Gardening Tips

  • Cider anyone?!


    Yarlington cider apple

    Yarlington Mill apples are a popular choice among
    both amateur and professional cider makers

    Cider making is not only an ancient tradition in this country, but it is also an important aspect of British heritage.

    The Celts are known to have held the apple in extremely high regard, and there are numerous references in Celtic mythology praising it as a symbol of fruitfulness and immortality.

    The apple had many uses in Celtic civilization, but perhaps its best-loved application was the production of a cider made from crabapples.

    The art of cider making was improved further by the Romans, who planted well-ordered orchards of and caring for cider apple trees, and developed equipment to press the apples.

    However it was following the Norman Conquest of 1066 that caused the popularity of cider to rise significantly, and cider production spread far and wide.
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  • A few gardening jobs for mid-March


    February gardening jobs

    Has your garden got that feeling of pent-up energy,
    ready to burst into action?

    Winter projects are being completed, most planting has probably been done, and gardens across the land are slowly waking up.

    Gardeners are rubbing their eyes too, not just at the lighter mornings, but also in disbelief at the moody swings our weather is bringing... again!

    The theme for our April photo competition is ‘Spring wildlife' and there's over £100 in vouchers to be won.So, as you return to your garden, keep your camera handy for any animal activity – birds, mammals, insects, spiders, amphibians... they all count!

    Here are a few ideas for things to do around the garden over the next couple of weeks:
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  • Beech: A national treasure!

    British beech - a national treasure

    Beech turns a wonderful copper colour in winter.

    The magnificent beech tree is quintessentially British – and not to mention elegant, flexible, award-winning, reliable, colourful...

    Maybe surprisingly, beech is classed only as native to Southern England, and then only from as recently as 4,000BC. Nevertheless, the beech is an important (and much loved) part of our ancient British woodlands.

    Whether grown as a beech tree or beech hedging, it helps support a vast array of wildlife – from the bluebells that take advantage of that brief window of warmth and sunlight before the deciduous canopy opens, to the insects, birds and larger mammals that find food and set up home in their boughs and roots. Continue reading

  • Organic care of roses


    Organic care for roses

    There are organic alternatives to rose pest and
    disease control – including growing garlic!

    Roses, apart from being beautiful are also probably the most loved flower in British gardens - and one of the most useful. 

    Rose petals are commonly harvested for use in cosmetics, dried for pot pourri, or added to jams, syrup or water for flavour. You can also crystallise them for use as cake decorations.

    Rose hips contain more vitamin C gram-for-gram than oranges with even higher levels in the older heritage varieties. They can be used in jams, syrups and soups or just left on the plant as winter food for birds.
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  • Ancient and unusual fruits


    Unusual fruits - quince, fig and medlar

    If you fancy leaving the beaten track of apples, plums
    and the like, why not try growing some of these?

    Have you already tried your hand at growing popular orchard and garden fruit trees like apple, pear, plum and cherry?

    Has the thought already crossed your mind about growing something a little more peculiar. Something a bit more out of the ordinary, yet still a beautiful addition to the garden, and easy to care for?

    If so, here's a few facts on three ancient fruits – the fig, the quince and the medlar.

    Who knows, it just might give you a little encouragement to experiment!
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  • A few garden jobs for February


    We're already heading towards the end of the planting season, and blooms are already appearing. Where does the time go?

    Plants are on the move, evenings are getting lighter – it feels like winter might be behind us, but we should never tempt fate!

    (oh, speaking of plants on the move, don't forget our March photo competition – the theme is ‘First flowers' and there's over £100 in vouchers to be had!)

    Here are a few ideas for things to do around the garden over the next couple of weeks:
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  • How to get more fruit... faster!


    Bountiful damsons

    Careful and judicious pruning creates room to grow,
    and will deliver fuller, healthier fruits more quickly

    One of the joys of gardening is that patience is usually rewarded.

    Plants increase in size and impact as time passes and fruit trees are no exception.

    Understandably, however, an oft repeated question runs along the lines of "how do I get more fruit, more quickly?"

    There are a number of golden rules in gardening but the most important of them all is summed up in "as ye sow so shall ye reap."
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  • A guide to fruit tree pollination


    Apple blossom - Bountiful Delicate blossom from the Bountiful cooking apple

    The science (and sometimes the snake-oil) can run deep when it comes to fruit tree pollination.

    You could read endless books and research studies on how to optimise your orchard with a diversity of cross-pollinators to achieve a bumper crop.

    For most growers, it's actually pretty straightforward to get the right results. This guide should take the confusion out of how best to pollinate your fruit trees.
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  • How to choose the right hedge


    Choose the right hedge

    You're spoiled for choice when it comes to hedging
    plants – but by focusing on what you really need, you
    can make it all a bit easier...

    The winter planting season is well under way, and one of the oldest forms of planting is hedging.

    We give a few pointers below on what to consider when choosing a hedge for your garden, allotment, orchard, farmland – pretty much anywhere in fact.
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  • Planting raspberry canes


    Planting rasperries

    There's little to beat the taste of a well-grown
    raspberry – choose your varieties well and you'll
    be cropping for months!

    Getting the best from your raspberry canes means remembering just a few very important points. And here they are!

      1. Prepare the planting area well in advance to ensure that all weeds are removed. Then keep the planting area weed free at all times.
      2. Enrich the soil with no more than 25% of an appropriate improver when planting.

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