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

Open Evening Thursday 30th – Christmas, tastings, supper!

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Hi All,

Our Christmas open evening is just around the corner. Next Thursday 30th we’ll stay open from 5.30pm until 7.30pm and there is loads going on on-site.

In the Garden Centre

Our Garden Centre will be open until 7.30pm with our brand new Christmas decorations now in and looking amazing. Have a browse around with a complimentary glass of mulled wine and mince pies.

In the Farm Shop

Our Farm Shop will also be open for the evening with some of Northant’s finest food and drink suppliers giving you an exclusive free taste of their delicious produce including: pies, ales, ice cream and free range turkeys.

Supper in the Café

Our Café will be open serving a delicious 2-course Mexican themed supper for only £15 for adults and £7 for children. Contact us and book your table. We’ll be serving tortilla wedges to start, a choice of 2 chilli’s for main and 3 choices of pudding if you want it.

Contact us button

A Most Marvellous place to shop and Hot Tubs at Home will also be open for you to browse around.

Planting bare root hedging

Planting bare root hedging

In 1984 when I started planting trees in Milton Keynes and on the Hesketh Estate we would have been well into Autumn by now. The lifting of bare root trees and shrubs would have been well under way at the beginning of October. Here we are in the middle of October with the plants still not dormant, holding their leaves. I hope we will have our bare root hedging in by the beginning of November.

Bare root trees

Buying bare root plants is a really cost effective way of planting large lengths of hedge and large areas of woodland. Only certain plants can stand the upheaval of being moved around without any soil around their roots. Fortunately a lot of the commonly grown hedge and tree species can stand this. So take advantage of it. It is ok to plant bare root trees and shrubs between the beginning of November and probably the end of February, you could get into March it just depends on how early the growing season starts. Calling the trees and shrubs bare root only means that they are not grown in a pot and come with no plastic pot or soil around them when purchased. It is essential that the roots do not dry out while in transit or waiting to be planted. When they arrive at the Garden Centre they will be plunged into some gorgeous compost which will prevent them from drying out.

Planting is easy, hopefully the area they are being planted in is weed free, has already been cultivated and has had compost incorporated into it! Heaven for plant roots. Dig a small hole as deep as the plant root system, pop the plant in so all the root will be buried when filled in. Really firm the soil with your heel after planting. Microrhyzal fungi ‘Rootgrow ‘ is a fantastic addition underneath the plant before you back fill the hole, compost as well if you haven’t already put some in the soil. You could also cut the plant in half after planting.

This will encourage the establishment of root growth, it will also reduce the amount of water the plant will need in its first year, therefore more likely to survive. If you need any help or advice give me a call. Luke at ‘The Ground Care Company’ would be happy to quote if you need any help with large scale hedging luke@thegroundcarecompany.co.uk

We have got plenty more food in the Farm Shop plus some great Gin from Harrington, Northants! Freshly baked cakes and scones from the Café every day. Still can beat the streaky bacon!

There are still tickets available for Supper in the Café on Thursday 30th October 2014, Adults £15 Children £7 check the website for details.

The plant area looks amazing with Autumn colour there are plenty of plants to look at.

Have a great weekend.

Ashley

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

newBlog banner2
I thought last weekend with the forecast of cooler weather, it wouldn’t be too bad us starting to put out our Christmas 2014 offering in the shop! We have started this week while people are sat outside drinking tea in the Courtyard, seems a bit odd. Anyway I think we are later putting our products out than other Garden Centres, difficult balance between commerciality and upsetting our valued customers.

I am pleased to say that the road works on the A5 A43 junction are being managed in an admiral fashion, we have fortunately had no disruption to our trading on site. It is quite exciting to know that people will now be able to walk up to see us from Towcester rather than risking their lives crossing the A43 due to the installation of pedestrian traffic lights.

local beer
We have got some great new products in the farm shop this week. I have got an alcohol licence so we have stocked up with loads Beer from local Breweries, Merrimen, Litchborough, Phipps, Northampton, (Phipps is back!), Hoggleys, Northampton, Saxbys Cider, Wellingborough, Wines from Verre de Vin, Towcester, Gin from Harrington, all Northamptonshire Companies. Plus our bacon, I can’t get over how great the streaky bacon is, it tastes just like the rashers we used to get from The Bacon shop, Cambridge Road, Aylesbury in the 1960’s, 70’s, that’s an indication of my age.

It’s now ok to cut back herbaceous flowering plants that are starting to die back, this will immediately start to transform the Garden into winter mode. While doing this you could consider putting in some spring flowering bulbs to give you some early colour in February, March before the growth of the herbaceous plant, a double use of space.
Once all the herbaceous has been cut back later on in the season pour on the mulch/organic matter.

I am not sure how many people in this area have experienced box blight. Monty Don was on about it in one of his Gardening programmes earlier this year. I heard this week that Bayer have a new systemic fungicide out that will help reduce risk/cure the problem, we don’t have any in stock at the moment. Good management of Box can also help reduce the incidence of the fungal blight. Pruning should be carried out when there are a few days of fine weather forecast, if cut, trimmed when the weather is wet encourages spores to infect the freshly cut wood. Don’t let other plants grow to near the box, this may create a damp micro climate where fungal spores can survive. So if your neighbour has a problem it may be a good idea to use prevention measures, spray your box with a fungicide ( probably Bayer fruit and veg fungicide until the new one appears on the shelves) several times a year starting in the spring when the new growth appears. A great alternative to Box (Buxus sempervirens / suffruiticosa) is Ilex crenata which is a small leaved holly, we have a Topiary cloud tree in the courtyard which is Ilex crenata.

We have a Christmas open evening on Thursday 30th October in the Garden Centre until 7.30 and the Cafe will be open for Supper. The Farm shop will also be open for tastings and browsing. It will be great fun click here to view the details, it would be great to see you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

A busy September

A Busy September

September, what an amazing month for many reasons. Driest since records began, we opened the farm shop, Steve our new plant area manager joined us and the end of our financial year. I am pleased to say we have not issued a share warning! I would just like to thank our wonderful team of people here and our customers for creating a really enjoyable business. We remain in double digit growth for the fourth successive year. Our plans for 2014 – 2015 are huge, we have had an offer of funding to build 10,000sq ft. of glass for more plants and Café area. We also hope to produce a large amount of the products that we sell in the Plantation Farm shop.

The weather being very dry puts a lot of plants if not watered under a lot of stress. That stress coupled with cooler nights and shortening daylight encourages plants to go into autumn mode. Leaves start going yellow and falling off the plants. It is important to keep watering and feeding plants right up to when the cooler weather, which I think could be this weekend!
Steve Hilling joined us at the beginning of the month from Wyevale, he was the plant area manager at their Bicester store, Steve was with that company for 18 years. We are looking forward to fully utilising Steve’s passion for plants in our small, dynamic little business. Unleash the Plantsman!

Cake

The biggest success so far in our 3 weeks of running the Farm Shop is the home made cakes ( made by our A team daily in the Café) and the Bacon products. The rashers do not fill the pan up with water as they cook or create a white salty scum around the bacon. They secrete a small amount of fat that helps the meat cook, once the meat is cooked, either to just cooked or crispy there is just enough fat to wipe up with a piece of bread which can be left to fry! Plus the small is enough to get anyone out of bed.

Keep dead heading your plants and cutting them back if they have fallen over. We are now at the time of year when you should be planting bulbs for flowering early in the Spring next year. We have got a large selection to choose from. With Steve at the helm of the Plant area we have got a massive amount of wonderful flowering and colourful plants for you to choose from. Planting winter bedding now while it is warm will pay dividends later in terms of more flowers.

I am pleased to say we now stock and are selling wine and local beer from the Plantation Farm Shop, Louise Croft from Verres de Vin will be doing a wine tasting session from 11am – 1pm on Saturday 4th October 14 in the Plantation Farm shop.

Have a great weekend.
Catch up soon
Ashley

Vouchers for a visit to the new Farm Shop

Farm Shop meat blog

Vouchers in the new Farm Shop

After a couple of weeks of hard graft our new Farm Shop is now open. We’ve stripped it back to the walls and tried to make it feel really earthy – wooden cladding, bricks and wood for shelving.

The most challenging part as always has been the stock – trying to keep the stock consistent for our regular customers has been hard to do and there’s still a lot of work but we think we’ve got some great goodies that you’ll want to try. We’ve found a local meat supplier from Rugby who make the most delicious pork pies – as close to a Saxby pie as you can get – traditional with a bit of spice. They also do delicious sausages, proper bacon that doesn’t shrink to nothing when you cook it and some old classics like faggots and black pudding.

Our fresh meat supplier grows his beef in Long Buckby and does a cracking steak, but we also have fresh whole chickens and chicken breasts. For any of you that remember Brown’s grocers from Towcester back in the day we are getting all our Fruit & Veg from them.

We’ve had a lot of tasting to do this week and our picks of the dry food are Bay Tree’s delicious pasta – the spaghetti is delicious and great with a Spag Bol. The frozen croissants are amazing (heated up of course) and the fish cakes are great. There is loads more stuff but we’ll let you know how it tastes as we try it.

It’s best you pop in for yourself and have a look, click here for a £1 off voucher when you spend £10 or more. Print it off and bring it in to the shop to get your money off.

Voucher

As always, any feedback is really appreciated, please let us know what you think.

Have a good weekend.

Ashley

Exciting news – Introducing the Plantation Farm Shop

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Introducing the Plantation Farm Shop

Hi All,

It is a pleasure to announce that we will be taking over the operation of our onsite Farm Shop.
The new Plantation Farm Shop will provide you and the local community with unique, delicious and healthy food that is well sourced and well presented. It will synchronize with our existing businesses and our farm at Wappenham to embrace a soil-to-plate philosophy that is at the heart of our ethos.

We have a strong background in Agriculture and Horticulture with a passion for both and being able to combine these two together at the Bell Plantation is a fantastic step forward.

The shop will sell a wide range of fresh farm produce from fresh and cooked meat to fruit and vegetables, delicious local bread, a wide range of hand-picked cooking ingredients such as pastas, condiments, sauces, world food and yummy treats including cakes, biscuits, desserts and sweets. A world of flavour awaits you at the shop and our friendly team will be happy to help you with anything you need.

Being able to provide fresh, delicious and unique food to the community of South Northants is really exciting for us and I’m delighted at the opportunity to see my own beef, pork and vegetables sold through the shop.

The shop will be opening on Wednesday 10th September and we’ll be working really hard over the next few weeks to get it right. We’d really appreciate your feedback, we want to know what you think and what you want to see in the shop. Come in and meet our new Manager, Erris who’ll be starting on the 15th…. she’s relaxing in Thailand before the big launch.

Click here to have a look at the initial web page and pop in and visit whenever you like.

Ashley

Heard of the South Northants Art Trail?

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South Northants Art Trail

The Bell Plantation are proud to be hosting the launch exhibition of the South Northants Art trail on 7th September from 10am-4pm.

Painting, sculpture, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, photography and more by 27 artists will be on display and for sale.

South Northamptonshire Arts is a newly formed group of experienced artists and makers who have come together to raise the profile of their work in the South Northants area.

On The Trail starting the following Saturday 13th by both professional artists and amateurs, as well tutors showing work by their students. Among others exhibiting in Brackley, Pam Foley, sculptor and tutor will be showing work by her students in a show amusingly entitled “Fifty Shades of Clay”. Many people will recognize the beautiful wire sculptures by Linda Johns showing with the group of painters and photographers at Blisworth this year. Ruth Lyne creates work in glass and will be in her studio at The Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe and there will be two painters and a sculptor at Roy Holding’s studio in Towcester. John Damsell, will be in his studio in Potterspury and nearby in Silverstone at Sue Rudland’s studio there will be painters, textile artists and a jeweller. So, come along to the launch where you can look, listen, eat and ENJOY whilst planning your trip along The Art Trail venues the following week!The Trail Leaflet with map and venues will be available at The Bell Plantation or can be downloaded from www.arts-sn.org.uk

Further information: www.arts-sn.org.uk www.facebook.com/arts.sn

email: southnorthamptonshirearts@gmail.com

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Keep your garden flowering

Keep your garden flowering

Agapanthus

It’s been a long growing season this year. Several customers have been asking which flowering plants we have in stock, they have few flowers in their own gardens ( as they have all flowered) for displaying at their local Horticultural shows. The best way to try to prolong flowering in plants is to keep dead heading them and feed and water them. Plant some later flowering varieties Echinacea, Rudbekia, Asters, Lavender, Schizostylis, Agapanthus we have got loads of these at the Garden Centre to add masses of colour to your garden.

I hope by now most people have all their winter veg planted, there is still time to plant potatoes to crop before Christmas, be quick we have a few bags left. They are best planted in a container so that you can get them out of the severe frost.

At this time of year preserving and pickling fruit and veg should be the name of the game, freezing is very trendy and easy. Picking veg young and sweet is better than letting them get bigger and older. Sugar levels are higher and fibre levels lower in younger veg. Preserving is all about the prevention of rot, keeping the fungus and bacteria at bay, pickling, freezing, drying.

It’s a good time of year to collect seeds from plants that you would like to grow next year. I have got my eye on a Quercus castaneifolia, I can assure you there are not many of these in this country! I keep meaning to pick a few of Charlotte’s sweet peas to grow in our hedge.

The wildflowers I planted last year have looked absolutely fantastic all year, however they are now running out of steam and looking a bit untidy. A few are still flowering, it is tempting to cut them down but they must be left to set and drop their seed. Most are annuals, if we removed the vegetation now we would remove the seed as well. The vegetation is best left until completely dry and dead, remove late October. There are a few grass weeds creeping in, I am tempted to spray them with glyphosate during the winter before the wild flowers start to grow again.

Our spring flowering bulbs are now in the shop, it is good to get the daffodils in early as they root before the tulips and other bulbs. Planting bulbs now is a guarantee of masses of colour early next spring in your containers or garden.

Steve joined us this week as our Plant area manager, his previous life was 18 years with the biggest garden centre group in the country. I hope he is ok with the culture shock? We look forward to Steve helping you to enjoy your gardens and us to expand our ranges of plants at Bell Plantation.

In the Poultry department we are recruiting, we need some part time help in the poultry department, if you are interested or know someone who is drop me a line Ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

Have a great weekend

Ashley Warren

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

In August the gardener can go on holiday with no worries, provided he has mown the lawn, watered thoroughly and asked a friend to pick the fruit and vegetables’. Just depends how long the holiday is and how hot the weather. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with the rain showers we are getting, they hardly lay the dust. Keep pouring on the water until there is a prolonged spell of consistent rain.

rotten tomatoes

I have had a few people ask me this year about their tomatoes going rotten on the end. This is Blossom end rot it is a physiological condition, not a disease or pest. It is caused by lack of calcium. There is no quick fix, and it is difficult to save the fruits that are affected. The lack of calcium in the plant is usually caused by lack of water, calcium is taken up into the plant in the water, so if there is a lack of water the plant does not get the required amount of calcium from the soil/compost. It is less likely that your soil or compost lacks calcium, if it does add plenty of well-balanced Tomorite to the water, “Probably the best plant food in the world”, it’s as good for plants as Carlsberg.

If you have the most awful lawn in the world now is the time to start the process of re doing it. The main reason for doing it now is that you can get a perfectly flat smooth surface, the soil is so dry and easy to work, no mess, no mud! I suggest spraying the whole lawn with roundup, glyphosate, be careful not to touch any other plants as it will kill them. Leave the lawn for a couple of weeks to go brown. Once brown, cultivate by rotavating or hand digging until you achieve a very fine tilth. Once you have a fine tilth, level and stone pick and firm the soil before sowing the seed. There are numerous types of grass seed to choose from, very fine grasses good to look at not very hard wearing, harder wearing mixes which will include some ryegrass which will need mowing a little more frequently. After sowing lightly rake and firm. The other option is to lay turf instead, instant but will possibly need constant watering (if done in the summer). It sounds really easy, well it is if you have the right equipment and /or don’t mind a bit of hard work. Well worth it in the long run.
If you need more advice of help drop me a line at the Garden Centre ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

As usual we have an abundance of wonderful late flowering herbaceous plants. Great cream teas!

Have a great weekend

Ashley

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.

Open Evening Thursday 30th – Christmas, tastings, supper!

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Hi All,

Our Christmas open evening is just around the corner. Next Thursday 30th we’ll stay open from 5.30pm until 7.30pm and there is loads going on on-site.

In the Garden Centre

Our Garden Centre will be open until 7.30pm with our brand new Christmas decorations now in and looking amazing. Have a browse around with a complimentary glass of mulled wine and mince pies.

In the Farm Shop

Our Farm Shop will also be open for the evening with some of Northant’s finest food and drink suppliers giving you an exclusive free taste of their delicious produce including: pies, ales, ice cream and free range turkeys.

Supper in the Café

Our Café will be open serving a delicious 2-course Mexican themed supper for only £15 for adults and £7 for children. Contact us and book your table. We’ll be serving tortilla wedges to start, a choice of 2 chilli’s for main and 3 choices of pudding if you want it.

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A Most Marvellous place to shop and Hot Tubs at Home will also be open for you to browse around.

Planting bare root hedging

Planting bare root hedging

In 1984 when I started planting trees in Milton Keynes and on the Hesketh Estate we would have been well into Autumn by now. The lifting of bare root trees and shrubs would have been well under way at the beginning of October. Here we are in the middle of October with the plants still not dormant, holding their leaves. I hope we will have our bare root hedging in by the beginning of November.

Bare root trees

Buying bare root plants is a really cost effective way of planting large lengths of hedge and large areas of woodland. Only certain plants can stand the upheaval of being moved around without any soil around their roots. Fortunately a lot of the commonly grown hedge and tree species can stand this. So take advantage of it. It is ok to plant bare root trees and shrubs between the beginning of November and probably the end of February, you could get into March it just depends on how early the growing season starts. Calling the trees and shrubs bare root only means that they are not grown in a pot and come with no plastic pot or soil around them when purchased. It is essential that the roots do not dry out while in transit or waiting to be planted. When they arrive at the Garden Centre they will be plunged into some gorgeous compost which will prevent them from drying out.

Planting is easy, hopefully the area they are being planted in is weed free, has already been cultivated and has had compost incorporated into it! Heaven for plant roots. Dig a small hole as deep as the plant root system, pop the plant in so all the root will be buried when filled in. Really firm the soil with your heel after planting. Microrhyzal fungi ‘Rootgrow ‘ is a fantastic addition underneath the plant before you back fill the hole, compost as well if you haven’t already put some in the soil. You could also cut the plant in half after planting.

This will encourage the establishment of root growth, it will also reduce the amount of water the plant will need in its first year, therefore more likely to survive. If you need any help or advice give me a call. Luke at ‘The Ground Care Company’ would be happy to quote if you need any help with large scale hedging luke@thegroundcarecompany.co.uk

We have got plenty more food in the Farm Shop plus some great Gin from Harrington, Northants! Freshly baked cakes and scones from the Café every day. Still can beat the streaky bacon!

There are still tickets available for Supper in the Café on Thursday 30th October 2014, Adults £15 Children £7 check the website for details.

The plant area looks amazing with Autumn colour there are plenty of plants to look at.

Have a great weekend.

Ashley

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

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I thought last weekend with the forecast of cooler weather, it wouldn’t be too bad us starting to put out our Christmas 2014 offering in the shop! We have started this week while people are sat outside drinking tea in the Courtyard, seems a bit odd. Anyway I think we are later putting our products out than other Garden Centres, difficult balance between commerciality and upsetting our valued customers.

I am pleased to say that the road works on the A5 A43 junction are being managed in an admiral fashion, we have fortunately had no disruption to our trading on site. It is quite exciting to know that people will now be able to walk up to see us from Towcester rather than risking their lives crossing the A43 due to the installation of pedestrian traffic lights.

local beer
We have got some great new products in the farm shop this week. I have got an alcohol licence so we have stocked up with loads Beer from local Breweries, Merrimen, Litchborough, Phipps, Northampton, (Phipps is back!), Hoggleys, Northampton, Saxbys Cider, Wellingborough, Wines from Verre de Vin, Towcester, Gin from Harrington, all Northamptonshire Companies. Plus our bacon, I can’t get over how great the streaky bacon is, it tastes just like the rashers we used to get from The Bacon shop, Cambridge Road, Aylesbury in the 1960’s, 70’s, that’s an indication of my age.

It’s now ok to cut back herbaceous flowering plants that are starting to die back, this will immediately start to transform the Garden into winter mode. While doing this you could consider putting in some spring flowering bulbs to give you some early colour in February, March before the growth of the herbaceous plant, a double use of space.
Once all the herbaceous has been cut back later on in the season pour on the mulch/organic matter.

I am not sure how many people in this area have experienced box blight. Monty Don was on about it in one of his Gardening programmes earlier this year. I heard this week that Bayer have a new systemic fungicide out that will help reduce risk/cure the problem, we don’t have any in stock at the moment. Good management of Box can also help reduce the incidence of the fungal blight. Pruning should be carried out when there are a few days of fine weather forecast, if cut, trimmed when the weather is wet encourages spores to infect the freshly cut wood. Don’t let other plants grow to near the box, this may create a damp micro climate where fungal spores can survive. So if your neighbour has a problem it may be a good idea to use prevention measures, spray your box with a fungicide ( probably Bayer fruit and veg fungicide until the new one appears on the shelves) several times a year starting in the spring when the new growth appears. A great alternative to Box (Buxus sempervirens / suffruiticosa) is Ilex crenata which is a small leaved holly, we have a Topiary cloud tree in the courtyard which is Ilex crenata.

We have a Christmas open evening on Thursday 30th October in the Garden Centre until 7.30 and the Cafe will be open for Supper. The Farm shop will also be open for tastings and browsing. It will be great fun click here to view the details, it would be great to see you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

A busy September

A Busy September

September, what an amazing month for many reasons. Driest since records began, we opened the farm shop, Steve our new plant area manager joined us and the end of our financial year. I am pleased to say we have not issued a share warning! I would just like to thank our wonderful team of people here and our customers for creating a really enjoyable business. We remain in double digit growth for the fourth successive year. Our plans for 2014 – 2015 are huge, we have had an offer of funding to build 10,000sq ft. of glass for more plants and Café area. We also hope to produce a large amount of the products that we sell in the Plantation Farm shop.

The weather being very dry puts a lot of plants if not watered under a lot of stress. That stress coupled with cooler nights and shortening daylight encourages plants to go into autumn mode. Leaves start going yellow and falling off the plants. It is important to keep watering and feeding plants right up to when the cooler weather, which I think could be this weekend!
Steve Hilling joined us at the beginning of the month from Wyevale, he was the plant area manager at their Bicester store, Steve was with that company for 18 years. We are looking forward to fully utilising Steve’s passion for plants in our small, dynamic little business. Unleash the Plantsman!

Cake

The biggest success so far in our 3 weeks of running the Farm Shop is the home made cakes ( made by our A team daily in the Café) and the Bacon products. The rashers do not fill the pan up with water as they cook or create a white salty scum around the bacon. They secrete a small amount of fat that helps the meat cook, once the meat is cooked, either to just cooked or crispy there is just enough fat to wipe up with a piece of bread which can be left to fry! Plus the small is enough to get anyone out of bed.

Keep dead heading your plants and cutting them back if they have fallen over. We are now at the time of year when you should be planting bulbs for flowering early in the Spring next year. We have got a large selection to choose from. With Steve at the helm of the Plant area we have got a massive amount of wonderful flowering and colourful plants for you to choose from. Planting winter bedding now while it is warm will pay dividends later in terms of more flowers.

I am pleased to say we now stock and are selling wine and local beer from the Plantation Farm Shop, Louise Croft from Verres de Vin will be doing a wine tasting session from 11am – 1pm on Saturday 4th October 14 in the Plantation Farm shop.

Have a great weekend.
Catch up soon
Ashley

Vouchers for a visit to the new Farm Shop

Farm Shop meat blog

Vouchers in the new Farm Shop

After a couple of weeks of hard graft our new Farm Shop is now open. We’ve stripped it back to the walls and tried to make it feel really earthy – wooden cladding, bricks and wood for shelving.

The most challenging part as always has been the stock – trying to keep the stock consistent for our regular customers has been hard to do and there’s still a lot of work but we think we’ve got some great goodies that you’ll want to try. We’ve found a local meat supplier from Rugby who make the most delicious pork pies – as close to a Saxby pie as you can get – traditional with a bit of spice. They also do delicious sausages, proper bacon that doesn’t shrink to nothing when you cook it and some old classics like faggots and black pudding.

Our fresh meat supplier grows his beef in Long Buckby and does a cracking steak, but we also have fresh whole chickens and chicken breasts. For any of you that remember Brown’s grocers from Towcester back in the day we are getting all our Fruit & Veg from them.

We’ve had a lot of tasting to do this week and our picks of the dry food are Bay Tree’s delicious pasta – the spaghetti is delicious and great with a Spag Bol. The frozen croissants are amazing (heated up of course) and the fish cakes are great. There is loads more stuff but we’ll let you know how it tastes as we try it.

It’s best you pop in for yourself and have a look, click here for a £1 off voucher when you spend £10 or more. Print it off and bring it in to the shop to get your money off.

Voucher

As always, any feedback is really appreciated, please let us know what you think.

Have a good weekend.

Ashley

Exciting news – Introducing the Plantation Farm Shop

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Introducing the Plantation Farm Shop

Hi All,

It is a pleasure to announce that we will be taking over the operation of our onsite Farm Shop.
The new Plantation Farm Shop will provide you and the local community with unique, delicious and healthy food that is well sourced and well presented. It will synchronize with our existing businesses and our farm at Wappenham to embrace a soil-to-plate philosophy that is at the heart of our ethos.

We have a strong background in Agriculture and Horticulture with a passion for both and being able to combine these two together at the Bell Plantation is a fantastic step forward.

The shop will sell a wide range of fresh farm produce from fresh and cooked meat to fruit and vegetables, delicious local bread, a wide range of hand-picked cooking ingredients such as pastas, condiments, sauces, world food and yummy treats including cakes, biscuits, desserts and sweets. A world of flavour awaits you at the shop and our friendly team will be happy to help you with anything you need.

Being able to provide fresh, delicious and unique food to the community of South Northants is really exciting for us and I’m delighted at the opportunity to see my own beef, pork and vegetables sold through the shop.

The shop will be opening on Wednesday 10th September and we’ll be working really hard over the next few weeks to get it right. We’d really appreciate your feedback, we want to know what you think and what you want to see in the shop. Come in and meet our new Manager, Erris who’ll be starting on the 15th…. she’s relaxing in Thailand before the big launch.

Click here to have a look at the initial web page and pop in and visit whenever you like.

Ashley

Heard of the South Northants Art Trail?

artrailweb2

South Northants Art Trail

The Bell Plantation are proud to be hosting the launch exhibition of the South Northants Art trail on 7th September from 10am-4pm.

Painting, sculpture, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, photography and more by 27 artists will be on display and for sale.

South Northamptonshire Arts is a newly formed group of experienced artists and makers who have come together to raise the profile of their work in the South Northants area.

On The Trail starting the following Saturday 13th by both professional artists and amateurs, as well tutors showing work by their students. Among others exhibiting in Brackley, Pam Foley, sculptor and tutor will be showing work by her students in a show amusingly entitled “Fifty Shades of Clay”. Many people will recognize the beautiful wire sculptures by Linda Johns showing with the group of painters and photographers at Blisworth this year. Ruth Lyne creates work in glass and will be in her studio at The Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe and there will be two painters and a sculptor at Roy Holding’s studio in Towcester. John Damsell, will be in his studio in Potterspury and nearby in Silverstone at Sue Rudland’s studio there will be painters, textile artists and a jeweller. So, come along to the launch where you can look, listen, eat and ENJOY whilst planning your trip along The Art Trail venues the following week!The Trail Leaflet with map and venues will be available at The Bell Plantation or can be downloaded from www.arts-sn.org.uk

Further information: www.arts-sn.org.uk www.facebook.com/arts.sn

email: southnorthamptonshirearts@gmail.com

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Keep your garden flowering

Keep your garden flowering

Agapanthus

It’s been a long growing season this year. Several customers have been asking which flowering plants we have in stock, they have few flowers in their own gardens ( as they have all flowered) for displaying at their local Horticultural shows. The best way to try to prolong flowering in plants is to keep dead heading them and feed and water them. Plant some later flowering varieties Echinacea, Rudbekia, Asters, Lavender, Schizostylis, Agapanthus we have got loads of these at the Garden Centre to add masses of colour to your garden.

I hope by now most people have all their winter veg planted, there is still time to plant potatoes to crop before Christmas, be quick we have a few bags left. They are best planted in a container so that you can get them out of the severe frost.

At this time of year preserving and pickling fruit and veg should be the name of the game, freezing is very trendy and easy. Picking veg young and sweet is better than letting them get bigger and older. Sugar levels are higher and fibre levels lower in younger veg. Preserving is all about the prevention of rot, keeping the fungus and bacteria at bay, pickling, freezing, drying.

It’s a good time of year to collect seeds from plants that you would like to grow next year. I have got my eye on a Quercus castaneifolia, I can assure you there are not many of these in this country! I keep meaning to pick a few of Charlotte’s sweet peas to grow in our hedge.

The wildflowers I planted last year have looked absolutely fantastic all year, however they are now running out of steam and looking a bit untidy. A few are still flowering, it is tempting to cut them down but they must be left to set and drop their seed. Most are annuals, if we removed the vegetation now we would remove the seed as well. The vegetation is best left until completely dry and dead, remove late October. There are a few grass weeds creeping in, I am tempted to spray them with glyphosate during the winter before the wild flowers start to grow again.

Our spring flowering bulbs are now in the shop, it is good to get the daffodils in early as they root before the tulips and other bulbs. Planting bulbs now is a guarantee of masses of colour early next spring in your containers or garden.

Steve joined us this week as our Plant area manager, his previous life was 18 years with the biggest garden centre group in the country. I hope he is ok with the culture shock? We look forward to Steve helping you to enjoy your gardens and us to expand our ranges of plants at Bell Plantation.

In the Poultry department we are recruiting, we need some part time help in the poultry department, if you are interested or know someone who is drop me a line Ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

Have a great weekend

Ashley Warren

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

In August the gardener can go on holiday with no worries, provided he has mown the lawn, watered thoroughly and asked a friend to pick the fruit and vegetables’. Just depends how long the holiday is and how hot the weather. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with the rain showers we are getting, they hardly lay the dust. Keep pouring on the water until there is a prolonged spell of consistent rain.

rotten tomatoes

I have had a few people ask me this year about their tomatoes going rotten on the end. This is Blossom end rot it is a physiological condition, not a disease or pest. It is caused by lack of calcium. There is no quick fix, and it is difficult to save the fruits that are affected. The lack of calcium in the plant is usually caused by lack of water, calcium is taken up into the plant in the water, so if there is a lack of water the plant does not get the required amount of calcium from the soil/compost. It is less likely that your soil or compost lacks calcium, if it does add plenty of well-balanced Tomorite to the water, “Probably the best plant food in the world”, it’s as good for plants as Carlsberg.

If you have the most awful lawn in the world now is the time to start the process of re doing it. The main reason for doing it now is that you can get a perfectly flat smooth surface, the soil is so dry and easy to work, no mess, no mud! I suggest spraying the whole lawn with roundup, glyphosate, be careful not to touch any other plants as it will kill them. Leave the lawn for a couple of weeks to go brown. Once brown, cultivate by rotavating or hand digging until you achieve a very fine tilth. Once you have a fine tilth, level and stone pick and firm the soil before sowing the seed. There are numerous types of grass seed to choose from, very fine grasses good to look at not very hard wearing, harder wearing mixes which will include some ryegrass which will need mowing a little more frequently. After sowing lightly rake and firm. The other option is to lay turf instead, instant but will possibly need constant watering (if done in the summer). It sounds really easy, well it is if you have the right equipment and /or don’t mind a bit of hard work. Well worth it in the long run.
If you need more advice of help drop me a line at the Garden Centre ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

As usual we have an abundance of wonderful late flowering herbaceous plants. Great cream teas!

Have a great weekend

Ashley

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.