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All Previously Posted Top 10 Tryouts & Tips

 This page contains a full list of my previously published weekly (now monthly) Top 10 Tryouts & Tips. They are listed in oldest to newest order. Future tryouts & tips will be added as they are published.
 (Thanks to Mark Willis for the idea for this page).
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(Feb 2012)

1. Seedlings & Damping Off - Keep your pots or other containers in trays with no drainage holes. When the seedlings need water, add it to the trays until it has soaked upwards into the pots/containers. This avoids watering over or around the seedlings, reducing the risk of damping off.

2. Before buying those packets of seeds you want, check the packet to ensure the seeds are still "in date" and also check the amount of seeds you are getting in each packet. The amount of seed can differ widely from one supplier to another.

3. Check those seed potatoes for diseases whilst they are still chitting. Discard any damaged, rotted or diseased ones, don't be tempted to plant them.

4. During cold weather fill your watering cans with water & keep them under cover (i.e. in your shed). This should keep the water a few degrees warmer & avoid "shocking" plants when you water them, especially seedlings.

5. When you are walking on wet soil or clay (bad habit) use walking boards to avoid compacting the surface.

6. Thoroughly clean & disinfect pots, trays & containers before sowing or transferring plants into them.

7.Certain seeds, such as Parsnip, Pumpkin, Peas, Beans can be soaked in water overnight before sowing them, to aid their germination.

8. There is still a risk of frost through to April/May in U.K. so keep cloches & other plant and seed covers handy "just in case".

9. Spend an afternoon at your local garden centre or nurseries to pick out plants to fill those gaps in your garden borders. Herbs can be a useful addition as well as bedding plants.

10. Save that out of date beer & lager left over from Christmas, for later use in "beer traps" as a defence against slugs.
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(March 2012)

1. Save your used tea bags/leaves & coffee grounds & add them to your Strawberry patch as a feed.

2. When its time to cut your Cabbages, make a X shaped cut in the end of the remaining stalk, this should re-grow giving you some extra greens.

3. If you use Hens eggs keep them in a container in the kitchen, they will keep longer than in the fridge.

4. To test an eggs freshness put it into a container of cold water, if it floats its gone off.

5. Try spraying plants infected with aphids, with sugar spray to attract Ladybirds but don't spray the Ladybirds.

6. When your Tomato plants have grown to about 4 inches (10cm) in height remove a couple of their lower leaves near the ground to prevent mould/fungus.

7. Plant outdoor Cucumbers in amongst your Sweetcorn plants.

8. An easy way to make a "drill" or "furrow" for sowing seeds or planting is to put a strong stick or metal tool handle along the ground and make a dent by pressing it down into the soil with your foot.

9. Before sowing Carrot seeds sprinkle them into some dry sand and then sow them to give you a thinner spread of the seeds.

10. Try sowing some Daikon this month for picking in May/June.
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(March 2012)

1. Now is the time of year to mulch & feed your fruit trees/bushes to promote healthy growth.

2.  If you have any plants suffering from Downy Mildew try the following remedy - mix 1 part milk with 9 parts water and spray the stems and tops of leaves with the solution. Reapply after rain. 

3. Although Tomatoes will flourish in most soil types, they will fare better in soil which has had well decomposed organic material added to it. Also add Tomato feed during the growing season.

4. When Planting Beans DO NOT plant close to any of the following, as they may have adverse growing effects: Chives, Fennel, Garlic, Leeks.

5. Got the space, but don't want the extra work, try planting a few perennials such as: Globe Artichokes, Asparagus, Jerusalem Artichokes, Welsh Onions, Radicchio (Biennial).

6.  When planting out your Brassicas add a small cube cut from a Rhubarb stalk to the bottom of the planting hole, this is said to protect against club root.

7.  If your Brassicas are being attacked by Caterpillars sprinkle flour over them, leave it overnight and rinse the flour & dead Caterpillars off, the following day.

8.  If the soil around your plants is dry to your touch, 3 to 4 inches below its surface, then generally speaking your plants need watering.

9.  Plant Basil close to your Tomatoes to protect them from, Whitefly, Aphids & Mites.

10.  Click HERE to get yourself a free gardening journal. Its a PDF file in a blank monthly calendar format, to print off, with monthly tips. I like this one because of its simplicity. It may be too simple if your an expert gardener.
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(March 2012)

1. Many plot holders on my allotments are currently busy using rotavators & strimmers on their plots, but how many of them wear sturdy footwear & eye protection whilst doing so??

2. When sowing seeds remember the 3 basic rules, don't sow too early, don't sow too deeply and don't sow too thickly.

3. To prevent slugs getting into your pots/containers, smear vaseline onto the outside of the pots/containers.

4. Start thinking about making plant collars before its time to plant out your seedlings.

5.Here's another "organic" spray recipe against insects attacking your plants. Although it is not harmful to your health it will kill beneficial insects as well as the baddies. 10 garlic cloves, 10 small chillies, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, 1 litre of water, 1 teaspoon of washing up liquid. Blend, liquidize & strain. Add the liquid to a spray bottle to use.

6. Apart from the fact that the Marigold is a beautiful flower, why plant it in your garden or down the plot?
     (a) They will attract Butterflies.
     (b) They are a natural repellent of, nematodes & other pests.
     (c) They are beneficial to the health of Tomatoes, Potatoes & other vegetables.
     (d) Some species of Marigolds can be used medicinally.

7. If you are running out of plant pots/trays remember to recycle old plastic bottles & food containers as cheap alternatives.

8. If you are staking young trees use old tights or bicycle inner tubes, correctly tied to the stake & tree, to avoid damage to the tree bark.

9. This is the time of year to check your garden/allotment over & remove rubbish and other items that slugs & snails can hide under before they come out to attack your seedlings and plants.

10. Check the sharpness of your gardening tools now, well sharpened tools, especially hoes & spades need less effort to use if they are kept sharp.
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(March 2012)

1. If you are sowing Beetroot seeds (a good crop for beginners) outside in drills, water the drills before sowing. Allow the water to soak in & sow 2 inches (5cm apart) 3/4 inch (2cm) deep. Each seed is actually a cluster. Thin out to 4 inches (10cm) apart. Do not sow Beetroot on freshly manured ground.

2. A few vegetables to sow now if the weather in your area is mild enough. Beetroot, Broad Beans, Peas, Brussels Sprouts (earlies), Kohl-Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Radish, Parsnips, Turnips. Asparagus crowns can be planted as well as, Onions, Shallots & Early Potatoes.

3. If you are running out of ground space for growing plants don't forget areas where you can grow things, sheds, fences, walls can have planters attached to them or use window boxes on outside windowsills. Windowsills indoors can be utilized  to grow herbs & other plants in various containers, as can patios & flat roofs. Trees in your garden or on your plot provide a place for hanging baskets.

4. Chamomile Tea can be used to control Damping Off Disease. Add a few drops to the soil around seedlings.

5. Cleaning Spades (and other tools) Fill a bucket or other container with sand, add engine oil (new or used) to the sand. When you have used the tool plunge it in & out of the sand a few times to clean it. The sand will clean off the dirt & the oil will protect the metal.

6. Tomato plants like high temperature soil. Keep the ground around the base of your Tomato plants covered with black plastic bin bags or similar to keep the heat in.

7. Soak bare root plants in water for several hours before planting out.

8. A 5% increase in organic materials, quadruples the soils ability to store water.

9. March is the time to plant flowering bulbs & tubers.

10. If you like planting flowering bulbs, plant them into pots, bury the pots in the required places in your garden. When the bulbs have finished flowering the pots can be lifted for use later.
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(April 2012)

1. If you are sowing Sweetcorn, sow into compost able pots. The pots can then be "planted" into the ground, thus avoiding disturbing the seedlings roots, which Sweetcorn dislikes.

2. Bay has many uses in the kitchen. Being an evergreen storage is not a problem. Bay does not like frosts but can be grown easily, outside in warm climates. Keep protected from cold & frosts in less warm climates.

3. If you are having problems with animals on your garden or veggie plot try sprinkling some of the following around your plants. Red Chilli Pepper, Cayenne Pepper or freshly ground Black Pepper.

4. Many vegetable growers find Cauliflowers difficult to grow. Try the following. Check that their soil is neutral to slightly alkaline. Ensure the soil is very rich in nutrients, prepared the previous Autumn. About a week before planting apply a general fertilizer (about 90 to 100 grams per square meter). Full sun is required away from trees shrubs & hedges.

5. If you intend to sow Pumpkin seeds (or similar) ensure they are sown at a depth of approx 1 inch (2.5cm) on their edge, do not firm the soil/compost down on top of them after sowing.

6. Recent longer periods of dry weather may mean more watering of plants, but try to avoid over watering. Soil should be evenly moist but not waterlogged. Try to water early morning or in the evening to avoid evaporation from the soil. Water at soil level but avoid splashing soil onto plants which can spread disease.

7. If you have created an Asparagus bed, the following are good "companion plants", Basil, Parsley, Tomatoes, Pot Marigolds. AVOID SOWING/PLANTING ONIONS NEARBY.

8. Radishes are a good vegetable to grow in succession. They like cool moist conditions in an acidic soil. Sow thinly in drills. They will mature quickly within a month or so.

9. Myth or magic, try mixing 1 tablespoon of Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water. Water your Tomato plants with the mixture if they show signs of magnesium deficiency.

10. The Himalayan Blue Poppy is an ideal flower to grow in shade/partial shade in your garden. It is a hardy perennial which prefers a well drained but moist acidic soil. Seeds can be sown from March to May.
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(April 2012)

1. When earthing up your Potatoes, (the last earthing up), ensure enough earth is in place to cover all tubers, preventing sunlight from reaching them. Also ensure that the top of the ridges are not too FLAT, also COMPACT the sides of the ridges. The theory behind compacting is that any spores from blight on the plant, are less likely to get to the tubers and will be washed down into the trenches between the ridges.

2.  Broccoli (Purple & White) is not really fussy about soil, but firm ground with lime added will help Broccoli. Sow in Spring 18 inches (45cm) between plants and 2 feet (60cm) between rows. Keep mulched. Repeatedly pick the flowering heads as they develop.

3.  Look after the Bees this year by planting some Bee friendly plants/flowers in your garden or plot. Some examples are, Coltsfoot, Elder, Borage, White Clover.

4.  One job you know you really want to do? Give your lawn a good raking before feeding & cutting it. It is surprising how much good compost able material will be raked up after the Winter.

5.  Using Foxgloves as a companion plant to root vegetables is said to improve the storage qualities of the root vegetables.

6.  Some examples of vegetables that don't mind growing in partial shade: Cucumber, Kale, Swiss Chard, Parsley, Turnips, Peas, Summer Squash, Radish, Lettuce.

7.  Another method of preventing slugs/snails from getting at your potted plant. Spray the outside of the pots with WD-40. (Don't let the WD-40 get onto the plants).

8.   A water saving tip when planting trees and shrubs. Plant them into well rotted water retaining compost and add a good layer of mulch after planting.

9. When choosing plants for your garden consider the following factors. Size, habit, soil type, season, sun or shade loving, perennial, annual etc.

10.  When you are doing a spell of gardening, remember to take a break now and again. Don't try to do too many things at once and spoil the experience with back-ache or injury.
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(April 2012)

 1.  Saving Cucumber seeds. Leave the Cucumber on the vine until it is FULLY RIPE & the vine is dead. Keep the vine & cucumber dry, leaving it for about another week. After the Cucumber has turned soft, scoop it out, placing the "scoopings" into a container of clean water. Leave the seeds for a week then separate the seeds from the goo. Rinse & dry the seeds for a month then seal in a dry air tight container, keeping them in a cool dry location.

2.  Yet another spray against Aphids. 1 grated Lemon rind (or other strong citrus fruit), 1 Pint of water. Boil the water, remove from heat source add the rind & allow to soak for 24 hours. Strain the liquid, add to a spray bottle & spray the Aphids with it.

3. Hostas are good plants to grow in moist shady locations. In dry weather keep them mulched and add fish blood & bonemeal feed in Spring. If you grow Hostas in containers ensure that the soil does not dry out. Propagate by division in Spring after new growth has started.

4.  April is a good time of the year to prune Roses. Prune back last years stems by approximately half and add some feed around the plants.

5.  A list of a few plants that will add various fragrances to your garden/plot. Antirrhinums, Marigolds, Nasturtiums, Poached Egg Plants, Sweet Peas, Sweet Scabious, Buddleia, Daphne, Lilac, Magnolia, Mahonia, Mock Orange, Ornamental Quince, Witch Hazel, Roses, Clematis, Jasmine, Honeysuckle, Wisteria, English Bluebells, Hyacinths, Narcissus.

6.  The best times for planting out your seedlings (after they have been hardened off): Early morning, late evenings, cloudy/dull conditions, showery weather or after rain. Try to avoid planting on hot sunny days.

7.  Got a good memory? Check those containers you used last year for keeping various liquids in especially if you use chemical sprays etc. If you are not sure what has been in a container, dispose of it safely and use a new container.

8.  Some fruit and veggies, ideal for growing in confined spaces/containers. Carrot (Parceba) (in pots), Cucumber (Mini munch) (in confined spaces), Lettuce (Cut & come again) (confined spaces), Pepper (Caldero) (Hanging baskets), Tomato (Garden pearl) (Hanging baskets), Runner bean (Hestia) (Large pots on the patio), Strawberry (Florian) (Hanging baskets).

9.  Has your old electric kettle just burnt out, use it as an extra water jug for watering houseplants.

10.  Summer flowering bulbs can be planted at this time of the year if the soil is not waterlogged? Plant in well drained soil into a hole approximately 3 times the bulbs' size. Add drainage (gravel) to heavy clay areas of soil. Mark the areas where the bulbs have been planted, especially if other, later planting is planned.
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(April 2012)

1. If you have used "permanent marker pens" to write on your plant labels try cleaning off the writing with wire wool/scouring pad and water, easy to do.

2. When planting Tomatoes, instead of planting the plants upright, lay the plants along a shallow trench, leaving only the top leaves above soil level. The whole stem should put out extra roots and will soon grow upright. A larger root area should give more nutrition to the growing plants.

3. Many Daffodils & other similar plants have finished flowering. Leave the foliage to die back naturally, this will put extra energy back into the bulbs for next seasons stronger growth.

4. Recently I read an introduction to an allotment blog indicating that crop rotation was too complicated & a waste of time. I realize that in some circumstances crop rotation is not practical but it is important and not really that complicated. Remember the following "phrase" for rotating your veg.

 Potatoes  Like  Being  Roasted in Oil.               

Potatoes/ (then)  L = Legumes/ (then)  B = Brassicas/ (then)  R = Roots/ (then)  O = Others.
 This assumes 5 different areas of ground over a 5 year period.     
You can grow some of the others (O) with some of the others for a 4 year rotation.

5. Pyrethrum (made from chrysanthemum flowers), is one of many natural insecticides. "Natural" insecticides can still be harmful to humans. Keep them away from children & wash all fruit and vegetables correctly before eating them.

6. O.K. so its probably raining "cats & dogs" at the moment but when the dry weather sets in again, try watering your plants with water left over after cooking your veggies, (after it's cooled down). The extra nutrients in the water from the cooked veggies will benefit the plants as well as saving more water.

7. If you are troubled with ants (outside areas), try the following (for adults only). Find the entrance to their nest. Liberally pour some bleach into the nest, let it soak in for a few minutes then pour boiling water into the nest. Take care when using bleach & boiling water. An alternative to this method is use garden lime, putting 2 or 3 handfuls into the nest.

8. Liquid feeds. Use a plastic container with a hole in the base, fill it with nettle leaves & put a heavy weight on top of the leaves. When a black liquid oozes from the hole, bottle it. Dilute the liquid 1 part liquid to 20 parts of water before WATERING AROUND plants with it.

9. Avoiding Eelworm.
 Plant certified, eelworm resistant potatoes. Use a crop rotation of at least 4 years. When lifting your Potatoes don't put the roots onto the compost heap. Don't plant diseased tubers.

10. Peas are normally ready for staking (adding pea sticks or supports) when the plants have developed their third set of leaves.
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(May 2012)

1. When sowing Peas into pots, half fill the pots with compost & water well. Fill up the pots with dry compost and sow the the seeds at half inch depth. The seeds should draw up enough water from the wet compost, and there is less chance of the seeds rotting. Other larger type seeds could also benefit from this method too.

2. Orange peelings (rinds) scattered around flower beds/planted areas may deter cats.

3. Leek rust is a fungal disease affecting Leeks, Garlic, Chives & Onions, accelerated by high Nitrogen & low potassium content in the soil. The effect shows as bright orange spots on leaves and can restrict growth if severe enough. Some control can be achieved by, not crowding plants, buying resistant varieties, disposing of affected leaves after harvesting.

4. Attract Tachinid flies into your garden/plot by planting, Aalyssum, Calendula, Dill & Fennel. These predatory flies will dispose of many garden pests for you.

5. If you have any plants that need thinning out do it when the soil is moist or water before thinning. Water again after thinning is completed. This method puts less strain on remaining plants.

6. Plant Lettuce between your Strawberries. The Lettuce will provide moist conditions which Strawberries will appreciate.

7. Fuchsias do not mind cool temperatures. They do not like very hot temperatures. Keep their soil moist but not wet. "Misting" the plant if the leaves are drooping is beneficial. Add fertilizer every couple of weeks whilst the plant is blooming.

8. If you are arranging cut flowers in vases which include Daffodils. Put the Daffodils into their own vase because they give off a compound which can be toxic to other plants.

9. Yep another Aphid spray. Chop up 3 to 5 Rhubarb leaves & add to a quart (U.S.A.) 1.136 liters (G.B.) of water & boil for 30 minutes. Strain the liquid and add 2 DROPS of washing up liquid. Add the liquid to a spray bottle & spray the aphids. DO NOT USE THIS SPRAY ON EDIBLE PLANTS.

10. A few vegetables for sowing this month if weather conditions allow are: Runner beans, French beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Calabrese, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chicory, Kale, Kohl-Rabi, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Spring Onions, Swedes, Turnips. Sow Sweetcorn, Marrows, Pumpkins under cover.
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(May 2012)

1. If your Tomato plants are still sitting in pots/trays & are looking in bad condition due to the recent cold, damp & lack of sunlight, try insulating the pots/trays to keep some warmth at soil/root level.

2. May/June is the time for planting out Brussels Sprouts (weather & ground conditions permitting). Use a dibber to make a hole for each plant. Keep plenty of soil around the roots of each plant and plant to the first set of leaves. Firm in well to avoid wind rock later. If the weather/soil is dry water in well.

3. Old Bar-B-Cue skewers are a good tool for catching slugs with, if you don't like handling slugs. (Who does)?

4. Lawn fertilizer (adults only) 1 can of beer, 1 cup of Epsom Salts, 1 cup of Ammonia, 2 cups of water. Mix together add to sprayer and spray the lawn.

5. Put seeds you are going to sow into the fridge or freezer (for 1 week) prior to sowing. This should speed up their germination time.

6. Mix equal amounts of cider vinegar and water together. Spray onto fruit trees during the growing season. (This spray is supposed to be effective against Fire blight).

7. Got an old wheely bin, fit a tap to it and use it as a mobile water butt. Do not overfill it, ensure that it does not tip over whilst moving it.

8. Garlic is a good companion plant to Celery, Cucumber, Lettuce, Peas, Roses and some fruit trees.

9. Freezing & using Leeks. Remove the outer leaves, rinse, pack & freeze. Plunge into boiling water for 10 minutes to use.

10. This tip is a link to advice about constructing a wooden planter: CLICK HERE
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(May 2012)

1. Tired of tying & pegging down netting to protect your plants, veggies & fruit, try the following method. Place garden canes/sticks around the perimeter of the plants you wish to protect. Place more canes/sticks across the planting area. Place an empty upturned plastic bottle over the top of each stick. Lay the netting over the top leaving an overlap all round. To hold down the netting use more plastic bottles filled with water placed over the overlapping netting. When you have finished with this method the water can be returned to your water butts/tanks for re-use.

2. Try planting beans alongside Sunflowers. The beans will benefit from the pollinators attracted by the Sunflowers.

3. If your Rhubarb has started to flower cut off the flower stalk immediately as allowing it to grow will weaken the plant.

4. A good method of weed control around your fruit trees is to plant strawberries.

5. Try planting Lemon Balm and Mint in pots. These can then be strategically placed and/or moved around the garden or plot to deter many insect pests.

6. Clubroot (a fungal disease) is generally associated with cabbages & other crucifers. 2 examples of plants outside this group that can also be affected are, Ryegrass & Red Clover.

7. Make a simple bird-scarer for your plot or garden. Take 1 medium sized potato 3 birds feathers ( each approximately 6 inches long & as straight as possible) Push 1 feather into one end of the potato (about 1 inch) and push the other 2 into the potato, approximately half way along its length, on each side, keeping all the feathers pointing out straight. Attach a piece of string through the potato and hang from the end of a long stick or cane pushed into the ground. The profile should look similar to a bird of prey, thus keeping other birds away. (Not guaranteed, but it does work)

8. Several plants that prefer an alkaline soil are: Cabbage, Celery, Cucumber, Geranium, Olive, Pinks, Thyme.

9. If you have a few empty spaces in your garden flower beds try planting a few vegetables such as Lettuce or Radish in amongst the flowers.

10. This one is a link to free pergola plans (a guide for beginners)  CLICK HERE
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(May 2012)

1. Many gardeners will be growing Potatoes this year, but remember the plant itself is poisonous. Do not eat the leaves, stems, flowers or seed. If any of the tubers are green or partly green do not eat them. Be safe.

2. If you are planting out Runner beans from pots try the following procedure. Water the beans well, in their pots about 30 minutes prior to planting. Meanwhile prepare the planting holes. Use a dibber to creates holes to about the depth of the pots, this keeps the soil slightly firmer than using a fork or trowel. Add a used tea bag to the bottom of each planting hole and add water to the hole, then firm each plant from its pot into the hole. Water all the plants again after planting is complete.

3. French climbing beans like a sunny sheltered growing area. They will require supports up to approximately 6 feet (1.8m). They make good companion plants for low growing vegetables that like shade, such as Lettuce, Cucumber, Radish.

4.Some plants that may deter Carrot fly. Coriander, Lettuce, Rosemary, Sage, Salsify. The Onion family.

5. Avoid watering Strawberries late in the day. The drop in temperature at night can add to the chance of rot or mould to the plants.

6. Five weeds that are harmful for various reasons, (under the 1959 Weeds Act) are, Broad-leaved Dock, Common Ragwort, Creeping or Field Thistle, Curled Dock, Spear Thistle.

7. Carrots are said to grow better when grown near chives. Chives will also deter aphids.

8. Save the planet, activate your compost heap, get a pee bale. (Men only). Sorry ladies.

9. Finding some extra room in your greenhouse now that the weather has improved? Use the extra space for hanging up and drying off your "smalls".

10. This is a link to an excellent website with information about wild flowers/plants CLICK HERE.
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(May 2012)

1. Don't leave gardening tools, or other pieces of equipment, lying around the garden or around the plot whilst you are working. They can easily be accidentally trodden on or tripped over, causing serious injuries.

Right Arm Injury
My Right Arm After Tripping Over Some Bricks Down the Plot Yesterday


2. If you are planting out Sweet corn it should be planted in rectangular blocks at about 18 inches (46 cm) spacing to achieve correct wind pollination. (except for minipop). The soil should contain plenty of humus and several months of sunshine are required to fully ripen the cobs. Cross pollination can be a problem with some varieties.

3. Some tips to stop the spread of Tomato blight. Water plants in the morning, not in the evening. Keep the plants' leaves as dry as possible. Don't touch the plants' leaves with your fingers. PULL OFF a few of the lower leaves from each plant. Grow blight resistant varieties.

4.If your Turnips have gone to seed (bolted) before they have matured, one cause is that they have been sown/planted too early in the year. Other causes are, erratic watering combined with hot weather, inadequate spacing in heavy soil.

5.Consistency is the key when watering potatoes. The plants' soil should be kept moist but not wet. Water about every 5 days during dry weather until the plants flower. After flowering water about every 3 days but rainfall should also be taken into account. Stop watering when the plants start to die back.

6. Ants in your compost bin/heap. Get rid of them by frequently turning the compost. Ants in your compost bin/heap is also a sign that the compost is too dry. This is better than too wet but try to get an even moist balance by damping down the compost with water after turning it.

7. Although our recent weather has been hot & dry with few slugs/snails out to cause problems, one method of keeping them off your Strawberry bed is to spread saw dust/shavings around the Strawberry plants, after each rain shower.

8. A good reason for keeping your plot/garden weed free is that Cutworms are more likely to infest ground that contains plenty of weeds, than weed free areas of ground.

9. Wooly Aphid spray. Mix 1 cup of water and 1 cup of nasturtium leaves.  Simmer the mixture for 20 minutes, allow to cool and add water to equal the amount of the remaining simmered liquid. Spray the aphids.

10. Add extra mulch around the bases of your plants to retain moisture during hot dry periods of weather.
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(June 2012)

1. If you are trimming or pruning trees, shrubs or hedges at the moment, spare a thought for birds that are nesting at this time of year. I'm sure that the trimming and pruning can wait until their families have flown the nests.

2. One method to use when thinning out Leeks is. When they are 6 to 8 inches tall (15 to 20cm), thin out the plants as required to 6 inches (15cm) apart. Make a hole approx 6 inches (15cm) deep for each plant, using a dibber, with each hole 6 inches (15cm) apart. Make the hole slightly wider than each plants thickness and fill with water. Drop each plant into the water, making sure it is not floating. Some of the root can be trimmed off to encourage extra root growth but ensure part of the top growth is also trimmed off to compensate for root loss.

3. High winds have been forecast for many areas of the UK this coming weekend. It might be advisable to check the security of your tree and plant supports if you are using any. When staking plants ensure the plants are tied on the windward side of their supports where possible so that the plant will be pushed towards the support.

4. If you have created hanging baskets this year, remember they will require regular watering, in hot weather they will probably need watering on a daily basis. Feeding is also important, a weekly liquid feed is advisable.

5. The following veggies can be sown directly into your garden or plot this month. Beetroot, Broccoli, Carrots, Chicory, Kohl-rabi,  Lambs Lettuce, Pak Choy, Peas, Radish, Spinach, Spring Onions, Squash, Swede, Sweetcorn, Swiss Chard, Turnips. Start off Winter Cabbage under glass now.

6. What is a pollinator? An animal/insect or other, (e.g. wind pollination)  that transfers pollen from the Anthers to the Stigmas of flowers. This process causes fertilization which is needed for plants to produce seeds.

7. If your Potatoes leaves are looking dull, with a blueish green appearance and small dark spots begin to appear underneath them, then this is a sign of Potassium deficiency.

8. If you require a reliable plant for a rockery, try the Mexican Fleabane. It is ideal for sun or shade and well drained soil.

9. If you are growing Cucumbers keep the following plants away from them. Aromatic herbs, Sage, Tomatoes.

10. If you like Onions/Chives try growing some Welsh Onions. These are perennials which can be used like Spring Onions or take part off the plant and allow it to re-grow.
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(June 2012)

1. If your Currant bushes have red/brown and yellow blisters on the upper parts of their leaves, check underneath the leaves for aphids hiding there.

2. During the U.K.'s continuing wet June weather, ensure that your ripening Strawberries are kept off damp soil. Placing straw underneath the fruits will help to protect them from damp and mould.

3. One reason for Nitrogen deficiency in plants is a high Carbon content in the soil. This causes the organisms in the soil, to use up Nitrogen whilst breaking down the Carbon content.

4. Many essential oils extracted from various plants have many uses, but be warned, their use in high concentrations can be dangerous.

5. When thinning Lettuce they should be thinned according to variety. For example, Leaf Lettuce 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15cm), Head Lettuce 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30cm).

6. Add Perlite to your potting compost and mix together for use in hanging baskets and/or planters. Perlite will absorb water & release it when the compost dries.

7. If the weather is wet in your neck of the woods and you can't venture out into the garden or down to the plot, why not take some time out to clean or repair your gardening tools or overhaul the lawnmower, strimmer etc. Some oil on your shed padlock will keep it from seizing up?

8. If you have any seed heads appearing on your Onions, break them off as soon as possible. Throw them in amongst any Carrots you are growing as a defense against Carrot flies.

9. Not to every ones taste. (For Adults only) Heat some Strawberries in a frying pan adding a little sugar, add a little fruit liqueur allowing it to boil off. Serve with ice cream.

10. When all the jobs are done the gardener will invent a new one? (Unknown Author).

Strawberries for Tea Yesterday (Despite the Rain)

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(June 2012)

1. Most Ground beetles (sometimes called black beetles) are carnivorous, eating many garden pests such as slugs, snails and caterpillars. They are a useful friend to have in the garden or down the plot.

2. Growing the following plants/flowers in your garden or down the plot will attract many different types (of good) pollinating insects. Anise, Angelica, Calendula, Coriander, Daises, Dill, Fennel, Goldenrod, Hollyhocks, Lemon balm, Marigolds, Morning glory, Parsley, Sunflowers, Yarrow, Zinnias.

3. Add some sugar to the soapy water you wash your hands with after gardening, to remove the dirt and stains more easily.

4. Punch holes into old tin cans then fill the cans with Potato peelings. Bury the cans around your garden/plot. Every few days lift the cans and dispose of any Millipedes you find, they are a garden pest. Don't confuse Millipedes with Centipedes though.

5. Chlorine (Cl) is needed in the soil to aid photosynthesis, stimulate root growth and aid water circulation in plants.

6. If you wish to grow vegetables or flowers but you are limited for space, try container growing. Remember the following tips when using containers. Good drainage is essential. Ensure the containers are raised slightly from ground level. Choose the largest containers you can fit into your available space. Water plants well after planting. Check the soil in the containers regularly to ensure it is not too moist or too dry.

7. If you are growing Marrows allow at least 1 square meter per plant. When the Marrow starts to form, place some protection underneath it, to prevent rot starting from the soil. Using a liquid Tomato feed every few weeks should aid growth.

8. Another use for coffee grounds is to put them on the compost heap. Count the number of extra earth worms in the compost afterwards.

9. Small & Large white butterflies are discouraged by Tomato plants. It might be worth planting a few Tomato plants around your Brassica beds.

10. This is a link to great gardening  innovation. CLICK HERE
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(June 2012) 
Tomato flower
 

1. Old car wheels (minus the tyres) can be useful for storing your garden hose around. A long bolt or similar could be attached through a wheel nut hole to act as a winding handle.

2. Blossom end rot of Tomatoes is usually caused by calcium deficiency, usually in acid soils other triggers can be, irregular watering, waterlogged ground and lack of ventilation or humidity.

3. Did you know that Onions and Garlic are poisonous to cats and dogs.

4. Make a moth repellant mix from any combination of the following, Cloves, Rosemary, Mint, Thyme, Eucalyptus, Dried Lemon Peel. Add the combination to a muslin bag and hang it in your wardrobe or put it in your clothes drawer.

5.Over the past couple of years I have noticed a distinct rise in the number of Earwigs inhabiting my plots. One method of catching them is to place inverted plant pots containing straw on top of sticks in different locations around the affected areas. Dispose of any trapped Earwigs on a daily basis.

6. If you have a fish pond in your garden ensure that any domestic or garden creatures that may accidentally fall into it, have an exit place to be able to climb out again.

7. Beetroot can develop a disease called Blackleg, normally at the seedling stage. The seedlings turn black & shrivel up. This is generally caused by thickly sown seeds not being thinned out or the seedlings growing on waterlogged soil.

8. June is usually a good month for clearing weeds from your Potato crop as well as earthing up the Potatoes, weather permitting?

9.Freezing broad beans - Shell and grade, blanch for 2 minutes OPEN freeze, then pack them. To use, plunge into boiling water for 5 to 10 minutes.

10. Companion planting - Planting Geraniums close to Grapes, Peppers, Roses or Tomatoes will benefit them.
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(July 2012)

1. If you intend to save your own vegetable/flower seeds this year, ensure they are kept as cool and dry as possible. Store them in glass or tin containers, (they may sweat if kept in plastic or polythene containers). Add a sachet of silica gel to each container to help keep the seeds dry.

2. Again the continuing rainy, wet conditions in UK are causing problems. If your garden/allotment soil is becoming waterlogged/compacted take any opportunity to let air into it. Digging is not advisable but pushing a garden fork into the soil repeatedly over a given area, will aerate the soil and may save plants from rotting off.

3. Scarlet Pimpernel is a common garden weed (very common on my allotment). It is poisonous to humans if ingested. It can also cause dermatitis. Don't forget to wear gardening gloves when necessary?

4. If you have a shaded area of ground and are looking for plants to grow there, try the following herbs, which should grow well even in shade. Chives, Lemon Balm, Mint, Parsley, Thyme. Remember to keep Mint and possibly Lemon Balm contained.

5. Don't discard your unwanted window blinds, they can be re-used as shading in the greenhouse.

6.Many allotment/garden plants are growing tall (despite the wet UK weather) don't forget to use stakes where necessary.

7. Brassicas should be enjoying the current cool damp UK Summer but don't forget to give them some extra feed. Spread some blood, fish, bonemeal around the plants. Hoe this feed into the soil after spreading.

8. Weeds are a haven for slugs and snails so the sooner the weeds are gone so are the slugs and snails. Try using aluminium foil as plant collars to deter slugs and snails.

9.The Red spider mite is often a nuisance in greenhouses. An organic method to combat it, is to introduce the predatory mite Phytoseiulus persimillis.

10. The following is a link to a website (USA) providing plans to construct your own greenhouse. If the current weather continues in UK you might need a greenhouse next year. (just a thought)?? CLICK HERE
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(July 2012)

1. If you intend to save your own Carrot seeds this year, ensure that there is no (Daucus carota) Wild carrot, Queen Anne's Lace growing in the vicinity of your Carrots. They will cross breed.

2. Queen Ann's Lace or Wild carrot has edible roots BUT there is a similar looking plant called Water Hemlock which is deadly to eat. Can you positively identify them?

Queen Anne's Lace (Daucus carota)

3. If you are growing Pak Choi, try harvesting some of them while they are still young. Cut off the leaves about 2 inches (5cm) above soil level and the plant should produce further leaves.

4. Looking at the current weather trends in UK, if you want Spring Cabbages for next year, sow the seeds at the end of this month (under glass or cloches) and plant out in the Autumn.

5. Planting Fennel and Yarrow in your garden or down the plot will attract Lacewings which feed on, Spider mites, Aphids, Caterpillar Larvae and other garden pests.

6. Blackspot on Roses is caused by wind borne spores (fungus) in water droplets. Sprays are available to control Blackspot. Spray Roses in early Spring and again in Summer or in accordance with the sprays instructions. Clear away all infected leaves and water plants when the sun will dry foliage quickly.

7. Garden peas are ready to harvest when the pods are round/fat. The peas on the lower parts of the plant usually mature first so harvest from the lower part of the plant moving upwards.

8. Some vegetables that like acid and neutral soils are:  Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Cucumbers, Marrows, Courgettes, Parsley, Parsnips, Peas, Radish, Swede, Sweetcorn, Tomatoes, Turnips.

9. Some veggies that like alkaline soil:  Asparagus, Beetroot, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Leeks, Lettuce, Onions, Spinach.

10. Thinking of keeping chickens? The following is a link to Coope making plans (PDF) >>>CLICK HERE.
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(July 2012)

1. If your Tomatoes are struggling to ripen try putting some Banana skins on the ground, around the base of the plants.

2. The UK weather is forecast to be getting warmer and drier by the end of next week. It may be a chance to sow/plant some flowers/vegetables that were not done in June and early July.

3. The following are some vegetables you can still sow (outside) now and in the next few months. Calabrese (up to the end of July), Carrots (through to September), Chard (July & August), Coriander, French beans, Kale, Lettuce,  Oriental greens, Peas, Radish, Spring cabbage, Spring Onions.

4. If you are using mulches, use well rotted organic materials as these are less likely to attract slugs & snails, than fresh organic materials.

5. If you are lucky enough to have grown some Kiwi fruit to pick, it will be ripe when it gives slightly, if pressed. If the fruit is hard, it is not ripe, but is over ripe if soft and starting to shrivel.

6. Dandelions may be a pain to eradicate from your garden or allotment but they can also be helpful. They emit ethylene gas which helps fruit to ripen?

7.  This growing season has been pretty good for Beetroot. If you intend to freeze any, try the following method. Clean the Beetroot, select specimens about 7cm in diameter. Twist off the tops and boil in water until tender. Pack them, leaving 1cm headroom and freeze. Storage time is about 6 months.

8.  Splitting of root vegetables is usually caused by erratic watering, (for example heavy rain after a dry spell of weather). To prevent splitting, water root veg regularly every 2 weeks. Improve your soil with plenty of organic matter. Remember roots do not like heavy manuring of their ground just prior to sowing.

9.  If you have "runners" growing from your existing Strawberry plants place pots of potting compost into the ground and pin the runner down into each pot where it will root. After about a month detach the runner from the main plant and plant out your new Strawberries into a well composted, prepared bed in the Autumn. Only use runners from main plants that are healthy.

10. Nematodes are available for purchase from various outlets, to combat Vine weevil. The nematodes come in powdered form, mixed with water, watered onto the soil, usually in late Summer.
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(July 2012)

1. If you are spending long periods of time tending your garden/allotment during hot periods of weather, remember it is easy to get sun burnt or dehydrated. Make sure you have enough to drink and keep your head and the back of your neck protected from the suns rays.

2. Plants growing in containers such as hanging baskets will dry out quickly during hot weather. Make sure that their soil is kept moist.

3. If your bean plants are looking stunted/wilting with yellowing leaves there are 3 possible causes. The soil is too wet, the soil is too dry or the soil is not fertile enough for correct growth.

4.  July and August is the time to sow Spring Cabbage. If you are sowing directly outside, find a sheltered area of ground which has been manured earlier in the year or last Autumn, partial shade is o.k. Cloche protection may be needed later in the year. Thin out the plants in the following February/March. Harvest from April/May.

5.  If you are likely to have seeds left over this year, put them into a container and keep them in the fridge ready for sowing next year.

6.  If you want to attract bats to your garden or plot (they are insectivores), try growing the following plants, which are generally "evening scented". Evening Primrose/Jasmine, Moonflower, Wild rose, Yarrow, Tansy. Chives, Lemon balm, Mint. Cherry and Apple trees.

7.  The larvae of the bright red Lily beetle causes much damage to various plants, leaving holes in the leaves stems and flowers. Chemical treatment is in the form of, Pyrethrum, Natural fatty acids, Surfactant-based products.

8.  If you have ant hills in your lawn, place a container on top of it. As the temperature rises the ants will take their eggs up into the container. Lift the container later and dispose of the eggs.

9.  If you are using wooden handled garden tools, the wood will benefit from being treated with Linseed oil. Clean any dirt from the handle with a damp cloth. Apply the Linseed oil with a dry cloth and if it soaks well into the wood, apply another coat. WARNING - Cloths containing Linseed oil can self ignite.

10.  The following link will take you to hundreds of free fruit recipes  CLICK HERE
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(August 2012)

1. If you are troubled with deer eating their way through your garden or plot, try planting Rosemary plants or sprinkling Rosemary oil around your planted areas.

2. This is an addition to a previously posted tip. If you are putting runners from Strawberries into pots, for later planting out, when you peg the runner down, use pegs that are longer than the depth of your pot. Push the peg through a hole in the base of the pot. This will anchor the pot down as well as the runner.

3. If you are growing greenhouse Tomatoes, remove some of the lower leaves from the plants. This allows more air circulation, more light to the plant which aids ripening and lessens the chance of soil borne diseases being splashed onto the plants whilst watering.

4. If your legumes bed will lie empty over the winter prior to using it for brassicas, try sowing  Winter tares as a green manure. ( sow July to September). Winter tares will fix nitrogen into the soil. Work the Tares into the soil about 4 weeks before sowing your Brassica crop.

5. The Devils Coach Horse, (Staphylinus Olens) a long black beetle is a good friend (predator)  to have in the garden or plot. It will eat such things as larvae, slugs and insects. If it is disturbed it will adopt a scorpion like stance. It's bite can be painful.

6. Adding lime to compost heaps is not beneficial and can actually kill off beneficial bacteria which are active within the heap.

7. To stop your growing Pumpkins from splitting, provide them with some shade as they develop and get larger.

8. It will soon be Christmas but some vegetables to sow in August are, Carrots, Cress, Kale, Lettuce, Radish, Pak-Choi, Rocket, Salad onions, Swiss chard, Turnip. Certain varieties will germinate better than others at this time of the year in average UK weather conditions.

9. Don't forget to "deadhead" your garden flowers now, as many perennials will re-flower into Autumn.

10. Pick your Runner and Dwarf french beans on a regular basis. This will prevent them from growing tough and stringy.
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(August 2012)

1. Parsnips are said to taste better when cooked and eaten after a heavy frost before they have been lifted. Try the following, lift your Parsnips, clean & cut them to "cookable" sizes. Put the cut pieces into freezer bags and leave them in the freezer for 1 week before cooking them. If they don't taste as good as after a frost, blame the cook/chef.

2. Thinking of harvesting your Carrots but not sure wether they are ready to be picked. The tops of the Carrots should be just showing at soil level and not green. If the width of the top looks a good size in line with the variety sown, then the length of the Carrot is probably o.k. Carrots can be left in the ground after maturity as long as they are not standing in waterlogged soil.

3. August & September is a good time to check sheds and other outside buildings to ensure that they are watertight before the Winter weather sets in.

4. Try adding some freshly picked Nettle tips to your pasta sauce. The taste is excellent, high in protein and minerals.

5. If you want some new (Autumn planting) Potatoes for this coming Christmas, August/September is the time to plant a few tubers in pots or containers filled with a mix of compost and soil. For pots of approximately 12 inches wide by 15 inches deep plant either 1 or 2 tubers per pot.

6. Adding Beetroot to your diet may help your endurance during physical exercise. It is also believed that Beetroot helps to reduce blood pressure, possibly due to nitrates contained in the Beetroot.

7. Now is the time to start thinking about pruning back Summer flowering shrubs. Wait until their flowers have fully died back, then prune.

8. Autumn fruiting Raspberries should be pruned over Winter. Cut the canes down to ground level before the end of January, ready for next years crop.

9. Bamboo plants are nice ornamental plants to have in your garden. They can become invasive if they are left to grow unchecked, especially the types that spread by underground shoots (rhizomes). Look for clumping Bamboos when purchasing.

10. Honey glazed baby Carrots recipe = 

16 ounces baby carrots 1 tablespoon butter 2 tablespoons light brown sugar 2 tablespoons honey 2 teaspoons cornstarch. Directions:   In a microwave-safe dish, combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on high 10-12 minutes, stirring once, until tender.
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(August 2012)

1. Your Tomato plants may have adequate supports as they grow, but don't forget to support the trusses to prevent them from snapping/bending from the extra weight of the developing Tomatoes.

2. August may be your last chance, this season, to sow Welsh onions. This perennial Alium grows with thicker stems than Chives and is a useful addition to salads.

3. If you have a taste for Garlic and have a very shaded and damp area of ground to spare, try planting some perennial Wild Garlic (Ramsons).

4. Certain herb leaves such as chopped Chives, Mint & Parsley can be easily frozen in ice cubes.

5. Nettles are said to be a good indicator of a nitrogen rich soil, some fruit bushes may benefit from having Nettles planted near to them.

6. Cut the legs from old tights and use them to protect developing Cabbage heads from attacks by Catterpillars, Earwigs etc. Old nylon socks can also be used for the same purpose.

7. Pruning of Wisterias should be done in July or August and again in January or February,. but remember when doing any Winter, pruning that heavy frosts can easily damage plants that have recently been pruned.

8. If you are using old pieces of carpeting as coverings for compost heaps or on the ground, they can contain toxins in certain backings of the carpets.

9. Yellowing of the leaves and drooping of Brassicas are possibly signs that they require the addition of a multi-purpose plant food.

10. Some house plants to try growing in low light conditions are: Snake plant, Dracaena, Spider plants and certain types of ferns.
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(August 2012)

1.  2 good varieties of Cabbage for Autumn sowing are Kilaton and Wheelers Imperial.

2.  Save your 1 and 2 Liter plastic ice cream cartons, they are ideal for using to pack your frozen vegetables into and they stack well in most freezers. Saves money buying containers too.

3.  Ensure that all parts of your Potato plants are burnt or bagged and disposed of, if they have any traces of blight on them. Don't be tempted to compost them or dig/rotavate them back into the ground.

4.  Gooseberry bushes are easy to propagate. From about July onwards, lay one of the lower branches along the ground and peg it down. Cover the branch with soil, leaving the tip uncovered. When the branch has rooted, (test by pulling it gently), it can be lifted, with as much soil attached as possible, potted and severed from the main (parent) plant.

5.  Cabbage White fly  (Aleyrodes proletella), is a well known pest in southern England, affecting brassicas. It can be combated by using Pyrethrums and natural fatty acids.

6.  Harvesting Shallots takes basically 2 forms. If you are harvesting their tops this can be done after about 30 days of top growth. The bulbs take approximately 90 days to develop. Pick the bulbs when the green of the plant has died back, usually mid to late Summer.

7.  Controlling rats/mice using methods other than poisons can be done by sonic control. Sonic repellers emit ultrasonic waves, which disturb the mice/rats. The repellers are safe for other wildlife and humans. Check the repellers specifications before purchasing.


8.  Use Tomato feed for plants that produce fruit, or use it on flowers as it usually contains high amounts of Potassium.

9.  Most hosepipe bans (in the UK) have been lifted now. If you have a pond containing fish you can still use a hose to top up ponds when bans are in force.

10.  Runner and French beans should be in abundance at the moment. Pick them whilst they are young and tender on a regular basis to ensure development of further beans.
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(August 2012)

1. Lutein is a hydroxy-carotenoid constituting the macular pigment of the human retina. Increasing lutein intake from foods could increase the density of this pigment and decrease the risk of developing macular degeneration. Yellow carrots are a novel food source that could increase lutein consumption. (N.L.M.)

2. At the moment this coming September is expected to bring some good weather in U.K., but if you intend to sow Broad beans, Lettuce, Radish, Spinach, Peas, Endive or Spring Cabbages it might be advisable to give them some protection from the elements.

3. This may be time consuming but its money saving. Those lengths of rope with 3 or 4 strands can be unraveled and cut to various lengths to give you a multitude of plant ties for the price of 1.

4. If you intend to grow Alpine plants remember the following tips. Most Alpines must have free draining soil. Moisture retention is necessary so add gravel or similar around the plants. Only water around the plants not over them. Keep them weed free and protect them if cold weather is expected, especially from frost.

5. Standing around in your shed waiting for the latest rain shower to pass over? Why not make a start cleaning some of those plant pots and trays, ready for their later use.

6. To attract beneficial predators  into your garden or plot, try dissolving a yeast based spread? with water, then spray it around your garden/plot. Check the other ingredients of the spread before using.

7. Planting shrubs in Autumn should give them a head start before the soil temperatures start to cool down. Try some of the following if you have the space available. Variegated Holly, Garnet tree, Firethorn, Orange dogwood.

8.Certain plants are better than others for planting on clay soils. Try some of the following. Ferns, Coreopsis, Potentilla, Virburnum.

9. Do we suffer from mosquitoes in U.K.? 3 plants that repel them are Marigolds, Catnip and Rosemary.

10.  A link to The National Wildflower Centre (Liverpool U.K.) >>>>CLICK HERE
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 (October 2012)

1. October is usually the best time to prune Climbing Roses cutting away any dead wood at the same time.

2. Sowing any/some of the following for overwintering in milder climates can be done in October. (Broadbeans, Round seeded Peas, Carrots, Winter greens, Onions). Some cloche protection may be required. Planting of Spring flowering bulbs can also be done in October.

3. Planting fruit trees/bushes should be done at this time of the year. Add plenty of organic material to the planting area prior to planting.

4. If you are harvesting your Cabbages for storage, check them for slugs hiding in the leaves. Rinsing the Cabbages with salt water should remove any slugs but ensure the Cabbages are dry before storing them in a cool place.

5. Rhubarb can be lifted and divided in October keeping root damage down to a minimum.

6. Remove yellowing/diseased leaves from Brussels Sprouts and check the heads of the plants for any caterpillars lurking within the younger leaves.

7. Have your Beans stopped production? Cut the stems off just above ground level and compost the foliage. Leave the roots in the ground over Winter to release their Nitrogen into the soil as they rot down.

8. Mulching around shrubs and border plants is a good idea in October. The mulch will help to keep nutrients in the soil over the Winter months.

9. Dig over empty vegetable beds (October/November) adding well rotted organic materials as you go along.

10. Start the process of cleaning out pots and trays ready for later use. Disinfect them at the same time using seed and plant friendly disinfectants. Ensure the pots and trays are dry before storing them.
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(November 2012)

1. Don't forget the yearly ritual of checking over bonfires, before they are lit, to ensure any wildlife is not hibernating inside them.

2. Although the weather is wet cold and dreary over most of the UK, if you can collect fallen leaves from trees and shrubs, it will make good leaf mould for later use in the garden or down the plot.

3. Probably your last chance to plant the following in November. Garlic, Broad beans, Overwintering Peas, Overwintering Onion and Shallot sets. Try the following in a frost free greenhouse or under protection. Winter Lettuce, Endive, Pak-Choi, Spinach.

4. Save those long plastic containers discarded from curtain poles or window blinds. Cut away one side of the container and use them for light weight cloches to cover seeds/seedlings.

5. If you have a fish pond in your garden which may become frozen during the Winter, put a tennis ball, or 2, into the water to prevent it completely freezing over. Keep any water movement going during the Winter months.

6. Winter protection in cold areas for Rhubarb may consist of covering the crowns with about 10 inches (25cm) of straw. Mulching around the crowns will supply nutrients to the roots and may provide protection from frost also.

7. Some green manures can still be sown now. They will help to subdue weeds, which is helpful during spells of bad weather when the ground cannot be weeded. The green manure can be turned into the soil at a later date to disperse their nutrients.

8. This years extremely wet weather in UK has seen a large rise in the snail and slug populations. It may be prudent to purchase some nematode products to combat them, prior to next seasons sowing and growing begins.

9. One method of cleaning used plant pots is as follows. Firstly soak the pots in cold clean tap water for a few hours to loosen up any dirt on them. Fill a container with 2 gallons of clean water and add a half cup of bleach to the water. (Use protective clothing when handling bleach). Thoroughly scrub the pots until clean and rinse them again with fresh water. Leave them to dry before storing or using them again.

10. If you are storing seeds over the Winter months, keep them in tins. This will stop mice and other vermin knawing their way through containers made from less robust materials.

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(December 2012)

1. Most Brassica require the presence of Boron in the soil for their healthy growth. Boron deficiency occurs more quickly in dry light, sandy soils and leaches out of soils fairly easily. Some of the ways that Boron aids plant development are in pollination, moving sugars within the plants and fixing nitrogen. A high concentration of organic matter in the soil where Brassicas are being grown will help to retain Boron. If you are having difficulty with your Cauliflower curds not developing or going brown, Boron deficiency could be the cause. Turnips and Swedes also react badly to Boron deficiency.

2. If you are one of those kind people who feed wild birds during the Winter, ensure that they also have a supply of drinking water and that it does not freeze over.

3. Try the following method to keep Wood Pigeons off your vegetables. Place canes/sticks in the ground upright, spaced approximately 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20cm) apart, around the perimeter of the growing area. This method is probably best used over smallish areas, i.e. 2 or 3, 15 foot rows of for instance Cabbages. If you find that this method works it will do away with the need to use netting or other fiddly protection, giving you easier access to any areas needing weeding etc.

4. Although I like to keep my allotments as weed free as possible, weeds can be of assistance in some cases. Birds feed on weed seeds, weeds help to maintain moisture/ nitrogen in the soil.

5. Try leaving a few crushed Garlic cloves around in your shed/greenhouse over the Winter, to deter vermin.

6. December is a good time to remove dead foliage and stems from your perennial plants, if you have not done so already.

7. December is a good time to plant Rhubarb Crowns. Keep them covered with straw, cardboard or wooden boxes. If you use plastic containers to cover Rhubarb (or other plants) it is likely to "sweat" inside, so beware of the moisture freezing.

8. Christmas will be here soon, remember that the discarded packaging such as cardboard and paper can be composted and all those pieces of string/ribbon used around Christmas presents, will make good plant ties later.

9.  Now maybe a good time to check all your garden tools and equipment for damage and clean/maintain them. If any are beyond repair, put the word out to friends and family about ideas for Christmas presents?

10. Most gardeners need more Thyme down the plot or out in the garden. Take some Thyme for family, Thyme for friends, Thyme for each other, Thyme to reflect and leave some Thyme on your hands.
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 (January 2013)

 1. Are you a pet owner? Dogs Cats Rabbits etc. When you have groomed them save up the hair/fur. This can be deposited around your garden/allotment so that birds can use it for lining their nests. If the birds don't use it up, it may well discourage slugs from the area.

2. Slugs and Snails will be loving the wet weather we have experienced in UK this year and know doubt their populations will have drastically increased. One good method of killing them off is to spread oatmeal around on slug infested areas. Cheap and effective this method it be! (thanks Yoda).

3. Some allotment holders say they have little work to do on the allotment during the Winter months. If your soil is dry enough digging and/or rotavating it and adding compost or manure, will add nutrients and structure to it. This will give you a head start by the time Spring arrives.

4. Apply some mulch to your garden plants before any permanent frost sets in. The contents of used grow bags can be re-used for this. Lettuce or similar veggies can also be sown in old grow bags in the greenhouse.

5. Make sure your houseplants are not drying out, courtesy of your central heating being on during the Winter.

6. Many shrubs and trees can be planted in January. Try adding some evergreens to your garden, for permanent colour.

7. January is a good month to start chitting your seed potatoes. Lay them out in trays in a dry frost free place. Discard any damaged or diseased specimens.

8. This is an old tip I posted many moons ago but I thought it was worth re-posting. When you discard your (real) Christmas tree this year, saw the trunk into sections just below each set of branches, leaving a few inches of trunk intact above the branches. The branches on most Christmas trees grow around the trunk at the same height. Cut the branches down to a manageable length. Drill a hole through the trunk above the branches. Screw the completed "hooks" in place in your shed for hanging tools etc up on. Or sharpen the trunk piece and use for pegging down netting etc.


Pegs
Christmas Tree Peg
9. Cleaning out your shed, greenhouse/outbuilding now is a good idea. Get rid of all the unusable clutter, "that has been kept for later" before the sowing/planting season starts.

10. If you intend to carry out any Winter pruning, check the weather forecast first. Heavy frosts can damage recently pruned trees and shrubs easily.
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(February 2013)

1. I've put this tip at No1 because I think this year is going to be a real battle against slugs & snails here in UK. Keep a container of salt at hand when you are out in the garden or down the plot. Cooking salt is probably better than table salt. Carry a salt shaker in your pocket and sprinkle any slugs/snails you see with the salt.

2. Although the weather in my area is still very wet it is also very mild. Some seeds that can be planted directly outside this month are: Broad beans, (Peas under cloches beware of very wet ground and vermin), Lettuce and other salad crops (under polythene cloches), Carrots, Chicory, Radishes, Spring onions & Beetroot can all be sown under cloches. Raspberry canes, Blackberries, Strawberry plants & Rhubarb crowns can be planted outside now, unless the ground is frozen or waterlogged.

3. Shallot sets can be planted this month (not into waterlogged soil). The planting area should have been manured/composted in the Autumn. Rake over the planting area removing any weeds. Add some general purpose fertilizer and plant in rows 30 to 40cm apart with a space of 20cm between each set.

4. Planting areas can still be covered with dark polythene sheeting or cardboard sheets. This will help to warm the soil earlier and also prevent nutrients being washed away by further rain.

5. If you are planning to plant fruit trees this year, ensure they are planted before March, again do not plant them into waterlogged or frozen soil.

6. The majority of Beetroot seeds consist of a cluster of several seeds. Some monogerm varieties are available. If you sow these varieties then less thinning is needed.

7.  The following can be pruned in February, Apple, Blackberry, Loganberry, Buddleja davidii, Clematis (Summer flowering), Currant (black red white), Fig, Fuchsia (hardy), Gooseberry, Honeysuckle, Hydrangea, Lilac, Raspberry, Some Roses.

8. Check the Ph of your soil this month so that you know whether it is too acid, alkeline or it is balanced.

9. Top up your pots tubs and planters with fresh compost this month.

10. Keep checking your stored vegetables for any signs of decay, rot or mould.
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(March 2013)

1. As the cold weather continues into March any seeds being sown outdoors will probably need protecting with cloches or fleece for the time being. When sowing seeds into dry ground or compost in pots or trays it is worth dampening the soil/compost before sowing to stop seeds being easily washed away.

2. If you are still tidying up weedy or overgrown areas of your plot or garden remember some wild plants we class as weeds will attract early bees to them. Bees also need to drink so spare a little water in your garden for them.

3. When the warm weather does finally arrive so will the army of aphids and other pests so now might be a good time to prepare your concoctions to combat them, (hopefully organically). The following plants should also deter aphids. Anise, Chives, Coriander, Garlic, Leeks, Petunias, Onions, Radish.

4. Parsnips can usually be sown between February and May. They don't normally like cold wet ground to germinate, so warming the soil prior to sowing will help germination. Sow thinly in drills 1cm deep with each row about 30cm apart.

5. Most vegetable gardeners are aware that Rhubarb leaves are toxic but did you know that Parsnip seedlings are poisonous.

6. Red dead nettles are very attractive to bees but they can host Potato leaf roll virus and carry Cucumber mosaic virus.

7. Making your own fertilizer from Comfrey will save using chemical fertilizers. Place the harvested plants into a suitable container adding a little water. Leave to rot down when a black liquid will be produced. Water the liquid down to about 15 (water) to (1) black liquid and use freely over your planting areas.

8. If you are growing outdoor Tomatoes this year they will make good companion plants TO, Asparagus, Peppers, Roses. Tomatoes will benefit FROM, Alliums, Basil, Borage, Carrots, Celery, Geraniums, Marigolds, Nasturtiun, Oregano, Parsley and Petunias. Avoid growing near, Beetroot, Brassica, Corn, Dill, Fennel and Potatoes. 

9. Keep checking your water storage containers for leaks (perhaps caused by freezing) or you may find them empty later in the year when the water is needed. 
10. A few jobs for March depending on weather and ground conditions in your area.
SOWING/PLANTING IN MARCH 
1. Any remaining leeks should be lifted now. Pull any remaining parsnips.
2. Plant onions and shallots in mild areas.
3. In mid-March plant out early potatoes.
4. Others to sow this month: Beetroot, Broadbeans, Early Carrots (under cloches), Early Peas, Brussel Sprouts (earlies), Kohl-Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish,Parsnips, Turnips.
5. Outdoor cucumber & Tomatoes can be sown now and kept in a greenhouse or propagator.
6. Plant fruit bushes/canes. Plant Summer Cabbages, Cauliflower (under cloches).
OTHER JOBS IN MARCH
1. Prune Apple and Pear trees early in the month.
2. Spread compost around the base of fruit trees/ bushes/canes.
3. Use cloches or fleece to warm up the ground prior to planting later.
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(May 2013)
 1. Now that plants are starting to grow due to warmer soil conditions try adding some general purpose fertilizer to flower borders and around other established plants.

2. If you are intending to sow a new lawn this year, May is probably the last month to do it in most parts of U.K.

3. If you grow fruit trees, remove any suckers as soon as they appear.

4. Light & sunlight are very important factors when growing vegetables, most need about 6 hours per day for healthy growth. Lettuce, Peas, Carrots, Kale & Chard will tolerate shady conditions. Fruit bearing vegetables such as Tomatoes, Squashes and Peppers need full sun.

5. If you are growing Carrots this season do not sow them near to Strawberries, Tomatoes or Grapes which can have a negative effect on the Carrots growth.

6. If your garden or allotment soil is still cold and wet do not add any mulch to it, as this will only cause mould and disease to start.

7. Onion tip. When you are preparing Spring onions for a meal, normally the base of the Onion along with the roots is cut away and disposed of. Try keeping part of the base with the roots intact and replant for more Onions. Water well after replanting the base and roots. This should work both with home grown Onions as well as shop bought ones.

8. If your Cabbages are affected by Cabbage worm make a 50/50 mix of Bicarbinate of Soda and White flour. Dust the mixture over the affected plants.

9. Okra is native to Africa & grows best in warmer climates than in UK, it can be grown undercover though, use well composted soil. Sow seeds 1/2 inch (1cm) deep & 3 inches (7cm) apart in rows, soak seeds before sowing and thin to about 2 feet (60cm). Water but do not soak Okra. Harvest while young and tender on completion of flowering.

10. 
SOWING/PLANTING IN MAY
1. Sow the following this month: Runner Beans, French Beans, Beetroot, Broccoli, Calabrese, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chicory, Kale, Kohl-rabi, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Spring Onions, Swedes, Turnips.
2. Sow Sweetcorn, Marrows, Pumpkins (under cover).
3. Plant out seedlings such as, Brussel Sprouts, Summer Cabbage, Celery, Leeks. Winter Cauliflower, Spring Cabbage, Sprouting Broccoli & Kale should be ready for harvesting now.
OTHER JOBS IN MAY
1. Keep weeds down by hoeing.
2. If late frosts are likely keep fleece handy to cover plants with.
3. Thin out plants as required.
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(June 2013)
 1. If you are growing Potatoes don't forget to earth them up and don't allow any developing tubers to come in contact with sunlight. On the subject of earthing up, Carrots will also benefit from being earthed up as a protection from the dreaded Carrot fly.

2. Keep your hoe moving in and around your vegetables and other plants, attack those weeds whilst they are small and easier to deal with. Don't wait until they have spread their seeds.

3. If you are watering small seedlings or young plants, keep 1 or 2 full watering cans somewhere warm overnight so that the water remains a few degrees higher than it would be straight from the tap or water butt. This is to prevent shock to the plants when watering them.

4. When growing Cucumbers keep them away from Tomatoes and Sage. They may benefit from being grown near, Carrots, Beet, Dill, Marigolds, Nasturtians, Peas, Radish and Sunflowers.


5. Planting Egg plants, Tagetes and Calendula will attract Hover flies into your garden or plot. They are avid eaters of Aphids.

6. Do you park your car at the allotment when you are there? If so and you are picking herbs to dry for later, leave them in the car on sheets of newspaper to dry, on a sunny day of course. Nice smelling car too.

7. Couch grass can be a real pain in the garden or down the plot. Sow some Tomato seeds in amongst it and wait for the results. Should be Tomato plants not Couch that survive.

8. Don't forget to check your hedges and shrubs, before you start to trim them. Birds may be nesting in there.

9. June is possibly the best month for planting perennial shrubs.

10. More to do in June:
SOWING/PLANTING IN JUNE
 1.   Plant out Brassicas, Broccoli, Calabrese, Brussel Sprouts, Summer Cabbage and any beans which are in pots.
2.  Sow the following: French Beans, Runner Beans, Beetroot, Cabbage, Cauliflowers, Chicory, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Endive, Kohl-rabi, Marrows, Squashes, Swedes, Sweetcorn and Turnips.
3.  Successional sowing of certain seeds, should be done throughout the Summer.
OTHER JOBS IN JUNE
1. As June is usually warm and dry do not neglect to water plants, a good soaking of plants is better than frequent amounts of a little water.
2. Keep weeds down, hoeing will aid water to soak in also.
3.  Salad crops should be ready for harvesting, along with other early crops.
4.  Check Lettuce/Brassicas for slugs/snails especially after rain or watering.
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(July 2013)
 1. If you are harvesting oodles of fruit this year, 1 use for it, is to puree it and freeze it for future use. Simmer the fruit until soft then add to a blender until smooth, sweeten to taste. Try it with iced cream or mix with yoghurts or mousses.

2. Don't neglect your herb plants during the Summer. Herbs will go to seed the same as other types of plants so pinch out the heads as soon as they appear, should stop the bitter taste of the herb as well.

3. The past couple of weeks have been generally hot and dry here in Somerset, causing extra watering of many plants. To conserve water, do your watering either early mornings or late evening to alleviate evaporation from the soils surface.

4. Plenty of weeds in your garden or plot?? Try spraying them with vinegar and save on expensive weed killers. Using vinegar as a weed killer may lower the pH of the soil slightly but this should only be temporary.

5. Many gardeners grow lots of flowers in small pots, perhaps arranged around the garden, patio or other spaces. Small pots tend to dry out more quickly than larger ones during hot weather. Why not consolidate the plants from the smaller pots into larger pots, creating new displays and cutting down on the extra time and effort of watering and feeding.

6. When budding gardeners take over a new allotment or garden one important factor that is forgotten is the required depth of top soil. Before reaching the, usually, compacted level of the sub-soil a depth of 1 foot (35cm) of top soil is a good starting point.

7. If you are lucky enough to be lifting Carrots this month, do this on dry wind free evenings, to cut down on any "Carrot Smells" attracting the dreaded Carrot flies.

8. Add chicken manure tea to your garden or plot. 1 part manure to 4 parts water. It is high in Nitrogen so take care not to burn any plants when watering with it.

9. Potatoes are heavy feeders requiring, Potassium and Phosphorus. Add fertilizer after planting and a couple of times during the growing period.

10. A few more reminders for July:

SOWING/PLANTING IN JULY
1. Sow French Beans, Beetroot, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage Spring Cabbage, Chicory, Kohl-rabi, Lettuce, Peas, Radish.
OTHER JOBS IN JULY
1. Watering is usually a major task during July.
2. Mulching may help to retain water in the soil but be on the lookout for slugs and other pests.
3. Keep weeds at bay with more hoeing.
4. Feed tomatoes and Onions.
5. Check Brassicas for caterpillars/eggs.
6. Water brassicas with a salt & water mix to keep caterpillars off them.
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(August 2013)

 1. If your crops are being attacked by Aphids at the moment, try the following spray. Add a good squirt of washing up liquid to 2 liters of water and then add 3 or 4 drops of vegetable oil also. Spray your plants liberally not forgetting to spray underneath their leaves. More than 1 spraying may be required but this mixture works. I used it again this year on my Runner beans.

2. Despite varying expert opinions on watering veggies in hot weather the best times to do so are early morning or evenings, both for conservation of water and plant care. If temperatures are hot during the day water droplets on leaves can magnify the suns rays causing scorching. A good soaking of plants every few days during hot dry conditions is better than little and often but don't flood the plants. Try to water around plants and avoid splashing soil/compost onto the foliage.

3. One way of conserving water is to plant water loving plants in the same area of ground together.

4. During the past few weeks in UK thunder storms and heavy rain showers have been frequent. If they have stopped you from working outside in the garden or down the plot maybe some maintenance jobs to garden tools or machinery can be done inside or tidy the shed, catch up on the record keeping of whats been sown and grown so far, or make a note of water leaks in out buildings now before the Winter weather sets in.  

5. Epsom salt, (magnesium sulphate) has many uses in the garden or down the plot, aiding germination and chlorophyll production to mention just 2. Try adding 2 tablespoons of Epsom salts to 1 gallon of water, use on your houseplants every 6 weeks. The same mix is good for ailing Tomatoes as required.

6. This is a link to the R.H.S. veg sowing/planting planner, (PDF) (could be useful). Veggie Planner

7. With the decline of  certain species of bee population and other insects, it may be worth learning how to carry out hand pollination of plants, now, before its too late!!

8. Next season it is one of my projects to sow and grow plenty of oriental greens. Some examples of these are: Komatsuna, Mibuna, Mizuna, Pak-choi. These veggies are suited to the UK climate (Summer and Autumn) and can also be overwintered with protection.

9. If you are juicing fruit or vegetables much of the left over pulp can be used in cooking other dishes if correctly prepared. Good on the compost heap if you don't have "cooking time".

10. 

SOWING/PLANTING IN AUGUST
1. Sow the following this month: Spring Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Kohl-rabi, Lettuce (Winter hardy), Spring Onions, Radish, Spinach and Turnips.
2. Plant out Savoys, Cauliflowers and Kale.
OTHER JOBS IN AUGUST
1.  Keep weeding & hoeing.
2. If you are storing potatoes for later use, ensure any damaged ones are used, not stored.
3. Pinch out side shoots on tomatoes, leaving 4 or 5 trusses on each plant in general.
4. Turn your compost heap and spray with water if it is very dry.
5. Compost & manure heaps are attractive places for wasps to build their nests, so be wary when disturbing the heaps.

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(September 2013)
 1. Getting ready for the Winter, early and late Spring offerings, try sowing some of the following now and in the coming couple of months. 1. Broad beans 2. Peas (they may need protection in colder areas) 3. Garlic. 4. Onions, Spring onions and Shallots 5. Winter lettuce 6. Spinach 7. Spring cabbages.

2. Do not prune Plum trees when they are dormant over the Winter months, this can give them Silver leaf disease, which can kill them.

3. September is the time to plant many Spring flowering bulbs.

4. Money saving tip. If you have any lengths of rainwater downpipes spare (not the metal ones), cut them into pieces, (a junior hacksaw or similar makes an easy cut), approximately 3 inches (8cm) long, for use as plant collars, they are durable and long lasting.

5. I thought this link may be useful to my viewers from the U.S.A. GLENS GARDEN.

6. Cut back your tall perennials once they have stopped flowering.

7. Tidy up the Strawberry bed, removing decaying foliage. Stake down runners into pots or into the ground. Remove any unwanted runners.

8. Collect any ripened seeds that you want to save for future use.

9. Start to pot up any herbs which need to be brought indoors over the Winter months.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN SEPTEMBER
1. Winter hardy lettuce can be sown in September as well as hardy Spring Onions.
2. Spring Cabbages can be planted out now.
3. Parsnips will taste better if left in the ground until after a frost.
OTHER JOBS IN SEPTEMBER
1. Prune Summer fruiting Raspberries.
2.  Runners from Strawberries can be planted now.
3. Add manure, lime or green manures to your soil, depending on each beds condition and your crop rotation.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
 (October 2013)

1. Now that many crops have been harvested, if your garden or allotment requires digging now is the time for some double digging. Add compost or manure as the digging progresses ready for next years crops.

2. Dig up any outdoor Tomato plants still bearing unripened fruit and hang them up indoors to ripen.

3. If frosts are forecast in your area don't forget to harvest Pumpkins/Squashes before the frost damages them.

4. October is a good time to sow Broadbeans and plant Rhubarb.

5. Think about moving your delicate glazed/ceramic pots indoors to protect them over the Winter.

6. Collect seeds and berries from plants that you want to propagate later.

7. If any of your plants are suffering from blackspot (fungal disease) do not compost their leaves, burn any affected foliage as soon as possible.

8. If  your Potatoes have suffered from blight make sure all the tubers have been lifted and disposed of. Blight can survive the Winter on live plant tissue below ground.

9.October is probably a good time to add slow acting fertilizers to areas of ground planted with fruit trees and perennial plants. Mulch also releases nutrients into the soil slowly. Fallow areas of ground to be used next year will also benefit from adding slow release fertilizers to it.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN OCTOBER
1. Japanese onion sets can be planted in October.
2. Broad Beans can also be planted as well as Garlic.
3. Hardy Lettuce can still be sown.
OTHER JOBS IN OCTOBER
1. Pull and store Carrots.
2.  Lift any remaining potatoes.
3. Manure empty areas of the plot as required.
4. Clear away dead/decaying foliage.
5. Tidy fruit beds removing dead leaves from Strawberries. Re-plant runners.

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(November 2013)

1. With less time being spent gardening over the Autumn & Winter think about collecting re-usable items that can be used in the garden or down the plot next season. Plastic bottles with the spray tops, for example, can be cleaned after they are used up, and re-used for garden sprays.

2. If you are lucky enough to have poly tunnels and cloches, try using the cloches inside the tunnels to doubly protect crops sown over the Winter months from the cold weather.

3. Provided that the ground is not too wet, November is a good time to divide various plants, as well as adding a good layer of mulch to plants in borders and beds.

4. Bulb planting should be completed by the end of November. Hint plant bulbs to a depth equal to 3 times their diameter.

5. Kale, Broad beans, Oriental veg and Garlic can still be sown/planted in November. Some roots and over wintering greens can also be grown under protection, as well as Sweet peas, cyclamen and Lupins.

6. Many garden centres are selling discounted gardening supplies and other items at this time of the year, try a visit and pick up a bargain.

7. Mulching, manuring, composting on the allotment can be done now especially if the soil is dry enough to rotavate or dig the manure/compost in at this time of the year.

8. If you have been thinking about obtaining some plant/seed catalogues, try the following link which has a good selection of them, plus other home and gardening freebies, some are applicable to the U.S.A. too. CLICK HERE.

9. Don't forget to check any bonfires, before lighting them, some animals may have decided to hibernate in them!!

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN NOVEMBER
1. Garlic cloves can be planted out.
2. Sow peas (round type) if the ground is not waterlogged.
3. Parsnips can be left in situ.
OTHER JOBS TO DO IN NOVEMBER
1. Lift and store any remaining carrots.
2. Harvest Winter Cabbage and Cauliflower.
3. Prune back fruit canes.
 4. Remove any rotting fruit/vegetation

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(December 2013)

1.  If you have done the final cut of the year to your lawn, clean off the lawnmower and remember if you are using unleaded petrol it does not "keep" so drain off any fuel left in the mower before storing the mower until next year.

2. Red & white currants, Gooseberries, Autumn raspberries & outdoor grapevines can be pruned this month but not if heavy frosts are expected. Seal any pruning wounds.

3. Most summer bulbs are not Winter hardy so dig them up, remove excess soil and store them in a cool dry place indoors, ready for re-planting next year.

4. If your outdoor plant containers are too large or heavy to move to a frost free place, make sure they are insulated for the Winter. Fleece, bubble wrap or (polythene sheeting over cardboard sheets) can be used.

5. Hardwood cuttings from Currants & Gooseberries can be taken this month.

6. Order your fruit and veg catalogues now.

7. If the soil on your allotment is still reasonably dry, digging/rotavating compost or manure into it, can still be carried out this month.

8.  Think about growing "woody" plants permanently for next year and beyond, these will help extract carbon dioxide from our atmosphere.

9. Keep clearing dead and decaying vegetation from gardens, lawns and allotments adding it to the compost heap.

10. Unless you are behind with your work “down the plot” enjoy your Christmas shopping and have a Merry Christmas!!!

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(January 2014)

 1. Due to the recent nationwide wet weather, now is a good time for doing some of those gardening tasks that can be done undercover such as cleaning, repairing and sharpening gardening tools or purchasing new ones to replace those that are worn out. Well sharpened tools are easier to use than those that are not.

2. Don't leave it too late to order plant seeds or they may arrive too late to meet their sowing dates.

3. Now is a good time to check any stored vegetables for diseases, rot, mould or insect damage.

4. Digging of heavy soils should be completed this month. No dig beds will just need clearing of debris and weeds. If your soil is very acidic, the addition of lime, after digging, will help plants avail themselves of many nutrients. Do not lime directly after manure has been added to the ground.

5. Continue to clear away fallen leaves, other decaying vegetation, pots and items of debris lying around your garden or plot. Doing this will cut down on the amount of hiding places for slugs and snails.

6. Replace those tired old rose plants with new bare root varieties in January, unless your ground is frozen or waterlogged.

7. Forcing of vigorous growing Rhubarb plants can be started this month.

8. Onions can be sown from seed this month. Sow into compost in trays or plugs. Keep them at an approximate temperature of 20C. Transplant to individual pots when the plants are about 2 inches tall and once they are well rooted transfer them to a cold greenhouse or cold frame to harden off, before planting out into their final prepared onion bed.

9. If you intend to grow Runner beans this season, now is the time to make a Runner bean trench. Dig out the trench approximately 30 to 40 cm deep & wide and to the length you require. Line the trench with cardboard/newspaper and add kitchen waste, old brassica stems etc. Replace the soil over the waste materials when they have almost filled the trench. (Note: Do not use plastic covered cardboard).

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN JANUARY
1. The use of poly tunnels or greenhouses in January & February is very useful.
2. Sow round seeded peas in trays/pots or direct if your ground is not saturated or inhabited by mice. Protect with cloches if necessary.
3. Winter Salads/oriental greens can be sown in trays/pots indoors for later planting out.
4. In warmer areas try hardy oriental greens under cloches.
5. Try Winter Lettuce again protect with cloches or tunnels.
6. Sow Broad Beans, protect if necessary.
7. Sow bulb Onion seeds under glass.
8. Sow Brussels Sprouts & carrots but protect from frost.
9. Harvest Sprouts, force Rhubarb, prune Apple & Pear trees.
OTHER JOBS TO DO IN JANUARY
1. Dig over any areas of the plot not already done, but take care as heavy wet soil will be damaged by digging,
2. Add organic matter or fertilizer depending on which crop is to be planted.
3.  Salvage fallen leaves for making leaf mould.
4.  Keep your plot tidy, check stakes/trees are secure from winds.
5. Fill any trenches (for runner beans) with compost/kitchen waste.
6.  Order seeds for later use.
7. Clean and disinfect greenhouses.
8. Feed the birds.
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 (February 2014)



1. Add some extra rain water harvesting containers to your garden or allotment before the current rain stops and we get a hosepipe ban introduced. (Californians may be too late).

2. If you are thinking of growing Carrots and/or Cabbages this season, try growing some Sage plants close to them as the Sage will discourage cabbage moths and carrot flies, as does Rosemary.

3. Many perennial plants can be divided this month if your beds and borders are not frozen or waterlogged. Large clumps can be divided into 5 or 6 smaller clumps and smaller clumps into 2 or 3 clumps. Re-plant the divided clumps straight away after division.

4. Lots of different types of vegetables can be sown outdoors (under cover) this month. Again make sure that their planting area is not waterlogged or subject to possible freezing.

5. Fruit trees and bushes can be fed with Sulphate of Potash this month.

6. Digging over allotment beds can still continue this month as well as lightly forking over flower beds and borders. Do not walk directly on wet soil whilst digging, use "walking boards" underfoot.

7. If you are planting out Strawberry plants this month give them a good covering of mulch to keep any frost off them.

8. Many types of seeds can be sown now, in heated greenhouses or similar. Beware of the seedlings damping off, after sowing early. Spraying early sown seedlings with a suitable fungicide may be necessary.

9. My local B & Q is currently selling seed potatoes (2 bags for £6), slightly cheaper than many other suppliers. Check out your local B & Q if your interested.

10.

SOWING/PLANTING IN FEBRUARY
1. Sow winter greens (under cloches or tunnels).
2. Sow round seeded peas (probably best in pots or trays).
3.  Sow tomatoes seeds early Feb (heated greenhouse) late Feb (unheated greenhouse).
4. Depending on conditions, sow broad beans, early peas for harvesting in May/June.
5. Parsnips can be sown in Feb but sowing in March may give better germination.
6. Try planting shallots under cloches.
7. Lettuce, radish and rocket can be started early under cloches or in the greenhouse.
8. Spinach, turnips and Summer cabbage can be sown under cover.
9. Sow onion seeds indoors (15degC).
10. Cane fruits can still be planted in Feb.
OTHER JOBS TO DO IN FEBRUARY
1. Cover over unused areas of the plot with cloches or black plastic sheeting to warm the soil earlier.
2. Clean out pots and trays.
3. Repair or replace any broken/damaged tools.
4. Feed the birds.

         +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
(March 2014)


1. Refresh your houseplants by removing some of their soil and replacing it with some new potting soil.

2. A great variety of plant seeds can be sown this month, both indoors and out. If you are unsure when and how to sow certain seeds check through any seed catalogs you may have, many will tell you when and how to sow seeds.

3. Keep some of your watering cans filled and in a sheltered place. When its time to water delicate seedlings the water being used should be a few degrees warmer, than water straight from the tap. This will help to stop seedlings being "shocked".

4. In my neck of the woods many birds are already looking for nesting sites. If you have built or purchased bird boxes over the Winter months, now is the time to put them outside.

5. Many gardeners will already have sown Tomato seeds somewhere warm. When planting out allow at least 3 feet (92cm) between plants. Remove some of the lower leaves and plant deeply. Add some sturdy stakes immediately after planting.

6. The dreaded job of weeding, if you have weeds appearing in your beds/borders now is the time to remove them (by their roots if possible), before they set seeds, giving you more work later.

7. Prune evergreen shrubs before their growth begins.

8. When your Daffodil flowers begin to fade, dead head them before they set seeds. This will save energy for the bulb hopefully adding it to the next display of flowers.

9. Mulch around trees and shrubs this month. Water in the mulch after adding it, to allow some of the nutrients to wash down to the roots more quickly.
10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN MARCH
1. Any remaining leeks should be lifted now. Pull any remaining parsnips.
2. Plant onions and shallots in mild areas.
3. In mid-March plant out early potatoes.
4. Others to sow this month: Beetroot, Broad beans, Early Carrots (under cloches), Early Peas, Brussels Sprouts (earlies), Kohl-Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish,Parsnips, Turnips.
5. Outdoor cucumber & Tomatoes can be sown now and kept in a greenhouse or propagator.
6. Plant fruit bushes/canes. Plant Summer Cabbages, Cauliflower (under cloches).
OTHER JOBS IN MARCH
1. Prune Apple and Pear trees early in the month.
2. Spread compost around the base of fruit trees/ bushes/canes.
3. Use cloches or fleece to warm up the ground prior to planting later.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
(April 2014)

1. My local weather forecast this evening was of wind and rain showers over this coming weekend. Also mentioning sub-tropical conditions prior to some frosty conditions next week. Make sure you have got some cloches or other protective coverings handy, to protect those delicate seedlings that may already be growing on your plot or in your garden. Late frosts can still be a problem well into May.

2. If you have a garden pond containing various aquatic plants, April is the time to divide water lilies and other plants. Re-plant the divided plants into pots of aquatic compost.

3. April is a good time to start planting Summer flowering bulbs. Beware of planting them into wet ground or add sharp sand to the planting area if it is wet.

4. Start making up those home made sprays to combat aphids, more of which will start to appear as the weather becomes, (hopefully warmer). Or alternatively plant some of the following that should deter aphids, Onions, Radish, Petunias, Garlic, Coriander, Chives, Anise.

5. A good time to sow vegetable seeds, after the ground has been prepared, is during showery or misty weather. "Watering in" the seeds should then not be necessary.

6. Strawberry plants being grown outside can be covered with cloches to encourage earlier fruiting.

7. FREE TOMATO SEEDS (from Heinz Ketchup U.K.). You have to "like" their facebook page.
CLICK HERE (to go to the linking page).

8. Go to beneva.com for your monthly chance to win some roses (U.S. and Canada).
CLICK HERE to go to their page.

9. New lawns can be sown in April and established lawns will benefit from having any bare patches re-seeded this month.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN APRIL
1. Sow the following: Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Kale, Kohl-Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Rocket, Spinach. Potatoes, Onion and shallot sets.
2.  Artichokes and Asparagus can be planted.
3. Outdoor cucumbers & tomatoes can be sown & kept in the warm.
4. Plant French Beans, Lettuce & Sweetcorn under cloches.
5.  This is a good time to plant Strawberries.
OTHER JOBS IN APRIL
1. Keep an eye on the weather as ground frost is still likely this month.
2. Keep areas of ground warmer with fleece/polythene to aid later planting.
3. Weeds are starting to appear, so hoe them off before they set seed.
4. Now is the time to erect barriers around your carrots 2 to 3ft high to combat the dreaded Carrot fly. Alternatively cover your Carrots with fleece but ensure all edges are well covered with soil. Keep Carrots earthed up.
5. Plant Onions between rows of Carrots or other plants that might repel the Carrot fly.
6. Slugs & snails will be coming out now. Combat them by: Keep the soil hoed and loose, use beer traps, spread coarse grit, pine needles, straw, sawdust around your plants.
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(May 2014)

1. Mint plants will deter slugs. Why not grow mint in pots/containers which can be easily moved around your garden/plot to areas where slugs are prevalent. Keeping mint in containers will also stop it spreading far and wide, as it surely will if planted directly into the ground.

2. Seed sowing in May can consist of the following vegetables: (outdoors under covers) Cucumber, French beans, Runner beans, Sweetcorn. (outdoors) but be aware of late frosts: Brussels sprouts, Cabbage (Summer, Autumn, Winter, Red), Carrots, Cauliflower, Kale, Kohl-rabi, Lettuce, Peas Radishes, Rocket, Spring onions, Swede, Turnips. (indoors) Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chillies, French beans, Marrows, Peppers, Pumpkins, Runner beans, Squashes.

3.Many flower and vegetable gardeners grow Lavender. May is the time to trim these plants back. Cut off any old flower growth and trim back about 1 inch (2.5cm) of new growth too.

4. If you have rodents or rabbits causing problems in your garden try growing some Peppermint which should deter them.

5. Next year I will be undertaking the task of improving the texture of 2 vegetable beds which currently consist of heavy clay. If you suffer from untreated areas of heavy clay in your garden/plot, I hope the following tips will be useful. First check the clay for pH and have the results tested. Add 2 to 3 inches (5 to 7.5cm) of compost, manure or mushroom compost to the surface area and dig or rotorvate it in well. During the growing season add organic matter to the surface again, (mulches). Cover crops can be grown over the Winter period and worked into the clay in the following Spring. This process may have to be repeated over several years before a good soil structure is obtained.
I have heard conflicting advice about adding sand to heavy clay in order to lighten it. I would appreciate any comments from anyone who has experience of using this method.

6. Horsetail (Equisetum Arvense), can be a real pain when it spreads into your garden or plot and is difficult to get rid of. Despite this, it is a herb with many virtues. I thought this link interesting and well worth reading. - Click Here.

 7. Black ant infestations can be dealt with by using sprays made from Tomato or Rhubarb foliage. Remember the use of homemade sprays (U.K.) may be unlawful.

8. Slugs and snails are becoming a nuisance on and around my plots due to the continuing rainy weather. One solution, (I used it last year successfully), is to spread oatmeal around areas frequented by slugs & snails. This method is especially effective on dry areas of ground, for example inside greenhouses/poly tunnels etc. Cheaper than slug pellets too.

9. Tools for Schools
Tools Shed is a garden tool recycling project which collects old tools for refurbishment by local prisons. The spruced up tools are then given free to schools and community groups.
The scheme is operated by the Conservation Foundation and HM Prisons. Click here to find out more.



10. Check your seedlings growth regularly if they are growing in warm conditions, (for example under propagators), before they get "leggy". Moving them into cooler conditions will slow down growth. 
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 (June 2014)
 1. The grass areas around my plots seems to be growing rapidly due to the recent wet and warm weather conditions. If you have grass or lawns mow them on a weekly basis adding the clippings to your compost heap. Read the instructions on any weedkillers you may have used on the grass regarding how long the clippings need to be composted for, before using them as mulches or digging them into your garden.

2. Hoe out any annual weeds but make sure perennial weeds are completely removed including their roots.

3. June is usually the perfect time to plant out those veggies and tender plants being kept protected from late frosts and cold weather, but don't forget to sow & plant veggies in succession to avoid any gluts.

4. Lift & divide overgrown flowering bulbs for example daffodils.

5. Newly planted trees and hedging will benefit from being kept weed free.

6. Give strawberries a potassium rich fertilizer weekly whilst they are fruiting.

7. Don't forget to nip out the side shoots from your tomato plants.

8. After "the June drop" if you think fruits are still too thickly clustered together, thin out a few more fruits to give the remaining fruits room to develop.

9. If  you are unlucky enough to have horsetail growing in your garden or plots, try making some use of it. Boil  large amounts of it, let it cool and use the resultant liquid as a spray. (At your own discretion).

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN JUNE
 1.   Plant out Brassicas, Broccoli, Calabrese, Brussels Sprouts, Summer Cabbage and any beans which are in pots.
2.  Sow the following: French Beans, Runner Beans, Beetroot, Cabbage, Cauliflowers, Chicory, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Endive, Kohl-rabi, Marrows, Squashes, Swedes, Sweetcorn and Turnips.
3.  Successional sowing of certain seeds, should be done throughout the Summer.
OTHER JOBS IN JUNE
1. As June is usually warm and dry do not neglect to water plants, a good soaking of plants is better than frequent amounts of a little water.
2. Keep weeds down, hoeing will aid water to soak in also.
3.  Salad crops should be ready for harvesting, along with other early crops.
4.  Check Lettuce/Brassicas for slugs/snails especially after rain or watering.
  
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 (July 2014)


1. When you have finished boiling your veggies for a meal, use the water they have been boiled in (after it has cooled down) to water your potted plants with.

2. If you have a compost heap don't forget to turn it. The heap should be kept moist but not saturated with water. If the heap smells sweet then it is decomposing correctly.

3. Have you ordered your Autumn planting bulbs yet? It'll be Autumn before you know it.

4. Use a high in potash liquid feed each time you water your tomatoes.

5. Ventilate your greenhouse or poly tunnel during hot spells of weather. Leave the doors open if necessary and remember some plants and vegetables are pollinated by insects overnight.

6. If you have an over abundance of fruit on your fruit trees, thin some out to prevent branches snapping due to too much weight bearing.

7. Wooden structures such as fences should be painted when the wood is dry. Use a good preservative that soaks into the woodwork as well as looking nice on the surface.

8. When thinning out and re-planting or planting out vegetables and other plants, ensure they are watered frequently until they become established.

9. A recent trick I have tried when planting out my cabbages from pots is: leave the plastic collars (made from soft drinks bottles) around the stems of the plants permanently. Earth up around the collars once the plants have established. When later hoeing is done around the plants you are less likely to chop the stems accidentally.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN JULY
1. Sow French Beans, Beetroot, Carrots, Chinese Cabbage Spring Cabbage, Chicory, Kohl-rabi, Lettuce, Peas, Radish.
OTHER JOBS IN JULY
1. Watering is usually a major task during July.
2. Mulching may help to retain water in the soil but be on the lookout for slugs and other pests.
3. Keep weeds at bay with more hoeing.
4. Feed tomatoes and Onions.
5. Check Brassicas for caterpillars/eggs.
6. Water brassicas with a salt & water mix to keep caterpillars off them.
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(August 2014)

1. If you are planning to have a soft fruit area in your garden or on your allotment, order the plants now and prepare the ground ready to plant them. The plants should be delivered "bare rooted" during the Winter, ready for planting next spring.

2. Blossom end rot on your tomatoes is generally a sign of calcium deficiency in the plant. Regular (but not over-watering) is possibly the answer, do not allow the growing medium to dry out.

3.If you are working on your allotment over long periods of time during hot/humid weather conditions, ensure you have drinks available to avoid getting dehydrated.

4. If you are planting out Kale/Sprouts, plant them deeply to help their development.

5. Compost heaps should be kept moist but not wet to aid the production of good compost. If the heap becomes very dry, moisten it with water. During heavy periods of rain cover the heap to stop it getting soggy and leaching out. The ideal temperature range for the heap is between 90 degrees F and 140 degrees F approximately.

6. Keep your greenhouse/poly tunnel well ventilated during periods of humid weather. This will help to curb problems from red spider mites and whitefly.

7. Old wives tale? don't plant lilac trees close to your house, you could be inviting woodworm inside.

8. Don't forget to pot up those strawberry runners.

9. Add a high in potash feed to fruiting plants and trees.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN AUGUST
1. Sow the following this month: Spring Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Lettuce (Winter hardy), Spring Onions, Radish, Spinach and Turnips.
2. Plant out Savoys, Cauliflowers and Kale.
OTHER JOBS IN AUGUST
1.  Keep weeding & hoeing.
2. If you are storing potatoes for later use, ensure any damaged ones are used, not stored.
3. Pinch out side shoots on tomatoes, leaving 4 or 5 trusses on each plant in general.
4. Turn your compost heap and spray with water if it is very dry.
5. Compost & manure heaps are attractive places for wasps to build their nests, so be wary when disturbing the heaps.
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9 (September 2014)
1. With Septembers weather forecast to be warm and sunny here in U.K., don't forget to keep watering veggies that are not yet ready to be harvested (other plants too). Give plants a good watering, perhaps once a week, rather than little and often.

2. If you are short on animal manure for your allotment, think about sowing a green manure such as mustard which can be dug or rotavated into the soil later in the year or next Spring.

3. Make "a re-cycled items list" of useful gardening items you ran out of this year. Examples, plastic bottles and other containers, bits of string for plant ties, jam jars, egg boxes for chitting potatoes. Etc etc.

4. September is probably the prime month to be stung by wasps. At this time of year wasps start to feed on fermenting/over ripe fruit so be wary of drunken wasps.

5. Sow some of the following crops in September. Spring onions, radish, Winter hardy onion white lisbon, Spring cabbages, Japanese onions. Autumn onion sets, garlic.

6. When lifting potatoes, spread them out on dry soil, to allow them to dry out before storing them.

7. If you are left with any diseased plant foliage don't compost it, burn it or dispose of it responsibly by other methods.

8. Strawberry runners should be ready for potting up at this time of the year.

9. New trees and shrubs can be planted in September helping them to become established.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN SEPTEMBER
1. Winter hardy lettuce can be sown in September as well as hardy Spring Onions.
2. Spring Cabbages can be planted out now.
3. Parsnips will taste better if left in the ground until after a frost.
OTHER JOBS IN SEPTEMBER
1. Prune Summer fruiting Raspberries.
2.  Runners from Strawberries can be planted now.
3. Add manure, lime or green manures to your soil, depending on each beds condition and your crop rotation.
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 1. Many squashes and pumpkins should be mature enough to harvest this month. If the skins cannot be punctured using your finger nail they should be ready to harvest. Cut the vine/stalk (away from yourself) about an inch or two above the pumpkin/squash.

2. Keep your lawns, borders and growing areas free from falling leaves to alleviate the spread of diseases. Leaves could be left in heaps in sheltered places as a place for hibernating animals to use, during the Winter.

3. Cuttings can be taken from Currant, Blueberry and Gooseberry bushes this month.

4. Check and maintain any equipment you may need to use over the Winter months such as greenhouse heaters. Remember, if you have petrol driven machinery stored away for the Winter, such as a rotorvator, unleaded petrol will start to "go off" after about 3 months, possibly giving starting problems later.

5. Although the weather here in U.K. is still sunny and warm at the end of September this year, it may well change to wet and colder in October. Now would be a good time to bring, tender/half hardy plants, inside, to protect them from frosts/cold winds.

6. October is usually a good month to plant out strawberry runners and also to split rhubarb crowns for re-planting.

7. Plan your garden/allotment sowing/planting areas for next season as well as ordering seeds, plants and seed catalogues.

8. Although asparagus fronds can be cut off after they have started to die back they can also be cut back this month. Add a good amount of compost/manure around the plants after cutting back the fronds from them.

9. Just a few plants that can be pruned in October but beware of hard frosts when pruning. Blackcurrant, Birch, California Lilac, Common beech, Dogwwod, Evergreen clematis, Firethorn, Hydrangea, Lilac, Nectarine, Roses, Rowan, Tamarisk.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN OCTOBER
1. Japanese onion sets can be planted in October.
2. Broad Beans can also be planted as well as Garlic and Shallots.
3. Hardy Lettuce can still be sown.
OTHER JOBS IN OCTOBER
1. Pull and store Carrots.
2.  Lift any remaining potatoes.
3. Manure empty areas of the plot as required.
4. Clear away dead/decaying foliage.
5. Tidy fruit beds removing dead leaves from Strawberries. Re-plant runners.
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(November 2014)

1. With the warm sunny weather still continuing in most of U.K. there is still time to plant /sow the following: Lambs lettuce, chard, chicory, lettuce, oriental greens, winter hardy spring onions, spring cabbage, asparagus crowns, bedding plants and from seeds, overwintering peas and beans. Keep fleece or cloches handy in case of unexpected frosty weather appearing.

2. If your house plants start to shed leaves as Winter approaches, try moving them near to a window or warmer position which benefits from some direct sunlight.

3. When potting up bulbs for Spring flowering use a cheap compost in their pots to save money. Add feed later as the bulbs start to flower.

4. Remove any rotting fruit and vegetation from your plot/garden, keep lawns as free as possible from fallen leaves to help stop the spread of diseases. If the weather is mild then grass is likely to keep growing, so mowing it will also make the job of removing leaves easier utilizing the mower to do so.

5. Make regular checks of your stored vegetables, ensuring any diseased ones are disposed of.

6. Adding grease bands to the trunks of fruit trees this month should stop winter moth damage.

7. November is a good month to check, maintain and repair, gardening tools, machinery, greenhouse heaters, cloches, water butts, downpipes as well as checking outbuildings for rainwater leaks.

8. Windy weather probably accounts for more damage to allotments, gardens, trees and plants than most other weather conditions. Ensure tree and plant stakes are well secured. Other outdoor items and structures such as sheds, greenhouses, fencing, planters and pots may all need to be secured or taken indoors if high winds are forecast.

9. Any rotted down compost that you have available can be spread around borders or next seasons veggie planting areas to enable it to work into the soil over the Winter.

10. November is possibly the best month to plant out Tulip bulbs. 
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Christmastime
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(January 2015)

1. Summer bearing blackberries and raspberries, should have all their canes, which produced fruit last year, removed.

2. If you have not done so already, start chitting your seed potatoes, in a cool, dry frost free space.

3. The following veggies can be sown under glass. In colder areas probably later in the month, Broad beans, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, celeriac, leeks, lettuce, marrows, onions, peas, peppers, radish, tomatoes, turnips and pumpkins.

4. Rhubarb crowns can be lifted and divided in February as well as "forcing" plants which are not being divided, to produce earlier sweet young stems.

5. Your brassicas growing area may well benefit later from doing a pH check now. The pH should be between 6.0 and 7.5. with 6.5 to 7.0 being the ideal range. If lime needs to be added (to reduce the soils acidity and raise its pH) add it now, to allow it to be worked into the soil before sowing/planting takes place later.

6. Try some new veggies for 2015 - Mistletoe & Snowdrop (kalettes), Royal Snow (pea), Jersey Boy (tomato), Speckled pup (Winter squash), Feo de Rio Gordo (tomato).

7. Weed out any remaining annual weeds from your planting areas and help to warm the ground by placing cloches or ground cover over the areas prior to commencing sowing/planting. Preparing planting areas of ground can take place this month by rotavating or digging, if the ground is not frozen or waterlogged.

8. Check any shrubs or trees that have been planted over the Winter, ensuring they haven't been lifted by frost or loosened by the wind. Heel any loose specimens back into place and add stakes if necessary.

9. Many gardeners will be browsing through seed catalogues at present and ordering seeds/plants. Don't forget to order plant food, compost, fertilizers and other gardening commodities that will keep plants in top condition, ensuring that the hard preparation and planting/sowing work is not wasted.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN FEBRUARY
1. Sow winter greens (under cloches or tunnels).
2. Sow round seeded peas (probably best in pots or trays).
3.  Sow tomatoes seeds early Feb (heated greenhouse) late Feb (unheated greenhouse).
4. Depending on conditions, sow broad beans, early peas for harvesting in May/June.
5. Parsnips can be sown in Feb but sowing in March may give better germination.
6. Try planting shallots under cloches.
7. Lettuce, radish and rocket can be started early under cloches or in the greenhouse.
8. Spinach, turnips and Summer cabbages can be sown under cover.
9. Sow onion seeds indoors (15degC).
10. Cane fruits can still be planted in Feb.
OTHER JOBS TO DO IN FEBRUARY
1. Cover over unused areas of the plot with cloches or black plastic sheeting to warm the soil earlier.
2. Clean out pots and trays.
3. Repair or replace any broken/damaged tools.
4. Feed the birds.
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(April 2015) Sorry none for March (too busy).

1. Finish clearing away any decaying foliage and rubbish from your plot or garden. If left lying around it is a haven for slugs snails and other pests and can also spread diseases to plants shrubs and trees.

2. If you are growing tomatoes this season and are worried about blight, here is a selection of possible blight resistant types. Ferline, Fantasio (f1), Legend.

3. April is usually a good time to use a weed and feed treatment on your lawn.

4.  Gooseberries, red and white currants can be pruned this month and give blackberry and black currant plants some high nitrogen feed.

5. Established flower beds and borders will benefit from a top dressing of general purpose fertiliser, be careful to keep it off plant leaves and emerging shoots.

6. After a relatively mild Winter in many parts of the U.K., now may a good time to prepare some homemade insect sprays or try other methods of control.  HERE'S A LINK that might be useful.

7. Main crop potato planting should be finished by the end of April. Earth up the tubers to protect them from frosts which are still likely through April and into May.

8. Onions are light feeders that prefer rich well drained soil with a pH between 6.2 to 6.8. Keep weeds down around developing onions.

9. If your lawn (or other garden areas) are affected by leatherjackets (cranefly larva) one biological control is by pathogenic nematodes.

10.
SOWING/PLANTING IN APRIL
1. Sow the following: Beetroot, Broad Beans, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower, Chard, Kale, Kohl-Rabi, Leeks, Lettuce, Peas, Radish, Rocket, Spinach. Potatoes, Onion and shallot sets.
2.  Artichokes and Asparagus can be planted.
3. Outdoor cucumbers & tomatoes can be sown & kept in the warm.
4. Plant French Beans, Lettuce & Sweetcorn under cloches.
5.  This is a good time to plant Strawberries.
OTHER JOBS IN APRIL
1. Keep an eye on the weather as ground frost is still likely this month.
2. Keep areas of ground warmer with fleece/polythene to aid later planting.
3. Weeds are starting to appear, so hoe them off before they set seed.
4. Now is the time to erect barriers around your carrots 2 to 3ft high to combat the dreaded Carrot fly. Alternatively cover your Carrots with fleece but ensure all edges are well covered with soil. Keep Carrots earthed up.
5. Plant Onions between rows of Carrots or other plants that might repel the Carrot fly.
6. Slugs & snails will be coming out now. Combat them by: Keep the soil hoed and loose, use beer traps, spread coarse grit, pine needles, straw, sawdust around your plants.
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