Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Going Under Cover… The Pleasure of Polytunnels!

With the British climate able to be termed ‘average’ at best, gardeners in the UK look for any help they can when it comes to growing fruit and vegetables.  If, like me, your garden resides in the Peak District on the outskirts of Manchester, then this help is needed even more than usual!

Polytunnels offer a flexible and versatile space to grow fruit, vegetables and plants.  Due to the build and construction, they tend to offer a greater height and more room than greenhouses, helping gardeners who are focused on yield and production – certainly of interest to those seeking a more self-sufficient lifestyle!

The majority of people use polytunnels to help them vegetables, with nearly 4 in 5 users growing potatoes, carrots, cauliflowers, lettuce, chard, onions, sprouts in their polytunnels.  But polytunnels are also increasingly used by British gardeners to grow fruit such as strawberries, melons, tomatoes, peppers and squashes (yes, they are fruit!) amongst others.

Interestingly enough, 90% of British strawberries are grown in polytunnels, which allows us to extend the British season from early spring to late autumn.  Polytunnels also make excellent environments for growing plants, with the added warmth helping gardeners to grow varieties that may otherwise struggle in the British climate.

Now, you may be thinking that polytunnels are vast constructions that exist in long rows on commercial growing properties.  And while you’re right, it’s important to note that polytunnels are actually becoming more important to the everyday gardener.  From 6 ft wide to a whopping 30ft wide(!), Premier Polytunnels supplies a wide range of polytunnels, catering for the commercial grower to the humble vegetable gardener.

So what is the benefit of a polytunnel to fans of the London Vegetable Garden?  Firstly, they offer more room and height than many conventional greenhouses.  They are affordable and high-quality and offer the flexibility that greenhouses cannot.  A wide range of accessories, quality materials and workmanship ensure that gardeners can install a roomy polytunnel that fits in the garden nicely, giving shelter and storage for fruit, plants, vegetables and flowers all year round.

The following infographic highlights the different uses for polytunnels – we like the thought of housing sheep in there, too!

For more information and to explore polytunnels in more detail, please visit Premier Polytunnels today!

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

9 Steps To Prepare Your Garden For Summer

9 Steps To Prepare Your Garden For Summer
Summer is on its way at last, the sun has finally started to shine and hopefully you have already started spending a little more time in the garden. You may even have a BBQ planned (although don't forget to have a backup plan!)

But have you started to prepare your garden for the summer months?
Sure, summer is perhaps the easiest month for your garden, everything is free to grow. But a little preparation will help you to make the most of that beautiful garden that you have been fighting all winter to keep alive!

Step 1: Start with a spring clean
At this time of year your garden is probably a mess, unless you are a truly dedicated gardener it has likely been left to itself for the winter months, so now is the time to clear up. Start of course with any of your own stuff that is lying around, tools, furniture etc...
And then you should also pick up fallen leaves, branches, and any other debris that has fallen into the garden. A good tidy up will make your garden look much more inviting so that you can enjoy it when the sun is out.

Step 2: Invite some birds in
Any time of year is a good time of year to start looking after your local wild birds, but now is a particularly great time because if you start now you should have a few regulars in time for Summer.
Once you have tidied up, think about where you can put a bird feeder for maximum effect, and think about what you can feed the birds. Here are some more tips for feeding local birds in your garden.

Step 3: Pull out weeds
This is a time of year when weeds spring to life and just keep growing. So now is a good time to pull them out. Use hand tools and try to pull out the roots if possible, this will maximise the impact and minimise the damage to the rest of the garden.

Only use weed killers if you absolutely have to, and be aware of where you might want plants to grow. Be careful not to make your soil toxic for more desirable plants.

Step 4: Summer flowing bulbs
If you haven't already started planting, now is the perfect time to plant some summer flowing plants. Try to find ones which are ok to plant at this time of year and which will flower in time for summer.
Godetias are a nice colourful plant to sow in your garden in time for summer, and here are a selection of other options to sow right now in time for summer.

Step 5: Clean your greenhouse
If you have a greenhouse, now is the ideal time to plant perennials such as delphiniums to grow for next year. But it's a good idea to give your greenhouse a clean first. Make sure you clean away any debris from old plants, any mould and of course give the glass a good clean to ensure that the sun can shine in.

Step 6: Install a water butt
Collecting water instead of using tap water is a good way to save money and is ecologically responsible. Plus rain water is often better for your plants anyway since tap water tends to be slightly alkaline.

And besides, it's always good to have a backup in case a hosepipe ban is put in place.

Step 7: Water slowly
At this time of year it can be quite dry, and ensuring that your plants have a constant supply of water will help them to thrive. Try to set yourself a routine of watering the plants regularly to ensure that the soil is deeply watered and doesn't dry out.
A constant cycle of drying out and then being flooded is not optimal for most plants, so stick to a regular watering schedule to keep them happy.

Step 8: Put mulch around plants
Adding mulch around your plants is a good way to ensure that they have plenty of nutrition and it's a great way to avoid removing valuable nutrients from your garden. But there is another hidden benefit too.

Adding a top layer of mulch will protect the soil from direct sunlight, which helps to keep moisture in and prevents the soil from getting too warm.

Step 9: Easy with the mowing
Finally, once your plants are all happily growing you will want to ensure that your lawn is neatly trimmed and not too long. But don't fall into the trap of overdoing it. Never cut more than half the length of the grass off in one go.

Removing too much grass also removes a lot of water and nutrition from the grass and leaves it vulnerable to being scorched by the sun. For a health green lawn, mow regularly (although not too regularly) and trim a little bit at a time.

Image credit: Wiki Commons

Friday, 30 January 2015

Weatherproof Your Garden

It’s been a typically British winter so far – by which we mean unpredictable. Mild one minute followed by freezing conditions the next, it’s no wonder if your garden’s looking a bit shell-shocked. The idea of weatherproofing your garden might sound really difficult, but it’s just a case of using the right types of plants to last all seasons. The folks at Wonderlawn, who produce state-of-the-art artificial grass have designed this handy infographic which gives you 5 top tips for which plants will last throughout our changeable weather.

Monday, 19 January 2015

4 Affordable Ways to Give Your Garden a Makeover

Regardless of the size and location of a garden, there’s something calming about sitting back and putting the feet up in a well-maintained outdoor space that offers the opportunity for relaxation. Unfortunately, all gardens don’t offer this opportunity. Whether you consider yourself to be a green-fingered expert or a complete novice gardener, there are plenty of affordable ways that you can give your garden a makeover. Let’s explore 4 of them.

1.       Tame the Plants

One of the easiest ways to improve the look of your garden is to tame the look of your plants and shrubs. The best thing about this tip is that it will not cost you an absolute thing only an afternoon in the sun, given you do it at the right time of year of course! Dead and unhealthy looking plants can completely bring down the look of your garden and leave the overall space looking neglected and unattractive.

If you have plants in your lawn that have outgrown their space but are still healthy, the best thing is to transplant them to an area that’s more conducive to their size. For overgrown bushes and plants, simply tame them using a hedge trimmers or clippers.

2.       Add a Mini Raised Garden

If you don’t have space for a vegetable garden, or if your current one has being neglected, it might be time to consider adding a mini raised garden to your outdoor space.

Raised gardens are a great idea as their design makes them perfect for keeping weeds out and the soft, clean soil is ideal for vegetable growth as it is free of troublesome rocks and debris. The nutrient rich soil also makes themperfect for the growth of soft fruit plants which grow in the UK and a large variety of plants.

3.       Build a Garden Border

Polishing off the look of your garden is important to its finished look, and a nice garden border is the perfect way to do just that. It’s not an expensive project to complete, as all you’ll need is some cement pieces or brinks to separate the garden beds and trees from the grass.

As well as making your garden appear neater and finished looking, garden borders help to prevent gravel and grass from entering your flower and vegetable beds.

4.       Consider Creating a Pathway

Another very simple, yet effective, way of giving your garden a polished look is to create a pathway that leads from one end of the space to the other. For this project, there are all kinds of affordable materials that can be used, some of which include stones, wood and bricks. The type of material that you choose will determine what method you will have to use to lay down the pathway.

Instead of opting for a full path that leads from the front of the garden to the back, many people choose to use stepping stones as these can add a little more quirkiness to the design and layout of the area.

As you’ll have already gathered, updating the look, the practicality and functionality of your garden does not have to cost you an absolute fortune. All you need is the willingness to change the drab features of your current space and update them with some of the structures that are mentioned above.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Garden Fences: A Guide


Garden fencing can help to create a more private garden area.  Fences come in all range of sizes and styles, meaning budding gardeners can create a personalised environment that’s as unique as their garden.

However, fences are not just about building boundaries, but can add real character and style to your garden.  At the London Vegetable Garden, I like to ‘compartmentalise’ my garden, using fencing to create different areas to enjoy.

As an avid vegetable grower, I like to have a dedicated vegetable ‘patch’ in my garden, but I also like to plant flowers and shrubs to create a more visually-appealing area; and a fence panel between these two areas helps to break up the space and create ‘compartments’ in the garden.

However, fencing can also be used to foster growth and create a ‘living fence’.  Trellises create a framework for climbers to grow up on and can become living, thriving fences that help separate garden areas in a visually striking manner.

However, if you just want something plain and stylish, there is a wide variety of decorative fence panels that can create a unique atmosphere.  Take a look at these decorative fence panels, offering a wide range of styles and looks.  

If you’re looking to create more privacy in your garden, looking to separate different areas, or simply looking for new fencing to make a statement, you’ll find everything you need at Fence Supermarket. 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Bringing the Outdoors Indoors: Plants in the Home at Christmas

Log fires, blankets, television and far too many chocolates and wine: at Christmas, it’s often easy to hunker down and hibernate, as we shut out the outside and focus on the warmth and comfort of life indoors.  Yet bringing the outdoors inside can be a hugely rewarding and enjoyable feature of the home at Christmas too.

There can be no grander visible symbol of bringing the outdoors indoors than the traditional Christmas tree!  But there are plenty of other subtle ways that you can bring the outdoors indoors, creating a subtle harmony through plants and flowers, whether as decorations, or gifts for loved ones.

Lavender makes a wonderful addition to the home, all year round.  Based within the bedroom, lavender provides a wonderfully soothing aroma and calming effect.  As well as helping to reduce headaches (perfect during a busy party season!), anxiety and even rheumatism when consumed in tea form, lavender can also help to lull you into a deep sleep when the plant is placed in the bedroom, making it the ideal plant for the bedroom, and a perfect present for friends and family.

Mistletoe grows on willow and apple trees, and it is a plant that has strong cultural connotations with Christmas.  Why?  It is supposed to possess mystical powers that bring good luck to the household, warding off evil spirits.  In Norse mythology, it was also used as a sign of love and friendship; hence the Christmas custom of kissing under the Mistletoe.  Whatever you use it for, it makes an aesthetically pleasing addition to the home at Christmas – perfect for bringing some festive cheer.

Herbs also make a great year-round addition to the home.  Based in the kitchen, temperatures and conditions can fluctuate wildly, but herbs are hardy things and there is nothing better than picking fresh herbs to add to dishes, especially at Christmas, when leftovers are ripe for experimentation and flavouring.  Kitchen herb gardens make a great present that any cook will love and cherish.

And finally, what about the humble holly?  Added to conifer twigs, holly is traditionally used as a wreath to display on the front door, but you can create some wonderful centrepieces that last for the duration of Christmas and drape these on shelves, fireplaces or tables to bring some festive merriment into the home.

So there we have it: just a few simple ideas that show how bringing the outdoors, indoors this Christmas can help to both liven up your home, and make some great gift ideas for friends and family.

If you have any additional ideas, we’d love to see them!  Comment on this post or visit the Facebook page.

In collaboration with Betta Living

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

How To Keep The Perfect Summer Garden

With what promises to be a ‘flaming June’ upon us, we can finally enjoy our gardens. With the evenings getting longer, not to mention warmer, we can turn towards colour and variety in our gardens - providing we know how to look after them!

Good vibes

A survey reported in The Telegraph has found gardening can help us feel renewed. Recent research carried out by the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) showed that more than just shy of two-fifths (39%) of those questioned said that being in a garden make them feel healthier, while 79% think having access to a garden is needed to ensure good quality of life.

This can become increasingly helpful as we become older. The ritual of planting out and caring for our gardens, window boxes or allotments can aid these good feelings.

Summer gardens are usually at their best when flowers are in full bloom – offering colourful and inspiring displays for all to see. This is why property developers such as McCarthy & Stone pay close attention to their landscaped gardens and ensure there is always a pleasant outdoors atmosphere for their homeowners to enjoy - McCarthy & Stone properties are listed on Zoopla if you’re interested in seeing what they have to offer.

What to grow?

This Royal Horticultural Society article gives excellent tips on June chores to make the best of our gardens throughout the summer. Different plants can thrive in shade or sunshine so it’s important you understand the type of garden you have before following these tips to keep the perfect summer garden:

Sunny or south facing  
Consider planting roses, honeysuckle, lavender and bedding plants like marigolds and sunflowers. Hanging baskets brimming with lobelia or trailing fuchsias are a summer must-have.

Shady nooks or north facing
This presents more of a challenge so opt for hostas, evergreens and plants which offer interesting foliage as these thrive well in shady places. You could also consider ferns, foxgloves, hedera, impatiens, begonias and the beloved arum lily.

Taking care of your plants and flowers
Deciding what to grow in your summer garden is only half the battle – you must also make every effort to care for your plants and flowers so that they stay looking fresh and beautiful.

Our top tips for summer garden tending are: 
  • Water at cooler times – to avoid water being evaporated by the sun before it has time to do its job, water your plants in the evening when the sun’s glare is reduce 
  • Control pests – check for signs of pests such as slugs, snails and greenfly and use necessary repellents to protect your plants from harm
  • Secure your plants – climbers such as sweet peas and trailing roses can benefit from being securely fixed to canes to keep them secure when there are strong winds


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