Garden Survival Guides

  1. A guide to planting bare-root trees

    Planting bare-root trees is a process that must be done correctly; it is not that difficult, but is one that needs to be done in such a way to give the tree the best start in its new location. For those who do not know, bare-root trees are plants that are dug up from the ground during their dormant stage, which is typically in autumn. The roots of these bare-root trees are shaken free from soil and then kept cool and packed in a moist material like damp sawdust. This makes bare-root plants easy to store and ship in good condition.

    Bare-root trees can actually be ordered for shipment in either autumn or early spring from mail order nurseries. These types of nurseries generally have a wider selection of trees than local nurseries and the costs of bare-root trees can be one-third to one-half of the price of equivalent container-grown trees. Though purchasing high quality plant stock does account for good growth of these bare-root trees, they require proper care upon arrival, ap

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  2. Phil McCann’s 10 step guide to your best containers ever!

    Phil McCann’s 10 step guide to your best containers ever!

    About Phil McCann

    Phil McCann has worked on BBC Gardener's World and is an experienced horticultrual consultant, previously working for the RHS, Unwins Seeds and Hillier Nurseries.

    Phil has kindly used his experience to provide us with a great 10-step guide to perfect container gardening, leaving few excuses not to get started straight away.

    Choosing the correct container

    Containers come in all shapes and sizes and ultimately you should only choose one's you are happy with. After all, you are the one having to look at it every day for years and years. Funky plastic containers fit modern, cutting edge gardens whereas stately terracotta, getting cheaper every year, fit most gardens. But you don't even need to buy in containers. Baked bean and soup cans when emptied and cleaned make lovely little homes for single pelargoniums or a bunch of living basil.

    It's also worth chatting to local restaurant owners who

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  3. 4 steps to getting started on your raised bed garden

    4 steps to getting started on your raised bed garden

    A raised bed garden patch raises one immediate concern for gardeners: unsuitable soil in an otherwise suitable location. Sometimes, it is the only option gardeners will have because of this or other pressing issues like rental properties being unsuitable for gardening. So, what is a raised bed garden and how can gardeners get started with one? Let's have a look.

    Raised Bed Gardens

    A raised bed garden is an elevated surface, much like an open top box, that allows gardeners to position their ideal garden in an area that suits their personal tastes or requirements. They're particularly suitable for those who are otherwise afraid of digging up their own lawn or don't have the necessary permission to do so. It also benefits those who are gardening from poor soil sites because topsoil high in organic matter can be added to the mix from the very start.

    However, depending on the design of the box, they're not particularly well geared towards those wi

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  4. How to reduce stress by gardening

    How to reduce stress by gardening

    Gardening is a productive hobby to have and can lead to your outdoor areas looking spectacular, plus it can also be very good for your health. It has been found to act almost like a type of therapy and it can be very useful in reducing stress. This is a relatively well-known phenomenon, but the extent to which it can improve people’s lives is generally underestimated.

    The paper ‘Health, well-being and social inclusion: therapeutic horticulture in the UK’, by Joe Sempik et al., sets out the results of a study into the effect of gardening as a form of health and social care. The study found that a lot of the people participating in the social gardening projects appreciated having a routine and a structure to their day and they also enjoyed being able to spend time outside, taking part in a physical activity. Part of this was at

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  5. How to tame your wild allotment

    When you take over an allotment, it’s quite possible that you will inherit a tangled jungle that you’ll have to clear before you can plant your crops. Here are a few suggestions that will help tame your wild allotment and keep it under control.

    Starting out

    The sight of a tangle of weeds can be daunting, but don’t be tempted to cut them down or use a rotivator. Cutting them down will only encourage re-growth while the use of a rotivator will disturb the soil - bringing dormant seeds to the surface and helping them to germinate. By cutting the roots of weeds into pieces, each of which, particularly in the case of couch, will produce a new weed. It is far better to remove the weeds by hand, a task made easier if the soil is moist.

    With the largest weeds removed, you should lay thick, black plastic sheets or sheets of cardboard over the ground and place weights on top to keep them down; you will need to leave them in place for

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  6. A quick guide to making your allotment bee friendly

    As you sit in your shed with a welcome cup of tea after a tough session on the allotment, you might spare a thought for the humble bee. These days, bees are having it pretty tough and their numbers are falling dramatically. What has this got to do with you, you may ask? Well, bees play a crucial role in the natural world and without them it would be a very different place.

    The role of bees

    The importance of bees cannot be underestimated. They are pollinators and, as such, make an important contribution to the natural reproduction of plants and crops; meaning they are a vital link in the food chain. Without bees, about one third of the food we eat would not be available. In fact, about 70 crops in Britain depend on or benefit from the attention of bees.

    Bees also pollinate the flowers of many plants that are used to feed farm animals. It is estimated that the value of bees to commercial crops in Britain is over £200 million a year, with

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  7. A quick guide to managing your allotment all year

    Allotments are a fun and good way to supplement your larder with healthy, fresh food. But they are also hard work so you want to be sure of getting the best results from your efforts. The key is to plan ahead; and a great way to start is to sit down with a cuppa by your allotment shed with a notebook or calendar and prepare a to-do list.

    As you survey your allotment it’s important to remember that you must rotate your crops, preferably on a three-year cycle. Growing the same crop in one place year after year depletes the nutrients absorbed by that produce and encourages the spread of diseases particular to the crop. You should also stagger when you plant each crop to avoid having all of the same produce becoming ready at the same time.

    Here are some ideas on how you should plan your year to get the most out of your allotment:

    January
    Finish cleaning up and digging bare areas. Finish planting fruit trees and bushes. Plant onions.

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  8. A quick guide to using canes and supports in the garden

    Preparation for winter: Removing any canes and supports in your plot left from the summer crops, ensuring you store them safely and somewhere dry, such as garden storage areas.

    Why is this? So that they can be re-used….you need to care for your canes, as they are technically caring for your plants. After use, you should make sure they are stored away; this will prevent rotting from the rain and snow, maintaining their sturdy structure to support your crops.

    Cane fruits need little attention during the winter, other than making sure that the long canes are tied securely again to prevent them rocking or breaking in strong winds.

    In February or early March you’ll need to cut down the old fruited stems of autumn-fruiting, to ground level.
    Cutting your old caned fruits down as close to ground level as possible is crucial; so that buds will break from below the soil surface. If canes are not cut low enough, fruit may form on any remaining cane por

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  9. Top 10 garden resources

    1 - Gardeners' World

    The Gardeners' World site is pretty much the ultimate resource for someone new to gardening. The site features a great gardening calender with weekly tips and an extensive 'how to' section covering projects and problem solving. There's also a plants database detailing 100's of plants and flowers.

    If you can't find the help you need from the main pages there is also a forum section, on which you can post those burning questions.

    2 - RHS

    This is a great reference site to any budding gardener, what ever your skill level. They have an excellent advice section which can filter down all their information until you find what you're looking for. They also have good quality video guides for most basic gardening tasks.

    The grow your own section i

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  10. Growing your own – a guide to planting and growing flowers, food & herbs

    Gardening is an amazing and very rewarding past-time, which is enjoyed by many people across the globe and by a variety of age groups. If you're tired of just having a simple lawn, there are countless ways that you can enhance your garden. Through gardening you don't just gain a delightful place to spend time relaxing or entertaining, but your new hobby will also keep you active.

    Here we give you a little insight into how to start growing flowers, vegetables or herbs at home.

    A good starting point is to plan what you'd like to achieve. Do you want a flower garden, somewhere to grow your own food, or something in between. Making a monthly plan for planting is a good start. With food you should consider stagger sowing in early Spring, or late winter using a greenhouse, and harvest your crop throughout Summer and early Autumn.

    You may also want to consider investing in some basic gardening equipment:

    To get the flower garden you always wanted you don't n

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