Atco

  • Hints and Tips for November

     

    Lawns

    Need detailed advice on creating a new lawn or maintaining/renovating an existing one? Then Google the ‘Lawn Association’ a recently formed organisation for the benefit of both professional and home garden people.

     

    Flowers

    For bulbs, generally speaking, it is important to go by recommended planting depths. Too deep and the bulb may be too wet and rot. Too shallow and the bulb may push its way to the surface as the shoot emerges. The exception may be on light, sandy soils when it may pay to plant a little deeper than that stated on the label, for this very reason.

    ‘Dead-head’ the flowers on newly planted pansies to make sure they do not set seed. At this stage its important the energy goes into forming a good plant to withstand the winter.

     

    Vegetables

    Lift parsnips after the first frosts; it’s true, they really do taste sweeter after those first frosts!

     

    Fruit

    Planning a raspberry patch? As well as varieties that fruit in the normal summer season, choose some of the more recent autumn fruiting varieties to extend the picking season. Plant them separately though, as their pruning regime is different!

     

    November is often the time for gardening catalogues to be dropping thorough the letter box with many enticing new varieties and ideas for things to grow next year. More about that in our December blog.

     

    Many gardening suppliers were overwhelmed with orders this year because of Covid, so it is going to make sense to get your order in early!!

     


     

  • Gardening Calendar for November

     

    November brings thoughts of the coming winter, with brisk country walks, enjoying the last of the autumn colours and relaxing evenings in front of a warm, cosy fire!

    In the garden though, November is often thought of as a time of clearing and tidying, getting things ready for the winter. And with the recent news of a month-long lockdown in England as well as travel restrictions across the country, why not escape to the garden and get it ‘winter-ready’ at the same time.

     

    Let’s take a look at what needs doing:

     

    Lawns

    Grass still growing? Well you can still mow to keep things tidy, but keep the mower blade high.

    Rake leaves off the lawn as they fall. It lets light and air into the grass, preventing browning and fungal infections and provides a source of leaf mould if you compost them. Oh! And it provides you with plenty of exercise!

     

    Flowers

    You can still plant bulbs whilst the soil is warm. Make sure you plant at the recommended depth.

    There is still time to sow Sweet Peas for bigger, better plants next year and also some biennials/perennials e.g. Foxglove, Alliums etc.

    Cut back perennials to promote new growth in the spring and clear dead leaves etc.

    It’s also a good time as plants become dormant with lower temperatures and light levels to move plants or split up crowded clumps.

    Plant up winter/spring bedding such as pansies, wallflowers, polyanthus etc. in borders and containers.

     

    Shrubs & Roses

    Time for winter pruning to reduce ‘wind-rock’ in winter storms and also remove diseased material. Again, ‘cleanliness’ is paramount to give a clean start next year.

    November is also a good time to plant what are known as ‘bare root’ shrubs as opposed to ‘container’ grown. Bare root plants are lifted straight from the field for sale. They are somewhat cheaper than container plants so are ideal where a number of plants are needed e.g. new hedges.

     

    Vegetables

    There is still time for sowing and planting. Broad Beans such as Aquadulce Claudia and new early Pea, Proval are excellent varieties for early cropping next spring. Should the greenhouse be empty through the winter, successional sowings of a lettuce such as ‘Valian’,  (a winter cropping ‘Little Gem’ type) will provide you with salads through the season.

    Alternatively, try sowing one of the many ‘cut and come again’ leaf salads that mature in just a few weeks. Sowings every 3-4 weeks will keep you in salads right through the winter!

    Continue planting Garlic and Autumn Onion sets.

    Cover winter brassicas with netting if not already done – the birds will love fresh leaves in winter!

     

    Fruit

    November is a great time for planting bare root ‘top’ fruit such as apples, pears and ‘cane’ fruit such as raspberries, blackcurrants etc. There’s still time to plant strawberries too, whilst cleaning existing beds of leaves and other decaying material.

    Time too to start your fruit tree/bushes pruning.

    So plenty still to do this month in the garden as we move into winter.

     


  • Hints and Tips for October

     

    A bit of thought and action now will prevent trouble next year.

    Clear up fallen leaves which can harbour pests and fungal spores. Place a net over garden ponds to prevent them filling up with leaves.

    Re-use compost from grow bags and containers on the compost heap or as a mulch for garden plants.

     

    Lawns

    Clear leaves, but you can also use the mower to shred leaves to add humus to the lawn.

     

    Vegetables

    Cut off and clear the stems of peas and beans leaving some 20cms of stem in the ground.

    The roots are nitrogen-fixing during the growing season and will now release nitrogen in the form of nitrates as a plant food in the soil.

    When you cut a cabbage, cut both ways to form a cross on the top of the remaining stem. In due course, you can use the resulting new leaf growth as winter greens.

     

    Flowers

    Tender perennial plants may need winter protection. Cut back relevant plants and protect with gardening fleece.

    Remove and store plant support canes. They will last several years if you look after them.

    So lots to do in October, but time spent now will give you a clean and tidy start to the new gardening year!

     


     

  • Gardening Calendar for October

     

    Autumn is with us and let’s hope for good weather, to raise our spirits, shorten the winter and give us time to attend to all those essential garden chores!

    There are perhaps not too many benefits associated with COVID 19, but it has meant that more people have ventured off the patio and into the garden. Hopefully, this will encourage new budding gardeners to enjoy the leisure and health benefits of ‘grow your own!’

    So, let’s look at our gardening tasks for October.

     

    Lawns

    Time to think of putting the lawn to bed for the winter. Final mowings should be made with a high mower blade setting. Now’s the time to rake out all the ‘thatch’ of dead grass and detritus with a ‘spring-tine’ rake. It’s hard work, but it keeps you warm on a chilly day!

    Aeration of the roots is also important. Small areas can be spiked with a garden fork, but for larger spaces, you can use a soil aerator machine.

     

    Vegetables

    October is normally the time to think about how to store your summer bounty from the vegetable patch. It’s important to bring pumpkins and squashes in to shelter to avoid the first frosts for instance.

    When you have cleared the glasshouse of tomatoes, cucumbers etc. you can use it to grow winter salads, but clean and disinfect the glass thoroughly, first!

    Harvest your winter vegetables as required.

    Seed catalogues will be arriving with all the new delights to grow next year. New ‘Blight’ resistant tomatoes are a real advance. Look for the new Crimson Plum with its delicious small fruit, but varieties with other fruit shapes and sizes are available.

     

    Flowers

    Continue to plant spring-flowering bulbs like narcissi, tulips, hyacinth etc. Remember too, the striking effect you can get from planting up containers.

    Many gardeners maintain that the best sweet peas are sown in autumn for summer flowering the following year. A new variety, ‘Supersonic’ offers long-stemmed blooms for cutting on easy to manage intermediate height plants.

    Continue to lift tubers and corms from Dahlias, Begonias and Gladioli to store in the garage through winter to start again in spring.

    Lift, divide and re-plant older herbaceous perennials to reduce congestion and improve flowering – and you get further plants for the garden!

     

    Fruit

    Cut back and tie in the new growth of the canes of varieties that fruited in the summer.

    Lift and split congested clumps of rhubarb.

    Apply ‘winter wash’ to the trunks and branches of fruit trees to rid yourself of overwintering pests.

     

    Shrubs

    Take hardwood cuttings of e.g. forsythia, ribes and roses.

    Give hedges a final clipping to tidy them up for the winter.

     


     

  • Gardening Calendar for September

     

    September, a time of ‘mists and mellow fruitfulness!’

    The days begin to shorten, and signs of autumn start to appear. Yet despite the trials and tribulations of this year, our gardens have seldom looked better. Something to do with all the time and loving attention lavished on them in this ‘lockdown’ summer both by experienced gardeners and new converts, who hopefully have caught the ‘gardening bug!’

    There’s still a lot of harvesting to do in both the fruit and vegetable sections of the garden, but our thoughts begin to think of tidying up for the approaching winter.

    So let’s have a look at those tasks to do around the garden:

     

    Lawns

    Time to raise the mower blades a little as mowing frequency reduces, to get the grass ready for winter and make the turf more resilient to the first frosts of autumn.
    You can also apply an autumn fertilizer high in Potash and Phosphates (but not Nitrates as this will make the grass too soft).

    It’s a great time to sow new lawns (or over-sow old ones). The soil is still warm and yet autumn rain is likely to assist germination and early growth.

     

    Vegetables

    Lots of produce to harvest this month! It’s a good idea if you haven’t already done so to cover your crops with netting to reduce damage from the birds.

    You still have time to sow salad leaves, radish, spinach and baby turnips, though sowings late in the month may need cloche protection as they mature. You can also be sowing broad beans and peas to overwinter and produce early crops next spring, but make sure you choose suitable varieties. Sow green manures to improve soil fertility.

     

     

    September is the time to be planting autumn onion sets and garlic. Time too for ordering rhubarb and asparagus plants to establish before the winter.

    Crops may be heavy now, so think about storing your treasure by freezing, bottling or pickling!

     

    Flowers

    It’s a time of change for flowers, with summer bedding schemes and containers beginning to wane. Keep them going by ‘dead-heading’ and feeding, but its time now to give a thought to your displays for next spring. Winter flowering pansies always provide some cheer in the dull grey days of winter and wallflowers not only provide a lovely background to spring flowering bulbs, but also provide delightful fragrance to welcome spring.

    September is the ideal time to plant your spring bulb displays in the garden soil or in containers. You can also purchase hyacinths and baby narcissi bulbs to force for Christmas flowering! Bulbs are so easy to grow and so very rewarding and most will flower for year after year.

     

    Fruit

    Autumn fruiting raspberries should be cropping well, as should cultivated blackberries and tree fruit like plums and apples.

     

     

    Maybe you want to extend your cane fruit area? Well, now’s the time to be taking hardwood cuttings of currants and gooseberries for extra bushes next year.

     

    Shrubs

    Prune late-flowering shrubs and rambler roses when they have finished flowering.

     


  • Hints & Tips for September

     

    In the herbaceous border, you can take and root cuttings from perennials such as fuchsias, pelargoniums and Salvias.

     

    Why not try saving some seed from your annual flowering plants? Many are producing seed at the end of the summer. All you have to do in dry weather is to pick off the seed heads, separate seed from the protective capsule and lay out on paper in a dry place for a few days until thoroughly dry. Then place them in a labelled envelope and keep dry and cool until sowing time the following year. It’s easy!

     

    In your strawberry patch, remove all traces of straw used to cushion the fruit to prevent fungal diseases as the straw rots down in the winter.

     

     

    We have talked about harvesting vegetables. Some people find it hard to know when their sweet corn cobs are ripe. Here’s a simple tip. Push a thumbnail into a seed as they ripen. If a thin, colourless liquid appears, the cob is not ripe. A thick, creamy-white liquid however means the cob is just right – and delicious they are!

     

     

    A final thought!

    September is the time to get your requests in for those colourful seed/plant catalogues to relax in autumn and plan another wonderful garden for 2021!

     

     


  • Garden Calendar for August

     

    August has arrived and our gardens are thriving in the summer heat!

    So far it’s been a fairly dry summer interspersed with periods of rain. We have to remember that water is a finite resource, so we need to be careful with our irrigation. Watering in the evening is ideal when it will not evaporate in the heat of the day.

    In March/April, so many early plants had to be destroyed with our garden centres closed because of COVID 19, but our nurserymen stepped up to the plate and now some areas are up a third on last year’s sales! That just shows how much we are growing this year!

     

    So, what should we be doing in our August garden:

     

    Lawns

     

    Raising the mower blade to its highest setting from now on will avoid too much stress to the grass in dry conditions. Current thinking is to leave the leaf cuttings in the grass sward to act as a mulch and conserve moisture.

    Green up the grass if necessary with a high nitrate liquid feed when rain is expected.

     

    Vegetables

     

    In the greenhouse, remove the main growing tip of tomato plants when they have formed 5-6 fruit trusses together with side shoots and lower leaves to ripen the fruit. Keep cutting cucumbers to encourage further fruit.

     

     

    Hopefully, outside, you should have an abundance of riches! Water and feed your sweet corn well to swell those delicious cobs.

    When trimming herbs, keep a few pieces of perennial types as cuttings and root them for new plants to overwinter.

     

    Flowers

     

    Continue ‘dead-heading of fading blooms and remember to keep harvesting cut flowers to maintain supplies.

    Trim lavenders after flowering to preserve the plant's shape.

    Save seed of sweet peas and hardy annuals like calendulas and poppies for use next year.

     

    Fruit

    Plant strawberry runners for cropping in 2021.

     

     

    Prune back the fruiting stems of blackcurrants and summer fruiting raspberries.

    Apples, plums and other tree fruit will be maturing so keep up with the picking.

     

    Shrubs

    Prune wisteria side shoots back to five leaves from the main stem. The flowering shoots of rambling roses can also be shortened by a third when flowering is over. Hedges can have a final trim before the winter.

     

     

     


  • From Plot to Plate

     

    Follow our Hints and Tips for your garden this August.

     

    A Well-Watered Garden

    Watering in August is important for camellias and rhododendrons to ensure good flowering buds for next year.

    This is the main reason for them failing to flower the following spring.

     

     

    Winter Cheer

    Give a thought to the grey days of late autumn and sow some pansies for bright colours and winter cheer.

     

     

    Eat more Veg

    Remove the growing tips of runner beans when they reach the top of their growing supports. This will encourage side shoots and increased cropping.

     

     

    Remove the growing tips of aubergines when they have formed five fruit to hasten ripening.

     

    Corn Cob Harvesting

    To check if a sweet corn cob is ready to harvest, push your thumbnail into one of the seeds. If it is soft and exudes a milky white liquid, then it’s time to pick those delicious cobs!

     

     

    Autumn Salads

     

    There is still time to sow leaf salads to keep those succulent leaves going right through the autumn and late crops of radish, carrots and turnips are still possible.

     

    From Plot to Plate

    Remember, vitamins in leafy vegetables can drop by 70% in just a few hours after harvest, so it pays to grow your own and enjoy the most delicious produce – from ‘plot to plate!’

     

     

     


  • When the only way is up! Vertical Gardens

     

    Whether you have a small back yard, patio or terrace or even just a balcony, lack of space needn't be a problem with a vertical garden.

    Vertical gardens can also be used to help cover up ugly fences or act as partitions in gardens of all shapes and sizes.

     

    Check out our range of simple ideas to create a beautiful vertical garden.

     

    Lockdown Ladder

     

     

    Easy to create with some timber offcuts or upcycle an old ladder. Great for beautifying an ugly wall or empty space. Lean it against or fix it to a wall or fence for the ultimate lockdown ladder vertical garden. Trailing plants work well here as well as creeping varieties.

     

     

    Tintastic plant wall

     

     

    Cover a boring fence or partition by upcycling old pallets and paint tins. Clean up your old paint pots then attach your pallet wall to the fence with hooks and fix your paint tin plant pots into place. Make sure to drill holes in the bottoms of your paint tins to allow for drainage then pop in soil and get planting!

     

    Living Wall

     

     

    Timber posts and chicken wire or a garden trellis and some terracotta pots are all you need to create a living wall that can act as a screen or partition or be placed in front of an old garden fence or garage wall. Erect your timber posts and then hang your chicken wire between them. Or for a faster solution buy a ready-made garden trellis. Next, attach your terracotta pots and add plants and flowers of your choice.

     

     

    Step Up

     

     

    For a quick and easy vertical garden why not convert an old step ladder! Paint the ladder in a colour to complement your outdoor area or leave natural if the material suits your area. Then just pop your potted plants on each step. Mix up the sizes of pots and the types of plants. You can also change the arrangements to suit the occasion or season - with warm sunny plants and even potted herbs and veggies like tomato plants in summer to Christmas hollies and winter pansies in the winter months. To add more space for your planters try adding some horizontal planks that span across the rungs.

     

    Gutter Glory

     

     

    Why not repurpose some old guttering to make quirky planters - just fix to a post or wall and pot your plants of choice inside - remember to drill some drainage holes first. You can mix different lengths of guttering or even add pipework to create an industrial look.

     

     

    Bucket Beautiful

     

     

    The humble bucket makes a great plant pot and you can use the handle to hang the bucket from a trellis frame or affix to a fence or wall. Take a selection of buckets - get create with different shapes, sizes and colours and choose your plants to suit. Add drainage holes and get hanging!

     

    Pallet Planter

     

     

    Create a small herb garden, adding fresh earthy aromas to your vertical garden. Just take an old pallet and use a weed membrane - cut and staple to create a bottom to each 'shelf' and then fill with multipurpose compost. Add your herb plants and then attach your pallet to a wall or fence.

     

    Pretty as a Picture

     

     

    Create 'living art' in your garden by using a large picture frame as a rectangular plant potter. Add a back and your choice of small plants then hang vertically on a wall or fence. Use one large picture frame or if your space allows, try hanging several frames of differing shapes and sizes. To water just use a spray bottle to lightly spray the plants.

     

     

    When the only way is up, let your imagination run wild and built your very own vertical gardens this summer!

     

    We would love to see your creative vertical gardens - don't forget to upload your pictures and comments to our social media platforms.

     

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  • The Great British Strawberry

    Nothing says Summer in the UK quite like the Great British Strawberry!

     

     

    Enjoyed with whipped or clotted cream, a scoop of ice cream, or just simply by its glorious self, there is nothing quite like a bowl of freshly picked, sweet and succulent strawberries on a hot summer's day.

     

     

    And it has to be British!

     

    British strawberries in season are quite simply the sweetest, juiciest and best-tasting strawberries of them all.

     
     

     

    Summer saviour

    The summer of 2020, unfortunately, is not set to be a typically British affair. Wimbledon may be cancelled along with the classic court side picnics and Pimms o'clock post-match analogies however that doesn't mean we need to forgo our favourite summertime fruit.

    There are lots of different varieties of strawberries such as the Sweet Eve which, as its name suggests, is popular for its sweeter taste. The many different types of strawberry plants allow the growing season to stretch from May right through to October - giving us plenty of time to enjoy these delicious treats!

     
     

     

    Homegrown Heroes

    Nothing beats the taste of homegrown, freshly picked strawberries - what's more they are so easy to grow! Strawberries can literally be grown anywhere - planted in rows directly into your garden soil, in pots or containers on your window sill, balcony or terrace and even in hanging baskets! So no matter how large or small your garden space is, you can grow your own this summer.

     

     

    It is important to water your establishing strawberry plants regularly - take care to avoid the growing fruit and buds which can cause disease in the plant. You may also need to protect them from the local wildlife in early summer as they take root. Try using netting or wire mesh to keep the birds and squirrels at bay.

     

     

    Another top tip for strawberry beds is to place straw or fibre mats underneath the plants. This helps to keep growing fruits clean and the beds free from weeds.

     

     

    Your strawberry plants should yield summer crops for at least 4 years before they need replacing - ensuring you a plentiful supply of the great British strawberry year on year.

    Strawberries sold in pots or packs can be planted as soon as you buy them or grown in their own containers - so there is still time to get growing this summer.

     

    Pick your own

    Ask any food growing gardener why they grow their own and they will tell you nothing tastes better than freshly picked fruit and veg straight from your very own garden.

     

     

    Strawberry picking can also be great fun too! And if growing your own seems like too much hard work you needn't miss out on that fabulous freshly picked taste. There are hundreds of 'pick your own' farms up and down the country for you to gather all the strawberries you can eat!

    So why not pull up a deck chair, grab yourself an ice-cold glass of Pimms and tuck into a glorious bowl of Great British Strawberries. Happy Summer!

     

     


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