Monday, 10 September 2012

Vol 9: Growing Winter Vegetables

Winter Vegetables

1.       For those of you who think fresh and organic home-grown vegetables are only for those short summer months, you are wrong! Here is a guide to help you maintain your vegetable garden throughout the harsh winter weather and get the most out of it!

2.       Frost is one of the main killers of plants during the winter, having raised beds will help to protect your plants from ground frost, also try covering them with a clear plastic sheet overnight to defend against harsh winter nights and possible snowfall but do not forget to uncover them to allow the flow of oxygen.

3.       Where you put your vegetable garden is the key to keeping the plant success rate up! Somewhere out of the icy northern wind and south facing for sunlight is optimal, if you are unable to do so then ensure that you are able to cover your plants during the coldest months.

4.       Do your research to choose what plants will be best suited, things like broccoli, peas and parsnips are usually successful winter crops. Make sure that you chose plants that are more resilient to cold weather to ensure a more fulfilling produce.

5.       A green house is ideal for plants that will struggle to survive tough winter weather, heating your green house is an even better way to ensure success your crop succeeds.

6.       Crops have different maturity dates, try and time your planting with the weather. For example if the first frost usually arrives towards the end of November crops that require longer to develop should be planted in August to avoid the produce being killed off.

7.       Throughout the winter you can also grow things like herbs inside, having a small herb garden on your window sill is a great way to get fresh herbs that add depth to any dish, keeping plants in the sunlight along with regular watering is the key.

8.       One of the newest trends that is easy and perfect for city goers with limited outdoor space are vegetable pots. By growing vegetables in individual pots means that pots can then be brought inside during the toughest weather. They are also easier to maintain in terms of watering, feeding and weeding and take up minimal space.

Growing winter vegetables can be challenging however it is a great way to get out and about in winter and support yourself when money can be tight around the Christmas period! It also ensures that you and your family are able to eat healthily when it matters the most, to stop the likelihood of coughs and sneezes and are perfect for that Christmas roast!

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Friday, 7 September 2012

Vol 8: Typical Garden Problems

Garden Set Backs

There are a number of things that can put a dampener on your garden; weeds, pests and disease are just some of them. Don’t let garden nuisances put you off gardening this year!

Here are a few tips on how to keep your garden looking prim and proper all year round!

1. Ants can be a nuisance, although they do not cause damage to plants and often protect root systems by attacking invaders however they are seen as a pest. I will never forget my brother sitting on top of an ants nest as a child, it wasn’t pretty (literally ants in his pants)!Specialised ant killers are available that focus and getting rid of the whole colony rather than only ants that come into contact, to leave you to enjoy your garden all to yourself!

2. Slugs and snails; every gardeners worst nightmare! Not only do they eat your plants and leave a trail of slime, they can also cause lung worm if eaten by dogs and even manage to sneak their way into your home! Slug pellets are a good way to solve the problem, although if you have small children or dogs it is not recommended. Slugs hide under the surface of the soil during the day so using a diluted metaldehyde solution will target both surface and underground slugs and snails to help protect your valuable plants.

3. There are many different
types of diseases that affect various plants in different ways. If you see changes or discolouration to the leaves or flowers research symptoms online to find a cure.

4. Grey mould is one of the most common types of fungus; it affects all plants and is not easily treated. Avoid contamination by disposing of all affected plants and ventilate areas well. Fungicide can also be used.

5. Downy Mildew is also a common problem in plants; this disease has become more resilient due to milder winter temperatures caused by global warming. This causes discolouration to leaves and can also be treated with a suitable fungicide.

6. Honey Fungus is one of the most lethal diseases that attacks the roots of plants. It is cause by spores from honey coloured mushrooms. There is no real cure for this fungus and it is recommended that the plant is removed along with the entire root system to be destroyed. Prevention is the key by keeping your garden hygiene up to scratch.

7. Weeds are the obvious pest in any garden (See Vol:3), ensure your garden is weeded regularly to lessen the load and prevent them taking up valuable plant nutrients.

8. A good way to get rid of green fly is too mix a small amount of mild washing up liquid with vinegar and water and water your plants with it. This should keep the green fly and other pests away.

Problems in your garden are inevitable so it is important to keep on top to ensure that they do not take over! This I some of the key successes to a beautiful healthy garden.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Vol 7: Hanging Baskets

Hanging Baskets

Traditionally British, hanging baskets are a garden gem and it’s about time the rest of the world got involved. An easy inexpensive way to brighten up any space!!  If you don’t have that dream garden or anything more than a patio or balcony, hanging baskets will be your saviour!

I have put together a few helpful tips and ideas to create the perfectly colourful talking point of any ourdoor space!

1.       There a few things you will need to get yourself started, these are: a wire basket with a fibre lining, a black plastic lining with filtration holes, compost and of course the flowers. A water retaining gel will help to prevent drying out of the compost to ensure plants have enough moisture.

2.       Ensure that you have some where to hand your basket, a sturdy hook or bracket is recommended, ensure that is it able to take the weight of the full baskets to ensure damage is not done to the wall. If you will have problems reaching the basket for watering or pruning, pulley systems are available from most good garden centres.

   3.       When choosing your flowers it is down to personal choice, do some research in what kind of outcome you would like, colours, flowers, durability and flowering season. If you aim to get a range of colours with plants that flower at various times throughout the season it will ensure that your baskets are colourful for as long as possible.

   4.       If you’re thinking that hanging baskets are a summer accessories then how wrong you are! You can keep that fresh bright colour even during the winter by incorporating plants such as; winter pansies, trailing Ivy and hardy Primroses. Just make sure that you clip of old flower heads to help regeneration.

5.       To avoid a boring hanging basket, plant on the sides of the basket, this will give a more globe like effect and cover the basket lining.

6.       Hanging baskets may need watering more than once a day especially if it is dry weather, this is due to the lack of compost they are in packed into, although the water retaining gel will also help.

7.       Feeding your baskets is also essential; your hanging basket will have many types of plant all of which will be competing for food and water. Using homemade compost is ideal (See Vol: 3), however if you do not have the space for a compost heap you can buy fertilisers from your local garden centre, natural is always better and some are slow release, specifically designed for hanging baskets.

The most important thing to remember about your hanging baskets is to ENJOY them!Don’t be put off with the maintenance, once into a routine its will be so worth it!! Turn your garden, patio or balcony into a bright and beautiful haven all year round.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Vol 6: Vegetable Growing

Vegetable Growing

Growing vegetables is one of the most rewarding things to do, is it productive yet relaxing garden therapy. Leaving you with a fantastic produce that is healthy and the whole family can enjoy! Here are a few tips on growing veg for all you veggie newbie’s!

From lettuce to carrots and carrot to cabbages the vegetable possibilities are endless! Fruits are also a fantastic addition to the table and so easy to grow!

  1. Starting your vegetable garden is easy. It must be well fertilised (natural is better) this is to ensure that your soil is the best quality and the plants have food to eat. (Refer to Vol 2:Compost)

  1. Researching your vegetables is important; ensure you have a vegetable that will thrive in the conditions of your garden and your soil. This will help ensure that your produce is as successful as possible. You can find this information in books or online.

  1. Testing your soil to find plants that will thrive can be done using home soil testing kit, alternatively you can send soil samples off in the post.

  1. Seedlings will benefit from a helping hand, a green house or planting tunnel will help protect them from pests, harmful sunrays and bad weather. If you do not have a greenhouse you can buy smaller plant incubators that range from £20-£100.

  1. Vegetables should be planted close together; this reduces water waste and allows compost to be targeted directly at the plants. Raised beds will help prevent people walking on the soil and damaging the produce and deter pests.

  1. Soaking seeds before germination helps speed the process along, its helps to replenish seeds with all the moisture they require meaning it doesn’t have to be soaked through the soil. Research the type of seed to check if they require soaking, if so leave the seedlings in a bath of room temperature water for a few hours.

  1. A great trick when planting seedlings is to recycle the tube from toilet roll. Once planted place the toilet roll over the seeding and push down to help protect from underground and surface attacks.

  1. Keeping weeds under control is important (See Vol: 3), however it is even more important around your vegetables. Weeds take up water and nutrients and prevent your vegetable plants absorbing effectively. Using newspaper covered with straw in between plants will help prevent weeds although this should be continuously monitored. It will also help prevent sunlight evaporating water to keep soil moist and pests away.

  1. Harvesting your vegetables when they are just ripening is the perfect time, this way they can ripen further once picked and new produce can grow creating a continuous flow throughout the season.

  1. You may be thinking that vegetables are a summer thing but they can also thrive in the winter too, carrots, parsnips, potatoes, winter lettuce and rhubarb are all great examples on winter veg. (Stay tuned for Vol:9 Winter Veg)
Growing your own vegetables is the perfect way to get your organic 5 a day for budget prices; it is much easier and cheaper to pluck fresh produce from your garden rather that head down to the shop and pay a fortune for overripe fruit and vegetables. Seasonal veg also means that you’re cooking wont get boring as there will always be something different ready for the picking. A family favourite of ours is fresh rhubarb jelly, easy, healthy and delicious.

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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Vol: 5 Pre-Holiday Plant Prep!

Pre-Holiday Plant Prep

The British weather leaves everyone ready for a holiday! It gives us time to forget the world and relax for a minute…perfection, however not all can be forgotten! Like any pet or child the garden needs care too, while your sunning it up in the South of France! Here are a few quick tips on preparing your garden for the good the bad and the downright dreadful weather while you’re away!
Dove Holes Gardens Don't Need Watering...

1. Aim to move pots and containers into an area that is away from direct sunlight, this will prevent them drying out as quickly if the rain holds off(unlikely but possible)!

2. You can also use water retaining gel if you are away for long periods of time, these will allow the plant to absorb the water from the gel but prevent the sunlight from evaporating it.

3. Get ahead with your weeding! Weed the garden as much as possible before you go away, as mentioned in Vol: 3 if weeds are able to get settled they are much harder to get rid of. Think of it as your mother moving in- An absolute nightmare and hard work getting rid of, avoid at all costs!!

4. Small greenhouse pants will need watering daily; asking your neighbour to water your plants is an obvious solution, however if they aren’t so willing you can install micro drip irrigation or a sprinkler on a timer. Ensure the sprinkler does not come on a peak times during the day; morning and evening are best for maximum absorption.

5. Vegetables should be picked before you leave and if possible get a neighbour to do this while you are away too. This will prevent your veg from becoming inedible and allow new things to grow!

6. De-heading finished or finishing flowers will help to keep the plant healthy and allow for regrowth.

7. Compost, as talked about in Vol: 2 should be spread over the garden after a good rainfall, it not only provides the plants with nutrients while your away, it also keeps the soil damp underneath so plants require less water.

8. Your Nomow Lawn is your best friend when it comes to holiday, it almost begs your to leave, test its stamina, you won’t be disappointed! No mud, No mess, No mowing and perfectly green all year round!

9. Indoor plants also need care. Ask a neighbour to water your plants every 2 days, over watering can cause the plant to die through root rot. Alternatively plant pots usually have holes in the bottom to allow for drainage, place the pots in a tray of water (not too deep) this will allow the roots to take in water as and when they need it.

10. Ensure indoor plants are put in a light area but out of direct sunlight.

11. Finally… don’t worry about your garden or plants while your away, enjoy your holiday and look forward to cracking on with the gardening when your home!

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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Vol 4: Nomow Grass

Nomow Grass

Nomow artificial grass will give your garden the edge that all your neighbours envy! For that perfectly manicured finish without all the hard work there really is only one solution!

Whether you chose to lay it yourself or get our trained fitters to do it for you, it couldn’t be simpler. Here is a guide to how to fit your grass and the benefits it brings!!


1.       Strip the turf down to a thickness of around 40mm, this can be done using a spade (or if you’re really a pro, a mechanical turf lifer).

2.       Spread and level a 35mm layer of sharp builder’s sand.

3.       This must then be compacted using a plank and heavy hammer or compaction plate for an easier job! Gentle slopes and mounds are okay!!

4.       The weed membrane is next; roll it out over the sand overlapping joints my 300mm and leaving it 50mm short of the grass edge.

5.       Roll out the grass over the membrane to cover all areas. The edges can then be trimmed using a craft knife.

6.       If the grass roll does not cover your whole area, a jointing kit will be required; grass needs to be butted together with no fibres caught underneath and the grass must all sit the same way for the perfect finish!

7.       Apply the adhesive onto the jointing tape (rough side up) and spread along the joint surface.

8.       Place the roll edge onto the tape making sure the fibres do not touch the glue then rough up the pile at the joint to disguise the join.

9.       To fix down the edges use the ground pins and apply through grass at 200mm intervals, ruffle to disguise.

    10.   Finally brush with a stiff yarn brush to lift the grass and voila!

It’s as easy as that!


·         No Mud- Even in the rain, the water drains right through!

·         No Mowing- Forget the expensive mower, just sit back and enjoy!

·         No Weeds- No moss, dandelions, etc.

·         Saves time (and your back)

·         Soft- Perfect for kids and wont scrape their knees!

·         Easy to clean- Ideal for pets, and their mess!

·         Looks fabulous- For the competitive neighbours

·         Doesn’t need watering- For the drought season (who are we kidding!)

·         20 years + life expectancy!

·         Better for hay fever sufferers

·         The injection of green- For dull, lifeless areas.

Is that enough for you?  Because I could keep going all day!

Artificial grass is the new turf!
For an easy, stress free lifestyle that puts the fun back into gardening choose Nomow!
No Mud-No Mess-No Mowing!!

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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Vol 3: Weeds & Weeding

Weeds & Weeding

Weeds can be a nuisance! They are typically known for growing just where you don’t want them to grow! Here are some tips on weeds and how to deal with them:

1.    Weeds compete with plants for water and nutrients, it is important to ensure that weeds are removed to help your plants flourish, especially if conditions are not ideal and there is a limited supply of water.

2.    Weed killers are often the perfect solution, however it is important to ensure that no other plants are damaged in the process.
     The tree types of weed killer are:

·         Systemic - the chemicals are absorbed through the leaves of weeds, killing the plant as it travels through to the roots.

·         Contact - chemical kills the leaves and stems of weeds on contact.

·         Residual - forms a waxy coating over the leaves and stems, preventing photosynthesis.

3.    Weeds need to be removed and how you do it is the key to ensuring the whole weed and root is removed. Pull when wet- hoe when dry! It’s simple!

4.    Preventing a weed from seeding is half the problem. Cutting off the flowers will help prevent the spread of the weeds around the garden.

   5.    Keeping on top of your weeding will make it an easier job. Although this seems like common sense, the more established the weeds get the more resilient they will become.

   6.    For weeds that grown between paving stones and other unwanted places, try pouring boiling water on the weeds, this is a more environmentally friendly way of getting rid.

   7.    Do not put weeds or their seeds into the compost heap, most weeds are able to survive hot temperatures and will stay alive within the compost. This will then be put onto your garden and allow them to grow again!

8.    When bringing animal manure into your garden make sure that it has been fully composted, this is another potential weeds fest if not!