Posts Tagged ‘ elspethbriscoe ’

Planting Broad Beans Now


As broad beans are frost hardy, it’s easy to grow them through the winter, either outside or under the cover of a garden frame. So I’m giving it a go planting them now. I don’t have an enormous amount of space for them in the rather crowded vegetable bed – so I’m growing a dwarf variety.

MyGardenSchool's Broad Beans

My Broad Beans - Ready to Plant

Broad beans are actually one of the oldest vegetables grown by humans dating back to 6,500 BC, however up until recently broad beans were not grown as a vegetable but as a cattle food. Luckily that is no more, broad beans are such a fantastic tasting vegetable yet they are so incredibly easy to grow.

The seeds are large, they germinate fast, no special care or attention is required, they’re quickly ready for harvesting and a very easy vegetable to grow. You should dig the spot where you plan to grow broad beans incorporating well rotted manure or compost while digging. The spot should be in a sunny location in soil that is free draining. They will grow well in most soil types but for a larger crop better conditions are required.

Sow seeds 8 inches apart in rows that are twelve inches apart. You may wish to sow some extra seeds in a seedbed or containers indoors to fill the gaps where the seeds do not germinate successfully.

I’ll report back on how we get on with ours – maybe with a timelapse video so you can see how they’re fairing.

Top Ten Garden Tasks for Autumn


The Abbey Gardens, Dorchester

1. Tidy up!

Autumn is a great time for those who love wielding the clippers – all that summer growth will need a trim back now to keep the garden tidy. But many off-cuts will strike well in the humidity right now so think about planting some of your cuttings out into pots.

2. Dig out the debris

Remove plant debris and diseased leaves from flowers and vegetable patches. Dig up the annuals – plants that last only a season – and put them on the compost heap. Flowering perennials – plants that spring up year after year from their roots – should be cut back. Remove yellowing or dead leaves or flowers before rot develops and remove any weeds hidden under the plant foliage.

3. Start composting

Winter gives cuttings and leaves a chance to break down and produce nutrient-rich compost, which will be ready for boosting the garden in the new year. Now is also a really good time to turn your compost heap. It will heat up nicely and then gently rot over winter.

4. Embrace autumn colour

Deciduous trees, such as acers, will provide lovely autumn colours from foliage, bark and berries. Autumn flowers such as crocus and amaryllis add colour, too. Cyclamens come in white and a range of pink shades with glossy green leaves, and add a welcome dash of vibrancy.

5. Plant for the future

This is a good time of year to plant spring bulbs, such as daffodils and tulips, and new perennials – the soil is still warm but moisture levels are increasing. There is still time for plants to establish themselves before the real cold sets in. This is also a good time of year to plant or move shrubs and trees to allow them to anchor down before the growing season. Reflect on what was and was not successful in this year’s planting scheme so that you can adapt your plans for next year.

6. Venture into the interior

Ventilate conservatories during the remaining warmer days to prevent soaring temperatures, but reduce ventilation once the cooler, windy autumn weather sets in. Use shading paint or blinds to help to keep them cool. However, as light levels fall, reduce the shading as well as the watering of any houseplants.

7. Love your lawn

For a lovely lawn next spring, start to mow less frequently and raise the height of the grass as the growth rate slows down. Scarify your lawn by raking out dead grass and moss that has built up over the summer. Follow this with applying an high-potassium autumn lawn feed, which will release the correct balance of nutrients throughout the winter.

8. Cover up the furniture

When there is no more need for garden furniture, store it in the shed or garage to protect it from the winter weather and allow it to dry out. If you can’t do this, cover it with a tough waterproof sheet securely fixed down, taking care to allow plenty of air to circulate so that the furniture is not damp all winter. Wooden items, such as benches or pergolas, may benefit from a treatment of chemical preservative.

9. Give wildlife a hand

Encourage birds into the garden by providing extra food. Place the feeder near a tall shrub, fence or mature tree to provide protection from predators. Plant berry-bearing plants for an extra source of food for birds and other wildlife. Firethorn, rowan and holly plants are recommended.

10. Protect your pond

Cover your pond with a net to stop falling leaves polluting the water, but make sure you clean it regularly to prevent the net from sinking into the pond. If it contains fish ensure that they can continue to breathe by preventing the water from freezing. Make sure the pond is at least 8ft deep because fish live in the deepest levels during the winter months.

It’s bulb planting time! What bulbs should I plant for Spring..?


Strictly speaking it’s bulb ordering time – don’t plant them just yet as it may be a little too mild. But you definitely should be making your selections and buying your bulbs now when there is still a good selection available. Aim to plant in October – or when there’s been a couple of frosts. This stops blight. But on with the fun bit – choosing what to plant for Spring!

My opinion on bulbs to plant for Spring has changed over the last few years. Partly following a visit to the tulip gardens at KeukenHof. But also because I think bulbs in particular are affected by fashions. We’ve seen the Alium rise to fame in the last decade, and also some of the lillies and more ebullient types of tulip.
CRW_1207

Being a simple kind of creature, I always thought I tended to prefer very clean, non-showy classics – like Narcisuss Thalia for example. However, I have to say, I’ve become fan of some of the more unusual tulips in recent years. This is because they look fantastic in pots. The best displays of tulips in pots I’ve seen are at Rousham – a fabulous garden in Oxfordshire. And last year I took the opportunity have a quick chat with the head gardener. He reckons the secret is that more is more with bulbs. Get a massive terracotta pot, and plant twenty five vibrant tulips in there. Do them in layers at different heights. And if you’re planting in pots – you can absolutely get away with vibrancy, and some of the more frilly parrot varieties without them looking vulgar. One tip I’m trying this year is to pick many different varieties – all within the same colour palette range – instead I’m varying the textures.

Get your dibbers out – now’s a good time to order and get your bulbs in. Ooh how exciting.

Narcissus Thalia bulb

10 Cool Gardening Apps for the iPhone


10 Cool Gardening Apps for the iPhone

Courtsey of Mashable

Those who garden know that timing is everything, and a bountiful crop requires planning and organization. For novice and advanced gardeners alike, there is always something that can be learned about getting the best from the earth. Following are 10 great gardening apps that serve that very purpose, and can help yield juicier tomatoes, more fragrant rosemary, and brighter hydrangeas.  This list is quite US focused so greenfingered Brits please pile in with your suggestions too and we’ll keep revising it


1. Landscaper’s Companion


Landscaper's Companion Image

Although the cost of this app is high, gardeners of all levels will appreciate the sheer volume of information that is contained in Landscaper’s Companion. This app serves as an encyclopedia of more than 1,400 plants across 16 categories, including perennials, shrubs, annuals, house plants and more. There are also approximately 5,700 photos within the app for visual reference.

Cost: $9.99


2. Fruit Garden


Fruit Garden Image

Fruit Garden focuses on the harvesting of 22 different fruits, and includes tips and tricks on soil preparation, planting, and recommended varieties. Note, the harvesting schedule in this app is specific to the UK, but even if you are not in that region, valuable information about growing each fruit can still be gleaned.

Cost: $1.99


3. iGarden USA


iGarden USA Image

iGarden is a comprehensive compilation of fruit and vegetable harvesting schedules based on your designated zone. When any particular seed is selected, helpful information such as days to harvest, planting depth, space between rows and optimum germination temperatures is offered. Each entry also includes recommended insecticides to keep your plants pest-free.

Cost: $4.99


4. Bugs and Insects


Bugs and Insects Image

Speaking of bugs, with a database of more than 900 pests, the Bugs and Insects app is a great resource for gardeners looking to determine the culprits who have been nibbling on their harvests, or just identify frequent visitors. Users can create lists, tag “favorite” bugs, or just flip through the entire database to satisfy a curiosity about entomology.

Cost: $0.99


5. Botany Buddy


Botany Buddy

Botany Buddy focuses solely on trees and shrubs and contains information on approximately 1,300 species. One hindrance is the lack of an A-Z directory from which to peruse. Instead, users must enter a search term to find the tree or shrub of choice. Despite this, the app provides very detailed information and also enables registered users to share collections with fellow tree and shrub enthusiasts through the Botany Buddy website.

Cost: $5.99 (Reduced from its usual $9.99 price for a limited time)


6. Botanical Interests


Botanical Interests

Botanical Interests is another information-laden app that includes harvesting advice on approximately 287 varieties of vegetables. There are beautiful illustrations to accompany each entry and avid gardeners will appreciate the myriad varieties of vegetables it covers, including 26 different kinds of lettuce, 19 peppers, 20 tomatoes, and 13 types of basil.

Cost: $5.99


7. Herbs+


Herbs+ Image

This is a great app that provides valuable information on 25 different herbs.  Within each herb, you can find information on how best to plant it, culinary ideas, and even medicinal uses. In addition, there’s a comprehensive tab outlining basic guidelines on planting an herb garden.

Cost: $1.99


8. Garden Pilot


Garden Pilot Image

Garden Pilot combines a directory of more than 14,000 plants with a comprehensive article database. It covers a wide range of topics, including plant diseases, fertilizers and chemicals, organic gardening and eco-friendly ideas. A recent update to the app also shows which plants are available for purchase at local app-participating retailers. A lite version of this app is available for free, but only contains a listing of 150 plants.

Cost: $2.99


9. Gardens


Gardens Image

If you prefer more visual gardening instruction, this app features informative videos on topics such as “Small Gardens, Big Ideas,” “Novice Knockout Gardens,” and “Adding Pizzazz to Your Patio.” The video quality is fantastic, but due to the large amount of space it consumes, please note that the download time is much longer than others.

Cost: $5.99


10. The Plant Doctor


The Plant Doctor Image

You’ve sowed the seeds, watered per instruction, and eagerly await the fruits of your labor. But wait — is that plant supposed to be yellow?

The Plant Doctor is a free app that provides a listing of the ten most common plant ailments. If your plant’s issue isn’t addressed by any of these, a form can be filled out within the app and sent directly to a plant pathologist for an official diagnosis and treatment options — each one costing $1.99.

Cost: Free


BONUS: iLocate – Gardening Supplies


iLocate Gardening

In order to get the garden, you need the garden tools. iLocate – Gardening Supplies offers listings of garden supply retailers in your area. With a simple and easy-to-use interface, this app provides one-click calling functionality and relies on Google mapsGoogle Maps to identify locations nearby.

Cost: $0.99

A Magic Moss Garden


A beautiful bowl of moss.  But how is it surviving in this hot weather?

Well it’s surviving because it’s Scleranthus not moss!  A beautiful green substitute that looks great spilling over in tubs or bowls.

Scleranthus is a small genus in the Caryophyllaceae family, a family that includes the exotic Carnations. Of the ten known species of Scleranthus, four are endemic to eastern Australia, the remainder native to Europe, Africa and Asia.


Scleranthus biflorus
is widely distributed in Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Queensland and New Zealand, from the coast to alpine areas.

distribution map


It’s Bedtime!


The trouble with bedding plants is they can look a bit municipal.  Like a 1970s roundabout.  Even the term conjures up visions of scary rows of marigolds or petunias.  But if you pick carefully and consider your colour scheme – bedding can be as beautiful as you want it to be.

Bedding plants are really all plants that, irrespective of their growing habits, are used to make a temporary show. For example: hardy bulbs (hyacinths and tulips), hardy and half-hardy perennials (chrysanthemums), and even tender shrubs (castor oil plant).

But ‘bedding’ is usually taken to mean those half-hardy annuals or half-hardy perennials planted out to make a splash of colour in the summer. For example; petunias, begonias, pelargoniums and calceolarias

In fact it’s not the plants themselves that are necessarily garish looking or uncomfortable.  But it’s their context and usage.  All too often they remind us of roundabouts or suburbia but they don’t have to.  The planting combination is key to making bedding beautiful.  And also consider some of the more interesting varieties.

Below:  Ricinus communis ‘Carmencita’ with Dahlias, Helichrysum petiolare and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’ in August

Grow Your Own Drugs


Despite the rather dodgy sounding title – we love James Wong. He’s that cool guy who tells you which plants to grow for medicinal purposes. He is an ‘Ethnobotanist’. Good word! James Wong grew up in Malaysia and Singapore. He trained at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew and gained an MSc in Ethnobotany from the University of Kent, graduating with distinction. His research has taken him to highland Ecuador, as well as to China and Java. He now lectures at the University of Kent and has also co-designed and built two RHS medal-winning gardens (in 2004 and 2008), which were designed to show that there is more to plants than ‘looking pretty’

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