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


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