Get Fit and Garden!

There’s nothing like some time in the garden to clear your head and get the blood moving. Fresh, cool air will wake you up and get you thinking positively, and your garden will benefit.

Removing damp, clogged up leaves from the lawn with a spring-tined rake will prevent patches of faded grass and is good for upper arm muscles! Collect and bag up the leaves and rot them down to make leaf mould, a brilliant and free soil conditioner.

If the soil in cleared areas is sufficiently dry, fork it over to help the frosts break up heavier clay soils. Any exposed grubs and other soil pests will feed the birds and minimise pest problems next year.

Get some digging done if the soil is not too wet, but limber up first. Keeping your back straight and your knees bent helps to reduce the risk of injury.

Winter is a good time to prune apple and pear trees. Use sharp secateurs to remove dead, dying and diseased branches, as well as branches causing the tree’s crown to be too congested. 

Re-set any loose brick or similar edging around paths, beds or steps, and replace any damaged stones, pavers or bricks.

Carefully clear debris, dead foliage and stems from flower beds, but leave some dry foliage and stems over the bases or crowns of plants, especially those of the more tender perennials such as penstemons.

Smooth, hard garden surfaces such as patios, paths and steps become dangerously slippery if algae and debris builds up on them over the winter, especially when wet. A stiff brush or yard broom and plenty of elbow grease is the best solution.

Wet and very windy weather can cause shrubs and trees to become loosened in the soil, so re-firm the soil around the root

area and make sure the plant is still in the soil at the right level.

You’re bound to feel better after all that air and exercise, so reward yourself with a cuppa and admire your handiwork before heading inside for a nice hot bath!

Limber Up!

After too much time inside, and in cold weather, take care before you spring into action:

• Wear plenty of clothing when you go outside and remove layers gradually as you warm up.

• Limber up gently to slowly loosen up your arms, legs and back.

• Don’t do any single task for too long – rotate the jobs for perhaps ten minutes at a time, so you don’t put any one area of your body under too much strain.

• Give yourself regular, short breaks and don’t forget to drink enough.

• Bend your knees when lifting and if in doubt call on a friend, relative or neighbour to give you a hand.

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Gardening Tips for July

By Claire Brown of Plant Passion
  • Don’t bother watering the grass with this dry weather, but do keep it mown (not too short) as that will keep the weeds at bay, and as soon as we have rain it will come back.
  • Save any collected water and your precious watering time for those things that will appreciate it the most: the vegetables, the roses and the perennials.
  • Last chance to sow Biennials. I’m going to chance one more lot so i’ve got back up, but really they should have been sown by the summer solstice.
  • Enjoy the sunshine, and get out in the garden as much as you can, Scented flowers are important when enjoying the garden, so make a note to plant Jasmine or Trachelospurum for enjoyment next year.
  • If there’s anything you haven’t planted out, they are more likely to survive in the ground than in a small pot. – Dig your hole, fill it with water to dampen the soil all around, wait until it’s drained, then plant, and water again.
  • Slugs will be less in this dry weather, but can still decimate plants particularly Dahlias very quickly, so do protect against them (we’re currently working with slug pubs, and the cheap beer from Sainsburys is doing the best job of catching them!)
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Gardening tips for June

By Claire Brown of Plant Passion
  • Get everything planted in the garden, as it will have a better chance in hot weather in the ground than in a pot. Soak it really well when planting it. A dunk in a full bucket and holding the pot under water until the bubbles stop will let you know if you’ve got it wet enough.
  • A watering can is a lot better for watering in new plants  than the a hose, and most perennial and shrub plants need about a can of water each over the first week to ensure they establish well, why not cut the bottom off a 2 litre plastic drinks bottle, sink it upside down in the ground next to the plant, and then you’ll know that the roots are getting a really good soaking.
  • If you’ve got a greenhouse, it needs shading now (either netting, or greenhouse shading paint) to prevent scorch on leaves of seedlings and tomatoes
  • If you want Sweet Williams, Foxgloves, Sweet Rocket and Honesty in your garden next year, you need to sow the seeds this weekend. Biennials (those that grow one year and flower the next) need to grow large enough before Autumn to make it through the winter in the ground.
  • Keep mowing your grass regularly even if it isn’t growing long because it is hot, as the weeds will be more able to grow than the grass
  • Please don’t cut your hedges yet, unless they are intruding on footpaths, there are still lots of birds nesting. The RSPB recommends waiting until July to cut hedges.
  • Sit in your garden and enjoy the scent of the summer evenings, with Roses, Jasmine, and Peonies all being at their best this month.
Want more inspiration?  come and see the Plantpassion flower farm this weekend at the first of our summer’s Public open days. Tea and Cake, Field tours, and flowers and plants to buy. 1-5pm Sunday 3rd June., Staple Lane East Clandon, see here for more details
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Gardening Tips for April

BY CLAIRE BROWN from Plant Passion
Don’t let seedlings get root-bound before you pot them on or plant them out. Sometimes in warm Spring temperatures they’ll need watering every day, and sometimes not for 3-4 days – do check by feeling the soil, and the weight before you water.
  • For Hardy annuals, like Cornflowers, Ammi, Orlaya, Nigella, Scabious and sweet peas can be planted out in the garden now (as long as you checked for slugs in February)
  • For Half hardy annuals, we probably haven’t had the last frosts yet, no matter how warm it gets today, so Cosmos, Amaranthus, Statice, Asters and Nicotiana, and all bedding plants,  whether grown your self or bought from the garden centre need to be protected until mid to the end of May.
  • The lawnmowers will be humming in Horsley from this week, and newly mown grass is great, but don’t cut your lawn too short, as that will encourage weeds and moss. If you’re wanting stripes on the lawn, make sure you don’t always cut in the same direction as this will weaken the grass and make it thinner.
  • Keep succession sowing your salad seedlings, so you don’t get a glut, and if you haven’t sown any yet, those who are Grace and Flavour members, there’s plenty for sale at the garden!

If you’re inspired to go out in the garden, and want to know more about growing, or arranging flowers for the vase, look at our Workshops and Flower clubs which will start to happen this month. Or book in your group for a talk and walk round the farm to find out more about flower growing in the 21st century.