Tag Archives: grow your own

Planning Your Small Scale Garden

Part 2 – Planting Your Small Scale Garden


In a small garden every plant counts and plants with ‘multi-season’ interest are particularly valuable. Look for plants that offer flowers and fruit, foliage and flowers, or plants that have autumn colour or interesting stems or foliage during winter.

Plants that have both flowers and fruit
These include plants that have the added bonus of foliage interest as well. Berberis forms can really come into their own here, for example the tiny Berberis thunbergii ‘Tiny Gold’ which has yellow leaves, young red shoots, yellow spring flowers and red fruit in autumn. Berberis thunbergii f. atropurpurea ‘Admiration’ has red-orange leaves but is otherwise similar. There is now a range of disease-resistant Hypericum which have yellow flowers and coloured fruits, try Hypericum Magical Beauty = ‘Kolmbeau’ for its berries that start peachy-pink. If you want a good-sized, handsome shrub the fan-shaped, golden-leaved Leycesteria formosa Golden Lanterns = ‘Notbruce’ has red flowers and purple fruits that provide interest all summer through.Small Garden Flowers and Fruit
Plants that have winter interest
Consider flowering plants with foliage that changes colour in winter. Some Hebes have this quality, coming in a range of sizes and needing a spot that has sunshine in winter. Try the compact Hebe ‘Caledonia’ with violet flowers and rose-purple winter foliage whilst Hebe ‘Pascal’ has copper-red winter foliage. Amongst herbaceous plants Bergenia often have burnished winter foliage, for example Bergenia ‘Overture’ has bright pink spring flowers and leaves that are burgundy in winter. The stems of dogwoods can positively glow in winter sunlight – for beautiful variegated foliage and red stems try Cornus alba ‘Spaethi’ or Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’ for good autumn colour followed by orange winter stems. These are cut back to near ground-level in spring, once established.Small Garden Winter Interest Plants
Plants with exceptional foliage
Evergreens in particular can provide interest throughout the year. Pittosporum tenuifolium ‘Gold Star’ has dainty shimmering foliage and can be pruned for containment if space is limited. In warm gardens the exotic Coprosma and Lophomyrtus forms, some of which change colour at different seasons, can be fascinating. Try Coprosma repens ‘Tequila Sunrise’ or Lophomyrtus x ralphii ‘Red Dragon’ with red to black foliage. Slow but beautiful Nandina domestica ‘Wood’s Dwarf’ glows red in winter and is gold, green and red in summer. For foliage drama where a feature plant can be accommodated Fatsia japonica ‘Spiser’s Web’ is exotic, with huge variegated leaves.
Plants with Exceptional Foliage
Plants for a hot and dry place
Where your garden has a hot and dry area, herbaceous plants can be invaluable. Slugs permitting, try Alstroemeria, coming in a huge range of sizes and happy in a container, such as Alstroemeria ‘Orange Gem’. Striking Abutilon with big bell-flowers can be grown as annuals, try apricot-flowered Abutilon ‘Linda Vista Peach’. Colourful Zinnias have a long season, if deadheaded, an example being Zinnia marylandica ‘Zahara Yellow’ (Zahara Series). Sedums also have a place in a hot spot. In winter they provide architectural interest with their flat brown seed heads, try grey purple Sedum ‘Matrona’. Frothy purple fennel is lovely placed at the rear, especially Foeniculum vulgare ‘Purpureum’. Requiring little attention Salvias, such as the small shrub Salvia microphylla ‘Pink Blush’ has rich pink flowers for months whilst silvered Convolvulus cneorum is decorative all summer.Plants for a Hot and Dry Place

This has just dipped a toe into the possibilities. We haven’t even started on walls and fences that can be clad in repeat-flowering climbing Roses paired with Clematis…

Enjoy!

This blog post was kindly contributed by Susan A. Tindall

Planting peas in the Longacres garden

Plant your pea plants now for a great early harvest!

Peas are one of the more hardier vegetable plants that you can get hold of or grow. You can sow pea seeds in Autumn – overwintering them in a greenhouse till spring, or sow them now (March / April) ready for planting out in a few weeks time. The other alternative is to buy a 6 pack or pot of pre-grown pea seedlings ready to plant out! (available in store)

Peas are a great starter crop as they are easy to grow and require little care after initial establishment to grow well. The first thing to make sure you have done is to prepare your site and improve your soil – if you haven’t done this already then you can view my previous video and blog post on how to do this.

Once you’ve improved your soil and you know where you want your pea plants to grow you’ll need to assemble, create or purchase a frame for them to grow up. Peas climb naturally so this is vital for supporting good healthy growth. You can get great, simple to use kits like we have here at Longacres, or you can assemble your own with just simple string and some bamboo canes.

Once the frame is in place you plant out your peas! Dig a small hole about the same size of the current pot they are in. Gently push the root ball up from the bottom of the pot or 6 pack and place gently into the hole you have just dug. Carefully backfill (move back around the plant) the soil that you dug out to create the hole. And that’s your peas planted!

The next step is to pinch out your pea plant growth tips if you want them to be more busy and compact. Do this by cutting or ‘pinching’ about a third of the growth of the pea away from the plant down to above a node – see my video on peas to find out more about this! You may also need to tie your peas to the canes or supports using jute twine if they are already tall.

The final step is to water them in (unless its raining of course!) I added the new Baby Bio Top Defence feed to my water which helps plants with stressful situations such as transplanting, drought and cold. It will be interesting to see how this product works over the season.

And that is all you need to know about planting peas! I will have a blog and video update later in the season to show you tips on harvesting and show you how things are getting along during the main growing season!

Have any questions about growing your own, plants or houseplants? Send them to us in an email to: plantsonline@longacres.co.uk

Jack Shilley - Soil Improvement

Nurture Your Soil & Enjoy A Bumper Crop | Longacres Garden Centre

You can watch the accompanying video here: http://youtu.be/gDM9uYFZWN4

Arguably one of the most important parts of gardening and horticulture is looking after your soil. It contains all the vital nutrients that plants need to sustain healthy growth and produce a good crop, if the soil becomes worn down or isn’t nurtured you will start to run into problems with your plants and crops!

The first task you’ll need to do to start improving your soil is to clear it of weeds, heavy clay blocks, debris, stones & anything else which shouldn’t be there. It’s best to try and tackle weeds at the roots and remove as much of them as possible. Rake the soil over to remove any last obstructions.

Next is to begin to till or ‘turn over’ your soil whilst adding organic matter. Using a fork or soil tiller begin to lift & turn over the soil and break up any large clumps that may occur from doing this. As you are undertaking this begin to add your organic matter – this could be compost, manure, leaf litter etc… and continue to work the area until you’ve added a decent amount of organic matter and the whole site has been turned over.

Its always advised to read the label on the product you are using and care should be taken not to over-fertilise the site as this could lead to plant growth problems. Make sure any manure is well rotted before applying to your site!

I’m using Westland Organic Vegetable Growing Compost for this new vegetable plot – which is good for improving soil drainage, soil fertility and the texture of the soil. I’m also adding well rotted farmyard manure from Westland which contains a whole host of excellent nutrients required for plant growth and will again help with soil drainage and texture.

Thats all there really is to it! Now is the time to work the soil and your new vegetable plot, or existing patch ready for the season. Depending on the crops you are hoping to grow will determine what else you may need to add to the soil or what you may need to fertilise your plants with later on in the season.

This simple soil nurturing process can be carried out on a yearly basis and you’ll start to see the results of your improved soil in your flowers, vegetables or fruit – almost straight away!

Have any questions about growing your own, plants or houseplants? Send them to us here: plantsonline@longacres.co.uk

Spring vegetables – grow your own!

Red Pepper

Well spring has finally arrived, and it’s a key time for many gardeners across the country as its the start of the vegetable growing season. Seeds are being sown, plugs are being potted on and the greenhouse is getting busy full of vegetable plants! Below are a few of the many choices of vegetable plants that we have a Longacres, ready for you to nurture and look after at home!

Sweet Peppers

Sweet peppers are a great addition to any vegetable garden. Easy to grow and look after these vegetable plants will provide you with an abundance of brightly coloured fruits all summer long. Pepper seeds can be tricky to germinate; for those who don’t want the challenge, ‘mini’ six packs containing 3 varieties of sweet pepper are available in store!

Top Tips for Sweet Peppers

  • Keep out of any frost – make sure your plant your peppers after the last frost or grow them on inside on a windowsill or heated greenhouse/conservatory.
  • Make sure the soil is light, nutrient rich and free-draining – Water little and often!
  • Feed plants with a high-potassium fertiliser weekly when fruiting.

Lettuce Varieties

Lettuce plants are one of the easiest and one of the most well known vegetable plants! These versatile plants can be grown fairly easily from seed but can also be bought in 12 packs and planted straight into the ground to save time. Some lettuce plants must be harvested in one go at the end of the season, but there are many varieties now that are known as ‘Cut & Come Again’, where you can harvest what you need, and the plant will continue to produce more foliage!

Top Tips for Lettuces

  • Lettuce plants are considered hardy and so can be planted out now.
  • Protect plants from slugs and snail using copper wire, or organic pellets.
  • Ensure that you leave enough space between your plants so they don’t compete for nutrients, about 30cm apart is ample.

Onions

Growing your own onions is really simple and can be done right now! There are two main ways to grow onions from seed, and from onion sets. Onion sets are very simple and excellent value and can be planted in autumn for an early crop or now, for a late season harvest. You can buy onions growing from seed in 12 packs now for easy planting!

Top Tips for Onions

  • Plant in full sun, in a sheltered position.
  • Water your onion sets during dry spells and remove any flowers as soon as they appear.
  • Birds can be a problem and may lift your onions. Place deterrents near the plants to avoid this.

So there you have it – some common vegetable plants that are really easy to grow and look after! It is also of note that they can all be grown in containers on patins or decks if your tight on space. Why not grab yourself some vegetable plants, and see for yourself?

Growing seed potatoes – a how-to guide from Longacres!

The first in our series of videos for 2014 – Jack Shilley explains how to plant seed potatoes so you can enjoy a fresh crop through the year! Products featured include:

First Early Seed Potatoes: http://goo.gl/DD9W5D
Main Crop Seed Potatoes: http://goo.gl/mYABlz
Longacres Multipurpose Compost: http://goo.gl/58z1xg
Miracle Gro Gro Sac 50L: http://goo.gl/4ltCWX
Potato Planting Bag (twin pack): http://goo.gl/dRR3HE