The Sunday Gardener's Blog

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  1. bedding plants

    Just a few tips around the perennial question of when to plant out bedding: not yet.

    This question comes up regularly and the important point is that almost all bedding plants are tender, which means not frost hardy.

    But there is more, it is not just frost, most bedding plants do not like cold and if planted out in a chilly spell it can set them back,  slow down their growth, and a prolonged cold spell may cause the leaves to discolour.

    Its testing, but time to wait. As a general rule of thumb most parts of the country are frost free by the end of May but still check out the forecast and if temperatures are low, keep the bedding plants tucked up warm. Our weather has become very variable, one week it's unseasonably warm, another week the east wind bites. 

    We can still have an unexpected late frost, and if so you need to cover the bedding plants, if you can, to protect them. Predicting the weather is not easy but as gardeners we must do our best!

    More tips about growing bedding plants

    Which are the best bedding plants to grow?




  2. 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!


  3. 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


  4. 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