Food,Gardening,News

Free Bread Friday + Seed Potato Talk24 Feb

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.

Gardening,News

Snowdrops – The sign of Spring20 Feb

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

Gardening,News

Plant your sweet peas now22 Jan

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

Gardening,News

Embrace Jack Frost – He can help!16 Jan

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

Food,Gardening,News

Bell Plantation Update09 Jan

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

Food,Gardening,News

Christmas Trees from Scotland. Farm shop bursting with food, fruit and wine.12 Dec

 

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

Gardening,News

Come and get your Christmas Trees25 Nov

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.

Gardening,News

Christmas Trees Coming Soon21 Nov

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

Gardening,News

November Gardening advice from Ashley14 Nov

November Gardening advice from Ashley

Christmas holly Blog
The weather forecast for the next 7 days is mild and wet. Still time to get ready for the freezing weather that is surely around the corner.

There is still time to plant bulbs for flowering next spring, November is idea for planting tulips. Our plant area is almost as full as during the summer. Steve our new plant area manager has got a huge selection of plants most suitable for gardens in Northamptonshire! Great colour plants with berries and festive Holly trees, with or without lights! We will be squashing up all the plants next week as our Christmas trees are due in on Tuesday 25th November. Our trees will be coming from the The Fasque tree Partnership, Fettercairn in Aberdeenshire. Great quality Nordman , Noble, Fraser, and Blue spruce. We have had trees from here for the last 7 or 8 years. They have always been absolutely fantastic quality and according to Fasque this is the best year ever!!

Garden Jobs for the next week or so

Rake up and compost all fallen leaves. Composted leaves make the best compost, pile them up in a big heap and cover them with a net or sheet, this will accelerate their decomposition. If you leave fallen leaves on the garden they block out the light and kill the grass underneath, making repair to the lawn necessary. If on a shrub bed they can be left as they make a good mulch.

Make sure your pots and containers are raised off the ground, pop them onto some pot feet. This allows the water to drain out of the pot more easily and it allows the base of the pot to dry out so that the frost does not damage it.

When the ground freezes, and the farmers are successful at frightening the pigeons off the rape fields, they will be looking for food elsewhere, this could mean trouble for your cabbage, Brussels sprouts and all other brassicas, ideally cover them up with some netting or use bird scarer’s to deter them from consuming your plants.

As it has been so mild to date, the summer bedding is still hanging on, it certainly can’t last much longer, best to plant some winter bedding as soon as possible.

We have got a great selection of single colour, pansies, viola, primula to choose from.

Cut back roses to prevent wind rock / socketing.

You can prevent winter moth damage to fruit trees by putting grease bands around the trunk of the tree.

Look forward to seeing you during the run up to Christmas, the shop looks really great, good work shop team.
Have a great weekend.

Ashley

Gardening,News

Planting bare root hedging17 Oct

Planting bare root hedging

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

Bare root trees

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great weekend.

Ashley

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