Tips For Your Garden

With spring fast approaching, we are sure lot's of you are planning on tending to your gardens over the next few weeks. Below, and on our social media channels, our team of wonderful gardeners will be sharing some of their best tips and tricks which you may find useful!

Home Sown Runner Bean Seeds

Sow your bean seeds into a small plastic recycled mushroom tray (with no holes in the bottom) at a depth of 1” (25mm), in a multipurpose or seed compost. After watering the first time, pierce the tray sides (as in the picture) to allow drainage, but make sure they still retain some of the water as beans like to be kept moist. Keep them in a light, warm, airy position and ensure that the surface of the compost is kept damp. With luck you should see the beans pushing through the compost in 10-14 days time.

Coppicing

Dogwoods (Cornus) and Willows (Salix) are grown for their winter stem colour. However, to ensure the stems remain colourful we have to prune them every year to promote new growth. The best time to do this is early spring just as the leaves are breaking bud, and is done by cutting them back to two or three buds, through a process called coppicing. Ensure that you also remove any dead, dying, diseased or damaged stems.

Dividing Your Perennials

Dividing perennials is an easy way to rejuvenate your plants and thicken the planting within your garden.

First look for healthy clumps and loosen around the drip line - this is the edge of growth where rain runs of the leaves. Put two forks back to back in the centre and pull the handles together to gradually split the clump. This process can be repeated several times until you have reduced the clump to the size you require.

Nettle 'Tea'

The stinging nettle is rich in nutrients that are beneficial to many plants. We can extract these and put them to work by brewing a ‘tea’. Simply cut your nettles into a bucket and fill with water. Rainwater is perfect as it has no added chlorine. Keep them submerged and leave in a sunny place for two weeks, stirring every couple of days. Finally, strain the fluid into a container.

Your nettle 'tea' can be kept for up to 6 months and used as a natural liquid fertilizer. Make sure to dilute at a ratio of one part ‘tea’ to 10 parts water and pour at the base of the plant.

Protecting Your Roses

Roses come in all shapes and sizes, but all of them can suffer from blackspot, a fungal disease. Even 'blackspot resistant' roses can eventually succumb as the disease adapts and mutates.

Good hygiene is essential to preventing blackspot. Clear diseased leaves away and prune and dispose of infected stems. In addition, a regular spray with sulphur or a systemic fungicide will help keep foliage healthy.

Bug Hotels

With all the spring bulbs sprouting, don't forget to look out for common garden pests. An environmentally friendly way to deal with these pests is to encourage wildlife in your garden, this can include the use of bird boxes, bug hotels and log piles.

These are a great project to do with children and you can easily adapt the plans to the materials you have. If you're feeling extra creative you can even give your bird box or bug hotel a lick of paint.

Dandelions

Our word dandelion comes from the French, dent de lion, or dente di leone in Italian, and refers to the green teeth on the leaves.

The plants are a rich source of vitamins A, B, C, and D, and contain minerals such as iron, potassium and zinc. Every bit of the plant is edible: the young leaves can be used in salads, or boiled as a vegetable, and the petals make a colourful garnish. In autumn, when the roots are fat, they can be scrubbed, dried, roasted and ground to create a powder for making coffee.