Monthly Archives: July 2019

An Introduction to Successful Irrigation

While some may find watering the garden to be a relaxing activity, others might consider it something of a chore, especially during a heatwave or if you have a sizeable plot. With an expected increase in hot, dry summers in the years to come, it is worth installing irrigation systems to ease your need to keep watering regularly, and help your plants establish well.

Watering regularly

Array of automatic watering timers and switches, with hoses leading to the garden - De Tuinen van Appeltern, Holland - © GAP Photos/Michael King

Array of automatic watering timers and switches, with hoses leading to the garden – De Tuinen van Appeltern, Holland – © GAP Photos/Michael King

If you don’t have time to water at the rate your garden requires, do think about investing in automatic timers, which when connected to drip systems and sprinklers, can be very affective. It may take a little time to set up and consider where you need the irrigation and how often However when you have decided on it, this system will take the edge off maintaining a summer garden, leaving you more time to enjoy your garden in the evening, rather than lugging the hosepipe around.

Irrigation pipes

Irrigation pipe for watering recently planted rows of young lettuce, beetroot and onion - © GAP Photos/Nicola Stocken

Irrigation pipe for watering recently planted rows of young lettuce, beetroot and onion – © GAP Photos/Nicola Stocken

When planting, especially in hot dry weather, keeping your plants in consistently moist compost is a good way to help them establish and stay healthy. Irrigation pipes may be more affective and conserve water in comparison to a hose, which when used tend to blast the leaves of plants with water, which then just evaporates off. Meanwhile irrigation pipes, which have little holes along their bottom, weave quietly under the leaves of your plants and deliver the water right where it is needed, by the roots.

Drip Systems

Irrigation drip system installed in rustic pots - © GAP Photos

Irrigation drip system installed in rustic pots – © GAP Photos

Watering pots is very important, especially in the summer. Potted plants are solely reliant on water and nutrients provided externally to the pot they are in, as their roots cannot reach out to seek moisture elsewhere. Keep pots in check with drip systems, which consistently feed water into the soil as and when it is needed, and do so right to the roots of the plant. Keeping pots well-watered from top to bottom during hot weather also protects the plants roots and encourages them to grow down, rather than rising to the soil surface and then getting fried in the sun.

Homemade watering devices

Watering plants on steep slope using a watering can and plastic bottles pushed into the roots - © GAP Photos/Andrea Jones

Watering plants on steep slope using a watering can and plastic bottles pushed into the roots – © GAP Photos/Andrea Jones

During particularly dry spells, especially if there is a hosepipe ban in place, it is quicker and resourceful to direct a little less water into the ground and directly to the roots of plants, than to spend ages watering the surface of your borders with a hose, for the water to just evaporate before it gets to the roots of the plants. When you plant, position a cut-in half plastic bottle by your new addition. Make sure the upper rim extends out of the soil and then directly add the water into the bottle so you know it is going straight down to the plant’s roots, providing a much more localised and affective watering method.

Natural irrigation systems

Step by Step - planting quince tree - watering within irrigation ridge created with soil - © GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski

Step by Step – planting quince tree – watering within irrigation ridge created with soil – © GAP Photos/Elke Borkowski

Trees and shrubs can take a while to establish themselves, and should be considered something of an investment. They will require a lot of watering to really settle into their new locations, especially if they are already quite large when planted. Ideally, plant in the autumn or early spring, so they have plenty of time to build up their root network before the summer arrives. If the soil you are planting in is dry, give your plant a better chance of establishing itself by creating a ridge on the surface of the soil. Then aim water within the ridge so that it has nowhere to go but down to the roots of the plant.

How to Get Kids Interested in Gardening

Gardening is a holistic hobby and one that supports a healthy lifestyle, so it makes sense that many parents would want to encourage their children’s interest in plants and working in the garden from an early age. However, gardening presents challenges and does require some patience and practice; and while children may initially take an interest, it can be hard to keep that spark alight for long enough to show them the basics. Here we have suggested 5 simple methods to help keep your children engaged in gardening.

Experiment with fun, colourful annuals such as sunflowers

Little girl planting sunflower seeds - © GAP Photos/Richard Bloom

Little girl planting sunflower seeds – © GAP Photos/Richard Bloom

This is a great way to introduce younger children to sowing seeds. Think colourful and vibrant flowers such as sunflowers, cornflowers and marigolds. The seeds of annuals tend to germinate quickly. They are also fun and relatively simple to grow, which fuels children’s interest and keeps their attention. Show your child how to plant a seed in a simple terracotta pot and let them get their hands dirty.

Encourage them to harvest vegetables

Young girl pulling carrots - © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Young girl pulling carrots – © GAP Photos/Friedrich Strauss

Harvesting your own fresh crops is just as satisfying for adults as well as children, so why not get the whole family involved? Let your children help you pull up carrots, shell peas and pick salad leaves before meals. This is a great opportunity to teach children about where fruit and vegetables come from, and how they grow, while hopefully instilling in them a desire to grow their own food in time too.

Put them in charge of watering

Oscar Isaac, 9, waters newly planted seeds in his vegetable patch - © GAP Photos/Nicola Stocken

Oscar Isaac, 9, waters newly planted seeds in his vegetable patch – © GAP Photos/Nicola Stocken

Many children really enjoy playing with water, so asking them to water crops that they have planted themselves, or just to give you a hand during a heatwave seems like a natural fit. If you fear the consequences of giving them reign over the hosepipe, or think a watering can may be a bit heavy for them, why not try smaller, child-friendly watering cans (this also means they shouldn’t do much damage by overwatering too). Alternatively, create make-shift, light sprinkler watering cans from recycled plastic bottles.

Give them their own space in the garden

Children's miniature garden - © GAP Photos

Children’s miniature garden – © GAP Photos

Gardens are naturally full of intriguing shapes, smells and colours, so encourage your children to be part of it. Section off part of your plot and give the control of that section over to your child for their own space to play, explore and experiment with what they find in the garden. This works for children of all ages, and allows your child to learn about nature in their own way.

Let them pick up a plant from a garden centre and plant it themselves

Step by Step -  Young girl planting Tomatillo, Physalis philadelphica - © GAP Photos

Step by Step – Young girl planting Tomatillo, Physalis philadelphica – © GAP Photos

Give a little more control to your kids at the garden centre and let them choose the plants that they are naturally drawn to rather than plants you prefer yourself. When you get home, show them how to plant it and encourage them to take ownership of the plant’s care. If the plant continues to thrive, it will give your child that sense of achievement. This may be better suited to older children.

How Gardening Can Help the Practise of Mindfulness

The process of mindfulness is currently gaining much interest. Practicing Mindfulness is thought to help individuals engage with their feelings and outside environment, focusing on the sensations felt in the moment, and connecting to the present rather than thinking of the past or the future.

Working in the garden is an excellent way to practise mindfulness, as the activity naturally engages all the senses, and is a peaceful and absorbing hobby. Here are five specific things you can do to aid the practise of mindfulness in the garden.

Ditch the gloves from time to time

Step by step - planting a pink and purple themed container - © GAP Photos

Step by step – planting a pink and purple themed container – © GAP Photos

Handling soil can be a grounding experience. This material is often taken for granted, but is such a significant source of nutrients for your plants, and in turn, for people. Of course, choosing to directly touch soil is a matter of personal preference, and there are times when gloves are required. However, as long as it is safe to do so, the next time you plant, let the soil crumble through your fingers and let the dirt get stuck under your fingernails. There is so much satisfaction to be had from handling the soil that your plants are going to grow in, not to mention a peace to be gained from knowing that such a seemingly simple material plays its part in keeping your garden happy.

Touch your plants

Hand touching Stipa tenuissima - © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Hand touching Stipa tenuissima – © GAP Photos/Jonathan Buckley

Make the most of your plants; they don’t just have to be admired from the side lines, they can be touched too. Get to know your garden like it’s another room in your house. Let your hands gently run over the foliage and flowers of whatever you have planted. How do they feel under your palm? Smooth or rough? Solid or soft? Consider planting textual plants such as grasses for the sensory additions they give a garden, for example that gentle sound and movement as their leaves get ruffled in a breeze.

Grow your own food

Woman holding a harvest of mixed tomatoes within her greenhouse. Tomato 'Red Cherry', 'Golden Sunrise', 'Black Cherry' and 'Tigerella' - © GAP Photos

Woman holding a harvest of mixed tomatoes within her greenhouse. Tomato ‘Red Cherry’, ‘Golden Sunrise’, ‘Black Cherry’ and ‘Tigerella’ – © GAP Photos

This doesn’t have to be a big investment – just a few humble tomato plants can bring you right back to nature. Harvesting your own food from your garden has to be one of the most reassuring and pleasurable experiences your garden can offer you. As you snip, pick and pull fruit and vegetables from the soil, that are only there because of your actions, embrace and treasure that feeling. Tomato plants are a great vegetable for beginners to grow. They are easy to cultivate and give high yields of fruit, providing you water and feed them regularly. The scent of their leaves is heavenly, making watering and handling of them particularly enjoyable, and the wait for ripe tomatoes to harvest a bit more tolerable.

Plant for all your senses

Man smelling fennel in garden - Summer - © GAP Photos/Rice/Buckland

Man smelling fennel in garden – Summer – © GAP Photos/Rice/Buckland

With such a huge range of different plants available to modern gardeners, if can be tempting to just select plants with the prettiest colours, the boldest foliage and a tidy and compact growing habit. However, there are plants that offer so much than obvious ornamental value. Consider including herbs to plant out in your borders, not only for the ornamental value, but also the culinary possibilities. Or choose aromatic plants, such as Lavender, that give off a scent you can enjoy as you brush past them.

Sit back and take it all in

Garden owner and designer Steven Wells, relaxing in a red painted timber sitting pod he built, attached to a black painted timber wall - © GAP Photos/Brent Wilson

Garden owner and designer Steven Wells, relaxing in a red painted timber sitting pod he built, attached to a black painted timber wall – © GAP Photos/Brent Wilson

Many a gardener find this to be the most challenging task – stopping to enjoy it. A chair or bench may be the most unutilised piece of equipment in a garden. However, it is very important to make the time to soak it all up. Comfy seating might encourage you to stop, but a drink in hand should definitely do it. If you do find yourself taking the time to actually relax, make the most of it. Close your eyes and lean back, listen to the birds and the breeze gently rustling through your trees and shrubs. Take in the colours and the textures, especially where they work particularly well. Take deep breaths and concentrate on the smells around you.