The Sunday Gardener's Blog

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  1. Composting material Compost-Bin

     

    How to start a compost bin and keep it at its best

     

    At Wheelie Bin Solutions we're seeing more and more customers ask us about how to start a compost bin and the best ways to make a success of it.

     

    Compost is a great way to reuse organic waste by turning it back into fertiliser for the garden. It's a closed-loop process and requires  very little external energy or material input, making it a good eco-friendly option.

     

    The good news is that it's quite easy to start a compost bin even in a small garden, while in larger gardens you might want to consider starting a compost heap at the back of a flowerbed or shrubbery instead.

     

    For a self-contained compost bin, all you really need is a food waste wheelie bin and the right kinds of food and garden waste, and away you go.

     

    What food waste goes in a compost bin?

     

    Raw vegetable waste including fruit and vegetable peels, off-cuts like carrot tops, and leftover ingredients that you didn't fully use up can all go in your compost bin.

     

    You can also put garden waste in there, like dead leaves, grass clippings, and dead flowers you pull up from your borders - just be careful not to let any invasive weeds get in there.

     

    Avoid anything that will make your compost bin turn nasty, such as meat that can become infested with maggots, or dairy which will cause your compost to smell awful.

     

    Top tips for healthy compost

     

    Although it's not too hard to maintain a healthy compost bin or compost heap, there are a few things you can do to give your compost the best chance of rotting down to a rich fertiliser instead of a mouldy mess.

     

    Here are a few of our top tips for the best compost:

     

    • Put your compost bin on a flat, level and well drained surface.
    • Turn your compost regularly to introduce air into the mix.
    • Add worms to digest the waste faster for even quicker quality compost.

     

    If your compost is too wet, introduce some dry materials like dead leaves or even some old shredded paper or egg cartons. These will also create air pockets as they rot down, helping to aerate your compost even more.

     

    Do's and don't of composting 

     

    There are just a few  final do's and don't  of composting to keep in mind:

     

    • Don't put large twigs and branches in your compost bin - these may me allowed in your garden waste wheelie bin or you could repurpose them elsewhere in the garden.
    • Don't put non-compostable waste like plastic plant pots in your compost. Again, you might  be able to put these in your plastic recycling bin instead.
    • Do regularly turn your compost so any undigested material is mixed through and not just left sitting on top.
    •  excess fluid from your compost bin so the mix does not get too wet.
    •   your compost when it  is well rotted down and looks a deep brown, rich and fertile, and free from any large undigested items.

     

    Follow these tips and you should  be well on your way to a wheelie bin full of fertiliser, instead of a mouldy maggot-infested mess!

     

  2. narcissus-scented-310-x240

    Narcissus-scented-Fragrant Rose 310

    We look forward to the Daffodil season and so it is doubly disappointing if instead of cheery yellow or white flowers everywhere there are just leaves.

    The good news is that if you are looking at patches of bulbs which have not flowered now is the time to take the measure of them and persuade them to bloom next year. 

    A high potassium feed, such as tomato feed, will help especially if they are growing on poor soil. The bulbs for next year will be forming over the coming weeks so feed them if it is dry water them and remove any flower heads (not the greenery) when the flowers have faded.

    If you have a nagging feeling that maybe the bulbs  were planted too shallow, they need to be 3xbulb depth now is also the time to dig them up. Check the depth and  then replant at least 3 times the depth of the bulb.

    More about why spring bulbs do not flower.

    Hopefully, you will not be so disappointed next year.

     

    Narcissus on hillside at holehird Gardens lake district

     

  3. sweet-pea-pinch-out-tips-310x240 Sweet-pea-close-up-growth-points-nipped-out

    Sweet Peas naturally want to grow tall, leggy and keep on growing. As gardeners we want them to grow tall but also to produce lots of flowers. Whether you have germinated your own sweet peas, or purchased small plants and are growing them on, you will see a single shoot growing and it really helps to pinch out the top growth.

    If you look at the images above, the first image all the top growth is in place, the second image the plant has been cut back. This will make the sweet pea throw out extra growing shoots which will mean instead of one single long stem there are several branches all of which will, later in the season, carry flowers. By nipping back the stem you will have strong flowers with more shoots. 

    The best time to cut back is when the seedling has a pair or two of leaves, then cut it back the leaf and within a week/10 days you will see the extra stems appearing.  More about growing sweet peas

     

     

  4. Seed trays and root trainers

    clematis-montana--and-allium-310x240

     

    Some sunshine and fine weather gives a chance to get out into the garden. This warm weather and rise in temperatures will aid germination so now is a good time to start sowing seeds. At this time of year it is important to find somewhere warm to place the trays and grow on the seedlings.

    It is still early in the year, and there will be plenty of cold weather to come which means it is best to start with the more hardy seeds. I have just sown around 100 Sweet Peas, a tray of Broad Beans and another tray of Chives. That is a lot of chives, I grow them chiefly for the bees who love them, and to edge the veg plot to attract pollinators. 

    Assuming the weather holds this is a good time to prune Clematis. This is an area of difficulty for many gardeners but if Clematis are not pruned the flowers will be higher and higher on the plant, and become less.

    There are lots of  tips about pruning Clematis, and remember only to prune Groups 2 & 3. The one Clematis not to prune, are the early flowering types such as Montana,illustrated.

    This is also the time to prune Buddleja and if you are growing strawberries, as I am, they will need a clean up. Most will have tired old leaves which all need to be cleared away. I then cover the plants with a cloche to induce an earlier strawberry crop. Tips on growing strawberries.

    Lovely to get out into the garden and these jobs can all be tackled throughout February.  

    The weather continues fine and I pruned 3 Clematis, all mid summer flowering Group 2 clematis. Hopefully the good prune will ensure some lovely summer flowers. Below are three images, before pruning and note the tangled mess of branches particularly the weight of top growth. After pruning and you can see the shrub is much reduced down to around waist height and all the top growth has been removed. Any dead stems have also been cut off and the growth tied in. The third image is a close up from which you can see that growth is cut back, wherever possible, to good buds.

    Don't worry about pruning Clematis they are relatively tough, and vigorous. Providing you do not prune the early flowering types (check out types of Clematis,) and you cut to a framework of buds around waist height you will not go far wrong.

     

    Clematis Group 2 before pruning Clematis group 2 after pruning close up clematis group 2 after pruning