Chickens,Gardening,News

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered25 Jul

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered

Great weather for relaxing in the shade of a large tree, drinking a cool iced drink with condensation running down the outside of the glass… Heaven!!

Just think of the poor old tree working overtime, transpiration in overdrive trying to keep its leaves from baking crisp in the searing heat.

If you have trees or shrubs planted in the last 2 -3 years give them some consideration in this fierce heat as well as your newly planted plants. The root system on 2 -3 year planted plants will very soon start to struggle finding enough water to keep them alive. I planted a row of London Plane trees last year and they are showing signs of stress, a few leaves going yellow and falling to the ground. Over the last couple of nights I have given them each 20 litres of water, if the heat stays at this level I will probably do that twice a week. When the temperature drops to 20 degrees C once a week will do until mid-September or a damn good rain.

The combines are out in force harvesting the rape and winter barley, I think it will be at least a couple of weeks before any wheat is ready in South Northants. I expect the harvest will be good this year as we have really great average weather. Could do with some rain as my cows are getting short of grass.

The fish in our pond here at the Bell Plantation have done a lot of floating on the top of the water looking dead, I am pleased to say we haven’t had any fatalities yet! Shower them with a hose pipe and they dive to the bottom of the pond. The reason is oxygen depletion in the water due to the weather. In thundery, cloudy weather the oxygenating plants produce less oxygen due to reduce sunlight, the temperatures are usually higher which warm up the water, warmer water holds less oxygen. Prevention is to have a deeper pond to help keep the water cooler and to oxygenate the water more, buy a bigger better pump or even clean the filter on your existing pump.

Pigs

We started our collection of rare breed farm animals this week with the arrival of 3 Oxford Sandy and Black females, 12 weeks old. The Oxford Sandy and Black is a breed of domestic pig originating in Oxfordshire. Named for its colour, which is a base of sandy brown with black patches, the breed is also sometimes called the “Plum Pudding” or “Oxford Forest” pig it is one of the oldest pigs native to Britain. It’s a docile pig suited to being reared outdoors, where its colour protects it from sunburn (which pink pigs tend to suffer from). The breed has twice neared extinction.

As usual we have barrow loads of wonderful flowering herbaceous plants and of course our infamous cream teas are available in abundance, plenty for everyone.

Chill out and have a great weekend

Ashley

Chickens,Gardening,News

Nicolas Moreton and Bell Plantation Garden Centre receive RHS 3 Gold Star award.30 May

Nicolas Moreton and Bell Plantation Garden Centre receive RHS 3 Gold Star award.

Chelsea

My 3 week Chelsea bubble has burst. I am delighted to say that Nicolas Moreton whose stand we sponsored received a hugely positive response to his work. Nicolas’s sculptures were shown many times on the BBC during the Chelsea week. His work is extremely desirable, interesting and is highly photogenic. www.nicolasmoreton.com It was a pleasure working with him building the show garden. I am delighted to say Nicolas Moreton and Bell Plantation Garden Centre received our first RHS 3 Gold Star award for the trade stand. Obviously we would have loved a 5 Gold Star award, it was our first attempt! Some stands didn’t get graded. Steep learning curve for maybe next time?

It has been a busy livestock week, at Bell Plantation, our annual hive of Bumble Bees arrived yesterday. They always seem to arrive when it is cold and wet, last year we had the same issue, however the Bees we have do tolerate high winds and cooler weather so I will probably let them out today, tough little monkeys! They do have a tank of sugar solution at the base of their box so they are ok in the box for some time. We have them for interest, its great fun watching them come and go (I never get time to watch them for long). In the height of the season they come back fully loaded with pollen hanging off their legs, they look like over loaded aeroplanes attempting to land, will they make the hive or not? Hopefully they will fly off to the gardens in Towcester to pollinate all the plants boosting fruit yields etc. At the end of the season the Queen will fly off to hibernate and hopefully survive and emerge the next spring to start the cycle again, the worker bees will succumb to the harsh winter weather.

2014-05-29 11.00.48

On Wednesday I drove to Norwich to pick up 100 Peking ducklings, they were only a few hours old. They are now back at the Garden Centre and looking absolutely adorable, great for the children to see. This strain of Peking ducks are bred for laying eggs, when mature they will lay about 300 eggs per year!

The wet weather has made hoeing the garden difficult, the soil sticks to the hoe, a lot more energy is needed to drive the hoe through the ground. With soil on the hoe there is less desiccation of the weeds and due to the wet the weeds can re root. I think the best policy is to pull the large weeds by hand and wait until the soil dries and then use the hoe. If you have got pernicious weeds i.e. nettles, couch grass, alder weed, docks etc. it is a great opportunity to touch them with roundup, glyphosate. Glyphosate is a translocated herbicide, it get taken into the plant and taken down to the root where it kills the plant. It takes 1 to 3 weeks to see any signs of plant death, it depends on the weather, when the plant is growing fast it will take a shorter amount of time to take effect. Be careful with this product, it will kill any plant it touches, make sure you get it on the weeds you want to kill.

The forecast is good for the weekend, go forth and garden.
Have a great weekend

Ashley

Chickens,Gardening,News

Happy Easter17 Apr

Happy Easter

GC

So, it’s been a really busy week here at the Bell Plantation trying to get all the lovely plants and stock in for the holidays. The sun has been out (apart from this afternoon) and there’s a real buzz about the place. We really love it when the Spring comes around – the place springs to life and there is colour everywhere!

We hope you all have a nice relaxing Easter weekend – if you fancy a day out we’d love to see you. We are now selling turf so if you need any to patch up or re-lay your garden come down and pick some up. £3.99 for a 1sq metre roll (it’s rectangular shaped though). 550 new hybrid hens arrived today so we’ve got loads of stock. Here are the breeds: Blue, Light Sussex, Speckledy, Sussex Rock, Rhode Rock, Amber, White Leghorn, Brown, Blacktail, Blue Splash and Gold Speckled. Remember, the favourites will go first.

Ashley is currently in a race against time on the M25 picking up a whole load of furniture for a customer for the weekend. Fingers crossed he gets to the warehouse near Brighton before they close at 5.30pm!

Have a great Easter!

Freddie

Chickens,News

Poultry Centre Open Day04 Apr

Poultry Centre Open Day Blog

Thinking of keeping Poultry? Already got Chickens and want some help and advice?

Bring your family and friends to the Poultry Centre open day this Saturday 12th April where you can get specialised help and advice from our expert team or from reps from some of our key suppliers.

Representatives from Nettex, Brinsea, Heygates Food and Global Herbs will be here to answer all your questions about poultry keeping, health, incubating, and anything else you want to know.

We’d love to see you from 10.30 AM and help you with anything you need to know.

Thanks,

Poultry Team.

Visit Us Today

Chickens,Gardening,News

March Offers and 550 new chickens just in!!!13 Mar

Special offers available to you here at the Bell Plantation Garden Centre.

Prunus Kojo no Mai

Prunus Kojo-no-mai

About to flower, this shrub produces a beautiful display of pale red flowers. It will grow about 6ft high by 6 ft wide and loves to be positioned in full sun. It is fully frost hardy so a must have for your garden especially in these conditions.

Chaenomeles

Chaenomeles (Ornamental Quince)

This beautiful shrub is a great addition to any garden. It’s tough , easy to grow and will bring some great colour to your garden every spring. It may even bring you some large colourful fruits by Autumn.

6 Pack Bedding

6 Pack Bedding

Bring some instant colour into your garden with some Spring Bedding. Great for pots, containers and hanging baskets bedding plants are a fantastic way of making the most of the Spring sun and at 3 for £9 they are pretty good value.

Herbaceous Perennials 5 for £10

Herbaceous Perennials

Herbaceous Perennials are an absolute essential for bringing some colour into your garden borders. Plant them early this Spring to give them time to develop in your garden and look beautiful for the rest of the Spring and Summer. At 5 for £10 they are fantastic value and enable you to get a really great range of varieties.

Miracle Grow compost 3 for £12

Miracle Grow Multi-Purpose Compost

Enriched with Miracle-Gro Plant Food this multi-purpose compost feeds for 3 months. It contains 40% more nutrients than ordinary multi purpose compost so at 3 for £12 this really is a fantastic deal!

Gardman Seed Mix only £13.99

12.55KG NO MESS SEED MIX

Winter is a tough time for birds, it’s cold and they need higher amounts of energy to survive the frosty nights. There is less natural food like berries around for them to feed on too. With this great deal on Seed Mix you can keep the birds fed and happy through these cold months.

Gardman Seed Mix only £13.99

30% OFF BULLDOG TOOLS

Bulldog tools have been making quality garden tools since 1870. They are made by a single piece of steel, riveted into an ash shaft, the end of which has been steamed to form a D shaped handle. This makes the tools exceptionally strong which are backed by a lifetime guarantee.

25-off-seeds

25% OFF SEEDS

Growing seeds is a brilliant thing to do in the winter. For the keen gardener it’s a great excuse to get in the greenhouse and will save you a bit of money when it comes to spring. Kids love growing seeds so if you are a parent it doesn’t take much – a pack of seeds, some compost and a some seed trays.

compost

ORGANIC GARDEN COMPOST

Vital Earth Garden Soil is expertly formulated from high quality, screened soil, specially composted garden waste and Vital Earth Vitalizer. Vital Earth Garden Soil is perfect for creating new gardens, rockeries, leveling lawns and raised flower or vegetable beds.

4 for £10!

Chickens,Gardening,News

450 New Chickens Delivered Yesterday20 Sep

The chestnut trees in Tuscany are far more autumnal than our own here in the UK despite their warmer climate. Chestnut trees in the UK are always the first to show signs of Autumn.

As usual the majority of my tomatoes ripened while I was away. I have never grown tomatoes outside before, this year I planted  some Suttons grafted tomatoes, wow I have never seen so many tomatoes on a tomato plant before they really performed as it said on the tin 70% more fruit than conventional non grafted plants, fantastic flavour.

Good to have some rain while I was away shame about the drastic drop in temperature. Now the ground is moist it is easier for digging, planting your Spring flowering bulbs. This year our Spring flowering bulbs are from a UK grower Gedney bulbs. Larger bulbs at a lower price we have packets  for £2.49 and 25 bulbs for £4.99, plus of course sacks for larger gardens!

I have never known so much fruit on our apple and pear trees, they are smothered. It’s a great time to get new plants into the garden while the ground still has a little warmth in it to encourage a bit of root growth before the winter.

Bell Plantation Heather Sept 2013

Containers planted now will establish and produce flowers throughout the winter, heathers and cyclamen make a great long term splash of colour.

If you have raspberry canes remember to prune out the stems which produced fruit this year, cut them off at the base. This year’s new growth will produce fruit next year.

Bell Chickens Sept 2013

We had 450 new chickens delivered yesterday and a new Blue Splash colour laying hen, picture above.

Remember free tea or coffee with every purchase.

Look forward to seeing you, make the most of what looks to be a good gardening weekend, the last time you may have the sun on your back for some time?

Regards

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

New Gym “Kinetics” Due to Open August 5th at the Bell Plantation26 Jul

Wow how things change in a couple of weeks! We have had the driest, the wettest, the coldest and the hottest periods since records began all in the last 18 months. Our poor plants have had all this chucked at them and still the majority survive. My newly planted London plane trees shed some of their leaves last week which prompted me to pour on the water, I now water them every couple of days. They will be ok, they just had to warn me that they were struggling! Any newly planted trees or shrubs will need plenty of water to help them survive the high temperatures. Planted containers are particularly susceptible to drying out very quickly, they usually sit on paved surfaces which heat up very quickly and radiate the heat up, drying out the container. Regular watering can be reduced by mulching shrub beds, also Gardena make great kits for automatic watering, (think holidays, usually timers are more reliable than relying on children or neighbours to turn the tap on and then or maybe not off )!

In this weather it is best to raise the mower blade a bit so that you are left with a bit of green on the lawn. Grass at this time of year usually tends to produce seed heads that make the lawn look messy, a mow is only necessary to take those off to tidy up.

Vegetables will need plenty of water and feed. Consistency is everything, if tomatoes in a greenhouse get a little dry and then offered loads more water it may tend to split the fruit. A humid atmosphere in the greenhouse will reduce the stress on the plant. Spray or pour water on the floor (everything) to raise the humidity.

We have got a forest of beautiful trees and herbaceous plants, trees with fruit on and culinary herbs.

We have a new great new Gym opening here at the Bell Plantation, Kinetics is due to open on the 5th August 2013 its going to be a remarkable place www.kineticsclub.co.uk

The Crown at Weston has reopened, it is re born, great food, drinks and a wonderful atmosphere 01295 760466 or 01295  760310, just depends how BT are feeling!

Rooster, Trafalgar Square

“Poultry Centre at Bell Plantation secures advertising deal with Boris Johnson in Trafalgar Square.”

I think this is a BBQ weekend

Have a great time

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Beautiful Plants in Stock and Turbocharged grafted Tomatoes14 Jun

At last there are a few herbaceous perennials starting to flower. One of the most spectacular is the Iris, there are over 300 species of Iris. They either have a fleshy rhizomatous root or are grown from a bulb. The Iris flowering at the moment are usually the fleshy root type. The rhizome grows very close to the surface and enjoys being in the sun, they produce several new growths each year. Iris are drought tolerant, they do not enjoy have wet feet in the winter. Their leaves are usually very striking, they form a fan of flat silvery green single leaves. They flower in a wide range of colours from dark purple blue to bright orange and white, the flowers take the form of a beard!! Stake the flowers if you have a windy garden. They are a really easy plant to grow and very rewarding, they flower for a couple of weeks, so enjoy them while they are blooming.

Bell Iris June 2013

“Iris”

We have nearly sold out of hybrid laying chickens once again, apologies, however we do have a delivery of 550 point of lay this Saturday, they should be with us first thing in the morning. In case you are late planting your tomatoes we have some larger turbocharged/ grafted tomato plants that have an abundance of flowers on already, these plants will be fine to go outside in a grow bag or the ground.

I am pleased to say we have the best range of herbaceous plants ever, we have found a small grower in Norfolk who propagates and produces most of his own plant stock. We can therefore offer a wide range of plants at a great price.

Bell Plants June 2013

“Patio planted pots”

Although the weather hasn’t been that warm, we haven’t actually had much rain in the last couple of weeks so don’t forget to water your containers, while watering give them a feed, it’s really worth it. The great thing about this cooler weather is that the flowers on the plants may last a little longer.  For you really keen gardeners we will be stocking the Chempack range of ferts next week. I don’t know why we ever let them go.

Keep an eye on the black spot and aphids on your roses.

Enjoy your Garden

Regards

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

New Poultry Arrivals & Planting under a Netting Cloche19 Apr

Is it going to be a coal or a charcoal weekend? Those promised warmer sunny charcoal days never seem to appear. The grass took off this week as the soil temperatures rose, ‘the first cut is the (deepest)’ hardest. There is a song there somewhere? A good sharp blade on your mower for the first cut always makes life easier. Also clean the grass bag or vents so that the air blown up from the blades can escape and deliver the grass into the box rather than getting stuck in the mouth of the mower, good tip that one it will save you from getting your hands too green.

If you have fruiting cherry or peach tree now as the buds are just coming out is a great time to spray with a fungicide to prevent peach leaf curl, this will really help your fruit crop. Our vegetable plants, no all our plants are pouring into the Garden Centre. Brassica plants Cabbage, cauliflower, kale etc. are a great meal for the pigeons and slugs. Planting under a netting cloche will prevent the birds eating the plants, it will also prevent the birds from eating any slug pellets you use. A netting cloche will also prevent the small plants from the buffeting wind we sometimes get and will create a favourable micro climate which will help the plants grow faster.

Summer flowering plants

“Summer Flowering Plants”

We had our biggest delivery of Poultry this week 550 new laying pullets. The poultry team had a real task on at the beginning of the week treating all the poultry housing for bugs and beasties before the new arrivals. We also had 60 Quail, we are now selling loads of Quail and fresh Quails eggs, great hard boiled with Celery salt. We have also got week old Chicks for sale, they will need keeping warm for the first 2-4 weeks.

We are again sowing wild flower seed in the beds either side of the Courtyard, they were a bit of a disaster last year as it was so wet and cold, hope for better things this year. We have a great range of Nova flora wild flower seed in stock in mixes or single varieties.

Check the website and Facebook for deals and offers. www.bellplantation.co.uk & https://www.facebook.com/Bellplantationgc

Have a good weekend

Regards

Ashley

Ps I let the Bumble Bees out today as it is a bit warmer!

releasing the bees

“Releasing the Bees”

www.bellplantation.co.uk | www.poultrycentre.co.uk

Chickens,Gardening,News

Bumble Bee Colony in Your Garden. Cracking Compost Deals.05 Apr

Our Bees have arrived. Once again we are installing our own colony of Bumble bees which arrived yesterday. Due to the really cold temperatures and wind chill factor we are keeping them warm (as you can see in the picture) until the weekend when we hope to put them out in the Garden Centre. Fortunately they have an inbuilt food source in the box they are delivered in. Bee numbers around the world have plummeted during recent  years, certain agrochemicals are suspected as being the cause. If you would like a bumble bee colony in your Garden we can supply them for £69.95 or £84.95 with a wooden shelter, price includes delivery.

keeping the bees warm

Apparently, according to the weather forecasters Spring is on its way this weekend! We have still got an awful lot of our first delivery of turbocharged grafted tomatoes in stock, hardly surprising I think. The ground has hardly warmed in the stronger spring sunshine due to the freezing easterly winds. Cool soil temperatures will mean that plant action, such as germination of seeds and root growth will be slower under the soil. If you have planted seeds they will take much longer to emerge from the ground. It will be beneficial to wait a few days before planting smaller seeds until the soil does warm a little. The buffeting wind, cold soil are not conducive to achieving a good germination %. Also a tip, stagger the sowing of vegetable seeds for a longer period of cropping. A packet of lettuce seeds goes along way.

April Stock

For all poultry keepers and lovers we have just assembled our first Brinsea plastic chicken coop, great design, no hiding place for those little red mites.

We have had some summer bedding and some hardier vegetable plants, brassicas and lettuce delivered this week.

We have some cracking compost deals 4 bags of 50lt multi-purpose for £10. We have 1000’s of herbaceous plants in pots/liners 5 for £8.

Moving into Cream tea type of weather, I hope.

Look forward to seeing you all.

Have a great weekend.

Ashley

www.bellplantation.co.ukwww.poultrycentre.co.uk

My April Walkabout

My April Walkabout

I gave an interview on BBC Radio Northampton at about 8.00am this morning (Thursday), I was asked by Bernie Keith, did I think it changes had been beneficial to the traffic flow around the roundabout, I said I hoped it would create a significant improvement but it was a bit too early to tell. I was then very late for work as the roundabout had experienced its first serious accident since being re developed. I hope those concerned were ok?

They say a picture can paint a thousand words, that probably true but it doesn’t get across how wonderful our Garden Centre looks right now, so I ran round the Garden Centre (probably not quick enough for some) with my i phone, link attached.

I don’t do pride, however I would like to say that our great team of people have got this Garden Centre looking as good as it has ever done. Now the sun is finally starting to warm us and the soil up the plants are responding with good growth and flower. We have missed out on a long spring as March was so dull. Plants are all now moving into top gear all at once. It is a great time to feed all plants by throwing some fertiliser onto the ground around the plants. Growmore is a well balanced feed with an application rate of 50-100 grms per meter square. It will move into the soil slowly with rain or watering, it will remain in the soil for several months after application. Feeding plants well will encourage growth, encourage flowering, reduce stress and therefore reduce disease.

As it is the middle of April it is important to get some vegetables in the ground either seeds or plants. We have got seeds, small plants or big plants plus great advice. If you are trying to encourage the younger generation Radish germinate and grow very easily, I am not so sure they will enjoy eating them though! Beetroot are also easy to grow from seed outside in the soil, they are also a great super food, and they make your wee go red!. Sometimes it can be as economic to buy some small veg plants rather than a packet of seeds. Small plants will establish better than sowing seeds in a less well prepared seed bed. Buying plants also buys you time, you will be able to harvest the plants sooner than if you planted seeds.

heuchera

Heuchera are a small semi evergreen plant that have a massive variation in foliage and flower colour. They are pretty tough and grow well in most soils. The foliage colours, textures and leaf patterns are amazing, they vary from lime green,oranges to dark green and light to dark purple. The flowers stand up well above the plant on this whispy stems white, red to purple. They are great at filling out a shrub be or herbaceous border.

For all you more experienced Gardeners I have got 24 pallets of Professional PH Compost from Doncaster arriving tomorrow!!

Have fun in your Garden, would be great to see you.

Ashley

My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

I had a really great evening yesterday, I was invited to talk to the Paulerspury Horticultural Society about Bell Plantation, how I have developed it over the last 25 years, our plans for the future and our values, plus a bit about growing vegetables, it was good to see so many familiar faces. What on earth could I teach master growers about growing vegetables? We all had a good chat about the Bell Plantation and a small chat about growing veg. I asked what we could do as a business to help Growers and village Hortic Societies. The conversation moved onto the closure of Youngs Nursery at Blisworth. The majority of my Audience loved the professional compost PH from Doncaster that Youngs used to stock, as a result of this we have got a 24 Pallet load arriving here on the 17th April. I also learned of a few other want’s and needs that we will put into action in the future to accommodate the more experienced gardener. Thank you all for the feedback and information it was a pleasure. If you are involved with a Horticultural Society please drop me a line so that I can keep you posted with our new Gardener products.

Camelia2

Magnolias are looking fabulous, at the moment.They are grown for their showy,solitary,fragrant,flowers. They are fully hardy to frost tender depending on variety. They grow well in moist, well-drained, humus rich acid to neutral soil in sun or partial shade, they do not like a windy site, I have one Magnolia grandiflora either side of my front door in a windy position and they are not that happy, struggling to get established, I probably move them at the end of this year.

Sheena walks Minnie our Jack Russell around the fields every day, last Thursday you could see Minnie walking in the rape field, by Saturday you couldn’t see her as the rape had grow several inches in just a few days.

The strong sun this week has warmed the soil and encouraged all the plants to start growing. A few days after the first cut of the lawn is the ideal time to get a weed and feed onto the grass. Remember not to cut the lawn too short on the first cut. It makes really hard work for the mower and the human operator! Lower the mower over the first 3 to 4 cuts to the optimum level.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

April Flowering Plants and Easter

April Flowering Plants and Easter

Not much sun last week suppressed the potential growth in the garden, the lack on sun meant the air was cooler and no solar gain to the soil delaying the full onset of Spring.

Some of the first colour in gardens is provided by flowering cherries, Prunus ‘Kojo- no-mai’ and Prunus incisa ‘Paean’, these are both shrub like plants that eventually grow to height of about 1.5 meters, they are currently covered with pale pink flowers. A larger shrub / tree providing a mass of deep pink flowers is the Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii Nigra’ (bit of a mouth full) a really great tree/shrub with dark purple foliage, great for early striking colour. I planted a multi stemmed one in my garden last year it was about 3 meters tall, it is delivering the goods covered in flowers. They are a really tough plant that grow well in most soils. They are well suited to the soil type here in sunny South Northants!

prunus kojo

The wind has been a bit of a problem last week, check to see that any newly planted trees or shrubs have been moving around in the soil, if they have fill in the socket formed in the ground with some soil and heel them in firmly, adjust and tighten the tie.

Fertiliser, now is a great time to go around all your plants with a huge bucket of Growmore or Chicken Poo, these granular fertilisers are best put on the ground now so that by the time the plant needs the nutrients the rain should have washed them into the soil. All plants will benefit from a good early feed, you will get better flowering, fruiting, colour, less disease, faster growth, spread the poo nutrients!
If in any doubt about anything in your garden we have a wonderful well experienced team of friendly people here at the Bell Plantation, there is no such thing as a silly question.

I must tell you,(however I am not supposed to market in this blog) we have a wonderful range of Chocolate in the farm shop that has been made in the form of hand tools spanners, paint brushes, nuts and bolts etc. The nut actually is threaded and comes off the bolt!! its very good chocolate too.

I have just put our first Goose eggs of the season into the incubator,I didnt fancy scrambled egg this morning! 37.7 degrees centigrade a bit of humid air for 29 days and we should have some Geese, the wonder of life. Obviously they would be better hatched under a Goose Mrs Goose did not feel like sitting on her eggs at the moment.

turf

We’ve got a pallet of turf in stock if anyone wants a DIY weekend on the lawn. It’s £4.49 a roll or 10 for £40. It is the best quality turf so don’t hesitate.

Have a wonderful Easter, we too will be having the day off on Sunday only (Sunday trading laws), it is one of the 4 days a year we are shut!!
It is a great weekend for family life and of course Gardening.

Happy days

Ashley

Ashley’s Blog

Ashley’s Blog

I am pleased to say that the works on the roundabout seem to be nearing completion. It seems to take for ever to get the last finishing touches together. Already the traffic flows have changed, it now really needs the new traffic lights working to prioritise the flow. I sound like a bit of an expert on traffic flow!! Sheena and I purchased some of the site here at Bell Plantation before the first A5 / A43 roundabout was built back in 1987, when it was just A5 north and south. We purchased the house that Klas Day Nursery now occupy. Since then the whole of the A43 from the M1 to Oxford has been re built, bypassing Towcester and Brackley. As a business trading through the re development of the roundabout has been difficult, I hope once it is complete you will all return to our wonderful family run, friendly business.

We are still recruiting, we need a Chef for the Cafe, full time. We need a front of house person in the Cafe, 10-30 hours a week.We need a Farm shop assistant 20-30 hours a week, so if you know anyone who is interested please drop me an email.

strawberries

We have had so many deliveries of plants in this week, Judy was on her own in the plant area yesterday as Steve had his day off , 5 lorries arrived with plants, Judy was still smiling at the end of the day. We have got a small selection of fruit and vegetables to start off the season, tomatoes included. It is still too cold to put some of these plants outside, however if they are protected from the frost and in some cases given a small amount of heat they will grow on to provide an early crop of vegetables. Traditionally gardeners sowed their first seeds in the vegetable garden under a plastic cloche. Garden Cloches keep in the heat from the sun, the soil warms up more as it is protected from the cooling wind. During the night when there is no sun the warm soil prevents the air in the cloche freezing, this is not enough protection for tender plants ie tomatoes and cucumbers, they will need some heat protection until mid April. Cloches are great for early beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, carrots etc. It is amazing how positioning plants against a sunny wall can make a difference, brick or stone walls absorb a huge amount of heat from the sun, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers etc planted against a wall in a container or in the ground in a grow canopy will be protected from the frost by the residual heat from the wall and the tomato canopy, all this extra heat will allow earlier cropping.

Time to prune roses, I have spoken to the team at David Austin in the past re pruning their roses, they said they prune most of there roses with a hedge cutter!! Shrub roses may be? When you only have one or two it is important they fit your garden and they are growing in the direction and shape you want them. Early in the season you can prune back harder than later in the season. If you prune back hard later in the season it will delay flowering.

Just a quick note!! We have our own Pork sausages available in the Farm Shop in a couple of weeks we will have our home produced beef. A complete, locally grown Sunday lunch in one shop!

Our team look forward to seeing you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

The sun is shining (apart from this morning)

The sun is shining (apart from this morning)

Ash is off today looking at buying a brand new Shorthorn bull for his herd. They are pretty expensive but can be really worth it if they sire great calves with strong genes.

What a fantastic day it has turned out to be – warm, sunny and clear. All after the most complete solar eclipse since 1999. I watched it from my patio at home and only just saw it through the cloud. It created an unusual atmosphere in the air – cold and a very odd light.

The Garden Centre has been busy today, people buying plants and supplies for the weekend, popping in for a quick lunch or Coffee. We’ve got a really full plant area, lots of stock of herbaceous, bedding and shrubs arriving as we speak. We also have a new specimen area, full of larger, more established plants and loads of alpines which look great with Errington Raey’s courtyard collection – see below.

courtyard

We’ve also had a massive change around in the Farm Shop this week, we’ve replaced the fridges with brand new ones, creating even more space for delicious food.

FS

The roundabout is pretty much finished, at last! The traffic flow is a lot greater than before, they need to get the lights working but at least we aren’t sitting in long queue’s any more.

Pop in this weekend if you’re out an about, we’d love to see you. If not, enjoy the good weather, get out in your gardens.

Regards,

Freddie

Spring into your garden this March

Spring into the garden this March

I have had 10 days off work with a chest infection and have missed most of March, well a third anyway. At this time of year there is so much that can be done in the Garden. This week the soil has started warming up, absorbing the increased energy from the sun. All the tiny little root hairs on the end of large trees to the smallest seedling will be twitching into activity, weeds included.

As I write this the the wind and the sun are drying out the surface of the soil. This is the best time to work the soil as you will cause less damage to the soil structure, good soil structure is essential for good plant growth. Turning over the soil either by digging or rotavating will open up the soil, reducing compaction, incorporate oxygen and create the right soil, air and water balance for great root growth, if you get a chance incorporate organic matter and fertiliser now is a good opportunity.
Obviously, established shrub beds and herbaceous borders may not need digging, however a good mulch every couple of years will help keep the weeds down, increase moisture retention, improve fertility and increase organic matter. All these things will help to make your garden grow better and look more beautiful than it would otherwise have done.

Within the next week or so you can start to plant early potatoes, we have got over 40 varieties available. Good boilers, chippers, mashers etc. Why don’t you grow some for showing at your local village garden show, late summer, autumn its great fun, if you need any info drop me a line or have a word with the Bell Plantation team.

seed potatoes

Now is a great time to plants vegetable seeds if you want to crop them early. Tomato seeds planted in a plastic propagator on the windowsill or heated greenhouse give great results and wonderful for encouraging the next generation of budding gardeners.

If planted now in a propagator in the kitchen, the seeds will take a couple of weeks before they pop up through the compost, they will then grow quickly (depending on heat and light levels) into small plants, about another 2-3 weeks. When about 20-30mm tall plant them into individual 10cm pots, they can then grow in these for another 3-4 weeks before planting in a larger pot or grow-bag. Make sure they are planted outside when frost free or plant them out earlier in a grow frame.

Propergaring Seed

I have started calving my cows at home, we have already had 3 calves another 24 to go. I like to calve the cows in the spring so that there is lots of grass in April for the cows to produce lots of milk for the calves. We will very shortly be introducing our own beef into the farm shop 3-4 weeks. A week on tuesday / wednesday we will have our first lot of home grown pork and sausages for sale, will keep you posted.

Freddie says keep an eye on the website for loads of great deals and opportunities.
We are also recruiting for 4 new positions at he Bell Plantation.
If you would like to join our friendly family business drop me a line ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk

Free bread Friday bannerweb2

It’s FREE BREAD FRIDAY at the Plantation Farm Shop this Friday. Spend £5 in store and get a FREE small loaf of freshly baked white or granary bread by Tees in Northampton. It’s only while stocks last so get yours early.

Potato banner

It’s time to start growing your own! Come along to this workshop and our Potato expert Steve will give you all the information you need to grow your very own delicious potatoes. It’s really not as hard as you might think. Whether you are a beginner looking for the basics or an expert looking to hone your skills, Steve will be happy to answer all your questions.

He’ll be covering the following topics:

  • Chitting Potatoes – using seed trays / egg boxes.
  • Soil preparation – getting organic matter into the soil and keeping a good soil structure.
  • Earthing up soil while they’re growing.
  • Harvesting and storage using hessian sacks.
  • Saturday 28th February 2015. 11am – 12noon.

    Give us a call if you want to come a long to this event, or just turn up instead if that suits you.

    Snowdrops – The sign of Spring

    Snowdrops – The sign of Spring

    It’s great to see some growth appearing in the garden, Snowdrops are a delightful early flowering plant, they are a sure sign that Spring is on its way. Snowdrops can be purchased in the Autumn as dried bulbs, this method of growing them is less successful than planting them when they are in the green (as a growing plant). Snowdrops can be purchased in Garden Centres growing in a pot. If you have some already growing in your garden, they can be divided. After they have flowered push your garden fork into the ground beside the clump of snowdrops and ease them gently out of the ground. When the clump is out of the ground divide them into several smaller groups, about 5-7 plants and then re plant elsewhere in the garden. Remember to plant them at the same depth that you found them. The snowdrops will then root in the new site, die back and then will re appear in the next January / February.

    Snow Drops

    When the ground is wet, which is quite frequently at this time of year, it is better to stay off the soil. Working the soil while wet causes compaction, pans on the top etc. Walking on the soil pushes out all the air pockets in the soil and they fill up with water, this creates a less good environment for plant roots to grow.

    If you have peach or cherry trees now is the time to spray the tree with a fungicide to prevent peach leaf curl.
    Planting trees and shrubs at this time of year will enable them to establish without the need for a high labour input from yourselves i.e. watering every day or other day. During the first few months of spring the roots will grow softly and quietly under the ground before the plant comes into leaf. When the leaf does open the roots are already established providing the leaves with food and water. Obviously when it gets very hot you will have to water the plants, however it will be less frequently than would otherwise be required.

    Time to prune roses and fruit. Autumn fruiting raspberries should be pruned right down to the ground.
    We have got tonnes of seed potatoes to choose from earlier, second earlies and maincrop. Now is the time to start chitting first earlies, eyes (embryo shoots) uppermost, place in a single layer in a light frost proof shed or room to encourage the tubers to sprout.

    I am, as usual, really looking forward to the new gardening season ahead. Just in case you didn’t know, we are an independent (one of the few remaining) small, family run businesses who love Gardening. We have a great team of local gardening, cooking and food enthusiasts here at your service.

    Look forward to seeing you.
    Have a great weekend.

    Ashley

    Plant your sweet peas now

    Plant your sweet peas now

    If you want some early Sweet peas (Lathryrus odoratus) now is the time to plant them. Sweet peas are really easy to grow and provide plenty of colour and variety to your garden, some varieties are heavily scented. The seeds are relatively large and easy to handle, great for encouraging children to get gardening. Soak the seeds in water before planting for 12 -24 hours in warm water. Plant the seeds 1 cm below the soil/ compost surface. At this time of year it is best to plant them in small 100mm seed pots, 4 seeds per pot, a clear plastic bag could be placed over the top to create humid conditions, germination will take 7 – 21 days depending on the temperature they experience. When the plant is 100-150mm tall and the root system is developed plant out into the garden or container, protect from hard frost. Climbing sweet peas should be planted where they can climb up a fence of where they can access some form of support. Water and feed and watch them grow. If you miss the fun of growing them from seed they are available at all reputable Garden Centre’s growing in a pot in February, March.

    Sweet Pea

    Congratulations to Steve our Plant area manager and his wife Emma on the birth of their daughter Lily. The first child is always a massive life changer! Steve has got great plans for our plant area this spring. We will be increasing the range of plants we stock and the area. We are lining up some great plant offers with the marketing department (Freddie). It seems that website and social media are the way forward! The mention of our Venison, ‘probably the best in Northamptonshire’ in my blog last week created a sell-out, wow!

    Jo, (Garden Centre retail manager) as we speak is busy banishing all Christmas stock to the store. The shop has been completely turned around, Gardening again takes the pride of place, as it should. Potatoes, seeds, propagation, compost take priority. Christmas occupies a disproportionate amount of our time in relation to the sales, however is essential for our business as we have very little other trade in the dark months of the year. And its great fun!

    When we first opened the Farm Shop in September 14 all the cakes were brought in from outside bakers, I am pleased to say that the majority are all now made on site in the Plantation Café. The Café team are turning out to be Master Bakers too, production and sales increase most weeks.

    I am sad to say that our lovely white Christmas tree (love it or hate it) got stolen from its position adjacent to the metal Cockerill near the roundabout, we think on the evening of Sunday 4th January 2015, if anyone saw anything of note perhaps you could let us know.

    Have a good end to the week and weekend

    Ashley

    Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!

    Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!

    It’s 4.43pm and its still light, things are moving the right way, Spring is moving nearer. However the forecast is terrible for the next week to 10 days. Freezing temperatures and snow. If you have just dug over your vegetable garden you are the lucky one because the water particles in the top layer of soil you have turned over will freeze, when water freezes it expands, the water expanding in the soil will force apart the soil particles and organic matter. When the ice melts the soil particles will fall apart creating a wonderful tilth. “Tilth, the condition of soil or land that has been tilled, esp. with respect to suitability for promoting plant growth”. A good tilth is essential for a good germination % of seeds. The frost is a lot more efficient at breaking down the soil into a good tilth than a spade, rake or rotavator, make the most of it. Try and turn your soil over while there is a chance of frost.

    My tips for this week are: cover up your taps, lift your outdoor pots off the ground onto pot feet, cover up your tender shrubs, coryline, pittosporum, exposed ceanothus etc. Empty your hose pipe of water to prevent splitting even if it’s in a garden shed.

    Seville oranges are now in stock in the Farm Shop if you want to make your annual batch of Marmalade. They will only be available for a few weeks at this time of year. Sheena always makes a bucket load, great for gifts. It is my favourite fruit preserve, I love it on Artisan Crispbread (Best crispbread in the world) and no butter!! Taste the orange.

    Dark, cold evenings are a great time to plan your garden for the coming season, if you need any advice or ideas we are always here to help.

    Seed Potatoes1

    Our Scottish seed potatoes are now in stock, there are offers available. We stock Thompson and Morgan 2.3kg and 1kg bags. If you want to plant some for the first time come and see me.

    Our Marketing department (my son Freddie) tells me that we have got some of probably the best Northamptonshire Venison in stock this weekend? Is this correct?

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

My April Walkabout

My April Walkabout

I gave an interview on BBC Radio Northampton at about 8.00am this morning (Thursday), I was asked by Bernie Keith, did I think it changes had been beneficial to the traffic flow around the roundabout, I said I hoped it would create a significant improvement but it was a bit too early to tell. I was then very late for work as the roundabout had experienced its first serious accident since being re developed. I hope those concerned were ok?

They say a picture can paint a thousand words, that probably true but it doesn’t get across how wonderful our Garden Centre looks right now, so I ran round the Garden Centre (probably not quick enough for some) with my i phone, link attached.

I don’t do pride, however I would like to say that our great team of people have got this Garden Centre looking as good as it has ever done. Now the sun is finally starting to warm us and the soil up the plants are responding with good growth and flower. We have missed out on a long spring as March was so dull. Plants are all now moving into top gear all at once. It is a great time to feed all plants by throwing some fertiliser onto the ground around the plants. Growmore is a well balanced feed with an application rate of 50-100 grms per meter square. It will move into the soil slowly with rain or watering, it will remain in the soil for several months after application. Feeding plants well will encourage growth, encourage flowering, reduce stress and therefore reduce disease.

As it is the middle of April it is important to get some vegetables in the ground either seeds or plants. We have got seeds, small plants or big plants plus great advice. If you are trying to encourage the younger generation Radish germinate and grow very easily, I am not so sure they will enjoy eating them though! Beetroot are also easy to grow from seed outside in the soil, they are also a great super food, and they make your wee go red!. Sometimes it can be as economic to buy some small veg plants rather than a packet of seeds. Small plants will establish better than sowing seeds in a less well prepared seed bed. Buying plants also buys you time, you will be able to harvest the plants sooner than if you planted seeds.

heuchera

Heuchera are a small semi evergreen plant that have a massive variation in foliage and flower colour. They are pretty tough and grow well in most soils. The foliage colours, textures and leaf patterns are amazing, they vary from lime green,oranges to dark green and light to dark purple. The flowers stand up well above the plant on this whispy stems white, red to purple. They are great at filling out a shrub be or herbaceous border.

For all you more experienced Gardeners I have got 24 pallets of Professional PH Compost from Doncaster arriving tomorrow!!

Have fun in your Garden, would be great to see you.

Ashley

My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

I had a really great evening yesterday, I was invited to talk to the Paulerspury Horticultural Society about Bell Plantation, how I have developed it over the last 25 years, our plans for the future and our values, plus a bit about growing vegetables, it was good to see so many familiar faces. What on earth could I teach master growers about growing vegetables? We all had a good chat about the Bell Plantation and a small chat about growing veg. I asked what we could do as a business to help Growers and village Hortic Societies. The conversation moved onto the closure of Youngs Nursery at Blisworth. The majority of my Audience loved the professional compost PH from Doncaster that Youngs used to stock, as a result of this we have got a 24 Pallet load arriving here on the 17th April. I also learned of a few other want’s and needs that we will put into action in the future to accommodate the more experienced gardener. Thank you all for the feedback and information it was a pleasure. If you are involved with a Horticultural Society please drop me a line so that I can keep you posted with our new Gardener products.

Camelia2

Magnolias are looking fabulous, at the moment.They are grown for their showy,solitary,fragrant,flowers. They are fully hardy to frost tender depending on variety. They grow well in moist, well-drained, humus rich acid to neutral soil in sun or partial shade, they do not like a windy site, I have one Magnolia grandiflora either side of my front door in a windy position and they are not that happy, struggling to get established, I probably move them at the end of this year.

Sheena walks Minnie our Jack Russell around the fields every day, last Thursday you could see Minnie walking in the rape field, by Saturday you couldn’t see her as the rape had grow several inches in just a few days.

The strong sun this week has warmed the soil and encouraged all the plants to start growing. A few days after the first cut of the lawn is the ideal time to get a weed and feed onto the grass. Remember not to cut the lawn too short on the first cut. It makes really hard work for the mower and the human operator! Lower the mower over the first 3 to 4 cuts to the optimum level.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

April Flowering Plants and Easter

April Flowering Plants and Easter

Not much sun last week suppressed the potential growth in the garden, the lack on sun meant the air was cooler and no solar gain to the soil delaying the full onset of Spring.

Some of the first colour in gardens is provided by flowering cherries, Prunus ‘Kojo- no-mai’ and Prunus incisa ‘Paean’, these are both shrub like plants that eventually grow to height of about 1.5 meters, they are currently covered with pale pink flowers. A larger shrub / tree providing a mass of deep pink flowers is the Prunus cerasifera ‘Pissardii Nigra’ (bit of a mouth full) a really great tree/shrub with dark purple foliage, great for early striking colour. I planted a multi stemmed one in my garden last year it was about 3 meters tall, it is delivering the goods covered in flowers. They are a really tough plant that grow well in most soils. They are well suited to the soil type here in sunny South Northants!

prunus kojo

The wind has been a bit of a problem last week, check to see that any newly planted trees or shrubs have been moving around in the soil, if they have fill in the socket formed in the ground with some soil and heel them in firmly, adjust and tighten the tie.

Fertiliser, now is a great time to go around all your plants with a huge bucket of Growmore or Chicken Poo, these granular fertilisers are best put on the ground now so that by the time the plant needs the nutrients the rain should have washed them into the soil. All plants will benefit from a good early feed, you will get better flowering, fruiting, colour, less disease, faster growth, spread the poo nutrients!
If in any doubt about anything in your garden we have a wonderful well experienced team of friendly people here at the Bell Plantation, there is no such thing as a silly question.

I must tell you,(however I am not supposed to market in this blog) we have a wonderful range of Chocolate in the farm shop that has been made in the form of hand tools spanners, paint brushes, nuts and bolts etc. The nut actually is threaded and comes off the bolt!! its very good chocolate too.

I have just put our first Goose eggs of the season into the incubator,I didnt fancy scrambled egg this morning! 37.7 degrees centigrade a bit of humid air for 29 days and we should have some Geese, the wonder of life. Obviously they would be better hatched under a Goose Mrs Goose did not feel like sitting on her eggs at the moment.

turf

We’ve got a pallet of turf in stock if anyone wants a DIY weekend on the lawn. It’s £4.49 a roll or 10 for £40. It is the best quality turf so don’t hesitate.

Have a wonderful Easter, we too will be having the day off on Sunday only (Sunday trading laws), it is one of the 4 days a year we are shut!!
It is a great weekend for family life and of course Gardening.

Happy days

Ashley

Ashley’s Blog

Ashley’s Blog

I am pleased to say that the works on the roundabout seem to be nearing completion. It seems to take for ever to get the last finishing touches together. Already the traffic flows have changed, it now really needs the new traffic lights working to prioritise the flow. I sound like a bit of an expert on traffic flow!! Sheena and I purchased some of the site here at Bell Plantation before the first A5 / A43 roundabout was built back in 1987, when it was just A5 north and south. We purchased the house that Klas Day Nursery now occupy. Since then the whole of the A43 from the M1 to Oxford has been re built, bypassing Towcester and Brackley. As a business trading through the re development of the roundabout has been difficult, I hope once it is complete you will all return to our wonderful family run, friendly business.

We are still recruiting, we need a Chef for the Cafe, full time. We need a front of house person in the Cafe, 10-30 hours a week.We need a Farm shop assistant 20-30 hours a week, so if you know anyone who is interested please drop me an email.

strawberries

We have had so many deliveries of plants in this week, Judy was on her own in the plant area yesterday as Steve had his day off , 5 lorries arrived with plants, Judy was still smiling at the end of the day. We have got a small selection of fruit and vegetables to start off the season, tomatoes included. It is still too cold to put some of these plants outside, however if they are protected from the frost and in some cases given a small amount of heat they will grow on to provide an early crop of vegetables. Traditionally gardeners sowed their first seeds in the vegetable garden under a plastic cloche. Garden Cloches keep in the heat from the sun, the soil warms up more as it is protected from the cooling wind. During the night when there is no sun the warm soil prevents the air in the cloche freezing, this is not enough protection for tender plants ie tomatoes and cucumbers, they will need some heat protection until mid April. Cloches are great for early beetroot, lettuce, cabbage, carrots etc. It is amazing how positioning plants against a sunny wall can make a difference, brick or stone walls absorb a huge amount of heat from the sun, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers etc planted against a wall in a container or in the ground in a grow canopy will be protected from the frost by the residual heat from the wall and the tomato canopy, all this extra heat will allow earlier cropping.

Time to prune roses, I have spoken to the team at David Austin in the past re pruning their roses, they said they prune most of there roses with a hedge cutter!! Shrub roses may be? When you only have one or two it is important they fit your garden and they are growing in the direction and shape you want them. Early in the season you can prune back harder than later in the season. If you prune back hard later in the season it will delay flowering.

Just a quick note!! We have our own Pork sausages available in the Farm Shop in a couple of weeks we will have our home produced beef. A complete, locally grown Sunday lunch in one shop!

Our team look forward to seeing you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

The sun is shining (apart from this morning)

The sun is shining (apart from this morning)

Ash is off today looking at buying a brand new Shorthorn bull for his herd. They are pretty expensive but can be really worth it if they sire great calves with strong genes.

What a fantastic day it has turned out to be – warm, sunny and clear. All after the most complete solar eclipse since 1999. I watched it from my patio at home and only just saw it through the cloud. It created an unusual atmosphere in the air – cold and a very odd light.

The Garden Centre has been busy today, people buying plants and supplies for the weekend, popping in for a quick lunch or Coffee. We’ve got a really full plant area, lots of stock of herbaceous, bedding and shrubs arriving as we speak. We also have a new specimen area, full of larger, more established plants and loads of alpines which look great with Errington Raey’s courtyard collection – see below.

courtyard

We’ve also had a massive change around in the Farm Shop this week, we’ve replaced the fridges with brand new ones, creating even more space for delicious food.

FS

The roundabout is pretty much finished, at last! The traffic flow is a lot greater than before, they need to get the lights working but at least we aren’t sitting in long queue’s any more.

Pop in this weekend if you’re out an about, we’d love to see you. If not, enjoy the good weather, get out in your gardens.

Regards,

Freddie

Spring into your garden this March

Spring into the garden this March

I have had 10 days off work with a chest infection and have missed most of March, well a third anyway. At this time of year there is so much that can be done in the Garden. This week the soil has started warming up, absorbing the increased energy from the sun. All the tiny little root hairs on the end of large trees to the smallest seedling will be twitching into activity, weeds included.

As I write this the the wind and the sun are drying out the surface of the soil. This is the best time to work the soil as you will cause less damage to the soil structure, good soil structure is essential for good plant growth. Turning over the soil either by digging or rotavating will open up the soil, reducing compaction, incorporate oxygen and create the right soil, air and water balance for great root growth, if you get a chance incorporate organic matter and fertiliser now is a good opportunity.
Obviously, established shrub beds and herbaceous borders may not need digging, however a good mulch every couple of years will help keep the weeds down, increase moisture retention, improve fertility and increase organic matter. All these things will help to make your garden grow better and look more beautiful than it would otherwise have done.

Within the next week or so you can start to plant early potatoes, we have got over 40 varieties available. Good boilers, chippers, mashers etc. Why don’t you grow some for showing at your local village garden show, late summer, autumn its great fun, if you need any info drop me a line or have a word with the Bell Plantation team.

seed potatoes

Now is a great time to plants vegetable seeds if you want to crop them early. Tomato seeds planted in a plastic propagator on the windowsill or heated greenhouse give great results and wonderful for encouraging the next generation of budding gardeners.

If planted now in a propagator in the kitchen, the seeds will take a couple of weeks before they pop up through the compost, they will then grow quickly (depending on heat and light levels) into small plants, about another 2-3 weeks. When about 20-30mm tall plant them into individual 10cm pots, they can then grow in these for another 3-4 weeks before planting in a larger pot or grow-bag. Make sure they are planted outside when frost free or plant them out earlier in a grow frame.

Propergaring Seed

I have started calving my cows at home, we have already had 3 calves another 24 to go. I like to calve the cows in the spring so that there is lots of grass in April for the cows to produce lots of milk for the calves. We will very shortly be introducing our own beef into the farm shop 3-4 weeks. A week on tuesday / wednesday we will have our first lot of home grown pork and sausages for sale, will keep you posted.

Freddie says keep an eye on the website for loads of great deals and opportunities.
We are also recruiting for 4 new positions at he Bell Plantation.
If you would like to join our friendly family business drop me a line ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk

Free bread Friday bannerweb2

It’s FREE BREAD FRIDAY at the Plantation Farm Shop this Friday. Spend £5 in store and get a FREE small loaf of freshly baked white or granary bread by Tees in Northampton. It’s only while stocks last so get yours early.

Potato banner

It’s time to start growing your own! Come along to this workshop and our Potato expert Steve will give you all the information you need to grow your very own delicious potatoes. It’s really not as hard as you might think. Whether you are a beginner looking for the basics or an expert looking to hone your skills, Steve will be happy to answer all your questions.

He’ll be covering the following topics:

  • Chitting Potatoes – using seed trays / egg boxes.
  • Soil preparation – getting organic matter into the soil and keeping a good soil structure.
  • Earthing up soil while they’re growing.
  • Harvesting and storage using hessian sacks.
  • Saturday 28th February 2015. 11am – 12noon.

    Give us a call if you want to come a long to this event, or just turn up instead if that suits you.

    Snowdrops – The sign of Spring

    Snowdrops – The sign of Spring

    It’s great to see some growth appearing in the garden, Snowdrops are a delightful early flowering plant, they are a sure sign that Spring is on its way. Snowdrops can be purchased in the Autumn as dried bulbs, this method of growing them is less successful than planting them when they are in the green (as a growing plant). Snowdrops can be purchased in Garden Centres growing in a pot. If you have some already growing in your garden, they can be divided. After they have flowered push your garden fork into the ground beside the clump of snowdrops and ease them gently out of the ground. When the clump is out of the ground divide them into several smaller groups, about 5-7 plants and then re plant elsewhere in the garden. Remember to plant them at the same depth that you found them. The snowdrops will then root in the new site, die back and then will re appear in the next January / February.

    Snow Drops

    When the ground is wet, which is quite frequently at this time of year, it is better to stay off the soil. Working the soil while wet causes compaction, pans on the top etc. Walking on the soil pushes out all the air pockets in the soil and they fill up with water, this creates a less good environment for plant roots to grow.

    If you have peach or cherry trees now is the time to spray the tree with a fungicide to prevent peach leaf curl.
    Planting trees and shrubs at this time of year will enable them to establish without the need for a high labour input from yourselves i.e. watering every day or other day. During the first few months of spring the roots will grow softly and quietly under the ground before the plant comes into leaf. When the leaf does open the roots are already established providing the leaves with food and water. Obviously when it gets very hot you will have to water the plants, however it will be less frequently than would otherwise be required.

    Time to prune roses and fruit. Autumn fruiting raspberries should be pruned right down to the ground.
    We have got tonnes of seed potatoes to choose from earlier, second earlies and maincrop. Now is the time to start chitting first earlies, eyes (embryo shoots) uppermost, place in a single layer in a light frost proof shed or room to encourage the tubers to sprout.

    I am, as usual, really looking forward to the new gardening season ahead. Just in case you didn’t know, we are an independent (one of the few remaining) small, family run businesses who love Gardening. We have a great team of local gardening, cooking and food enthusiasts here at your service.

    Look forward to seeing you.
    Have a great weekend.

    Ashley

    Plant your sweet peas now

    Plant your sweet peas now

    If you want some early Sweet peas (Lathryrus odoratus) now is the time to plant them. Sweet peas are really easy to grow and provide plenty of colour and variety to your garden, some varieties are heavily scented. The seeds are relatively large and easy to handle, great for encouraging children to get gardening. Soak the seeds in water before planting for 12 -24 hours in warm water. Plant the seeds 1 cm below the soil/ compost surface. At this time of year it is best to plant them in small 100mm seed pots, 4 seeds per pot, a clear plastic bag could be placed over the top to create humid conditions, germination will take 7 – 21 days depending on the temperature they experience. When the plant is 100-150mm tall and the root system is developed plant out into the garden or container, protect from hard frost. Climbing sweet peas should be planted where they can climb up a fence of where they can access some form of support. Water and feed and watch them grow. If you miss the fun of growing them from seed they are available at all reputable Garden Centre’s growing in a pot in February, March.

    Sweet Pea

    Congratulations to Steve our Plant area manager and his wife Emma on the birth of their daughter Lily. The first child is always a massive life changer! Steve has got great plans for our plant area this spring. We will be increasing the range of plants we stock and the area. We are lining up some great plant offers with the marketing department (Freddie). It seems that website and social media are the way forward! The mention of our Venison, ‘probably the best in Northamptonshire’ in my blog last week created a sell-out, wow!

    Jo, (Garden Centre retail manager) as we speak is busy banishing all Christmas stock to the store. The shop has been completely turned around, Gardening again takes the pride of place, as it should. Potatoes, seeds, propagation, compost take priority. Christmas occupies a disproportionate amount of our time in relation to the sales, however is essential for our business as we have very little other trade in the dark months of the year. And its great fun!

    When we first opened the Farm Shop in September 14 all the cakes were brought in from outside bakers, I am pleased to say that the majority are all now made on site in the Plantation Café. The Café team are turning out to be Master Bakers too, production and sales increase most weeks.

    I am sad to say that our lovely white Christmas tree (love it or hate it) got stolen from its position adjacent to the metal Cockerill near the roundabout, we think on the evening of Sunday 4th January 2015, if anyone saw anything of note perhaps you could let us know.

    Have a good end to the week and weekend

    Ashley

    Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!

    Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!

    It’s 4.43pm and its still light, things are moving the right way, Spring is moving nearer. However the forecast is terrible for the next week to 10 days. Freezing temperatures and snow. If you have just dug over your vegetable garden you are the lucky one because the water particles in the top layer of soil you have turned over will freeze, when water freezes it expands, the water expanding in the soil will force apart the soil particles and organic matter. When the ice melts the soil particles will fall apart creating a wonderful tilth. “Tilth, the condition of soil or land that has been tilled, esp. with respect to suitability for promoting plant growth”. A good tilth is essential for a good germination % of seeds. The frost is a lot more efficient at breaking down the soil into a good tilth than a spade, rake or rotavator, make the most of it. Try and turn your soil over while there is a chance of frost.

    My tips for this week are: cover up your taps, lift your outdoor pots off the ground onto pot feet, cover up your tender shrubs, coryline, pittosporum, exposed ceanothus etc. Empty your hose pipe of water to prevent splitting even if it’s in a garden shed.

    Seville oranges are now in stock in the Farm Shop if you want to make your annual batch of Marmalade. They will only be available for a few weeks at this time of year. Sheena always makes a bucket load, great for gifts. It is my favourite fruit preserve, I love it on Artisan Crispbread (Best crispbread in the world) and no butter!! Taste the orange.

    Dark, cold evenings are a great time to plan your garden for the coming season, if you need any advice or ideas we are always here to help.

    Seed Potatoes1

    Our Scottish seed potatoes are now in stock, there are offers available. We stock Thompson and Morgan 2.3kg and 1kg bags. If you want to plant some for the first time come and see me.

    Our Marketing department (my son Freddie) tells me that we have got some of probably the best Northamptonshire Venison in stock this weekend? Is this correct?

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley