I've learnt many tips and tricks over the years and this is a space where I can share them with everyone. Some of them I've read about, some I've seen in gardens I've visited and others I've made up myself. They are my #toptiptuesday (tips and tricks) and you can see them here or on our instagram account, every Tuesday. Hope you find something useful to help you on your plastic free gardening journey.
When harvesting our squashes our aim is to make sure that they will store well over the winter months so we do two things; 🎃 we always leave a T section at the very top where the squash is connected to the plant, this helps to prevent any damage to the stem connected directly to the squash 🎃 we allow the squash to spend some time in the greenhouse once removed from the plant to allow them to cure
If you grew the wonderful cape gooseberry this year, wait until the husk has completely dried out and turned a papery light brown, almost transparent and the fruits should be a lovely golden orange colour.
Those plastic pots do come in handy sometimes, especially when preparing/planning the bed layout. I wanted to sow some seeds direct but had some dwarf beans that I had sown in plugs and was growing on before planting them out, so I used some empty pots to plan where I would plant the beans once they were ready, that way I didn't have to delay the direct sowing.
Well after that heat wave we had in May, I'm all stocked up on lollipop sticks thanks to @mrgoodrootsbarn Although I'm still yet to find a plastic free marker or any garden marker that I'm actually happy with so if you use a good one let me know what it is.
This year I chose this method of sowing my tomato seeds in a more compact way for two reasons, to help save space & so that I could sow more varieties. I used lollipop sticks saved from last year for markers & the brilliant oven meal trays from @Charlie Bigham's which you can compost when you're done. For the growing medium I used coir which I find I get a much better germination rate from.
It's an oldie but a goodie! Cane toppers never stay on the canes but... Wine corks are by far the most reliable cane topper & the bonus is that you get to drink wine too at least that's what I tell Mr Good Roots Barn Give them a go on your canes this year!
If cats are leaving you a 'deposit' - thank you not very much! To stop this we grew Coleus caninus also known as 'Cat Shoo' 'Scaredy Cat Plant' and 'Scat Plant'. It's very easy to grow and is drought tolerant once established. It grows well with other plants. It does however have a very pungent smell (hence why cats and other mammals don't like it) but if you can tolerate that then I would recommend it.
Last year we grew our squashes vertically using string & wire, it's a great way to maximise your growing space, especially if you like to grow a lot but only have a small amount of space to do it in. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the plants climbed & clung to the wire, I initially thought with the weight of the squashes it would snap the plant but it worked a treat & definitely something I will be doing again this year.
If like us your neighbourhood cats have decided yours is the best garden to poop in then protect your beds (specifically newly planted seed potatoes) with homemade barriers. I've pretty much made these trellis type barriers for all our raised planters now as they do such a good job at keeping the cats away. They are made from hazel but you could make them out of bamboo or even cuttings from your dogwood. You can either remove them once the plants are established or we tend to leave them on.
If like me you have pots and pots of spring bulbs and you run out of plant markers, use an alternative…keep the tops of old broken pots and use them as plant markers. The name will rub off with a little sandpaper or wire wool.
Whether you’ve cleared a bed to start sowing or have just sown your first lot of broad beans, this is a brilliant way to keep any unwanted visitors off your soil. Whether it’s pigeons, squirrels or in our case neighbours cats, placing a hazel frame work over the entire bed seems to deter them and keep your bed and any young seedlings safe. And you can also use the framework as a trellis later on in the season. Made simply by cutting hazel canes to size and tying with garden twine.
I’ve found that after growing houseplants, there are two key things to keeping your houseplants alive… Water Know your plant Whenever I’m asked “what’s wrong with my houseplant?” it is 99.9% always water related, either too much or too little. The reason is that most people don’t get to know their plants. The very first thing you should do is research, find out where your plant grows in the wild and how you can give it all the requirements it needs.
There is a wealth of knowledge out there, billions of people have gardened before you & will continue to garden after you, so use that knowledge to your advantage. I enjoy reading books & have many. But it doesn’t have to be a costly exercise, you can always use your local library, social media & the internet are easy sources for valuable info. In the end just give it a go trial & error will teach you a great deal!
Awhile ago I was asked to compile a list of #toptips for gardeners that were just starting out on their gardening journey so far we’ve discussed compost, using what you already have & growing what you love. This week is a super important one… Garden Clean Some people refer to this as organic gardening but, even organic gardening practises most plant based pesticides come in plastic. So gardening clean to me is using what already exists within your garden, nature.
Grow what you love If you enjoy flowers, grow flowers. If like me you love to eat, grow your own food. But always grow the things you enjoy, it makes the pleasure of growing them all the more rewarding.
Use What You Have! Use seed from store bought groceries chillies peppers & squash are great examples. Divide store bought herbs & pot them on they last longer & you can also let them flower & go to seed to collect the seed to re-sow. Pots & trays anything can become a receptacle just add drainage. Plastic food trays cartons yoghurt pots old buckets re-use old compost bags old boots old saucepans tin cans toilet rolls holders etc
Awhile ago I was asked to compile a list of #toptips for gardeners just starting out. Start with growing medium every garden should have a compost bin. And for those that garden small you need Bokashi bins! Read our blog 'Home Composting' for more information.
When it comes to small succulents and cacti, we tend to use a damp artists paintbrush to help remove the dust and it works a treat!
Don't be too hasty to prune the old flower heads too soon. Leaving them on helps to protect the new buds over winter. Deadhead in the Spring, cutting just above the new growth.
Young hedgehogs will have started out on their own adventures leaving mum behind and with numbers rapidly declining it’s important that we help as much as we can. One struggle hedgehogs face is moving from one garden to the next, so it’s a great idea to make a hedgehog highway, so that they can come and go with ease. It doesn’t have to be elaborate just remove a section at the bottom of your gate or fence.
I’m a strong believer in using what you have and not letting anything go to waste (including plastic if you already have a bunch in your potting shed) commonly known now as #upcycling
I’ve found that supporting your squashes with scrunched up hessian helps to keep them protected from any chance of rotting, especially if you are growing in pots or planters. It also helps as a barrier from slug and snail attacks, the rougher the better!
Now is a great time to be making and putting up bug hotels, in preparation for your overwintering guests. Pollinators are vital for the ecosystem in your garden, so lets look after them. Whilst they are visiting the garden pollinating your flowers & vegetables, why not catch their eye with some fancy dwellings.
Use old strips of wood as plant markers, sand them down and they are good to be used over and over again.