10 Allotment and gardening questions answered…

Every now and then I take a look at the search terms that bring readers to my blog and I pick out the questions and search terms that need answering. It’s amazing to see what people are typing into Google and finding out what needs to be answered.

I try and do this exercise once a year, and below are some of the questions asked over the last year and a half by people from all over the web. I hope you find these useful!

What does “Kelveldon Wonder” mean?

Kelveldon Wonder is a variety of pea that was bred in Kelveldon, Essex in 1925. They’re a heritage variety that I’ve grown at the allotment before. Generally speaking, when I think of Essex – I don’t think of variety of pea…

Why are runner beans so expensive to buy?

This is a very good question. I can only put this down to how much space they take up, how much water is required and the fact that they’re probably one of the few vegetables that still have to be hand picked. They’re incredibly seasonal as well which can also dictate the price based on that years growing conditions. Although, in 2016 we did experience a hike in prices.

What tools do I need for an allotment?

When you have an allotment, you really don’t need that much. Thankfully I’ve written this article here that’ll give you some sort of idea.

Garden Fork

Why is weeding important?

Weeding is important because weeds take up space and water that should otherwise go to your plants. By definition, a weed is a wild plant growing where it is not wanted and in competition with cultivated plants. Here’s an article where I go into a bit more depth about weeding.

Do slugs eat carrot tops?

I’ve never seen a slug turn what it has for a nose to anything at the allotment. That said, with carrots – I’ve seen them decimate seedlings and totally bypass carrots that are much more mature. Which brings me onto the next question…

How to deal with slugs at the allotment?

There’s a number of ways you can deal with these little blighters, click here to read more.

Why out of date seeds won’t germinate?

Some, but not all out of date seeds will germinate – it really does depend on variety they are. Packets of seeds left in the shed, that are not kept in a cool, dry place for most of the time are at the behest of fluctuations in temperature, which can effect germination. If you have a packet of seeds that are out date, my advice is to sow them earlier than what’s stated on the packet – just in case! Here are a few more reasons why seeds won’t germinate from Thompson and Morgan.

When can I plant Casablanca Garlic bulbs?

Probably the most common variety of garlic you’ll see at your local garden center. Usually available during the winter months, I tend to plant my Casablanca garlic in January – but if you can plant them before Christmas then all the better!

What to do with a spare allotment?

Get digging of course! It can be a bit overwhelming taking on a new plot and there are tonnes of things you can do when you first start out. Here’s my take on what to when you first get an allotment. If you have just taken on a plot – keep at it! It pays off and having an allotment is very much in fashion.

What household items can you use at an allotment?

I wrote this article on recycling about two years or so ago now, and if you do a search online there’s probably even more to recycle.

Bonus Question: What are the main vegetables grown in Mozambique?

Probably the strangest question to appear in my stats… But according to Google…

Farmers grow cassava and maize/corn as the main crops, with millet, rice and beansalso common. Cash-crops provide vital extra income. Cashew and mango trees can be found on many smallholdings. And cotton,tobacco, sugar and tea are grown in certain areas of the country.

10 gardening things you can do when it’s freezing cold outside

It’s December, it’s absolutely freezing outside and I’m currently tucked up in bed writing this post. I’m debating on whether to go the allotment – and I’m wondering what I’m going to do when I’m there as the ground is frozen, and there’s very little growing.

If you’re a fair weather gardener and you want to get outside and get going, but the the baltic temperatures are putting you off – here are ten things you can do for your garden or allotment when it’s absolutely freezing outside.

1. Make a seed strip

Seed strips help to keep all of your plants in a nice neat row. You then plant the strip, the seeds grow and eventually the strip rots into the ground. You can buy these in the the garden centre, but they’re so easy to make at home.

Here’s a little how to video I found online. https://youtu.be/BPSbTV0BTbs

2. Make some seed starter pots

Making seed starter pots is dead easy and there’s a lot of material online about how you can do this from either old newspapers or toilet rolls. It’s a bit of a process so definitely something worth doing when the weather isn’t to your liking.

Here’s another video showing you how to make your seed starters. https://youtu.be/lP5Fa6A5lFM

3. Pick Brussels sprouts

Believe it or not, Brussels sprouts are best if you’ve had a chill overnight. They’re most likely one of the last things you’ll pick in the garden. Lower temperatures will encourage your plants to produce sugars meaning your sprouts will take on a sweeter taste.

4. Plan your gardening

Put the kettle on, get your books out and decide what you would like to grow and where. Many gardeners I know draw out their plots on paper and scribble down some ideas. How did you fair over the last year? Now is a good time to reflect and improve for next year.

5. Make a herb garden

Herbs are brilliant and easy to grow indoors and there’s a tonne of ways you can do this. I’ve seen old baked bean tins, jars and even empty oranges being used a herb gardens. Buzzfeed’s Nifty are are churning out videos all the time on how to do this and here is a compilation of them.  https://youtu.be/vJRxbWvFfKI

6. Make some eco friendly weed killers and pesticides

2018 is my year to be more eco friendly, I’m going to be using less plastic, walk more and look into some eco friendly or homemade solutions to use in the garden. There are loads of recipes online for eco friendly pesticides and weed killers to suit your needs – go on, give it a Google.

7. Make some drip feeders

Economical use of water is a great thing to focus on and homemade drip feeders are a great way of recycling wine bottles, milk cartons and plastic bottles to.

Here’s a great article by Buzzfeed on how to make a wine bottle feeder. https://www.buzzfeed.com/erinphraner/wine-bottle-plant-feeder

8. Brush up on your gardening knowledge

We all have successes and failures in the garden, what makes us a better gardener is understanding why some things work and why some things don’t. We are at the mercy of nature, so it’s good to do a little bit of research if you can.

9. Order your seeds for the next season

I love the smell of fresh seeds in the morning… It smells like…(enter your own ending here!). If you’ve planned you garden for next year (point 4) what better to cement that commitment than to order your seeds.

10. Have a bonfire

I love a bonfire! No matter what you get up to outside in the cold weather, light a match, stay warm and get rid some of the wood and other burnable material you’ve been meaning to get rid of all year.

Remember to wrap up warm folks and have fun! 

Last minute Father’s Day gifts

It’s Father’s Day and the summer is well and truly here! If you’ve been looking for that perfect gift of appreciation here’s some quick fixes to get you through that last minute Father’s Day rush.

Natural Pine Picnic Bench – https://bit.ly/2sbzWYh – At least half an hours worth of ‘putting something together’ enjoyment right there! Followed by a nice cold one and a sit down.

Burgon and Ball tuck-in tin – https://amzn.to/2sly5hQ – It’s like one of those lunch boxes you see in the movies! It’s metal, so will keep everything cool if you put an ice pack in with your food.

Free stuff for your allotment Kindle Download – https://amzn.to/2rBzQdB – Look it’s free! A download book which basically says what it does on the tin.

Raised bedding material – https://amzn.to/2tcFDTY – This is a great idea. Easy to set up raised beds, made out of recycled plastic bottles. Good for the environment and will last a lifetime! 

Landmann DIY Charcoal Barbecue – https://amzn.to/2slrq7b – Oh yeah, now we’re talking! It’s BBQ season, and you, yes you! can make your Dad feel like he’s king of the pit with this brick BBQ.

Life Carver Garden Armchair Adirondack Folding – https://amzn.to/2ty91U5 – Doesn’t this look pleasant? Perfect after you’ve built the picnic bench, raised bed and BBQ… But something is missing…

Coke retro – https://amzn.to/2rpOwbL – I know this is a weird item to have on the list, but in this hot weather a nice cold coke in the retro glass bottle is just what the doctor ordered!


Beer! – https://amzn.to/2rpS4L4 – If you’re not into the above, then I’m  sure that the above will suffice. This is a great selection of beers from our friends at Shepherds Neme.

Igloo Marine Ultra Cooler – https://amzn.to/2tcQFZA – You’re going to need something to keep those beers and cokes cool aren’t you..

Beer Bottle Opener Wall Mounted Plaque – https://amzn.to/2sAfHEf – And how you going to open them? With this cool retro wall mounted bottle opener of course!

Hosepipe ban: Tips on How to save water when growing your own

We’re currently in the midst of a heatwave and the lack of rain and increase in temperatures has seen river, groundwater and reservoir levels drop at an alarming rate. As a result, hosepipe bans have been springing up in various parts of the UK.

I’ve done some reading online and chatted to some of the chaps at the allotment to see what they do to help combat water shortages and hosepipe bans. I hope you find the below useful.

10 ways to save water when growing your own

Collecting as much rainwater as possible
Invest in a couple of water butts or a disused water tank to store your water. Be sure to keep a lid on it so that water doesn’t escape through evaporation. Also think about how you’re going to collect the rainwater, whether it’s via the roof of a shed or an adjacent board channelling rainfall into the the tank or water butt.

Homemade bottle feeders
This wine bottle hack is a great way to keep your plants watered during dry spells, and is dead easy to implement. Get a bottle of wine that has a screw top, simply drink all of the wine and make a small hole in the lid of wine. Fill with water and bury the bottle – lid down, to create a drip feeder. I guess it doesn’t have to be wine – any decent sized bottle with a screw top will do. Wine is more fun though 🙂 !

Mulching
You can stay ahead if you keep the soil moist between watering. Mulch is a layer of material from your compost bin, or even grass cuttings applied to the top of the bed.  The mulch will act as a sponge to store moisture and reduce the amount of water leaving the ground during the hot weather. I’ve even seen old carpet being used to keep the ground moist.

Burying newspaper into your bedding
This is similar to the mulching idea above, but I found this article, which explains that burying newspaper in with your bedding is a safe way of storing water within your beds, and closer to the roots. Burying newspaper into the ground also keeps the weeds down too.

Absorbent gels
The video below shows you how to dissect a nappy – but you can just as easily buy absorbent gels for your garden from any reputable garden center.  Absorbent gels are great for containers and raised beds. They’re also great if you’re away from your allotment for long periods of time and you’re relying on water butts and wine bottle feeders being full.

Self-watering pots
Last year I saw that Self-watering pots were all the rage and I soon learnt that these are a great way to preserve water in one space. Self watering planters store water and when the soil dries out it will automatically draw up more water until it is full – the technology is a simple one.

Establishing a watering routine
Because watering will effectively take longer using a watering can, it’s best to build up or establish a routine that involves watering little and often. An extra trip to the allotment during the week could be the difference between a plant surviving or being subject to the elements. I’d also invest in another watering can so you can carry more water in one go. Be sure to also focus your watering on the roots of the plants to avoid any wasted run off.

Keep beds weeded
Weeds will take up water that should otherwise go to the plants that need it. By keeping on top of the weeds, you’re effectively getting rid of the competition. This is another reason why weeding is so important, so much like the watering – it’s best to keep on top of the weeding little and often to avoid labour intensive bouts.

Drought resistant varieties 
Hosepipe bans seem to creep up on us and are announced at the last minute, so if you suspect like I have, that this year might involve a hosepipe ban – give extra thought to the varieties of fruit and vegetables that you would like to grow. There are varieties of plants out there that fair well in hot, dry weather – perfect for a hosepipe ban.

Capillary Matting
For indoor growing, capillary matting is a wise investment. Capillary Matting will transport water quickly and evenly over a level surface. This means that large number of plants can be watered easily and at the same time. Capillary matting will also help to create humidity in your greenhouse, which will assist with keeping the mat moist and your plants watered.

Hosepipe bans are a necessary evil unfortunately and they come around every so often – my last piece of advice is to keep calm and carry on. What are your water saving tips? I’d love to know!

How to combat Horsetail

How to combat horsetail is often a question asked many growers and gardeners. Horsetail (often referred to inaccurately as mare’s tail) has been plaguing gardens and allotments since the dinosaurs roamed the earth. They crop up along the side of railway tracks and soon spread from garden to garden. Their roots are deep and prolific and the plant itself can lay dormant in your soil for a number of years. Below are some ten strategies you can use to tackle this terrible weed!

how to combat horsetail weeds

10 Ideas on How to combat Horsetail

If found, dig out and tackle straight away and do not delay…

Horsetail roots go down as far two meters in some cases, so the deeper you dig the better. Getting as much of the root out is crucial when trying to keep horsetail under control.

If found – never put it in your compost heap – burn it

According to the RHS horsetail can persist for a number of years. Because rhizomes lay dormant for a number of years, they’ll quite happily survive in a compost bin, until you empty out your compost bin into your borders.

Once removed, plant something in that space – horsetail doesn’t compete well in the shade

It’s very difficult to get the whole plant and root structure out of the ground, it’s inevitable you’ll miss a bit. Once dug out, plant something else into the ground such as marigolds or dahlias to take up some of the moisture and create shade.

If you suspect it’s coming from a neighbour, try and place a physical barrier in the ground between you and them

More often than not the source of your horsetail infestation comes from next door – and it’s not their fault! If you have a border, bury some slabs or wooden boards around the edges – if you have a garden it may be worth taking a look at some fencing.

Lay Heavy duty matting for a year or two to restrict light to that area

If you have a large area that’s covered in horsetail – it can be back breaking work to dig this out manually. You’re better off covering the area with heavy duty black matting and leaving the area for a year or two.

Use any weed killer that contains glyphosate

Any weed killer that contains glyphosate will damage horsetail, both the tops and the roots. Like most weed killers apply directly to the plant over a number of dry days for maximum impact.

Apply white distilled vinegar

If you’d rather not use a chemical to combat horsetail – white distilled vinegar is a great alternative. Because vinegar is an acid, it’s non-specific as to what it will kill. You may need to check the condition of the soil by running a soil test once you’ve got to grips with the horsetail infestation.

Keep your soil a good condition overall – apply manure and lime

Well drained, weeded and fertilised soil will pay dividends when keeping control of not just horsetail… Good soil also means you’ll get a good return.

Plan your attack – see PhilG2’s three year approach here

Horsetail can often take years to combat – click on the above link to see how you can plan your attack against horsetail. Together with the points above – we’re on a winning streak.

Turnips are said to keep horsetail at bay

This thread here has some interesting (all be it experimental) points about plants that you can grow to combat horsetail.  Turnips in particular were used back in 2008!

Good luck folks – if you have any other tips please do let me know how to combat Horsetail!

 

Last Minute Mother’s Day Presents

I’m hoping you’re more prepared than I am when it comes to gardening and Mother’s Day and that you’ve managed to purchase a gift in time. If not, do not fear… Here’s some quick fixes to get you through that last minute Mother’s Day rush.

Remember – you can always say, “I ordered it, but it didn’t arrive in time because.. you know.. it’s Mother’s Day!”…

  1. Set of 10 Metal Hanging Flower Pots With Drainage Holes – https://amzn.to/2nRaK8k – Colourful flower pots to hang around here and there. Speaks for itself, colourful, vibrant and very pretty.
  2. Plant Theatre Boozy Gardeners Kit- https://amzn.to/2nNU40Y – Everything you need to create great cocktails from the plants on a pot on the windowsil or outside. Lovely stuff!
  3. Plant Theatre Cocktail Garden Kit – https://amzn.to/2ng5zLP – Same as the above, but with a different set of seeds. My advice would be to buy both 2 and 3 of this list… Just incase one cocktail isn’t enough.

  4. Celebration Roses 3.5 Litre “Special Mum” – https://amzn.to/2nlRJJz – Nothing says “I love you mum” more than you saying it carrying a rose called ‘Special Mum’.

  5. Plant Theatre 2 Willow Teacup Planters – https://amzn.to/2nfSCSl – The gift that keeps on giving. Wicker planters in the shape of tea cups…

  6.  ‘Mum’s Kitchen’ Herb Garden Windowsill Planter – https://amzn.to/2o0M75X – Oh yeah, now we’re talking, a planter with ‘Mum’ written on it. Personal and useful!
  7. Bareroot Hybrid Tea Garden Rose Bush ‘Mum in a Million’ – https://amzn.to/2nO8dLu – what’s better than saying, “Mum you’re one in a million”? You saying “You’re a mum in a million” whilst giving her a rose called “Mum in a Million” 

  8. Magnet & Steel Please Close the Gate Cast Iron Landscape Sign – https://amzn.to/2nlQgmR – This is to replace the last sign that broke because you didn’t close the gate and it slammed in the wind…

  9. Anything personalised by Loldeantimber – https://etsy.me/2nxpcRP – Don’t you think that ‘Mum’ can sometimes be a little bit too generic? Do not fear, these guys are brilliant and have a range of personalised items for you to choose from.
  10. Plastic Claws Gardening Gloves – https://amzn.to/2n0CGSp – Freddy Kruger called, he said he wants his gloves back. As weird as they look, the videos sure make them look useful…


    Good luck fellow sons and daughters!

 

Top allotment questions asked during 2016

It’s been a year of blogging here at Carrot Tops and over the last 12 months, I’ve had a few questions come my way – so here’s the top questions from by allotment goers and gardeners from across the web.

1. What household items can you use on the allotment?

With a little bit of imagination, you can re-use anything. I’m all for re-using things as it reduces waste and this in turn helps the environment. Click here for a run down of the top 10 items that you can re-use at your allotment.

2. What to compost and what not to compost?

You can compost anything bio-degradable, even paper these days can be added once it’s been shredded. It’s good to get a good mix of both brown items and green items as these will give you a good mix of nitrogen against carbon. Click here to read more composting tips.

3. Why is weeding important?

Weeding is probably the most common thing that gardeners and allotment goers have in common. Weeds take up space, nutrients and oxygen from other, more desired plants in your garden. They also re-seed each year and take up twice as much space the following season. Click here for some common ways in which you can shift those pesky weeds.

4. How to grow gardeners delight tomatoes?

Ah, my favorite variety of tomatoes. These are so easy to grow and well worth the effort, here is a series from seed to harvest that you can follow when growing your own Gardener’s Delight Tomatoes.

5. Why are runner beans so expensive to buy?

This year has seen a whopping 29% increase in the price of runner beans at your local supermarket. In June 2016 of this year the average price per kilo was valued at £5.51 (click here for more reading). The official line from supermarkets is that the price of produce fluctuates to due to higher operating costs and costs by suppliers.  Runner beans are easy to grow and store, so I would recommend doing these yourself if you can. Shop bought runner beans, in my opinion are noway as good as homegrown.

6. What tools do you/I need for an allotment

Wellies, a spade, a fork and and a trowel. Over the years you’ve accumulate many a tool that will do different things for you. Click here for my top 10 tools needed at the allotment.

7. Why seeds don’t germinate | my carrot seeds on my allotment aren’t germinating

It’s not unheard of for seeds to fail and this could be for a number of reasons listed below.

  • The seed had passed its use by date
  • The ground held too much or too little moisture
  • Seeds were sown too deep or too shallow
  • Seeds require specialist treatment or conditions
  • The seeds were eaten by a pest

Thompson & Morgan have this great run through as to why this could be. Click here to see if any of these sound familiar?

8. Best thing to do with spare allotment plot

You can use your plot for anything! You can use it as a leisure garden or to stay self sufficient – the fact of the matter is, the world is your oyster and these days you have to use or lose your allotment.

9. If potatoes have sprouts do you bury them

Potatoes are a great plant to help you break the ground up.  You can plant pretty much anything into that particular space, to encourage crop rotation, but I like to double dig the earth over and revive the ground for the following season.

10. Is Casablanca garlic a hard neck?

Casablanca garlic is a hard neck. This means that that this particular variety will produce flower stalks, where as soft neck garlic won’t (unless treated under special conditions). Most of the bulbs of garlic you get in the shops are soft neck because they store better. However, I bet my hat that chefs and foodies everywhere would rather use a hard neck in kitchen because they have a reputation for carrying a more intense flavour and aroma. Elephant garlic is something else entirely and something I hope to grow in 2017.

10 Really last minute Christmas gift ideas for gardeners and allotment holders

It’s that time of year, we’re just a few days away from Christmas and there’s always that one person, who happens to have an allotment, who you need to get a present for. Well, fear not, below are a few stocking fillers for that special someone.

1. Funky Veg Kit by Plant Theatre

  • Everything you need to grow these 5 funky vegetables in one box
  • Purple Carrots, Red Brussells Sprouts, Stripy Tomatoes, Yellow Courgettes & Multi Coloured Swiss Chard
  • 5 Seed Varieties, 5 Growing pots, 5 Peat blocks and 5 Plant Markers
  • Sowing & Growing Tips included

https://amzn.to/2i7jQuE

2. Grow Me Coffee Lover

  • Do you crave a cappuccino or long for a latté?
  • This gift box includes everything needed to grow your own coffee plants!
  • The ideal little extra and suitable for any occasion, Coffee Lover is the perfect gift for every fan of the roasted bean!

https://amzn.to/2hEZVCp

3. 50 Ways to Kill a Slug

Are you being bullied by a mollusc that slimes all over your garden and munches through your favourite delphinium? Are you worried about using slug pellets for fear of endangering local wildlife? Take a stand against slugs with 50 alternative, organic, natural, chemical and humane solutions to slug problems. Trick, flick and frighten slugs out of your garden, leaving you with pest-free plants. Stop slugs in their tracks and make slimy trails a thing of the past.

https://amzn.to/2h9BNsp

4. Tobar Grow Your Own Christmas Tree

  • Miniature plant set for growing a traditional Christmas tree
  • The set includes a small terracotta plant pot, compost pellet and the seeds needed to grow the plant
  • Christmas tree growing kit
  • Includes compost pellet, seeds and terracotta pot
  • Pot 5cm

https://amzn.to/2hS5qyb

5. Cutting Globe Plant Propagator 11 Piece Set

Cutting globes are round hollow balls which you attach to a plant you would like to propagate and new roots grow inside. You then cut the branch from the plant and you have a new, free clone of that plant!

https://amzn.to/2i7pHjO

6. High Gloss White Self Watering Houseplant & Herb Windowsill Planter

  • Water system puts the plant in control for best results
  • Visual indicator takes the guesswork out of watering
  • Lightweight, recyclable & with a stylish ceramic look
  • Removable plant liner makes planting clean & easy
  • Perfect for Orchids, indoor plants, foliage and herbs
  • Great windowsill growing trough

https://amzn.to/2h7A8Cg

7. Allotment Gardening For Dummies

Allotment Gardening For Dummies is a lively, hands–on guide to getting the most out of your allotment. Whether you′re interested in eating fresh, saving money, getting exercise or enjoying wholesome family fun, this is the guide for you.

https://amzn.to/2icNjiT

8. Paper Potter – Make your own pots from newspaper

https://amzn.to/2h7vcNG

9. The Grumpy Gardener’s Handbook

Following in the curmudgeonly footsteps of The Grumpy Driver’s and Golfer’s Handbooks, this is a compilation of all things frustrating about maintaining the average domestic garden. Grump’s attempts to improve his “extra room outdoors” are thwarted at every turn.

https://amzn.to/2hXfAup

10. Grow Your Own Curry Flowers Mini Plant Kit

  • Easy to grow
  • Fun To Grow
  • Great Gift
  • All you need in the box
  • Fun & Different

https://amzn.to/2icG9LI

10 tips for maintaining an urban garden

Many of us would love to try our hand at gardening, but live in an urban area and only have access to a courtyard or balcony. However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t garden at all, as you can use containers and hanging baskets to add life and vibrancy to your urban space and create an urban garden. Here are our top 10 tips for maintaining an urban garden.

1. With an urban garden – start small

If you’re new to gardening, don’t go overboard — start with a few pots and hanging baskets and grow from there. If flowers are your thing, avoid tender plants that need loads of special maintenance and shrubs that will take at least a year before you start to see the fruits of your labour. Instead, fill your containers with a mixture of seasonal bedding. These have been bred to provide an abundance of colour and scent all summer long. If you wish to grow your own food, start with herbs or try ‘cut-and-come-again’ salad leaves, tomatoes or dwarf beans.

With an urban garden - start small

2. Give your plants a good start in your urban garden

Make sure to give your plants the best possible start to life by properly preparing your containers. The BBC website has an excellent guide on planting up containers, and following those tips will give your plants the best possible start.

 Give your plants a good start in your urban garden

 

3. Use potting soil

Use a good-quality potting or multi-purpose compost when growing in containers. These composts are specially formulated for growing in containers — they’re enriched with nutrients and drain well. Wyevale Garden Centres offer composts that are heat-sterilized to kill weed seeds and diseases that could harm your plants.

Use potting soil

4. Keep the sun in mind

Some plants need sun to flourish, while others prefer shade. In a small, urban garden, spots that are frequently in full sun are often few and far between, so it’s important to use your space wisely. Make the most of them with colourful, long flowering plants like sunflowers. Fill the rest of your space with shade-loving plants that offer colourful and attractive foliage plus flowers. For ideas on what plants to place in the shady areas of your garden, check out this great guide from Gardeners World.

Keep the sun in mind

5. Keep your plants well-watered

Every plant needs water to survive, so make sure to always keep yours hydrated so that the soil is moist but not waterlogged. Also, remember to increase the amount you water your plants during sunny spells, when the soil dries out faster.  A windy site dries out the soil more quickly so you will have to water more regularly than you think if you have a windy garden. Reduce water loss from your pots by covering the soil surface around the base of your plants with a decorative mulch such as pebbles or gravel — this reduces water loss by keeping the soil and roots cool.

Keep your plants well-watered

6. Keep your plants well-fed

Keep your plants well-fed with a general-purpose fertiliser. This is especially important for plants that you’re growing in a container, as the nutrients in their potting compost will gradually be washed out during successive waterings.

Tomato-Blight

7. Pick the right plants for your hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are a great addition to an urban garden, as they don’t take up limited floor space. To keep them looking gorgeous all through summer, choose long-flowering plant varieties that have been specially bred to thrive in containers, such as begonias, fuchsias, and petunias.

Pick the right plants for your hanging baskets

8. Give your plants room to grow

Don’t be tempted to cram plants into small containers to fit as many as possible in your space. Plants need room to grow, and if you don’t give them enough space to do so, they won’t thrive. As a very rough guide, a plant’s roots will spread out below ground to the same distance as its stems or branches do above ground. Check plant pot labels to see how big your plant is going to grow, and use that as a guide when buying your pots.

Give your plants room to grow

9. Upcycle containers

Upcycling old wellies, watering cans, and biscuit tins into quirky plant pots is a great way of adding an extra splash of style to your urban garden.

Upcycle containers
Credit WhatsUpMoms – https://bit.ly/1tX9kp4

10. Be adventurous

Lastly, if you particularly want to try your hand at growing something a bit more adventurous, don’t let lack of experience put you off. If you fail this year, there’s always the next, and you’re sure to learn something from the experience no matter what happens.

Keep these tips in mind when starting your urban garden and you’ll be sure to have a successful and flourishing space to relax in whenever the weather permits.

Be adventurous

Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment

Learning about allotment wildlife can be quite interesting and encouraging beneficial insects in your green spaces can help you stave off any predators or pests that are eyeing up your plants.

1. Earthworms

The humble earthworms plays an important part in composting and decomposition. They help break up the soil and assist in keeping your soil turned over. These are also great to have in your compost bin.

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2. Ladybirds

Ladybirds are hungry little creatures and can consume up to 50 to 60 aphids per day.  They’ll also make short work of a variety of other insects and larvae including scales, mealy bugs, leaf hoppers, mites, and various types of soft-bodied insects.

Ladybirds - Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment

3. Bees

Bees! Probably one of the most important insects on the face of this worth. Bees pollinate a third of all consumable plants and also play an important role in the planet’s ecosystems.  84% of the crops grown for human consumption need bees and other insects to pollinate them.

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4. Damsel Bugs

Damsel bugs eat a wide variety of prey including insect eggs, caterpillars, mites, and aphids. Keep these on side!

Damsel bugs - Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment

5. Tachinid Flies

Tachinid flies are very good at killing unwelcome garden pests as well as pollinating gardens. They can also live at higher altitudes where bees cannot.

Tachinid Flies - Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment

4. Ground beetles

Most ground beetles feed at ground level, however, some ground beetles are ambitious and will climb plants to feed on aphids and small caterpillars.

Ground beetles - Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment

5. Hoverfly

The hoverfly larvae  feed on a wide range of foods including decaying plant or animal matter. Grown hoverflies enjoy eating aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking pests.

Hoverfly - Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment

6. Woodlice

Woodlice often congregate in compost heaps, where they help break down the plant material and are a useful part of the decomposition process.

Woodlice - Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment

7. Wasps

Wasps are hungry creatures and have been known to feast on caterpillars, flies and spiders making their diets one of the most comprehensive.

Wasps - Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment

10. Spiders

Spiders are good for your garden. Nothing else at the allotment or garden consumes as many garden pests as spiders do.  These beneficial insects spend all day constructing a web and a nest in the hope of landing their next meal.

Spiders - Top 10 beneficial insects for your garden or allotment