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

Jobs in your garden – August

Jobs in your garden – August

summer flower

Water the Plants

It’s very dry at the moment so it’s really important that your plants have enough water for them to survive. The summer sun is pulling all the moisture out of the leaves and it can cause a lot of stress on your plants. Check your plants regularly to see if they are wilting and give them lots of water to keep them going.

Feed, Feed, Feed

All the watering you are doing to keep your plants alive will slowly wash the nutrients from the compost in your pots and planters so keep feeding your plants. Feed them every fortnight for the rest of the summer to keep them looking good.

Dead-head regularly

A few minutes every day of deadheading will keep the garden looking smart. It encourages plants to produce more flowers and not to run to seed. Harvesting also encourages plants to keep producing, so pick dahlias with regularity and beans and courgettes while they are still young and fresh.

Watch out for Cabbage white butterfly

Now is the time that Cabbage White Butterfly start to breed and devour your delicious cabbages. Keep an eye out for the butterfly eggs on the leaves of your brassica as they will soon turn into lots of caterpillars. When they grow you can pick them off the leaves but this will take some time, a good bug killer will also work. The best form of defence is prevention – cover your cabbages with a fine netting to stop the butterfly getting to them.

Prune Wisteria

Your Wisteria need pruning twice a year, in Jan/Feb and again in the summer. Pruning keeps its size under control and improves the quality of its flowering. Cut back to 6 leaves from the previous growth and this will encourage it to flower.

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered

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

Start planting your winter potatoes

Start planting your winter potatoes

Had a great day yesterday 4th and final graduation ceremony, wow how the time flies!
A wonderful day followed by an amazing electrical storm, who needs fireworks!

My good friend Nicolas Moreton is running some wonderful 2 and 3 day stone carving courses in Augusta and September have a look at his website for details. www.nicolasmoreton.com

christmas Potatoes

I guess some of you are tucking into your early potatoes, well now is the time to plant some spuds for Christmas harvest.
We have got various varieties Charlotte, Pentland Javelin etc. The tubers can be planted either in the ground, a large pot or bag at least 40 litres. Plant 4 or 5 tubers in a 40 litre container or plant in the garden 10 cm deep in rows 60 cm apart and 30 cm apart in the row. As the growth appears raise the soil / compost level up with the plant, this will encourage side shoots from the stem which will then grow more potatoes.

Planting at this time of year means that they will need frequently watering an possibly feeding until the rainfall increases in the Autumn. When watering try not to get too much moisture on the leaf as this could encourage blight.
The tubers should be ready for harvesting 10 – 12 weeks after harvesting. If your potatoes are growing in a bag when frosty weather arrives move the bag into the greenhouse or garage, let the compost dry, the tops will dry off, the potatoes will be fine in the compost. If the plants are grown in the ground they will be ok for a few weeks in the soil after the tops have died off. If the soil is very wet it will be better to lift them and store them in a cool dry, dark place. If they are damp they may rot, if they get the light on them they will go green and then taste really bitter. Remember slugs may eat them underground if the soil is very wet and you have an infestation.

We have got loads of other vegetable strips in for you to plant out in your garden.
Watch out for pigeons, slugs and cabbage white butterfly on your brassicas.

I am delighted to announce that we are now stocking the full range of Heygates horse and animal feeds, obviously we are open 7 days a week! Click here to see the range.

Remember to cut your long wiggly waggly Wisteria growth back to 6 leaves from the main stem, obviously if you are training it in a certain direction don’t cut it off!
Plenty of water and feed all round. Pick out the leaf axil growths on cordon tomatoes.
Have a great weekend

Ashley

Enjoy your home grown salad, start thinking about your Christmas meal

Enjoy your home grown salad, start thinking about your Christmas meal

Winter Veg

It’s time to start sowing/planting winter vegetables. Leeks, Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages, sprouting and spring broccoli, swedes and turnip should all be planted now for winter harvest. If you are tight for space the veg above can be sown or planted as small plants between your existing rows of lettuce, radish etc. .These will be harvested before the newly sown plants need the space. There are always loads of pests around dribbling at the mouth to get their hands on your brassicas. The cabbage white butterfly will soon be around, the eggs laid on the leaf soon hatch into hundreds of hungry caterpillars that will devour your cabbages in no time. The best way of preserving your veg under this threat is to cover them with a thin mesh before the cabbage white butterfly appears, the mesh will prevent the butterfly even laying its eggs on your plants. The mesh should be put over the brassicas like a cloche on a metal or bamboo cane frame, covering with mesh will also prevent the pigeons eating the plant, pigeons love them. Agralan make the best mesh and it is reusable year after year, you can get crop protection cloches, which include mesh and frame, other meshes can be purchased off a bulk roll. If you see the caterpillars on your plants you can either pick them off, good luck as this may take ages and you will never get them all off or give them a spray with a pesticide, Bayer Provado is probably one of the better ones. Remember to water and feed your newly planted veg regularly, with shallow roots and blazing sun they will soon perish if not watered. Once the plants are established, say 15cm tall you could put a mulch around the base of the plant i.e. grass cuttings, bark to prevent the soil drying out. Aerial attack from pigeons and butterflies, ground attack from slugs we are all used to them after this spring, there are still masses around. Put slug pellets around the plants, you could put a circle of soot around them, live nematodes can be put on the soil via a watering can, these little weevils eat slugs, slug bait, beer bath etc.

Keep feeding and dead heading all your flowering plants. Water newly planted trees once a week. Tomatoes, cucumbers need copious amounts of regular watering and feeding to get them to perform to their maximum.

We always have loads of current wonderful flowering plants in our plant area, if you are void of colour at a certain point in the season pay us a visit to get some ideas. If you have a new garden and no colour regular visits will give you an idea of what is flowering when, you may even want to buy some plants?

Have a great Silverstone weekend

Ashley

Jobs in your Garden – July

Jobs in your Garden – July

Patio rose

Water regularly

Most of the plants we get back at this time of year are because they haven’t been watered properly. Pots and Planters are the most susceptible to drying up and need watering once a day. If you are struggling to keep on top of them move them into a shady spot where they should dry out slower.

Feed your plants

Plants such as roses can really benefit from a summer feed as it can encourage a second flush in Autumn. Feeding your vegetables with a liquid feed can prevent bitterness in your crops.

Deadhead your plants

Bedding plants, roses and other perennials will benefit from regular deadheading. Picking off the fading flowers will prolong the flowering period, making your garden look more attractive. You can also get a second bloom from faded annuals by cutting them back and then fertilising them.

Keep on top of pests

The summer is prime for garden pests – keep an eye on your plants and make sure they aren’t being eaten. A common pest at this time of year is black fly who suck on the sap of plants and eventually kill them.

Plant of the Month – July

Plant of the Month – July

Our plant of the Month for July is Penstemon – Sour Grapes

Penstemon Sour Grapes

This Perennial plant grows up to 60cm in height and flowers elegant spikes of small, tubular, foxglove-like flowers and has lance-shaped leaves. They will grow quickly to form large, leafy clumps and will add some great colour into your border. They love fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.

The sun, the rain and look after your Roses

The sun, the rain and look after your Roses

It’s a good job we decided to wrap up our cut grass to make silage rather than hay, the forecasters were right. We do need a good drop of rain on the garden. We have had a constant job on our hands keeping the plants in the Garden centre watered over the last 10 days or so. The hot weather coupled with our team holidays has meant all hands that are here are on the pump. I must invest in some irrigation! We are installing automatic watering for our chickens. At the moment we are using fill from the bottom water tanks. Occasionally when filling them the bottom does not go on correctly, so when turned up the right way you get a boot full of water!
Roses
The majority of roses in my garden look wonderful at this time of year, I have got one rose that is severely stressed for several reasons. Firstly it has got a massive black spot problem and secondly it is going yellow due to lack of feed due to the fact that it is absolutely covered in beautiful flowers. Good regular doses of Multi Rose should alleviate the black spot problem, a good foliar and root feed with maxicrop should get some colour back into the leaves. To encourage a possible re flower later in the summer it is important to cut off all the dead flowers from the roses, dead heading encourages vegetative growth, root growth and may be re flowering depending on the variety of the rose. Loads of organic matter at the base of the plant will slowly release nutrients, retain soil moisture, increase microbial activity, improve soil structure etc. Wow pile on the poo (organic matter). Some of the rose stems will be getting long, if you want to train them along a wall / fence now is the time to start loosely tying them to the structure the way you want them to grow.

If you have a Wisteria that needs a haircut, you can cut those wavy loose stems back to 6 leaves from the main stem of the plant.

We have got loads of wonderful flowering herbaceous plants for you to see.

Pop in and have a look, maybe a cream tea?

Have a good weekend,

Ashley

Great Weather for Slugs

Great weather for Slugs

Hydrangea

Those blasted slugs have eaten my Melon plants, gone in a flash! Slugs have been a massive problem this year to most Gardeners. A warm winter with very few sub-zero temperatures and a warm wet spring has allowed the slug population to flourish. As a result of this there is a shortage of slug pellets in the UK. I am pleased to say we do have a few packets left. If you don’t have any you can use non chemical controls as mentioned below.
Transplant sturdy plantlets grown on in pots, rather than young vulnerable seedlings. Transplants can be given some protection with cloches
Place traps, such as scooped out half orange, grapefruit or melon skins, laid cut side down, or jars part-filled with beer and sunk into the soil near vulnerable plants. Check and empty these regularly, preferably every morning. Proprietary traps are also available from good garden centres!
Place barriers, such as copper tapes around pots or stand containers on matting impregnated with copper salts. Moisture-absorbent minerals can be placed around plants to create slug barriers (e.g. Slug Blocker Granules). Gel repellents can also be used to create barriers around plants. Go out with a torch on mild evenings, especially when the weather is damp, and hand-pick slugs into a container. Take them to a field, hedgerow or patch of waste ground well away from gardens, at least 30 meters away as they have been found to return to where they originated. Destroy them in hot water, a strong salt solution or feed them to the birds!
Birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs, slow-worms and ground beetles eat slugs and these predators should be encouraged in gardens
Rake over soil and remove fallen leaves during winter so birds can eat slug eggs that have been exposed.

Potatoes and slugs

The slugs that damage potatoes spend much of their time in the soil where they do not come into contact with slug pellets. The nematode treatment can be effective. Nematodes are roundworms that kill slugs in the soil, they can be purchased from Garden Centres and posted to you direct. You just mix them with water and apply to the soil in a watering can. Damage usually begins during August and becomes progressively worse the longer the crop is left in the ground. Early potatoes usually escape damage; maincrop potatoes should be lifted as soon as the tubers have matured if the soil is known to be slug infested. Heavy applications of farmyard manure and other composts can encourage slugs, and so inorganic fertilizers should be used where slugs are a problem. It is better to dig organic matter into your soil and have a slug problem rather than have no organic matter in your soil. Slugs can be treated, no organic matter in your soil will be disastrous!

Potatoes vary in their susceptibility to slugs. ‘Maris Piper’, ‘Cara’, ‘Arran Banner’, ‘Kirsty’, ‘Maris Bard’, ‘Maris Peer’, ‘Kondor’, ‘Pentland Crown’ and ‘Rocket’ are frequently damaged, whereas ‘Romano’, ‘Pentland Dell’, ‘Pentland Squire’, ‘Wilja’, ‘Charlotte’, ‘Golden Wonder’, ‘Kestrel’, ‘Estima’, ‘Stemster’, ‘Sante’ and ‘Pentland Ivory’ are less susceptible. Damaged potatoes are more vulnerable to storage rots and the crop should be sorted into sound and damaged tubers, with the latter being stored separately for early consumption.

Chemical control

Following the manufactures instructions scatter slug pellets thinly around vulnerable plants, such as seedlings, vegetables and young shoots on herbaceous plants. It is important store pellets safely and scatter them thinly as they can harm other wildlife, pets and young children if eaten in quantity.

There are two types of pellet available to the gardener; those that contain metaldehyde or ferric sulphate Ferric sulphate is relatively non-toxic to vertebrate animals.

A liquid formulation of metaldehyde is available for watering on to ornamental plants and the soil, it should not be applied to edible plants.

Most plants, once established, will tolerate some slug damage and control measures can be discontinued.

We released our annual hive of Bumble bees this week. The Ducklings are now 10 days old.
Wet or dry its great weather for planting out Vegetables.
Our Nursery is full of wonderful plants.

Have a great slug free weekend

Ashley

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

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

Jobs in your Garden – June

Jobs in your Garden – June

Tomatoes2

1. Plant out Bedding Plants

Now that the risk of frost has passed you can plant our bedding plants in containers and borders. Lightly fork over your borders and add Fish Blood & Bone fertiliser. Make sure the rootball of the plants is moist and water in after you have planted to ensure they establish.

2. Look after your Tomato plants

Now is a good time to plant your tomatoes outside if you haven’t done so and get them ready to maximise their fruit. Pinch of any new side shoots to help direct the plants energy into fruit growing on the main stem and tie up your plants to canes or supports as your plants will grow quite high and get very heavy.

3. Spray Roses

June is the time when roses really start coming into flower so make sure you keep on top of those unwanted pests such as Aphids and keep your roses looking amazing. Deadhead your roses too to encourage fresh buds and pull out any weeds that might be taking nutrients away from the plant. It might be worth giving them a feed with a specialist rose fertiliser after the first bloom.

4. Make good Compost

Now that the garden is in full growth and the lawn is being cut regularly there should be plenty of stuff available for composting. Make sure you mix in well nitrogen rich material such as grass clippings and manure with carbon rich material such as flower stalks and woody clippings to ensure your compost breaks down evenly. If you’ve got time, turn your compost regularly for faster results.

5. Harvest your salad

You should now be able to start picking lettuce leaves and any other salad you planted earlier in the year. Make sure you pick the leaves from the outside of the plant which will help promote a supply of new leaves.

Jobs in your garden – August

Jobs in your garden – August

summer flower

Water the Plants

It’s very dry at the moment so it’s really important that your plants have enough water for them to survive. The summer sun is pulling all the moisture out of the leaves and it can cause a lot of stress on your plants. Check your plants regularly to see if they are wilting and give them lots of water to keep them going.

Feed, Feed, Feed

All the watering you are doing to keep your plants alive will slowly wash the nutrients from the compost in your pots and planters so keep feeding your plants. Feed them every fortnight for the rest of the summer to keep them looking good.

Dead-head regularly

A few minutes every day of deadheading will keep the garden looking smart. It encourages plants to produce more flowers and not to run to seed. Harvesting also encourages plants to keep producing, so pick dahlias with regularity and beans and courgettes while they are still young and fresh.

Watch out for Cabbage white butterfly

Now is the time that Cabbage White Butterfly start to breed and devour your delicious cabbages. Keep an eye out for the butterfly eggs on the leaves of your brassica as they will soon turn into lots of caterpillars. When they grow you can pick them off the leaves but this will take some time, a good bug killer will also work. The best form of defence is prevention – cover your cabbages with a fine netting to stop the butterfly getting to them.

Prune Wisteria

Your Wisteria need pruning twice a year, in Jan/Feb and again in the summer. Pruning keeps its size under control and improves the quality of its flowering. Cut back to 6 leaves from the previous growth and this will encourage it to flower.

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered

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

Start planting your winter potatoes

Start planting your winter potatoes

Had a great day yesterday 4th and final graduation ceremony, wow how the time flies!
A wonderful day followed by an amazing electrical storm, who needs fireworks!

My good friend Nicolas Moreton is running some wonderful 2 and 3 day stone carving courses in Augusta and September have a look at his website for details. www.nicolasmoreton.com

christmas Potatoes

I guess some of you are tucking into your early potatoes, well now is the time to plant some spuds for Christmas harvest.
We have got various varieties Charlotte, Pentland Javelin etc. The tubers can be planted either in the ground, a large pot or bag at least 40 litres. Plant 4 or 5 tubers in a 40 litre container or plant in the garden 10 cm deep in rows 60 cm apart and 30 cm apart in the row. As the growth appears raise the soil / compost level up with the plant, this will encourage side shoots from the stem which will then grow more potatoes.

Planting at this time of year means that they will need frequently watering an possibly feeding until the rainfall increases in the Autumn. When watering try not to get too much moisture on the leaf as this could encourage blight.
The tubers should be ready for harvesting 10 – 12 weeks after harvesting. If your potatoes are growing in a bag when frosty weather arrives move the bag into the greenhouse or garage, let the compost dry, the tops will dry off, the potatoes will be fine in the compost. If the plants are grown in the ground they will be ok for a few weeks in the soil after the tops have died off. If the soil is very wet it will be better to lift them and store them in a cool dry, dark place. If they are damp they may rot, if they get the light on them they will go green and then taste really bitter. Remember slugs may eat them underground if the soil is very wet and you have an infestation.

We have got loads of other vegetable strips in for you to plant out in your garden.
Watch out for pigeons, slugs and cabbage white butterfly on your brassicas.

I am delighted to announce that we are now stocking the full range of Heygates horse and animal feeds, obviously we are open 7 days a week! Click here to see the range.

Remember to cut your long wiggly waggly Wisteria growth back to 6 leaves from the main stem, obviously if you are training it in a certain direction don’t cut it off!
Plenty of water and feed all round. Pick out the leaf axil growths on cordon tomatoes.
Have a great weekend

Ashley

Enjoy your home grown salad, start thinking about your Christmas meal

Enjoy your home grown salad, start thinking about your Christmas meal

Winter Veg

It’s time to start sowing/planting winter vegetables. Leeks, Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages, sprouting and spring broccoli, swedes and turnip should all be planted now for winter harvest. If you are tight for space the veg above can be sown or planted as small plants between your existing rows of lettuce, radish etc. .These will be harvested before the newly sown plants need the space. There are always loads of pests around dribbling at the mouth to get their hands on your brassicas. The cabbage white butterfly will soon be around, the eggs laid on the leaf soon hatch into hundreds of hungry caterpillars that will devour your cabbages in no time. The best way of preserving your veg under this threat is to cover them with a thin mesh before the cabbage white butterfly appears, the mesh will prevent the butterfly even laying its eggs on your plants. The mesh should be put over the brassicas like a cloche on a metal or bamboo cane frame, covering with mesh will also prevent the pigeons eating the plant, pigeons love them. Agralan make the best mesh and it is reusable year after year, you can get crop protection cloches, which include mesh and frame, other meshes can be purchased off a bulk roll. If you see the caterpillars on your plants you can either pick them off, good luck as this may take ages and you will never get them all off or give them a spray with a pesticide, Bayer Provado is probably one of the better ones. Remember to water and feed your newly planted veg regularly, with shallow roots and blazing sun they will soon perish if not watered. Once the plants are established, say 15cm tall you could put a mulch around the base of the plant i.e. grass cuttings, bark to prevent the soil drying out. Aerial attack from pigeons and butterflies, ground attack from slugs we are all used to them after this spring, there are still masses around. Put slug pellets around the plants, you could put a circle of soot around them, live nematodes can be put on the soil via a watering can, these little weevils eat slugs, slug bait, beer bath etc.

Keep feeding and dead heading all your flowering plants. Water newly planted trees once a week. Tomatoes, cucumbers need copious amounts of regular watering and feeding to get them to perform to their maximum.

We always have loads of current wonderful flowering plants in our plant area, if you are void of colour at a certain point in the season pay us a visit to get some ideas. If you have a new garden and no colour regular visits will give you an idea of what is flowering when, you may even want to buy some plants?

Have a great Silverstone weekend

Ashley

Jobs in your Garden – July

Jobs in your Garden – July

Patio rose

Water regularly

Most of the plants we get back at this time of year are because they haven’t been watered properly. Pots and Planters are the most susceptible to drying up and need watering once a day. If you are struggling to keep on top of them move them into a shady spot where they should dry out slower.

Feed your plants

Plants such as roses can really benefit from a summer feed as it can encourage a second flush in Autumn. Feeding your vegetables with a liquid feed can prevent bitterness in your crops.

Deadhead your plants

Bedding plants, roses and other perennials will benefit from regular deadheading. Picking off the fading flowers will prolong the flowering period, making your garden look more attractive. You can also get a second bloom from faded annuals by cutting them back and then fertilising them.

Keep on top of pests

The summer is prime for garden pests – keep an eye on your plants and make sure they aren’t being eaten. A common pest at this time of year is black fly who suck on the sap of plants and eventually kill them.

Plant of the Month – July

Plant of the Month – July

Our plant of the Month for July is Penstemon – Sour Grapes

Penstemon Sour Grapes

This Perennial plant grows up to 60cm in height and flowers elegant spikes of small, tubular, foxglove-like flowers and has lance-shaped leaves. They will grow quickly to form large, leafy clumps and will add some great colour into your border. They love fertile, well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade.

The sun, the rain and look after your Roses

The sun, the rain and look after your Roses

It’s a good job we decided to wrap up our cut grass to make silage rather than hay, the forecasters were right. We do need a good drop of rain on the garden. We have had a constant job on our hands keeping the plants in the Garden centre watered over the last 10 days or so. The hot weather coupled with our team holidays has meant all hands that are here are on the pump. I must invest in some irrigation! We are installing automatic watering for our chickens. At the moment we are using fill from the bottom water tanks. Occasionally when filling them the bottom does not go on correctly, so when turned up the right way you get a boot full of water!
Roses
The majority of roses in my garden look wonderful at this time of year, I have got one rose that is severely stressed for several reasons. Firstly it has got a massive black spot problem and secondly it is going yellow due to lack of feed due to the fact that it is absolutely covered in beautiful flowers. Good regular doses of Multi Rose should alleviate the black spot problem, a good foliar and root feed with maxicrop should get some colour back into the leaves. To encourage a possible re flower later in the summer it is important to cut off all the dead flowers from the roses, dead heading encourages vegetative growth, root growth and may be re flowering depending on the variety of the rose. Loads of organic matter at the base of the plant will slowly release nutrients, retain soil moisture, increase microbial activity, improve soil structure etc. Wow pile on the poo (organic matter). Some of the rose stems will be getting long, if you want to train them along a wall / fence now is the time to start loosely tying them to the structure the way you want them to grow.

If you have a Wisteria that needs a haircut, you can cut those wavy loose stems back to 6 leaves from the main stem of the plant.

We have got loads of wonderful flowering herbaceous plants for you to see.

Pop in and have a look, maybe a cream tea?

Have a good weekend,

Ashley

Great Weather for Slugs

Great weather for Slugs

Hydrangea

Those blasted slugs have eaten my Melon plants, gone in a flash! Slugs have been a massive problem this year to most Gardeners. A warm winter with very few sub-zero temperatures and a warm wet spring has allowed the slug population to flourish. As a result of this there is a shortage of slug pellets in the UK. I am pleased to say we do have a few packets left. If you don’t have any you can use non chemical controls as mentioned below.
Transplant sturdy plantlets grown on in pots, rather than young vulnerable seedlings. Transplants can be given some protection with cloches
Place traps, such as scooped out half orange, grapefruit or melon skins, laid cut side down, or jars part-filled with beer and sunk into the soil near vulnerable plants. Check and empty these regularly, preferably every morning. Proprietary traps are also available from good garden centres!
Place barriers, such as copper tapes around pots or stand containers on matting impregnated with copper salts. Moisture-absorbent minerals can be placed around plants to create slug barriers (e.g. Slug Blocker Granules). Gel repellents can also be used to create barriers around plants. Go out with a torch on mild evenings, especially when the weather is damp, and hand-pick slugs into a container. Take them to a field, hedgerow or patch of waste ground well away from gardens, at least 30 meters away as they have been found to return to where they originated. Destroy them in hot water, a strong salt solution or feed them to the birds!
Birds, frogs, toads, hedgehogs, slow-worms and ground beetles eat slugs and these predators should be encouraged in gardens
Rake over soil and remove fallen leaves during winter so birds can eat slug eggs that have been exposed.

Potatoes and slugs

The slugs that damage potatoes spend much of their time in the soil where they do not come into contact with slug pellets. The nematode treatment can be effective. Nematodes are roundworms that kill slugs in the soil, they can be purchased from Garden Centres and posted to you direct. You just mix them with water and apply to the soil in a watering can. Damage usually begins during August and becomes progressively worse the longer the crop is left in the ground. Early potatoes usually escape damage; maincrop potatoes should be lifted as soon as the tubers have matured if the soil is known to be slug infested. Heavy applications of farmyard manure and other composts can encourage slugs, and so inorganic fertilizers should be used where slugs are a problem. It is better to dig organic matter into your soil and have a slug problem rather than have no organic matter in your soil. Slugs can be treated, no organic matter in your soil will be disastrous!

Potatoes vary in their susceptibility to slugs. ‘Maris Piper’, ‘Cara’, ‘Arran Banner’, ‘Kirsty’, ‘Maris Bard’, ‘Maris Peer’, ‘Kondor’, ‘Pentland Crown’ and ‘Rocket’ are frequently damaged, whereas ‘Romano’, ‘Pentland Dell’, ‘Pentland Squire’, ‘Wilja’, ‘Charlotte’, ‘Golden Wonder’, ‘Kestrel’, ‘Estima’, ‘Stemster’, ‘Sante’ and ‘Pentland Ivory’ are less susceptible. Damaged potatoes are more vulnerable to storage rots and the crop should be sorted into sound and damaged tubers, with the latter being stored separately for early consumption.

Chemical control

Following the manufactures instructions scatter slug pellets thinly around vulnerable plants, such as seedlings, vegetables and young shoots on herbaceous plants. It is important store pellets safely and scatter them thinly as they can harm other wildlife, pets and young children if eaten in quantity.

There are two types of pellet available to the gardener; those that contain metaldehyde or ferric sulphate Ferric sulphate is relatively non-toxic to vertebrate animals.

A liquid formulation of metaldehyde is available for watering on to ornamental plants and the soil, it should not be applied to edible plants.

Most plants, once established, will tolerate some slug damage and control measures can be discontinued.

We released our annual hive of Bumble bees this week. The Ducklings are now 10 days old.
Wet or dry its great weather for planting out Vegetables.
Our Nursery is full of wonderful plants.

Have a great slug free weekend

Ashley

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

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

Jobs in your Garden – June

Jobs in your Garden – June

Tomatoes2

1. Plant out Bedding Plants

Now that the risk of frost has passed you can plant our bedding plants in containers and borders. Lightly fork over your borders and add Fish Blood & Bone fertiliser. Make sure the rootball of the plants is moist and water in after you have planted to ensure they establish.

2. Look after your Tomato plants

Now is a good time to plant your tomatoes outside if you haven’t done so and get them ready to maximise their fruit. Pinch of any new side shoots to help direct the plants energy into fruit growing on the main stem and tie up your plants to canes or supports as your plants will grow quite high and get very heavy.

3. Spray Roses

June is the time when roses really start coming into flower so make sure you keep on top of those unwanted pests such as Aphids and keep your roses looking amazing. Deadhead your roses too to encourage fresh buds and pull out any weeds that might be taking nutrients away from the plant. It might be worth giving them a feed with a specialist rose fertiliser after the first bloom.

4. Make good Compost

Now that the garden is in full growth and the lawn is being cut regularly there should be plenty of stuff available for composting. Make sure you mix in well nitrogen rich material such as grass clippings and manure with carbon rich material such as flower stalks and woody clippings to ensure your compost breaks down evenly. If you’ve got time, turn your compost regularly for faster results.

5. Harvest your salad

You should now be able to start picking lettuce leaves and any other salad you planted earlier in the year. Make sure you pick the leaves from the outside of the plant which will help promote a supply of new leaves.