Gardening Tips
Ericaceous (lime hating) Plants
An acid loving or ericaceous plant refers to the type of soil in which these plants like to grow. Eericaceous plants require an acidic soil (pH < 7) or ericaceous compost in which to thrive. These plants are also known as calcifuges, or lime-hating plants (lime being alkaline)  <Read More>

Pruning Hydranges
The most commonly grown hydrangeas in gardens are lacecaps and mopheads - Hydrangea macrophylla types. Mopheads are identified by their full, roundish heads of large petals; lacecaps have tiny flowers in the centre of the bloom and an outer border of large petals.
This family of Hydrangeas flower in mid to late summer on flowering shoots that were made the previous year. Mophead and lacecap hydrangeas will bloom satisfactorily with little attention, but regular pruning at the right time will encourage new, vigorous growth that can produce a better display. Likewise, other species, including the climbing hydrangea, will benefit from a trim.  <READMORE>

Bulbs for Beginners
The beginner can create a floral display by planting  various bulbs including Lilies, Tulips, Iris, Daffodils, Allium, Hyacinth and Gladiolus. The bulbs enhance your  garden with every colour imaginable.. <READ MORE>

Planting and Care of Dahlias for Beginners
Not only the preserve of the competition and exhibition growers, this late summer flower provides large orbs of colour in many planting schemes from the end of July to the first frost when so many flowers are past their best. For those who have never tried to grow or grown unsuccessfully in the past we have put together a guide on  <READ MORE>

As part of our annual Flower and Vegetable show in September we have section specifically on Dahlias. During the talk on 27th May we will be selling a small number of tubers specifically for the non specialist/inexperienced grower. Why not have a go at cultivating them and exhibiting in September. If it helps here is a short guide on
 "Dahlias and what do do, when you get them"

Tips For Growing Sweet Peas
Sweet peas are a national favorite having long being loved for there beauty and summer fragrance. From its first appearance in Britain in 1730 as small wild flowers, varieties now run into the hundreds from a wonderful range of single and more recently multi-coloured, scented, trailing and climbing, miniature and full size. There are Sweet peas in almost every possible colour except true yellow and are one of the easiest annuals to grow from seed.

Growing Cereriac
Sow in a good seed compost, filling the pot or tray and firm gently with a presser. Water the surface, using a fine rose on the can and allow to drain. Sprinkle seeds thinly onto the surface. do not crowd. Spread a very thin layer of fine compost over the seeds. Use either a heated propagator or wait for April and put them under a clear lid on the staging. When the seedlings appear, grow on under glass. Once the plants have established a firm root system, harden them off outside. <READ MORE>

Growing Asparagus
 Asparagus crowns one year old are planted in early spring, as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant in soil that is rich, well-draining and fertile. A few months before, dig thoroughly and remove all large stones and any perennial weeds as these will compete for the nutrients in the soil,. Next add a good dose of well-rotted manure and/or organic matter. If the soil is acidic, add lime to bring the pH level to 6.5-7.0. Next, dig a trench 30cm wide by 30cm deep. Now create a mound 10cm high in the bottom of the trench. Plant the crowns on the top of the mound spreading the roots apart and trailing down the sides of the mound at 25cm intervals with 45cm between rows. Cover with 5cm of sifted soil and water in. As the shoots emerge, add more soil until the trench is filled in. <READ MORE>

Growing Tomatoes, Peppers, Chillies and Aubergines in the Greenhouse
Sow seeds in February-early March (peppers, chillies, aubergines), late February-early April (tomatoes); they need a temperature in excess of 60F (17C) for germination, so a heated incubator is best. Then you will have to prick them out into small pots and keep them in a light, frost-free environment. Otherwise buy small plants in late April: we sell them at the Hut late March onwards. NOTE: Beware....FROST WILL KILL YOUR YOUNG PLANTS; BRING THEM IN FROM THE GREENHOUSE IF FROSTS ARE FORECAST AND YOU HAVE NO HEATER <READ MORE>

Growing Super Salads
A good home-grown salad is as super a food as there is: far fresher than those iceberg lettuces grown in Spain or those thick-skinned tomatoes grown around Southport and in Holland, and therefore still packed with vitamins. But, an important BUT, a super salad is not just a few limp lettuce leaves, a radish, and a slice of tomato and cucumber. In fact, you cannot buy some of the ingredients for a super salad in the supermarket. You must grow your own. <READ MORE>

Growing Brassicas
Brassicas include cabbages, cauliflowers, sprouts, kale, broccoli and some root crops including turnips and swedes. Also some less popular yet delicious things like Chinese leaves and pak choi. < READ MORE>

How to Grow Asparagus
Asparagus is one of the few perennial vegetable crops. The delicately flavoured shoots are picked as young spears in the spring. . Shoots continue emerging from the soil throughout the spring as the weather warms; shoots end to become spindly and are left to grow into the mature ferny foliage which changes to a golden colour in the autumn. Because asparagus takes up a permanent place in the garden, but can be an attractive plant, many people with space imitations use asparagus as a border or hedge plant. <READ MORE>

Growing Leeks
The leek is a member of the onion family, but easier to grow than the onion. Although the leek is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, they grow best on a moist, light soil that has been heavily manured from a previous crop.  The ideal soil is high in organic matter and have a ph of around 7.Freshly manured soil is not suitable, because leeks grown in very rich soil will be coarse and tough and with far too much leaf growth. If the soil is in need of organic matter, it is best to dig in well rotted garden compost.  <READ MORE>

Grow-your-own Water Cress
Do you like water cress? If you do, why not grow-your-own. It's dead easy to grow water cress at home  <READ MORE>

Club Root
Club root is a serious fungal infection of the roots of brassicas such as cabbage, cauliflower, turnip Swede and radishes, which leads to a massively swollen and distorted root system, with a loss of the finer roots. Affected plants generally have stunted growth, purplish foliage and wilting in hot weather, which may recover under wetter conditions. Growth and yield are severely reduced and very badly affected plants may die. < READ MORE>

Tomato Problems by (Malcolm Greenhalgh)
A young member, who has not grown tomatoes in a greenhouse before, sent me the photo of his sad crop. Some were shrivelled and split; others were severely effected by mildew. Why? He asked.  It is all down to greenhouse hygiene, air circulation and watering .  <READ MORE>

The Big Lettuce Laugh (By Sandra Ferry)
The way most of us see lettuces is as a colourful, decorative, constituent of a salad but there is much more to lettuce than as an artistic garnish.
Lettuces are well known to be low in calories which is why they are beloved of those on diets but lettuces are also a very good source of Vitamins A, B and C; minerals such as iron for red blood cells, calcium for bones, magnesium for muscles, the brain and nerves and potassium to control the heart rate and blood pressure. <Read More>

Growing Garlic Guide
Growing garlic is a great way for beginners to get started when growing crops for the first time. Plant garlic cloves in mid October, to ensure the best harvest the following summer. Spring planting is possible but better sized bulbs will result from an autumn sowing. Shop bought garlic can be planted but it is less successful so it is always best to buy bulbs that are certified virus free and bred for local conditions.<READ MORE>

Carrot Fly (Psila rosae)
If your carrots and parsnips show signs of damage it will almost certainly be due to carrot fly attach. The damage is done at the larval stage, which eat through the flesh, creating holes that them become the entry point for other diseases, disfiguring them and allowing moulds to gain a hold. Heavy infestations can kill or severely stunt young plants <READ MORE>

Potato Planting Guide
Many people think that early potatoes have got to be planted early and late potatoes late but this is completely wrong. Planting times are not critical and are dependant on weather, soil conditions and regional variations but below is a general guide. <READ MORE>

How to Grow Onions
Onions are such a familiar mainstay in the kitchen, which means they are constantly in demand. They are easy to grow with a long storage life and one of the best vegetables for the home gardener. With a little planning, they can be available for nearly all year round eating. <READ MORE>

Watch out for Potato Blight
Potato blight (Phytophora infestans) is likely to strike outdoor tomatoes and potato crops. If you see characteristic greyish-brown blotches on the leaves and stems or sections of leaves with brown patches and a sort of yellowish border spreading from the brown patch, you need to act promptly. Once infested the stems of potatoes can flop quite rapidly and can wipe out the plants almost overnight and in a severe attack you may find all the potato foliage a rotting mass.

Planting Potatoes in Containers
 This is definitely the way forward regarding growing spuds in a small space and an excellent way to get beautiful new potatoes often earlier than any grown in the garden as bags or pots can be put in the greenhouse or somewhere sheltered. <READ MORE>

New Potatoes for Christmas Dinner
 Freshly harvested new potatoes from your garden for Christmas dinner. Some seed companies sell varieties for this purpose, but it comes at a price and that price is around two or three times as much as the cost of seed potatoes that are available early on in the year. Try this guide to growing them in containers at home. When you put your first earlies out to chit (grow the sprouts that will turn into the main plant),  hold a few back. Wrap them individually in newspaper, then wrap them all up together with another sheet of newspaper and put them in the fridge where they keep very well. At around the end of August, take them out of the fridge and they have only just started to sprout. Plant them into buckets in exactly the same way as earlier in the year. They will grow strongly but they will need protecting from frost. When the first frost is forecast, move the buckets into the greenhouse (heated at 10 degrees Centigrade or 50 degrees Fahrenheit) but if you don't have a greenhouse, they should be alright if they are placed beside a house wall and covered with fleece to keep the cold out.

Tomato Growing using Ring culture 
Tomato Growing using combination of Growbag and Ring culture 
 Ring culture is a method of cultivating tomato plants where the tomato plants are grown in a bottomless pot, a "ring", and the pot is then partially submerged in a water retaining, though free draining aggregate base. It does not really matter what this is as long as they find water. The second set of roots grow near the surface and they are responsible for finding nutrients. This method encourages the development of 2 root systems; fibrous roots in the ring culture pot supply the plant with food, the taproots reaching down into the aggregate to take up water.

Crop Rotation
Crop rotation is a simple way to help your vegetable crops avoid soil-based diseases. It works on the  principle that closely related groups of crops often suffer from the same diseases and that if they are grown in the same patch of soil year after year, these problems build up and reduce yield. Printable PDF version

For further details of main vegetable groups and suggested rotation systems download full article reproduced here courtesy of  Kitchen Garden magazine 
How to make your own slug Killer
There is an allotment holder trick for making your own slug killing nematode potion, using only a bucket, some weeds, tap water and the slugs from your own garden. This is based on the fact that in an average garden some slugs will already carry bacterial diseases or be infected with nematodes, but there low density means that they won’t devastate the rest of the population. <Read More>

Codling Moths
Codling moths or to be precise their larva account for more damage to apples and pears than any other pest. They over winter as full-grown larvae in cocoons under loose scales of bark and in soil or debris around the base of the tree. The larvae pupate inside their cocoons in early spring and emerge as adult moth’s mid-March to early April. Once hatched, larva or "apple worms" will forage for fruit on which to feed. It is not uncommon for one apple to have several larvas inside making it bad and rotten. <Read More>

Illegal Use of Pesticides
Before any pesticide can be used, sold, supplied, advertised or stored it must be approved for use. Since 1985 and 1986 it has been illegal to use unlicensed home produced remedies in gardening. <Read More>

Garlic Wonder Spray (ANTHYLLIS)
Garlic Wonder (Anthyllis) used by commercial growers in the UK is a natural product derived from garlic extract.  It can stimulate growth for a healthy root system and help the plants build up a natural defence against pests such as greenfly and fungal diseases.  <Read More>

Winter Tree Wash
Reduce pests over wintering in fruit trees by applying a winter wash. The best way of controlling insects in fruit trees is to apply a winter tree wash to reduce over wintering pests and their eggs. < READ MORE>

Slug Gone
Totally Natural, Safe and Organic way of getting rid of Slugs and Snails without killing them.Slug Gone is a 100% natural barrier, deterring slugs while creating a natural weed suppressing mulch and introducing a slow release feed all at once. The material contains naturally occurring phosphates, potash and nitrogen, giving a slow release fertiliser action as it biodegrades. Use on soil around plants or the top of beds or pots. Not only do the pellets keep Slugs and Snails at bay, the pellets are also a good mix and balance for growing plants, fruit and vegetables. The pellets hold twice their own weight in water so they act as excellent mulch.
The end of November, and leaf fall is at its maximum. Everywhere there are leaves, and leaves make leafmould. Leafmould is a great soil improver, just like homemade garden compost and well rotted manure; the more soil improver you put on your garden or allotment, the better the soil and the better plant growth. Two points: leafmould is acidic, so on the fruit and vegetable plots (but NOT blueberries) also add lime. Also leafmould contains very little plant nutrient, so you must add this in the form of fertiliser. <Read More>

John Innes Composts 
The John Innes range of loam-based composts developed at the John Innes Horticultural Research Institute have been widely used by gardeners for over 60 years with continued popularity. Today they comprise a range of composts which give consistently reliable results when growing in pots. John Innes Composts has greater tolerance and gives the amateur gardener better all round results than soil-less composts. <Read More>

Groworganic & Pelleted Chicken Fertiliser 
Groworganic is a 100% organic fertiliser which has been manufactured for over 30 years. This friable and fibrous fertiliser, resembling a product that looks like a coarse tea is manufactured by the composting of deep poultry litter / wood shavings, over a 6 week period with regular turning and wetting of the material to prevent it drying out and to extract the ammonia. It is then milled before being heat treated at over 200°C. The product is then clean and stable and ready for bagging as all composting is complete. 
Clean, dry and safe to handle, it's ideal for lawns, roses, flowers, vegetables, fruit and shrubs, it can also be used as a compost accelerator as well. One bag will treat up to 250 Sq.M. <Read More>

Garden Fertilisers
Are you confused by the wide range of garden fertiliser's available today, many of which we have on sale at our hut on Rob Lane.   We have put together a guide covering "Garden Fertiliser Needs""How to Use Fertiliser's" as well as the different type available and their application. To try and keep prices low several have been broken down into 2.5/5Kg bags from bulk supplies more practical for the small garden.
If you want a reminder we've added also added a Printable:- "Quick guide to fertiliser usage"

Green Manure
Green Manure is a crop sown purely for the purpose of digging it in while it is still fresh and green to increase the fertility of the soil. They are generally under-used, yet they are cheap, easy to use and have a number of benefits. They are ideal whenever a patch of land will be free of crops for six weeks or more, and they are particularly useful to vegetable gardeners and allotment holders as part of a rotation system. Although many green manures can be sown all year round, they are ideal when sown in the autumn to over-winter, when vegetable plots are generally empty.<READ MORE>
For those who haven’t grown-their-own very much in the past 
 1.Beware “Sow by” dates on seed packets. They are only a rough guide and, provided you look after your packets of seeds, your seeds will outlive most “Sell by” dates (some lettuce seeds with a “sow by date” of 2011 still germinated in 2015). 
a)Use dry hands when handling seed packets and seeds; <READ MORE>

Recently it seems, to me at least, that there is some confusion as to what an F1 hybrid is, how it is produced, and whether it is worth the extra expense of growing them. I also get the feeling that some gardeners think that F1s are not “green”, that somehow the non-F1s are “better” flavourwise, and that – in the view of a minority – producing F1 seeds is akin to genetical modification, and “We all know that GM varieties are the work of the Devil!”
I hope that the following helps.
Many amateur growers of top quality flowers (as in dahlia  <READ MORE>

The Effect and Testing of Soil pH
Soil pH is measured on a scale of 1 to 14 and a measure of how acidic (below 7) or alkaline (above 7) a solution is with 7.0 being neutral. Each plant has its own recommended soil pH value range and can have a direct influence on the health of the plant. The reason for this is that soil pH affects the availability of nutrients within the soil and plants have different nutrient needs. <READ MORE>

Basic Lawn Care
To have a lawn that you can be proud of you have to follow cycle of operations based around five main items. Mowing, Feeding, Watering, Weed Control, General Cultivation <READ MORE>

The Amazing Cucumber
This information was in The New York Times early in 2010 as part of their "Spotlight on the Home" series that highlighted creative and fanciful ways to solve common problems. <READ MORE>

Perlite & Vermiculite
Both Perlite and Vermiculite can be used in peat or compost to improve aeration and drainage when sowing seeds, rooting cuttings, potting on or planting up containers, helping to provide the optimum balance of air and water.

Bio-degradable seed pots
Instead of buying expensive peat or recycled fibre pots to plant your seeds in - it's easy to make your own biodegradable pots. These can be made easily using old toilet rolls or old newspapers which can then be planted straight into the soil and the roots will just grow through them. This can be an effective way for plants that don’t like having their roots disturbed if you want to start them off indoors. These work particularly well with peas, beans and sweet corn all of which benefit from deeper roots before planting out. They will need a firm tray to keep them. upright.  <READ MORE>

Freeze Fresh Herbs
During the summer and early autumn we usually have far too many herbs for us to eat. Rather than attempting to dry the excess herbs try this method of freezing in ice-cube trays. It’s a simple process that requires only some water, ice-cube trays and the herbs. <READ MORE>

Flowering and Border Plants
Fertilisers & Composts
  Pesticides & Pest  Control
Pruning Fruit Trees & Bushes
Easy if you know how - Gardening advice by our committee member Malcolm Greenhalgh <Sheet 1 of 2> & <Sheet 2 of 2>

How to Grow Gooseberry Bushes
An ideal fruit for the small garden - gooseberry bushes are easy to grow, produce a large amount of fruit for their size and will tolerate partial shade conditions. They are self-fertile, so one bush can be grown on its own. Gooseberry bushes are also well able to withstand harsher conditions (both temperature and wind) than many other fruits. This makes them a good choice for cooler areas. <Read More>

Growing Hybrid Grape Vines (By David Sayer)

The wine-grape was brought to Britain over 2,000 years ago by the Romans;  the vine still thrives in the southern half of the country, with around 360 commercial vineyards producing in 2006, almost  3.5 million bottles of red, white and rose wine. 

With global warming, and the increasing availability of disease resistant  Hybrid vine varieties, this is a good time for adventurous gardeners to plant vines for juice, eating, or for making wine. <READ MORE>