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Our Gardening Tip!

Gardening Tips - Acres Supply

Spring - Gardening Tips

Spring bulbs produce some of the most beautiful flowers and the results are simple to achieve . When you choose bulbs make sure there are no holes and that the outer covering isn’t damaged or they will not last as long or just won’t grow, big bulbs are best.

Plant your bulbs in nice loose soil so that the bulb can come out easier. The hole you dig should be at least at a depth of three to four times the bulbs size. There are many varieties of bulb food and compost on the market, which can be used to give a planted bulb some extra nutrition to make them stronger and healthy.

Remember that the Autumn is the time for planting bulbs that bloom during the spring, don’t forget you can plant bulbs in tubs and pots. A little tip for when the bulb has finished flowering , you should let the green leaves and stems dry out and wilt away so you can save nutrients in the bulb. In some cases I have heard of bulbs that have lasted over 20 years before dying if taken care of right. So why not put some colour back into Spring by planting some bulbs.

 


Summer - Gardening in containers
 
Hanging baskets, window boxes, pots and tubs can all be great containers to plant up, my tip this month is to be different why not plant up your old boots, suit case, log basket or even the dog basket. If you don't have these things then you can pick them up at a car boot sale or the local charity shop.

Be sure your container has drainage holes as drainage is essential so that the compost you put in the container doesn't become water-logged. My tip for compost is two magic ingredients, Water gel and Osmocote, both of these get mixed in to the compost before you put the compost in to the container. Water gel is a product that retains moisture and stops your container from drying out in the hot weather. Osmocote in a slow release feed that keeps your plants flowering for longer.

Plants for containers - Use your imagination in selecting plants. Many types of plants will grow in containers including herbs, vegetables and a whole range of summer basket plants. I think herbs are great as they serve two purposes not only do they look good but most smell good too, herbs thrive in containers and require little care. Thyme, oregano, parsley and rosemary are good because they like dry soil.

Caring for your container - Daily or even twice-daily watering may be necessary. Feel the soil to determine whether or not it is damp. If the compost feels dry 1 inch below the surface, it is time to water. Apply water until it runs out the drainage holes. If the container dries out too much you should immerse it in water to re-soak the compost. Frequent watering flushes nutrients from the compost quickly, so fertilizing is also necessary. Small droplets of liquid feed in the watering can when you water will all help. Remove flower heads as they fade to keep the flowering container blooming well.


Summer - Slugs
 
Most of us think of slugs as pests, but they are as necessary as the more attractive visitors to our garden. They help to break down decaying plant matter, disperse seeds and spore and provide a very rich compost like waste which feeds the garden. Also providing food for welcome visitors, such as birds. However if you have spent many hours looking after your plants and then find the slugs have eaten them alive then you might not be so keen.

So these are my Top tips for dealing with slugs:

*Seaweed - Take a trip to the sea side and collect seaweed, place it around plants you wish to protect as its a natural repellent to slugs, as they don't like salty things.

*Copper - When slugs come into contacted with copper a toxic reaction occurs between the copper and the slime creating an electric current, and they get an electric shock which repels them. So make copper loops and place them around plants as a barrier.

*Hair - Ask your hairdresser for your clippings back so you can put them around the plants, The cut ends are sharp, and may put slugs off. The hair will decompose and benefit the soil.

*Coffee - Caffeine kills or deters slugs, by spraying the plants with a cold cup of coffee would work as a deterrent, but it would need to be constantly reapplied to put the slugs off.

*Cornish Grit - Sharp grit such as Cornish grit placed around the base of plants should keep the slugs away, the sharp edges of the grit works just like the hair, most good garden centres should stock Cornish grit and I find this to be one of my most popular natural ways of keeping the slugs away. I have been told that in the past when everyone had coal fires the coal dust or even the soot would stop slugs.

*A Slug Pub - This is often proclaimed as a wonderful way of getting rid of slugs. Some type of beer or ale is poured into a vessel, which is dug into the soil, the slugs then fall in to the beer and die very merry. Cut the bottom of a old coke bottle and dig in to the ground and fill with beer, I have tried this myself and was amazed how many slugs where in the pot the next morning, it seems that you need to put the pot of beer level with the soil and near plants that you think the slug might eat.

*Slug Collecting - If you are like me and get feed up with slugs eating the vegetables then arm your self with a torch and bucket and wait until 9.30 at night when the lights go out, creep out round the plants with your torch and collect all the slugs, when finished put a lid on the bucket. The next day take them to the local duck farm or duck pond and feed them to the ducks. You will not believe the amount of slugs that come out at night this is the best time to catch them.


Summer - Tips on saving water in the garden
 
Tips on saving water in the garden With the chance of a hose pipe ban this year its a good idea to start thinking of a few simple ways to save water.

Lawns, most grass is resilient and will revive when the dry weather ends but to help allow your grass to grow a little longer during dry periods. Set your lawn mower blades a notch higher, as the longer grass will act as shade helping to stop the grass from drying out. When watering plants try to water directly around the roots not on the leaves as it can be very wasteful as a high proportion evaporates. Avoid watering in the heat of the day as the water will evaporate before it reaches the root, I find the best time of day is late afternoon or evening. By applying surface mulch around your plants, such as organic matter, bark or stone chippings will reduce soil moisture loss through evaporation.

Banning weeds from your garden saves water as plants compete with weeds for water so keep on top the weeds. If you haven't got a water butt in the garden then you might think of getting one put in. Water butts cost between £20 and £50 and are very easy to install. Plants seem to enjoy water butt water over tap water any day.


Autumn - Ponds
 
Cleaning & Care - A Healthy pond is a clear pond where fish, plants and other animals live in perfect harmony. Sometimes in garden ponds this harmony can be disrupted and this can be through changes in water clarity. A consistent imbalance results in growth of algae and blanket weed. It is not just in the summer that algae, leaves and sludge can become a problem. the winter can be just as bad too.

If you regularly cut off and remove dead and dying plant parts, and cut back rapidly growing plants, you prevent excessive pond pollution through rotting processes. Leaves are always removed with a net, and sludge that has settled on the bottom can be suctioned up easily. Pond vacuums can be hired to make this job quicker, remember the waste that comes out the vacuum is good fertiliser for your garden plants. So nothing is lost.

In the winter it is a good idea to float an old football on the surface of your pond as a covering of ice on the pond will stop oxygen from entering , also accumulating gases from rotting processes leaving the pond, these gases can be harmful to the fish.


Autumn- The Vegetable Garden
 

Tips for the Vegetable Garden - At this time of year I like to make notes of which vegetable have done well and ones that have failed so next year I can arrange my crops so that no ground is wasted. Here are a few tips for the vegetable garden you might find useful.

 

Use old news paper to rap up cooking apples and store in a cool dark place.

 

Dry out onions and shallots; tie them up ready to be used through the winter months.

Potatoes are ready for digging when the plants finish blooming. Dig the potatoes, spread them on the soil to dry, then brush off the soil and store them in an airy, cool, dark place.

Keep picking beans in order to keep more beans coming don’t leave beans on the plant too long or they will turn to seed.

Spread compost or well rotted Horse manure on any unused vegetable beds, ready to be dug in later, this also frees up your compost bins that should be full at this time of year.


All Year - Adding a touch of design to your garden…
 
Most people inherit their gardens, which never reflect their own ideas. Trying to make a garden your own, can take up time and effort but once it’s done you can sit back and enjoy a wonderful garden.

At this time of year it is important to make your garden look at its best for the summer and to help you, using a few simple design tips, anyone can turn their garden into a haven. Personally I believe that a whole garden should never be viewed from the same point. It is important to give many areas to view the garden from, giving a sense of structure and consistency.

My advice is to create barriers of planting or decorative trellis, with small simple openings or arches. This will allow the eye to focus on the opening and become inquisitive as to what is in the rest of the garden.

Creating a journey or a trail through the garden is very important as it makes sure that all areas of the garden are visited, if the path is followed. Paths can be made from all sorts of materials, for example; lawn, paving, gravel, bark etc.

Using the right planting such as tall grasses, which catch the wind and create movement within the space. And well placed fragrant plants and plants that flower at different stages of the seasons, create different moods within the smallest of gardens.

Adding simple focal points at the end of a garden or paths, can make a space look larger than it is. Another idea is to split a garden into different zones for example; vegetable garden, herb garden, patio, seating area, lawn, borders. And being able to link them together is a real design challenge, but linking them correctly using paths and focal points will automatically create rooms within your garden.

Most good garden centres offer garden consultations or design services, if you find the whole idea too daunting, but my advice is to write a design brief as to what you want to get out if your garden for example; seating area, play area etc. and to plan from there on.

Above all remember a garden should be a place of contentment, so allow time to enjoy it.


All Year - The Perfect Patio...
 
If you already have a patio or are thinking of having one, then this could be for you. Regular maintenance is required to keep the overall appearance of the patio in pristine condition. I recommend thoroughly washing paved areas with warm soapy water and brushing off with a stiff broom three or four times a year. High pressure washers are not recommended for use on concrete paving slabs as they can damage the outer surface of the slab leaving it open for the frost to get at it. Planning for your patio, This is very important, getting the right colour size and shape to blend in with your house and garden can be hard, but at most garden centres you will find helpful staff and free design services which can help you get the best results. Preparation, All paving should be laid on a firm, level and well drained base to ensure long term service and stability.

Remember when lay paving next to your house its important to have the final paving level at least 150mm below damp course and should slope away from the building. ( A fall of 1:60 is generally sufficient).

When laying paving slabs my tip is to start with full size slabs laid adjacent to a fixed point such as the house or boundary wall and to work towards an edge which may be adjustable, this will reduce the amount of cutting you might have to do and keeps the patio symmetric with the house.

Using a wet mortar mix of 5 parts building sand : 1 part cement set out five large mortar dabs, one at each corner and one in the middle before offering up and positioning. All gaps between the slabs should be pointed in using a fairly dry mortar mix of 6 parts building sand : 1 part cement, care being taken when trowelling in not to stain the paving surface. Any mortar spillage should be removed immediately using a damp cloth or sponge. If your patio is to be subjected to heavy constant use, lay on a full mortar bed in stead of dabs. When finished keep off patio for at least 24 hours and cover in wet or frosty weather.

Always remember if the thought of laying a patio seems to much or your back wont take no more then there is always perennials on hand to advise or carry out the job from start to finish.


All Year - Compost & What Goes Into the Heap...
 
Compost is one of natures best mulches and soil amendments, and you can use it instead of commercial fertilizers, Best of all compost is cheap, you can make it without spending any money.

Nearly everything that was once alive is a candidate for the compost heap. That includes old newspapers, coffee grounds, tea bags, eggshells, spoiled fruit and vegetables, leaves, sawdust, cold fireplace ash, wool, and cow and horse manure.

Do not use meat scraps, kitchen grease or materials that have been heavily treated with chemicals. large pieces of wood, leaves and pine needles should be chopped up before composting.

A compost heap requires a ratio of about 30 parts carbon to one part nitrogen. If you have too much carbon, the pile will take forever to decompose. Too much nitrogen will make it smell.

Some materials that are very high in carbon are sawdust and leaves. Materials that have heavy nitrogen content are fertilizer and blood meal.

The more diverse your pile, the more beneficial micro-organisms you will attract and the faster your material will decompose.

Start building your pile in one of the two bins. Because organic material shrinks to less than five percent of its original volume during decomposition, you will be adding layers to your pile over several weeks.

It takes between six and nine months for your compost to become ready for you to use. So go on make composting your New years resolution......