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  • Hints and Tips for July

     

    Clean and Tidy

    Think ‘clean and tidy’ in the garden. Regularly removing weeds, diseased leaves and any pests you find will result in increased crops of quality produce. Grass clippings and vegetable waste from the kitchen will be adding to the compost heap. Don’t forget you need to turn over the contents to aerate the heap and aid the composting process. Make sure you keep it moist. You can also buy a ‘compost activator’ if you want to speed the composting.

     

    Tomato maintenance

    If you have greenhouse or outdoor tomatoes, don’t forget to remove side shoots (unless they are bush varieties). This will allow more air around the plants and encourage better fruit development.

     

    Prune early bloomers

     

     

    Don’t neglect the herbaceous border in July. Cut back faded flower spikes on early blooming types, with some species e.g. Delphiniums, this can induce a later flush of flowers. You may be filling any spaces with new perennials, but if you want to wait for the autumn, you can cheer up and brighten an area with some colourful annual plants.

     

    Fruit harvesting

    Fruit areas will be in full production now. Remove any damaged or over ripe fruit to avoid fungal diseases.

    Remember the more strawberries you pick, the more will be produced!

     

     


  • July Garden Calendar

     

    Our gardening Calendar moves from June to July and towards the heights of Summer!

     

    What a year it's been so far and not for the best of reasons. If there is a 'silver lining', its how good our gardens are looking, courtesy of the time available due to 'lockdown'! Householders though, have embraced the challenge and our gardens are thriving!   Seedmen's sales of seed and plants bear witness to a big drive to 'grow your own' with people taking the chance to supplement the household budget with tasty, healthy vegetables.

     

     

    Remember gardening is great therapy!

    Let's have a look at your gardening tasks for July!

     

    Lawns

    Assuming normal weather, continue to mow weekly, though during a dry period, raising the height of the cutting is a good idea to reduce stress on grass. Should watering restrictions be introduced, don't worry too much, grass has amazing powers of recovery!

     

     

    Vegetables

    The veg garden should be looking great now. Make sure you are watering in dry spells and keep up to date with the weeding to maximise cropping.

    Crops are growing fast now so make sure you are feeding when necessary.

    There is still time to sow Beetroot and Carrots for autumn cropping.

    Perhaps surprisingly there is still time to produce a crop of potatoes for the autumn but make sure you use what is advertised as an ‘early’ variety. Aside from the garden you can plant them in raised beds, or large pots and tubs.

     

     

    Flowers

    The Covid-19 virus has made it a strange summer for gardeners and commercial growers alike. The closure of garden centres has made it difficult for all.

    If you were lucky enough to buy your bedding plants (or grow your own), then now is the time to be watering, feeding and ‘dead-heading’ fading flowers. However, if you were less fortunate, no worries, resourceful growers have been growing later batches of plants.

    You can even still find pots of sweet pea plants if you look around! Already have them? Make sure they are well supported and watch out for those slugs!

     

     

    Fruit

    Looks like being a good year for soft fruit e.g. strawberries, cane fruit e.g. raspberries and top fruit e.g. apples. Pollination of apples was very good with few early frosts – so lots of apples. The down side? You may have to thin out small apples for a decent sized fruit on maturity.

     

    Shrubs

    Time to finish pruning early summer flowering types. May and early June were particularly dry, so don’t neglect the watering.

     

     


  • Gardening Calendar for June

     

     

    ‘Flaming’ June?

    Well, let’s hope so! We could all do with a good summer!

    Time perhaps to realise just how therapeutic time spent in our gardens can be. Keep on top of the young weeds, it will save you a lot of time and energy later!

     

    Lawns - should be growing well now

    As long as you have not used a lawn weed killer, clippings can be placed in layers on the compost heap to assist recycling in the garden.

     

    Vegetables – keep up with those salad sowings.

    Sowing every couple of weeks for crops such as Beetroot, Carrots, Lettuce, Spring onions, and Radish will keep you in fresh tasty salads throughout the summer. It’s also time to sow or plant French and Runner beans and there’s still time to sow Courgettes.

    Remember, if you do not feel confident or do not have time to ‘sow your own’, you can buy plants from seed suppliers online or from your local garden centre.

     

     

    Flowers

    Now the frost season is over its time to plant out those tender bedding plants and put out the hanging baskets.

    Think about next year too as its time for sowing biennials like Wallflowers and perennial flowers such as Delphiniums and Hollyhocks.

    Roses will be coming into flower. Make sure you ‘dead head’ fading flowers to keep the new ones coming.

     

     

    Fruit

    It’s a good idea to net the young fruit of Strawberries – you don’t want to share too many with the birds!

     

    Shrubs

    Some of the early summer flowering types will have finished flowering now, so it’s a good time for pruning them.

     


  • Hints and Tips for June

    The days are longer now and the sun higher with temperatures rising, so don’t neglect the watering.

     

    Watering

    In dry conditions water in the evening and don’t just spray round with the hosepipe. Watering like this just evaporates the following morning and does not reach plant roots. Rather, choose different areas of the garden each time and give it a good soaking. Don’t forget that house plants use more water in the summer.

     

    Grow your own

    If space is a problem for you, you can grow tasty, healthy leaf salad mixtures in seed trays or pots on the window sill or on the patio. Leafy vegetables can lose 70% of their vitamins in as little as 2-3 hours – so it makes sense to ‘grow your own.’

     

     

    When choosing Runner Beans, try the new Runner/French bean crosses. They extend the picking season by cropping earlier and later and produce larger crops. Try ‘Snowstorm’ (white-flowered), or ‘Firestorm’ (red flowered).

    If you have not chosen your Tomatoes yet, look for ‘Grafted’ plant varieties online with seed companies or in garden centres. They are more disease resistant and produce much higher yields.

     

     

    Don’t forget to feed plants.

    Look for ‘slow release’ granular fertilizers. These are formulated to supply the plants requirements right through the summer – they certainly make life easier!

    Remove the ‘runners’ from strawberry plants, they take energy from the plant and reduce yields.

     

    Bloom and Bloom

    ‘Dead heading‘ bedding plants can be an arduous task, but a necessary one to keep the plants blooming. Plant breeders are coming to the gardeners' aid by introducing varieties that do not produce seed yet continue to try to, hence they bloom and bloom until the first frosts – and you don’t have to ‘dead head’. Look for Begonia Non-Stop or Marigold Zenith as examples. We are all for making gardening easier!

     

     


     

  • It's Mow-hican May!

    Give your lawn a Mow-hican haircut this May and help boost the bees and wildlife in your garden.

    The idea is to leave a strip of longer grass when you cut your lawn this month, allowing nectar-rich flowers to grow – providing valuable nectar for our friends the bees and other pollinating wildlife.

    Superlawns

    Plantlife, a wildlife charity, is promoting the Mohican style of grass cut this May explaining that typical lawns can support over 200 different types of wildflowers. The average lawn can support 400 bees a day however ‘superlawns’ cut leaving some longer strips of grass can support over 4,000 bees!

    And it’s not just the long grass that is supporting those all-important nectar-producing wildflowers. By having both shorter and longer areas of grass in your garden tall species of wild plants can grow in the longer grass alongside short species perfectly suited to growing in shorter grass – thereby maximising the number of different sorts of wildflowers in your lawn.

    Short back and sides

    Wildflowers such as the humble daisy, self-heal, birds-foot trefoil, white clover and dandelions thrive in shorter grass – continually producing lots of flowers on shorter stems. These low growing plants produce lots of nectar – this increases when their flowers get cut off by the mower blades stimulating them to produce more flowers – just don’t cut them too often. Plantlife advises a monthly mow on the short grass areas for best results.

    Mow-hican long grass

    The heroes of long grass include flowers such as oxeye daisies, cow parsley, field scabious, cuckoo flowers and meadow buttercups.
    Long grass supports a much larger range of flowers however these tall species take several months to flower and produce fewer flowers on taller stems. Therefore, avoid trimming the longer grass areas too frequently – only once every two months or ideally leave these longer grass areas to grow uncut over the summer months if practical.

    Every Flower Counts

    So why not take part in Mow-hican May and do your bit to support the bees and local wildlife in your garden! Join in with Plantlife to record all the different types of flowers found in British Lawns this May by taking their on-line survey #veryflowercounts – you can find more information here: https://www.plantlife.org.uk/everyflowercounts/

    And don’t forget to upload photos of your Mow-hican lawns onto our social media platforms – we would love to see your lawn’s May haircut!

     


  • April Gardening Calendar

     

    The days are extending, light levels improving and things are really warming up – it’s real gardening weather!

    There’s lots to be done in the garden right now, so let’s get to it!

     

    Lawns

    Hopefully, mowers, strimmers etc. have been serviced and ready to go. Make sure the lawnmower blades are set fairly high for those first cuts as frosts can damage the grass.

    It’s a good time to sow new lawns – and repair old ones!

    Important in sowing is to choose the right grass mix for your needs. Should you need a really hard-wearing surface then choose a blend high in ryegrass species.

     

    Vegetables

    Time to sow vegetables outdoors for healthy summer eating! Peas and Beans, Beetroot, Carrots or summer salads. There’s even still time to sow tomatoes. Early potatoes too can be planted.

    So much choice to get you growing!

     

    Flowers

    Early sowings indoors or in the glasshouse can be transplanted and grown on.

    Hardy annuals like Calendulas and perennial flowers such as Delphiniums can be sown direct outside, calendulas where they are to flower and delphiniums into a finely raked ‘seed bed’ for later transplanting.

    Prune and split up overgrown herbaceous perennials.

     

    Fruit

    Plant pot raised strawberries in containers or the garden soil. You will get three years of sumptuous cropping. You can also hang horticultural fleece over your fruit trees to protect blossom from frosts.

     

    Ponds

    Don’t forget the garden pond. It’s a good time for planting water lilies.

    There’s plenty to do as early summer approaches!

     

     


  • How gardening boosts our mental and physical health

     

    Our gardens will be playing an important wellbeing role in our lives during the coming months, as we do all we can to keep mentally and physically healthy throughout the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

    Physical Health

    With many people in self-isolation - possibly for months - the garden provides us with a space to take in some much-needed fresh air and exercise. Luckily, gardening is great for both our mental and physical wellbeing.

    When it comes to physical health, gardening is an excellent workout of moderate to strenuous exercise - especially if you can do 30 minutes a day, three, four or five days a week.

    Gardening works on most areas of our body: muscles, bones and joints; heart, lungs, and, because it’s a calory-buster, it helps us to maintain a healthy weight.

    The arms, legs, shoulders, back, glutes, neck, stomach and core all benefit from gardening exercise, while all those bending, twisting and stretching movements increase flexibility. Lifting, meanwhile, is a resistance exercise that strengthens the bones and joints.

    A gardening workout will get your heart and lungs pumping and improve your stamina - and doing the exercise in the fresh air is also good for the lungs.

     

     

    Mental Wellbeing

    Gardening is equally beneficial for our mental health, with scientific research pinpointing several reasons why it reduces stress. The first key reason is simply being outdoors. Fresh air, being in nature and soaking up Vitamin D are all mood enhancers.

    Secondly, the exercise involved in gardening isn’t just good for our physical health, it is also recognised for boosting our mood.

    Thirdly, if we are focusing closely on what we are doing in the garden, we are taking our minds off those things that are causing us worry. This also has an element of mindfulness, of being in the moment.

    And finally, the act of caring and nurturing for something - and seeing it flourish - makes us feel better.

    Let’s hope we enjoy plenty of fine weather this year so we can get out into the garden as much as possible!

     


  • Three simple ways to create your own wildflower area

     

    Did you know that Shakespeare mentions over 100 native wildflowers in his complete works?

    Sadly, however, we have lost 97% of our wildflower meadows in the past century, with a knock-on effect to many species of birds and insects. It’s estimated that meadows and other species-rich grasslands now cover less than 1% of the UK.

    The good news is that it’s dead easy for us to do our bit by creating an area for wildflowers in our own gardens, whether it’s in a border, on a bare patch of ground or in a corner of the lawn.

    When you sow your wildflowers depends on the soil you have, but March and autumn are usually good times. Don’t worry if you have poor quality soil because perennial meadows actually do better on soils that are low in nutrients. Annual meadows prefer rich soils so are better suited to borders.

    There are several ways to get your wildflower meadow started - whichever way you choose, there are three important tips to follow: don’t use weed-killers or fertiliser; always ensure you sow only native varieties of wildflowers, and plant wildflowers only on your own land.

     

    It’s as easy as 1,2,3 …

     

    1. You could keep it really simple by laying wildflower turf.

    Specialist suppliers will be able to help, with rolls of turf comprising half grass and half native wildflowers.

     

    2. Another easy way to kick-start your wildflower area is to simply scatter a seed mix over soil you have just forked and raked.

    If using seed mixes, choose traditional hay meadow mixes with 100% native grasses and wildflowers; pictorial seed mixes that are 100% wildflowers are likely to contain some non-native seeds.

    Follow the quantity instructions on the packet. After scattering the seeds, gently firm the soil with the back of the rake. Keep well-watered during the germination process. Alternatively, you can make a shallow drill in the soil and place seeds in. You might want to place markers in the ground, so you know where and what the seedlings are when they start to emerge.

     

    3. If you are converting a corner of your lawn, then keep the grass low in this area before sowing.

    An effective way is to plant small plug plants. If you don’t get around to creating your wildflower area in a section of your lawn in March, then wait until the Autumn, which is a good time of the year if you decide to go for the plugging option.

     

    It might take a bit of time before all that wonderful colour emerges, but you’ll soon see the benefits to butterflies, bees and birds!

    The Eden Project National Wildflower Centre  and RHS have more wildflower meadow tips on their websites.

     

    We would love to see your wildflower garden meadows - add your photos and comments on our social media channels below.

     

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/atcolawnmowers/

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  • Gardening Calendar - March 2020

    Now is a great time if you want to transplant any shrubs or herbaceous perennials or plant new ones. Remember to incorporate a slow-release fertilizer to get the plants started.

     

    Provide plant supports for early spring growth.

     

    Roses – you may have partially pruned some roses in early winter to prevent ‘wind rock’ and tidy up the garden. Now is the time to make that final pruning, removing dead or diseased wood, opening up the centre of the bush to improve air circulation and pruning diagonally above outward facing buds.

     

     

    Lay black polythene down on cultivated soil to absorb the suns rays and warm up the surface for early seed sowing. Recycle the polythene for further use.

     

    Time to think about the first cut on the lawn. Make sure you have had the mower serviced and the blades sharpened. Set the blades at their highest adjustment for those first mowings of the season.

    The greenhouse is a busy place in March, with regular sowings of bedding plants such as Begonias, Geraniums, Cosmos, Antirrhinums and early vegetables such as tomatoes, aubergines and peppers.

    Remember too that you can purchase small ‘plug plants’ of many of these items from the seed merchants if you are daunted at growing from seed.

     


  • What’s new in the world of gardening?

    March is such an exciting time in the garden, with the days lengthening and the light levels improving. You can almost feel the plants priming themselves to burst into growth!

     

     

    Perhaps you are intending to start a new lawn or refresh an old one?

    If the area is not too big you may be thinking of laying turf, or with a larger space, or where cost is a big issue, then growing from seed is the likely option. You could also look at ‘over sowing’ your old lawn to improve the thickness of the ‘sward.’

    Look for the newer ‘fine-leaved’ ryegrass’s in the mixture you choose. These are very hard wearing, but unlike old ryegrass varieties with their broad leaves, have a very fine ornamental appearance.

     

     

    It’s time to think about your Runner Bean crop this summer!

    Originally these were grown as an ornamental plant for the beauty of their flowers. Nowadays everyone has their favourite eating varieties, but are more prepared to try new ones.

    The big development for 2020 is Runner/French bean crosses. Why?, well Runner beans need bees to pollinate their flowers. Thus early or late in the season, or during bad weather, the bees may not be active, so no pollination and no beans!

    French beans though self-pollinate and so they will still crop without the bees being present. So crossing the two in plant breeding gives the best of both worlds; high yields but with the taste and pod size of runners. Look for ‘Firestorm’ (red flowers), Snowstorm (white flowers), or Tenderstar (red/white bicoloured flowers).

     

     


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