Chickens,Gardening,News

The Gardeners year gets under way.01 Mar

The Gardeners year gets under way.

The specific definition of the exact timing of “spring” varies according to local climate, cultures and customs. At the spring equinox, days are close to 12 hours long with day length increasing as the season progresses. Spring and “springtime” refer to the season, and also to ideas of rebirth, rejuvenation, renewal, resurrection, and regrowth.

In spring, the axis of the Earth is increasing its tilt toward the Sun and the length of daylight rapidly increases for the relevant hemisphere. The hemisphere begins to warm significantly causing new plant growth to “spring forth,” giving the season its name.

Suddenly there is everything to do. Buds on the plants are starting to fill, shoots beginning to appear. By now, especially after the few dry days we have had all the dead vegetation from last year’s plants should have been removed. Best to do this asap if not yet done so that when the new shoots come through they do not get damaged.

Camellia

Planting new plants at this time of year gives them time to settle in before the hot summer?

Roses need pruning now if you are going to give them a hard prune, I love pruning roses, I have still got to do the roses in the Courtyard. I find the harder I prune them back the better the flowers.

Lawns will need  a weed and feed, we have got a great £10 box that will do 165m sq.

Chicken poo great natural fertiliser 10kg bucket for £9.99

As we are now in March we will be filling up very quickly with wonderful ranges of plants. I have been busy over the last few weeks sourcing great quality plants at amazing prices, over 90% are grown here in the UK.

Chicken lovers we had 300 new hybrid laying pullets in yesterday, in all colours of the rainbow.

All our offers are on the website.

‘Easter goodies’ non-fattening

“‘Easter goodies’ non-fattening”

Look forward to seeing you, good advice on hand should you need it.

We have got egg loads of lovely Easter gifts.

Have a relaxing weekend!

Ashley

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

Chickens,Gardening,News

Late Night Shopping details. National Poultry Show at Stoneleigh – this weekend16 Nov

We took delivery of our bare root hedging today, no Ash trees I am afraid!! Christmas trees will be with us in about 12 days’ time. All our Christmas trees are English grown, the majority of them are from the Fasque Estate in Kincardineshire, Scotland. They have supplied us for the last 5 or 6 years, fantastic shape trees and they keep their needles, I don’t think we have had more than 6 returned in that time period. We have got a lot more of the taller trees in this year (over 2.5 meters) as they are usually the first to sell out. The team are getting very excited about the oncoming festive season, they don’t like the quieter months of October and November. The highlight is watching some families choose their tree, it can take a very long time sometimes hours!! January and February are tolerable as March (lots of customers) is around the corner. I have spent a lot of my time during November buying our Gardening products for next year. I have got a lot of new products coming in over the next 3 months to help you enjoy your “Love of the great  outdoors” and gardening experience. I have also been trying to secure funding to expand the Garden Centre, not easy in the current economic climate. We have had a great year this year and have thoroughly enjoyed having you all as our customers. I hope you have enjoyed coming up here to Bell Plantation, we have got loads planned for Gardening 2013.

Smiling Christmas Tree Team

“Smiling Christmas Tree Team”

The sausages served in the Café are again our own produce!  Delicious!

This weekend 17th & 18th we have a stand at the National Poultry Show at Stoneleigh, it would be great to see you there – Chris and Jo will be manning the stand.

We have got loads of offers on over the Christmas period, late night shopping until 9pm on 6th, 13th & 20th December. Mulled wine and mince pies.

Most Marvellous vintage Sunday 25th November.

Bell at Christmas

Keep an eye on the website for details www.bellplantation.co.uk

Have a wonderful weekend

Ashley

Chickens,Gardening,News

Fruit Trees and Spring Flowering Bulbs.03 Aug

Many thanks to all of you who came last Sunday to our Most Marvellous day. We had a fantastic day, I have never seen so many people in our Courtyard. We will be having an event on the last Sunday of the month.

Our Spring flowering bulbs started coming in this week. Despite the high rainfall they have been successfully harvested, dried and packaged in Lincolnshire.

Lavender Frizzle

“Lavender Frizzle”

I had a day out this week (surprise, surprise) to our fruit tree supplier in Tenbury Wells. A fantastic 400 acre farm covered in fruit trees and glass. About 1.2 million trees to choose from, espalier, fan, cordon, etc. We will be getting some in the next few weeks. If you have any special requirements drop me a line and I will see if I can get it for you.

Make sure you get your Box hedges trimmed well before the Autumn/Winter. They could probably do with a good feed to prevent yellowing. General maintenance, dead head roses, spray for black spot and mildew.

I have seen cabbage white butterflies about, cover up your brassica’s to prevent them laying their eggs on your plants. Agralan make a great net that should last for years.

Teak Root Furniture

“Teak Root Furniture”

As usual we have got loads of great stuff, great offers on furniture (worth buying for next year)! Keep an eye on the website.

Enjoy your Garden, have a great weekend

Ashley

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

Chickens,Gardening,News

Bell Bumble Bees!15 Jun

Great excitement here this week, despite the appalling weather our Bumble Bees arrived!! We ordered them a couple of weeks ago.

Bell Bumbles 1

“Bell Bumbles”

Bombus terrestris Audax a really friendly, hardworking pollinator. They work in cool, windy, damp conditions. Bless them! We ordered ours complete with a wooden box to give them a bit more protection, they would have been ok in the cardboard box they came in. Bumble bee population is in decline due to habitat reduction and pesticide use. Buying a small colony and releasing it in your garden is a great way to re dress the balance. Once you have opened the box you don’t have to do anything else. It is great having them around and watching them work. Details will be on our website or give me a call if you are interested in having some.

Bell Bumbles 2

“Bell Bumbles”

Gardening tips !!

Tough doing anything when it’s like this. Great weather for weeds because you can’t get to chop them. Wind apparently is going to be a big problem this weekend. Batten down the hatches tie up or cane your tender herbaceous borders, check your tree ties.

We have named the pigs, chosen a winner for our crown drawing and paint the cockerel competition. Look out for the cockerel near the A43.

Great new furniture in Oxley’s (lifetime guarantee) and Sika. Design. 350 Chickens came in this week Cluck Cluck.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Chickens,Gardening,News

100 New Chickens and Summer Café Menu24 May

I am pleased to say we have had another delivery of 100 chickens today. We took advantage of very low stock levels to have a real deep clean. It has been very quiet for the last 5 days not a chicken on the site, the first time in probably 15 years. Chickens are great lawn scarifiers, they scratch moss and bugs out of the soil and fertilise at the same time. If you leave them in the same place for too long they will over scarify and dig holes in the lawn. Move the pen every few days to avoid damage.

Columbian Blacktail Hen Web

"Columbian Blacktail Hen"

Chelsea was amazing, so many amazing plants, the Foxglove display was one that particularly caught my eye. One of the growers was telling me that they were dealing with low temperatures of about 4 degrees centigrade on Monday night, while I was talking to him it was 27 degrees centigrade in the tent.

Primrose Carousel

We will hopefully be stocking some amazing metal and wicker furniture that we saw at the show. I have a meeting next week to finalise the agreement. I’ll keep you posted. At least now there is a chance of sitting in the Garden.

As usual we have got loads of lovely stuff and Sheena has done a new Summer Café menu.

 

Enjoy the fresh air.

Look forward to seeing you

Ashley

P.S. keep an eye on the website for great deals.

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

Chickens,Gardening,News

Fantastic New Plants and Easter Gifts05 Apr

Hi

What a change from last week! Suddenly we are in to protecting the growth made by tender plants. Cover up, wrap up tender plants with fleece, bubble wrap or up turned pots, another alternative is to bring plants under cover if possible. We have probably had 15 deliveries of fantastic new plants for the Easter weekend mainly from British Growers, with minus 5 degrees forecast for tonight it’s a job to know where to put them all.

There is still plenty of time to sow seeds, potatoes, corms and tubers for cropping and cutting this year.

With the hose pipe ban nearly in place water butts have been flying out the door, we have still got 20 – 30 butts in store. Micro irrigation systems and leaky pipes are sometimes allowed within the ban as you know we stock Gardena.

Vegetarian Pig

"Vegetarian Pig"

The majority of our Chickens are reared in Totnes in Devon. Due to the fuel problem there has been no white diesel in the West Country so we have struggled to get our Fowl. We had 100 pullets delivered this week and have another 200 due in next week.

The shop looks great very Easter orientated, chickens bunnies and guess what no chocolate only hot stuff in the Café.

Easter Gifts

"Easter Gifts"

We have got some great new businesses moving to the site, hopefully opening before the end of April.

I’ll keep you posted

 

Have a lovely Easter, relax and enjoy the Great Outdoors

Regards

Ashley

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

Chickens,Gardening,News

Spring Customer Evening This Thursday!26 Mar

Thursday 29th March 6pm – 9pm

Celebrate the arrival of spring with us and get 10% off everything* for one evening only.

All your favourites for less including: herborium plants, gifts section, poultry centre and much more!

Join us at the Plantation for an evening of relaxation and bargain hunting!

http://www.bellplantation.co.uk/spring-customer-evening/

*(excludes all current offers and discounts)

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

Chickens,Gardening,News

Plenty of Primula Colour09 Mar

Plenty of Primula Colour

"Plenty of Primula Colour"

I got into trouble last week for posting pictures of Sheena so I’ll have to give that a break for a week or two, then I’ll catch her out again.

All you dog walkers will be pleased to know that the sheep have gone from the field so feel free to let your dog’s off the lead. I suppose the muck is still a bit ripe if your dog has the urge to roll in it, best wait until it has rained.

If you have rhubarb pop a bucket over the top or buy a terracotta rhubarb forcer! This will encourage some lovely early crop able sweet growth, you only need a couple of weeks growth for a good crop from an old root.

Get some fertiliser on the garden phosphates and potash take longer to get through the soil to the roots than nitrogen, so best to get it on earlier so that the rain (if we have any) washes it through the soil to where it is needed.

We have installed 4 extra pens for our chickens, we now have 350 pullets in stock which arrived this week.

We are also getting some new piglets, which arrive before this weekend.

Jo our resident plant expert with fresh new herbs

"Jo our resident plant expert with fresh new herbs"

Have a good Gardening week

Best wishes

Ashley

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

Chickens,Gardening,News

Spring is just around the corner. Vibrant Primulets & Poultry housing tips.17 Feb

Hi

Spring is just around the corner, yesterday I picked up the first scent of the new season, how exciting! Potatoes earlies, Jersey Royals could be planted in the next week to 10 days. Get them chitting in a cool frost free shed/garage.

The cold weather has supressed the amount of people we have seen over the last week, so we have been able to get on with treating our poultry houses. A good pasting of creosote helps preserve the wood and kills the mites.

Mashing the mites

"Mashing the mites"

We have stocked up on watering cans and water buts following the news that there may be a drought this summer, all the more reason to mulch the shrub beds to keep in the moisture, increase the organic matter and fertility.

You can colour up your Garden with vibrant Primulets, these ones have been through all the cold weather and still look great.

Colour up your garden

"Colour up your garden"

Look forward to seeing you soon

 

Regards

Ashley

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

Chickens,Gardening,News

Happy New Year. New Garden shop in our Greenhouse. Seed Potatoes and Black Araucana in stock now.13 Jan

Hi Happy New Year to you all. Apologies for not keeping in touch Flu, Burglaries and Christmas have kept us all busy.

We have got loads happening as usual here at the Garden Centre. Our Seed Potatoes arrived yesterday are now all out on sale.

We had a new delivery of Chickens this week 250 point of lay pullets.

We have got a new variety Black Araucana that lays in excess of 220 blue / green eggs. Not quite as many as the normal hybrid but a great colour.

Brown Araucana

 

We have created a new Garden Shop in our Greenhouse all our Garden sundries will now be under one roof, this will enable us to keep a larger range of tools, fertilisers and seeds.

I hope we see you soon, we have a great team of people here to help you with your Garden or Poultry at any time.

 

Best wishes

 

Ashley

Bell Plantation Garden Centre

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

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk

Free bread Friday bannerweb2

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

Potato banner

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

He’ll be covering the following topics:

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

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

    Snowdrops – The sign of Spring

    Snowdrops – The sign of Spring

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

    Snow Drops

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

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

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

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

    Look forward to seeing you.
    Have a great weekend.

    Ashley

    Plant your sweet peas now

    Plant your sweet peas now

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

    Sweet Pea

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

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

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

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

    Have a good end to the week and weekend

    Ashley

    Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!

    Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!

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

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

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

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

    Seed Potatoes1

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

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

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    Bell Plantation Update

    Bell Plantation Update

    Happy New Year. Let’s hope in 2015 we get at least average gardening weather. Average weather enables us to predict quite accurately how our business will perform, that is if we run it properly and are surrounded by like-minded people. I am one of the luckiest Guys having my hobbies as my business. Retirement? Never. Could do without the cash flow issues! Anyway being a family business is a wonderful way to live your life. Sheena and I are very fortunate to have our daughter and one son Sophie and Freddie working in the business. They are becoming keen gardeners despite being weaned on gardening.
    This month we will do all our buying for next Christmas 2015 while it is fresh in our memory. We have got great (massive) plans for Christmas 2015.

    In the Farm shop this January we are promoting a lot of healthy (slimming) foods, great recipes and food products that are available through the Spring months. We were guinea pigs in the office for a Sarah smoothie, Beetroot, winter berries etc.? It was so good it’s now available in the Café and all the ingredients are in the Farm Shop.

    I sound like a scratched record the way I go on about putting more organic matter in/on your soil! This is just a reminder that this is a great time of year to put a good mulch ,50mm plus of organic matter all over your shrub beds before the bulbs come up. They will grow through a pretty thick covering of bark mulch, peat, compost.
    Alternatively spread the organic matter all over the veg patch and dig it in a spade depth. If the soil’s right most other things will be easier.

    January can be a quiet time in the garden, most garden plants are taking a rest before the Spring. However, there are always exceptions and one of those is the wonderful Heather! This little beauty really comes into its own during this quiet period – its colourful small flowers can bring a riot of colour to an otherwise muted garden palette. Flowering through the snow, they look best on those crisp mornings as you look out your windows!

    Heather

    Heather (Erica) is versatile and robust – it looks fabulous planted in the ground but also looks great in pots and planters. This colourful little shrub generally reaches about 25cm in height and therefore is well suited for planting in the front of your border. The delicate, bell-shaped flowers of the heather plant come in many shades – reds, pinks, purples and whites, it can flower well into April guaranteeing you a winter full of colour!

    An added bonus with this plant is that it is particularly magnetic to bees and flying insects as it provides winter nectar and is a great early pollen source for our ever diminishing bee population. Many heathers are food plants for over 30 butterfly and moth species.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    Christmas Clearance Sale

    Christmas Sale

    We now have 50% off all Christmas decorations including artificial Christmas trees, Christmas lights and decorations. Hurry while stocks last.

    Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.

     

    Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.

    Well, the festive period is well underway. I was a bit preoccupied last weekend (the busiest weekend in December) with my son Freddie and Alice’s wedding. Blue sky, sun and frost, perfect thank you.

    I am pleased to say the traffic on the A5 south is now flowing a lot better since they reopened 2 lanes onto the roundabout from the north. We have had 4 weeks of lower than normal trade due to the roadwork’s. Touch wood the traffic flow all round seems to be much improved. However we only need a snarl up on the M1 and everything locally will be blocked again.

    It has been announced this week that Poddington Garden Centre near Northampton has been purchased by Wyevale. A family Garden Centre business started in 1976. There are becoming fewer and fewer independent Garden Centres. It gives us a greater chance to cater for customers who are looking for something a little different. Which I hope we do?

    Christmas at the Bell Plantation

    “Christmas at the Bell Plantation”

    Our Christmas trees from Scotland this year are beautiful. If you can keep some water in your tree stand this will help to keep the tree looking fresh. Try not to place your tree in the hottest room or near a heat source.

    Poinsettias always remind me of my cycling trip to Vietnam, they grow abundantly by the side of many of the roads we cycled. They all had a full set of leaves and no clear stems. They like to be in the warm, not hot rooms, they like full light but not direct sun through the glass, they don’t like being in cold draughts or being overwatered, water with luke warm water sparingly.

    We have got a huge range of house plants and planted containers for you to choose from.

    The Farm shop is bursting with gorgeous tasting food, fruit and wine.

    Sheena’s selection of decorations and gifts are also proving to be very popular this year.

     

    If you have got time to get out in the Garden, winter pruning can be started on ornamental shrubs, trees and fruit trees. The recent wind may have prompted cutting back roses and wisteria already, better to cut it off that have it flapping around.

    There is never a bad time to put organic matter onto the soil as a mulch or to dig in.

     

    Look forward to seeing you this weekend!

    Regards,

    Ashley

    Towcester roundabout roadworks update

    traffic

    Hi All,

    We have been informed that the A5 Southbound junction onto the roundabout will be back up to 2 lanes by this weekend, so the congestion along the A5 should be considerably eased when coming to get your Christmas trees from that direction.

    Let’s hope the traffic is much better when they finish.

    Team Bell Plantation

    Come and get your Christmas Trees

    Come and get your Christmas Trees

    christmas trees

    We have just received a delivery of over 700 fresh Christmas Trees. They were cut in Scotland on Friday and arrived here mid-morning yesterday. They are looking fantastic, so don’t hesitate in popping down to get the best shapes early.

    Click here to see some information of what we have.

    Christmas Trees Coming Soon

    Christmas Trees Coming Soon

    blog

     

    Christmas is closing in on us like it or not?

    Our delivery of Christmas trees is due in this Tuesday, by the end of the week they should all be out on display. For those of you who like plenty to choose from, the early bird gets the worm. We will of course be willing to reserve one for you if you are unable to get to us in the next couple of weeks. As I have said before this is the sixth year we have had trees from this supplier, they are absolutely wonderful trees. We have increased our number of Fraser fir trees this year as they proved very popular last year, they are slightly more upright, thinner at the bottom than the Nordman and Noble which can be quite thick, great for a smaller room.

    Turkey, have you ordered yours yet? We are taking orders for Pastures Farm turkeys at our Farm Shop, if you take a look at the website www.bellplantation.co.uk the prices and sizes are all there, if you would like to order one please call us on 01327 354126 and ask for Erris or Freddie or emailfarmshop@bellplantation.co.uk Pastures Farm poultry is absolutely delicious.

    Bare root hedging is now in stock. We have got over 20 varieties of hedging stock plus a few bare root oak trees. If you need any help or advice ask for Steve. If you are planting a Thorn hedge you may need about 4 plants per linear meter, planted in a double staggered row. If planted at this density they will provide a good thick barrier for preventing things, animals going through. Plants are best planted in a prepared bed, weed free with some organic material incorporated into the soil. If not pre prepared organic material can be included when you put the root in the soil mixed with some of the soil which came out of the hole. Rootgrow is a wonderful addition with some slow release fertiliser. Protect the plant from being eaten with a rabbit guard, bunnies love to eat the tops off the plants. After planting put some more organic material around the plant as a mulch.

    If you need help with a planting job my son Luke would be willing to give you a quotation.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk

Free bread Friday bannerweb2

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

Potato banner

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

He’ll be covering the following topics:

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

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

    Snowdrops – The sign of Spring

    Snowdrops – The sign of Spring

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

    Snow Drops

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

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

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

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

    Look forward to seeing you.
    Have a great weekend.

    Ashley

    Plant your sweet peas now

    Plant your sweet peas now

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

    Sweet Pea

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

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

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

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

    Have a good end to the week and weekend

    Ashley

    Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!

    Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!

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

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

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

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

    Seed Potatoes1

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

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

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    Bell Plantation Update

    Bell Plantation Update

    Happy New Year. Let’s hope in 2015 we get at least average gardening weather. Average weather enables us to predict quite accurately how our business will perform, that is if we run it properly and are surrounded by like-minded people. I am one of the luckiest Guys having my hobbies as my business. Retirement? Never. Could do without the cash flow issues! Anyway being a family business is a wonderful way to live your life. Sheena and I are very fortunate to have our daughter and one son Sophie and Freddie working in the business. They are becoming keen gardeners despite being weaned on gardening.
    This month we will do all our buying for next Christmas 2015 while it is fresh in our memory. We have got great (massive) plans for Christmas 2015.

    In the Farm shop this January we are promoting a lot of healthy (slimming) foods, great recipes and food products that are available through the Spring months. We were guinea pigs in the office for a Sarah smoothie, Beetroot, winter berries etc.? It was so good it’s now available in the Café and all the ingredients are in the Farm Shop.

    I sound like a scratched record the way I go on about putting more organic matter in/on your soil! This is just a reminder that this is a great time of year to put a good mulch ,50mm plus of organic matter all over your shrub beds before the bulbs come up. They will grow through a pretty thick covering of bark mulch, peat, compost.
    Alternatively spread the organic matter all over the veg patch and dig it in a spade depth. If the soil’s right most other things will be easier.

    January can be a quiet time in the garden, most garden plants are taking a rest before the Spring. However, there are always exceptions and one of those is the wonderful Heather! This little beauty really comes into its own during this quiet period – its colourful small flowers can bring a riot of colour to an otherwise muted garden palette. Flowering through the snow, they look best on those crisp mornings as you look out your windows!

    Heather

    Heather (Erica) is versatile and robust – it looks fabulous planted in the ground but also looks great in pots and planters. This colourful little shrub generally reaches about 25cm in height and therefore is well suited for planting in the front of your border. The delicate, bell-shaped flowers of the heather plant come in many shades – reds, pinks, purples and whites, it can flower well into April guaranteeing you a winter full of colour!

    An added bonus with this plant is that it is particularly magnetic to bees and flying insects as it provides winter nectar and is a great early pollen source for our ever diminishing bee population. Many heathers are food plants for over 30 butterfly and moth species.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley

    Christmas Clearance Sale

    Christmas Sale

    We now have 50% off all Christmas decorations including artificial Christmas trees, Christmas lights and decorations. Hurry while stocks last.

    Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.

     

    Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.

    Well, the festive period is well underway. I was a bit preoccupied last weekend (the busiest weekend in December) with my son Freddie and Alice’s wedding. Blue sky, sun and frost, perfect thank you.

    I am pleased to say the traffic on the A5 south is now flowing a lot better since they reopened 2 lanes onto the roundabout from the north. We have had 4 weeks of lower than normal trade due to the roadwork’s. Touch wood the traffic flow all round seems to be much improved. However we only need a snarl up on the M1 and everything locally will be blocked again.

    It has been announced this week that Poddington Garden Centre near Northampton has been purchased by Wyevale. A family Garden Centre business started in 1976. There are becoming fewer and fewer independent Garden Centres. It gives us a greater chance to cater for customers who are looking for something a little different. Which I hope we do?

    Christmas at the Bell Plantation

    “Christmas at the Bell Plantation”

    Our Christmas trees from Scotland this year are beautiful. If you can keep some water in your tree stand this will help to keep the tree looking fresh. Try not to place your tree in the hottest room or near a heat source.

    Poinsettias always remind me of my cycling trip to Vietnam, they grow abundantly by the side of many of the roads we cycled. They all had a full set of leaves and no clear stems. They like to be in the warm, not hot rooms, they like full light but not direct sun through the glass, they don’t like being in cold draughts or being overwatered, water with luke warm water sparingly.

    We have got a huge range of house plants and planted containers for you to choose from.

    The Farm shop is bursting with gorgeous tasting food, fruit and wine.

    Sheena’s selection of decorations and gifts are also proving to be very popular this year.

     

    If you have got time to get out in the Garden, winter pruning can be started on ornamental shrubs, trees and fruit trees. The recent wind may have prompted cutting back roses and wisteria already, better to cut it off that have it flapping around.

    There is never a bad time to put organic matter onto the soil as a mulch or to dig in.

     

    Look forward to seeing you this weekend!

    Regards,

    Ashley

    Towcester roundabout roadworks update

    traffic

    Hi All,

    We have been informed that the A5 Southbound junction onto the roundabout will be back up to 2 lanes by this weekend, so the congestion along the A5 should be considerably eased when coming to get your Christmas trees from that direction.

    Let’s hope the traffic is much better when they finish.

    Team Bell Plantation

    Come and get your Christmas Trees

    Come and get your Christmas Trees

    christmas trees

    We have just received a delivery of over 700 fresh Christmas Trees. They were cut in Scotland on Friday and arrived here mid-morning yesterday. They are looking fantastic, so don’t hesitate in popping down to get the best shapes early.

    Click here to see some information of what we have.

    Christmas Trees Coming Soon

    Christmas Trees Coming Soon

    blog

     

    Christmas is closing in on us like it or not?

    Our delivery of Christmas trees is due in this Tuesday, by the end of the week they should all be out on display. For those of you who like plenty to choose from, the early bird gets the worm. We will of course be willing to reserve one for you if you are unable to get to us in the next couple of weeks. As I have said before this is the sixth year we have had trees from this supplier, they are absolutely wonderful trees. We have increased our number of Fraser fir trees this year as they proved very popular last year, they are slightly more upright, thinner at the bottom than the Nordman and Noble which can be quite thick, great for a smaller room.

    Turkey, have you ordered yours yet? We are taking orders for Pastures Farm turkeys at our Farm Shop, if you take a look at the website www.bellplantation.co.uk the prices and sizes are all there, if you would like to order one please call us on 01327 354126 and ask for Erris or Freddie or emailfarmshop@bellplantation.co.uk Pastures Farm poultry is absolutely delicious.

    Bare root hedging is now in stock. We have got over 20 varieties of hedging stock plus a few bare root oak trees. If you need any help or advice ask for Steve. If you are planting a Thorn hedge you may need about 4 plants per linear meter, planted in a double staggered row. If planted at this density they will provide a good thick barrier for preventing things, animals going through. Plants are best planted in a prepared bed, weed free with some organic material incorporated into the soil. If not pre prepared organic material can be included when you put the root in the soil mixed with some of the soil which came out of the hole. Rootgrow is a wonderful addition with some slow release fertiliser. Protect the plant from being eaten with a rabbit guard, bunnies love to eat the tops off the plants. After planting put some more organic material around the plant as a mulch.

    If you need help with a planting job my son Luke would be willing to give you a quotation.

    Have a great weekend

    Ashley