What Your Garden is Missing

Your garden is your own little mini haven in the outside world. It’s a place you can sit back and relax under the sun, with the gentle breeze on your skin, and plenty of bees busy pollinating a nearby flower bed. But have you done as much as you can to make the most of your outside space?

You’ve laid down the base, and got a good green lawn, you’ve built yourself a little deck, with plenty of your own style and influences on it, now it’s time to do something with the rest of your garden. There are so many ways to introduce little hints of beauty, colour, and some natural fun you could introduce into your outdoor space, so while the weather is fine it’s the perfect time to implement them! Here are a couple of ideas you could try depending on the size of your garden;

Image from Pexels

 

Some Cute Critters!

Something I feel quite strongly about, is that we need to do more to help protect the local wildlife. Animals are what make a garden a lovely experience to sit out in, I love a garden with birds chirping in the trees or bees buzzing around somewhere close by, maybe a frog quietly croaking from a small pond. It sounds so picturesque, doesn’t it? Well, this fantasy is so achievable for your very own garden! Simply by putting up some bird feeders and houses under the trees you can encourage more birds, planting bee friendly flowers and introducing bee/bug hotels around is also a great way to encourage some of the smaller inhabitants.

For those of you with a lot more available space, or those who perhaps have livestock you could give the stable the ultimate upgrade with a designer building from Vale Stables.

Regardless of  how big your garden is, there are always ways you can encourage more animals to your garden to really bring it to life. It’s not just plants that thrive in these environments, so make your garden as creature friendly as possible; you’re helping their world, and in turn improving yours!

Some Good Seating!

If you don’t have a bench in your garden, you’re really missing a trick. Without seating, there’s only the ground to park on, and that can mean a wet and muddy bum and often dirty clothes when you stand back up, and in the party season, that’s not something you want to show off to your friends.

You don’t need to fork out a lot of money for traditional seating, a great way to compliment your garden is to use something natural. For example, you could take a tree stump you’ve got left over after clearing that tree from the back of the garden and turn it into a stool. Alternatively, you could use an old log and create a lovely rock garden. Or you could hang up a hammock between the trees (if you have them), and have a nice shady area to relax in when the temperature gets too much for you.

Your garden is something you can do a lot with, and not all of it needs to cost you money! You’ve still got plenty of time to make sure it’s the perfect for having your friends and family over for barbecues this summer.

Whatever little projects you plan on starting, I hope you enjoy yourself!

10 Gardening jobs for January

10 Gardening jobs for January

Now that January is well and truly upon us, it is time to start looking at the years plans for your garden. Even though it’s still too cold to start planting, there is still plenty to do! Keep scrolling to go through 10 things you should have on your list.

1 . Draw up you plan for the year

The first thing anyone with a vegetable/flower garden should do this time of year is to draw up what you want your garden to look like throughout the coming months. This keeps you focused, organised and means that you will never be left with bare patches or too many plants. It also helps you get sorted on what seeds you need to purchase and what tools you will need and when!
It is always good to know ahead of time where everything will go, as not all vegetables enjoy being neighbours.

2 . Take stock of your seed collection

Once you know exactly whats on your list for things to grow, the next obvious step is to take stock of what you already have – whether its dried poppy pods from previous flowers or spare seeds that never quite made it to the potting shed. You want to get them all sorted and labelled so if there are anything that you don’t have stored away, well….

3 . Order any seeds you need

Now is the time to get your favourite gardening site and get ordering!! The place i go at the moment is D T Brown but everyone has their own favourites. It you have an allotment, you often get access to offers that you can’t get any where else which can help when bulk buying. But if you don’t have access to those, you can usually buy seeds from local garden centres, supermarkets etc.

4 . Clean your pots / tools ready for spring

If you are anything like me, you often leave pots half filled and dotted around in little piles. When there is a break in the bad weather, head out and round them all up! This month is great for getting everything cleaned and organised so they are there and ready to use when you need them!
You can clean your tools with a bit of warm water and a brush and make them as good as new! Alternatively, now is the ideal time to replace anything that has seen better days, if you look at the right time there is usually a good deal on gardening equipment to be picked up before spring comes along. Something I like doing so going to a local antiques centre where there are often companies that have numerous collections of old but really strong garden tools, their often really good prices and are often stronger than anything new (if you shop right).

5 . Prune any fruit trees/bushes

Another important job to tick off before spring begins is to prune any of your fruit trees and bushes. Its important to do it now, before the plant start putting energy into branches that are weak, or wont bear fruit. You want to remove the oldest branches or canes, as well as any broken or diseased wood. Any branches that cross over and would cause rubbing can be tied back or removed to reduce chances of damage. To make sure your pruning in the correct way it is always best to seek out advise for the specific plant your cutting.

6 . Composting

This is something I have recently got into myself. Your compost pile may freeze solid during the colder season but there is no reason to stop composting. In fact, the thawing process can help break down the materials that you add over this time , so they decompose even faster in spring.

Some people insulate their compost pile, either with a dark tarp or a generous layer of straw, newspaper or leaves. This reduces the drop in temperature which in turn keeps the bacteria that breaks down the material warm enough to not go dorment.

7 . General Tidy

If like me, you have reclaimed a patch of land that was previously a waste of weeds and brambles, you can use this time to also keep the ground weed free. Although the weeds don’t actively grow when the temperatures are low, they are still busy. Their roots and seeds are patiently waiting for the warmer weather. If my patch is veg free I try and turn over the soil a couple of times, to help bring any deep roots to the top and keep ontop of the weeds that are being a bit tougher to get rid of. This year i have some left over broccoli, brussels and some garlic, so using a smaller hand spade or folk I move around them being careful not to disturb the plants.
It is also an ideal time to tidy any fallen leaves or debris that has found their way into the garden. These can be moved into a pile to break down a bit before adding to your compost pile or disposed of.

8 . Grow your own Mushrooms

You could try growing your own mushrooms using a mushroom kit, you can kind these kits in any of you local garden centres or online, they are a great little project and are great to add to a lot of meals. It is so much simpler than it looks and you can grow loads of different varieties including white cap, oyster and shiitake. The kits are reasonable prices and comes with everything you need. Once site that gives great step by step instructions, and plenty of details for each sort is Thompson & Morgan .

9 . Early Potatoes

Now is the time that you want to start preparing your potatoes (if you want to grow them). Chitting is when you start the sprouting process and is done by collecting up the potatoes you are going to use and putting them with the majority of the eyes facing upright in a light, cool and frost free location. Greenhouses are perfect for this, but you can also use a porch or unheated conservatory. Light is important for the chitting process, so don’t put them in a cupboard or under the stairs.

You can stand them up using egg boxes, or if your using a large number of potatoes you can use an open box. You are looking for 1inch short green shoots from each eye of the tuber. Thin white shoots that potatoes grow when left in a cupboard to long is just the same, although may still produce potatoes if planted. For the best results you need the best possible shoots!

If you have done all your January jobs, but still want something to do, here is a little something that will keep your green fingers busy:

10 . DIY Bird Feeder

Everybody loves a little DIY project to brighten up these dark days. This is one that gets your hands busy, is great to do with the kids and helps the wildlife out all in once package! Its easy to forget that this time of year is one of the hardest for the wildlife, especially birds. Food is hard to come by, often buried under frozen soil and snow so one thing I think is great to do is to make some nice homemade bird feed ornaments.

There are loads of tutorials out there, but one of the easiest (and least messy) I have found is this one by a lovely lady called Shae! Her tutorial includes 4 ingredients plus kitchen twine or string, makes 5 ornaments  and takes no time at all!

Keep an eye out for next months list of garden jobs, I’m off to make some tasty treats for the birds!

and you’re welcome along for the ride!

Starting on my garden

Now that Christmas is out of the way, it is time to start working on my garden. I have a lot of things I want to achieve this year – and a lot of it depends on the seasons.

Last year I grew a handful of things in a small patch at the top of the garden. The ground is uneven and had to be cleared of a lot of stuff that the previous owners had dumped, including old metal hangers, carpet and glass. At some point someone liked the patch, as there is a lot of good top soil there. It has just been mixed into a lot of stones. When clearing all the rubbish, and fighting back the jungle of weeds there was also old lining that had been left untended (meaning the weeds had grown on top of it and unfortunately through it) I am still fighting back the large number of weeds but i think with constant tending I am starting to win.

What was left of the vegetables grown last year has been a little forgotten about over the last few months, and what remains has been growing by itself. I have a scattering of garlic, broccoli and Brussel Sprouts. The Brussels and Broccoli had been attacked quite heavily by the caterpillars, and if I’m honest, I had written them off, leaving what was left until I could get back out and clear the patch ready for the new year, but after the weather turned colder they seem to have survived the army of ‘pillars and are doing a good job on their own.

One of the last things I did last year was to plant the garlic. They were just from bulbs that were starting to sprout in my kitchen. I didn’t want to waste them, as they were past the point of eating, so I planted them to see how they would do. My last attempt of growing garlic wasn’t amazing – they grew.. but were tiny!! strong – but small.

One of the big jobs that I want to complete this year is to change that patch into a raised bed. At the moment it is pretty unsightly, it sits right next to the house and the small patio section that we have. I would love for it to be a little tidier, and making it a raised bed will help with my homegrown garden.

Now we are more settled in our home it would be great to host some little get togethers over the warmer months, but I don’t want to have people in the garden if it looks like a mess! Our garden has so much potential – I just want it looking/working at its best!

Another large job i have planned is to build myself a little greenhouse. I have found a patch which would be ideal for it. It would get full sun, but also be tucked out the way and would be protected from the worst weather.

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As you can see, I have started clearing the space – there’s a climber growing along the wall and there were lourels running all the way upto the shed. So far I have cut them both back within an inch of their lives but the plan is to cut them down completely (I was due to do it this weekend, but mother nature had other ideas… mainly rain and snow!) I only had a hand saw, but with past knowledge of just how hard a job that would be – and how long it would take – I invested in a chainsaw yesterday.

The lourels run down the whole right side of our garden and along the back. They are a brilliant natural fence, but because they have been left to grow on their own, they have got way out of hand and honestly take up more space then I like. I am losing 3ft along both border lines and it makes a big difference. Another reason for me wanting them gone is they are taking up a lot of space in an area that I am planning on dedicating to chickens. (I have owned some previously and when buying this house the intention was always on getting more, it is just a case of being ready for them. There really is nothing better than fresh eggs, they are also great for left over green waste and are honestly a joy to have. I could spend hours with them)

So while the weather has its wintery-way and I am forced to stay indoors I started measuring up and designing how i wanted the greenhouse to look. I’ve made the decision to make it out of wood and hard plastic. Not the most common materials, but I like the idea of a wooden frame, on the principle that it is going to look a lot nicer and more natural. The hard plastic will be in replacement of the glass that is usually used. This is more for safety. Footballs are often sent flying into my garden, and I wanted something that wouldn’t break so easily – but it is also down to being able to customise the shape and size of the panes myself instead of having glass cut professionally and then delivered.

Once the weather clears up my first task is to cut down the trees in the way and dig them up the best I can, or kill off the roots if i can’t dig them up. Next I need to level out the ground, making the frame out of wood means I need to put something down so that the wood doesn’t rot quickly. My plan is to have either slabs, or bricks.

I already have some reclaimed treated timber which i plan to construct the main supports from. These will be screwed into the wall of the shed to add stability and then build from there.

Another big job on my list is to clear out some of the rubbish that has been left from when we originally tidied the garden. Alot of it is going to have to be taken down the tip, but there is a lot of burnables including the left overs from a large ivy plant that was left to grow up an electrical pole in the garden.

I bought an incinerator with the idea of burning as much as I can, and saving us having to take natural waste to the skip when we don’t need to. Ash can also be good for soil and compost heaps if the pH levels are off. It is also easier to get rid of then bags of branches and logs.

Lastly, over the next few weeks I need to stock up on any seeds i need for the spring sowing. I have most of the first batch, either from purchasing over winter or by finding my stash that I saved from previous grown plants. What i have left to get I will be buying from my local garden centres or my D.T. Brown Seed and Plant Catalogue. Hopefully by the time spring is here, I will have my greenhouse ready for some serious vegetable growing.

If anyone has any advise about starting my 2018 vegetable garden, leave me a comment. I would love to hear how other people are getting ready for the growing season.

and you’re welcome along for the ride!

Dreaming of the Good Life..

Now i enjoy Netflix, Amazon and Spotify as much as the next person (and i use them all) but there is something about sitting down to a home cooked meal where the veg was grown just a couple of meters from your table, or curling up to watch a film under a blanket you made.

I have always prefered a homemade, unique gift to something that everyone from your friend to the stranger down the road owns. I’m not saying that i don’t buy new things from the highstreet, i do! I just don’t get quite as much enjoyment from it compared to when i watch someone open a present that I spent the last few day making, or the glow of pride I get when someone asks where i got my oven gloves, or the snood my niece wears.

I think at heart I’m Barbara Good from ‘The Good Life’. I may be able to go and buy everything i need from a shop, but why would i want to, when i can grown it right there in my back garden? After a busy day at work, where the pressure is high and the hours are slow, i crave the simplier and quiet world of my garden or craft room.

That being said, I’m not a homesteading queen or a diy goddess – I’m just someone who likes to get creative, and get my hands dirty! For the first time, I have my own space to enjoy and learn all the wonders that comes with growing your own, improving your home – but most of all.. enjoying the journey!

This blog will be companion as i learn how enjoy growing my own back garden allotment (fingers crossed) and make more homemade beauties that friends, family and hopefully myself can enjoy!

and you’re welcome along for the ride!