How to sow sweet pea seeds

Sweet Peas

Sweet peas are some of the the most versatile plants you can grow. Train them up a trellis, pergola or obelisk, or support them with canes in large pots. They bring height and colour to borders and their scented blooms can be used as cut flowers.

Sweet peas dislike root disturbance so grow them in cardboard tubes or coir pots. This will enable you to plant them out in their containers without damaging the roots.

How to do it

Sowing sweet pea seeds in seed compost
1Sow seeds individually into seed compost. Water well and place on a sunny windowsill or in a greenhouse or heated propagator.

Sweet peas growing in cardboard tubes
2Water the sweet peas regularly. As they grow, you’ll notice roots start to emerge through the sides of the cardboard tubes.

Pinching out sweet pea tips
3Pinch out the growing point when seedlings have two-three pairs of leaves, to encourage bushy growth. Harden the plants off before planting out.
Sweet peas are climbing plants and need structures to grow up. Use wires, netting or twine to tie in stems to their supports.

Source link


Gardening For Wildlife

Gardening For Wildlife

As well as providing interest from your window, encouraging wildlife is beneficial to your plants and soil. Bees and butterflies aid pollination, whilst frogs and hedgehogs control pests. A balanced ecosystem is the key to a healthy garden – but don’t think that you have to create a wilderness to attract animal life. A careful choice of plants and the addition of a small pool can invite hundreds of species to your doorstep.

Insect Friendly Vegetables

If you grow vegetables, you may be worried about insects on your crop. However, sowing flowers in your kitchen garden can encourage useful creatures such as the hoverfly. Attracted by the flowers, they will lay eggs on your produce and the hungry larvae will prey upon pesky aphids. The popularity of organic methods has led to a renewed interest in companion planting.
Marigolds Around a Pond
Rather than using pesticides which disrupt the natural balance of the ecosystem, aim to confuse potential pests with strong-smelling plants. Grow marigolds alongside your tomatoes to deter whitefly, or try nasturtiums with yourcabbages to stop caterpillars from feasting on your produce. For a combination which is practical as well as beautiful, sow red-flowered nasturtiums against the deep green leaves of your cabbages.

Bees on a Dandelion

Attracting Bees

Bees are essential in the garden for pollinating both vegetables and ornamentals. The larvae are raised during the spring, and require the protein and fats provided by pollen. Try to avoid mowing the lawn and tidying too early in the the year, as bees will appreciate the odd weed flower as a source of food – violets, clover and dandelions are among their favourites. A meadowland mixture provides nectar all year long. Sow in spring for summer flowers and next year you will be rewarded with wild flowers in spring, summer and autumn. It isn’t necessary to have a huge swathe – the mix can be used to fill gaps in the border, or to create a single patch.
It is advisable to avoid sowing seeds in shadier areas – bees love the sunshine and may ignore plants situated in dark corners! At garden4less, we stock an array of insect houses. The pollinating bee log provides a winter home for Mason and Solitary species, whilst the solar study chamber allows different creatures to be observed and studied – ideal for children learning about wildlife.

Butterflies and Moths

There are over fifty different species of butterfly in the UK, although they are sadly becoming a rare sight. Careful planting can help encourage these beautiful creatures back into your garden. Buddleja  is a superb choice, as the flowers are full of nectar. Our buddleja mix contains a variety of colours to attract beneficial, summer insects. Earlier in the year, aubretia provides an abundant food source for butterflies emerging from hibernation. Our butterfly habitatsoffer roosting space for over wintering species and can be filled with food. We also offer a special feeder which can be charged with sugar/water solution, or soaked with butterfly attractant to encourage rarer species.

Pest Busting Visitors

Rather than using pesticides, invite predators into your garden. Frogs, toads, hedgehogs and bats will feast upon your slugs, snails and greenfly, saving your plants from devastation. Almost all wildlife will appreciate a small amount of water – read our guide to creating a pond. If space is an issue, a sunken washing up bowl will suffice – but ensure that you include a rock or piece of wood to allow creatures to get out easily. Unfortunately, visiting frogs and toads may become easy prey for prowling cats. Offer them a safe haven in the form of our purpose-built house. The dual-chambered design provides both dry, over wintering space and a separate access door to a damp, soil-level haven.

Butterfly Image

Source link


April gardening tips

Gardening Advice

General tasks and garden maintenance

Beware late frosts and keep vulnerable plants and new shoots protected at night if frost is forecast. Don’t be tempted to put out tender bedding until much later on in the month and even then be prepared to cover it if necessary.
Deadhead daffodils and narcissi, give them a liquid feed or sprinkling of bonemeal and then let them die down. Don’t cut off the leaves as they are necessary to replenish the bulb for next year. Keep deadheading spring bedding to keep it looking neat and encourage new flowers.
Continue with the spring cleaning. Hoe your borders, getting rid of weeds before they take hold – annual weeds such as bitter cress and groundsel are enough of a nightmare without allowing them to go forth and multiply by seeding. If it’s dry, attack ground elder and the like with systemic weed killer painted onto the leaves. Mulch away while you can still see what you are doing and before the herbaceous growth really takes off. 
Use your own garden compost or leaf mould, well rotted manure, the contents of out-of-date grow bags or ready-made soil conditioner.
Now the soil is warming up and things are starting to grow, add general purpose fertiliser before covering with mulch especially in borders, the fruit and vegetable patch and containers. If you have already mulched, draw it back (if possible), tease the soil a little, add fertiliser and replace the mulch.
Carry on removing moss and weeds from paths, terraces and drives.
Make new beds and borders – mark the shape with sand trickled from a bottle, remove the top layer of growing vegetation and dig the ground over, incorporating as much organic matter as possible. 
If you are making a bed in the lawn, remove the turf – if you dig it in the buried grass will regrow and regrow and regrow and…
Clean and repair your garden tools, book the lawn mower in for a service and check garden furniture for any rot. When it is warm enough, treat sheds, fences and trellis with wood preservative; brushes and rollers are fine for most things, however a sprayer is well worth buying for tricky projects such as woven panels!
Now is the time to wage war on slugs and snails!!
They love tulips and delicacies such as the delicious young shoots of delphiniums and the like, so use pet-friendly slug pellets, drench the ground around hostas with liquid slug killer to exterminate slugs below the surface. Keep an eye out for snails and pick them off – what you do with them is up to you. Birds are your friends here – flat stones artfully located are useful accessories for birds to practise their snail bashing techniques.

Gardening Advice

Birds will be building their nests now in preparation for laying their eggs. 
Do keep putting out bird food – they quickly become accustomed to regular food supplies and it’s a real treat to see wild birds in the garden. 
To encourage our feathered friends, use bird houses and feeding stations great for amateur and avid bird watchers alike.

Gardening Advice

Most lawns are looking a far cry from the emerald swards of last year. Unless the weather stays filthy and cold in which case it is better to wait for balmier days, feed with a spring lawn feed to encourage new growth (these have a high nitrogen content to encourage leaf growth), 
Mow regularly (start with the blades high for the first couple of cuts), overseed bare patches and apply weed and moss killer. 
Rake out or scarify AFTER applying moss killer or you will merely be spreading moss to the rest of your lawn!
Now is the ideal time to sow new lawns on well prepared ground.

Trees, shrubs and climbers

Gardening Advice

Plant and move evergreen shrubs, conifers and trees and remember to water them well until firmly rooted in. Plant evergreen hedges such as laurel, yew and box and again keep them well watered in dry spells. A good soak once a week is better than superficial watering on a regular basis.
Feed woody plants with general purpose fertiliser – this applies to roses, trees, climbers, hedges and shrubs.
Feed acid loving plants such as camellias and rhododendrons with ericaceous feed if you are on neutral or alkaline soil. A dose of sequestered iron also helps prevent the leaves turning yellow. 
(Tip – mulch regularly with fresh or composted pine needles. This can acidify the ground slightly.)
Finish pruning your roses and start spraying them with fungicide to ward against black spot and mildew. Repeat every fortnight until the autumn. Remember that if an infection sets it, all the stricken leaves must be burnt – do not leave them on the compost heap as this will become the perfect incubation site.
Prune hydrangeas – do not remove stems with a bud at the top, but snip off old stems bearing deadheads to just above the topmost healthy bud and remove weak shoots altogether from the base. 
With established plants, remove some of the older shoots right down to the base – this will keep the plant compact. The latter also applies to forsythia (prune once it has finished flowering by cutting back flowered shoots down to a new shoot further down – all the new growth this season will flower next year) and to flowering currants (Ribes).

Source link


Propagate herbs


“It’s easy to multiply your stock of woody herbs such as

rosemary, lavender and sage by taking summer cuttings”

Growing your own herbs

Rather than buying new herb plants, why not grow your own from cuttings?
It’s easy to make lots of new plants in summer when plants are growing actively with lots of plump, healthy shoots. 
Not only is this is an ideal way to replace old, worn out specimens, but it’s a great way to keep your plants well-trimmed and productive. 
Herbs cuttings root easily and new plants can be used to replace tired specimens or fill gaps.

How to take herb cuttings

  • Fill a pot with your compost mix and firm gently leaving a 1cm (1/2in) gap between the top of the compost and the pot.
  • To make cuttings, remove healthy, pest and disease-free shoot tips that are about 10cm (4in) long.
  • Trim off the lower leaves and cut cleanly beneath a leaf joint.
  • Dip cut end into rooting hormone powder to improve its chances of rooting and insert five or six cuttings around the edge of the pot.
  • Water and label.
  • Take several cuttings of each herb to increase your chance of success.


  • Put pots in a propagator or secure a clear plastic bag around the pot. An elastic band will hold it in place.
  • Cuttings should have rooted within eight weeks and can then be potted into individual pots.
It’s easy to multiply your stock of woody herbs such as rosemary, lavender and sage by taking summer cuttings.

Source link


The Easy Guide to Bedding Plants

The Easy Guide to Bedding Plants

 The Easy Guide to Bedding Plants

Bedding plants are ideal for sunny or lightly shaded but should be planted in a sheltered area. They tend to be short-lived, i.e., last one season but they grow fast and provide excellent value for money.
Many bedding plants can be grown from seed or are available as young plants from Garden Centres and can be bought for Spring, Summer or early Autumn colour which can transform a dull border in a very short period of time.
Plants for Summer colour usually die after the first frosts. Dig them up as soon as this happens and, if you have a compost heap, recycle them. Many plants can be used that will look good during the Autumn and Winter months and will provide colour on duller days, e.g., myosotis (forget-me-not), ornamental cabbage, pansies, polyanthus, primula, viola or wallflower.


Filling in gaps between Plants and Shrubs that aren’t fully grown
Hanging baskets, Containers, Window Boxes, Troughs
Planting a whole bed for immediate effect

Choosing Your Plants

First, decide your colour schemes and plant combinations you want to achieve, e.g., do you want to achieve instant patches of colour or a whole bed?
You will need to consider how big the plants will grow, think about the patterns and think about how you want to contrast the colours.
When buying plants you should choose ones which look bushy and healthy and avoid those that look withered, droopy or have dry compost.

Summer Colour

When planting summer bedding plants these should be planted when the danger of frost has passed which is usually from end of May.
Here are some popular varieties:
AGERATUM (floss flower) – fluffy, powder blue flowers ideal for edging and containers, about 30cm.
ANTIRRHINUM (snapdragon) – trumpet-like flowers in soft, pastel colours including shell pink, golden yellow, apricot, rose and peach. They form a long-flowering cloud of colour for bedding and containers, about 40cm.
DAHLIA – perfect for bedding and containers and often come in mixtures of bright, starry flowers in shades of reds, rose, pink, orange, yellow and white, about 45cm.
BEGONIA – flowers all summer from June to October with red, white and pink flowers, about 15-25cm.
BRACHYCOME (swan rover daisy) – daisy flowers in shades of white, blue and violet each with a striking yellow or black centre. Flowers all summer and very effective in containers and hanging baskets although are best in full sun, about 25-30cm.
BROMPTON STOCK – clusters of sweetly scented spring flowers in shades of white, pink and mauve. Ideal for a sunny border, about 45cm.
CALLISTEPHUS (aster) – colours include yellows, whites, blues, pinks and purples and flower shaped. Best for bedding displays in borders, about 60cm.
CLARKIA – lilac-purple flowers, best sown in groups to achieve a dramatic display, about 40cm.
COSMOS – always look good in a flower border with large blooms in rose-pinks, reds and pure white with attractive ferny foliage. Best as a border filler or large pots, about 60cm.
FUSCHIA – flowers July to early Oct in white, pink, red and purple and types of fuchsias include bush and trailing, 30-60cm.
IMPATIENS (busy Lizzie) – these provide a great splash of colour in baskets and containers or can be planted en masse in a border. The white, pink and red flowers keep going until the first frost and do best in part shade, about 25cm.
LOBELIA – flowers from June to October in blue, red, white and mauve and includes trailing and upright types, about 15cm.
MESEMBRYANTHEMUM (Livingstone daisy) – these vividly coloured flowers open with the sun and are an excellent spreading plant in borders, about 8cm.
MARIGOLD – orange and yellow and flowers all summer, 15-30cm.
NICOTIANA (tobacco plant) – red, pink, white, yellow and green flowers in June to October, 25-60cm.
PANSY – summer and winter varieties and can be planted to give year-round colour in a huge range of shades, 15-25cm.
PELARGONIUM (geranium) – come in many different flower colours and often scented leaves, 45 cm.
PETUNIA – fantastic colour range in every shade with striped, veined or double blooms on upright or trailing plants. They flower early in the season and are superb in the garden especially when deadheaded regularly. They look great in all types of containers and baskets, about 30cm.
SALVIA SPLENDENS – these popular, compact, neat plants are one of the first bedding plants to bloom, creating a blaze of red for months. Effective planted in mass bedding displays, about 40cm.
VERBENA – very attractive summer bedding plants with dark leaves and rounded clusters of flower heads in shades of white, yellow, orange, pink, red and blue. Ideal for containers, beds, border edging or window boxes, 30 cm.
VIOLA – small pansy-like flowers in March-October in white, yellow, orange, pink, red, mauve and blue, 15-20cm.

How to Plant Them

• Don’t plant them when it’s too hot and water the new plants thoroughly while still in their pots before planting
• Make sure the planting area is free from weeds and fork over the area thoroughly
• Dig a hole bigger than the roots of the plant and water the hole. Tap the plant out its pot or tray trying not to disturb the roots. Gently push into the hole and firm the surrounding soil.
• Place tall plants to the rear and compact edging plants at the front being careful not to overcrowd them.
• Some bedding plants come in pots made from peat which should be planted as well because the roots grow through them.
• After planting, sprinkle a general fertiliser such as Growmore lightly round the plants and water well.
• Bedding plants grown in flower-pots, containers, hanging baskets and wall-mounted pots should be filled with potting compost mixed with water-retentive gels and slow-release pellets.

Looking After Your Plants

• Keep bedding plants blooming over a long period by picking off any dead blooms to encourage new flower buds
• Feed every one or two weeks with a liquid fertiliser
• Keep the area between the plants free from weeds as they will steal nutrients and water and may smother the plants
• Water bedding plants in the evening to allow the plants and soil to absorb it before the summer sun burns it off. Hanging baskets may require watering more than once a day especially during hot weather
• If bedding plants become infected with greenfly, spray with an insecticide, preferably on a windless evening.
• Slugs and snails can be controlled with a remedy available at your local garden centre.

Source link


10 Great Gardening Tips & Ideas

There are some great gardening tips in this article from someone who obviously knows what he is talking about. They will save you time, money and temper! I’m not sure I approve of his method of deterring cats from using your garden as a toilet but otherwise, take his gardening tips onboard.

I’ve amassed these 10 tips over my many years of being an avid amateur gardener, and nature-loving enthusiast, from old gardeners, neighbours, friends and my own tried and tested methods. I’m no expert and would never claim to be one, I only pass on a small part of my accumulated knowledge in the hope of helping others enjoy the most rewarding of pastimes “Amateur Gardening”.

  1. To prevent animals from digging up and eating your spring bulbs, you should have first, wrapped them in a thin layer of steel wool. It does no harm to the bulbs, as its shoot will push right through it.
  2. Washing up liquid makes a great insecticidal soap when you mix it with water. Take 1 to 3 tablespoons of washing up liquid and mix it into 4 litres of water, add a tablespoon of vinegar too, put it in a spray bottle and mist spray the entire plant. Small left over soap bars, you remember the ones that clutter the soap tray in the bathroom, and no one likes to use, can be utilized also and easily dissolved using warm or boiling water. Of course always remember to let it cool before applying to your plants. Soapy dish or bath water can also be collected and used effectively.
  3. Cut all flower stems at an angle, as it creates a larger surface area for the flowers to draw up more water and you must remember to put your flowers into water immediately. When I cut long stemmed flowers I take a deep pale almost full to the brim with water which was stood in my glasshouse or shed overnight just for this purpose. If you don’t then tiny air pockets will form in the stems and cause the flowers to droop. Oh yes and don’t forget to drop an aspirin in your vase with the water, your flowers will love you for it and repay you by staying fresh looking for longer. A small piece of an Alka-Seltzer tablet or a part spoon of liver salts, once the fizzing has stopped are good alternatives to aspirin. Don’t put long stemmed flowers in a small vase, and visa versa, for small stemmed ones. Always choose the appropriate vase and your cut flowers will certainly last a little longer, provided you maintain the correct water level. Last but not least, never ever use water straight from your tap for your vase of flowers, always put water in your vases the night before and stand them on a windowsill to gain room temperature, as tap water is very cold and causes those little air bubbles to form.
  4. If you didn’t plant your trees and shrubs late last autumn, to get well established before the onset of winter, then it’s nearing that time of year in temperate zones, when the ground is free from hard frosts. They can be planted out now or as soon as they become available at garden centres and nurseries. Always choose the ones with the freshest or plumpest buds, as these are raring to get growing. A good handful of bone meal or other general-purpose plant food, even the pellet form of chicken manure dug well in the bottom of the hole will help feed your new addition to your garden. Large trees will benefit from the addition of a length of garden hose being buried alongside their roots to help watering in long dry spells.
    Bonemeal is best as it is a slow release source of nitrogen – trees are a long term project and the bonemeal fertiliser will last over a year. Mix well into the surrounding soil to encourage root growth.
  5. Use old bubble wrap to line your pots and containers, it will help warm the compost and prevent late frosts from damaging delicate new roots.
  6. When planting up your fresh spring hanging baskets why not use your old knitwear or newspapers for a no cost basket liner, this will save you plenty, and the money saved can go towards better quality compost and plants. Don’t throw away the remnants of last summers baskets; either dig it into your garden or at the very least put it in your compost bin.
  7. When giving your garden hedges that spring prune, get nice neat level edges and flat tops by fastening a length of rope to two points across it. Or push broom handles into the hedge at each end and tie your line to them. An old washing line or strong garden twine are ideal, remember not to cut through your line. Although not 100% accurate it will certainly help achieve a better-looking hedge.
  8. So now the path has over wintered, and the mosses, lichen’s and of course the weeds have all taken over. Salted Boiling water and a good stiff broom will do the trick. It may need to be repeated, but will not damage surrounding soil like commercial products can, and is the safest where pets are concerned.
  9. We all love our own pets, but we simply hate it when that old cat from down the way decides to use your garden and freshly dug flowerbeds as a toilet. Now I’ve tried just about everything in the book apart from a shredder LOL and I’ve still yet to find a really good solution to this problem, as most only seem to work for only a short time. Please don’t say get a dog, frankly my dog is fast asleep just like me when our neighbourhood cats come calling. The closest I’ve come to a deterrent is rose thorns on your flowerbeds, the cats simply hate them as its like walking on glass and as any gardener knows who has ever had rose thorns in his/her fingers that really hurt and are difficult to get out. It’s often easiest to grow lots of plants that cats don’t like
    Clear plastic bottles filled with water often deter cats for some reason – perhaps their distorted reflection scares them.
  10. Now dogs are a lot different, because of their acute sense of smell, old perfume, or the ones given you for Christmas, you know the ones that you always give away as presents to those you don’t really like, well use them in your garden instead. Even aftershave will work wonders. Cayenne, White or Black Pepper powders can also help but are easily washed away by rain.

Source link