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

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

    Wappenham Beef and Chelsea Flower Show

    Wappenham Beef and Chelsea Flower Show

    Chelsea

    I am delighted to say that again this year we are sponsoring Nicolas Moreton’s Exhibition at Chelsea flowers show. This means the Bell plantation team have spent several days down in London building and landscaping the stand, yesterday we got absolutely soaked! We had to bash on as time stands still for no one and there are deadlines to meet! I wish Nicolas every success at the show. www.nicolasmoreton.com 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.

    Herbaceous

    With Chelsea flower show next week, herbaceous perennials will be in the spot light, this range of plants are the colour pallet of the garden, they grow quickly every year from the ground and provide a spectacular amount of colour, foliage variation, seed heads etc I am pleased to say Judy and Steve have put together our biggest ever selection of these plants, they look amazing, I will give them a pat on the back. A large proportion of the plants are grown by one of the largest exhibitors at Chelsea, Hillier Nurseries. This range of plants are really easy to grow, if you would like some help on what grows or goes well together ask Steve or Judy.

    Beef Shorthorn

    I am delighted to say that we now have home produced Wappenham Beef in our Farm shop from our . The particular animal in the shop was born and raised in Wappenham, it never had an injection in its life, a very healthy Beef Shorthorn, she was a sweetie. The Beef Shorthorn breed was formed back in 1783 in the North East of England. They were one of the most popular breeds in the UK until the 1970’s, 80’s when the very heavy muscled breeds, Charolais, Limousin etc came over from France. The French breeds were very lean but they didn’t have the fat marbling in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. People are now appreciating taste and quality a little more which has aided the popularity of the Beef Shorthorn.The rise in popularity has lifted the breed off the endangered list of the Rare Breed survival trust. My Beef Shorthorn cattle are really docile, they make great mothers, they have plenty of milk to feed the calf and they don’t eat too much. They make my life easy, so much so that I can go to work at the Garden centre every day, I deal with the cattle early am and late pm every day and at weekends. I hope you enjoy the quality and flavour.

    Jenny and Jill thank you very much for your custom, I hope you had a wonderful weekend planting. I know in time your garden will look amazing. Remember to water all your plants well once you have planted them and then keep them watered through the summer, once a week,maybe more if it is hot.

    Hopefully see you soon,

    Ashley

    Wappenham Beef from my Farm

    Wappenham Beef from my Farm

    Pretty sleepy this morning sat up until 3 am watching the TV, what a surprise?

    Our Garden centre is absolutely full of wonderful plants and people. Steve and Judy have sourced the best looking selection of UK grown plants for all purposes and types of garden. Over the last few days we have had some well overdue rain, the ground was getting a bit dry, enough now a bit more sun please.

    Now is a great time to plant Dahlia tubers, Gladioli corms and Lily bulbs These plants will provide a great splash of colour in mid to late summer. The flowers are great for cutting and bringing into the house. Dahlias can either be purchased in bags as a large root /tuber or as a growing plant. Planted in the garden as a tuber it will provide a much bigger plant and more flowers than a pot grown plant. Gladioli are usually found only in a bag as a corm, planted now they will grow vigorously to about 1 meter tall and produce a long flower 300mm -450mm long. Lily bulbs also grow quickly and produce a very heavily scented flower, beware of the pollen on a lily it tends to stain clothing.

    Beef Shorthorn

    I am delighted to say that we now have home produced Wappenham Beef in our Farm shop from our farm. The beef was frozen when butchered so will be sold frozen and taste delicious and fresh when you eat it. The particular animal in the shop was born and raised in Wappenham, it never had an injection in its life, a very healthy Beef Shorthorn, she was a sweetie. The Beef Shorthorn breed was formed back in 1783 in the North East of England. They were one of the most popular breeds in the UK until the 1970’s, 80’s when the very heavy muscled breeds, Charolais, Limousin etc came over from France. The French breeds were very lean but they didn’t have the fat marbling in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. People are now appreciating taste and quality a little more which has aided the popularity of the Beef Shorthorn.The rise in popularity has lifted the breed off the endangered list of the Rare Breed survival trust. My Beef Shorthorn cattle are really docile, they make great mothers, they have plenty of milk to feed the calf and they don’t eat too much. They make my life easy, so much so that I can go to work at the Garden centre every day, I deal with the cattle early am and late pm every day and at weekends. I hope you enjoy the quality and flavour.

    Jenny and Jill thank you very much for your custom, I hope you have a wonderful weekend last weekend planting all your specemin shrubs . I know in time your garden will look amazing. Remember to water all your plants well once you have planted them and then keep them watered through the summer, once a week,maybe more if it is hot.

    Have a great weekend

    Would be good to see you

    Ashley

    April Showers?

    April Showers?

    Warm windy sunny weather and no rain, we are watering everything like crazy in the plant area. All hands on the pump and 1 man down, get well soon Steve.
    This is a very exciting time for us filling the Garden Centre up with beautiful new plants and products for you to see.
    We took delivery of our 24 pallets of PH Professional range of compost, it feels and smells delightful compared to the normal main brand composts, it is a little more expensive but you will get much better results, better germination when planting seeds, better growth from seedlings, shrubs, tubs and planted containers. The reasons for better performance are a balanced pH value, the correct bulk density measured in grammes per litre of compost, correct trace element balance, it contains a wetting agent to help re-wetting and drainage. We currently use it a lot here at the Garden Centre for our containers and hanging baskets.

    Mr Fitzpatricks Cordial
    Erris (Farm Shop Manager) and I had a great day out at a food fair in Birmingham this week, Wow! We didn’t need lunch or a drink as we tried so many wonderful samples of tastey food and drink. To our delight there are numerous foods grown and made very close to us here at Towcester, watch this space as I am sure we will be stocking some of them very soon. One product we have actually got in this week following the show (not so local) is Mr Fitzpatricks Vintage Cordials from Preston, we loved it so much we brought it!!. A great history and a fantastic tasty drink, we have a range of 12 of their flavours. Have a look at their website www.mrfitzpatricks.com Who needs alcohol?

    Grafted Tomatoes
    Our vegetable plant stock is nearly up to capacity. The Grafted Vegetables came in this week. Grafted vegetable are a little more expensive than normal seed grown veg, it is claimed that you get 75% more fruit per plant, there are 6-8 trusses on a tomato plant, longer cropping period, grow well at lower temperatures. Some of the grafted plants have been grafted with 2 different types of tomato onto the same root! Suttons also delivered a massive range of Chilli plants, all the plants have a marked label showing the ‘Scoville rating’ (how hot a chilli is). They make a really attractive plant approx 30cm – 60 cm tall.

    Watch out for the frost, keep new plants protected from the frost. Water all your pots and containers as it is so dry at the moment. Feed all your shrub beds and borders with a dry feed. Weed and feed the lawn. Plant seeds in the veg garden, don’t plant all the seeds from the packet at the same time as you will have too much food to eat at the same time.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley Warren

    My April Walkabout

    My April Walkabout

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

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

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

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

    heuchera

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

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

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

    Ashley

    My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

    My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

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

    Camelia2

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

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

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

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    April Flowering Plants and Easter

    April Flowering Plants and Easter

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

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

    prunus kojo

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

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

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

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

    turf

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

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

    Happy days

    Ashley

    Ashley’s Blog

    Ashley’s Blog

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

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

    strawberries

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

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

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

    Our team look forward to seeing you.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

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

    Wappenham Beef and Chelsea Flower Show

    Wappenham Beef and Chelsea Flower Show

    Chelsea

    I am delighted to say that again this year we are sponsoring Nicolas Moreton’s Exhibition at Chelsea flowers show. This means the Bell plantation team have spent several days down in London building and landscaping the stand, yesterday we got absolutely soaked! We had to bash on as time stands still for no one and there are deadlines to meet! I wish Nicolas every success at the show. www.nicolasmoreton.com 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.

    Herbaceous

    With Chelsea flower show next week, herbaceous perennials will be in the spot light, this range of plants are the colour pallet of the garden, they grow quickly every year from the ground and provide a spectacular amount of colour, foliage variation, seed heads etc I am pleased to say Judy and Steve have put together our biggest ever selection of these plants, they look amazing, I will give them a pat on the back. A large proportion of the plants are grown by one of the largest exhibitors at Chelsea, Hillier Nurseries. This range of plants are really easy to grow, if you would like some help on what grows or goes well together ask Steve or Judy.

    Beef Shorthorn

    I am delighted to say that we now have home produced Wappenham Beef in our Farm shop from our . The particular animal in the shop was born and raised in Wappenham, it never had an injection in its life, a very healthy Beef Shorthorn, she was a sweetie. The Beef Shorthorn breed was formed back in 1783 in the North East of England. They were one of the most popular breeds in the UK until the 1970’s, 80’s when the very heavy muscled breeds, Charolais, Limousin etc came over from France. The French breeds were very lean but they didn’t have the fat marbling in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. People are now appreciating taste and quality a little more which has aided the popularity of the Beef Shorthorn.The rise in popularity has lifted the breed off the endangered list of the Rare Breed survival trust. My Beef Shorthorn cattle are really docile, they make great mothers, they have plenty of milk to feed the calf and they don’t eat too much. They make my life easy, so much so that I can go to work at the Garden centre every day, I deal with the cattle early am and late pm every day and at weekends. I hope you enjoy the quality and flavour.

    Jenny and Jill thank you very much for your custom, I hope you had a wonderful weekend planting. I know in time your garden will look amazing. Remember to water all your plants well once you have planted them and then keep them watered through the summer, once a week,maybe more if it is hot.

    Hopefully see you soon,

    Ashley

    Wappenham Beef from my Farm

    Wappenham Beef from my Farm

    Pretty sleepy this morning sat up until 3 am watching the TV, what a surprise?

    Our Garden centre is absolutely full of wonderful plants and people. Steve and Judy have sourced the best looking selection of UK grown plants for all purposes and types of garden. Over the last few days we have had some well overdue rain, the ground was getting a bit dry, enough now a bit more sun please.

    Now is a great time to plant Dahlia tubers, Gladioli corms and Lily bulbs These plants will provide a great splash of colour in mid to late summer. The flowers are great for cutting and bringing into the house. Dahlias can either be purchased in bags as a large root /tuber or as a growing plant. Planted in the garden as a tuber it will provide a much bigger plant and more flowers than a pot grown plant. Gladioli are usually found only in a bag as a corm, planted now they will grow vigorously to about 1 meter tall and produce a long flower 300mm -450mm long. Lily bulbs also grow quickly and produce a very heavily scented flower, beware of the pollen on a lily it tends to stain clothing.

    Beef Shorthorn

    I am delighted to say that we now have home produced Wappenham Beef in our Farm shop from our farm. The beef was frozen when butchered so will be sold frozen and taste delicious and fresh when you eat it. The particular animal in the shop was born and raised in Wappenham, it never had an injection in its life, a very healthy Beef Shorthorn, she was a sweetie. The Beef Shorthorn breed was formed back in 1783 in the North East of England. They were one of the most popular breeds in the UK until the 1970’s, 80’s when the very heavy muscled breeds, Charolais, Limousin etc came over from France. The French breeds were very lean but they didn’t have the fat marbling in the meat which adds flavour and aids cooking. People are now appreciating taste and quality a little more which has aided the popularity of the Beef Shorthorn.The rise in popularity has lifted the breed off the endangered list of the Rare Breed survival trust. My Beef Shorthorn cattle are really docile, they make great mothers, they have plenty of milk to feed the calf and they don’t eat too much. They make my life easy, so much so that I can go to work at the Garden centre every day, I deal with the cattle early am and late pm every day and at weekends. I hope you enjoy the quality and flavour.

    Jenny and Jill thank you very much for your custom, I hope you have a wonderful weekend last weekend planting all your specemin shrubs . I know in time your garden will look amazing. Remember to water all your plants well once you have planted them and then keep them watered through the summer, once a week,maybe more if it is hot.

    Have a great weekend

    Would be good to see you

    Ashley

    April Showers?

    April Showers?

    Warm windy sunny weather and no rain, we are watering everything like crazy in the plant area. All hands on the pump and 1 man down, get well soon Steve.
    This is a very exciting time for us filling the Garden Centre up with beautiful new plants and products for you to see.
    We took delivery of our 24 pallets of PH Professional range of compost, it feels and smells delightful compared to the normal main brand composts, it is a little more expensive but you will get much better results, better germination when planting seeds, better growth from seedlings, shrubs, tubs and planted containers. The reasons for better performance are a balanced pH value, the correct bulk density measured in grammes per litre of compost, correct trace element balance, it contains a wetting agent to help re-wetting and drainage. We currently use it a lot here at the Garden Centre for our containers and hanging baskets.

    Mr Fitzpatricks Cordial
    Erris (Farm Shop Manager) and I had a great day out at a food fair in Birmingham this week, Wow! We didn’t need lunch or a drink as we tried so many wonderful samples of tastey food and drink. To our delight there are numerous foods grown and made very close to us here at Towcester, watch this space as I am sure we will be stocking some of them very soon. One product we have actually got in this week following the show (not so local) is Mr Fitzpatricks Vintage Cordials from Preston, we loved it so much we brought it!!. A great history and a fantastic tasty drink, we have a range of 12 of their flavours. Have a look at their website www.mrfitzpatricks.com Who needs alcohol?

    Grafted Tomatoes
    Our vegetable plant stock is nearly up to capacity. The Grafted Vegetables came in this week. Grafted vegetable are a little more expensive than normal seed grown veg, it is claimed that you get 75% more fruit per plant, there are 6-8 trusses on a tomato plant, longer cropping period, grow well at lower temperatures. Some of the grafted plants have been grafted with 2 different types of tomato onto the same root! Suttons also delivered a massive range of Chilli plants, all the plants have a marked label showing the ‘Scoville rating’ (how hot a chilli is). They make a really attractive plant approx 30cm – 60 cm tall.

    Watch out for the frost, keep new plants protected from the frost. Water all your pots and containers as it is so dry at the moment. Feed all your shrub beds and borders with a dry feed. Weed and feed the lawn. Plant seeds in the veg garden, don’t plant all the seeds from the packet at the same time as you will have too much food to eat at the same time.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley Warren

    My April Walkabout

    My April Walkabout

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

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

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

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

    heuchera

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

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

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

    Ashley

    My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

    My talk with Paulerspury Horticultural Society

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

    Camelia2

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

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

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

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    April Flowering Plants and Easter

    April Flowering Plants and Easter

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

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

    prunus kojo

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

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

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

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

    turf

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

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

    Happy days

    Ashley

    Ashley’s Blog

    Ashley’s Blog

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

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

    strawberries

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

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

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

    Our team look forward to seeing you.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley