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One of the most wonderful aspects of gardening is the gardeners themselves. Yes it can be solitary at times, time for recollection or contemplation. But one of the most superb things about gardening are the compliments, or the odd good morning you get. It’s rather like Christmas day – everyone feels they can chat to you when you’re gardening. Sympathising with all the weeding or asking what a particular plant is called, or indeed cadging a cutting. Gardeners don’t tend to be selfish people if they have a surplus of seeds or plants rather than let them go to waste; they offer them to friends and family or other allotment users.
There are many bonuses to gardening; it keeps you fit and healthy as it insists on attention. It provides you with hours of pleasure and undefined beauty and to top it all you can grow the most delicious vegetables and fruit far better tasting than money can buy.
- This is for me the most exciting time of the year, a new beginning, the promise of another year of seeing who will win the battle of the weeds – what trap will be devised to defeat the slugs.
“One lovely idea my dearly departed father did for my mother one year was to write her name in the lawn in crocuses. He had done this under the guise of weeding the lawn and early one morning took her outside to show her what had “popped up” you couldn’t really appreciate if from the ground level but from upstairs on the landing it looked very romantic.
A version of this is naturalising the lawn where you take a handful mixed crocus bulbs chuck them up in the air and wherever they land plant them. It brings wonderful colour to your lawn at the first sign of spring.”
Joanne – Calne, Wiltshire
– The lazy days I think that’s just wishful thinking but isn’t the sunshine lovely when it’s out. Watching all the wildlife enjoy your garden too – not the slugs – they enjoy far too much
– I think the summer bright colours are wonderful in all their glory but sunny crisp autumn days with all the rich golden colours of the leaves is so special
– I know that snow can be a real pain but it is so captivating when it is falling and once it blankets the garden pure magic
One of the major benefits of creating a magnificent lawn is that you will get fit doing it – especially at the beginning. Once you have an established lawn and all the weeds, moss and bugs are under control you will have a fantastic lawn to admire and to be the envy of all your neighbours! Continued maintenance will help keep you fit
Lawn treatments, lawn problems such as weeds, lawn pests and grass seeding are all part and parcel of lawn care as well as problems with maintaining lawns throughout drought times. Lawn moss can be a real problem in some soil types as can fairy rings and bald patches. There are very few shortcuts to a lush lawn, it will take time and effort to get it into shape, but once there with regular maintenance it can remain looking good all year round
If you think your lawn is really too far gone to be worth bothering with on top of all the hard work that will go into repairing it, you can go for a completely new lawn either one you seed yourself or turf. The age old rule of thumb that if you can see more moss and weeds than lawn you might as well start again!
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Quick facts about tomatoes
The humble tomato is from the nightshade family and once was thought to be poisonous
The scientific nameis Solanum lycopersicum, which means “wolf-peach”
The principal constituents of tomato fruitis red colouring substance which is called lycopene it is an antioxidant which researchers state has anti carcinogenic properties
Children love tomato ketchup this is a great way to get vitamins into them – if you let them put it all over other veggies – they may not appreciate all the effort you have made in their food preparation but at least they will be eating their vegetables!
Good news Ladies its official the Royal Horticultural Society have confirmed that chatting away to your plants does indeed help them to grow! So boys you are going to have to get a female friend to make a recording to play to your tomatoes if you want to beat the girls.
One of the major countries for producing tomatoes is China
Classic tomatoes give good yields and taste good too. Many modern hybrids have been developed to be resistant to certain diseases which are really useful if you are a first time tomato grower as you don’t want to be struck down by a nasty bug just as you are finally reaping the rewards from your hard work.
There are many varieties out there to choose from; sometimes which types can also be a bit confusing. The amount of space you have available can often determine the plants you grow.
Determinate – Bush plant
Indeterminate – Tall vine like plant
Semi – determinate – Between the two part bush part vine
Tomato Plants can be grown anywhere anytime if you have the right conditions however many of the tomato growing enthusiasts are not that fortunate and are stuck with our often quite unpredictable weather especially here in the UK. If you want to know when to plant tomato seeds then they can be sown during February to no later than April indoors. If you are fortunate to have the room and can accommodate more seed trays then you can get ahead and sow two crops by sowing one earlier than the other.
If you do not have any room indoors then you can plant an outdoor crop in April which should begin to produce a crop around August. Times of tomato cropping do tend to vary depending on the variety so you will need to check on the seed packaging. If you would like to have an early and a late crop you can always plant one lot of seeds at a two week interval or if you would prefer to have two different types of tomato plant select differing seed types.
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Fascinating facts about bees
The world is facing many problems and one of them believe it or not is the crisis with the population of bees. They are major pollinators of crops and wildflowers without which we will face countryside with less flowers and loss of species.
Differnt types of bees
The bees have a short lifespan, living as adults for only about 6 to 8 weeks.
Almost 300 distinct species of bee live in the UK. In the last 70 years two species have become nationally extinct, and others are seriously threatened.
Most bees in the world are solitary bees- and there are about 270 different species in UK alone.
Solitary bees tend to be specific to particular flowers so, as soon as that flower’s season ends, the solitary bee dies too.
Bumblebees live together in colonies and store food, honey and pollen in wax pots to keep them going when there is shortage of food or the weather is bad.
When winter begins bumblebee colonies die, the young queens go into hibernation ready to start new colonies the following spring.
Amazingly there seems to be just one species of honeybee in the UK
Honeybees live in large colonies and are the ones which produce the lovely honey we enjoy
Honeybee colonies can over winter with reduced numbers the brood nest remains all year round at a constant temperature of 33-34 deg C despite what the best of the British weather can throw at them.
Honey has antioxidant, antiseptic and healing properties and has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. Manuka honey is the most expensive and prized honey, and made I believe primarily in New Zealand and Australia.
Birds in the Garden
Look what landed in my garden!
I have to admit this was quite a shock when I spotted this chap in the back garden.Grabbing my camera as quickly as I could I snapped this shot, many others too but you could almost put a caption to this one “stay away from my supper!”
I have to admit to being an amateur enthusiast when it comes to bird life in my garden, I have my RSPB book of birds which is well thumbed through and always to hand. I often am under the illusion that some rarity has arrived that couldn’t possibly even make it to the UK let alone to my garden. Although having this one land was possibly my most impressive photo.
I love feeding the birds and am constantly on the look out for any form of device that can outfox the squirrels which seems to have run off with several peanut holders and have taking to destroying with great gusto my suet block holders too. If you have any solutions I would love to hear about them along with photographs if possible.
Britain is losing its butterflies
“There are 58 species of butterfly in the UK and over 2,500 types of moth but their survival is being threatened. In the last hundred years, four butterflies and over 60 moths have become extinct. Almost half of our butterflies are now threatened and 70 per cent of common moths are declining.” Butterfly Conservation www.butterfly-conservation.org
I am very interested to hear how you are doing in your garden with the conservation of Butterflies, more specifically what you do and which plants you are growing to encourage their habitat. Turning your garden into a haven for moths and butterflies can have a huge impact and I would urge you to grow your own nature reserve if you click on the link it will take you to the conservation site where you can get a free download. http://www.butterfly-conservation.org/downloads/47/habitat_advice.html
Bumblebee Conservation Trust
School of Biological & Environmental Sciences
University of Stirling