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

Food,Gardening,News

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer10 Oct

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

newBlog banner2
I thought last weekend with the forecast of cooler weather, it wouldn’t be too bad us starting to put out our Christmas 2014 offering in the shop! We have started this week while people are sat outside drinking tea in the Courtyard, seems a bit odd. Anyway I think we are later putting our products out than other Garden Centres, difficult balance between commerciality and upsetting our valued customers.

I am pleased to say that the road works on the A5 A43 junction are being managed in an admiral fashion, we have fortunately had no disruption to our trading on site. It is quite exciting to know that people will now be able to walk up to see us from Towcester rather than risking their lives crossing the A43 due to the installation of pedestrian traffic lights.

local beer
We have got some great new products in the farm shop this week. I have got an alcohol licence so we have stocked up with loads Beer from local Breweries, Merrimen, Litchborough, Phipps, Northampton, (Phipps is back!), Hoggleys, Northampton, Saxbys Cider, Wellingborough, Wines from Verre de Vin, Towcester, Gin from Harrington, all Northamptonshire Companies. Plus our bacon, I can’t get over how great the streaky bacon is, it tastes just like the rashers we used to get from The Bacon shop, Cambridge Road, Aylesbury in the 1960’s, 70’s, that’s an indication of my age.

It’s now ok to cut back herbaceous flowering plants that are starting to die back, this will immediately start to transform the Garden into winter mode. While doing this you could consider putting in some spring flowering bulbs to give you some early colour in February, March before the growth of the herbaceous plant, a double use of space.
Once all the herbaceous has been cut back later on in the season pour on the mulch/organic matter.

I am not sure how many people in this area have experienced box blight. Monty Don was on about it in one of his Gardening programmes earlier this year. I heard this week that Bayer have a new systemic fungicide out that will help reduce risk/cure the problem, we don’t have any in stock at the moment. Good management of Box can also help reduce the incidence of the fungal blight. Pruning should be carried out when there are a few days of fine weather forecast, if cut, trimmed when the weather is wet encourages spores to infect the freshly cut wood. Don’t let other plants grow to near the box, this may create a damp micro climate where fungal spores can survive. So if your neighbour has a problem it may be a good idea to use prevention measures, spray your box with a fungicide ( probably Bayer fruit and veg fungicide until the new one appears on the shelves) several times a year starting in the spring when the new growth appears. A great alternative to Box (Buxus sempervirens / suffruiticosa) is Ilex crenata which is a small leaved holly, we have a Topiary cloud tree in the courtyard which is Ilex crenata.

We have a Christmas open evening on Thursday 30th October in the Garden Centre until 7.30 and the Cafe will be open for Supper. The Farm shop will also be open for tastings and browsing. It will be great fun click here to view the details, it would be great to see you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Food,Gardening,News

A busy September03 Oct

A Busy September

September, what an amazing month for many reasons. Driest since records began, we opened the farm shop, Steve our new plant area manager joined us and the end of our financial year. I am pleased to say we have not issued a share warning! I would just like to thank our wonderful team of people here and our customers for creating a really enjoyable business. We remain in double digit growth for the fourth successive year. Our plans for 2014 – 2015 are huge, we have had an offer of funding to build 10,000sq ft. of glass for more plants and Café area. We also hope to produce a large amount of the products that we sell in the Plantation Farm shop.

The weather being very dry puts a lot of plants if not watered under a lot of stress. That stress coupled with cooler nights and shortening daylight encourages plants to go into autumn mode. Leaves start going yellow and falling off the plants. It is important to keep watering and feeding plants right up to when the cooler weather, which I think could be this weekend!
Steve Hilling joined us at the beginning of the month from Wyevale, he was the plant area manager at their Bicester store, Steve was with that company for 18 years. We are looking forward to fully utilising Steve’s passion for plants in our small, dynamic little business. Unleash the Plantsman!

Cake

The biggest success so far in our 3 weeks of running the Farm Shop is the home made cakes ( made by our A team daily in the Café) and the Bacon products. The rashers do not fill the pan up with water as they cook or create a white salty scum around the bacon. They secrete a small amount of fat that helps the meat cook, once the meat is cooked, either to just cooked or crispy there is just enough fat to wipe up with a piece of bread which can be left to fry! Plus the small is enough to get anyone out of bed.

Keep dead heading your plants and cutting them back if they have fallen over. We are now at the time of year when you should be planting bulbs for flowering early in the Spring next year. We have got a large selection to choose from. With Steve at the helm of the Plant area we have got a massive amount of wonderful flowering and colourful plants for you to choose from. Planting winter bedding now while it is warm will pay dividends later in terms of more flowers.

I am pleased to say we now stock and are selling wine and local beer from the Plantation Farm Shop, Louise Croft from Verres de Vin will be doing a wine tasting session from 11am – 1pm on Saturday 4th October 14 in the Plantation Farm shop.

Have a great weekend.
Catch up soon
Ashley

Gardening,News

Keep your garden flowering14 Aug

Keep your garden flowering

Agapanthus

It’s been a long growing season this year. Several customers have been asking which flowering plants we have in stock, they have few flowers in their own gardens ( as they have all flowered) for displaying at their local Horticultural shows. The best way to try to prolong flowering in plants is to keep dead heading them and feed and water them. Plant some later flowering varieties Echinacea, Rudbekia, Asters, Lavender, Schizostylis, Agapanthus we have got loads of these at the Garden Centre to add masses of colour to your garden.

I hope by now most people have all their winter veg planted, there is still time to plant potatoes to crop before Christmas, be quick we have a few bags left. They are best planted in a container so that you can get them out of the severe frost.

At this time of year preserving and pickling fruit and veg should be the name of the game, freezing is very trendy and easy. Picking veg young and sweet is better than letting them get bigger and older. Sugar levels are higher and fibre levels lower in younger veg. Preserving is all about the prevention of rot, keeping the fungus and bacteria at bay, pickling, freezing, drying.

It’s a good time of year to collect seeds from plants that you would like to grow next year. I have got my eye on a Quercus castaneifolia, I can assure you there are not many of these in this country! I keep meaning to pick a few of Charlotte’s sweet peas to grow in our hedge.

The wildflowers I planted last year have looked absolutely fantastic all year, however they are now running out of steam and looking a bit untidy. A few are still flowering, it is tempting to cut them down but they must be left to set and drop their seed. Most are annuals, if we removed the vegetation now we would remove the seed as well. The vegetation is best left until completely dry and dead, remove late October. There are a few grass weeds creeping in, I am tempted to spray them with glyphosate during the winter before the wild flowers start to grow again.

Our spring flowering bulbs are now in the shop, it is good to get the daffodils in early as they root before the tulips and other bulbs. Planting bulbs now is a guarantee of masses of colour early next spring in your containers or garden.

Steve joined us this week as our Plant area manager, his previous life was 18 years with the biggest garden centre group in the country. I hope he is ok with the culture shock? We look forward to Steve helping you to enjoy your gardens and us to expand our ranges of plants at Bell Plantation.

In the Poultry department we are recruiting, we need some part time help in the poultry department, if you are interested or know someone who is drop me a line Ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

Have a great weekend

Ashley Warren

Gardening,News

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn08 Aug

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

In August the gardener can go on holiday with no worries, provided he has mown the lawn, watered thoroughly and asked a friend to pick the fruit and vegetables’. Just depends how long the holiday is and how hot the weather. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with the rain showers we are getting, they hardly lay the dust. Keep pouring on the water until there is a prolonged spell of consistent rain.

rotten tomatoes

I have had a few people ask me this year about their tomatoes going rotten on the end. This is Blossom end rot it is a physiological condition, not a disease or pest. It is caused by lack of calcium. There is no quick fix, and it is difficult to save the fruits that are affected. The lack of calcium in the plant is usually caused by lack of water, calcium is taken up into the plant in the water, so if there is a lack of water the plant does not get the required amount of calcium from the soil/compost. It is less likely that your soil or compost lacks calcium, if it does add plenty of well-balanced Tomorite to the water, “Probably the best plant food in the world”, it’s as good for plants as Carlsberg.

If you have the most awful lawn in the world now is the time to start the process of re doing it. The main reason for doing it now is that you can get a perfectly flat smooth surface, the soil is so dry and easy to work, no mess, no mud! I suggest spraying the whole lawn with roundup, glyphosate, be careful not to touch any other plants as it will kill them. Leave the lawn for a couple of weeks to go brown. Once brown, cultivate by rotavating or hand digging until you achieve a very fine tilth. Once you have a fine tilth, level and stone pick and firm the soil before sowing the seed. There are numerous types of grass seed to choose from, very fine grasses good to look at not very hard wearing, harder wearing mixes which will include some ryegrass which will need mowing a little more frequently. After sowing lightly rake and firm. The other option is to lay turf instead, instant but will possibly need constant watering (if done in the summer). It sounds really easy, well it is if you have the right equipment and /or don’t mind a bit of hard work. Well worth it in the long run.
If you need more advice of help drop me a line at the Garden Centre ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

As usual we have an abundance of wonderful late flowering herbaceous plants. Great cream teas!

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Gardening,News

Jobs in your garden – August29 Jul

Jobs in your garden – August

summer flower

Water the Plants

It’s very dry at the moment so it’s really important that your plants have enough water for them to survive. The summer sun is pulling all the moisture out of the leaves and it can cause a lot of stress on your plants. Check your plants regularly to see if they are wilting and give them lots of water to keep them going.

Feed, Feed, Feed

All the watering you are doing to keep your plants alive will slowly wash the nutrients from the compost in your pots and planters so keep feeding your plants. Feed them every fortnight for the rest of the summer to keep them looking good.

Dead-head regularly

A few minutes every day of deadheading will keep the garden looking smart. It encourages plants to produce more flowers and not to run to seed. Harvesting also encourages plants to keep producing, so pick dahlias with regularity and beans and courgettes while they are still young and fresh.

Watch out for Cabbage white butterfly

Now is the time that Cabbage White Butterfly start to breed and devour your delicious cabbages. Keep an eye out for the butterfly eggs on the leaves of your brassica as they will soon turn into lots of caterpillars. When they grow you can pick them off the leaves but this will take some time, a good bug killer will also work. The best form of defence is prevention – cover your cabbages with a fine netting to stop the butterfly getting to them.

Prune Wisteria

Your Wisteria need pruning twice a year, in Jan/Feb and again in the summer. Pruning keeps its size under control and improves the quality of its flowering. Cut back to 6 leaves from the previous growth and this will encourage it to flower.

Chickens,Gardening,News

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered25 Jul

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered

Great weather for relaxing in the shade of a large tree, drinking a cool iced drink with condensation running down the outside of the glass… Heaven!!

Just think of the poor old tree working overtime, transpiration in overdrive trying to keep its leaves from baking crisp in the searing heat.

If you have trees or shrubs planted in the last 2 -3 years give them some consideration in this fierce heat as well as your newly planted plants. The root system on 2 -3 year planted plants will very soon start to struggle finding enough water to keep them alive. I planted a row of London Plane trees last year and they are showing signs of stress, a few leaves going yellow and falling to the ground. Over the last couple of nights I have given them each 20 litres of water, if the heat stays at this level I will probably do that twice a week. When the temperature drops to 20 degrees C once a week will do until mid-September or a damn good rain.

The combines are out in force harvesting the rape and winter barley, I think it will be at least a couple of weeks before any wheat is ready in South Northants. I expect the harvest will be good this year as we have really great average weather. Could do with some rain as my cows are getting short of grass.

The fish in our pond here at the Bell Plantation have done a lot of floating on the top of the water looking dead, I am pleased to say we haven’t had any fatalities yet! Shower them with a hose pipe and they dive to the bottom of the pond. The reason is oxygen depletion in the water due to the weather. In thundery, cloudy weather the oxygenating plants produce less oxygen due to reduce sunlight, the temperatures are usually higher which warm up the water, warmer water holds less oxygen. Prevention is to have a deeper pond to help keep the water cooler and to oxygenate the water more, buy a bigger better pump or even clean the filter on your existing pump.

Pigs

We started our collection of rare breed farm animals this week with the arrival of 3 Oxford Sandy and Black females, 12 weeks old. The Oxford Sandy and Black is a breed of domestic pig originating in Oxfordshire. Named for its colour, which is a base of sandy brown with black patches, the breed is also sometimes called the “Plum Pudding” or “Oxford Forest” pig it is one of the oldest pigs native to Britain. It’s a docile pig suited to being reared outdoors, where its colour protects it from sunburn (which pink pigs tend to suffer from). The breed has twice neared extinction.

As usual we have barrow loads of wonderful flowering herbaceous plants and of course our infamous cream teas are available in abundance, plenty for everyone.

Chill out and have a great weekend

Ashley

Gardening,News

Start planting your winter potatoes18 Jul

Start planting your winter potatoes

Had a great day yesterday 4th and final graduation ceremony, wow how the time flies!
A wonderful day followed by an amazing electrical storm, who needs fireworks!

My good friend Nicolas Moreton is running some wonderful 2 and 3 day stone carving courses in Augusta and September have a look at his website for details. www.nicolasmoreton.com

christmas Potatoes

I guess some of you are tucking into your early potatoes, well now is the time to plant some spuds for Christmas harvest.
We have got various varieties Charlotte, Pentland Javelin etc. The tubers can be planted either in the ground, a large pot or bag at least 40 litres. Plant 4 or 5 tubers in a 40 litre container or plant in the garden 10 cm deep in rows 60 cm apart and 30 cm apart in the row. As the growth appears raise the soil / compost level up with the plant, this will encourage side shoots from the stem which will then grow more potatoes.

Planting at this time of year means that they will need frequently watering an possibly feeding until the rainfall increases in the Autumn. When watering try not to get too much moisture on the leaf as this could encourage blight.
The tubers should be ready for harvesting 10 – 12 weeks after harvesting. If your potatoes are growing in a bag when frosty weather arrives move the bag into the greenhouse or garage, let the compost dry, the tops will dry off, the potatoes will be fine in the compost. If the plants are grown in the ground they will be ok for a few weeks in the soil after the tops have died off. If the soil is very wet it will be better to lift them and store them in a cool dry, dark place. If they are damp they may rot, if they get the light on them they will go green and then taste really bitter. Remember slugs may eat them underground if the soil is very wet and you have an infestation.

We have got loads of other vegetable strips in for you to plant out in your garden.
Watch out for pigeons, slugs and cabbage white butterfly on your brassicas.

I am delighted to announce that we are now stocking the full range of Heygates horse and animal feeds, obviously we are open 7 days a week! Click here to see the range.

Remember to cut your long wiggly waggly Wisteria growth back to 6 leaves from the main stem, obviously if you are training it in a certain direction don’t cut it off!
Plenty of water and feed all round. Pick out the leaf axil growths on cordon tomatoes.
Have a great weekend

Ashley

Gardening,News

Enjoy your home grown salad, start thinking about your Christmas meal04 Jul

Enjoy your home grown salad, start thinking about your Christmas meal

Winter Veg

It’s time to start sowing/planting winter vegetables. Leeks, Brussels sprouts, winter cabbages, sprouting and spring broccoli, swedes and turnip should all be planted now for winter harvest. If you are tight for space the veg above can be sown or planted as small plants between your existing rows of lettuce, radish etc. .These will be harvested before the newly sown plants need the space. There are always loads of pests around dribbling at the mouth to get their hands on your brassicas. The cabbage white butterfly will soon be around, the eggs laid on the leaf soon hatch into hundreds of hungry caterpillars that will devour your cabbages in no time. The best way of preserving your veg under this threat is to cover them with a thin mesh before the cabbage white butterfly appears, the mesh will prevent the butterfly even laying its eggs on your plants. The mesh should be put over the brassicas like a cloche on a metal or bamboo cane frame, covering with mesh will also prevent the pigeons eating the plant, pigeons love them. Agralan make the best mesh and it is reusable year after year, you can get crop protection cloches, which include mesh and frame, other meshes can be purchased off a bulk roll. If you see the caterpillars on your plants you can either pick them off, good luck as this may take ages and you will never get them all off or give them a spray with a pesticide, Bayer Provado is probably one of the better ones. Remember to water and feed your newly planted veg regularly, with shallow roots and blazing sun they will soon perish if not watered. Once the plants are established, say 15cm tall you could put a mulch around the base of the plant i.e. grass cuttings, bark to prevent the soil drying out. Aerial attack from pigeons and butterflies, ground attack from slugs we are all used to them after this spring, there are still masses around. Put slug pellets around the plants, you could put a circle of soot around them, live nematodes can be put on the soil via a watering can, these little weevils eat slugs, slug bait, beer bath etc.

Keep feeding and dead heading all your flowering plants. Water newly planted trees once a week. Tomatoes, cucumbers need copious amounts of regular watering and feeding to get them to perform to their maximum.

We always have loads of current wonderful flowering plants in our plant area, if you are void of colour at a certain point in the season pay us a visit to get some ideas. If you have a new garden and no colour regular visits will give you an idea of what is flowering when, you may even want to buy some plants?

Have a great Silverstone weekend

Ashley

Gardening

Jobs in your Garden – July01 Jul

Jobs in your Garden – July

Patio rose

Water regularly

Most of the plants we get back at this time of year are because they haven’t been watered properly. Pots and Planters are the most susceptible to drying up and need watering once a day. If you are struggling to keep on top of them move them into a shady spot where they should dry out slower.

Feed your plants

Plants such as roses can really benefit from a summer feed as it can encourage a second flush in Autumn. Feeding your vegetables with a liquid feed can prevent bitterness in your crops.

Deadhead your plants

Bedding plants, roses and other perennials will benefit from regular deadheading. Picking off the fading flowers will prolong the flowering period, making your garden look more attractive. You can also get a second bloom from faded annuals by cutting them back and then fertilising them.

Keep on top of pests

The summer is prime for garden pests – keep an eye on your plants and make sure they aren’t being eaten. A common pest at this time of year is black fly who suck on the sap of plants and eventually kill them.

Planting bare root hedging

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

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

newBlog banner2
I thought last weekend with the forecast of cooler weather, it wouldn’t be too bad us starting to put out our Christmas 2014 offering in the shop! We have started this week while people are sat outside drinking tea in the Courtyard, seems a bit odd. Anyway I think we are later putting our products out than other Garden Centres, difficult balance between commerciality and upsetting our valued customers.

I am pleased to say that the road works on the A5 A43 junction are being managed in an admiral fashion, we have fortunately had no disruption to our trading on site. It is quite exciting to know that people will now be able to walk up to see us from Towcester rather than risking their lives crossing the A43 due to the installation of pedestrian traffic lights.

local beer
We have got some great new products in the farm shop this week. I have got an alcohol licence so we have stocked up with loads Beer from local Breweries, Merrimen, Litchborough, Phipps, Northampton, (Phipps is back!), Hoggleys, Northampton, Saxbys Cider, Wellingborough, Wines from Verre de Vin, Towcester, Gin from Harrington, all Northamptonshire Companies. Plus our bacon, I can’t get over how great the streaky bacon is, it tastes just like the rashers we used to get from The Bacon shop, Cambridge Road, Aylesbury in the 1960’s, 70’s, that’s an indication of my age.

It’s now ok to cut back herbaceous flowering plants that are starting to die back, this will immediately start to transform the Garden into winter mode. While doing this you could consider putting in some spring flowering bulbs to give you some early colour in February, March before the growth of the herbaceous plant, a double use of space.
Once all the herbaceous has been cut back later on in the season pour on the mulch/organic matter.

I am not sure how many people in this area have experienced box blight. Monty Don was on about it in one of his Gardening programmes earlier this year. I heard this week that Bayer have a new systemic fungicide out that will help reduce risk/cure the problem, we don’t have any in stock at the moment. Good management of Box can also help reduce the incidence of the fungal blight. Pruning should be carried out when there are a few days of fine weather forecast, if cut, trimmed when the weather is wet encourages spores to infect the freshly cut wood. Don’t let other plants grow to near the box, this may create a damp micro climate where fungal spores can survive. So if your neighbour has a problem it may be a good idea to use prevention measures, spray your box with a fungicide ( probably Bayer fruit and veg fungicide until the new one appears on the shelves) several times a year starting in the spring when the new growth appears. A great alternative to Box (Buxus sempervirens / suffruiticosa) is Ilex crenata which is a small leaved holly, we have a Topiary cloud tree in the courtyard which is Ilex crenata.

We have a Christmas open evening on Thursday 30th October in the Garden Centre until 7.30 and the Cafe will be open for Supper. The Farm shop will also be open for tastings and browsing. It will be great fun click here to view the details, it would be great to see you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

A busy September

A Busy September

September, what an amazing month for many reasons. Driest since records began, we opened the farm shop, Steve our new plant area manager joined us and the end of our financial year. I am pleased to say we have not issued a share warning! I would just like to thank our wonderful team of people here and our customers for creating a really enjoyable business. We remain in double digit growth for the fourth successive year. Our plans for 2014 – 2015 are huge, we have had an offer of funding to build 10,000sq ft. of glass for more plants and Café area. We also hope to produce a large amount of the products that we sell in the Plantation Farm shop.

The weather being very dry puts a lot of plants if not watered under a lot of stress. That stress coupled with cooler nights and shortening daylight encourages plants to go into autumn mode. Leaves start going yellow and falling off the plants. It is important to keep watering and feeding plants right up to when the cooler weather, which I think could be this weekend!
Steve Hilling joined us at the beginning of the month from Wyevale, he was the plant area manager at their Bicester store, Steve was with that company for 18 years. We are looking forward to fully utilising Steve’s passion for plants in our small, dynamic little business. Unleash the Plantsman!

Cake

The biggest success so far in our 3 weeks of running the Farm Shop is the home made cakes ( made by our A team daily in the Café) and the Bacon products. The rashers do not fill the pan up with water as they cook or create a white salty scum around the bacon. They secrete a small amount of fat that helps the meat cook, once the meat is cooked, either to just cooked or crispy there is just enough fat to wipe up with a piece of bread which can be left to fry! Plus the small is enough to get anyone out of bed.

Keep dead heading your plants and cutting them back if they have fallen over. We are now at the time of year when you should be planting bulbs for flowering early in the Spring next year. We have got a large selection to choose from. With Steve at the helm of the Plant area we have got a massive amount of wonderful flowering and colourful plants for you to choose from. Planting winter bedding now while it is warm will pay dividends later in terms of more flowers.

I am pleased to say we now stock and are selling wine and local beer from the Plantation Farm Shop, Louise Croft from Verres de Vin will be doing a wine tasting session from 11am – 1pm on Saturday 4th October 14 in the Plantation Farm shop.

Have a great weekend.
Catch up soon
Ashley

Vouchers for a visit to the new Farm Shop

Farm Shop meat blog

Vouchers in the new Farm Shop

After a couple of weeks of hard graft our new Farm Shop is now open. We’ve stripped it back to the walls and tried to make it feel really earthy – wooden cladding, bricks and wood for shelving.

The most challenging part as always has been the stock – trying to keep the stock consistent for our regular customers has been hard to do and there’s still a lot of work but we think we’ve got some great goodies that you’ll want to try. We’ve found a local meat supplier from Rugby who make the most delicious pork pies – as close to a Saxby pie as you can get – traditional with a bit of spice. They also do delicious sausages, proper bacon that doesn’t shrink to nothing when you cook it and some old classics like faggots and black pudding.

Our fresh meat supplier grows his beef in Long Buckby and does a cracking steak, but we also have fresh whole chickens and chicken breasts. For any of you that remember Brown’s grocers from Towcester back in the day we are getting all our Fruit & Veg from them.

We’ve had a lot of tasting to do this week and our picks of the dry food are Bay Tree’s delicious pasta – the spaghetti is delicious and great with a Spag Bol. The frozen croissants are amazing (heated up of course) and the fish cakes are great. There is loads more stuff but we’ll let you know how it tastes as we try it.

It’s best you pop in for yourself and have a look, click here for a £1 off voucher when you spend £10 or more. Print it off and bring it in to the shop to get your money off.

Voucher

As always, any feedback is really appreciated, please let us know what you think.

Have a good weekend.

Ashley

Exciting news – Introducing the Plantation Farm Shop

fs blog banner

Introducing the Plantation Farm Shop

Hi All,

It is a pleasure to announce that we will be taking over the operation of our onsite Farm Shop.
The new Plantation Farm Shop will provide you and the local community with unique, delicious and healthy food that is well sourced and well presented. It will synchronize with our existing businesses and our farm at Wappenham to embrace a soil-to-plate philosophy that is at the heart of our ethos.

We have a strong background in Agriculture and Horticulture with a passion for both and being able to combine these two together at the Bell Plantation is a fantastic step forward.

The shop will sell a wide range of fresh farm produce from fresh and cooked meat to fruit and vegetables, delicious local bread, a wide range of hand-picked cooking ingredients such as pastas, condiments, sauces, world food and yummy treats including cakes, biscuits, desserts and sweets. A world of flavour awaits you at the shop and our friendly team will be happy to help you with anything you need.

Being able to provide fresh, delicious and unique food to the community of South Northants is really exciting for us and I’m delighted at the opportunity to see my own beef, pork and vegetables sold through the shop.

The shop will be opening on Wednesday 10th September and we’ll be working really hard over the next few weeks to get it right. We’d really appreciate your feedback, we want to know what you think and what you want to see in the shop. Come in and meet our new Manager, Erris who’ll be starting on the 15th…. she’s relaxing in Thailand before the big launch.

Click here to have a look at the initial web page and pop in and visit whenever you like.

Ashley

Heard of the South Northants Art Trail?

artrailweb2

South Northants Art Trail

The Bell Plantation are proud to be hosting the launch exhibition of the South Northants Art trail on 7th September from 10am-4pm.

Painting, sculpture, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, photography and more by 27 artists will be on display and for sale.

South Northamptonshire Arts is a newly formed group of experienced artists and makers who have come together to raise the profile of their work in the South Northants area.

On The Trail starting the following Saturday 13th by both professional artists and amateurs, as well tutors showing work by their students. Among others exhibiting in Brackley, Pam Foley, sculptor and tutor will be showing work by her students in a show amusingly entitled “Fifty Shades of Clay”. Many people will recognize the beautiful wire sculptures by Linda Johns showing with the group of painters and photographers at Blisworth this year. Ruth Lyne creates work in glass and will be in her studio at The Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe and there will be two painters and a sculptor at Roy Holding’s studio in Towcester. John Damsell, will be in his studio in Potterspury and nearby in Silverstone at Sue Rudland’s studio there will be painters, textile artists and a jeweller. So, come along to the launch where you can look, listen, eat and ENJOY whilst planning your trip along The Art Trail venues the following week!The Trail Leaflet with map and venues will be available at The Bell Plantation or can be downloaded from www.arts-sn.org.uk

Further information: www.arts-sn.org.uk www.facebook.com/arts.sn

email: southnorthamptonshirearts@gmail.com

button

Keep your garden flowering

Keep your garden flowering

Agapanthus

It’s been a long growing season this year. Several customers have been asking which flowering plants we have in stock, they have few flowers in their own gardens ( as they have all flowered) for displaying at their local Horticultural shows. The best way to try to prolong flowering in plants is to keep dead heading them and feed and water them. Plant some later flowering varieties Echinacea, Rudbekia, Asters, Lavender, Schizostylis, Agapanthus we have got loads of these at the Garden Centre to add masses of colour to your garden.

I hope by now most people have all their winter veg planted, there is still time to plant potatoes to crop before Christmas, be quick we have a few bags left. They are best planted in a container so that you can get them out of the severe frost.

At this time of year preserving and pickling fruit and veg should be the name of the game, freezing is very trendy and easy. Picking veg young and sweet is better than letting them get bigger and older. Sugar levels are higher and fibre levels lower in younger veg. Preserving is all about the prevention of rot, keeping the fungus and bacteria at bay, pickling, freezing, drying.

It’s a good time of year to collect seeds from plants that you would like to grow next year. I have got my eye on a Quercus castaneifolia, I can assure you there are not many of these in this country! I keep meaning to pick a few of Charlotte’s sweet peas to grow in our hedge.

The wildflowers I planted last year have looked absolutely fantastic all year, however they are now running out of steam and looking a bit untidy. A few are still flowering, it is tempting to cut them down but they must be left to set and drop their seed. Most are annuals, if we removed the vegetation now we would remove the seed as well. The vegetation is best left until completely dry and dead, remove late October. There are a few grass weeds creeping in, I am tempted to spray them with glyphosate during the winter before the wild flowers start to grow again.

Our spring flowering bulbs are now in the shop, it is good to get the daffodils in early as they root before the tulips and other bulbs. Planting bulbs now is a guarantee of masses of colour early next spring in your containers or garden.

Steve joined us this week as our Plant area manager, his previous life was 18 years with the biggest garden centre group in the country. I hope he is ok with the culture shock? We look forward to Steve helping you to enjoy your gardens and us to expand our ranges of plants at Bell Plantation.

In the Poultry department we are recruiting, we need some part time help in the poultry department, if you are interested or know someone who is drop me a line Ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

Have a great weekend

Ashley Warren

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

In August the gardener can go on holiday with no worries, provided he has mown the lawn, watered thoroughly and asked a friend to pick the fruit and vegetables’. Just depends how long the holiday is and how hot the weather. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with the rain showers we are getting, they hardly lay the dust. Keep pouring on the water until there is a prolonged spell of consistent rain.

rotten tomatoes

I have had a few people ask me this year about their tomatoes going rotten on the end. This is Blossom end rot it is a physiological condition, not a disease or pest. It is caused by lack of calcium. There is no quick fix, and it is difficult to save the fruits that are affected. The lack of calcium in the plant is usually caused by lack of water, calcium is taken up into the plant in the water, so if there is a lack of water the plant does not get the required amount of calcium from the soil/compost. It is less likely that your soil or compost lacks calcium, if it does add plenty of well-balanced Tomorite to the water, “Probably the best plant food in the world”, it’s as good for plants as Carlsberg.

If you have the most awful lawn in the world now is the time to start the process of re doing it. The main reason for doing it now is that you can get a perfectly flat smooth surface, the soil is so dry and easy to work, no mess, no mud! I suggest spraying the whole lawn with roundup, glyphosate, be careful not to touch any other plants as it will kill them. Leave the lawn for a couple of weeks to go brown. Once brown, cultivate by rotavating or hand digging until you achieve a very fine tilth. Once you have a fine tilth, level and stone pick and firm the soil before sowing the seed. There are numerous types of grass seed to choose from, very fine grasses good to look at not very hard wearing, harder wearing mixes which will include some ryegrass which will need mowing a little more frequently. After sowing lightly rake and firm. The other option is to lay turf instead, instant but will possibly need constant watering (if done in the summer). It sounds really easy, well it is if you have the right equipment and /or don’t mind a bit of hard work. Well worth it in the long run.
If you need more advice of help drop me a line at the Garden Centre ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

As usual we have an abundance of wonderful late flowering herbaceous plants. Great cream teas!

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Jobs in your garden – August

Jobs in your garden – August

summer flower

Water the Plants

It’s very dry at the moment so it’s really important that your plants have enough water for them to survive. The summer sun is pulling all the moisture out of the leaves and it can cause a lot of stress on your plants. Check your plants regularly to see if they are wilting and give them lots of water to keep them going.

Feed, Feed, Feed

All the watering you are doing to keep your plants alive will slowly wash the nutrients from the compost in your pots and planters so keep feeding your plants. Feed them every fortnight for the rest of the summer to keep them looking good.

Dead-head regularly

A few minutes every day of deadheading will keep the garden looking smart. It encourages plants to produce more flowers and not to run to seed. Harvesting also encourages plants to keep producing, so pick dahlias with regularity and beans and courgettes while they are still young and fresh.

Watch out for Cabbage white butterfly

Now is the time that Cabbage White Butterfly start to breed and devour your delicious cabbages. Keep an eye out for the butterfly eggs on the leaves of your brassica as they will soon turn into lots of caterpillars. When they grow you can pick them off the leaves but this will take some time, a good bug killer will also work. The best form of defence is prevention – cover your cabbages with a fine netting to stop the butterfly getting to them.

Prune Wisteria

Your Wisteria need pruning twice a year, in Jan/Feb and again in the summer. Pruning keeps its size under control and improves the quality of its flowering. Cut back to 6 leaves from the previous growth and this will encourage it to flower.

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered

Great weather for relaxing in the shade of a large tree, drinking a cool iced drink with condensation running down the outside of the glass… Heaven!!

Just think of the poor old tree working overtime, transpiration in overdrive trying to keep its leaves from baking crisp in the searing heat.

If you have trees or shrubs planted in the last 2 -3 years give them some consideration in this fierce heat as well as your newly planted plants. The root system on 2 -3 year planted plants will very soon start to struggle finding enough water to keep them alive. I planted a row of London Plane trees last year and they are showing signs of stress, a few leaves going yellow and falling to the ground. Over the last couple of nights I have given them each 20 litres of water, if the heat stays at this level I will probably do that twice a week. When the temperature drops to 20 degrees C once a week will do until mid-September or a damn good rain.

The combines are out in force harvesting the rape and winter barley, I think it will be at least a couple of weeks before any wheat is ready in South Northants. I expect the harvest will be good this year as we have really great average weather. Could do with some rain as my cows are getting short of grass.

The fish in our pond here at the Bell Plantation have done a lot of floating on the top of the water looking dead, I am pleased to say we haven’t had any fatalities yet! Shower them with a hose pipe and they dive to the bottom of the pond. The reason is oxygen depletion in the water due to the weather. In thundery, cloudy weather the oxygenating plants produce less oxygen due to reduce sunlight, the temperatures are usually higher which warm up the water, warmer water holds less oxygen. Prevention is to have a deeper pond to help keep the water cooler and to oxygenate the water more, buy a bigger better pump or even clean the filter on your existing pump.

Pigs

We started our collection of rare breed farm animals this week with the arrival of 3 Oxford Sandy and Black females, 12 weeks old. The Oxford Sandy and Black is a breed of domestic pig originating in Oxfordshire. Named for its colour, which is a base of sandy brown with black patches, the breed is also sometimes called the “Plum Pudding” or “Oxford Forest” pig it is one of the oldest pigs native to Britain. It’s a docile pig suited to being reared outdoors, where its colour protects it from sunburn (which pink pigs tend to suffer from). The breed has twice neared extinction.

As usual we have barrow loads of wonderful flowering herbaceous plants and of course our infamous cream teas are available in abundance, plenty for everyone.

Chill out and have a great weekend

Ashley

Planting bare root hedging

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

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

Christmas open evening, some gardening tips and local beer

newBlog banner2
I thought last weekend with the forecast of cooler weather, it wouldn’t be too bad us starting to put out our Christmas 2014 offering in the shop! We have started this week while people are sat outside drinking tea in the Courtyard, seems a bit odd. Anyway I think we are later putting our products out than other Garden Centres, difficult balance between commerciality and upsetting our valued customers.

I am pleased to say that the road works on the A5 A43 junction are being managed in an admiral fashion, we have fortunately had no disruption to our trading on site. It is quite exciting to know that people will now be able to walk up to see us from Towcester rather than risking their lives crossing the A43 due to the installation of pedestrian traffic lights.

local beer
We have got some great new products in the farm shop this week. I have got an alcohol licence so we have stocked up with loads Beer from local Breweries, Merrimen, Litchborough, Phipps, Northampton, (Phipps is back!), Hoggleys, Northampton, Saxbys Cider, Wellingborough, Wines from Verre de Vin, Towcester, Gin from Harrington, all Northamptonshire Companies. Plus our bacon, I can’t get over how great the streaky bacon is, it tastes just like the rashers we used to get from The Bacon shop, Cambridge Road, Aylesbury in the 1960’s, 70’s, that’s an indication of my age.

It’s now ok to cut back herbaceous flowering plants that are starting to die back, this will immediately start to transform the Garden into winter mode. While doing this you could consider putting in some spring flowering bulbs to give you some early colour in February, March before the growth of the herbaceous plant, a double use of space.
Once all the herbaceous has been cut back later on in the season pour on the mulch/organic matter.

I am not sure how many people in this area have experienced box blight. Monty Don was on about it in one of his Gardening programmes earlier this year. I heard this week that Bayer have a new systemic fungicide out that will help reduce risk/cure the problem, we don’t have any in stock at the moment. Good management of Box can also help reduce the incidence of the fungal blight. Pruning should be carried out when there are a few days of fine weather forecast, if cut, trimmed when the weather is wet encourages spores to infect the freshly cut wood. Don’t let other plants grow to near the box, this may create a damp micro climate where fungal spores can survive. So if your neighbour has a problem it may be a good idea to use prevention measures, spray your box with a fungicide ( probably Bayer fruit and veg fungicide until the new one appears on the shelves) several times a year starting in the spring when the new growth appears. A great alternative to Box (Buxus sempervirens / suffruiticosa) is Ilex crenata which is a small leaved holly, we have a Topiary cloud tree in the courtyard which is Ilex crenata.

We have a Christmas open evening on Thursday 30th October in the Garden Centre until 7.30 and the Cafe will be open for Supper. The Farm shop will also be open for tastings and browsing. It will be great fun click here to view the details, it would be great to see you.

Have a great weekend

Ashley

A busy September

A Busy September

September, what an amazing month for many reasons. Driest since records began, we opened the farm shop, Steve our new plant area manager joined us and the end of our financial year. I am pleased to say we have not issued a share warning! I would just like to thank our wonderful team of people here and our customers for creating a really enjoyable business. We remain in double digit growth for the fourth successive year. Our plans for 2014 – 2015 are huge, we have had an offer of funding to build 10,000sq ft. of glass for more plants and Café area. We also hope to produce a large amount of the products that we sell in the Plantation Farm shop.

The weather being very dry puts a lot of plants if not watered under a lot of stress. That stress coupled with cooler nights and shortening daylight encourages plants to go into autumn mode. Leaves start going yellow and falling off the plants. It is important to keep watering and feeding plants right up to when the cooler weather, which I think could be this weekend!
Steve Hilling joined us at the beginning of the month from Wyevale, he was the plant area manager at their Bicester store, Steve was with that company for 18 years. We are looking forward to fully utilising Steve’s passion for plants in our small, dynamic little business. Unleash the Plantsman!

Cake

The biggest success so far in our 3 weeks of running the Farm Shop is the home made cakes ( made by our A team daily in the Café) and the Bacon products. The rashers do not fill the pan up with water as they cook or create a white salty scum around the bacon. They secrete a small amount of fat that helps the meat cook, once the meat is cooked, either to just cooked or crispy there is just enough fat to wipe up with a piece of bread which can be left to fry! Plus the small is enough to get anyone out of bed.

Keep dead heading your plants and cutting them back if they have fallen over. We are now at the time of year when you should be planting bulbs for flowering early in the Spring next year. We have got a large selection to choose from. With Steve at the helm of the Plant area we have got a massive amount of wonderful flowering and colourful plants for you to choose from. Planting winter bedding now while it is warm will pay dividends later in terms of more flowers.

I am pleased to say we now stock and are selling wine and local beer from the Plantation Farm Shop, Louise Croft from Verres de Vin will be doing a wine tasting session from 11am – 1pm on Saturday 4th October 14 in the Plantation Farm shop.

Have a great weekend.
Catch up soon
Ashley

Vouchers for a visit to the new Farm Shop

Farm Shop meat blog

Vouchers in the new Farm Shop

After a couple of weeks of hard graft our new Farm Shop is now open. We’ve stripped it back to the walls and tried to make it feel really earthy – wooden cladding, bricks and wood for shelving.

The most challenging part as always has been the stock – trying to keep the stock consistent for our regular customers has been hard to do and there’s still a lot of work but we think we’ve got some great goodies that you’ll want to try. We’ve found a local meat supplier from Rugby who make the most delicious pork pies – as close to a Saxby pie as you can get – traditional with a bit of spice. They also do delicious sausages, proper bacon that doesn’t shrink to nothing when you cook it and some old classics like faggots and black pudding.

Our fresh meat supplier grows his beef in Long Buckby and does a cracking steak, but we also have fresh whole chickens and chicken breasts. For any of you that remember Brown’s grocers from Towcester back in the day we are getting all our Fruit & Veg from them.

We’ve had a lot of tasting to do this week and our picks of the dry food are Bay Tree’s delicious pasta – the spaghetti is delicious and great with a Spag Bol. The frozen croissants are amazing (heated up of course) and the fish cakes are great. There is loads more stuff but we’ll let you know how it tastes as we try it.

It’s best you pop in for yourself and have a look, click here for a £1 off voucher when you spend £10 or more. Print it off and bring it in to the shop to get your money off.

Voucher

As always, any feedback is really appreciated, please let us know what you think.

Have a good weekend.

Ashley

Exciting news – Introducing the Plantation Farm Shop

fs blog banner

Introducing the Plantation Farm Shop

Hi All,

It is a pleasure to announce that we will be taking over the operation of our onsite Farm Shop.
The new Plantation Farm Shop will provide you and the local community with unique, delicious and healthy food that is well sourced and well presented. It will synchronize with our existing businesses and our farm at Wappenham to embrace a soil-to-plate philosophy that is at the heart of our ethos.

We have a strong background in Agriculture and Horticulture with a passion for both and being able to combine these two together at the Bell Plantation is a fantastic step forward.

The shop will sell a wide range of fresh farm produce from fresh and cooked meat to fruit and vegetables, delicious local bread, a wide range of hand-picked cooking ingredients such as pastas, condiments, sauces, world food and yummy treats including cakes, biscuits, desserts and sweets. A world of flavour awaits you at the shop and our friendly team will be happy to help you with anything you need.

Being able to provide fresh, delicious and unique food to the community of South Northants is really exciting for us and I’m delighted at the opportunity to see my own beef, pork and vegetables sold through the shop.

The shop will be opening on Wednesday 10th September and we’ll be working really hard over the next few weeks to get it right. We’d really appreciate your feedback, we want to know what you think and what you want to see in the shop. Come in and meet our new Manager, Erris who’ll be starting on the 15th…. she’s relaxing in Thailand before the big launch.

Click here to have a look at the initial web page and pop in and visit whenever you like.

Ashley

Heard of the South Northants Art Trail?

artrailweb2

South Northants Art Trail

The Bell Plantation are proud to be hosting the launch exhibition of the South Northants Art trail on 7th September from 10am-4pm.

Painting, sculpture, jewellery, textiles, ceramics, photography and more by 27 artists will be on display and for sale.

South Northamptonshire Arts is a newly formed group of experienced artists and makers who have come together to raise the profile of their work in the South Northants area.

On The Trail starting the following Saturday 13th by both professional artists and amateurs, as well tutors showing work by their students. Among others exhibiting in Brackley, Pam Foley, sculptor and tutor will be showing work by her students in a show amusingly entitled “Fifty Shades of Clay”. Many people will recognize the beautiful wire sculptures by Linda Johns showing with the group of painters and photographers at Blisworth this year. Ruth Lyne creates work in glass and will be in her studio at The Old Dairy Farm, Upper Stowe and there will be two painters and a sculptor at Roy Holding’s studio in Towcester. John Damsell, will be in his studio in Potterspury and nearby in Silverstone at Sue Rudland’s studio there will be painters, textile artists and a jeweller. So, come along to the launch where you can look, listen, eat and ENJOY whilst planning your trip along The Art Trail venues the following week!The Trail Leaflet with map and venues will be available at The Bell Plantation or can be downloaded from www.arts-sn.org.uk

Further information: www.arts-sn.org.uk www.facebook.com/arts.sn

email: southnorthamptonshirearts@gmail.com

button

Keep your garden flowering

Keep your garden flowering

Agapanthus

It’s been a long growing season this year. Several customers have been asking which flowering plants we have in stock, they have few flowers in their own gardens ( as they have all flowered) for displaying at their local Horticultural shows. The best way to try to prolong flowering in plants is to keep dead heading them and feed and water them. Plant some later flowering varieties Echinacea, Rudbekia, Asters, Lavender, Schizostylis, Agapanthus we have got loads of these at the Garden Centre to add masses of colour to your garden.

I hope by now most people have all their winter veg planted, there is still time to plant potatoes to crop before Christmas, be quick we have a few bags left. They are best planted in a container so that you can get them out of the severe frost.

At this time of year preserving and pickling fruit and veg should be the name of the game, freezing is very trendy and easy. Picking veg young and sweet is better than letting them get bigger and older. Sugar levels are higher and fibre levels lower in younger veg. Preserving is all about the prevention of rot, keeping the fungus and bacteria at bay, pickling, freezing, drying.

It’s a good time of year to collect seeds from plants that you would like to grow next year. I have got my eye on a Quercus castaneifolia, I can assure you there are not many of these in this country! I keep meaning to pick a few of Charlotte’s sweet peas to grow in our hedge.

The wildflowers I planted last year have looked absolutely fantastic all year, however they are now running out of steam and looking a bit untidy. A few are still flowering, it is tempting to cut them down but they must be left to set and drop their seed. Most are annuals, if we removed the vegetation now we would remove the seed as well. The vegetation is best left until completely dry and dead, remove late October. There are a few grass weeds creeping in, I am tempted to spray them with glyphosate during the winter before the wild flowers start to grow again.

Our spring flowering bulbs are now in the shop, it is good to get the daffodils in early as they root before the tulips and other bulbs. Planting bulbs now is a guarantee of masses of colour early next spring in your containers or garden.

Steve joined us this week as our Plant area manager, his previous life was 18 years with the biggest garden centre group in the country. I hope he is ok with the culture shock? We look forward to Steve helping you to enjoy your gardens and us to expand our ranges of plants at Bell Plantation.

In the Poultry department we are recruiting, we need some part time help in the poultry department, if you are interested or know someone who is drop me a line Ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

Have a great weekend

Ashley Warren

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

Rotten tomatoes and re-doing your lawn

In August the gardener can go on holiday with no worries, provided he has mown the lawn, watered thoroughly and asked a friend to pick the fruit and vegetables’. Just depends how long the holiday is and how hot the weather. Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security with the rain showers we are getting, they hardly lay the dust. Keep pouring on the water until there is a prolonged spell of consistent rain.

rotten tomatoes

I have had a few people ask me this year about their tomatoes going rotten on the end. This is Blossom end rot it is a physiological condition, not a disease or pest. It is caused by lack of calcium. There is no quick fix, and it is difficult to save the fruits that are affected. The lack of calcium in the plant is usually caused by lack of water, calcium is taken up into the plant in the water, so if there is a lack of water the plant does not get the required amount of calcium from the soil/compost. It is less likely that your soil or compost lacks calcium, if it does add plenty of well-balanced Tomorite to the water, “Probably the best plant food in the world”, it’s as good for plants as Carlsberg.

If you have the most awful lawn in the world now is the time to start the process of re doing it. The main reason for doing it now is that you can get a perfectly flat smooth surface, the soil is so dry and easy to work, no mess, no mud! I suggest spraying the whole lawn with roundup, glyphosate, be careful not to touch any other plants as it will kill them. Leave the lawn for a couple of weeks to go brown. Once brown, cultivate by rotavating or hand digging until you achieve a very fine tilth. Once you have a fine tilth, level and stone pick and firm the soil before sowing the seed. There are numerous types of grass seed to choose from, very fine grasses good to look at not very hard wearing, harder wearing mixes which will include some ryegrass which will need mowing a little more frequently. After sowing lightly rake and firm. The other option is to lay turf instead, instant but will possibly need constant watering (if done in the summer). It sounds really easy, well it is if you have the right equipment and /or don’t mind a bit of hard work. Well worth it in the long run.
If you need more advice of help drop me a line at the Garden Centre ashley@bellplantation.co.uk

As usual we have an abundance of wonderful late flowering herbaceous plants. Great cream teas!

Have a great weekend

Ashley

Jobs in your garden – August

Jobs in your garden – August

summer flower

Water the Plants

It’s very dry at the moment so it’s really important that your plants have enough water for them to survive. The summer sun is pulling all the moisture out of the leaves and it can cause a lot of stress on your plants. Check your plants regularly to see if they are wilting and give them lots of water to keep them going.

Feed, Feed, Feed

All the watering you are doing to keep your plants alive will slowly wash the nutrients from the compost in your pots and planters so keep feeding your plants. Feed them every fortnight for the rest of the summer to keep them looking good.

Dead-head regularly

A few minutes every day of deadheading will keep the garden looking smart. It encourages plants to produce more flowers and not to run to seed. Harvesting also encourages plants to keep producing, so pick dahlias with regularity and beans and courgettes while they are still young and fresh.

Watch out for Cabbage white butterfly

Now is the time that Cabbage White Butterfly start to breed and devour your delicious cabbages. Keep an eye out for the butterfly eggs on the leaves of your brassica as they will soon turn into lots of caterpillars. When they grow you can pick them off the leaves but this will take some time, a good bug killer will also work. The best form of defence is prevention – cover your cabbages with a fine netting to stop the butterfly getting to them.

Prune Wisteria

Your Wisteria need pruning twice a year, in Jan/Feb and again in the summer. Pruning keeps its size under control and improves the quality of its flowering. Cut back to 6 leaves from the previous growth and this will encourage it to flower.

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered

Try and have a chilled weekend and keep your trees watered

Great weather for relaxing in the shade of a large tree, drinking a cool iced drink with condensation running down the outside of the glass… Heaven!!

Just think of the poor old tree working overtime, transpiration in overdrive trying to keep its leaves from baking crisp in the searing heat.

If you have trees or shrubs planted in the last 2 -3 years give them some consideration in this fierce heat as well as your newly planted plants. The root system on 2 -3 year planted plants will very soon start to struggle finding enough water to keep them alive. I planted a row of London Plane trees last year and they are showing signs of stress, a few leaves going yellow and falling to the ground. Over the last couple of nights I have given them each 20 litres of water, if the heat stays at this level I will probably do that twice a week. When the temperature drops to 20 degrees C once a week will do until mid-September or a damn good rain.

The combines are out in force harvesting the rape and winter barley, I think it will be at least a couple of weeks before any wheat is ready in South Northants. I expect the harvest will be good this year as we have really great average weather. Could do with some rain as my cows are getting short of grass.

The fish in our pond here at the Bell Plantation have done a lot of floating on the top of the water looking dead, I am pleased to say we haven’t had any fatalities yet! Shower them with a hose pipe and they dive to the bottom of the pond. The reason is oxygen depletion in the water due to the weather. In thundery, cloudy weather the oxygenating plants produce less oxygen due to reduce sunlight, the temperatures are usually higher which warm up the water, warmer water holds less oxygen. Prevention is to have a deeper pond to help keep the water cooler and to oxygenate the water more, buy a bigger better pump or even clean the filter on your existing pump.

Pigs

We started our collection of rare breed farm animals this week with the arrival of 3 Oxford Sandy and Black females, 12 weeks old. The Oxford Sandy and Black is a breed of domestic pig originating in Oxfordshire. Named for its colour, which is a base of sandy brown with black patches, the breed is also sometimes called the “Plum Pudding” or “Oxford Forest” pig it is one of the oldest pigs native to Britain. It’s a docile pig suited to being reared outdoors, where its colour protects it from sunburn (which pink pigs tend to suffer from). The breed has twice neared extinction.

As usual we have barrow loads of wonderful flowering herbaceous plants and of course our infamous cream teas are available in abundance, plenty for everyone.

Chill out and have a great weekend

Ashley