Monday, 30 May 2016

'Sleepless slugs' on rise.

'Sleepless slugs' on rise, say experts - BBC News
"Take action now. What better way to spend a bank holiday weekend than going on a slug hunt."

While many slugs help condition soil by breaking it down and eat decaying plants - and even, in some cases, each other - others feed on fresh leaves and are regarded by gardeners as pests.
Gardeners can help prevent slugs from eating their plants by:
- Removing cover for slugs such as leaves and bricks
- Breaking up soil into smaller chunks so that it dries quicker
- Putting copper tape around plants
- Creating a rough area near their plants with crushed glass or sand
- Putting plants by ponds so water-dwelling predators of slugs, such as frogs and newts, can keep their population down
- Placing plants that repel slugs - such as those from the geranium family - next to those that attract them, including hostas
- Nematode worms - which kill slugs by feeding off them parasitically - can be bought online introduced to soil where slug numbers are high
- BugLife said slug pellets and other chemicals should be avoided because they could be poisonous to other animals, such as birds, cats and dogs
- If you do use slug or snail pellets, the Royal Horticultural Society recommends iron phosphate pellets because they are less toxic

Placing plants that repel slugs - such as:
Bergenia (elephant's ears)
Aquilegia species
Euphorbia species
Digitalis purpurea (foxglove)
Alchmilla mollis (lady's mantle)
Geranium species
Astrantia major
Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart)

There’s still time to sow veg.

borlotto and shelling beans,
mini cauliflowers,
broccoli raab,
spigariello (a marvellous sprouting broccoli type, from Franchi Seeds),
salads and
the outdoor sowings of marrows,
courgettes and
cucumbers can now be sown direct.

- How to grow perfect courgettes and squash | Alys Fowler | Life and style | The Guardian
This weekend is the perfect time to sow them if you haven’t already.
Cucurbits, whether that’s cucumbers or courgettes, squash or pumpkins, resent cold, wet weather and are easy targets for slugs.
If you have plants on the windowsill that can’t hold themselves upright, start again.
Floppy seedlings will be slug fodder and nothing more.

Plants sown in the next two weeks will catch up quickly with earlier sowings and crop just a beat behind.
Because the harvest season is short, make a further sowing at the end of the month to create a little succession.

It can be pricey to buy five or six different varieties: ask around and see if you can swap seeds.
Facebook often turns up someone who’s germinated the entire packet and is overrun.

Courgette plants love to eat and drink, so start feeding from midsummer onwards, particularly if growing them in pots.
It also worth mulching around plants to keep weeds down and water locked into the soil – grass clippings work well.

There are many varieties to chose from: round, long, bent, pattypan, pale green, sunshine yellow and stripy.
‘Midnight’ and ‘Patio Star’ are both compact bush plants, ideal for containers and tiny gardens.

Courgette ‘Tromboncino d’Albenga’ likes to climb and has attractive fruits; it’s great for arbours and trellis.
‘Eight Ball’ is a wonderful one for stuffing.
‘Nero di Milano’ makes a good, open bush plant and has early, dark green fruit.
‘Rugosa’ (from Seeds of Italy) and ‘Summer Crookneck’ (from The Real Seed Catalogue) are summer squash (essentially, they mature to have a harder skin), but, picked early, the wonderful, knobbly fruit have a great flavour and can be eaten like courgettes.


The young spring shoots of Caraway are ready for harvesting in early spring (late April/early May).
They have a mild parsley-like taste not at all like the seeds.

Alys Fowler: Caraway, plus harvesting rocket seed | Life and style | The Guardian
"I declare caraway the new parsnip.
Actually it's the old parsnip because the roots were eaten in Roman times, but as few have done this since, I think it deserves a raise.
It's found in the same family as parsnips and carrots, apiaceae (the umbel family), and behaves in much the same manner.
It's a biennial and spends its first year as a low-growing rosette of fern-like leaves; in the second year it shoots up to flower.
It grows to 45-60cm high.

A little like cow parsley but prettier and less brutish, the flowers are white, tinged pink.
It's easy to work into a border; I have mine growing among Astrantia major 'Roma' and Centaurea montana.
When all three are in flower, it gives a lovely appearance of meadow.

You could just grow it for the seeds, which is what I've been doing.
You get a huge supply – two plants keeps me in caraway seeds for a year.
But it has other edible parts, which I found out about in Norway, where it grows wild, dancing along the shoreline of fjords and racing into the mountains.
In poor soils along the shores, it's a small thing with seeds that taste so powerfully of that soapy, clean flavour, they are almost too much.
On the fertile edges of meadows, it develops a milder flavour and has bigger roots.

You can eat the leaves, too.
They are used in spring salads and soups, imparting a slightly bitter but pleasant flavour, but I don't think they've got a pinch on the roots.
These are sweet like a parsnip, but offer something different.
Their one fault is that these roots are much smaller than parsnip.
They should be eaten towards the end of their first year, in autumn.
Once they've flowered, the root becomes woody, although still edible.
The seeds are collected in the second year.

Home-grown seed has a powerful taste, so use sparingly.
I like to dry and then toast the seed for using in sauerkraut or baking.
Harvest seed just before it goes nut brown, and let it continue to dry indoors.
Collect the seed heads in a paper bag and hang them upside down.
After a week or two, and with a little vigorous shaking, the seeds will fall off.
They need to be perfectly dry before storing in an airtight container.

Save some seed for sowing again.
Like all umbels, the seeds germinate best if fresh, so sow from late summer to early autumn.
It's best to sow in the soil as it doesn't like to be disturbed, but if you don't have space now, sow in 9cm pots or toilet roll tubes (ideal as you can plant the whole thing out).
If allowed, caraway will happily self-seed.
A happy place for it is in full sun in well-drained, fairly fertile soil – especially important if you want to grow for roots."

How to Grow Curry Plant.

The Herb Gardener: How to Grow Curry Plant

Sunday, 29 May 2016

From plot to plate.

From plot to plate: chefs' kitchen garden secrets | Life and style | The Guardian
Kitchen garden secrets:
Hazel tipis: Train indeterminate tomatoes up hazel tipis, growing four plants against each tipi.
Simon allows the first side shoot of each plant to grow, tying it against the main shoot.
This way he gets eight productive shoots from four plants.
Sun and shade: Shade can often inhibit flowering in some plants, but it does not stop them trying to develop leaves.
So plant fruiting crops in the sun and place salad leaves in the shadier parts of your plot.
Sowing deadline: Winter crops such as cavolo nero should be started in early summer.
Sowing any later than midsummer is pointless as plants do not have time to reach a worthwhile size before the chills of autumn curtail their growth.
Big cavolo nero plants in autumn will provide plenty of big healthy leaves for ribollita in winter.
Three crops from the same plant: Sow autumn broad beans in late summer, so you can then harvest the tips of already sturdy plants for a warm, mid-autumn day's salad.
The chefs at the River Cafe also serve the growing tips of broad beans in early summer, followed by the beans.

Vertical courgettes: If you are short of space in your garden sow climbing courgettes.
The Black Forest variety will reach 1.75m.
Vertically grown courgettes are much easier to pick than those on bushy plants, so you will not end up overlooking some of the fruits.
Double duty: A good example of companion planting is placing nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) next to your brassicas.
Not only does this look colourful but the nasturtiums also attract cabbage white butterflies, and hopefully they will lay their eggs on the flowers and not on your precious cabbages.
Confine roots: Grow chillies, sweet peppers and aubergines in 25cm/10in pots rather than in open ground, as a restricted root space will encourage plants to produce a heavier and healthier crop.
Baby leeks: A nice summer alternative to spring onions.
Sow as normal but do not thin out.

Choosing a variety:
Look out for nurseries' specialist vegetable days around the country – they often provide tastings of different varieties.
Tomatoes: Raymond's favourite tomatoes are Roma, Marmande, Costoluto Fiorentino, Coeur de Boeuf and San Marzano.
Anne-Marie gives them as much space as possible as this helps develop a healthy bushy plant as opposed to a leggy specimen.
She supports plants with canes and pinches out the growing tip of each plant when it reaches 1.75m tall.
To aid pollination, she taps the plants when in flower.
Two is company: Dill is planted next to brassicas and left to flower and attract hoverflies.
Geraniums (Pelargonium) also attract beneficial insects.
Successional sowing: Sow spinach and radish every 10 days or so from mid‑spring to midsummer.
Replace summer radishes with the winter variety from then onwards.

Perfect soil: To grow plants successfully you must look after your soil.
For most plants in the veg patch, aim towards the holy grail of a free-draining, moisture-retentive soil of pH 6.5–7.0.
Water sparingly: Water only when absolutely necessary.
If needed, water very heavily but infrequently.
Grow hard: Plants given little extra water or nutrition are able to withstand pests and diseases better than soft pampered ones.
Make the soil and the plants do the work.
Take stock: View the garden, plants, soil and the animals within it as an interconnected ecosystem.
Learn the life cycles of your plants, about beneficial insects and pests, and discover how to grow well in an environmentally responsible way.

Play safe: Use seed compost for container sowing – potting or multipurpose compost is too rich in nutrients, and makes the seedlings develop too fast.
Water first: Always water your seed trays and modules before sowing, allowing the water to soak through and completely moisten the compost.
Start small: Plant just a few herbs that you are going to use in the kitchen.
This way you will be able to maintain them and harvest them regularly.
Cut back: Trim thyme, sage, lavender, mint, oregano, hyssop and savoury after flowering to encourage the plants to put on new growth for late season pickings.
It also helps to protect the plants from heavy rain, gales and snow.

Crab apples.

Why I'm crazy about crab apples: Gorgeous blossom in spring, fruits that make wonderful jelly in autumn every garden should have an apple tree, says Monty Don | Daily Mail Online

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Garden World Images.

Garden World Images - Home

Trollius. Globe flower.

From Holme Nurseries. Holme for Gardens!

- BBC - Gardening: Plant Finder - Globe flower

- How to grow: T. chinensis 'Golden Queen' - Telegraph

- Hardy’s Cottage Garden Plants Priory Lane Nursery, Freefolk Priors, Whitchurch, Hants RG28 7NJ (01256 896533;
- The Beth Chatto Gardens Elmstead Market, Colchester, Essex CO7 7DB (01206 822007;, mail order from September).

- Yes, rabbits will eat trollius
- I use chicken wire cages around things they traditionally go for.
Seems to work and the wire eventually disappears into the foliage backgrounds (so I don't buy the argument that it ruins the look of the garden).
Trollius is pretty hardy once established and the foliage will bounce back from a chewing down - have had years when blooms have suffered a little though.
It would be a wonderful gardening world if the biggest competition wasn't from the ravages of the local wildlife.
Faced with the choice of losing plants or using chicken wire - I'll go for the chicken wire every time, and it's in place as plants break ground in the spring.

- Купальницы европейские

Кроме европейской известно много видов купальниц: азиатская - обитает в Западной и Восточной Сибири, джунгарская - в горах Алатау, Памира и Тянь-Шаня, юньнаньская - в Китае, Ледебура - на Дальнем Востоке и др. Но только купальницы Ледебура и азиатская имеют цветки ярко-оранжевой окраски.
Когда смотришь на полянку, изумрудная зелень которой испещрена яркими цветками купальницы азиатской, то создается впечатление, что она вся светится множеством огоньков.
Сибиряки так и зовут их любовно “огоньки” в Западной Сибири, или “жарки” - в Восточной Сибири.
Цветут они в Сибири рано, сразу за первоцветами с середины мая до середины июня.
На одном кусте бывает до 50 цветоносов.
Они прямые, без разветвлений, высокие (до 60 см).
Благодаря этому они хорошо смотрятся в букетах. Только надо иметь в виду, что после срезки стебли необходимо сразу погрузить в воду, иначе цветы быстро увянут.
Но лучше купальницы смотрятся в саду.
Кстати, кусты “огоньков”, после того как они ”отполыхают”, остаются декоративными до осени благодаря красивой орнаментальной листве.

Crocus Open Day!

Crocus Open Day

address: limited,
Nursery Court,
London Road,
Windlesham, Surrey GU20 6LQ
(Reg. No. 3863497)

- Since our launch in April 2000, we've grown into the biggest gardening website in the UK and the only one able to supply a significant range of plants.
Our approach has won us many compliments.
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For example, a good garden centre can give you around 400 plant varieties to choose from.
We can offer over 4,000. (Free click and collect from Crocus and save £4.99 on Delivery.)

If you're worried about all this choice, don't be. We can help narrow it down for you.
We've created the Inspiration section to give you monthly care tips, ready-made borders & perfect plant combinations, as well as ideas on what style suits your garden.

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In the last 14 years we have won 21 gold medals for gardens that we have built and grown the plants for.
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People like Luciano Giubbilei, Tom Stuart Smith, Jinny Blom and Kim Wilkie to name but a few!