Monthly Archives: November 2017

Gardening Tips and Tricks for Winter


Winter is just around the corner, and even though the growing season has come to a close, our work in the garden isn’t quite done. Now that most of your plant’s activity has slowed, it presents the perfect opportunity to get certain jobs done in prep for colder weather.

It may be tempting to stay indoors, as gardening in the cold isn’t always the easiest. However, the time to get these jobs done is now! Take advantage and follow these gardening tips and tricks for winter.

It’s Time To Clean Up
First things first, it’s time to do some tidying up. After a busy spring, summer, and autumn, you’ll need to get all of your tools ready for the new year.

Gather everything together and start removing any tools caked in soil and rust. Give everything a good rinse with water, and be sure to dry any metal tools properly to avoid more rust forming.

Remove any soil from inside empty plant pots and seed trays, and make sure to rinse them out as well. If any pots contained plants that suffered with disease, disinfect them with a mild detergent ready to start a fresh.

Don’t forget to wipe down any bottles of fertiliser or weed killer, making sure that all caps are screwed on properly and no product is leaking from them.

You should also take this chance to clear out your shed or greenhouse. Scrub down the surfaces and sweep the floors, then arrange all your cleaned tools and pots in your freshly organised space.

Now that everything is clean and in it’s place, it will make caring for your garden going forwards much easier!

Cut Back
Make the most of the dormant season by pruning your shrubs and trees. This is especially important if, after a busy growing season, they have increased in size beyond what you are happy with, or if they have started to intrude on a neighbour’s garden.

Start with your trees as these will probably be the tallest features in your garden. Cut back what you can, but don’t make the common tree care mistake of cutting back too much! This can be detrimental to your tree, depending on its type. Make sure you also enlist the help of a friend or family member to keep you safe whilst cutting back a tree, especially if you are working at height.

Next, move onto your shrubs and bushes. Many benefit from pruning to help encourage new, healthy growth in the spring, so be sure to cut as much as is necessary for each species. Some require extreme pruning, while others do better from a minimal amount.

When you are finished with all the cutting and pruning, you will be left with a lot of waste material. If you compost, add what you can to your pile to fertilise your soil in the springtime. What’s left can be added to your brown bin for collection.

If you have too much to fit in your brown bin, and you don’t fancy making multiple trips to your local green waste bank, consider getting a skip or other alternatives to remove what’s left. If you’re lucky enough to own a van, or know someone with one who can help, definitely take as much as you can to be recycled.

Work with Wildlife
Where possible, consider setting aside a small part of your garden for winter wildlife.

Laying out fat blocks and other food will help keep local wildlife fed over the winter, especially if the weather is harsher than normal. Try putting bird seed on a raised surface or platform, or hanging a bird feeder from a branch. Make sure you use a metal feeder to stop squirrels from chewing holes.

Create a pile of fallen leaves to act as shelter, or a place to hibernate over the winter for small mammals and insects. You can also try piling logs on top of each other, or even buy a ready made hibernation house at your local garden centre.

Lawn TLC
Winter isn’t the time to forget about your lawn! It still needs a bit of attention to keep it healthy during the colder weather.

After a busy summer in the garden, your lawn could do with a break. Where possible, reduce footfall and try to keep off the grass as much as you can. Your grass’ growth slows down considerably, meaning that any damage caused will be difficult and slow to repair.

Before the first frost is a great time to aerate your lawn. After heavy footfall throughout the year, the soil has probably become quite compacted. This in turn inhibits your lawn’s ability to grow deep roots and get to nutrients beneath the top layers of ground.

By aerating your lawn, oxygen can penetrate down to the roots as well as loosening the soil and allowing for better root growth come the next growing season.

General Winter Protection and Improvements
Don’t forget about the more general tasks to carry out around your garden. Start by bringing as many of your potted plants as possible inside to protect them from the cold. Those that are left outside should be raised up on pot feet to prevent any waterlogging, and their pots should be wrapped in bubble wrap or hessian to fight root freezing.

Now is the time to check your fencing to see if any panels are loose or need fixing. Carry out any needed work before the weather takes a turn for the worse and high winds arrive, when they could get damaged further. Do the same for your gates and shed.

Now that your flowers beds are empty, it’s the perfect time to start adding nutrients back into the soil ready for new plants or veggies. Add compost or fertiliser now, then apply a layer of mulch on top to stop the nutrients from washing away with any winter rains.

If it snows, make sure you shake the excess from the top of bushes and the branches of trees. The extra weight can make them become disfigured, and it’s unlikely that they will bounce back easily.

Remove snow from greenhouse roofs and plant covers to allow light in and to get rid of the extra weight.

Enjoy Your Winter Garden
Taking care of your garden during the winter will not only feel rewarding, but it will put you in good stead for the spring. With all of these jobs complete, you’ll be ready to dive into planting and growing come the new season.

Plus, you will have given the local wildlife a helping hand in the process of ticking off your to-do list!

And once everything is taken care of, you can kick back, relax, and enjoy your garden with a warm drink in hand.

Author Bio
Kevin is an avid gardener and DIYer and enjoys reading related gardening and home improvement articles. Working for Grabco, he gets to see a lot of the projects that homeowners embark on and the resulting transformations. He also picks up a lot of fresh ideas and current trends, so enjoys writing about them to share with other like-minded readers.

4 Ways to Create an Amazing Vegetable Garden by Tim Graham

Rows of salad vegetables at Great Dixter - © John Glover/GAP Photos

Rows of salad vegetables at Great Dixter – © John Glover/GAP Photos

Many homeowners are torn between a garden full of vegetables and a garden full of colourful flowers. There is good news, you can have a vegetable garden that is as pleasing to the eye as any flower patch.

All it takes is a little thought and ingenuity, and you will have both, fresh, healthy veggies that are grown in a garden that no longer resembles a plain vegetable patch.

Mix, Match, and Colour
There are many vegetables that you can add to a vegetable garden to add lots of colour and texture, Kale is an excellent example of a flowering vegetable, and then you have different lettuce types that have different coloured leaves. These dark leaves can add contrast to the regular splash of green. You can also add some flowers into the mix for another dose of texture and colour.

There are other benefits of introducing flowers in and around your vegetable garden. These flowers not only make your yard look beautiful and colourful, but some are also edible. There is a second reason, and it is one that helps your other vegetables. These flowers not only attract insects which help with pests on your vegetables, but they also confuse the pests of where your vegetables are in the first place.

Layout
The overall impact of your vegetable garden can make it appealing to the eye, and without compromising on your growing capacity. One thing you do have to have is pathways, these are a necessity to make sure you can reach both sides of your beds. Many gardeners keep to the natural earth paths and rectangular shaped growing beds.

Depending on the size of your area, there is no need to stick to these conforms. Beds that are irregular shapes can lead to some fascinating path patterns. If your growing beds are a permanent fixture, you can take your paths to the next level and opt for pavers or brick. Even gravel can be used, yet this is not so good if you have a wheelbarrow to push around your garden.

Raised Beds and Seating

Woman planting lettuce - © GAP Photos

Woman planting lettuce – © GAP Photos

A raised bed can add a wealth of dimension to any vegetable garden layout, not only do they look good when constructed in irregular shapes (an L shape a good example) and they keep your garden clean and tidy. If you are starting from scratch and have the budget, you can easily incorporate seating into the design of your raised beds. Generally raised beds are made of wood, yet it is as easy to have them made from stone. A simple bench placed here and there gives you a chance to relax after a hard mornings gardening, and it gives you a place to sit while you check which vegetables you have ready to harvest.

Structures and Containers

Woman planting Courgette 'Bambino' - © GAP Photos

Woman planting Courgette ‘Bambino’ – © GAP Photos

If you wish to add structure to your garden, so it does not look flat. You can add structures for climbing plants to grow up rather than an ugly old pole. There are many climbing vegetables you can place around structures that will transform your garden. Cucumbers, beans, peas and even vine tomatoes. Some gardeners also go as far as incorporating wire formed archways into the garden which give another depth once your vegetables grow up and over.
Containers are another great way to decorate your vegetable garden. These can be placed pretty much anywhere depending on what you are growing in them, from herbs to tomatoes, they all change the look of your garden.

When you opt for containers, you are not limited to round pots that will quickly become plain and boring, a little ingenuity and your garden will look like no other. One prime example for your garden is the use of barrels, these can be cut, either horizontally or vertically giving you two very different shapes and design.

Summary

Cucurbita pepo harvested in trug - © Friedrich Strauss/GAP Photos

Cucurbita pepo harvested in trug – © Friedrich Strauss/GAP Photos

When you want to create a fantastic vegetable garden, you will find that you are only limited by your imagination. It is possible to do pretty much anything that can transform a somewhat flat garden into a thing that has vegetables growing up, across and even down. All you have to do is incorporate a little more planning into your garden than you would as if you were sticking with a regular vegetable garden.

It might seem a little more time consuming, yet it is something you won’t regret. You will have a beautiful looking garden which comes with one significant benefit. You will find that you can grow more produce when you grow upward and outward.

BIO: Tim Graham is the head writer over at yardandgardenguru.com where he writes about his passions in life yard care, gardening and getting outdoors.

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