized the Kalette by cross pollinating Brussels Sprouts with kale using traditional methods.

The Brussels sprout and kale are both members of the cabbage family (Brassica oleracea), which are rich in essential nutrients like Vitamin C and Vitamin K.

 

Kalettes

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Eranthus hyemalis

Eranthus hyemalis

Its common name is “Winter Aconite” almost the first yellow flower out in the winter. The flowers are sensitive to warmth, so at temperatures over 50 F they will fully open, however still look good in the closed stage! Flowering in February/March and only 13cm tall they make a good winter ground cover.

Plant in open sunny positions or under deciduous tres or shrubs in a fertile soil.

Eranthus are one a few bulbs that do not like to be dried out for replanting. Instead when finished flowering dig up the bulbs and replant imediately. This is known as “planting in the green”

Apparently these do well as cut flowers floating in water.

Eranthus hyemalis

 

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Spring has Sprung!

Snowdrops

 

Bring Snowdrops in from outside

 

Hardy bulbs bursting through the cold soil in January is a sure sign that spring is on its way. Snowdrops or “Galanthus” its Latin name are amazing. Just as you think that nothing has survived the winter snowdrops appear! The common snowdrop Galanthus nivalis can do no wrong but if you want something more unusual why don’t you go for a double flowered snowdrop. You could also visit the RHS and see the best 10 snowdrops!

https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/articles/graham-rice/10-agm-snowdrops

The best time to buy snowdrops s just when the flowers have faded and they still have leave. This is called buying snowdrops “In the Green” Plant them straight away in a shady part of the garden and wait till next spring!

And if you want to visit a garden famous for Snowdrops why don’t you visit Nymans in Sussex or Walsingham Abbey in Norfolk.

If you are interedted in buying snowdrops why not visit the “Ultimate Snowdrop Sale” at Myddleton House Garden on 24th January where nurseries will be selling both coommon and rare varieties of snowdrops.

Andrew

 

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Frosty Weather

Frosty Weather
Over the holiday period us gardeners if we had any sense stayed inside but whilst we were inside the garden was still growing.  Even the frost is good for the garden! It kills off the bugs but unfortunately only the foreign ones!
Our British pests can usually survive even fairly cold winters.
I have heard a rumour that you can freeze slugs and when you thaw them they can still be alive! I can’t prove it and she that must be obeyed has banned me from putting slugs in the freezer to find out!

Frost has some other benifits, it can break up soil and especially if you dig  clay  soils and leave the clods for the frost to do its work! It works by freezing the water in the soil and expanding and breaking the soil up.
This very  action can cause a problem called “frost heave ” where newly planted plants get lifted by the frost. When the frost is gone all you need to do is firm the place back in its place with the heel of your boot.
Anyway, stay warm.
Andrew
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What To Do in the Garden on a Frosty Day

Birch Trees in WinterWhat To Do in the Garden on a Frosty Day

 

You can do lots of things in the garden on a frosty day, but there are lots of things you must not do! Dress for the occasion to keep warm.

 

  • Don’t walk on frosted grass
  • Don’t dig the soil if frosted
  • Don’t be tempted to top dress if ground is frozen
  • Don’t be tempted to plant anything in frosty weather

What you can do:-

  • Sharpen tools including hoes and spades
  • Wipe tools with an oily rag
  • Treat fences with a preservative
  • Prune overgrown deciduous shrubs to keep them in shape
  • Make sure your pots and seed trays are ready for the spring by washing
  • Get the latest seed catalogues and browse
  • Move tender container plants close to a house wall
  • Don’t forget the birds, top up feeders and provide water

And finally if you want to visit a winter garden why not go to Anglsey Abbey a National Trust garden in Cambridgshire. The photo above is from that garden.

Happy Gardening

Andrew

 

 

 

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October in the Garden

SpiderDespite the horrendous downpours and flooding we have had recently, September was the warmest and dryest since records began over 100 years ago! In the papers this week they were reporting that spiders are bigger than normal because of the good summer we have had. The headlines were of course “Giant Spiders set to invade homes!”for those who don’t like spiders gardening can be a bit of a chore at this time of the year having their webs in your face! What’s the best karate teacher? A spiders web!

I got asked during the week why spring flowering plants were flowering now! Well that’s easy, if you have a good memory ! Do you remember in late August we had a cold snap, so cold some people turned their heating on! And then since then we have had a few weeks of warm dry weather. The plants thought they had a mild winter and decide to flower! Don’t worry it won’t harm the plants.

October gardening as always is governed by the weather but more so. The daily rises and falls of the temperature are more extreme. Watch out for ground frosts and bring in those tender plants. Make the most of dry weather to finish harvesting and preparing the soil.

To hear weekly updates on what to do in the garden join me on www.phoenixfm.com every Sunday 10am to Noon.

Happy Gardening

Andrew

 

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September in the Garden

September is known to be a drier month than August and this last week has proved that theory, lets hope it continues! There are still lots of things you can do in September in the garden but if you have just got back from holidays, how is your garden looking and what do you have to do to “freshen” it up?

After a long dry spell a bit of watering will revive any garden and its plants. I always hate when getting back from holiday and seeing everything so dry, especially fruit and vegetables as they are more likely to suffer than shrubs. My tomatoes will inevitably split! After watering you can apply a mulch of bark chippings.

However, use the dry period to lift any remaining onions to dry out before storage.

Divide perennial plants, plant trees and shrubs whilst the soil is still warm. Keep mowing the lawn and if you have bear patches consider re sowing or re turfing this month.

Leaves are falling in the dry spell so cover ponds with a fine net to catch them before they enter the water.

 

My crab apple Malus  “John Downie” is shedding its fruit and with a bumpber crop such as this year has been, means I will be sweeping up apples till December!

 

Tune in next week to Sunday Best on www.phoenixfm.com between 10am and 12 for advice on what to do next week in the garden.

 

Andrew

 

Autumn Fruits

 

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What to do in the Garden – Last Few Days of April

Rhododendron

 

Is Spring really here? The signs are well advanced with blossom everywhere and you can always tell spring has arrived because the garden centres have their  summer bedding on display albeit they are normally plug or mini plants needing to be grown on before planting out at the end of May. Yes you did read that correctly, end of May! Did your mother never say “Ne-er cast a clout till May is out”?  Last week in my garden, in the shade the temperature went from 0 to 22 degrees! So be warned!

 

Some vegetable seeds can be sown directly into the soil now if conditions allow it. You can help the soil warm up by covering with a cloche, plastic tunnel or just clear plastic sheets. Tender plants such as tomatoes and peppers should be sown inside and planted out when there are no signs of frost.

 

Spring flowering shrubs can be pruned now, but wait till they are finished flowering. Pruning normally consists of taking out the shoots that have just flowered. Always take out dead and diseased shoots first.

 

Houseplants are beginning to grow so should be fed and watered regularly. They can also be transplanted or for established pots just scrape away some top soil and add new soil such as John Innes No3.

On warm rainy days take your houseplants outside as the like their foliage washed in gentle rain. I leave some of my houseplants outside for the summer but if you do this be careful as they can get sunburnt! Start them off in the shade and gradually introduce them to the sunlight!

 

Happy Gardening!

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What to do in The Garden – Second Week of April

The Flower Garden

  • Plant out perennials in groups of three, five or seven for maximum effect
  • Sprinkle fertiliser around clumps of tulips to boost flowering, or use a foliar feed
  • Sow hardy annual flowers directly into beds where you’d like them to bloom
  • Prune Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)
  • Pick off dead flower heads from spring bulbs
  • Protect emerging shoots of delphiniums and lupins from slugs and snails using a barrier such as copper tape for pots, copper rings or garlic granules

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Sow sweetcorn in deep modular seed trays under cover to plant out in early June
  • Feed fruit trees and bushes
  • Plant out onion sets grown in pots under glass
  • Order vegetable plug plants from mail-order suppliers
  • Warm soil with cloches or sheets of polythene for early sowings
  • Plant out maincrop potatoes
  • Plant asparagus crowns
  • Sow the following crops this week if conditions are suitable: beetroot, parsnips, turnips, onions, peas and mangetout, broad beans, lettuce and salad leaves, spinach, radish, rocket, mizuna, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts

In The Greenhouse

  • Buy plug plants and young bedding plants to grow on for baskets, pots and bedding displays
  • Thin out heavy fruit sets on peaches and nectarines, leaving fruits about 10cm apart
  • Sow annual climbers, such as cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea), nasturtium, Rhodochiton and morning glory (Ipomoea)
  • Grow an early crop of dwarf French beans in a large pot
  • Repot any top-heavy or pot-bound houseplants
  • Start feeding young plants about 3-4 weeks after potting up in fresh compost
  • Pot up rooted cuttings and seedlings

Around The Garden

  • Remove winter grime from patios and terraces with a pressure washer
  • Sow new lawns, choosing a grass mix that suits the type of lawn you want
  • Snip plain green shoots off variegated shrubs
  • Mow lawns on dry days if grass is growing strongly
  • Dig out couch grass, ground elder, bindweed and other problem weeds
  • Place plant supports over clumps of tall-growing perennials such as lupins and delphiniums

Cornus alba Siberica

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What to do in the garden – Last Week of February

In the Flower Garden

  • Sow sweet peas in long pots. Pinch out the shoot when they show a pair of leaves
  • Prune the stems of cornus, willows etc
  • Watch out for bulbs emerging if you are walking on borders

In the Fruit & Veg Garden

  • Cover Rhubarb with a bin or specialist clay pot to force rhubarb to produce early shoots
  • Chit seed potatoes
  • Finish planting fruit trees before they start coming into leaf

In The Greenhouse

  • Start off Dahlias by potting them up
  • Start sowing crops from seed such as Chili Peppers, Tomatoes and Cucumbers

 

Photo - Andrew Babicz

Photo – Andrew Babicz

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Not another wet and windy week?

WHAT TO DO IN WINTER ON A RAINY DAY

With wind forecast and more wet weather predicted to continue well into the near future what can we do if it is too wet to go outside!?

  • Reflect on what you did during the summer. What you did well or badly, and how you can improve. Keep copious notes during the year.
  • Wash pots ready for when those plug plants arrive and you suddenly have to find 40 four inch clean pots!
  • Check your seed packets, see if they are still viable and put into a box in date of sowing order.
  • Browse your catalogues and order your seeds and plug plants.
  • Tidy the shed / greenhouse.
  • Stock up on potting compost.
  • Clean garden tools. Wipe down with an oily rag.
  • Check lawn mower blades. Buy new or have them sharpened.
  • Get petrol engines serviced

Don’t forget to join me every Sunday 10am to 12 noon.

Happy Gardening

Andrew

 

Winter

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Valentine’s Day – Say it with Flowers?

 

In case it has escaped you the 14th February is this week.  For my wife and I married 34 years this year we tire with the extortionate prices that you can pay for that Valentine gift or meal out.  Red roses are triple the price of last week and do not last and chocolates are bad for you! We will probably get an M&S Valentine meal deal! Sit and home and chat!

So why not get him/her something more permanent like a plant? A rose plant might be the obvious or what about a plant with heart shaped leaves such as Brunnera, bold effective groundcover that survives dry shade and does not require much in the way of cultivation.

 

 Brunnera

Brunnera macrophylla “Jack Frost”

Different plants say different things and whilst roses might be the flower of love:-

The language of flowers

 

Anemone – I expect you

Arum lily – Burning love

Bluebell  – Our love will last

Camellia –  I am longing for you

Carnation (white) –  Always remembering

Carnation (red) –  I carry a torch for you

Carnation (striped) – Wish I were with you

Carnation (yellow) – You have disappointed me

Daffodil – The sun always shines when I am with you

Dahlia –  You are indifferent

Foxglove – I cannot trust you

Heather –  Good luck

Honeysuckle – Devotion

Hyacinth –  Please forgive me

Lily of the valley – You are sweet and pure

Love-in-a-mist – Do you love me?

Magnolia – Have courage

Marguerite – I live in hope

Narcissus – You are selfish

Orchid – You have cast a spell over me

Passion flower – Trust

Peony – Bashfulness

Pinks – You are bold

Poppy – Please wait

Primrose –  I might love you

Rose (red)-  I love you

Rose (pink) – Please believe me

Rose (white) – You are divine

Rose (yellow)  -Come back soon

Stock – Lasting beauty

Sweet pea – Gratitude

Viola – Let’s take a chance on happiness

Wallflower – Constancy

 

A freebie!

A freebie you can’t afford to miss is from the RHS. Free entry to any of its gardens if you were married on 12th, 13th, or 14th Feb! Just take along your marriage certificate to get in. You will aso be entered into a competition to win a years subscription to the RHS!

 

Whatever you choose remember to choose wisely:-

 

“Hey, Baby, check out the compost bin I bought you!” just doesn’t have that sexy edge!

 

Join me every Sunday on PhoenixFM, www.phoenixfm.com  10 am to Noon or on my blog at www.babicz.com

 

Andrew Babicz Dip Hort (Edin)

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Five Fantastic Plants for February

 

This month there are signs of life in the garden. The days are lengthening the birds are singing, bulbs are pushing up and shoots on plants are bursting.  With a bit of planning you can have colour and scent in your February garden.

First up for stem colour is Rubus cockburianus (White Stemmed Bramble) a member of the rose family with its white stems that really show up in dark and dismal days. It grows up to two meters high and can form an impenetrable thicket. Under planted with early flowering daffodils it can look spectacular.

Rubus cockburianus

 

If you want a plant that is evergreen, a good ground cover, can grow in shade and produces a heady scent in the middle of winter you could do no better than to plant Sarcococca hookeriana ( Christmas or Sweet Box) The flowers are hardly noticeable but you cannot ignore the scent!

 

Sarcococca

 

For a bit of rustic coloured leaves in the winter Bergenia “Sunningdale” (Elephants Ears) is perfect. All summer it’s leaves are green and in the winter cold weather turn a marvellous shade of copper. Good as a ground cover and tolerates drought conditions. And if that was not enough, in spring dark red flowers appear!

Bergenia Sunnigdale

 

If you are after coloured stems throughout the winter and into the spring all the Cornuses do a great job.  Reds, yellows and orange, easy to grow and can be pruned hard every year!  Cornus alba “Siberica” (Dogwood) is one of my favourites with deep dark stem that last all winter though to late spring.

 Cornus alba Siberica

 

Iris in flower in February? You expect snowdrops and crocus but this Iris Iris ungicularis to give it it proper name  is full of surprises. Only a few inches tall it can be hidden by its leaves which are almost a foot tall. It thrives on neglect! Leave it to grow I a dry sunny position such as the base of a wall and you will be rewarded with dark blue flowers from Christmas to Easter.

Iris unguicularis

 

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Kiss me quick

Christmas

There is more to mistletoe than an excuse for kisses at Christmas. It is an unusual native British evergreen that has fascinated people for centuries.

If you venture a kiss under some mistletoe this Christmas pause afterwords to examine the plant more closely. Even a short Sprig will show some of the unique features of this extraordinary British native. Nothing else has such beautiful pearlescent berries and perfectly symmetrical branching leaves. It is perhaps our most mysterious plant with a place in folklore stretching back into prehistory.

Mistletoe is of course a parasite of tree branches. This parasitic habits as well as an unusual form may account for mistletoes place in mythology – The plant that lives in the sky and never touches the ground for example. Evergreen with unusual winter berries yet growing on branches of dormant deciduous hosts.

Viscum album the Latin name for mistletoe has a few hosts mainly in the Rose family including apples hawthorns quinces Whitebeams Rowans even cotoneaster but really plums pears or cherries.

In the UK mistletoe grows mainly in Herefordshire and Worcestershire Gloucestershire Gwent and Somerset. Traditionally on apple trees. With the decline of orchard growing there was concern at the risk of mistletoe dying out. However whilst mistletoe in orchards seem to be dying out the importance of the growing it the garden cannot be underestimated.

Another possible cause for mistletoe dying out maybe changes in bird populations. Only a few birds Feed on the sticky white berries of mistletoe but they are crucial to the plants spread. In Britain it is the mistle thrush that was the main consumer. It swallows berries whole and excretes seeds with part digested sticky berries that may never hit a branch.

If you want to grow your own on a suitable tree in the garden early spring is the best time to sow berries. Berries from Christmas can be used if stored in cold and light conditions but fresh berries are better. Choose a young 1-2 inch diameter of a branch of a suitable host. Squeeze seed from the berry and press on to the branch on its on the side or underside is best I seedlings need light to germination. Stick four of five seeds to each of several branches to maximise success on your chance of getting both male and female plants as you need both to produce berries.

You will have to have a lot of patience as it is at least 18 months before you will see any change to the seeds and it may take up to 4 years before they produce any berries!

 

 

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It’s all about Brussels Sprouts!

Brussels Sprouts Brilliant Syngenta

 

Apparently there is a bumper crop this year of those vegetables that children generally hate. So how is it that some 60% of the nation likes them? When do your taste buds suddenly say “I love Brussels Sprouts”?  Waitrose have introduced a sweeter tasting sprout especially for children! The theory is that our brain is wired to reject any bad smelling food as it may be poisonous , so farmers have grown a sweeter tasting variety.

 

This sweetness is actually a reduction, through breeding, in the amount of sulforaphane (sulphur compound) present, allowing the sweeter taste to come through. Sulforaphane, as such, is a protective substance against pests and diseases and is found to be in higher concentrations in stress conditions of warmth and drought says Tom Sharples, Senior Horticultural Manager at Suttons Seeds

Thus a warm, dry autumn will see more bitterness in sprouts. There is some concern that some new varieties with reduced sulforaphane may actually need greater pesticide use because they may be less resistant.

Interestingly, some people are more sensitive to bitterness than others. This is because they have a genetic ‘supertaster’ gene, which means that their taste is more sensitive – it also is the case that they appear to have better immune systems.

 

More babies are conceived in December than in any other month, says the Daily Mail! Apparently Sprouts are full of folic acid and rich in minerals which boosts fertility, so couples hoping for a baby should have a regular dose of them.  And the health benefits don’t stop there!

 

Fortnum and Masons have introduced a juice made from sprouts and the claims of the health benefits abound, although there is also an opinion that a juice can be no substitute to a well-balanced diet.   Juicing, we are told, makes it easier to absorb any nutrients and also causes less flatulence.

 

“Brussels sprouts are seriously under rated considering regular consumption of them can significantly reduce the risk of many different types of cancer such as lung and colon. Sprouts are an alkaline forming vegetable hence their help in fighting and protecting us from cancer. They are packed with antioxidants and high in vitamins A, C, E and folic acid, potassium and iron” says Gabriella Clarke MHS. MNCS (ACC) Nutritional Therapist

How to cook Sprouts?

 

Contrary to popular opinion, Brussels sprouts do not benefit from having a cross cut into the bottom of them, says BBC Food. Instead of helping them to cook evenly, the cross can make the sprouts waterlogged. Instead, cut sprouts in half, or just pop them into the pan as they are. Of course, when cooking, people can reduce the bitter taste in any event by slicing off  the base of the sprout where the compounds of sulforaphane tend to be congregated

 

Try Brussels sprouts shredded, either eaten raw in a salad or flash-fried with bacon and plenty of butter or a few spoonfuls of crème fraîche. Throw in some chestnuts for a particularly seasonal treat that’s a perfect accompaniment to a Sunday roast. Or blanch whole sprouts briefly in boiling water, douse in cream and bake in the oven for a luxurious gratin. Leftovers make delicious bubble and squeak. Mix the Brussels sprouts with mashed potato, shape into little patties and fry until golden-brown. Top with a poached egg for a simple brunch.

 

And finally how do we grow them? Sow on a prepared seed bed outdoors early March-late April. For early crops, sow in frames or under cloches during February. Put the plants out in their final growing positions at 60-90cm (2-3′) apart in well-firmed soil May-early June. Harvest November to January.

 

And if you would like to grow your own “sweet” sprouts try British bred F1 Montgomery from Dobies (www.dobies.co.uk) They also have a further 8 varieties to choose from all with distinct characteristics!

 

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Preparing Your Garden for Winter – Five things to do this month

In the UK we are very lucky in that when preparing the garden for winter we do not have to put the garden ‘to bed’.  Often plants in mild winters will continue to grow well into December. I have been gardening professionally for over 40 years and, in my early years, one of the first jobs I was given to do when working at Wisley garden was to cut the lawns on Christmas eve!

 

1. Although a good tidy up in the garden will make it look smart and neat, often wildlife especially birds appreciate it if we leave seed heads on plants for them to eat during the winter and indeed some plants, even when dormant, look spectacular.  The soil at this time of the year is still warm so finish off planting evergreens such as conifers. It is also the perfect time to get soil prepared for planting deciduous trees and shrubs. Dig in lots of organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. In permanent borders, weed and top dress between the plants with any type of mulch. This can be compost, bark or any organic material that will suppress the weeds and keep the moisture in the ground. If you have a “dry” garden you could use a gravel mulch.

2. Do rake up leaves from the lawn and borders and compost them. Leaves make  one of the best composts (called leaf mould) If you don’t have enough leaves, ask your neighbours for theirs, compost them in a separate heap and you will be rewarded next year with a brown golden material suitable for digging into the ground or top dressing borders. Don’t use a normal garden rake but invest in either a springbok rake or one of my favourites from Fiskars is their XL Leaf rake, an impressive 65 cm across which allows you to rake up huge quantities of leaves!

3. Protect those tender plants with Fleece. Yes you can buy horticultural fleece that comes in rolls and you just wrap up the plant, like using a blanket. This does require a bit of dexterity especially on a windy autumn day when you have to wrestle with the fleece and at the same time use string to tie it around the plant.  Better still why don’t you use a fleece jacket that is simply pulled down over the plant and has a draw string at the base to tie it up? It’s a wrap!

4. Plant bulbs for a spring display. By the time spring comes around you will have forgotten about them and will be so surprised when they flower and brighten up the garden in spring.  I plant my bulbs then cover the ground around them with a layer of gravel or grit. This stops me digging them up or just forgetting where I have planted them. Eventually the grit will disappear into the soil but just top it up as needed.

5. Grass areas need a bit of care at this time of the year if you want them to look their best next year. Rake off leaves from the lawn. Keep cutting if needed but raise the blades so you do not scalp the grass. Lawn roots like the soil to be free draining so aerate your lawn either with a machine or, if you have a small lawn, with a garden fork pushed in as far as you can. You can fill in the holes with a gritty compost to aid drainage.

 

Leave Seedheads for the birds

Leave Seedheads for the birds

 

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Windy Weather! What you can do this afternoon!

Windy Weather!

The forecast is for gales with gusts up to 90 miles per hour. Enough to do some serious damage to buildings and gardens. Trees are particularly vulnerable with all their leaves on it will act like a sail and with wet soil easy to topple over. So some tips of what you can do this afternoon to minimise the risk.

1, move patio pots to a less windy area of the garden.

2, take inside tables and chairs so they won’t blow around

3, make sure newly planted trees are well staked.

4, cut down tall roses by a half to stop them rocking around in the ground

5, tie down anything likely to blow away

And finally some things not to do!

1, appealing as it may seem do not go for a walk In the woods!

2, if passing under conker or oak trees do not look up! Falling acorns or conkers hurt especially if they hit you in the eye.

Stay safe and see you next week!

Andrew

 

 Acer platanoides

 

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Historic roses – with Dave Collins from St Francis Hospice

Click here to listen again to the interview:

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Dave examines the Cornelia rose

Dave examining the Cornelia rose

On the show today we welcomed Dave Collins, the staff gardener at St Francis Hospice and a fanatical rose grower.

Dave has decided to try and re-establish the collection of roses introduced by Rev Joseph Pemberton and John Bentall between 1912 and 1939 on their estate – part of which is now the home of Saint Francis Hospice in Havering-atte-Bower. The project, which has received a grant of £89,700 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and which will get underway from January, is aimed at preserving and promoting this historic collection for future generations to enjoy.

The project will involve volunteers who can help look after the roses and gardens at the hospice or assist with research and catalogue the collection. So far the hospice has 44 of the 70-strong collection and would like peoples’ help in locating more roses.

To learn more about the project or Saint Francis Hospice please visit www.sfh.org.uk or call 01708 753319.

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`The Three Belles` on Sunday Best

Hi Listeners

Last Sunday (18th August) we were happy to welcome back to Phoenix fm `The Three Belles` they popped into studio 1, to chat and sing  live tracks off their album on Andrew Babicz`s show  `Sunday Best`

The Three Belles are a 1940s vocal trio inspired by The Andrews Sisters.

The Three Belles formed in their third year at the University of Portsmouth. They all found that they had a mutual love and almost obsession with The Andrews Sisters and their impressive harmonies, vocal style and characterful performances.

They have performed at IOW Fest, The Leicester Square Theatre and Victorious Vintage Festival in front of audiences up to 14,000 people. They have produced and promoted their own sell out tours including such venues as The Portsmouth Guildhall and The New Theatre Royal.

This past year saw the girls performing live on BBC South Today, The X Factor Talk Talk Ad, and they reached number 5 in the itunes UK Jazz chart with their Christmas single.

To listen to the full interview and track click on the audio tab below;

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The Three Belles with Andrew Babicz

The Three Belles with Andrew Babicz

 

To listen to the tracks only click on the audio tabs below;

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     The rain

 

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  Bugle Boy

 

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   Apple Blossom Time

 

We also grabbed some great video, click on the Youtube links below to view;

The Rain

Apple Blossom Time

Bugle Boy

 

Last year the girls produced their interactive 1940s experience night, IN THE MOOD at the Portsmouth Guildhall and the St Ives Guildhall, Cornwall, where it SOLD OUT! They also took their theatre show, SING SING SING to The Stag in Sevenoaks and The New Theatre Royal where it SOLD OUT! They are touring these shows again this summer and also touring with Barisons Swing Band in ‘Glenn and Friends’ which will be held at large venues around the country including The Stables in Milton Keynes and The Hall For Cornwall in Truro.

the three belles

 

To book the Belles, email info@thethreebelles.com

Further information on The Three Belles can be found at  Twitter @thethreebelles    and Facebook at                  https://www.facebook.com/thethreebelles

 

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What to do in the garden – Forth Week of August

-Continue to cut grass as it is now growing after all the rains we have had!

-After the dry spell you can lower the cutting blades on lawn mowers

-Keep watering patio pots. Windy dull days can dry them out as quick as bright sunny days

-Continue to feed patio pots with a fertiliser high in Potassium for flower production. Use Tomato fertiliser

– Lilies have mostly finished flowering but keep feeding them

– Collect seeds and store in paper bags or envelops. Label them.

– if you have been lucky enough to visit one of the late summer RHS Flowers shows and bought plants there (and could resist not to! ) make sure you plant them up as soon as possible to give them the longest period of growth before the winter comes. Plant them in a well prepared soil. most will like a free draining soil with added compost. Also ensure that they are not dry when you take them out of the pots. Once planted keep them watered whilst they establish.   Have a great week gardening and see you next week!

Andrew

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What to do in the garden during August

July brought us extremes of weather and now we are in the first week of August.  It is time to prepare your garden for the holidays!  Of course the trouble with British weather is that it is so unpredictable that we need to be ready for any eventualities while we are away.

 

1.  Move any patio pots to a shady area of the garden and water well. Give them a drop of plant food too.

2.  Dead head annual plants and roses. By the time you come back they will be in full flower again.

3.  Cut the lawn before you go. You will not believe how fast grass can grow if it is warm and wet while you are away.

4.  Move houseplants away from window sills and place in a shady area of the house. Make sure you water and feed too.

5.  If you have any particularly prized houseplants, you can create a little oasis for them by creating your own capillary matting in a bath! Get an old towel and place in the bath. Make sure it is soaking wet and put the plug in the bath. Fill the plug end of the bath with a pool of water and place plants directly onto the towel. The towel will act as a capillary mat and draw up water. Plants kept like this will be happy for a week or so.

6. Now is the time to plan for Christmas flowering bulbs such as Hyacinths and Narcissus. Hyacinths planted early this month will be in full bloom on your Christmas table

7. Plant Colchicums now for an autumn display.

8. Prune hardy lavenders to keep them compact. Take away the complete flower stem and a couple of centimetres of this year’s  growth.

9. Finish pruning evergreen and deciduous hedges. The birds will have flown the nest so it is safe to cut back hedges.

10. Powdery mildew on plants can be devastating to the plant. Spray at the first signs with an appropriate fungicide.

 

Dead Heading

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Andrew may be away but we do our best

Well Andrew may be motor rallying around Europe but the garden still needs attention, so I took a look at the notes Andrew had left lying around to try to keep you up to speed with what you need to be looking at in the garden this week. At the same in an effort to keep us entertained we played a selection of smoother sounds which I hope were suitable for a Sunday morning.

Anyway here are the tips Andrew had provided: –

  • Cut back the faded flowers of Pulmonaria and if you do not want a border full of Aquilegia cut back the flower heads to stop seeds being dispersed along the border!
  • Feed fast growing plants weekly
  • Watch out for Lily Beetle and sqaush them!

Flower Garden

  • Plant out dahlias into well-prepared soil that’s been enriched with manure
  • Cut down pulmonarias to just above soil level after flowering to encourage new foliage
  • Clip box hedging and topiary to keep it neat
  • Regularly tie tall stems of delphiniums to supports to prevent them flopping over
  • Scatter granular fertiliser around the base of roses, shrubs, perennials and hedges, and water in thoroughly if rain does not fall over the next week

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Sow seeds of dwarf beans in rows and climbing ones alongside canes
  • Plant out crops being raised in pots under glass, such as marrows, courgettes and tomatoes
  • Cover soft fruits with netting to prevent birds eating them
  • Sow a few seeds of salad leaves and stir-fry leaf crops every 2-3 weeks to ensure a regular supply
  • Sow seeds of the following crops outside this week: beetroot, lettuce, watercress, rocket, radish, spring onions, coriander, parsley, chives, carrots, Swedes, turnip, leaf beet, spinach, cabbage, peas and mangetout, endive, marrows and courgettes, turnips and Witloof chicory
  • Plant out leeks into their final position once they are pencil thick

Greenhouse

  • Take cuttings from pelargoniums and fuchsias
  • Repot rooted cuttings into containers a size larger, to prevent them from becoming pot-bound
  • Check plants regularly for signs of pests
  • Pinch out the tips of rooted cuttings to encourage bushy plants

The man himself returns next week so mercifully things will return to some semblance of order.

All the best,

Scott

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What to do in the garden – Second Week of April

The Flower Garden

  • Plant out perennials in groups of three, five or seven for maximum effect
  • Sprinkle fertiliser around clumps of tulips to boost flowering, or use a foliar feed
  • Sow hardy annual flowers directly into beds where you’d like them to bloom
  • Prune Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)
  • Pick off dead flower heads from spring bulbs
  • Protect emerging shoots of delphiniums and lupins from slugs and snails using a barrier such as copper tape for pots, copper rings or garlic granules

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Sow sweetcorn in deep modular seed trays under cover to plant out in early June
  • Feed fruit trees and bushes
  • Plant out onion sets grown in pots under glass
  • Order vegetable plug plants from mail-order suppliers
  • Warm soil with cloches or sheets of polythene for early sowings
  • Plant out maincrop potatoes
  • Plant asparagus crowns
  • Sow the following crops this week if conditions are suitable: beetroot, parsnips, turnips, onions, peas and mangetout, broad beans, lettuce and salad leaves, spinach, radish, rocket, mizuna, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts

In The Greenhouse

  • Buy plug plants and young bedding plants to grow on for baskets, pots and bedding displays
  • Thin out heavy fruit sets on peaches and nectarines, leaving fruits about 10cm apart
  • Sow annual climbers, such as cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea), nasturtium, Rhodochiton and morning glory (Ipomoea)
  • Grow an early crop of dwarf French beans in a large pot
  • Repot any top-heavy or pot-bound houseplants
  • Start feeding young plants about 3-4 weeks after potting up in fresh compost
  • Pot up rooted cuttings and seedlings

Around The Garden

  • Remove winter grime from patios and terraces with a pressure washer
  • Sow new lawns, choosing a grass mix that suits the type of lawn you want
  • Snip plain green shoots off variegated shrubs
  • Mow lawns on dry days if grass is growing strongly
  • Dig out couch grass, ground elder, bindweed and other problem weeds
  • Place plant supports over clumps of tall-growing perennials such as lupins and delphiniums

 

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What to do in the Garden – First week of April

The Flower Garden

  • Fill gaps in flower beds with primulas and polyanthus
  • Prune forsythia and flowering currants as soon as flowers have faded
  • Leave daffodil foliage intact for at least six weeks after flowering to regenerate bulbs, so they’ll bloom again next year
  • Plant out groups of gladioli in borders
  • Sow sweet peas directly outside at the base of obelisks or supports

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Sow seeds of dwarf and climbing beans in deep pots or cardboard toilet roll tubes filled with compost
  • Plant new asparagus beds
  • Continue planting potatoes, shallots and onion sets
  • Feed spring cabbage with a high-nitrogen fertiliser
  • Remove forcing jars from rhubarb plants and let them grow uncovered
  • Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas and mangetout, lettuce and Swiss chard

In The Greenhouse

  • Protect pots of seedlings from the cold by making mini-cloches from empty plastic bottles
  • Prick out seedlings once they have developed their first true leaves
  • Open doors and greenhouse vents on warm days to improve ventilation
  • Sow herbs into pots or trays, including basil, chives, parsley, fennel and coriander
  • Plant up pots with the summer-flowering bulbs tiger flower (Tigridia), gloriosa and eucomis
  • Start feeding houseplants weekly with a liquid feed
  • Pinch out shoot tips on fuchsias to encourage bushier plants
  • Pot up canna tubers in multi-purpose compost in a warm greenhouse

Generally

  • Spread a compost mulch around border plants to suppress weeds*
  • Put pond pumps and fountains back into pools, thoroughly cleaning filters first
  • Lay turf or sow new lawns from seed*
  • Clean out bird baths and top up with fresh water
  • Check tree ties are not too tight or cutting into bark, and loosen if necessary
  • Cut back any overgrown ivy

*Do remember that all these jobs depend on the weather and I would perhaps delay the sowing of lawns untill it is a bit warmer! Also don’t mulch on frozen ground!

Don’t for get to tune in every week to www.phoenixfm.com on a Sunday 10am till noon for all your gardening questions answered!

 

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What to do in the Garden – Fourth Week of March

The Flower Garden

  • Take cuttings from delphiniums using strong young shoots, and root them in free-draining compost
  • Wash off greenfly from shoot tips with soapy water
  • Feed rhododendrons, azaleas, pieris and camellias with ericaceous (acidic) plant food
  • Several shrubs with low-growing stems can be propagated by layering, such as honeysuckle, mock orange (Philadelphus), rhododendron, magnolia and forsythia
  • Dig up and divide clumps of winter aconites
  • Plant new shrubs and hardy perennials
  • Cut away old foliage on Christmas roses to prevent hellebore leaf spot spreading
  • Pick off developing seed heads on daffodils and spring bulbs
  • Sprinkle fertiliser over flower beds and around shrubs and roses

In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Cover rows of strawberries with cloches to encourage early fruiting
  • Plant early potatoes outside in rows, or in large pots of compost
  • Spray fruit trees and bushes with fungicide to prevent powdery mildew disease attacking them
  • Pick off faded and yellowing leaves from Brussels sprouts to stop disease spreading
  • Sow seeds the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflowers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad and stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas and Swiss chard

In the Greenhouse

  • Plant bulbs, corms and tubers like achimenes, begonias, gloxinias in pots
  • Sow coleus and other houseplants
  • Watch out for pests, like whitefly and red spider mite, and treat at once
  • Put a mouse trap in your greenhouse if you find seeds and plants being eaten
  • Sow seeds of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and other greenhouse crops in a heated propagator
  • Pot up begonias individually once new leaves have developed
  • Take cuttings from houseplants including African violets

Around and About

  • Move plants from greenhouse to cold frame, to acclimatise to cooler temperatures before planting out
  • Dig out new ponds and water features
  • Clean and sharpen secateurs and garden knives
  • Buy summer-flowering bulbs now, while the best choice of varieties and colours are available
  • Treat emerging shoots of perennial weeds like ground elder with glyphosate-based weedkiller
  • Repot succulents that have overgrown their containers
  • Continue sowing seeds of summer bedding plants in the greenhouse or on windowsills including marigolds, tagetes, verbena, zinnia, nicotiana and dahlias

Don’t forget that you can get more gardening information at www.babicz.com

Happy Gardening

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What to do in the Garden – Last Week of February

In The Flower Garden

  • Prune summer-flowering clematis, cutting above a low pair of green buds
  • Cut out dead stems of ceratostigma and hardy fuchsias
  • Prune all stems of Hydrangea paniculata down to about three buds from soil level
  • Prepare areas in flowerbeds ready for sowing hardy annuals in late March and into April, digging over, weeding and enriching the soil
  • Lift and divide congested border plants
  • Plant out lilies to fill gaps in borders, or grow them on in pots
  • Trim winter-flowering heathers

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Sprinkle a handful of sulphate of potash fertiliser around the base of fruit trees and bushes
  • Plant new raspberry canes and blackberry plants
  • Prepare beds to plant asparagus
  • Place tunnel cloches or simple sheets of polythene over beds to warm soil for early sowings
  • Carry on sowing seeds in pots or trays in the greenhouse, ready to transplant later, including Brussels sprouts, spring cabbage and onions

In The Greenhouse

  • Empty your greenhouse and thoroughly clean inside, pressure washing the frame, staging and glazing
  • Cut back overwintered fuchsias, and increase frequency of watering to encourage new growth
  • Sow summer bedding plants
  • Monitor temperatures with a max-min thermometer to ensure heaters are working efficiently
  • Plant gloxinias, begonias, achimenes and cannas

 

Around the Garden

  • Spread a layer of manure or compost around roses and shrubs
  • Prepare areas for laying new lawns in spring, digging over, weeding and enriching the soil
  • Be on the look out for slugs and snails, which will attack emerging shoots of perennials
  • Regularly remove weeds by hand or use a hoe if conditions are dry
  • Maintain mowers and check garden machinery is in good working order and ready for the season ahead
  • Look out for compost bargains at garden centres so you’ll have all you need for spring sowing and potting
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What to do in the Garden – Second Week of February

The Flower Garden

  • Prune back shoots on mophead and lacecap hydrangeas to a pair of buds
  • Trim all foliage from barrenwort (Epimedium) before flowers start to develop
  • Plant lilies in pots
  • Prune mahonia, removing old stems to make room for new growth
  • Lift and divide congested clumps of snowdrops when in leaf, also known as ‘in the green’

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Plant shallots outside into well-prepared soil
  • Sow mustard and cress in a pot on the kitchen windowsill for a quick crop
  • Use netting and bird scarers to protect fruit bushes from hungry birds, which can strip off swelling buds
  • Prune side shoots on trained forms of gooseberry back to two or three buds
  • Sow the following crops in pots or trays in the greenhouse, ready to transplant outside later: Brussels sprouts, spring cabbage, cauliflower, onions, leeks, lettuce and salad leaves

In The Greenhouse

  • Hand pollinate the flowers of peaches and nectarine, with a soft brush
  • Cut off hippeastrum flower heads, leaving the stalk
  • Sow summer-bedding plants in trays in a heated propagator or in the greenhouse
  • Plant dahlia tubers in trays to encourage shoots to develop, which you can use as cuttings
  • Pot on houseplants and ferns into slightly larger pots
  • Insulate the greenhouse with polythene to improve insulation and seal windows

Generally

  • Fix nesting boxes for birds to suitable trees around your garden
  • Service petrol lawn mowers and power tools
  • Keep indoor azaleas well-watered with rainwater
  • Make fat cakes and hang them among roses to encourage bluetits to feed off overwintering pests
  • Clear away old plant debris from around the margins of ponds, and scoop out leaves that have fallen into the water

Don’t forget to listen to me every Sunday 10am to 12 noon and also vist my website at www.babicz.com

 

Cornus in Winter

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What To do in The Garden if it Snows!

WHAT TO DO IN WINTER OR ON A RAINY DAY

With snow forcast and cold weather predicted to last a week or so what can we do if it is too cold to go outside!?

  • Reflect on what you did during the summer. What you did well or badly, and how you can improve.
  • Wash pots ready for when those plug plants arrive and you suddenly have to find 40 four inch clean pots!
  • Check your seed packets, see if they are still viable and put into a box in date of sowing order.
  • Browse your catalogues and order your seeds and plug plants.
  • Tidy the shed / greenhouse.
  • Stock up on potting compost.
  • Clean garden tools. Wipe down with an oily rag.
  • Check lawn mower blades. Buy new or have them sharpened.
  • Get petrol engines serviced

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What to Do in the Garden – 16th December

Generally

This time of year is for tidying up, cutting things back and looking back over the year to observe your successes and failures in the garden. Hopefully learning from these! Don’t forget to look at my “Ramblings” page for other news!

  • Wash flower pots and seed trays
  • Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers on walls that are close to gutters and window frames
  • Test the pH of your soil with a kit and add lime if it’s too acidic
  • Scoop leaves and debris from ponds and water features
  • Remove pond pumps and filters to wash and store
  • Look out for special offers on early orders from seed catalogues and in shops
  • Wrap outside taps with insulation to prevent them freezing
  • Treat fences and timber structures with stain or preservative. My favourite is Creosote!
  • Welcome in the new growing season by decluttering your shed or garden store

 

In The Flower Garden

 

  • Cut back overgrown honeysuckle
  • Pick berried winter shrubs, flowers and evergreen leaves for seasonal decorations indoors
  • Plant bare-rooted hedging, roses, trees and shrubs
  • Pick faded flowers and yellowing leaves from pansies and winter bedding
  • Prune the tops of standard roses to reduce wind rock
  • Keep off lawns in frosty weather or if very wet
  • Prune wisteria, shortening side shoots to 10-15cm from their base
  • Check tree ties are secure
  • Order dahlias, gladioli and other summer-flowering bulbs
  • Tie in the stems of climbing plants to their supports

 

In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

 

  • Prune gooseberry bushes
  • Fork over vacant beds, mixing in compost or well-rotted manure
  • Plant fruit trees trained as cordons, fans or espaliers to make use of limited space
  • Tie in raspberry and blackberry canes to support wires
  • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb (if you have any spare rhubarb I need some!)
  • Take hardwood cuttings from healthy fruit bushes (ditto above!)
  • Prune apple and pear trees to control their size and shape
  • Cut down Jerusalem artichokes

 

In The Greenhouse

 

  • Clear leaves from greenhouse gutters
  • Check heaters daily to ensure they are working efficiently and that fuel levels don’t need topping up
  • Pick off dead flowers and leaves
  • Water overwintering plants such as pelargoniums or fushias sparingly
  • Wash glass inside and out to let in more light
  • Take root cuttings of perennials including phlox and oriental poppies
  • Plant hippeastrum bulbs
  • Use rainwater to keep the compost of potted azaleas constantly moist
  • Ventilate greenhouses on warm, dry days

 

 

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What To Do in The Garden – 9th December

In The Flower Garden

  • Spread compost (Mulching) on to flower beds for worms to work in over winter
  • Collect fallen leaves showing signs of blackspot from around roses
  • Fork compost into borders, but take care not to spike emerging bulbs
  • Deadhead pansies regularly
  • Plant lily-of-the-valley
  • Tie string or wire around conifers and yew to prevent heavy snow damaging branches
  • Fill empty containers with winter heathers and trailing ivy
  • Firm soil around roses loosened by storms
  • Replace wobbly tree stakes and worn plant ties

In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Net crops to protect them from pigeons
  • Protect sprouts for the Christmas table from windy weather
  • Take hardwood cuttings from fruit bushes
  • Get ready for planting asparagus in spring, removing weeds and digging over the soil, and adding compost
  • Order onion sets and seed potatoes
  • Plant new fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits
  • Start to plan next year’s crop rotation
  • Prune large fruit trees to control their shape and size, and to increase productivity
  • Cut out about a quarter of the oldest stems from currant bushes
  • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb, replanting into soil enriched with well-rotted manure

In The Greenhouse

  • Water azaleas with rainwater
  • Take the last chance to bring on forced indoor bulbs for festive decorations
  • Water potted fuchsias sparingly to prevent the compost drying out completely
  • Tidy the greenhouse and pick faded leaves from pelargoniums and other plants
  • Bring potted strawberries under cover to encourage earlier fruiting
  • Order seeds and make a sowing plan for greenhouse crops and bedding plants
  • Check heaters are working efficiently and top up paraffin if necessary
  • Pinch out the tips of autumn-sown sweet peas to promote bushier growth
  • Bring pots or glasses of prepared hyacinths indoors to flower
  • Protect potted peach trees from winter rain and peach leaf curl by bringing under cover

Generally Around The Garden

  • Place cloches over tender plants to give them extra protection from frost
  • Sharpen blades on hoes, secateurs and other garden tools, and wipe with an oily rag before storing away
  • Do a final collection of any autumn leaves still lying around
  • Search through seed and bulb catalogues for new things to grow this coming season
  • Repair wobbly or damaged fences and treat wooden structures with preservative
  • Put out fresh water for birds every day in frosty weather
  • Wrap pots with sacking or insulating material to protect the roots of plants
  • Pick evergreen foliage for indoor decorations, storing in water in a porch or shed before bringing into the house on Christmas Eve

Ramblings!

To see more “ramblngs” go to……

Matt asked about collecting leave from outside his house. See my answer here….

 

 

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What to Do in The Garden – 2nd December

In The Flower Garden

  • Clear away annual climbers, like sweet peas and morning glory, and cup and saucer plants growing up trellises or obelisks
  • Pick seed heads and evergreen foliage and mix with fruit such as clementines or limes to make a fresh Christmas wreath
  • Move tubs of shrubs or winter bedding to a sheltered spot if conditions turn very cold
  • Take root cuttings of oriental poppies and other perennials
  • Look for early flowering snowdrops to pot up and bring into the house
  • Prepare soil well before planting new roses
  • Cover branches of holly berries with netting to keep birds away
  • Prune overgrown laurel, yew and camellias back hard to rejuvenate them
  • Wrap straw or bracken around the base of tender shrubs and climbers to protect them the from cold
  • Check stakes and ties are secure on trees and climbers

In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Make a composting trench to enrich soil where beans will grow next spring
  • Make compost from spent crops
  • Dig over vacant areas
  • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb
  • Cut down asparagus fronds and the tops of Jerusalem artichokes
  • Buy in rotted farmyard manure or other composted green waste
  • Use cloches to protect winter peas, beans and salads
  • Lift and pot up chicory roots to force chicons
  • Plant new fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits
  • Bring potted bay trees under cover if conditions turn very cold

In The Greenhouse

  • Keep potted herbs on the staging to crop over winter
  • Move potted bulbs into the greenhouse to develop before bringing into the house
  • Clear out old crops and growing bags
  • Water sparingly and aim to keep the atmosphere as dry as possible over winter to reduce the spread of disease
  • Check dahlia tubers and bulbs in store for signs of rot
  • Pick off fading or diseased leaves from pelargoniums and other plants
  • Continue ventilating the greenhouse on warm days
  • Cut down chrysanthemums after flowering
  • Prune dormant vines

Generally

  • Cover soil with polythene sheets to keep it dry so that winter digging can be completed
  • Keep your Christmas tree outside in a bucket of water until you’re ready to bring it indoors to decorate
  • Wash cloches and cold frames
  • Order manure or mushroom compost to dig in over winter, or pile onto the soil for the worms to drag under
  • Cut down marginal plants surrounding ponds
  • Send off for mail-order seed and perennials catalogues
  • Mow your lawn on a dry day with the blades set high
  • Wrap outside taps with insulation material to prevent them freezing and turn off the water supply inside your house
  • Place a floating heater or a ball in ponds to stop ice completely covering the surface
  • Move tender or valuable houseplants away from cold window sills every evening
  • For more ramblings on gardening go to this page…………

Don’t forget you can hear me on PhoenixFM online every Sunday 10 till 12 noon.

 

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What to do in The Garden – Last Week of November

In The Flower Garden

  • Prune wisteria sideshoots to 10-15cm from their base, and tie in leading shoots to create a framework
  • Rake up fallen leaves that could be sheltering slugs
  • Cut down dead perennials
  • Plant bareroot trees and deciduous hedges such as beech and privet
  • Trim autumn-flowering heathers
  • Collect fallen rose leaves that could carry diseases over to next season
  • Plant new roses
  • Transplant shrubs or small trees
  • Finish planting tulip bulbs
  • Hang bird feeders over rose beds to attract birds to pick off overwintering pests

 

The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

  • Winter prune apple trees
  • Prune away stems of autumn-fruiting raspberries at soil level
  • Prepare sites to plant new fruit trees and bushes, by improving soil with lots of organic matter
  • Hoe bare areas to remove weed seedlings
  • Use straw to prevent soil freezing around parsnips
  • Take hardwood cuttings from currants and gooseberries
  • Net cabbages and other brassicas to protect them from pigeon damage
  • Place forcing jars over crowns of seakale
  • Continue winter digging, adding spent mushroom compost to improve the soil

 

In The Greenhouse

  • Follow weather forecasts closely to ensure you’re setting greenhouse heating accurately
  • Prune both indoor and outdoor vines
  • Dig up rhubarb, pot up, and place in total darkness under a giant bin to force an early crop
  • Thoroughly clean glazing inside and out before putting up bubble polythene for insulation
  • Sow hardy annuals, like calendulas, in pots for early displays
  • Check bulbs, corms and tubers in store for signs of rot
  • Water sparingly in winter, taking care not to splash water around
  • Pick yellowing leaves and dead flowers from plants
  • Open vents on warm days

Generally

  • Clean and sharpen pruning tools
  • Repair and treat fencing and timber structures while climbing plants are dormant
  • Bring all watering equipment indoors, including hoses and sprinklers
  • Wrap insulation around outside taps and cut off the water supply
  • Empty glazed pots that aren’t frost-proof, and move under cover
  • Send off for mail-order seed catalogues and start planning seed orders
  • Scoop fallen leaves and rotting plant debris from ponds
  • Order summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies and gladioli
  • Get hold of some manure or mushroom compost to improve your soil
  • Check garden birds have water to drink, especially on frosty days when it might be frozen

Check out more gardening at www.babicz.com

Andrew

 

Coffee Grounds

     

     

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    What To Do in The Garden – First Week of November

    In the Flower Garden

    • Cut late-summer-flowering clematis right down to soil level
    • Divide congested clumps of perennials such as asters, campanulas, rudbeckias and chrysanthemums after flowering
    • Plant bare-rooted roses
    • Dig up and compost exhausted summer bedding
    • Plant out wallflowers, interspersing with taller-growing tulips
    • Pile a thick mulch of compost or bark around hardy fuchsias to protect them from frost. You can also add some grit around the base of the plant for extra drainage.
    • Move shrubs, including conifers and evergreens, that have outgrown their position
    • Pot up tender perennials from summer displays to bring under cover for winter protection
    • Pick leaves affected by rose blackspot and collect any lying on the ground nearby
    • Cut down perennials whose seedheads aren’t worth keeping, digging in compost around them

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Wrap grease bands around fruit trees to catch female winter moths climbing up from the soil
    • Plant out garlic or start growing cloves in pots to plant out later
    • Clear away old crops and dig over the ground
    • Sow hardy peas under fleece for an early crop next year
    • Harvest mature marrows, pumpkins and squashes
    • Save fully ripe seeds from your favourite peas, beans and tomatoes to sow next year
    • Pick apples and pears as they ripen
    • Sow a green manure crop of winter rye on bare areas of soil
    • Order fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits for winter planting
    • Sow broad beans outside under cloches, or raise in pots to plant out later

    The Greenhouse

    • Insulate your greenhouse by lining the inside with bubble polythene
    • Bring tender plants under cover
    • Sow sweet peas in deep pots and overwinter in the greenhouse or a cold frame
    • Check greenhouse heaters are working efficiently
    • Spread out harvested onions on staging to dry thoroughly before storing
    • Monitor day and night temperatures with a max-min thermometer and turn on heating if needed
    • Water plants sparingly and avoid splashing the water around
    • Move Christmas cacti to where they get short days and long nights, with no artificial light, to promote flowering
    • Clean staging and wash capillary matting to use next summer
    • Bring potted peaches and nectarines under cover

    Generally Around the Garden

    • Add old crops and bedding to the compost heap
    • Spike lawns then brush grit into the holes to improve surface drainage
    • Collect seeds from beans and sweet peas to sow next year
    • Firm soil around newly planted trees and shrubs if they’ve been loosened by wind
    • Check bulbs and tubers in storage for signs of rot
    • Rake up leaves to compost into leaf-mould
    • Sow a green manure crop of field beans on bare soil
    • Build a log pile for beneficial insects and animals to use for hibernation
    • Send off for new seed and bulb catalogues
    • Check bonfires carefully before lighting to make sure there are no sleeping hedgehogs underneath

     

    Autmn Colour

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    What to do in the Garden – Week beginning 21st October

    The Flower Garden

    • Plant tulip bulbs in groups to make drifts of spring colour
    • After first frosts, lift and store dahlia tubers or leave in the ground but mulch heavily
    • Plant evergreen shrubs and conifers, including new hedges
    • Lift tender cannas to avoid frost damage, and overwinter tubers in cool dark conditions
    • Plant out spring bedding
    • Sow hardy annuals in cleared areas for early flowers next summer
    • Sow sweet peas in pots, and overwinter under cover
    • Prune back standard roses to help prevent wind rock damaging the plants
    • Take hardwood cuttings from cornus, ribes, salix and roses
    • Plant up tubs and baskets with evergreens for autumn and winter interest

     

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Pick ripe apples and pears
    • Finish harvesting marrows, squashes, onions and potatoes
    • Sow broad beans and hardy peas
    • Plant out garlic cloves
    • Earth up leeks to cover and blanch their stems
    • Cut away fruited blackberry canes at soil level and tie in new ones
    • Plant new fruit trees and bushes
    • Tidy strawberry beds, cutting back old foliage and congested runners and removing weeds
    • Pot up a few roots of mint and bring under cover for winter pickings
    • Improve soil, digging over bare ground and forking in bulky, well-rotted manure

     

    In The Greenhouse

    • Wash greenhouse glazing to let in maximum light
    • Bring potted cordylines under cover for winter
    • Insulate your greenhouse with bubble polythene
    • Maintain plant hygiene, picking off faded blooms and dead leaves from all plants
    • Water plants more sparingly now conditions are turning cooler
    • Check heaters are working properly
    • Use an electric propagator to encourage rooting on late cuttings
    • Plant hyacinths and daffodils for indoor displays
    • Keep good air circulation around potted chrysanthemums to avoid mildew
    • Lift chicory roots, cut the tops off and pot them up, then place in the dark to blanch

     

    Around The Garden

    • Collect and compost autumn leaves
    • Cut back suckers growing around the base of trees
    • Visit garden centres to choose bulbs and bedding for spring displays
    • Mow lawns less frequently now grass growth is slowing down
    • Complete new lawn laying projects during autumn
    • Improve soil in borders in preparation for autumn planting, digging it over and adding compost
    • Remove and clean pumps from ponds
    • Take hardwood cuttings from shrubs and fruit bushes
    • Spike lawns and brush sharp sand or grit into the holes to improve drainage
    • Get hold of stable or farmyard manure to dig into your soil over winter

     

    Cannas at Wisley

     

     

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    What to do in The Garden – Last Week of September

    In The Flower Garden

    • Plant crocuses, fritillaries and dwarf narcissus in lawns
    • Plant up patio pots for autumn interest
    • Lift gladioli, clean the corms and store them in a shed or garage
    • Prune rambling and climbing roses, and shorten long shoots on standard roses
    • Plant spring bedding, including wallflowers and forget-me-nots, among tulips
    • Lift, divide and replant congested clumps of perennials
    • Net holly berries to protect them from hungry birds if you want them for Christmas arrangements
    • Plant lily bulbs, including fragrant Lilium regale, in groups among low shrubs to bloom next summer
    • Move shrubs that are growing in the wrong places

     

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

     

    • Make a cross-cut in cabbage stems when harvesting to encourage a further crop
    • Sow broad beans for early crops next May and June
    • Put cloches over tender herbs like basil and coriander
    • Pot up mint, chives and parsley to keep on a bright window sill
    • Sow green manure crops such as field beans and grazing rye
    • Plant garlic and autumn onion sets
    • Cover endive to blanch the leaves
    • Dig up and pot up roots of chicory for winter forcing
    • Pick apples and pears before the wind blows them down
    • Finish pruning blackberries and autumn-fruiting raspberries

     

    In The Greenhouse

     

    • Bring aeoniums and other tender succulents under cover for winter
    • Empty begonia tubers from pots, clean off the compost and store somewhere dark and dry
    • Water plants more sparingly now conditions are getting cooler
    • Wash off all shade paint and remove blinds and shade netting
    • Sow sweet peas for early flowers next summer
    • Clear out old crops in pots and growing bags, adding them to the compost heap
    • Bring pots of late-flowering chrysanthemums under cover
    • Line the inside of your greenhouse with bubble polythene
    • Check heaters are working efficiently
    • Water potted azaleas with rainwater, keeping the compost constantly moist

     

    Around The Garden

     

    • Use a fork or hollow-tined aerator to spike your lawn and improve drainage
    • Dig up and pot up tender perennials to bring indoors for winter protection
    • Raise the cutting height when mowing the lawn
    • Apply an autumn lawn food
    • Cover ponds with netting to stop leaves falling in
    • Remove pumps and filters from ponds and water features
    • Empty ceramic and glazed pots to store under cover for winter
    • Collect fallen leaves smothering alpines and other plants
    • Order roses, hedging and fruit trees for winter planting
    • Retrieve plant supports from flower beds, clean and store away

     

    Happy Gardening. If you want more ramblings on gardening from click here.

    Andrew

     

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    What to do in the Garden – Last Week of August

    In The Flower Garden

    • Plant daffodil bulbs in pots and borders
    • Check roses for suckers and cut off any you find, just below ground
    • Trim conifer hedges to neaten their appearance and control height
    • Empty pots of faded early summer bedding, adding old plants to the compost heap
    • Buy tulip bulbs as soon as you find them but hold back from planting until late October-November
    • Dig up gladioli corms after flowering to store until next spring
    • Collect seeds, lay them out to dry, then store them in labelled envelopes
    • Prune rambling roses, cutting out old stems that carried flowers and training in new shoots
    • Take lavender cuttings by pulling off new shoots and inserting them in gritty compost
    • Cut back perennials past their best

     

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Keep picking summer-sown salads to prevent the plants running to seed
    • Plant garlic cloves outside or in modular seed trays ready to plant out later this autumn
    • Cover herbs like basil and parsley with cloches, or bring potted ones under cover
    • Harvest globe artichokes
    • Stake tall Brussels sprouts to stop them from blowing over
    • Dig up chicory roots, cut off their tops and re-pot for forcing, to grow on in a dark shed
    • Wrap grease bands around the trunks of apples, pears, cherries and plums to trap the crawling female winter moth
    • Cut off whole trusses of unripe fruits from outdoor tomatoes before they’re hit by frost and ripen in a sheltered spot
    • Plant out spring cabbages
    • Dig up onions and lay them out in an airy space to dry before storing

     

    The Greenhouse

    • Take root cuttings from Japanese anemones and oriental poppies
    • Pot up prepared hyacinths into bowls for indoor displays
    • Pot up rooted cuttings taken in summer and early autumn
    • Plant paper-white narcissi in pots
    • Remove shading paint and netting to let in plenty of light
    • Water dormant pots of cyclamen that were left to die down for the summer, and keep them in cool conditions
    • Plant freesia corms in pots
    • Check greenhouse heaters are in working order
    • Bring pots of tender perennials and summer bulbs into the greenhouse
    • Install a water butt under the gutter of your greenhouse to collect autumn rain fall

     

    Generally

    • Lay new turf and re-sow bare patches of lawn
    • Pot up colchicums into decorative containers for bringing into the house
    • Put up bug boxes to provide places for beneficial insects to hibernate
    • Cut attractive seed heads for indoor arrangements
    • Spread netting over ponds or water features to stop autumn leaves falling in
    • Buy spring bulbs for autumn planting
    • Order bare rooted roses, shrubs, fruit trees and hedging to plant over the coming months
    • Brush away fungi and mushrooms growing on lawns
    • Build a leaf bin out of posts and chicken wire to collect autumn leaves into
    • Rake moss and thatch from lawns
    • Sow pea seeds for shoots to add to salads.

     

     

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    What to do in The Garden – Fourth Week of August

    In The Flower Garden

     

    • Prune pyracantha and train shoots to supports
    • Prepare soil to plant evergreen shrubs and conifers by digging it over and incorporating lots of organic matter
    • Prune lavender to maintain its shape, and take lavender cuttings by pulling off sideshoots and inserting them in trays of gritty compost
    • Collect seed from border perennials and store in a sealed container in a cool place
    • Prune rambling roses, removing shoots that have finished flowering
    • Plant conifers, shrubs and hedging
    • Tie tall chrysanthemums to supports
    • Plant autumn crocuses, sternbergia, colchicums, hardy cyclamen and nerines
    • Dig up hardy annuals if you don’t want them to set seed

     

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

     

    • Prune out fruited canes on summer-cropping raspberries
    • Pinch out tops of main shoots on outdoor tomato plants
    • Prune trained forms of fruit trees
    • Pick sweetcorn cobs
    • Continue picking plums and freeze any surplus right away
    • Lift and store onions and shallots
    • Order garlic and onion sets for autumn planting
    • Put grease bands on fruit trees to catch wingless winter moths
    • Plant out rooted strawberry runners and pot some up to bring into the greenhouse later in winter for early fruits
    • Vegetables to sow now include lettuces, spinach, land cress, purslane, beetroot, radishes, coriander, spring onions, calabrese, spring greens, turnips for their green tops, Swiss chard, winter spinach and hardy Japanese onions

     

    In The Greenhouse

     

    • Take cuttings from tender perennials and bedding plants, such as verbena
    • Sow a few pots of hardy annuals to provide early spring blooms
    • Shade delicate plants to avoid sun scorch on hot days
    • Deal with vine weevil by watering pots with a solution of biological control nematodes
    • Damp down the floor on hot days to increase humidity
    • Harvest cucumbers regularly to promote further flower development
    • Pot up rooted cuttings into individual pots
    • Plant pots of freesias and lachenalia
    • Stop watering begonias and gloxinias so they die down after flowering
    • Start watering dormant cyclamen to bring them back into growth after their summer rest

     

    Generaly

    • Remove suckers from roses, shrubs and around the base of trees, like cornus and sorbus
    • Trim box topiary and hedging
    • Cut laurel hedges using secateurs so you don’t damage the remaining leaves
    • Spray mare’s tail with a weedkiller such as glyphosate
    • Improve soil ready for sowing a lawn from seed during showery autumn weather
    • Hoe and hand weed borders
    • Order sweet pea seeds for autumn sowing in pots
    • Pinch out the tips of wallflowers to promote bushier growth
    • Buy spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, crocuses, narcissus and fritillaries
    • Apply an autumn lawn feed

     

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    What to do in the Garden – Second Week of August

    In The Flower Garden

    • Deadhead flowers of lady’s mantle before they set seed
    • Water camellias to make sure they don’t dry out while the flower buds are developing
    • Buy bulbs for autumn planting including tulips, narcissus, alliums, iris and crocus
    • Take cuttings from tender perennials and bedding plants
    • Collect seed from any flowers you fancy propagating
    • Trap earwigs among dahlias with upside-down pots stuffed with straw and balanced on canes
    • Pick leaves off plants affected by rose blackspot
    • Trim conifer hedges and evergreen hedges, cutting their tops back to the desired height
    • Clear bedding that has passed its best and plant out forget-me-nots and wallflowers
    • Tidy up fading perennials and make compost with the trimmings

     

    In the Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Pick plums as they ripen
    • Ease onions from the soil with a fork to prepare them for harvesting
    • Finish pruning trained forms of apple trees like cordons, espaliers and fans
    • Water crops regularly, especially during hot weather
    • Lift marrows into the sunshine and rest them on bricks to ripen
    • Identify plants showing symptoms of potato blight, and immediately remove affected leaves and stems
    • Order garlic bulbs and onion sets for autumn planting
    • Prune out fruited canes on summer-cropping raspberries
    • Net blackberries and autumn-fruiting raspberries
    • Veg to sow now include swedes, spring cabbages, beetroot for leaves, winter lettuces, radishes, coriander, Japanese onions

     

    In The Greenhouse

    • Plant prepared hyacinth bulbs in special hyacinth vases (available at garden centres) or in pots of bulb fibre
    • Sow parsley in modular trays
    • Water crops in growing bags and pots
    • Open vents each day, but close them at night if the weather turns cold
    • Place poinsettias in the total dark for 14 hours a day to encourage colourful bracts to form, moving into full light for the rest of the day
    • Water indoor cyclamen after their summer rest to encourage new growth
    • Plant lachenalia and veltheimia bulbs
    • Pick off the lower leaves from tomatoes to allow light and air to reach the fruits

     

    Generally

    • Pick off leaves infected by rose blackspot or rose rust, and dispose of them in your dustbin and not on the compost heap
    • Set up an automatic watering system with a drip nozzle for potted plants if you’re going on holiday
    • Top up water levels in ponds and aquatic features
    • Scoop water weed from ponds with a small net
    • Remove suckers from roses or around the base of trees
    • Summer prune wisteria by shortening all long sideshoots
    • Stake dahlias and late-flowering chrysanthemums
    • Trim privet, laurel, conifers and other hedges
    • Mow lawns every week
    • Apply lawn feed to promote strong root growth and prepare the grass for winter

     

    Capturing Earwigs

     

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    What to do in the Garden – Third Week of July

    Generally

    What a week this has been! Any more water needed in the garden? It is good that I am a gardener and understand that next year should be better! Can it be worse? My allotment was almost washed away, my onions have mildew, my garlic has rust and my potatoes are rotting in the ground! Roll on next year!

    Apart from that I’ve been judging in Britain in bloom. Photos can be seen here. You do not have to be a Facebook user to see them! www.facebook.com/AndrewsGardening There is a great photo of a “living wall”.  If you get the chance please have a look and “like” me if you do!

    In The Flower Garden

    • Take cuttings from shrubs including pyracantha, cotinus, hypericum, potentilla, honeysuckle, ivy, hydrangea, spiraea and rosemary
    • Prune out plain green shoots from variegated trees and shrubs
    • Cut lavender for drying when in full flower
    • Cut back pansies that look straggly to encourage new growth
    • Shorten half the shoots on broom and genista to encourage new growth
    • Plant autumn-flowering bulbs such as nerines, colchicums, sternbergia, autumn crocuses and Amaryllis belladonna
    • Spray roses with fungicide to prevent mildew and blackspot
    • Propagate climbers like wisteria and passion flower by layering. Bend low shoots to soil level and peg them down, making a slit in the portion buried to encourage rooting
    • Pick off any lily bulbils forming on the stems and pot them up

     

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Harvest onions sown last autumn for early crops
    • If your ground is waterlogged keep off it.
    • Bury shoot tips of blackberries and peg them down to raise new plants
    • Prune out about a quarter of the oldest branches on blackcurrants
    • Spray potatoes and outdoor tomatoes with Bordeaux mixture to prevent blight
    • Thin heavy fruit crops, picking off the smallest. Aim to leave developing fruits about 10-15cm apart along the stems, perhaps thinning congested spurs down to just a single fruit
    • Sow seed of herbs now, including basil, parsley and coriander
    • Sow vegetable seeds now,  including endive, lettuce and salad leaves, beetroot, radishes, spring cabbages, kohl rabi, Swiss chard, winter spinach, Oriental greens, chicory, spring onions, swede, turnips for green tops

    In The Greenhouse

    • Feed tomato crops with a high-potash tomato fertiliser every week
    • Be on the lookout for aphids, vine weevils and other pests
    • Ventilate daily and add extra shading if temperatures are getting too high
    • Sow primulas, calceolaria, cineraria and cyclamen
    • Pinch out sideshoots on tomatoes
    • Pot up houseplants that have become top heavy or pot bound
    • Take leaf cuttings from houseplants including Begonia rex, African violets, streptocarpus, crassula and kalanchoe
    • Pick peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and other greenhouse crops regularly to encourage further flowers to develop

     

    Living Wall

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    What To Do in The Garden – Second Week of July

    In The Flower Garden

    • Pick bulbils from lily stems and pot them up to raise new plants
    • Give shrubs and perennial plants a liquid feed
    • Cut down delphiniums once flower spikes fade
    • Take cuttings from non-flowering shoots on hydrangeas

     

    Good plant combination

    • Pick sweet peas regularly and remove any seed heads to keep them flowering
    • Shorten shoots on choisya to encourage a second flush of flowers
    • Feed roses to keep them flowering strongly
    • Pinch out the shoot tips on fuchsias and bedding plants for bushier growth
    • Save seed from foxgloves and sow right away in small pots of compost
    • Be vigilant for signs of lily beetle, vine weevil, Solomon’s seal sawfly and other problem pests

     

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Pick gooseberries when ripe. If they’re still very green, small and hard, leave them a bit longer. Some varieties turn red or white as they ripen
    • Prune bay trees to keep them in shape
    • Spray apples and gooseberries with a fungicide to protect against mildew
    • Lift early potatoes
    • Pick mangetout peas and beans
    • Spray gooseberries to prevent sawfly attack
    • Sow an autumn crop of peas before mid-July
    • Tie in new growth on cordon-trained tomatoes and pinch out sideshoots. Bush varieties can be left to scramble over the soil
    • Water runner beans, celery, marrows, courgettes and salads
    • Sow seeds of salad leaves, beetroot, radishes, spring cabbages, kohl rabi, Swiss chard, spinach, Oriental greens, chicory, swede and turnips for green tops

    In The Greenhouse

    • Repot any plants that are pot bound or getting top heavy. Tall plants are best placed in terracotta pots for extra stability
    • Open all vents and prop doors open on warm days to improve ventilation
    • Bring large-leaved houseplants into the garden and hose them down to clean off dust. Wipe dry and apply a leaf shine for an attractive glossy finish before bringing back inside
    • Thin bunches of greenhouse grapes
    • Take cuttings from pelargoniums, fuchsias, marguerites, penstemon, carnations, diascia and many others
    • Damp down the greenhouse floor each morning on hot days to increase humidity
    • Stand pot plants on capillary matting, or in trays of gravel and water, so they don’t dry out
    • Hang up sticky yellow traps to catch whitefly and flying insects
    • Propagate houseplants, including monstera, dracaena and croton, by air layering

     

    Generally

    • Pick herbs, lavender and everlasting flowers to hang and dry
    • Be on the lookout for developing pest problems and take action
    • Dig out problem lawn weeds or treat with weedkiller
    • Re-seed bare patches in lawns
    • Wash out pond filters
    • Water hydrangeas with a colourant solution if you want blue flowers
    • Use a circuit breaker (RCD) when using electric tools
    • Scoop floating weed from ponds with a net
    • Trim hedges and topiary
    • Top up bird baths regularly

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    What to do in the Garden – 10th to 17th June

    Flowers

    • Keep baskets and patio pots watered and fed. I know, with all this rain you might still need to water!
    • Spray roses to protect them from pests and diseases
    • Cut the foliage of daffodils and tulips down to the ground
    • You can add gravel on top of where they have flowered to remind you not to dig!
    • Trim box topiary and formal edging to keep it neat and tidy
    • Take cuttings of non-flowering new shoots from shrubs and pot them up in gritty compost
    • Rub greenfly off rose buds, or apply a soap-based spray. (Stergene is pure soap)
    • Lightly trim broom and genista after flowering to keep plants in shape
    • Water newly planted trees and shrubs if conditions turn hot and dry
    • Tidy up rock gardens, trimming off faded blooms, digging out weeds and replenishing mulches of grit
    • Keep a few bedding plants in reserve to plug gaps where disasters strike

    Fruit and Veg Garden

    • Spread mulch around beans and other crops to help conserve soil moisture
    • Net developing soft fruits to protect them from birds
    • Spray apple trees showing signs of powdery mildew or scab
    • Water onions and other crops to keep them growing strongly
    • Stop cutting asparagus by the end of June to allow the ferns to form
    • Thin out heavy gooseberry crops by removing the smallest fruits, and use these for cooking
    • Make successional sowings of salad leaves and radishes
    • Sow seeds of herbs like coriander and parsley
    • Sow veg seeds now. Try rocket, spinach, beetroot, carrots, calabrese, mini-cauliflowers, spinach, chicory, endive, kohl rabi, peas, spinach beet, swede and turnips

    The Greenhouse

    • Tie greenhouse tomatoes to their supportsas they grow
    • Feed plants with full-strength fertiliser solution once a week, or apply a more diluted feed every few days
    • Apply shading paint or put up shade netting or blinds
    • Open doors and vents daily, and damp down the floor every morning
    • Be on the lookout for pests, including whitefly and red spider mite, and treat at once with a suitable spray or biological control
    • Pot up rooted cuttings
    • Pinch out the tips of cucumber sideshoots two leaves beyond a female flower
    • Check potted plants every day, watering if required
    • Pinch out sideshoots of tomato plants

    Have a great gardening week!

    Andrew

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    What to do in the Garden – Fourth Week of May

    Generally

    If I was to give you a tip this week, I would say if you are a keen gardener, write down everything you do in the garden. This not only becomes a good source of learning but is fascinating reading just a year later if you recorded the weather! Last year we were just coming out of a heat wave and just look at this year…. hopefully we will be able to say next year that we were coming out of a rainy two months!  Watch this space……

    • Cut back the faded flowers of Pulmonaria and if you do not want a border full of Aquilegia cut back the flower heads to stop seeds being dispersed along the border!
    • Feed fast growing plants weekly
    • Watch out for Lily Beetle and sqaush them!

    Flower Garden

    • Plant out dahlias into well-prepared soil that’s been enriched with manure
    • Cut down pulmonarias to just above soil level after flowering to encourage new foliage
    • Clip box hedging and topiary to keep it neat
    • Regularly tie tall stems of delphiniums to supports to prevent them flopping over
    • Scatter granular fertiliser around the base of roses, shrubs, perennials and hedges, and water in thoroughly if rain does not fall over the next week

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Sow seeds of dwarf beans in rows and climbing ones alongside canes
    • Plant out crops being raised in pots under glass, such as marrows, courgettes and tomatoes
    • Cover soft fruits with netting to prevent birds eating them
    • Sow a few seeds of salad leaves and stir-fry leaf crops every 2-3 weeks to ensure a regular supply
    • Sow seeds of the following crops outside this week: beetroot, lettuce, watercress, rocket, radish, spring onions, coriander, parsley, chives, carrots, Swedes, turnip, leaf beet, spinach, cabbage, peas and mangetout, endive, marrows and courgettes, turnips and Witloof chicory
    • Plant out leeks into their final position once they are pencil thick

    Greenhouse

    • Take cuttings from pelargoniums and fuchsias
    • Repot rooted cuttings into containers a size larger, to prevent them from becoming pot-bound
    • Check plants regularly for signs of pests
    • Pinch out the tips of rooted cuttings to encourage bushy plants

    Well I’m off to the Chesea Flower Show this week. See you next week.

     

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    What to Do in The Garden – Second Week of May

    In The Flower Garden

    • Plant up hanging baskets, and leave them in a sheltered spot before hanging fully outside
    • Plant out potted alliums in groups to add interest to flower beds
    • Prune spring-flowering shrubs immediately after flowering, such as forsythia, ribes, chaenomeles, pyracantha and kerria
    • Regularly water newly planted trees, roses, shrubs and hedging
    • Finish planting out gladioli corms in groups or drifts in borders
    • Spread shredded bark mulches around established shrubs and trees to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds
    • Water clumps of tulips and spring bulbs with liquid feed

    In the Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Tie in new shoots of blackberries and cane fruits to support wires
    • Sow sweetcorn in deep pots, raising strong young plants to transplant into the garden in June
    • Pinch off strawberry runners as soon as they develop, to stop them competing with developing fruit for nutrients
    • Earth up soil around emerging potato shoots, which encourages higher yields
    • Sow seeds of the following crops outside this week: radish, spring onions, coriander, parsley and chives

    In The Greenhouse

    • Put up shading to reflect scorching sunlight and keep temperatures down
    • Open all vents on warm days, but close again in the evening
    • Order plug plants and seedlings by post, and pot up as soon as they arrive
    • Take leaf cuttings from houseplants, including African violets, begonias and Cape primrose
    • Hang yellow sticky traps over plants to catch whitefly and flying pests
    • Sow seeds of herbs, such as parsley, chives, coriander, garlic, basil, dill, fennel, mint, thyme, sage and lovage

    And The Rest……

    • Plant tender crops outside, covering them with cloches when night temperatures fall
    • Dig out perennial weeds, such as couch grass and bindweed, from borders as soon as you spot them
    • Wash dust off the foliage of houseplants, and apply leaf shine product to leafy plants
    • Take cuttings from hydrangeas, fuchsias and penstemons, using the soft shoot tips
    • Feed houseplants weekly from now until autumn

     

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    What to do in the garden – First Week of May

    Generally

    Looking back to last years blog we had 28 degress and cracks in my lawn that I could put my hand into…………………….  well what a difference this year!  The wettest April for over 200 years and we are in a drought!

    In the Flower Garden

    • Plant out container-grown roses and shrubs
    • Fork compost into flower beds to prepare soil for summer bedding but only if you can get onto the soild without making it into a mud bath!
    • Tie in new growth on climbing  plants, such as clematis, wisteria and honeysuckle, to supports
    • Pick off faded flowers from  camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons, taking care not to damage developing new  leaves
    • Sow seeds of fast-growing  hardy annuals, such as escholzia or poached-egg plant, to fill gaps

    In the Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Sow seeds of beans, marrows, courgettes and squashes, two per pot, and thin out the weakest seedling to  leave the strongest plant
    • Spray peaches and nectarines with fungicide to prevent an attack of peach leaf curl
    • Pick rhubarb stems as they develop, and water clumps with a generous helping of liquid feed
    • Prepare to cover fruit tree blossom with horticultural fleece to protect flowers if frost is forecast
    • Sow seeds of the following crops outside this week: beetroot, lettuce, salad leaves, watercress and rocket

    In the Greenhouse

    • Fit automatic openers to greenhouse vents to encourage good air circulation
    • Plant tomatoes in growing bags or large pots, training them on to canes or wires for support
    • Bring pots of strawberries into the greenhouse to produce early flowers and fruit
    • Sow cyclamen and schizanthus for indoor flowers
    • Buy scented-leaf pelargoniums,  such as ‘Chocolate Peppermint’ and ‘Lady Plymouth’
    • Plant pots with heat-treated freesia corms to produce fragrant flowers this summer
    • Watch out for pests, checking under leaves and on shoot tips for signs of whitefly or red spider mite. Treat immediately, or introduce biological pest controls

    Berberi darwinii

    Berberis darwinii in full flower in late April

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    What To do in The Garden – Second Week of April

    The Flower Garden

    • Sow sunflowers outside, directly where you want them to bloom
    • Trim winter-flowering heathers, removing faded flowers and tidying up their shape
    • Pick off faded flower heads from hyacinths, to prevent them wasting energy setting seed
    • Plant groups of gladioli corms in borders
    • Give azaleas and acid-loving shrubs a generous feed with acidic (ericaceous) fertiliser
    • Plant out sweet pea seedlings sown last autumn
    • Support oriental poppies with canes to prevent them flopping

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Place card collars around the stems of brassicas to prevent an attack of cabbage root fly
    • Sow pots of herbs such as parsley, coriander and basil
    • Plant out early potatoes, onion sets and shallots
    • Throw sheets of fleece over fruit trees on frosty nights to protect blossom
    • Sow seeds of the following crops this week if conditions are fine: beetroot, parsnips, turnips, onions, peas and mangetout, broad beans, lettuce and salad leaves, spinach, radish, rocket, mizuna, pak choi, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts

    The Greenhouse

    • Pot up rooted cuttings and young plants that have outgrown their pots
    • Sow seeds of marrows, courgettes, squashes, cucumbers and melons in a heated propagator
    • Water pots and trays of seedlings with a solution of copper fungicide to prevent damping-off disease
    • Sow summer bedding, such as tagetes and dahlias
    • Move young plants into cold frames to acclimatise them to cooler conditions

    Around the Garden

    • Treat timber fences, trellis and posts with preservative
    • Install water butts to all downpipes on your house, shed or greenhouse, to collect rainwater
    • Apply moss killer to lawns
    • Fork compost into any unused border area, ready for summer bedding
    • Cut away unwanted suckers growing around the base of trees and shrubs
    • Lift large waterlilies from ponds, divide and replant them
    • Clean pond pumps and filters, and make sure they are working properly
    • Hand weed alpine and rock gardens

     

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    What to do in the Garden – First Week of April

    The Flower Garden

    • Plant out perennials in groups of three, five or seven for maximum effect
    • Sprinkle fertiliser around clumps of tulips to boost flowering, or use a foliar feed
    • Sow hardy annual flowers directly into beds where you’d like them to bloom
    • Prune Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)
    • Pick off dead flower heads from spring bulbs
    • Protect emerging shoots of delphiniums and lupins from slugs and snails using a barrier such as copper tape for pots, copper rings or garlic granules

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Sow sweetcorn in deep modular seed trays under cover to plant out in early June
    • Feed fruit trees and bushes
    • Plant out onion sets grown in pots under glass
    • Order vegetable plug plants from mail-order suppliers
    • Warm soil with cloches or sheets of polythene for early sowings
    • Plant out maincrop potatoes
    • Plant asparagus crowns
    • Sow the following crops this week if conditions are suitable: beetroot, parsnips, turnips, onions, peas and mangetout, broad beans, lettuce and salad leaves, spinach, radish, rocket, mizuna, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts

    In The Greenhouse

    • Buy plug plants and young bedding plants to grow on for baskets, pots and bedding displays
    • Thin out heavy fruit sets on peaches and nectarines, leaving fruits about 10cm apart
    • Sow annual climbers, such as cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea), nasturtium, Rhodochiton and morning glory (Ipomoea)
    • Grow an early crop of dwarf French beans in a large pot
    • Repot any top-heavy or pot-bound houseplants
    • Start feeding young plants about 3-4 weeks after potting up in fresh compost
    • Pot up rooted cuttings and seedlings

    Around The Garden

    • Remove winter grime from patios and terraces with a pressure washer
    • Sow new lawns, choosing a grass mix that suits the type of lawn you want
    • Snip plain green shoots off variegated shrubs
    • Mow lawns on dry days if grass is growing strongly
    • Dig out couch grass, ground elder, bindweed and other problem weeds
    • Place plant supports over clumps of tall-growing perennials such as lupins and delphiniums

     

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    What To Do In The Garden – First Week of March

    In The Flower Garden

    • Prune out old stems of elder (Sambucus) to promote new growth from the base
    • Cut back last year’s Buddleia stems to ground level
    • Hard prune trees that respond to pollarding, such as willows, the foxglove tree (Paulownia) and Eucalyptus gunnii, to promote new growth
    • Lift and divide large clumps of hosta
    • Trim winter-flowering jasmine and tie in new shoots to supports
    • Sprinkle granular fertiliser around clumps of spring bulbs
    • Finish pruning roses as soon as possible
    • Cut down all previous year’s growth on Clematis tangutica. New shoots will develop from the base, which will flower later in summer
    • Cut back old leaves of Epimedium

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Repair netting on fruit cages
    • Continue forcing sea kale and chicory
    • Buy herbs to plant up in containers that you can position near the house
    • Plant out shallots
    • Sow a green manure crop, such as crimson clover, fenugreek or field lupins, which can be dug into the soil later in the season to improve it
    • Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard
    • Plant onion sets in modular trays under cover for planting out later

    In The Greenhouse

    • Order seedlings and bedding plants from mail-order suppliers
    • Sow dwarf French beans in a large pot for an early crop in June
    • Plant lily bulbs in pots either to use in the border or to add elegance to a patio display
    • Repot established agapanthus into slightly larger containers using a loam-based compost
    • Plant begonia and gloxinia tubers in pots
    • Take cuttings from dahlias planted last month to raise new plants

    Generally Around The Garden

    • Mow lawns then trim new edges with a half-moon edging tool
    • Dig compost into borders to improve water retention
    • Add copper rings to pots to protect plants from slugs and snails
    • Hoe bare areas of soil on dry days to remove weed seedlings
    • Replenish gravel and stone mulches on alpine gardens and scree beds
    • Buy summer-flowering bulbs to plant in spring, such as gladioli, tigridia, galtonia, eucomis, anemone, lily and acidanthera

     

    Add Copper rings round pots as a barrier to slugs and snails!

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    What to do in The Garden – Fourth Week of February

    In The Flower Garden

    • Sow sweet peas in deep pots and pinch out once two pairs of leaves have developed
    • Cut back old stems of mallow (Lavatera) to ground level. Take care not to harm roots
    • Plant hedging plants
    • Prune stems of dogwoods, willows, cotinus and paulownias
    • Fork and rake over area for hardy annual bedding

    The Fruit and Veg Garden

     

    • Cover rhubarb with a forcing jar or an old bucket to exclude light and encourage early shoots for early pickings of rhubarb
    • Prune gooseberry bushes to open up the centre of the bush to improve air circulation
    • Chit seed potatoes in trays in bright frost free place
    • Plant bare root fruit trees before they begin to shoot. When the arrive soak the roots and heel in some soil until you are ready to plant.
    • Sow seeds of broad beans, carrots, hardy peas and parsnips outside in soil warmed by cloches

     

    Greenhouse

    • Plant dahlia tubers in pots or trays and place in a heated propagator if you want to take cuttings
    • Star raising crops from seed, including tomatoes, chilli peppers, aubergines and cucumbers
    • Water with a copper fungicide solution to prevent damping off of seedlings
    • Sow seeds of cyclamen keeping in total darkness until seeds have germinated

     

    Generally Around The Garden

    • Take care not to walk over emerging spring bulbs in the border or in the lawn
    • Order young plants from mail order companies
    • Sort out and clean up canes and support ready for use in the spring
    • Use a pressure washer to clean paths
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    What To do In The Garden – Second Week of February!!

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A week in gardening can seem much longer with temperatures last month getting to

    10 c and this week snow and below freezing.

    So what to do in the garden?

    As soon as we get snow you should get out and brush the snow from your prize plants as they will bend and break with the weight of the snow especially after a night or two of freezing when the snow will get even heavier!

    Feed the birds. And do not forget the bird bath… add fresh water.

     

    Float a ball in the fish pond. Fish need air so keep some open water for them.

    A great thing to do when you are inside is to get all your seeds and put them into sowing months and put them in a shoebox marked up wth the months. That way you will see at a glance when to sow.

    Keep an eye on the temperatures this week and stay warm!

    Andrew

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    What To Do in The Garden – Last Week of January

    In The Flower Garden

    • Cut down willows and dogwoods to their base to promote strong new canes
    • Finish taking hardwood cuttings from shrubs, trees and roses
    • Plant bare-root roses, hedging, trees and shrubs
    • Pick off hellebore leaves with black blotches as this is a symptom of leaf spot disease
    • Prune wall climbers away from window frames and gutters
    • Lift and divide congested snowdrops when in leaf, also known as ‘in the green’
    • Prepare plant supports ready to pop into position to support tall or floppy perennials, such as delphiniums
    • Prune roses and buddleia during mild weather but complete by the end of February

    In The Fruit & Vegetable Garden

    • Use cloches to warm soil for early sowings
    • Prepare areas for planting asparagus
    • Prune apple and pear trees to remove congested, badly placed, damaged or diseased branches
    • Cover seakale to force new shoots to develop

    In The Greenhouse

    • Raise lettuce and salad crops in pots for early pickings
    • Water potted fuchsias sparingly to prevent compost drying out completely
    • Prune grapevines before they come into growth, when their sap starts rising
    • Bring pots of strawberries under cover to encourage early fruiting
    • Start sowing seed of summer bedding and crops that need a long growing season to mature, such as pelargonium, petunia, verbena, salvia, lobelia and begonia

    Around The Garden

    • Clean and sharpen knives and secateurs, and spray metal tools with oil
    • Put up nesting boxes for birds in suitable trees or on buildings
    • Move shrubs growing in the wrong place
    • Service petrol lawn mowers
    • Search through seed, bulb and nursery catalogues for new plants to grow this year
    • Repair wobbly or damaged fences, and treat wooden structures with preservative

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    What To do in The Garden – Third Week of January

    In The Flower Garden

    • Dig up congested clumps of winter aconites and transplant to new sites
    • Improve the soil the soil by spreading compost or manure over beds and forking in
    • Move plants growing in the wrong place
    • Dig deeply areas where you’ll be planting new roses, shrubs or perennials
    • Spread a thick mulch of bark over the crown of tender plants, such as fuchsias, dahlias and cannas
    • Prune summer-flowering clematis, cutting stems back to emerging buds close to soil level

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Prune out the oldest stems from black currants to encourage new shoots
    • Check crops that are in store and discard any showing signs of rot
    • Fork compost into the soil and clear old crops from the veg plot
    • Cover fruit trees and bushes with netting to prevent hungry bullfinches eating blossom buds
    • Sow the following crops under cloches during January and early February: broad beans, hardy peas, spinach, carrots and onions

    In The Greenhouse

    • Wash glazing inside and out to let in as much light as possible
    • Bring potted camellias into unheated porches or conservatories to enjoy early displays
    • Buy chrysanthemum cuttings or take cuttings from your own plants
    • Sow seed of hardy annuals, such as Calendula, for some early flowers
    • Tidy up the greenhouse, getting rid of any old compost or rubbish that could hide unwanted visitors

    Generally

    • Keep window bird feeders topped up with seed to attract blue tits and sparrows
    • Wash out flowerpots and seed trays
    • Move patio pots to sheltered sites during cold periods
    • Spread a mulch of compost over borders and around trees, shrubs and roses
    • Clean algae and moss from paths and steps
    • Sprinkle a top-dressing of gritty compost over lawns

    Kings Seeds Early Starter Spring Catalogue arrived this week and I was impressed at the good value in it. (and it takes a lot for me to be impressed!) www.kingsseeds.com

     

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    What To Do in The Garden – Second Week of January

    The Flower Garden

    • Cut back ornamental miscanthus grass before new shoots start developing
    • Trim back ivy and Virginia creeper from around windows and guttering
    • Clear away dead foliage from perennials, chop it up and add to the compost heap
    • Remove weeds from borders, and dig deeply to sieve out roots of perennial weeds, such as bindweed, ground elder and couch grass
    • Improve compacted soil by mixing in extra compost. Take care not to walk on or dig up spring bulbs
    • Take root cuttings from phlox and oriental poppies
    • Pot up containers with spring bedding displays

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

     

    • Dig over veg plots, mixing compost into the soil as you go
    • Continue filling a trench with kitchen waste where you want to grow beans
    • Cover rhubarb with forcing jars for an early harvest
    • Use cloches to warm the soil for early sowings
    • Plant new fruit bushes and trees
    • Dig up and pot up roots of mint to force early shoots
    • Buy shallots, onion sets and seed potatoes

    In The Greenhouse

    • Top up fuel tank of paraffin heater every evening
    • Bring potted hyacinths and bulbs under cover to bloom
    • Make a sowing plan for raising greenhouse crops and bedding plants, and order seeds
    • Bring potted peaches under cover to prevent an attack of leaf curl
    • Water pot plants sparingly and avoid wetting foliage. Never leave plants standing in water
    • Regularly pick off faded leaves and flowers to avoid grey mould (botrytis) developing

    Generally

    • Tidy up piles of flowerpots and debris that could harbour snails
    • Raise patio containers on feet or bricks, to ensure their compost drains properly
    • Avoid walking on lawns covered with heavy frost, as you’ll kill the grass
    • Provide birds with fresh water and food
    • Sprinkle an all-purpose fertiliser along the base of hedges
    • Move patio pots to sheltered sites during extremely cold periods
    • Order bulbs, corms and tubers for summer flowers, including dahlias, canna lilies, gladioli, eucomis and lilies

    This unseasonal warm weather means that pests that would normally be dormant at this time of year are active. Vine Weevils are very active now so watch out for tell tale signs of wilting plants that have fleshy roots such as sedums, cyclamen or primulas. Use a good pesticide specifically for vine weevils such as Provado Vine Weevil Killer 2. In the summer you can use a biological control of Nematodes but these rely on the temperature being warmer than now.

     

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    What To do in The Garden – First Week of January

    In The Flower Garden

    • Squash mistletoe berries into apple tree branches to encourage plants to develop
    • Cut down old stems of sedums, taking care not to damage new shoots
    • Clear borders and rake up leaves before bulbs start poking through
    • Dig over gaps in the borders, taking time to pick out roots of perennial weeds
    • Spread a layer compost around shrubs and along the base of hedges
    • Plant new roses and shrubs
    • Thin out the top growth on standard roses to prevent damage from the weather and wind rock
    • Be ready to knock snow from shrubs bending under the weight
    • Pick faded flowers off pansies to prevent them setting seed
    • Collect and sow seed from garden shrubs and trees with berries

     

    In the Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Keep harvesting root vegetables as they mature, including parsnips and leeks
    • Order seed potatoes, onion sets and shallots
    • Stretch netting over brassicas to protect them from pigeons
    • Cover clumps of rhubarb with buckets or terracotta pots to force early stems
    • Prune red and white currants, shortening side shoots to a single bud
    • Pot up strawberries to grow under cover for an early crop
    • Check your soil’s pH with a special kit and add lime if it’s too acidic for your plants
    • Check fruit and vegetables in store, removing any showing signs of deterioration
    • Pick off yellowing leaves from the stems of Brussels sprouts and keep harvesting early varieties
    • Cut down canes of autumn-fruiting raspberries to soil level

     

    In The Greenhouse

    • Sow onion seed under cover, and keep warm until germinated
    • Check overwintering plants for signs of greenfly and other pests, and treat if necessary
    • Bring potted strawberries under cover
    • Dig up clumps of rhubarb to force into growth in darkness under large pots or bins
    • Water pots of forced bulbs if their compost is dry
    • Water plants sparingly taking care not to splash water around
    • Wash glazing inside and out to let in the maximum amount of light
    • Insulate greenhouses by fixing bubble polythene to the glazing bars
    • Order seeds and young plants from mail-order companies or online
    • Prune greenhouse grapevines once they’re dormant and the leaves have fallen

    Generally

    • Top up bird baths with fresh water daily and melt ice with warm water on frosty days
    • Recycle your Christmas tree by using the local council tip’s shredding service
    • Check the closing dates for any early order discounts from seed catalogues so you don’t miss a bargain
    • Finish clearing fallen leaves
    • Turn off the mains water supply to outside taps and wrap with insulation to prevent freezing
    • Water pots of spring bulbs
    • Float waterproof pond heaters in fish ponds to prevent ice covering the surface
    • Give pots and seed trays a thorough scrubbing ready for the start of the sowing season

    Crocus at Christmas

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    What To do in The Garden – Fourth Week of December

    Generally

    This time of year is for tidying up, cutting things back and looking back over the year to observe your successes and failures in the garden. Hopefully learning from these!

    • Wash flower pots and seed trays
    • Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers on walls that are close to gutters and window frames
    • Test the pH of your soil with a kit and add lime if it’s too acidic
    • Scoop leaves and debris from ponds and water features
    • Remove pond pumps and filters to wash and store
    • Look out for special offers on early orders from seed catalogues and in shops
    • Wrap outside taps with insulation to prevent them freezing
    • Treat fences and timber structures with stain or preservative. My favourite is Creosote!
    • Welcome in the new growing season by decluttering your shed or garden store

     

    In The Flower Garden

     

    • Cut back overgrown honeysuckle
    • Pick berried winter shrubs, flowers and evergreen leaves for seasonal decorations indoors
    • Plant bare-rooted hedging, roses, trees and shrubs
    • Pick faded flowers and yellowing leaves from pansies and winter bedding
    • Prune the tops of standard roses to reduce wind rock
    • Keep off lawns in frosty weather or if very wet
    • Prune wisteria, shortening side shoots to 10-15cm from their base
    • Check tree ties are secure
    • Order dahlias, gladioli and other summer-flowering bulbs
    • Tie in the stems of climbing plants to their supports

     

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

     

    • Prune gooseberry bushes
    • Fork over vacant beds, mixing in compost or well-rotted manure
    • Plant fruit trees trained as cordons, fans or espaliers to make use of limited space
    • Tie in raspberry and blackberry canes to support wires
    • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb (if you have any spare rhubarb I need some!)
    • Take hardwood cuttings from healthy fruit bushes (ditto above!)
    • Prune apple and pear trees to control their size and shape
    • Cut down Jerusalem artichokes

     

    In The Greenhouse

     

    • Clear leaves from greenhouse gutters
    • Check heaters daily to ensure they are working efficiently and that fuel levels don’t need topping up
    • Pick off dead flowers and leaves
    • Water overwintering plants such as pelargoniums or fushias sparingly
    • Wash glass inside and out to let in more light
    • Take root cuttings of perennials including phlox and oriental poppies
    • Plant hippeastrum bulbs
    • Use rainwater to keep the compost of potted azaleas constantly moist
    • Ventilate greenhouses on warm, dry days
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    What To Do in The Garden – Third Week of December

    In The Flower Garden

     

    • Spread compost on to flower beds for worms to work in over winter
    • Collect fallen leaves showing signs of blackspot from around roses
    • Fork compost into borders, but take care not to spike emerging bulbs
    • Deadhead pansies regularly
    • Plant lily-of-the-valley
    • Tie string or wire around conifers and yew to prevent heavy snow damaging branches
    • Fill empty containers with winter heathers and trailing ivy
    • Firm soil around roses loosened by storms
    • Replace wobbly tree stakes and worn plant ties

     

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

     

    • Net crops to protect them from pigeons
    • Protect sprouts for the Christmas table from windy weather
    • Take hardwood cuttings from fruit bushes
    • Get ready for planting asparagus in spring, removing weeds and digging over the soi, and adding compost
    • Order onion sets and seed potatoes
    • Plant new fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits
    • Start to plan next year’s crop rotation
    • Prune large fruit trees to control their shape and size, and to increase productivity
    • Cut out about a quarter of the oldest stems from currant bushes
    • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb, replanting into soil enriched with well-rotted manure

     

    In The Greenhouse

     

    • Water azaleas with rainwater
    • Take the last chance to bring on forced indoor bulbs for festive decorations
    • Water potted fuchsias sparingly to prevent the compost drying out completely
    • Tidy the greenhouse and pick faded leaves from pelargoniums and other plants
    • Bring potted strawberries under cover to encourage earlier fruiting
    • Order seeds and make a sowing plan for greenhouse crops and bedding plants
    • Check heaters are working efficiently and top up paraffin if necessary
    • Pinch out the tips of autumn-sown sweet peas to promote bushier growth
    • Bring pots or glasses of prepared hyacinths indoors to flower
    • Protect potted peach trees from winter rain and peach leaf curl by bringing under cover

     

    Genarally Around The Garden

     

    • Place cloches over tender plants to give them extra protection from frost
    • Sharpen blades on hoes, secateurs and other garden tools, and wipe with an oily rag before storing away
    • Do a final collection of any autumn leaves still lying around
    • Search through seed and bulb catalogues for new things to grow this coming season
    • Repair wobbly or damaged fences and treat wooden structures with preservative
    • Put out fresh water for birds every day in frosty weather
    • Wrap pots with sacking or insulating material to protect the roots of plants
    • Make last-minute stocking fillers from collected seedheads saved into pretty envelopes
    • Pick evergreen foliage for indoor decorations, storing in water in a porch or shed before bringing into the house on Christmas Eve

     

    Enjoy your week. See you next week 10 am!

     

    Andrew

     

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    What To do in The Garden – Second Week of December

    In The Flower Garden

     

    • Clear away annual climbers, like sweet peas and morning glory, and cup and saucer plants growing up trellises or obelisks
    • Pick seed heads and evergreen foliage and mix with fruit such as clementines or limes to make a fresh Christmas wreath
    • Move tubs of shrubs or winter bedding to a sheltered spot if conditions turn very cold
    • Take root cuttings of oriental poppies and other perennials
    • Look for early flowering snowdrops to pot up and bring into the house
    • Prepare soil well before planting new roses
    • Cover branches of holly berries with netting to keep birds away
    • Prune overgrown laurel, yew and camellias back hard to rejuvenate them
    • Wrap straw or bracken around the base of tender shrubs and climbers to protect them the from cold
    • Check stakes and ties are secure on trees and climbers

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

     

    • Make a composting trench to enrich soil where beans will grow next spring
    • Make compost from spent crops
    • Dig over vacant areas
    • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb
    • Cut down asparagus fronds and the tops of Jerusalem artichokes
    • Buy in rotted farmyard manure or other composted green waste
    • Use cloches to protect winter peas, beans and salads
    • Lift and pot up chicory roots to force chicons
    • Plant new fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits
    • Bring potted bay trees under cover if conditions turn very cold

     

    In The Greenhouse

     

    • Keep potted herbs on the staging to crop over winter
    • Move potted bulbs into the greenhouse to develop before bringing into the house
    • Clear out old crops and growing bags
    • Water sparingly and aim to keep the atmosphere as dry as possible over winter to reduce the spread of disease
    • Check dahlia tubers and bulbs in store for signs of rot
    • Pick off fading or diseased leaves from pelargoniums and other plants
    • Continue ventilating the greenhouse on warm days
    • Cut down chrysanthemums after flowering
    • Prune dormant vines

    Generally

     

    • Cover soil with polythene sheets to keep it dry so that winter digging can be completed
    • Keep your Christmas tree outside in a bucket of water until you’re ready to bring it indoors to decorate
    • Wash cloches and cold frames
    • Order manure or mushroom compost to dig in over winter, or pile onto the soil for the worms to drag under
    • Cut down marginal plants surrounding ponds
    • Send off for mail-order seed and perennials catalogues
    • Mow your lawn on a dry day with the blades set high
    • Wrap outside taps with insulation material to prevent them freezing and turn off the water supply inside your house
    • Place a floating heater or a ball in ponds to stop ice completely covering the surface
    • Move tender or valuable houseplants away from cold window sills every evening
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    What To Do in The Garden – Last Week of November

    In The Flower Garden

    • Clear faded growth of golden hops and annual climbers from pergolas and trellis
    • Plant bare-root roses in well-prepared soil
    • Transplant shrubs and conifers that have outgrown their position
    • Cut down chrysanthemums to soil level after flowering
    • Make leaf mould from fallen leaves
    • Plant drifts of lily-of-the-valley in shaded beds
    • Finish planting tulip bulbs outside
    • Improve soil by incorporating compost
    • Deadhead pansies to prevent them setting seed

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Check fruits in store for signs of rot or deterioration
    • Plant new fruit bushes and cane fruits
    • Take hardwood cuttings from healthy fruit bushes, including currants and gooseberries
    • Winter prune fruit trees, including apples – but save plum pruning to summer
    • Cover broad beans and peas with cloches for winter protection
    • Lift and divide large clumps of rhubarb
    • Cut down Jerusalem artichokes then dig up and store tubers in buckets of dry compost
    • Prune side shoots on gooseberries back to about 5cm
    • Pile earth up around the stems of Brussels sprouts to provide extra support

    In The Greenhouse

    • Plant hippeastrum bulbs for spring displays
    • Insulate your greenhouse with bubble polythene for insulation
    • Ventilate greenhouses on warm, dry days
    • Use rainwater to keep the compost of potted azaleas constantly moist
    • Check fuel levels in paraffin and gas heaters regularly
    • Check plants for signs of overwintering pests
    • Pick faded flowers and dead leaves from plants
    • Water potted bulbs to ensure they never dry out
    • Scrub down staging and framework with disinfectant
    • Wash glazing inside and out to let in more light

    Around The Garden

    • Plant bare-root trees, bare-root shrubs and hedging
    • Regularly wash and disinfect bird baths and feeders
    • Avoid walking on lawns covered with frost
    • Empty the contents of well-composted bins and spread over bare soil
    • Wash cold frames and cloches to let in more light
    • Choose a dry day to treat fences and timber structures with stain or preservative
    • Test soil with a pH kit to measure acidity or alkalinity to help you plan plantings next season
    • Remove pond pumps and filters, wash and store away
    • Take advantage of seed catalogue early order special offers

    Don’t forget to send me your questions. Check the Q&A pages and what questions have already been asked.

    See you next week.

    Andrew

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    What To Do in The Garden – Third Week of November

    In The Flower Garden

    • Check stakes and ties are secure on trees and climbers
    • Move containers of shrubs or winter bedding to a sheltered spot when conditions turn very cold
    • Plant new rose bushes
    • Empty pots of spent annuals and compost the remains
    • Transplant shrubs that have outgrown their position
    • Lift and store dahlia tubers once their leaves are blackened by frost
    • Prune rambling roses after flowering
    • Rake autumn leaves from lawns and pick them out of borders for composting
    • Pile bark mulch over the crowns of hardy fuchsias to provide protection from cold

    In The Fruit and Veg Garden

    • Dig over empty borders and pile manure on top for the worms to pull underground
    • Lift and divide congested clumps of rhubarb
    • Cut down asparagus ferns and the tops of Jerusalem artichokes
    • Use cloches to protect winter peas, beans and salads
    • Lift and pot up chicory roots to force in the dark
    • Plant new fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits
    • Collect seeds from garlic and chives
    • Start pruning apples, pears and figs
    • Take hardwood cuttings from currants and gooseberries
    • Spread compost or rotted manure onto beds

    In The Greenhouse

    • Clear out old tomato and cucumber cordons and add to the compost heap
    • Move potted bulbs into the greenhouse to develop before bringing into the house
    • Water sparingly, aiming to keep the atmosphere as dry as possible over winter
    • Bring potted herbs under cover to continue cropping over winter
    • Ventilate the greenhouse on warm days
    • Line the glass with bubble polythene for insulation
    • Propagate perennials from root cuttings including phlox, rhus and mint
    • Plant bulbs in large pots of compost ready to fill any gaps in spring borders

    Around The Garden

    • Wash and disinfect bird feeders and tables
    • Collect fallen leaves and add to a leaf bin to compost down
    • Spread fresh gravel or grit around alpine plants
    • Shred prunings and add to your compost heap
    • Collect and empty hoses and sprinklers to store in the shed over winter
    • Build log piles to provide winter hibernation sites for insects and small animals
    • Check tree ties and loosen any that are too tight
    • Wrap insulation around outdoor taps and water pipes
    • Order bare-rooted hedging for winter planting
    • Repair fences and trellis now they are becoming free of foliage
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    What to do in the garden – Second Week of November

    In The Flower Garden

    • Plant heathers and trailing ivy in pots for winter colour
    • Cut down faded stems on rudbeckia and Shasta daisies, to just above soil level
    • Finish planting tulips as soon as possible
    • Clear golden hop, sweet peas and annual climbers from supports. If they are still in flower and do not look too bad leave them a while longer
    • Check variegated shrubs for plain green shoots and prune them away
    • Plant out wallflowers, forget-me-nots, pansies and other spring bedding
    • Fork over vacant areas of soil
    • Deadhead pansies regularly to keep the flowers coming
    • Plant lily-of-the-valley

    Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Clear away climbing beans, then pull up, clean and store away canes and supports
    • Plant new fruit trees and bushes
    • Check fruits in storage and remove any showing signs of rot
    • Pot up leafy herbs to bring on to a window sill and use in winter
    • Sow hardy varieties of broad beans and peas under cloches
    • Dig up and compost old summer crops
    • Source bags of composted green waste from local authorities to spread onto veg beds over winter
    • Plant out autumn onion sets and garlic
    • Take hardwood cuttings from fruit bushes, including black, white and red currants
    • Tidy strawberry beds, removing unwanted runners, old leaves and developing weeds
    • Order hedging for winter planting

    In The Greenhouse

    • Keep pelargoniums looking good into winter by picking over spent flower heads and tatty leaves
    • Clean glazing to let in the maximum amount of light
    • Wash pots and trays
    • Clear fallen leaves from gutters
    • Plant lilies in pots
    • Clear old plants from the greenhouse border and dig in fresh compost
    • Plant dwarf irises, hyacinths and crocuses in pots
    • Remove faded leaves and flowers from plants to prevent grey mould spreading
    • Ventilate greenhouses on warm days but close vents at night
    • Cover poinsettias to give them at least 14 hours of complete darkness

    Generally Around the Garden

    • Move worm compost bins under cover for winter
    • Empty glazed and ceramic pots that aren’t frost-proof and move under cover
    • Order loads of farmyard manure or mushroom compost to use over winter
    • Cut down marginal plants surrounding ponds
    • Check piles of rubbish before starting bonfires to ensure a hedgehog hasn’t set up residence
    • Mow lawns on dry days with the blades on a high setting
    • Wrap outside taps with insulation material to prevent them freezing
    • Spread compost from old growing bags on to outdoor beds to fork in over winter
    • Send off for mail-order seed catalogues and start preparing your planting wish list

    Have a great week in the garden

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – First Week of November

    In the Flower Garden

    • Cut late-summer-flowering clematis right down to soil level
    • Divide congested clumps of perennials such as asters, campanulas, rudbeckias and chrysanthemums after flowering
    • Plant bare-rooted roses
    • Dig up and compost exhausted summer bedding
    • Plant out wallflowers, interspersing with taller-growing tulips
    • Pile a thick mulch of compost or bark around hardy fuchsias to protect them from frost. You can also add some grit around the base of the plant for extra drainage.
    • Move shrubs, including conifers and evergreens, that have outgrown their position
    • Pot up tender perennials from summer displays to bring under cover for winter protection
    • Pick leaves affected by rose blackspot and collect any lying on the ground nearby
    • Cut down perennials whose seedheads aren’t worth keeping, digging in compost around them

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Wrap grease bands around fruit trees to catch female winter moths climbing up from the soil
    • Plant out garlic or start growing cloves in pots to plant out later
    • Clear away old crops and dig over the ground
    • Sow hardy peas under fleece for an early crop next year
    • Harvest mature marrows, pumpkins and squashes
    • Save fully ripe seeds from your favourite peas, beans and tomatoes to sow next year
    • Pick apples and pears as they ripen
    • Sow a green manure crop of winter rye on bare areas of soil
    • Order fruit trees, bushes and cane fruits for winter planting
    • Sow broad beans outside under cloches, or raise in pots to plant out later

    The Greenhouse

    • Insulate your greenhouse by lining the inside with bubble polythene
    • Bring tender plants under cover
    • Sow sweet peas in deep pots and overwinter in the greenhouse or a cold frame
    • Check greenhouse heaters are working efficiently
    • Spread out harvested onions on staging to dry thoroughly before storing
    • Monitor day and night temperatures with a max-min thermometer and turn on heating if needed
    • Water plants sparingly and avoid splashing the water around
    • Move Christmas cacti to where they get short days and long nights, with no artificial light, to promote flowering
    • Clean staging and wash capillary matting to use next summer
    • Bring potted peaches and nectarines under cover

    Generally Around the Garden

    • Add old crops and bedding to the compost heap
    • Spike lawns then brush grit into the holes to improve surface drainage
    • Collect seeds from beans and sweet peas to sow next year
    • Firm soil around newly planted trees and shrubs if they’ve been loosened by wind
    • Check bulbs and tubers in storage for signs of rot
    • Rake up leaves to compost into leaf-mould
    • Sow a green manure crop of field beans on bare soil
    • Build a log pile for beneficial insects and animals to use for hibernation
    • Send off for new seed and bulb catalogues
    • Check bonfires carefully before lighting to make sure there are no sleeping hedgehogs underneath
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    What to do in the garden – Third Week of September

    Generally

    • Raise the cutting height of your lawn mower and continue composting clippings
    • Wash out and top up bird baths regularly
    • Stretch netting over ponds and water features to prevent autumn leaves blowing in
    • Water houseplants less frequently and move them off particularly cold window sills at night
    • Collect fallen leaves from around roses to reduce the risk of diseases carrying over to next season
    • Order bare-root fruit trees to plant later this year
    • Clean out water butts and check downpipe fittings

    In The Flower Garden

    • Buy tulips now while they’re fresh in garden centres, but hold off planting till next month
    • Plant daffodils, hyacinths and crocus in pots
    • Lift and pot up tender perennials to protect over winter
    • Clear away faded summer bedding and annuals, composting the plants
    • Fork over bare patches ready for planting spring bulbs
    • Sow sweet peas in pots and protect the plants in a frame over winter
    • Sow hardy annuals in borders for earlier flowers next summer
    • Prune tall rose bushes and standard roses to reduce wind rock
    • Pinch out sweet pea seedling tips for bushier plants and more flowers next year

    In the Fruit and Veg Garden

    • Pick ripe apples and store the best in fruit crates
    • Dig up strawberry runners and pot them up
    • Net autumn raspberries and blackberries to protect them from birds
    • Lift and dry maincrop potatoes and store in paper sacks in a cool, dark place
    • Pot up a few herbs to bring into a porch or grow on the window sill
    • Sow broad beans and hardy peas for early crops next year
    • Check pears regularly to harvest when perfectly ripe
    • Vegetables to sow now include winter radishes, lettuce and salad leaves, spinach, spring onions, and turnip ‘Tokyo Cross’ for its green tops

    The Greenhouse

    • Scrub off shading paint and wash the glass thoroughly inside and out
    • Listen out for weather forecasts of early frosts and be ready to bring tender potted plants under cover
    • Ventilate the greenhouse on warm days, but close doors and vents every evening to trap in the warmth
    • Water crops in pots and growing bags more sparingly, but continue feeding weekly
    • Stop watering gloxinias, begonias and achimenes to let their leaves die down completely before storing tubers in dry compost for winter
    • Pot up tender perennials, like fuchsias, from summer displays and bring into the greenhouse
    • Raise roller blinds, but roll them back down on very bright days
    • Let sweet peppers develop their full colour and size before picking
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    What to do in the garden – First Week of September

    Generaly

    This last week of heavy rain has really put a dampner on summer bedding. The poor petunias are sad and as far as Gazanias are concerned, mine have not flowered for weeks! We had a double “whammy” this week with the rain came the cold. The ground needed the rain…………….  but can we stop now?!

    Look out over the next month for bargains in local DIY and Garden Centres as they try and clear gardening stock for the Christmas stock. My local DIY was selling some gardening things for 25% less!

    • Lay new turf and re-sow bare patches of lawn
    • Pot up colchicums into decorative containers for bringing into the house
    • Put up bug boxes to provide places for beneficial insects to hibernate
    • Cut attractive seed heads for indoor arrangements
    • Spread netting over ponds or water features to stop autumn leaves falling in
    • Buy spring bulbs for autumn planting
    • Order bare rooted roses, shrubs, fruit trees and hedging to plant over the coming months
    • Brush away fungi and mushrooms growing on lawns
    • Build a leaf bin out of posts and chicken wire to collect autumn leaves into
    • Rake moss and thatch from lawns

    The Flower Garden

    • Plant daffodil bulbs in pots and borders
    • Check roses for suckers and cut off any you find, just below ground
    • Trim conifer hedges to neaten their appearance and control height
    • Empty pots of faded early summer bedding, adding old plants to the compost heap
    • Buy tulip bulbs as soon as you find them but hold back from planting until late October-November
    • Dig up gladioli corms after flowering to store until next spring
    • Collect seeds, lay them out to dry, then store them in labelled envelopes
    • Prune rambling roses, cutting out old stems that carried flowers and training in new shoots
    • Take lavender cuttings by pulling off new shoots and inserting them in gritty compost
    • Cut back perennials past their best

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Keep picking summer-sown salads to prevent the plants running to seed
    • Plant garlic cloves outside or in modular seed trays ready to plant out later this autumn
    • Cover herbs like basil and parsley with cloches, or bring potted ones under cover
    • Harvest globe artichokes
    • Stake tall Brussels sprouts to stop them from blowing over
    • Dig up chicory roots, cut off their tops and re-pot for forcing, to grow on in a dark shed
    • Wrap grease bands around the trunks of apples, pears, cherries and plums to trap the crawling female winter moth
    • Plant out spring cabbages
    • Dig up onions and lay them out in an airy space to dry before storing

    The Greenhouse

    • Take root cuttings from Japanese anemones and oriental poppies
    • Pot up prepared hyacinths into bowls for indoor displays
    • Pot up rooted cuttings taken in summer and early autumn
    • Plant paper-white narcissi in pots
    • Remove shading paint and netting to let in plenty of light
    • Water dormant pots of cyclamen that were left to die down for the summer, and keep them in cool conditions
    • Plant freesia corms in pots
    • Check greenhouse heaters are in working order
    • Bring pots of tender perennials and summer bulbs into the greenhouse
    • Install a water butt under the gutter of your greenhouse to collect autumn rain fall

    Have a great week gardening.

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – Fourth week of August

    eneraly Around The Garden

    • Remove suckers from roses, shrubs and around the base of trees, like cornus and sorbus
    • Trim box topiary and hedging
    • Cut laurel hedges using secateurs so you don’t damage the remaining leaves
    • Spray mare’s tail with a weedkiller such as glyphosate
    • Improve soil ready for sowing a lawn from seed during showery autumn weather
    • Hoe and hand weed borders
    • Order sweet pea seeds for autumn sowing in pots
    • Pinch out the tips of wallflowers to promote bushier growth
    • Buy spring-flowering bulbs like tulips, crocuses, narcissus and fritillaries
    • Apply an autumn lawn feed
    • Trim back faded flowers on Thyme

    Flower Garden

    • Catch earwigs in upturned pots crammed with newspaper or straw on canes among dahlias, and destroy any you find
    • Prune pyracantha and train shoots to supports
    • Prepare soil to plant evergreen shrubs and conifers by digging it over and incorporating lots of organic matter
    • Prune lavender to maintain its shape, and take lavender cuttings by pulling off sideshoots and inserting them in trays of gritty compost
    • Collect seed from border perennials and store in a sealed container in a cool place
    • Prune rambling roses, removing shoots that have finished flowering
    • Plant conifers, shrubs and hedging
    • Tie tall chrysanthemums to supports
    • Plant autumn crocuses, sternbergia, colchicums, hardy cyclamen and nerines
    • Dig up hardy annuals if you don’t want them to set seed

    Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Prune out fruited canes on summer-cropping raspberries
    • Pinch out tops of main shoots on outdoor tomato plants
    • Prune trained forms of fruit trees
    • Pick sweetcorn cobs
    • Continue picking plums and freeze any surplus right away
    • Lift and store onions and shallots
    • Order garlic and onion sets for autumn planting
    • Put grease bands on fruit trees to catch wingless winter moths
    • Plant out rooted strawberry runners and pot some up to bring into the greenhouse later in winter for early fruits
    • Vegetables to sow now include lettuces, spinach, land cress, purslane, beetroot, radishes, coriander, spring onions, calabrese, spring greens, turnips for their green tops, Swiss chard, winter spinach and hardy Japanese onions

    The Greenhouse

    • Take cuttings from tender perennials and bedding plants, such as verbena
    • Sow a few pots of hardy annuals to provide early spring blooms
    • Shade delicate plants to avoid sun scorch on hot days
    • Deal with vine weevil by watering pots with a solution of biological control nematodes
    • Damp down the floor on hot days to increase humidity
    • Harvest cucumbers regularly to promote further flower development
    • Pot up rooted cuttings into individual pots
    • Plant pots of freesias and lachenalia
    • Stop watering begonias and gloxinias so they die down after flowering
    • Start watering dormant cyclamen to bring them back into growth after their summer rest
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    What to do in the garden – Third Week of August

    Generally

    The third week of August, I cry “where has the month gone?” Well I’m a happy bunny today because yesterday I visited my allotment plot. Yes I have an allotment plot. The weeds are only knee-high! To follow my meandering on my allotment click here.

    In the meantime here is what you should be doing this week in the garden:-

    • Prepare soil ready for sowing a lawn or laying turf during September and October
    • Top up water levels in pebble fountains and pools
    • Deal with problem lawn weeds, digging them out or applying herbicide
    • Order spring-flowering bulbs to plant this autumn
    • Deadhead border plants, unless you want to collect their seeds
    • Spray gladioli to prevent thrips damage to leaves and flowers
    • Pick herbs and everlasting flowers for drying
    • Buy or build compost bins to help recycle all your kitchen and garden waste
    • Collect seeds and ripe seed pods from favourite flowers and vegetables

    In The Flower Garden

    • Save seedfrom ornamental annual quaking grass and many other garden plants
    • Water camellias regularly as drought can cause the buds to drop next spring
    • Summer prune wisteria, shortening long sideshoots back to five or six leaves
    • Deadhead roses, unless you want them to form autumn hips
    • Trim lavender immediately after flowering to maintain its shape, but avoid cutting back too far into old wood
    • Hoe weeds regularly to prevent seedlings establishing
    • Trim conifer hedges, evergreen hedges and topiary
    • Deadhead dahlias to encourage further blooms to form
    • Cut down perennials past their prime
    • Sow hardy annuals, like poached egg plant, for early flowers next year

    The Greenhouse

    • Feed tomatoesin growing bags and pots with a liquid high-potash fertiliser
    • Plant nerines, lachenalia and veltheimia bulbs in pots
    • Take leaf cuttings from begonias, Cape primroses and African violets
    • Sow winter lettuces in pots
    • Pot up clumps of chives to use in winter. Cut down the leaves to stimulate new growth
    • Order garlic ready for planting in autumn
    • Water pot cyclamen saved from last year to start them back into growth
    • Buy prepared hyacinth bulbs and plant as soon as possible so you get flowers for Christmas
    • Plant pots of ‘Paper White’ narcissus for indoor displays
    • Remove lower leaves from cordon-trained tomatoes up to the bottom truss, to let light and air reach the fruits

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden aka My Allotment

    • Harvest young marrows but leave some to fully ripen for storage and winter use
    • Trim leaves from strawberries that have finished fruiting
    • Plant out rooted strawberry runners into new beds
    • Pick early varieties of apple as they ripen including ‘Discovery’, ‘Laxton’s Epicure’ and ‘George Cave’
    • Sow parsley in pots for winter and spring use
    • Thin out heavy crops of plums to prevent branches snapping
    • Hang wasp traps in fruit trees
    • Pinch out the tops of outdoor tomatoes, as further flowers are unlikely to produce ripe fruits
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    What to do in the garden – Second Week of August

    In The Flower Garden

    • Deadhead flowers of lady’s mantle before they set seed
    • Water camellias to make sure they don’t dry out while the flower buds are developing
    • Buy bulbs for autumn planting including tulips, narcissus, alliums, iris and crocus
    • Take cuttings from tender perennials and bedding plants
    • Collect seed from any flowers you fancy propagating
    • Trap earwigs among dahlias with upside-down pots stuffed with straw and balanced on canes
    • Pick leaves off plants affected by rose blackspot
    • Trim conifer hedges and evergreen hedges, cutting their tops back to the desired height
    • Clear bedding that has passed its best and plant out forget-me-nots and wallflowers
    • Tidy up fading perennials and make compost with the trimmings

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Pick plums as they ripen
    • Ease onions from the soil with a fork to prepare them for harvesting
    • Finish pruning trained forms of apple trees like cordons, espaliers and fans
    • Water crops regularly, especially during hot weather
    • Lift marrows into the sunshine and rest them on bricks to ripen
    • Identify plants showing symptoms of potato blight, and immediately remove affected leaves and stems
    • Order garlic bulbs and onion sets for autumn planting
    • Prune out fruited canes on summer-cropping raspberries
    • Net blackberries and autumn-fruiting raspberries
    • Veg to sow now include swedes, spring cabbages, beetroot for leaves, winter lettuces, radishes, coriander, Japanese onions

    The Greenhouse

    • Plant prepared hyacinth bulbs in special hyacinth vases (available at garden centres) or in pots of bulb fibre
    • Sow parsley in modular trays
    • Water crops in growing bags and pots
    • Open vents each day, but close them at night if the weather turns cold
    • Place poinsettias in the total dark for 14 hours a day to encourage colourful bracts to form, moving into full light for the rest of the day
    • Water indoor cyclamen after their summer rest to encourage new growth
    • Plant lachenalia and veltheimia bulbs
    • Pick off the lower leaves from tomatoes to allow light and air to reach the fruits

    Generally Around The Garden

    • Pick off leaves infected by rose blackspot or rose rust, and dispose of them in your dustbin and not on the compost heap
    • Set up an automatic watering system with a drip nozzle for potted plants if you’re going on holiday
    • Top up water levels in ponds and aquatic features
    • Scoop water weed from ponds with a small net
    • Remove suckers from roses or around the base of trees
    • Summer prune wisteria by shortening all long sideshoots
    • Stake dahlias and late-flowering chrysanthemums
    • Trim privet, laurel, conifers and other hedges
    • Mow lawns every week
    • Apply lawn feed to promote strong root growth and prepare the grass for winter

    Keep an eye out for a second batch of butterflys. If you don’t see to many why don’t you plant plants that attract butterflys such as Buddleia, Sedum spectable, Helenium, Verbena bonariensis and Michaelmas daisies? Don’t worry most of these butteflys that visit these plants catterpillers eat stinging nettles!  Why don’t you grow a crop of nettles to further encourage them!!

    Happy Gardening and don’t forget if you want to know more about gardening you can join my blog at www.babicz.com

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – First Week of August

    Generaly

    The slugs and snails are still active and on last weeks Gardeners World we saw a couple who grew Hostas by the thousands!  My first reaction was ” what about all those slugs and snails” Their method for dealing with them was as they first appeared in spring was a dosing of the blue pellets then a spray of garlic water!

    Take one whole bulb of garlic, put it into a small polythne bag and squash it down to a pulp. Next put the garlic into a litre of water. Bring to let boil, let it cool down. Strain water and put into fridge.

    When you need to use it put a table spoon of the concentrate into a litre of water and spray over your plants. Apparently the garlic disturbs the slugs and snails nervous sytems so the “go away”!  Give it a try and don’t forget to do my “poll” on your method of getting rid of  the little beasts! Or if you want to read about Pippa Greenwood’s article on Slugs and snails click here. I’ll let you know how I get on!

    In The Flower Garden

    • Dead head pelargoniums and other summer bedding plants
    • Summer prune wisteria, cutting back whippy sideshoots to about 20cm
    • Water plants in pots and baskets
    • Take cuttings from shrubs choosing non-flowering shoots
    • Collect seed from flowers that you want to propagate including aquilegia, polemonium and foxgloves
    • Identify rose problems and pick off diseased leaves
    • Prune philadelphus, weigela and other early summer-flowering shrubs
    • Propagate lily bulbs by taking off a few outer scales and putting them in bags of compost and perlite, or by potting up bulbils formed on their stems
    • Cut back lady’s mantle before it sets seed
    • Prune pleached trees

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Check sweetcorn to see if it’s ripe and ready to pick.  This is when the tassels start to go brown
    • Pick beans and water crops regularly
    • Lift onions once their tops die down
    • Pick plums as they ripen
    • Use netting to protect blackberries, autumn raspberries and other berries from birds
    • Cut out fruited canes of raspberries
    • Pile up the earth around trench varieties of celery for whiter stems
    • Pick ‘Discovery’ and other early ripening apples
    • Prune blackcurrants after fruiting, removing about a quarter of the oldest stems
    • Transplant well-rooted strawberry runners

    In The Greenhouse

    • Buy pansies and other winter bedding plug plants to grow on under cover
    • Damp down the greenhouse floor every morning on hot days
    • Water plants in pots and growing bags every morning, and again at night if necessary
    • Add liquid feed to at least one watering a week to keep plants growing strongly
    • Be vigilant for pests like red spider mite and take action against any right away
    • Buy narcissus, hyacinths and lachenalias to plant for indoor displays
    • Sow poor man’s orchid (schizanthus) to produce flowering houseplants
    • Thin bunches of dessert grapes and spray vines to ward off diseases

    Around The Garden

    • Sow green manure crops to fill bare soil
    • Remove pond weeds
    • Hoe and hand weed borders
    • Feed plants such as roses, shrubs and hedges
    • Prepare soil ready for sowing a lawn or laying turf during September and October
    • Send off for mail-order bulb catalogues
    • Treat lawn weeds
    • Remove suckers growing around or on stems of roses, trees and shrubs
    • Trim box topiary and hedging
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    What to do in the garden – Fourth Week of July

    Flower Garden Jobs

    • Take cuttingsfrom shrubs including pyracantha, cotinus, hypericum, potentilla, honeysuckle, ivy, hydrangea, spiraea and rosemary
    • Prune out plain green shoots from variegated trees and shrubs
    • Cut lavender for drying when in full flower
    • Cut back pansies that look straggly to encourage new growth
    • Shorten half the shoots on broom and genista to encourage new growth
    • Plant autumn-flowering bulbs such as nerines, colchicums, sternbergia, autumn crocuses and Amaryllis belladonna
    • Spray roses with fungicide to prevent mildew and blackspot
    • Propagate climbers like wisteria and passion flower by layering. Bend low shoots to soil level and peg them down, making a slit in the portion buried to encourage rooting. this can also be done in pots.
    • Pick off any lily bulbils forming on the stems and pot them up

    The Fruit and Vegetable jobs

    • Harvest onions sown last autumn for early crops
    • Water celery regularly in dry weather
    • Bury shoot tips of blackberries and peg them down to raise new plants
    • Prune out about a quarter of the oldest branches on blackcurrants
    • Spray potatoes and outdoor tomatoes with Bordeaux mixture to prevent blight
    • Thin heavy fruit crops, picking off the smallest. Aim to leave developing fruits about 10-15cm apart along the stems, perhaps thinning congested spurs down to just a single fruit
    • Sow seed of herbs now, including basil, parsley and coriander
    • Sow vegetable seeds now,  including endive, lettuce and salad leaves, beetroot, radishes, spring cabbages, kohl rabi, Swiss chard, winter spinach, Oriental greens, chicory, spring onions, swede, turnips for green tops

    Greenhouse Jobs

    • Water tomatoes regularlyto prevent fruit splitting and blossom end rot
    • Feed tomato crops with a high-potash tomato fertiliser every week
    • Be on the lookout for aphids, vine weevils and other pests
    • Ventilate daily and add extra shading if temperatures are getting too high
    • Sow primulas, calceolaria, cineraria and cyclamen
    • Pinch out sideshoots on tomatoes
    • Pot up houseplants that have become top heavy or pot bound
    • Take leaf cuttings from houseplants including Begonia rex, African violets, streptocarpus, crassula and kalanchoe
    • Pick peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and other greenhouse crops regularly to encourage further flowers to develop

    Generally

    • Water tomatoes regularly to prevent fruit splitting and blossom end rot
    • Feed tomato crops with a high-potash tomato fertiliser every week
    • Be on the lookout for aphids, vine weevils and other pests
    • Ventilate daily and add extra shading if temperatures are getting too high
    • Sow primulas, calceolaria, cineraria and cyclamen
    • Pinch out sideshoots on tomatoes
    • Pot up houseplants that have become top heavy or pot bound
    • Take leaf cuttings from houseplants including Begonia rex, African violets, streptocarpus, crassula and kalanchoe
    • Pick peppers, tomatoes, cucumbers and other greenhouse crops regularly to encourage further flowers to develop

    Have a lovely week whatever your garden looks like and don’t forget to join me on Phoenix FM next sunday 10 am to 12 noon. Also my blog at www.babicz.com contains lots more information.

     

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – First Week of July

    Generally

    It’s July and for me it means not only busy in the garden keeping it lovely and tidy and watered but it is Britain in Bloom judging time! I’m judging the South and South east of England from Rochester to Christchurch and half a dozen places in between!  Watch out south coast resorts!

    I love judging, we get to see real community gardens many maintained by volunteers but whoever is looking after them, all are enthusiastic! Some a lot more than others! This year for the first time I’m judging neighbourhood gardening.  Some are front gardens in streets.

    It’s amazing what a name can do! One area I am going to is called “Full Frontal” The name portrays an area rather than a street that many streets can join in. If you name your area as “The residents of Magnolia Way” you will only really ever get residents of that street enter but with a more generic name you will attract a lot more.  And isn’t that he idea?

    Flower Garden

    • Lift, divide and replant congested flag irises after flowering
    • Deadhead border perennials like delphiniums and lupins to encourage a second flush of blooms
    • Pick dead flowers off rhododendrons
    • Deadhead roses to encourage more flowers
    • Cut back ceanothus, weigela, escallonia and kerria where necessary to control growth.
    • Water all ericaceous (lime-hating) shrubs, including camellias and rhododendrons, with a generous helping of sequestrene plant tonic, Miracid or a similar fertiliser specially formulated for acid lovers
    • Tie in developing stems of dahlias to supports

    Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Spray potatoes and outdoor tomatoes with Bordeaux mixture or similar to prevent blight
    • Thin heavy crops of apples, pears and plums
    • Tie in new raspberry canes to support wires
    • Cover brassicas with fine netting to prevent cabbage white butterflies laying their eggs on the leaves
    • Keep sowing parsley to ensure a continuous supply
    • Cut down unwanted raspberry canes at soil level
    • Sow cabbages to pick as spring greens
    • Hoe a little fertiliser into the soil between rows of onions as you weed
    • Peg down strawberry runners into pots of soil to root new plants. Only ever propagate from healthy, disease-free stock. After fruiting, trim off all strawberry foliage with shears
    • Sow seeds of vegetables now, including beetroot, cabbages, endive, kohl rabi, lettuce, radish, rocket, spinach, swede and turnips

    The Greenhouse

    • Pinch out tomato side shoots developing from the main stem
    • Fit automatic vent openers to help control air flow and fit extra low-level louvre vents if required
    • Tie in tomato shoots to their supports. Water daily to prevent the compost drying out, which can cause split fruits and blossom end rot
    • Thin out bunches of grapes with pointed scissors
    • Pinch out shoot tips on coleus to encourage plants to branch, and remove any flowers that form
    • Propagate pelargoniums from cuttings during July and August to grow strongly rooted plants that will survive the winter
    • Feed crops in growing bags and pots every week
    • Watch out for vine weevil beetles and larvae, and treat compost with a suitable product such as Provado Vine Weevil Killer 2

    Don’t forget you can hear me every Sunday 10 am to 12 noon for all your gardening questions answered.

    Have a great week and see you next time.

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – Last Week of June

    Generally

    If you have not already done so now is a good time to pot up houseplants. Tired plants can be revived and leaves cleaned. Many housplants can stand being put outside for the summer. Place them in a shady corner and keep them watered but do bring them in before we get a frost. Also check them over throughly for pests and diseases. A friend of mine did not do that and brought in some slugs. They enjoyed eating the fleshy roots of his large money plant!  How do you get rid of your slugs and snails? Take part in my poll here.

    • Top up the water level in garden ponds when it starts getting low
    • Push canes in around tall plants like gladioli and lilies and tie them to the stems for support
    • Place eye protectors on the tops of all garden canes
    • Water hanging baskets and containers daily, ensuring they never dry out
    • Empty compost bins when full, mixing up the compost and then re-filling. Sprinkle the contents with a biological activator as you go
    • Apply weedkillers to paths and drives
    • Give houseplants a weekly liquid feed

    The Flower Garden

    • Collect and sow seed from foxgloves
    • Take cuttings from pinks (Dianthus)
    • Prune philadelphus after flowering, removing stems carrying old flowers. Cut out very weak stems and some of the oldest wood
    • Feed dahlias with a liquid fertiliser and ensure plants are well watered. Tie to supports as stems develop
    • Remove rose suckers – excavate the soil so you can cut them back as far as possible
    • Spray roses regularly to prevent pests and diseases getting hold
    • Prune the long sideshoots on wisteria, cutting them all back to a length of about 20cm
    • Spray gladioli regularly with an insecticide, such as permethrin, to control thrips that can damage leaves and flower spikes
    • Lift, divide and replant healthy portions of flag iris rhizomes into freshly prepared soil. Reduce their leaves by half to prevent wind rock
    • Water sweet peas and give a liquid feed. Pick flowers or deadhead regularly

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Water beansand pick them regularly
    • Transplant brassica seedlings from the seedbed to their final positions, spacing them about 30-45cm apart. Brussels sprouts need about 75cm
    • Plant out leek seedlings from their seedbed once they are pencil thick, planting them 15cm apart in rows, with about 30cm between rows
    • Place collars of card or carpet underlay around the stem base of newly transplanted brassicas to keep cabbage root fly away
    • Pick off malformed or withered apples and any showing signs of pest or disease attack
    • Keep fruit bushes covered with netting, then weave a cane through the bottom edge and peg it down to stop birds crawling underneath
    • Make the final pickings of rhubarb and cut any flower spikes that form right down to their base
    • Lift early potatoes and shallots as they mature
    • Sow swedes and cover with fleece to prevent seedlings being attacked by flea beetle
    • Sow seeds of vegetables,  including beetroot, cabbage, endive, kohl rabi, lettuce, radish, rocket, spinach and turnips

    In the Greenhouse

    • Take cuttings of zonal and regal pelargoniums, and pot up rooted cuttings taken earlier
    • Train the main stem of cucumber plants up a wire to the roof of your greenhouse. Pinch out sideshoots two leaves after a flower or fruit
    • Water plants in pots and grow bags with tepid water, if possible. Try leaving a few full cans of water in the greenhouse to warm up
    • Send off for biological pest controls for whitefly and red spider mite
    • Propagate lilies from bulb scales, digging bulbs from the garden to remove a few healthy scales, then replanting again. Small bulblets will form at the base of each scale within a few weeks

    See you next week, same time same place

    Andrew

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    Sunday Best – Alternative Gardening Tips

    Sat in for Andrew Babicz this week in order to provide my own brand of gardening advice. I shall reproduce these tips for you here in case you missed the show – you’re welcome.

    * When digging in the garden, a spade will get the job done faster than a spoon.

    * If you have problems with neighbourhood cats defecating in your flowerbeds, you should hire someone to patrol your garden 24 hours a day. Just make sure you provide them with a tent and access to your bathroom.

    * Plants should be given water on a regular basis. Energy drinks, petrol and Tizer are not suitable, although holy water may be used if in plentiful supply.

    * Pruning should be undertaken with the correct tools, such as pruners or shears. Samurai swords and lightsabers can also get the job done, but may turn a pleasurable pastime into something unnecessarily dangerous.

    * Magic beans should be planted at least 20 metres away from the house. This will prevent root damage to the foundations of your home, while remaining close enough to hide from angry giants.

    * Silver bells, cockle shells and pretty maids all in a row may be aesthetically pleasing but won’t make your turnips grow any faster.

    * If you’re having trouble with a patchy lawn, you should consider alternatives, such as laying a thick green carpet, spray painting bare soil green or removing all the remaining grass and if anyone notices claim that someone has stolen your lawn and ask them to inform the police.

    * Tulips, lillies and roses are suitable types of flower to request at a garden centre. Asking for self-raising or organic wholemeal may result in ridicule.

    * Wellington boots and thick gloves are excellent attire when tending to your garden, but will not guarantee you entry to many nightclubs in the local area, even if they are cleaned thoroughly.

    * Some studies have suggested that talking or singing to your plants can encourage growth, although I can exclusively reveal that reciting verses from NWA’s classic gangsta rap album Straight Outta Compton has yet to yield any noticable results.

    * Like most people, I don’t enjoy mowing the lawn. However, I should point out that using a combine harvester may certainly get the job done faster but has proved somewhat expensive. Not to mention the hire of a 200 foot crane to lower it into my garden.

    * Standing on a rake may provide a moment of comedy gold for onlookers, but it’s actually very painful and upsetting, especially if your wife cannot stop laughing at your bumbling misfortune.

    * Spare daffodil bulbs can be used to replace light bulbs around the home, provided you own a pair of night vision goggles or like to go to bed very early.

    * Weed killer should be used sparingly and, if possible, use a brand that doesn’t contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment. You should also avoid using explosives or nuclear waste for similar reasons.

    * When tending to plants and vegetables in your greenhouse, it is obvious that you should refrain from throwing stones. But also remember that golf, archery and elephant training are also activities that you shouldn’t undertake in a greenhouse.

    Normal service will be resumed next week when Andrew returns.

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    What to Do in the Garden – Second Week of June

    Generally

    It’s that time of year again when the “In Bloom” entries come rolling in, the judges are ready for July but we need your help!  My guest on Sunday Best was Cllr Jim Shrubb, Chairman of Billericay in Bloom. Jim came in to tell us all about the different categories ( 13) that residents in Billericay can enter including some great ones for children. What a character Jim is and if he can’t get more entries in no one can!  Jim as well as being a Councillor is also a Toast Master, a Town Crier and a Ward Beadle for the City of London! Jim is no stranger to gardening (apart from his surname!) as his grandfather was head gardener to Lord Rosebury and Jim has also won a few trophies for his onions!

    Entry forms can be found in most garden centers in Billericay and also from the Town Council and Phoenix FM studios.  p.s. Can I be the judge for the “Best Public House”?

    Normally at this time of the year I would be advising you to lower the blades on your mower but as you heard from Ailsa from Green Thumb that in very dry weather we should not cut grass close!

    • Spray roses showing signs of diseases such as blackspot, rust or powdery mildew
    • Top up water levels in pools and remove water weeds with a net
    • Hoe borders on hot sunny days to remove developing weed seedlings
    • Continue watering anything newly planted until it has established

    In the Flower Garden

    • Use secateurs to remove suckers growing from the stems of standard roses
    • Tie tall border plants like delphiniums to their supports
    • Finish planting out dahlias, cannas and summer bedding
    • You can now cut back dead and dying foliage on spring bulbs
    • Deadhead camellias and rhododendrons after flowering
    • Train clematis shoots to their supports
    • Feed acid-loving plants with a special liquid fertiliser containing iron, such as sequestrene
    • Finish dividing hardy primulas once they have finished flowering
    • Prune early summer-flowering shrubs like philadelphus and deutzia once the flowers are over
    • Sow seeds now: wallflowers, sweet Williams, Canterbury bells and forget-me-nots

    In the Fruit and Vegetable

    • Finish planting out vegetable crops, including tomatoes, beans, courgettes and sweetcorn
    • Use netting to protect developing and ripening fruits from birds
    • Tie in new shoots on blackberries, raspberries, loganberries and other cane fruits
    • Water gooseberries and strawberries to encourage fruits to swell
    • Plant cold-stored strawberry runners from mail-order fruit specialists for crops in just 60 days
    • Thin out emerging raspberry canes if they’re too congested, leaving new canes about 15cm apart
    • Use soapy sprays at the first signs of greenfly and blackfly
    • Thin out congested fruits on apples and plums – the remaining fruits will grow far larger if competition is reduced
    • Sow seeds now: lettuce, rocket, spinach, beetroot, dwarf French beans, runner beans, radish, carrots, calabrese, mini-cauliflowers, spinach, chicory, endive, kohl rabi, peas, spinach beet, swede and turnips

    In the Greenhouse

    • Increase greenhouse shading if temperatures inside are getting very hot
    • Take cuttings from houseplants such as weeping figs and Christmas cacti
    • Damp down the greenhouse floor every morning
    • Water pots and growing bags daily if needed
    • Place potted tagetes or plant basil near greenhouse tomatoes to deter whitefly
    • Set up a ‘watering bench’ using capillary matting to look after pot plants
    • Sow seeds of Christmas cherry (solanum) to grow as winter pot plants
    • Hang yellow sticky traps in the greenhouse to help control whitefly
    • Thin out heavy crops of peaches and nectarines, leaving remaining fruits about 10cm apart
    • Repot any houseplants that are pot bound

    Have a great gardening week and see you next Sunday here on PhoenixFM 10am to 12 noon. Or join me on my blog at www.babicz.com for more gardening information.

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – First Week of June

    Generally

    The rain on Thursday was very welcome however we still need more! The promised rain in the SE did not appear!

    With the rain on Thursday came cooler weather but also strong winds. These winds will dry out the ground and your pot plants so keep watering and feeding.

    And just when you think it’s cool and rainy so summer must be here when an Autumn bulb catalogue arrives! De Jagers retail catalogue arrived through the door. 1,100 different bulbs 288 new or rediscovered varieties. And did you know that Hippiastrums are one of the top ten favourite house plants? A new variety that has orchid like flowers looks great but at £20 a bulb I might just wait for the price to reduce. You can still get old favourites at a reasonable price!

    Just as you think it cannot get any better when the June edition of “Gardening Which” arrives and there on page I am always singing the praises of community gardening. The project Naomi is involved in is no exception. Visit her website on www.outofmyshed.co.uk

    The Flower Garden

    • Plant out tender summer-bedding plants, such as begonias. You know I have ben telling you this for weeks!
    • Look out for aphids on lupins, and spray with a soap-based insecticide if infected
    • Push canes into pots of tall-growing lilies and tie their stems to it for support
    • Cut down pulmonarias and doronicum, then drench the soil around them with a liquid feed
    • Lift and divide clumps of primulas, when they have finished flowering.
    • Cut back the foliage of daffodils to clear beds for summer planting
    • Trim leaves and faded flowers from oriental poppies to encourage new growth

    Fruit and Vegetables

    • Sow seeds of herbs in pots to grow on your kitchen windowsill, such as coriander, parsley and basil
    • Look out for woolly aphid on fruit trees, and spray any with soapy water
    • Thin out seedlings from earlier sowings to their final spacings
    • Cover strawberries with netting to keep birds off the fruit
    • Sow seeds of the following vegetables outside now: radish, runner beans, calabrese, pak choi, mizuna, marrows, courgettes, chicory, kohl rabi, lettuce, marrows, swede, turnip, French beans and endive

    In The Greenhouse

    • Water crops in growing bags and pots daily, adding a liquid feed once a week
    • Introduce biological controls if you have discovered pests, such as whitefly and red spider mite
    • Pinch out developing sideshoots on tomato stems
    • Train cucumbers and tomatoes to supports
    • Increase shading and ventilation to keep temperatures down on hot days
    • Take cuttings from hydrangeas, fuchsias, pelargoniums, osteospermums, marguerites, coleus and verbena

    See you next week. Join me on www.babicz.com

    Andrew

     

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    What to do in the garden – Second Week of May

    Generally

    What a week for weather! A high of 26 and a low of 4 in my garden. Low enough to get a ground frost and indeed at a meeting of Hutton horticultural society on Wednesday there were indeed report of blackened plants from frost. Then the rain finally came!  We need so much more, but none forecast this week!

    Did a bit more work with the patio potatoes this weekend. See seperate blog on this.

    In The Flower Garden

    • Plant up hanging baskets, and leave them in a sheltered spot before hanging fully outside
    • Plant out potted alliums in groups to add interest to flower beds
    • Prune spring-flowering shrubs immediately after flowering, such as forsythia, ribes, chaenomeles, pyracantha and kerria
    • Regularly water newly planted trees, roses, shrubs and hedging
    • Finish planting out gladioli corms in groups or drifts in borders
    • Spread shredded bark mulches around established shrubs and trees to conserve soil moisture and suppress weeds
    • Water clumps of tulips and spring bulbs with liquid feed

    In the Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Tie in new shoots of blackberries and cane fruits to support wires
    • Sow sweetcorn in deep pots, raising strong young plants to transplant into the garden in June
    • Pinch off strawberry runners as soon as they develop, to stop them competing with developing fruit for nutrients
    • Earth up soil around emerging potato shoots, which encourages higher yields
    • Sow seeds of the following crops outside this week: radish, spring onions, coriander, parsley and chives

    In The Greenhouse

    • Put up shading to reflect scorching sunlight and keep temperatures down
    • Open all vents on warm days, but close again in the evening
    • Order plug plants and seedlings by post, and pot up as soon as they arrive
    • Take leaf cuttings from houseplants, including African violets, begonias and Cape primrose
    • Hang yellow sticky traps over plants to catch whitefly and flying pests
    • Sow seeds of herbs, such as parsley, chives, coriander, garlic, basil, dill, fennel, mint, thyme, sage and lovage

    And The Rest……

    • Plant tender crops outside, covering them with cloches when night temperatures fall
    • Dig out perennial weeds, such as couch grass and bindweed, from borders as soon as you spot them
    • Wash dust off the foliage of houseplants, and apply leaf shine product to leafy plants
    • Take cuttings from hydrangeas, fuchsias and penstemons, using the soft shoot tips
    • Feed houseplants weekly from now until autumn

    Have a great week in the garden and see you next week on Sunday Best 10am to 12 noon. Or visit me for more of the same on www.babicz.com

    Andrew

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    What to do in the Garden – First Week of May

    Generally

    Temperatures are 15c less than last week! Last week we had high of 28c and low of 3c. Native plants and hardy shrubs can cope with this and indeed the cooler weather makes flowers last longer however this is not he case with more exotic species such as summer bedding plants that garden centres have had in stock for the last few weeks! At the very least bedding plants growth will be checked however it could also stunt their growth so it is really not worth putting them out just yet!

    You can put them outside during the day to harden them off and give them a bit more light. When doing this place plants in semi shade not in full sun as this may burn the leaves.

    The weather as always dictates what we do in the  garden and in the South East of England we have no significant rain for a few weeks now and the ground in my garden has
    developed cracks big enough to put my fingers in.  In the grass you can fill these cracks with a nice gritty compost. This helps either to provide better drainage or to provide more moisture retention.

    If you are planting in this weather do not skimp on the planting holes size or depth  just
    because the ground is very hard. Dig as much as you can with a spade then use a fork to loosen up the bottom of the pit. Fill it with water and leave to drain then add a bit of compost and plant your plant. Again water well and apply a long lasting fertilizer.

    I mentioned that I was growing potatoes in containers this year for the first time. All the general advice is plant them and earth/top them up! However I came across some advice recently that it is better to plant potatoes and fill up container completely. So we will try both these methods. Watch out in my article on “Patio Potato Growing”

    In the Flower Garden

    • Plant out container-grown roses and shrubs  (See above!)
    • Fork compost into flower beds to prepare soil for summer bedding but only if
      you can.
    • Tie in new growth on climbing  plants, such as clematis, wisteria and honeysuckle, to supports
    • Pick off faded flowers from  camellias, azaleas and rhododendrons, taking care not to damage developing new  leaves
    • Sow seeds of fast-growing  hardy annuals, such as escholzia or poached-egg plant, to fill gaps

    In the Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Sow seeds of beans, marrows, courgettes and squashes, two per pot, and thin out the weakest seedling to  leave the strongest plant
    • Spray peaches and nectarines with fungicide to prevent an attack of peach leaf
      curl
    • Pick rhubarb stems as they develop, and water clumps with a generous helping of liquid feed
    • Prepare to cover fruit tree blossom with horticultural fleece to protect flowers if frost is forecast
    • Sow seeds of the following crops outside this week: beetroot, lettuce, salad leaves,
      watercress and rocket

    In the Greenhouse

    • Fit automatic openers to greenhouse vents to encourage good air circulation
    • Plant tomatoes in growing bags or large pots, training them on to canes or
      wires for support
    • Bring pots of strawberries into the greenhouse to produce early flowers and
      fruit
    • Sow cyclamen and schizanthus for indoor flowers
    • Buy scented-leaf pelargoniums,  such as ‘Chocolate Peppermint’ and ‘Lady Plymouth’
    • Plant pots with heat-treated freesia corms to produce fragrant flowers this summer
    • Watch out for pests, checking under leaves and on shoot tips for signs of
      whitefly or red spider mite. Treat immediately, or introduce biological pest
      controls

    Have a great week in the garden and see you next Sunday. If you cannot wait till then go to www.babicz.com

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – Third Week of April

    The daffodils are over but there are seedlings all over the garden of various plants such as Lunaria annua “Variegata” one of the few variegated plants that come true from seed.

    Dig seedlings up and give away to friends or move them to another part of the garden.

    The purple helebores are not so purple now and looking a bit sad. Cut off the old flowers, but I always leave one or two to ripen and set seed in the garden. Who knows you might just get lucky and produce  a new exciting variety!

    Bulbs that are dying back can be fed with a foliar feed to give the bulbs a boost for next year. Do not cut down the foliage.

    Spring flowering plants such as Kerria and Forsythia should be pruned as soon as they are finished flowering. Cut the flowering branch to the ground as new growth produced this year will be the flowering wood for next winter/spring.  Give them a topdress of mulch and feed them with a general fertilizer.

    When is a weed not a weed?  “A weed is a plant in the wrong place” so the saying goes so last week when I was on the train coming back from a judges meeting on Britain in Bloom and coming into a station through the corner of my eye (with variofocals!) I saw a bed full of lovely yellow flowers. Only when the train stopped I could see they were dandelions! A plant in the wrong place or one years seed seven years weed?!

    I’m feeling old this week as it seems every time I do gardening my back aches! I was thinking about this yesterday when weeding and should have been kneeling but squatted instead! A friend of mine used to say “Never stand when you can sit, never sit when you can lie”!

    So do I go and get that knee pad now?

    Happy gardening. See you next week. If you want to know more about gardening join me on www.babicz.com

     

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – First Week of April

    The Flower Garden

    • Plant out perennials in groups of three, five or seven for maximum effect
    • Sprinkle fertiliser around clumps of tulips to boost flowering, or use a foliar feed
    • Sow hardy annual flowers directly into beds where you’d like them to bloom
    • Prune Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa)
    • Pick off dead flower heads from spring bulbs
    • Protect emerging shoots of delphiniums and lupins from slugs and snails using a barrier such as copper tape for pots, copper rings or garlic granules

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Sow sweetcorn in deep modular seed trays under cover to plant out in early June
    • Feed fruit trees and bushes
    • Plant out onion sets grown in pots under glass
    • Order vegetable plug plants from mail-order suppliers
    • Warm soil with cloches or sheets of polythene for early sowings
    • Plant out maincrop potatoes
    • Plant asparagus crowns
    • Sow the following crops this week if conditions are suitable: beetroot, parsnips, turnips, onions, peas and mangetout, broad beans, lettuce and salad leaves, spinach, radish, rocket, mizuna, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts

    In The Greenhouse

    • Buy plug plants and young bedding plants to grow on for baskets, pots and bedding displays
    • Thin out heavy fruit sets on peaches and nectarines, leaving fruits about 10cm apart
    • Sow annual climbers, such as cup-and-saucer vine (Cobaea), nasturtium, Rhodochiton and morning glory (Ipomoea)
    • Grow an early crop of dwarf French beans in a large pot
    • Repot any top-heavy or pot-bound houseplants
    • Start feeding young plants about 3-4 weeks after potting up in fresh compost
    • Pot up rooted cuttings and seedlings

    Around The Garden

    • Remove winter grime from patios and terraces with a pressure washer
    • Sow new lawns, choosing a grass mix that suits the type of lawn you want
    • Snip plain green shoots off variegated shrubs
    • Mow lawns on dry days if grass is growing strongly
    • Dig out couch grass, ground elder, bindweed and other problem weeds
    • Place plant supports over clumps of tall-growing perennials such as lupins and delphiniums

    If you want to know more about gardening then just log onto my website at www.babicz.com

    Happy Gardening

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden- Last week in March

    In the Fower Garden

    • Fill gaps in flower beds with primulas and polyanthus
    • Prune forsythia and flowering currants as soon as flowers have faded
    • Leave daffodil foliage intact for at least six weeks after flowering to regenerate bulbs, so they’ll bloom again next year
    • Plant out groups of gladioli in borders
    • Sow sweet peas directly outside at the base of obelisks or supports

    Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    • Sow seeds of dwarf and climbing beans in deep pots or cardboard toilet roll tubes filled with compost
    • Plant new asparagus beds
    • Continue planting potatoes, shallots and onion sets
    • Feed spring cabbage with a high-nitrogen fertiliser

    In The Greenhouse

    • Protect pots of seedlings from the cold by making mini-cloches from empty plastic bottles
    • Prick out seedlings once they have developed their first true leaves
    • Open doors and greenhouse vents on warm days to improve ventilation
    • Sow herbs into pots or trays, including basil, chives, parsley, fennel and coriander
    • Plant up pots with the summer-flowering bulbs tiger flower (Tigridia), gloriosa and eucomis
    • Start feeding houseplants weekly with a liquid feed
    • Pinch out shoot tips on fuchsias to encourage bushier plants
    • Pot up canna tubers in multi-purpose compost in a warm greenhouse
    • Remove forcing jars from rhubarb plants and let them grow uncovered

    Around The Garden

    • Spread a compost mulch around border plants to suppress weeds
    • Put pond pumps and fountains back into pools, thoroughly cleaning filters first
    • Lay turf or sow new lawns from seed
    • Clean out bird baths and top up with fresh water
    • Check tree ties are not too tight or cutting into bark, and loosen if necessary
    • Cut back any overgrown ivy

    If you want anymore information please go to www.babicz.com

    Happy Gardening

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – Third Week of March

    The Flower Garden

    * Sprinkle granular fertiliser round roses, shrubs and along the base of hedges
    * Sow sweet peas into deep pots
    * Transplant evergreen shrubs and conifers to new sites
    * Place grow-through plant supports over tall-growing perennials, like delphiniums
    * Divide spreading clumps of perennials, such as phlox and campanula, by cutting off rooted outer sections and transplanting them elsewhere

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    * Sow peas in lengths of guttering under cover, so you can plant out seedlings in an instant row
    * Plant out onion sets in rows, spacing them about 10-15cm apart
    * Carefully dig away grass or plants growing close to the stems of fruit trees to reduce competition
    * Feed cabbages and other brassicas with pelleted chicken manure or another nitrogen-rich fertiliser
    * Spray new leaves of peaches and nectarines with copper fungicide to prevent peach leaf curl
    * Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard

    In The Greenhouse

    * Plant canna lilies in pots, and leave in a warm position
    * Sow strawberry seeds, including alpine varieties
    * Visit garden centres to buy young bedding plants that can be grown on to a larger size under glass
    * Cut off dead hippeastrum flowers, but allow the green stalk to die down naturally
    * Raise tender climbers from seed, such as morning glory, black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia), Chilean glory flower (Eccremocarpus) and rhodochiton
    * Clean the leaves of evergreen houseplants by wiping them with a damp cloth
    * Sow seeds of greenhouse crops, such as tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, chillis, aubergines and okra

    Generally Around The Garden

    * Replenish gravel and grit mulches around alpine plants
    * Put slug barrier products around the tender new shoots of hostas and perennials
    * Dig plenty of compost into heavy clay soils
    * Cut down marginal plants around ponds, and mulch with compost or bark
    * Once house bulb displays have finished flowering, plant them outside and water in well with a liquid feed
    * Mow paths through areas of long grass and meadows to avoid walking on bulbs and wildflowers

    Happy gardening

    See you next week.

    Andrew

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    What to do in the garden – Second Week of March

    In The Flower Garden

    * Plant lily bulbs in pots for colourful summer displays
    * Prune shrub roses to low new shoots
    * Cut back overgrown honeysuckle stems close to their base, just above new shoots
    * Trim back old shoots of perennials left for winter interest, taking care not to damage emerging new growth
    * Prune tall, leggy Mahonia by cutting off the leafy rosette at the top of stems to encourage branches to develop below. Cutting it down to ground level also works but wait till it is finished flowering.

    In The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    * Grow early-maturing potatoes in a bag of compost
    * Fork compost into beds to prepare soil for planting
    * Chit potatoes by standing them in trays in a warm bright position until they develop small shoots
    * Dig out problem weeds and emerging annual weeds
    * Plant Jerusalem artichokes
    * Cover rhubarb with forcing jars to encourage long, delicious pale stems
    * Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard

    In The Greenhouse

    * Sow seeds of cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines and peppers to raise summer crops
    * Water compost with a suitable pesticide where vine weevils have been discovered
    * Sow summer bedding plants, such as petunias, geranium, verbena and busy Lizzie
    * Take cuttings from chrysanthemums
    * Pick faded or yellowing leaves from plants to prevent grey mould infections
    * Raise crops in modular trays to transplant into the garden later, such as celery, celeriac, lettuce, parsley and other herbs

    Generally

    * Plan your seed-sowing year by organising packets in sowing order in a shoe box or tray
    * Trim lawn edges to keep the area neat and tidy
    * Apply residual path weedkillers to paved and gravel areas
    * Lay sheets of black polythene on lawns overnight to bring leatherjackets to the surface where they can be collected
    * Build new compost bins to recycle garden waste

    For more information on gardening visit my gardening pages at www.babicz.com

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    Charlie Dimmock Interview

    I had the great pleasure to interview Charlie Dimmock at
    a garden exhibition and played the interview on Sunday 
    Best recently. It you would like to hear it again just click the link below.

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

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    What to in the garden this week – First week of March?

    Don’t be a slave to all those gardening magazine that are telling you to sow seeds outdoors now if the conditions are not ideal Often these magazine are written 3 months ago and cannot predict the weather now! My garden is extremly wet so although the grass looks like it needs cutting I will not venture out with th lawn mower until it drys out a bit!

    The Flower Garden

    * Prune out old stems of elder (Sambucus) to promote new growth from the base
    * Cut back last year’s buddleia stems to ground level
    * Hard prune trees that respond to pollarding, such as willows, the foxglove tree (Paulownia) and Eucalyptus gunnii, to promote new growth
    * Lift and divide large clumps of hosta
    * Trim winter-flowering jasmine and tie in new shoots to supports
    * Sprinkle granular fertiliser around clumps of spring bulbs
    * Finish pruning roses as soon as possible
    * Cut down all previous year’s growth on Clematis tangutica. New shoots will develop from the base, which will flower later in summer

    Fruit and Vegetables

    * Plant onion sets in modular trays of compost, raising plants under cover to plant out later
    * Repair netting on fruit cages
    * Continue forcing sea kale and chicory
    * Buy herbs to plant up in containers that you can position near the house
    * Plant out shallots
    * Sow a green manure crop, such as crimson clover, fenugreek or field lupins, which can be dug into the soil later in the season to improve it
    * Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard

    Greenhouse

    * Plant onion sets in modular trays of compost, raising plants under cover to plant out later
    * Repair netting on fruit cages
    * Continue forcing sea kale and chicory
    * Buy herbs to plant up in containers that you can position near the house
    * Plant out shallots
    * Sow a green manure crop, such as crimson clover, fenugreek or field lupins, which can be dug into the soil later in the season to improve it
    * Sow seeds of the following crops outside or under cloches: carrots, beetroot, broad beans, salad onions, cauliflower, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, spinach, leeks, lettuce, rocket, coriander, mixed salad or stir fry leaves, radish, turnip, peas, lettuce and Swiss chard

    Around The Garden

    * Mow lawns then trim new edges with a half-moon edging tool
    * Dig compost into borders to improve water retention
    * Add copper rings to pots to protect plants from slugs and snails
    * Hoe bare areas of soil on dry days to remove weed seedlings
    * Replenish gravel and stone mulches on alpine gardens and scree beds
    * Buy summer-flowering bulbs to plant in spring, such as gladioli, tigridia, galtonia, eucomis, anemone, lily and acidanthera

    For more gardening information join me on my website at www.babicz.com

    Andrew

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    RHS London Plant and Design Show 2011

    I had the pleasure of visiting the show this week. A first for me. Some of the UK’s well known nurseries were there and as it was a Spring Show nurseries such as Avon Bulbs and Broadleigh Gardens were displaying there bulbs and spring flowers. There were other specialist nurseries such as Airplants and Hepaticas but if you are a Heuchera fan you would have been very happy visiting the nursery called Heaucheraholics! Their stand was full to bursting of Heaucheras, Heauchrellas and Tiarellas.

    Most nurseries also sold plants which I found very difficult to resist. The Hepaticas were so beautiful but quite pricey at £8 each.

    I will definitely try to get to more London shows but get there early to avoid the crowds.

    If you want to know more about gardening please visit my website www.babicz.com

    Happy Gardening

    Andrew

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    What to do in The Garden – Last Week of February?

    In The Flower Garden

    * Prune summer-flowering clematis, cutting above a low pair of green buds
    * Cut out dead stems of ceratostigma and hardy fuchsias
    * Prune all stems of Hydrangea paniculata down to about three buds from soil level
    * Prepare areas in flowerbeds ready for sowing hardy annuals in late March and into April, digging over, weeding and enriching the soil
    * Lift and divide congested border plants
    * Plant out lilies to fill gaps in borders, or grow them on in pots
    * Trim winter-flowering heathers

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    * Sprinkle a handful of sulphate of potash fertiliser around the base of fruit trees and bushes
    * Plant new raspberry canes and blackberry plants
    * Prepare beds to plant asparagus
    * Place tunnel cloches or simple sheets of polythene over beds to warm soil for early sowings
    * Carry on sowing seeds in pots or trays in the greenhouse, ready to transplant later, including Brussels sprouts, spring cabbage and onions

    In The Greenhouse

    * Empty your greenhouse and thoroughly clean inside, pressure washing the frame, staging and glazing
    * Cut back overwintered fuchsias, and increase frequency of watering to encourage new growth
    * Sow summer bedding plants
    * Monitor temperatures with a max-min thermometer to ensure heaters are working efficiently
    * Plant gloxinias, begonias, achimenes and cannas

    Around the Garden

    * Spread a layer of manure or compost around roses and shrubs
    * Prepare areas for laying new lawns in spring, digging over, weeding and enriching the soil
    * Be on the look out for slugs and snails, which will attack emerging shoots of perennials
    * Regularly remove weeds by hand or use a hoe if conditions are dry
    * Maintain mowers and check garden machinery is in good working order and ready for the season ahead
    * Look out for compost bargains at garden centres so you’ll have all you need for spring sowing and potting

    Happy Gardening

    Andrew

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    Should we ban smoking in parks and gardens?

    This month’s Poll is about smoking in Parks and Gardens. Please do give me your vote whether we should ban smoking in gardens?

    This comes after New York has banned smoking in Central Park and 1,700 other parks and beaches. I really feel we should follow this example. There is nothing worse than being in a beautiful winter garden where smell forms an important part of that experience and all you can smell is someone smoking in the background!

    If you would like to vote go to http://www.babicz.com Tune in on 26th February when I will reveal the result.

    Happy Gardening

    Andrew

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    What to do this week in the garden

    In The Flower Garden

    * Sow sweet peas in deep pots and pinch out once two pairs of leaves have developed
    * Cut back old stems of mallow (Lavatera) to ground level. Take care not to harm roots
    * Plant hedging plants
    * Prune stems of dogwoods, willows, cotinus and paulownias
    * Fork and rake over area for hardy annual bedding

    The Fruit and Veg Garden

    * Cover rhubarb with a forcing jar or an old bucket to exclude light and encourage early shoots for early pickings of rhubarb
    * Prune gooseberry bushes to open up the centre of the bush to improve air circulation
    * Chit seed potatoes in trays in bright frost free place
    * Plant bare root fruit trees before they begin to shoot. When the arrive soak the roots and heel in some soil until you are ready to plant.
    * Sow seeds of broad beans, carrots, hardy peas and parsnips outside in soil warmed by cloches

    Greenhouse

    * Plant dahlia tubers in pots or trays and place in a heated propagator if you want to take cuttings
    * Star raising crops from seed, including tomatoes, chilli peppers, aubergines and cucumbers
    * Water with a copper fungicide solution to prevent damping off of seedlings
    * Sow seeds of cyclamen keeping in total darkness until seeds have germinated

    Generally Around The Garden

    * Take care not to walk over emerging spring bulbs in the border or in the lawn
    * Order young plants from mail order companies
    * Sort out and clean up canes and support ready for use in the spring
    * Use a pressure washer to clean paths

    If you want more chit chat about gardening visit my Web page at www.andrewbabicz.wordpress.com

    Andrew

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    What to Do In The Garden This Week 16/01/11

    The Flower Garden

    · Dig up congested clumps of winter aconites and transplant to new sites
    · Improve the soil the soil by spreading compost or manure over beds and forking in
    · Move plants growing in the wrong place
    · Dig deeply areas where you’ll be planting new roses, shrubs or perennials
    · Spread a thick mulch of bark over the crown of tender plants, such as fuchsias, dahlias and cannas, if they are not already dead and mushy!
    · Prune summer-flowering clematis, cutting stems back to emerging buds close to soil level

    The Fruit and Vegetable Garden

    · Prune out the oldest stems from blackcurrants to encourage new shoots
    · Check crops that are in store and discard any showing signs of rot
    · Fork compost into the soil and clear old crops from the veg plot
    · Cover fruit trees and bushes with netting to prevent hungry bullfinches eating blossom buds
    · Sow the following crops under cloches during January and early February: broad beans, hardy peas, spinach, carrots and onions

    In The Greenhouse

    · Wash glazing inside and out to let in as much light as possible
    · Bring potted camellias into unheated porches or conservatories to enjoy early displays
    · Buy chrysanthemum cuttings or take cuttings from your own plants
    · Sow seed of hardy annuals, such as calendula, for some early flowers
    · Tidy up the greenhouse, getting rid of any old compost or rubbish that could hide unwanted visitors

    Around The Garden

    · Keep window bird feeders topped up with seed to attract bluetits and sparrows
    · Wash out flowerpots and seed trays
    · Move patio pots to sheltered sites during cold periods
    · Spread a mulch of compost over borders and around trees, shrubs and roses
    · Clean algae and moss from paths and steps
    · Sprinkle a top dressing of gritty compost over lawns

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    What to Do in The Garden This Week!

    Gardens look a bit of a mess after snow so when it is dry and frost free get outside and clean up those leaves that have fallen recently. Some trees still have their leaves on so continue to sweep them up as they fall.

    All those bushes that were flattened by the snow also look a wee bit sad, but unless they are broken leave them well alone as they might still perk up in the coming weeks. With all this extreme freezing temperatures you might be happy that all those bugs will be killed off. Well according to research by the Royal Horticultural Society they have said that native pests and diseases can survive! This week I saw my first slug of the year! The good news is that the foreign invaders may be killed off.

    Did you receive any Christmas houseplants such as Poinsettias, Hyacinths, Christmas cacti or Amaryllis? Next week I’ll be telling you how to look after them after they have finished flowering and also have some more seasonal tips for the garden.

    Happy Gardening
    Andrew

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