Competitions,Gardening,News

Vintage Sunday this Sunday. 550 New Chickens and the Weekly Gardening Tips24 May

Another lovely bank holiday!

High winds with plants in full leaf is a recipe for damage. There is not too much you can do other than tie everything up. Newly planted tall plants need canes or stakes and then tying firmly to that support. Make sure that that there is good connection between the plant and the support, loose connection between a windswept tree and a stake may result in chaffing ,de barking of the tree. There is not a lot you can do to protect the fragile new leaves on a plant other than cover the whole thing up, which in the case of a tree would be difficult. It is a little more practical to put a cloche over newly planted vegetable plants, well worth it if you have one. Covering newly seeded plants with a cloche or glass will speed their growth by creating a micro climate around the seed / plants. The air is warmed within the space to a higher temperature, the air warms quicker in the morning and cools later in the evening creating longer growing days, it also helps retain the heat from the soil at night. It will also keep in the moisture creating a moist humid climate around the plant.

BellPlantationMay2013-1

Roses could probably do with a fungicidal spray, I have just seen the first sign of black spot on one of my roses at home, if it got a little warmer the aphids would be attacking the soft new buds on the roses too.

This weather will really test our new Suttons grafted tomatoes which are supposed to grow outside better than the non grafted tomatoes, they also crop 70% heavier than the normal tomato. We have also have some much larger tomato plants with fruit already set on them also courgette, chilli sweet and hot, aubergine and courgette, buy some time!

If you are growing fuchsias pinch out the growing point in each plant to encourage more bushy growth, side shoots can be picked out later to create a symmetrical plant.

BellPlantationMay2013-2

The forecast for the weekend does look a little better than today, thankfully. We have got an all-day Most Marvellous Vintage Sunday this weekend.

We have got wheelbarrows full of wonderful plants here for your garden. 550 new chickens arrived this week. Keep your hens shut up at night, foxes are busy feeding their young at the moment so they are prepared to brave all risks to get an easy meal.

‘Oak before Ash in for a splash’, I hope this is the case

Have a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, we are serving cream teas on the lawn!

Ashley

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

Competitions,Gardening

Vintage Fair this Sunday – BBQ and Live Music. Bare root planting tips.28 Sep

September 29th another wedding anniversary, next year it will be 29 years on the 29th!  At the end of September 1984 we would be getting ready to plant bare root hedging and trees within the next couple of weeks, the leaves would be falling and the plants going into dormancy. Bare root planting has slipped back to November because the growing seasons recently have been much longer, I wonder what will happen this year? Many trees and shrubs can be planted as bare root, this is literally not in a pot and with no soil around the roots. The bare root season when the plant is dormant, usually between November and February. It’s always better if you can get your bare root plants settled in before Christmas so if March gets really hot which it can the plant will have already grown the very small fine root hairs and be able to survive. Bare root plants are usually much cheaper to buy as they cost less to produce. The types of plants commonly purchased as bare root are Ash, Oak, Beech, Thorn, Blackthorn, Chestnut etc. etc. If you are planting Box hedging it is far more cost effective as bare root. Not all plants transplant well as bare root so they remain available in a pot. Root grow mycorrhizal fungi are fantastic for helping plants get established.

Bantam pair

“Bantam pair”

This Sunday 10.30am – 4.30pm Most Marvellous Vintage fair at the Garden Centre BBQ, and live music

Vintage fair

“Vintage fair”

Look forward to seeing you

Have a great weekend

Ashley

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

Competitions,Gardening,News

Stunning reclaimed teak root furniture. Win a lunch for two at the Plantation Café.29 Jun

It’s all wildlife and natural earthy stuff this week.

Bumble bees working hard, ducklings on the pond, sparrow eggs in the plant area, deer eating our David Austin roses and the pigs are getting nice and heavy!

Buster the Bumble bee bouncer lets in one of his hardworking fellow team mates.

“Buster the Bumble bee bouncer lets in one of his hardworking fellow team mates.”

Ducklings on the pond

“Ducklings on the pond”

We have had another massive delivery of reclaimed teak and teak root furniture this week (I hope the sun shines soon). These decisions of which products to buy were all made during last winter when we were expecting a spring/ summer season!

Recycled Roots

“Recycled Roots”

We had a great day on Sunday with the Most Marvellous fair at the weekend. We enjoyed having customers from Northampton who didn’t know we were here, spread the word.

Prize draw – Lunch for Two

Instead of Gardening tips this week we are having a little competition, anyone who ‘Likes’ our Garden Centre Facebook or Twitter page will be entered into a draw to win Lunch for Two at the Plantation Café.

Like us here: www.facebook.com/Bellplantationgc

Follow us here: twitter.com/bellplantation1

Got to do some Gardening. Ants are a real problem at the moment – Nippon products are one of the best for Ant control. Salt, boiling water, flour are some other ideas people use. If you have anything flowering in your garden, remove the dead flowers after flowering, this will encourage the plant to flower again.

Dunnock eggs in the plant area

“Dunnock eggs in the plant area”

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Competitions,Gardening,News

Come and see the worlds LARGEST spade.06 May

 

The Bell Plantation Garden Centre is proud to announce that we are in possession of officially the worlds largest spade.

Made here in the UK by Bulldog tools, it required 160 hours to build and included every department at their factory in Wigan. The spade stands at 3.61 meters high and weighs 180kg.

We’d love for you to come down and have your photo taken with the spade, but sure you bring your camera.

Competitions,News

Win a meal in the Bell Plantation Restaurant17 Aug

To celebrate the opening of our new restaurant were giving away a free meal for 2. Were delighted with the refit and wanted to make sure that everybody know that were now serving really high quality evening meals in a warm and welcoming environment.

The meal includes a bottle of wine a great choice of starters, mains and beautiful deserts.

How do I enter?

First things first, the winners will be chosen at random on 12th September. Only one entry per person and

All you need to do is add a comment below (click here) that answers the question:

“My favourite food in the whole wide world is……….”

When you enter your comment you’ll see a space for an email address so we can get back in touch with our winner. Good luck.

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