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!)
May bucket of flowers

Gardening Tips for May

Photo credit: Emma Davies

By Claire Brown of Plant Passion

The weather forecast is still predicted to be changeable throughout May, and although we may not get any more frosts, I won’t every forget the year I planted out all my tender annuals, and dahlias and we had a 1 degree on the 24th May, making them all sulk for weeks.  So my tender stuff is still and will stay in the greenhouse until half term week. All the hardy annuals are being planted out though! There’s not enough room in the greenhouse, so i can’t get them out quick enough.

There is still time to sow seeds for August and September such as Nigella, Cornflowers, Amaranthus, Zinnias, Cosmos, Ammi and Nicotiana.

If you’ve shrubs that have already flowered this season or are flowering now, these will be need to be pruned back or thinned before the summer. If you wait until later in the year, you won’t get flowers next spring. Forsythia, Winter Jasmine, Kerria, Lilac, and Viburnum all fall into this category.

If you’ve only cut your grass in one direction so far this season, make sure you change the direction of the stripes this weekend so you don’t weaken it.

If you’ve hedges that are starting to look shaggy already please DON’T be tempted to prune them until July. May and June are the key bird nesting seasons, and after the late and inclement spring, they will need all the help and support they can get from our Horsley hedges to enable them to raise their broods.

I’m planting out my tomatoes in the greenhouse next weekend and beans outside on the allotment, but my courgettes I’ve planted up into a bigger pot, as I’ve found that until they have spiny leaves the slugs will decimate them.

If you haven’t managed to grow any vegetables for yourself, don’t forget the Horsley Garden Society will hold their annual plant sale at West Horsley Village Hall on Saturday 19th May at 2.00pm with a wide range of vegetable plants, and garden annuals and perennials to tempt you.

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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.