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

Lots new for your garden this Bank Holiday

Lots new for your garden this Bank Holiday

There is loads you can be doing in your garden in Autumn and this Bank Holiday weekend is the perfect time to start. Plant your Spring flowering bulbs now, patch up your lawn with some turf, divide your herbaceous perennials into new plants or even get 30% off new plants in our sale.

Autumn bulbs now in

bulbs

Our Autumn bulbs are now in and ready to buy. We have a wide range to bring some colour to your garden.

30% off all herbaceous

herbaceous
We also have 30% off all our herbaceous stock starting tomorrow. This is a fantastic opportunity to get some great plants for next spring at fantastic value.

Turf available this weekend

turf
We have some turf for this weekend so if you need to patch up some of your garden we have some available. £4.49 a roll or 10 for £40.

FREE Sercombe Meat Tasting

If you’re more of a food fan then pop down to our Farm Shop and try a FREE tasting of Sercombe meat. Click here for more information.

Summer Veg Planting & Food Production

Summer Veg Planting & Food Production

Steve and Judy are doing an amazing job in the plant area. We are already stocked full of wonderful Autumn flowering plants and Veg.

IMG_2633

By now there should be a corner or two in your vegetable patch where you have cropped some lettuce, beetroot etc and the ground is crying out for more production. Plant some Winter veg, we have got small plants ready to pop in. The ground will hardly need any cultivation before you plant them. Clear away any weeds, no need for a massive dig or turning over the soil, if you do this the soil will dry out even more. Best just dig a small hole pop the new vegetable transplant in the hole place some soil back around the plant and lightly firm, a good watering is essential as the soil is so dry. At the moment you will have to keep weeding and feeding to get the plants well grown on before winter. The soil is warm the plants should grow well despite the strength of the sun is decreasing as we move into the Autumn. Vegetable plants available at the moment Brussels Sprouts (getting a little late to crop for Christmas however could catch up if a warm Autumn), Cabbage, Onions, cauliflower,carrots and beetroot. If you do plant out some veg remember to cover up the new plants with some insect mesh to keep off the cabbage white butterfly and carrot root fly. When it rains slugs will be an issue.

Sarah the Cafe Manager is planning commencement of more food production in the Plantation kitchen. We are currently re shaping the coffee station in the Cafe to allow more space in the kitchen for the cooking team to create wonderful Scotch Eggs, Pasties (one of Sarah’s favourites, she is a West Country girl), meat pies, soups etc. We will be using mainly our own ingredients for the production, beef from home, pork from home, local flour etc.

IMG_2632

Freddie has introduced a great new supplier of frozen fish to the Farm Shop, hopefully it will be well received. Great fish this far from the the sea is more than welcome.
Did you know the Sercombes Bacon we sell in the farm shop won several National awards for its flavour. Within the next few weeks we will be introducing it full time into our breakfast’s in the Cafe. This bacon has been one of the great success stories since we took over the farm shop, our orders are increased almost weekly.There is never any white guk in the frying pan after cooking (no water content) there just remains enough fat to fry your freshly laid egg! If you cook the bacon really hot it will go crispy!

I always savour my last piece of crackly bacon, however I have to guard it from theft from predatory children.

Enjoy your weekend

Ashley

Bell Plantation Meat Boxes

Bell Plantation Meat Boxes

Beef Shorthorn

As you may know Ashley farms his own herd of Beef Shorthorn Cattle. He currently has a cow being being butchered into delicious cuts of Beef. His farm is in Wappenham, Towcester so the food miles are low. We are taking this opportunity to gauge interest from our customers in buying his beef through our Farm Shop so if you love good quality beef then try one of our brand new Bell Plantation Beef Boxes. Bred on our farm, grazed on natural pasture land in the summer and fed on unsprayed hay and silage in winter Ashley’s herd of Shorthorn Beef cattle are the finest quality. We are having all the meat flash frozen but if you would like it un-frozen this can be organised too. We are charging £99 for a box, this should equal very good value.

Our beef boxes will be available for a limited time only from early September and all meat will be frozen. A beef box will be 10kg (at least) of meat and include:

Mince (approx. 1kg)
Diced Stewing Beef (approx. 1kg)
Rump steak
Sirloin steak
Topside Joint
Silverside Joint
Brisket, Shin, Skirt are all available as well if requested.

Please fill in the form below to register your interest and we’ll be in touch to sort out the specifics.

Want to attend this event? Please fill in your details below.

Name

How many meat boxes are you interested in?

Frozen or Fresh

Additional cut requests

Email

Phone Number

Some Summer Gardening Tips from Ashley

Some Summer Gardening Tips from Ashley

Thanks Freddie for doing last weeks ditty coming on nicely!

What a great rain, just what the garden needed. With such a dry spring and ground water levels low a good drip in August is just what we needed. Ok it will hold up the harvest for a few days but for the livestock eating grass rain is welcome.

We are in transition in the Garden Centre all the summer bedding has sold through and we are now filling up with autumn winter flowering plants. Every year seems to go a little faster than the previous!

summerpruning

Have you cut back your wisteria? Cut the long straggly bits back to 6 leaves from the main stem, you could do the same with fast growing rambling,climbing roses, a more kamikaze prune takes place in the late winter early spring. With apple trees you can also summer prune, cut the long vegetative new growths in half, this should encourage more fruit bud to form on the main stem. Although we have had some rain it has only probably gone into the soil 10 to 20 mm so watering plants will still be very necessary.

Cover up the brassicas, the cabbage white butterfly is about. To prevent your plants being eaten you can cover them up with a fine mesh, Agralan mesh is long lasting and one of the best mesh’s on the market. Another option is to pick off the caterpillars, hard work and not much fun. Spraying a systemic pesticide on the plant is another option Provado by Bayer is a really good product.

We have a new member of the team in the Cafe, Emma joined us a Cook, I hope you all enjoy her food! We now have 3 full time cooks, it is our plan to produce alot more food in the kitchen to sell fresh in the Farm Shop. Our own baked cakes are on of the best selling lines in the shop along with the Tee’s bread from Northampton.

Two Birds Gin Tasting
Two Birds flavoured Gin and Vodka tasting this Saturday 15th August in the Farm Shop 2pm – 4pm

Have a great weekend

Ashley

A blog from a new gardener

A blog from a new gardener

Dad isn’t available to do his usual blog this week so I thought I’d give it a go for once. I suppose in time I will have to take over permanently but I think he is a few years from retirement yet (if ever), especially with the amount of energy he still manages to exhume all the time.

I’m not much of a gardener yet. I have just bought a house in Paulerspury and quickly put up a garden fence, rotavated and re-seeded my lawn. I have 2 landscapers in my family so can’t be shown to be un-practical! This winter I’m sorting out the inside but come next Spring I’ll be learning all I can about gardening as I attempt to make my garden look amazing. If there are any holes in our advice and service I’ll find them.

It’s been a fantastic season across all our businesses and continues to be busy at the start of August. This is particularly the case in our Poultry section, where demand seems to grow and grow. They are fantastic pets, surprisingly easy to keep and very productive in terms of your breakfast!

pots

As you may have seen we have had 22 pallets of pots delivered which are slowly being worked through. There are some absolutely fantastic pieces, real beauties and 1 offs.

I must plug the farm shop which we continue to work really hard on. We have delicious fresh bread delivered daily from 2 of the best bakers in Northants and we are making our own cakes in the Café. We will soon be producing lots of yummy food in the Café kitchen which will be available in the Farm Shop. Watch this space!

Remember we have the 2 birds gin tasting on August 15th, plus the team from Sercombe meat will be coming on Sat 29th August for you to taste a range of their products including their award winning bacon!
Hope to see you soon.
Freddie

Two Birds Tasting – Change of Date

Two Birds Tasting – Change of Date

Two Birds Gin Tasting

Hello,

Just to let you know we have changed the date of our Two Birds Gin and Vodka tasting to the 15th August from 2pm to 4pm.

Click Here for more information

Hope to see everyone there.

Freddie

A Summer Update

A Summer Update

Give me blue sky, sunshine and -5 degrees centigrade!! That suits me down to the ground, the downside is not much gardening. The high temperatures plus the wind we ​have recently experienced are putting massive demands on the root system of the plant to provide the leaves with water. The tiny little root hairs on the end of the root system are working overtime to try to find moisture in the soil to send up to the leaves, if they fail the leaves will die and fall off and the plant may die. All newly planted plants will need help with some water at this time of year. My London Planes planted 2 years ago have shown signs of stress ( a few brown crispy leaves ). I gave them 40 litres of water last night each, that should keep them going for a week. Had they been planted this year they would need watering twice a week in these hot conditions. If you soak the ground around the plant and then put a mulch of compost, bark, grass clipping around the base of the plant it will stop the ground drying out so quickly.​ The rain we have had in the last few days hardly touches the moisture deficit in the soil, ignore it and keep on watering​.

While it is so dry it isn’t a great time to weed and feed your lawn unless you are watering it. To try and keep a bit of green on the lawn it is best t​o​ raise the mower blades a little​ higher​.
Dead head the roses and any other flowering plants, this will encourage them to possibly flower again, it saves them wasting their energy producing unwanted seeds. They will put more effort into their roots and vegetation.

​We had a massive delivery of absolutely beautiful new glazed pots today, 22 pallets, there are some wonderful one off pieces!! I must have gone mad, most people think that anyway. Unfortunately we have been unable to unpack them before the weekend​, we will embark on that next week.

Heritage tomatoes

The Plantation Farm shop is full of great stuff, fresh English broad beans and peas, BBQ meat packs, Wappenham beef steak and mince (great value!), Silverstone produced charcoal, Sourdough bread baked by The Good Loaf, Northampton, Beer from surrounding village breweries. Heritage, Heirloom tomatoes, fantastic flavour peaches and necterines fresh from Spain!! Fresh cakes made in our own Cafe by Sam our wonderful baker

It is our mission to deliver to you the best flavoured food we can make and find locally.

Have a great weekend,

Ashley

Father’s Day Beer & Burger this weekend

Father’s Day Beer & Burger this weekend

We’re having a bit of a do for fathers day this weekend. We’ll be using our brand new Napoleon BBQ to cook up some delicious home-reared, home-made burgers and we’re also welcoming Phipps brewery who’ll be letting you have a FREE taste of some of their delicious beers. We’ve also got some live music to entertain you while you relax in the courtyard. The weather is set to be pretty fair so pop down. Click below for more information.

Beer and Burger

An if you’re a keen gardener then come along to our Roses workshop on Saturday where our Plant expert Steve will be talking you through a bit about legendary roses growers David Austin Roses, as well as loads of hints and tips on how to look after your Roses. Click below for more information.

David Austin Roses

Otherwise, enjoy the weather and see you soon.

Freddie

We’re Hiring – We need an energetic Cook / Chef to join our team..

We’re Hiring – We need an energetic Cook / Chef to join our team..

cakes

Chef / Cook

We are looking for an experienced and energetic cook/chef to join our fantastic team at the Bell Plantation Café.
Located within the Bell Plantation Garden Centre at Towcester, the cafe is open Mon-Sat 9.00-17.00 and Sunday 10.00-16.00. Hours of work will be between 30-40 hours per week with weekend work required.

The right person is an active team player who loves producing fresh and delicious food in a very efficient manner. We want someone who can bring extra ideas, creativity, passion and energy to our already lively and busy kitchen.

The right person:

  • Has a can-do, proactive attitude towards work, but is calm under pressure.
  • Has a passion for food, previous kitchen experience and a food hygiene certificate.
  • Is a real people person – loves working with others.

You will be responsible for:

  • Menu Planning including creation/costing/execution to deliver the required margin in consultation with the Café Manager.
  • Calculate usage of all wet and dry produce and order responsibly
  • Preparing and creating hot and cold food for the Café following the menu plan to a high very high standard
  • Baking delicious cakes, scones, and cookies daily.
  • Working to the manager’s guidelines to produce consistent portion and quality of food.
  • Kitchen maintenance – cleaning of surfaces, cooking equipment and pot washing.
  • Keeping the required cleaning and training records to achieve a high EHO star rating
  • Being an active, positive member of the team, bringing ideas and passion to the job.

  • Please apply with a CV and covering letter to Sarah in the Cafe via Cafe@bellplantation.co.uk, drop in and see her or call 01327 354126.

    It’s been a while – enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend

    It’s been a while – enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend

    My apologies for not keeping in touch over the last couple of weeks, I have sent out my little ditty but no one received it due to technical problems with the system! Haven’t got a clue, it doesn’t involve soil! Anyway we have nearly missed May,so far been pretty cold, plant growth is certainly behind where it was this time last year.

    Chelsea
    Again this year Bell Plantation sponsored Nicolas Moreton’s www.nicolasmoreton.com stand at the Chelsea Flower Show. This involves me, several of the Bell Plantation and Groundcare Company team spending several days at Chelsea building Nicolas’s stand. The atmosphere at the show build up is amazing,camaraderie flows, the change of scenery is like watching speeded up film in real time. Horticulture is a wonderful industry to be involved in, unfortunately in recent history it hasn’t been cool! Maybe things are starting to change, I hope so. So many people are missing out on a great vocation.Great fun,very wet and hard work. I must say the stand looked great when it all came together. Nicolas is an amazing sculptor using natural stone, based near Towcester.
    Beef Shorthorn

    We finally have some Wappenham beef in the Plantation Farm Shop. This is the first of my Beef Shorthorn cattle to be sold in the shop, hopefully the first of many if you enjoy eating it. She was born and bred in Wappenham, ate grassed based food all her life and was never injected with anything, she was a real sweetie! Beef Shorthorns are a traditional English breed of cattle developed over several hundred years to produce the tastiest meat. The meat has traditional marbling (small deposits of fat) in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. As we don’t yet have a butcher in the Plantation Farm shop the meat was butchered and flash frozen before coming back to the shop. I look forward to your feedback on the meat?

    As the weather is a little cooler than normal this year it makes life a little less frenetic,although there is still a lot to do. As it is not too dry it is a good time to get some weed and feed on the lawn, or even just feed if you have no weeds. Mowing a lawn regularly and removing the grass depletes the nutrients in the ground. Every time you cart a box of grass off the lawn you are taking away some of the essential minerals needed for good plant growth. Poor ground favours weeds and moss, it is therefore essential to keep the soil fertile, this in turn will help suppress weed growth and moss.
    Keep feeding all your plants this will keep their leaves green.
    Herbaceous

    Our plant area is as full as it has ever been with wonderful plants (several featuring at Chelsea flower show) Steve and Judy have done a great job sourcing a fantastic range of plants.

    Last Saturday we had 100 Silkie hens delivered, what a site I have never seen so many Silkies in one place at a time, they looked amazing. Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament. Among the most docile of poultry, Silkies are considered an ideal pet. Hens are also exceptionally broody, and make good mothers. Though they are fair layers themselves, laying about three eggs a week, they are commonly used to hatch eggs from other breeds and bird species. We also managed to hatch 3 of our own Chinese geese, the goslings are on show in our poultry shop.

    I hope the TV coverage of the flower show has inspired you, we would love to help you achieve you dream garden, if you need any help give us a shout.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

Lots new for your garden this Bank Holiday

Lots new for your garden this Bank Holiday

There is loads you can be doing in your garden in Autumn and this Bank Holiday weekend is the perfect time to start. Plant your Spring flowering bulbs now, patch up your lawn with some turf, divide your herbaceous perennials into new plants or even get 30% off new plants in our sale.

Autumn bulbs now in

bulbs

Our Autumn bulbs are now in and ready to buy. We have a wide range to bring some colour to your garden.

30% off all herbaceous

herbaceous
We also have 30% off all our herbaceous stock starting tomorrow. This is a fantastic opportunity to get some great plants for next spring at fantastic value.

Turf available this weekend

turf
We have some turf for this weekend so if you need to patch up some of your garden we have some available. £4.49 a roll or 10 for £40.

FREE Sercombe Meat Tasting

If you’re more of a food fan then pop down to our Farm Shop and try a FREE tasting of Sercombe meat. Click here for more information.

Summer Veg Planting & Food Production

Summer Veg Planting & Food Production

Steve and Judy are doing an amazing job in the plant area. We are already stocked full of wonderful Autumn flowering plants and Veg.

IMG_2633

By now there should be a corner or two in your vegetable patch where you have cropped some lettuce, beetroot etc and the ground is crying out for more production. Plant some Winter veg, we have got small plants ready to pop in. The ground will hardly need any cultivation before you plant them. Clear away any weeds, no need for a massive dig or turning over the soil, if you do this the soil will dry out even more. Best just dig a small hole pop the new vegetable transplant in the hole place some soil back around the plant and lightly firm, a good watering is essential as the soil is so dry. At the moment you will have to keep weeding and feeding to get the plants well grown on before winter. The soil is warm the plants should grow well despite the strength of the sun is decreasing as we move into the Autumn. Vegetable plants available at the moment Brussels Sprouts (getting a little late to crop for Christmas however could catch up if a warm Autumn), Cabbage, Onions, cauliflower,carrots and beetroot. If you do plant out some veg remember to cover up the new plants with some insect mesh to keep off the cabbage white butterfly and carrot root fly. When it rains slugs will be an issue.

Sarah the Cafe Manager is planning commencement of more food production in the Plantation kitchen. We are currently re shaping the coffee station in the Cafe to allow more space in the kitchen for the cooking team to create wonderful Scotch Eggs, Pasties (one of Sarah’s favourites, she is a West Country girl), meat pies, soups etc. We will be using mainly our own ingredients for the production, beef from home, pork from home, local flour etc.

IMG_2632

Freddie has introduced a great new supplier of frozen fish to the Farm Shop, hopefully it will be well received. Great fish this far from the the sea is more than welcome.
Did you know the Sercombes Bacon we sell in the farm shop won several National awards for its flavour. Within the next few weeks we will be introducing it full time into our breakfast’s in the Cafe. This bacon has been one of the great success stories since we took over the farm shop, our orders are increased almost weekly.There is never any white guk in the frying pan after cooking (no water content) there just remains enough fat to fry your freshly laid egg! If you cook the bacon really hot it will go crispy!

I always savour my last piece of crackly bacon, however I have to guard it from theft from predatory children.

Enjoy your weekend

Ashley

Bell Plantation Meat Boxes

Bell Plantation Meat Boxes

Beef Shorthorn

As you may know Ashley farms his own herd of Beef Shorthorn Cattle. He currently has a cow being being butchered into delicious cuts of Beef. His farm is in Wappenham, Towcester so the food miles are low. We are taking this opportunity to gauge interest from our customers in buying his beef through our Farm Shop so if you love good quality beef then try one of our brand new Bell Plantation Beef Boxes. Bred on our farm, grazed on natural pasture land in the summer and fed on unsprayed hay and silage in winter Ashley’s herd of Shorthorn Beef cattle are the finest quality. We are having all the meat flash frozen but if you would like it un-frozen this can be organised too. We are charging £99 for a box, this should equal very good value.

Our beef boxes will be available for a limited time only from early September and all meat will be frozen. A beef box will be 10kg (at least) of meat and include:

Mince (approx. 1kg)
Diced Stewing Beef (approx. 1kg)
Rump steak
Sirloin steak
Topside Joint
Silverside Joint
Brisket, Shin, Skirt are all available as well if requested.

Please fill in the form below to register your interest and we’ll be in touch to sort out the specifics.

Want to attend this event? Please fill in your details below.

Name

How many meat boxes are you interested in?

Frozen or Fresh

Additional cut requests

Email

Phone Number

Some Summer Gardening Tips from Ashley

Some Summer Gardening Tips from Ashley

Thanks Freddie for doing last weeks ditty coming on nicely!

What a great rain, just what the garden needed. With such a dry spring and ground water levels low a good drip in August is just what we needed. Ok it will hold up the harvest for a few days but for the livestock eating grass rain is welcome.

We are in transition in the Garden Centre all the summer bedding has sold through and we are now filling up with autumn winter flowering plants. Every year seems to go a little faster than the previous!

summerpruning

Have you cut back your wisteria? Cut the long straggly bits back to 6 leaves from the main stem, you could do the same with fast growing rambling,climbing roses, a more kamikaze prune takes place in the late winter early spring. With apple trees you can also summer prune, cut the long vegetative new growths in half, this should encourage more fruit bud to form on the main stem. Although we have had some rain it has only probably gone into the soil 10 to 20 mm so watering plants will still be very necessary.

Cover up the brassicas, the cabbage white butterfly is about. To prevent your plants being eaten you can cover them up with a fine mesh, Agralan mesh is long lasting and one of the best mesh’s on the market. Another option is to pick off the caterpillars, hard work and not much fun. Spraying a systemic pesticide on the plant is another option Provado by Bayer is a really good product.

We have a new member of the team in the Cafe, Emma joined us a Cook, I hope you all enjoy her food! We now have 3 full time cooks, it is our plan to produce alot more food in the kitchen to sell fresh in the Farm Shop. Our own baked cakes are on of the best selling lines in the shop along with the Tee’s bread from Northampton.

Two Birds Gin Tasting
Two Birds flavoured Gin and Vodka tasting this Saturday 15th August in the Farm Shop 2pm – 4pm

Have a great weekend

Ashley

A blog from a new gardener

A blog from a new gardener

Dad isn’t available to do his usual blog this week so I thought I’d give it a go for once. I suppose in time I will have to take over permanently but I think he is a few years from retirement yet (if ever), especially with the amount of energy he still manages to exhume all the time.

I’m not much of a gardener yet. I have just bought a house in Paulerspury and quickly put up a garden fence, rotavated and re-seeded my lawn. I have 2 landscapers in my family so can’t be shown to be un-practical! This winter I’m sorting out the inside but come next Spring I’ll be learning all I can about gardening as I attempt to make my garden look amazing. If there are any holes in our advice and service I’ll find them.

It’s been a fantastic season across all our businesses and continues to be busy at the start of August. This is particularly the case in our Poultry section, where demand seems to grow and grow. They are fantastic pets, surprisingly easy to keep and very productive in terms of your breakfast!

pots

As you may have seen we have had 22 pallets of pots delivered which are slowly being worked through. There are some absolutely fantastic pieces, real beauties and 1 offs.

I must plug the farm shop which we continue to work really hard on. We have delicious fresh bread delivered daily from 2 of the best bakers in Northants and we are making our own cakes in the Café. We will soon be producing lots of yummy food in the Café kitchen which will be available in the Farm Shop. Watch this space!

Remember we have the 2 birds gin tasting on August 15th, plus the team from Sercombe meat will be coming on Sat 29th August for you to taste a range of their products including their award winning bacon!
Hope to see you soon.
Freddie

Two Birds Tasting – Change of Date

Two Birds Tasting – Change of Date

Two Birds Gin Tasting

Hello,

Just to let you know we have changed the date of our Two Birds Gin and Vodka tasting to the 15th August from 2pm to 4pm.

Click Here for more information

Hope to see everyone there.

Freddie

A Summer Update

A Summer Update

Give me blue sky, sunshine and -5 degrees centigrade!! That suits me down to the ground, the downside is not much gardening. The high temperatures plus the wind we ​have recently experienced are putting massive demands on the root system of the plant to provide the leaves with water. The tiny little root hairs on the end of the root system are working overtime to try to find moisture in the soil to send up to the leaves, if they fail the leaves will die and fall off and the plant may die. All newly planted plants will need help with some water at this time of year. My London Planes planted 2 years ago have shown signs of stress ( a few brown crispy leaves ). I gave them 40 litres of water last night each, that should keep them going for a week. Had they been planted this year they would need watering twice a week in these hot conditions. If you soak the ground around the plant and then put a mulch of compost, bark, grass clipping around the base of the plant it will stop the ground drying out so quickly.​ The rain we have had in the last few days hardly touches the moisture deficit in the soil, ignore it and keep on watering​.

While it is so dry it isn’t a great time to weed and feed your lawn unless you are watering it. To try and keep a bit of green on the lawn it is best t​o​ raise the mower blades a little​ higher​.
Dead head the roses and any other flowering plants, this will encourage them to possibly flower again, it saves them wasting their energy producing unwanted seeds. They will put more effort into their roots and vegetation.

​We had a massive delivery of absolutely beautiful new glazed pots today, 22 pallets, there are some wonderful one off pieces!! I must have gone mad, most people think that anyway. Unfortunately we have been unable to unpack them before the weekend​, we will embark on that next week.

Heritage tomatoes

The Plantation Farm shop is full of great stuff, fresh English broad beans and peas, BBQ meat packs, Wappenham beef steak and mince (great value!), Silverstone produced charcoal, Sourdough bread baked by The Good Loaf, Northampton, Beer from surrounding village breweries. Heritage, Heirloom tomatoes, fantastic flavour peaches and necterines fresh from Spain!! Fresh cakes made in our own Cafe by Sam our wonderful baker

It is our mission to deliver to you the best flavoured food we can make and find locally.

Have a great weekend,

Ashley

Father’s Day Beer & Burger this weekend

Father’s Day Beer & Burger this weekend

We’re having a bit of a do for fathers day this weekend. We’ll be using our brand new Napoleon BBQ to cook up some delicious home-reared, home-made burgers and we’re also welcoming Phipps brewery who’ll be letting you have a FREE taste of some of their delicious beers. We’ve also got some live music to entertain you while you relax in the courtyard. The weather is set to be pretty fair so pop down. Click below for more information.

Beer and Burger

An if you’re a keen gardener then come along to our Roses workshop on Saturday where our Plant expert Steve will be talking you through a bit about legendary roses growers David Austin Roses, as well as loads of hints and tips on how to look after your Roses. Click below for more information.

David Austin Roses

Otherwise, enjoy the weather and see you soon.

Freddie

We’re Hiring – We need an energetic Cook / Chef to join our team..

We’re Hiring – We need an energetic Cook / Chef to join our team..

cakes

Chef / Cook

We are looking for an experienced and energetic cook/chef to join our fantastic team at the Bell Plantation Café.
Located within the Bell Plantation Garden Centre at Towcester, the cafe is open Mon-Sat 9.00-17.00 and Sunday 10.00-16.00. Hours of work will be between 30-40 hours per week with weekend work required.

The right person is an active team player who loves producing fresh and delicious food in a very efficient manner. We want someone who can bring extra ideas, creativity, passion and energy to our already lively and busy kitchen.

The right person:

  • Has a can-do, proactive attitude towards work, but is calm under pressure.
  • Has a passion for food, previous kitchen experience and a food hygiene certificate.
  • Is a real people person – loves working with others.

You will be responsible for:

  • Menu Planning including creation/costing/execution to deliver the required margin in consultation with the Café Manager.
  • Calculate usage of all wet and dry produce and order responsibly
  • Preparing and creating hot and cold food for the Café following the menu plan to a high very high standard
  • Baking delicious cakes, scones, and cookies daily.
  • Working to the manager’s guidelines to produce consistent portion and quality of food.
  • Kitchen maintenance – cleaning of surfaces, cooking equipment and pot washing.
  • Keeping the required cleaning and training records to achieve a high EHO star rating
  • Being an active, positive member of the team, bringing ideas and passion to the job.

  • Please apply with a CV and covering letter to Sarah in the Cafe via Cafe@bellplantation.co.uk, drop in and see her or call 01327 354126.

    It’s been a while – enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend

    It’s been a while – enjoy the Bank Holiday Weekend

    My apologies for not keeping in touch over the last couple of weeks, I have sent out my little ditty but no one received it due to technical problems with the system! Haven’t got a clue, it doesn’t involve soil! Anyway we have nearly missed May,so far been pretty cold, plant growth is certainly behind where it was this time last year.

    Chelsea
    Again this year Bell Plantation sponsored Nicolas Moreton’s www.nicolasmoreton.com stand at the Chelsea Flower Show. This involves me, several of the Bell Plantation and Groundcare Company team spending several days at Chelsea building Nicolas’s stand. The atmosphere at the show build up is amazing,camaraderie flows, the change of scenery is like watching speeded up film in real time. Horticulture is a wonderful industry to be involved in, unfortunately in recent history it hasn’t been cool! Maybe things are starting to change, I hope so. So many people are missing out on a great vocation.Great fun,very wet and hard work. I must say the stand looked great when it all came together. Nicolas is an amazing sculptor using natural stone, based near Towcester.
    Beef Shorthorn

    We finally have some Wappenham beef in the Plantation Farm Shop. This is the first of my Beef Shorthorn cattle to be sold in the shop, hopefully the first of many if you enjoy eating it. She was born and bred in Wappenham, ate grassed based food all her life and was never injected with anything, she was a real sweetie! Beef Shorthorns are a traditional English breed of cattle developed over several hundred years to produce the tastiest meat. The meat has traditional marbling (small deposits of fat) in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. As we don’t yet have a butcher in the Plantation Farm shop the meat was butchered and flash frozen before coming back to the shop. I look forward to your feedback on the meat?

    As the weather is a little cooler than normal this year it makes life a little less frenetic,although there is still a lot to do. As it is not too dry it is a good time to get some weed and feed on the lawn, or even just feed if you have no weeds. Mowing a lawn regularly and removing the grass depletes the nutrients in the ground. Every time you cart a box of grass off the lawn you are taking away some of the essential minerals needed for good plant growth. Poor ground favours weeds and moss, it is therefore essential to keep the soil fertile, this in turn will help suppress weed growth and moss.
    Keep feeding all your plants this will keep their leaves green.
    Herbaceous

    Our plant area is as full as it has ever been with wonderful plants (several featuring at Chelsea flower show) Steve and Judy have done a great job sourcing a fantastic range of plants.

    Last Saturday we had 100 Silkie hens delivered, what a site I have never seen so many Silkies in one place at a time, they looked amazing. Silkies are well known for their calm, friendly temperament. Among the most docile of poultry, Silkies are considered an ideal pet. Hens are also exceptionally broody, and make good mothers. Though they are fair layers themselves, laying about three eggs a week, they are commonly used to hatch eggs from other breeds and bird species. We also managed to hatch 3 of our own Chinese geese, the goslings are on show in our poultry shop.

    I hope the TV coverage of the flower show has inspired you, we would love to help you achieve you dream garden, if you need any help give us a shout.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley