A great idea for an alternative lawn
Spring - Lawn care, compost and an alternative lawn idea!
Do you dream of a lawn that's the envy of your neighbours?
Well you've just got time to lick that lawn into shape before the summer and at the same time beat any drought conditions before they set in.
If your lawn is more than 2/3s weeds and moss then you may want to consider re-turfing or re-seeding
Cut the lawn with blades quite high. If it's already quite long then give it a few cuts over the next several weeks so that you can lower the blades and cut it down gradually and gently.
Feed with lawn fertiliser Growmore is fine but there are organic fertilisers available too. Approx. 2 grams per square metre (Top tip, weigh this amount just once then see what it looks like in your hand, or old mug then use this to gauge further applications) if the weather is still dry you will need to water it in. But do avoid the temptation give it extra! This wastes your money and your fertiliser and won't improve the lawn any faster.
Scarify, treat it a bit rough and use a spring tine rake or power scarifyer to remove the dead grass "thatch" and moss. (Great workout for the upper body and tummy muscles) If your lawn is large you might consider hiring a scarifyer.
Improve drainage by digging your fork to the depth of the tines (about 4"-6" 10-15cm) and then brushing sharp sand and maybe a mix of sand and soil conditioner into the holes. This will allow air and water to get to the roots and deter moss from taking a hold again.</li>
Keep mowing lightly each week
If you must water your lawn, then do it at night or early morning and do give it sufficient water. One of the worst things you can do is to water your lawn little and often as this will encourage the roots to come to the surface and may weaken your lawn still further.
Encourage health in your lawn by regular mowing and feeding. Allow it to recover between bouts of heavy use and it will repay you by greening up and looking lush. If we do face a long hot summer and if watering your lawn is not an option, then don't despair, yellow grass will turn green again when the rains come.
Where there's muck
What do you do with your grass cuttings? If you've got a compost bin, or heap then you'll probably know cut grass is great at heating up the compost and speeding bacterial action. If you've not yet got into composting then you must. It's good for the environment, produces unbeatable soil conditioner and it's free.
You can start with a purpose made bin, or build a heap in a secluded corner. Purpose made bins come with a lid to help you keep out rain and keep the temperature even (don't get alarmed this is a natural process, not a test of your science knowledge!). If you are using the good old heap method you should cover it with an old bit of rug, old compost bags or whatever you can get hold of to keep the heap under temperature and moisture control (see not at all scientific). The secret is to get the mix right. Grass cuttings are good, but on their own they will likely turn into a nasty gooey mess. Weeds (avoid tap roots like dandelions and pernicious roots like bindweed) and annuals that are past their best, garden prunings and kitchen peelings are all good ingredients.
Try and layer the ingredients so that the very soft stuff, like grass cuttings, is interspersed with harder material like weeds, or woody prunings. If you've got very woody stuff you'll have to put it through a chipper, or hand cut it to about 2.5cm or 1" long with shears or secateurs, leave it longer and it just takes ages to rot down. No tougher stuff? Then tear newspaper into strips, moisten and add to the compost. Brown cardboard would work too, but not the printed stuff.
Keep your compost moist but not waterlogged. If it dries out it will stop the decay process, so don't be afraid to add water. We like to use the water the vegetables were washed in, or other waste kitchen water (also environmentally friendly and it saves on your water bill). If it gets too wet let it dry out by taking the lid off.
In 4-weeks time turn it out with your garden fork and fluff it up before re-filling the bin/heap. Repeat as necessary until you have sweet smelling brown crumbly rich compost. It's easy and easy on the environment because you won't have to put so much waste into your rubbish bin any more.
Plants for free - spring
We're getting into one of the busiest and most enjoyable times of the gardening year. Plants and lawns are growing fast and the spring flowers and blossoms are filling the garden with the magic of a new season. It's also a good time to make more plants for free, see our tips below.
We like plants for free
You can propagate perennial herbs such as sage, rosemary and lavender.
Using a sharp knife ,cut a few inches below a shoot tip; remove the lower leaves from the cutting.
Place the cut end in a free draining medium like perlite, sharp sand etc in a humid, shaded environment. You can help the humidity by covering with a clear plastic bag and securing with a band. Try to keep the foliage away from the sides or it may rot.
As a general rule, the cutting will perk up and show signs of new growth when the roots have developed. Until then don't be tempted to test them by tugging!
Lily beetle battle
- Watch out for this rather gorgeous orangey/red beetle Latin name liloceris lilii - but don't be taken in. This brute will rampage through lilies and a range of other bulbs if left unchecked destroying flower buds and leaves.
- Check Lilies, Solomon's seal and Fritillaries for first signs of this beetle towards the end of March. Holes first appear in leaves in early spring, but the bright coloured beetle can often be spotted before the damage.
- Sneak up on the adult beetles and have a cupped hand ready beneath them (or container if you're squeamish) as they will drop of the plant onto the soil as soon as they feel your approach.
- Adult beetles over-winter in the soil, moving up into plants from late March onwards. Remove and destroy any adults and keep checking plants through April, wiping off any eggs and slime covered larvae that you find on the leaves. The larvae disguise themselves to look like bird droppings, so gloved hands might be an idea!
Plan now for summer colour
- Plant summer flowering bulbs like gladioli and lilies, depending on soil conditions. If you have heavy clay soil use coarse grit at the bottom of the hole.
- Divide overgrown clumps of herbaceous perennials.
- Cut the tops back to 25mm-50mm and lift the whole plant out with a fork.
- Look for a natural division, in the plants, and cut through with a sharp knife.
- Replant the pieces, or pot up spares immediately, if you're not replanting them.
- Water well.
Houseplants - the natural therapy
Houseplants are great to receive and give pleasure to everyone, but did you know that they have been proven to have therapeutic effects as well? Visit our Indoor Garden Section for the latest facts on houseplants.
Healing Aloe Vera (right) at home in a cool plant container from the ornaments and containers range. Go there? Just click on the image.
Spring - Cut back hard for strong new growth
Prune and clip back lots of plants in April for an almost instant tidy up that will, get your garden off to a bright new start.
Clip old flowers off winter-flowering heathers.
Hard prune tall old stems on butterfly bush (Buddleja davidii), Himalayan honeysuckle (Leycesteria formosa) pictured above and other fast-growing shrubs that flower on new wood like golden-leaved elder, smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria) and purple hazel (Corylus avellana Maxima Purpurea), which will then produce fresh young growth and often brighter and larger leaves.
Control the growth of climbing plants on walls of houses and outbuildings. Cut them away from doors and windows too.
Treat yourself to a new pruning kit
Many gardeners are afraid of pruning, but just follow a few simple steps and you should have no problems. A general rule is prune lightly in spring by 3-4 buds and to an outward facing bud for shape. Prune hard, leaving 2-3 buds for rapid new growth.
After flowering cut back hard spring flowering shrubs like Forsythia x intermedia by one third. They flower on last year's growth. Once new growth appears on Cornus sanguinea cut back hard for bright coloured stems in winter.
The Chelsea Chop-Off with their heads!
Use the" Chelsea Chop" to encourage later flowers by cutting back with sharp secateurssome stems now.
Try cutting back Sedums, Rudbeckia, Echinacea, Helenium and Golden Rod by about 10cm (4in) and you will get later flowering and a more compact, less floppy plant.
Aubrieta, lavender and alyssum will also respond well to this technique. Lightly shearing over after flowering will prevent leggy growth, keep your plants compact and make for increased flowering next year. Aubretia is tidied, deadheaded instantly and may sometimes reward you with a brief second flowering.
Cutting early-flowering perennials down by half can help avoid staking - especially useful in windy areas and can reduce the need for watering, we are all so conscious of the need to use water wisely. Thrifty gardeners will also enjoy getting more for their money as this will often produce a second flush of flowers to look great into autumn.
You can cut some back by roughly half in May - the so called "Chelsea Chop" - to delay their flowering, or cut them back almost to the bone after their first flush of flowers, in which case a surprising number will produce a second flush well into autumn.
The 'Chelsea Chop' allows you to tidy your borders and make way for even more plants in your garden as well as encouraging later summer flowering. Nervous? Try it with one or two phlox plants in you garden, with these beauties you can even chop them right down to new growth a few inches from the ground to encourage later flowering.
The plants listed below are all candidates for this ruthless-sounding but ultimately very beneficial technique.
Anthemis: cut back by 15cm (6in) in both May and then June for delayed flowering.
Aster novi-belgii: pinch in late July to delay flowering - any later and display is reduced.
Eupatorium (pictured): try reducing by half when 60cm (2ft) tall for later-flowering, compact plants.
Macleaya cordata: reduce by half in May.
Monarda: in May stems can be cut by half and again in late May for flowers three weeks later.
Rudbeckia lacinata: cut by half in June for compact, later-flowering plants.
Sedum: cut to 10cm (4in) in June for more compact plants at flowering.
Sedum will all respond well to this technique. Sedums are lovely plants and provide gorgeous late colour and are loved by bees and butterflies. But the stems do tend to flop, making the plant less compact and may cause them to overhang nearby plants. Cutting the plant back to about 10cm (4in) at the end of May, at Chelsea Flower Show time, results in later flowering and a more compact plant.
So put away your fear and trepidation and get Chelsea Chopping!
Late Spring -tie 'em in!
Every thing in the garden should be growing strongly now and you will need to keep your topiary in shape - some strong growers like lonicera nitida may need trimming every 6- 8 weeks or so.
Now is the time to cut back early flowered clematis and also to cut back old flowering shoots and dead or crossing branches of shrubs that have flowered earlier - flowering currants (ribes),broom (cytisus) rock roses (helianthemum) and forsythia.
Snip the dead heads off your roses and thin peach and nectarine fruits.
Keep tying in sweet peas and other vigorous climbers also continue to tie in tall growers like delphiniums. Tie in also the stems of cane fruits like raspberries. A twine stand with a built in cutter makes the job a lot easier.
Now is the perfect time to take lots of cuttings of your dahlias, giving you new plants for free and encouraging strong growth, bushy plants and lots more flowers.
The job is very simple and apart from a sharp knife and some suitable potting compost there are no special tools required. Simply take your cuttings below a leaf node about 2 ½" -4" (5 cm -10cm). Take off the lower leaves, make a hole with a dibber in some potting compost and nestle your cuttings straight in. Water well and place in a bright spot, but out of direct sunshine and they should strike roots in 4-6 weeks time.
Keep your borders as free of weeds as possible (a shrub rake could be the perfect tool here) so that each precious drop of water is not wasted on the weeds and goes straight to where its needed.
There's still time to sow some tasty salad crops. Try sowing lettuce either early morning or in the evening as they germinate better in cooler conditions.
Once you've weeded, pruned, mowed, raked, watered and cleansed take your time to enjoy your garden.
A twine stand with a built in cutter makes the job a lot easier.
More plants for free - Autumn/Winter
John just loves making new plants for free. This time it's root cuttings. Wind (Japanese) anemones, oriental poppies and the poppy-like romneya coulteri (California Poppy) make great new plants like this:
· Dig up the parent plant
· Wash the soil off the roots
· Cut some sections of root, but leave enough for the parent to survive when you replant it!
· Cut them into 2" or 5cm lengths
· Cut the bottom end (the one furthest from the crown of the plant) at a slant so you see which is the up end and avoid planting them headfirst!
· Dib slanted end down into pots of free draining compost and leave them in a cold frame, unheated green house or cloche.
New growth in spring means it's time to pot up individually to grow on for planting out next autumn as big healthy FREE plants
Make your own leaf mould
Form and structure
As autumn draws into winter we can see the bones of the garden emerging. It's the time when structure and form are more important than flower colour. Of course the fading leaves and browning seed heads can give as much contrast and spectacle as the lushest of borders. But a great garden will work at this time if there are contrasting shapes and textures.
Our garden furniture section has some spectacular structures that are a joy in summer, but really add that architectural quality as the leaves fall. They are very affordable too and most come in a choice of classic colours.
Clean and tidy
Keep leaves off the lawn, if you don't it could weaken the grass and encourage moss and fungi to flourish. Fallen leaves are also a haven for garden pests so either dispose of them or make a wonderful FREE soil conditioner. Try Sue's tried and tested
Leaf Mould Recipe
Stuff the leaves into plastic bin bags. Bash the Keep leaves off the lawn into them a few times to make to let in rain and air to feed the micro-organisms that do all the work. Water them in and then bung them out of sight. Check the moisture in spring - you don't want them to dry out too much. When rich and crumbly you can use as mulch, or in planting holes (very good for beans, but avoid the cabbage family, as it might be a bit on the acid side).
Autumn is upon us and there's lots to do in the garden to make it ready for winter and looking forward to next spring.
Autumn in the garden
Getting deep down dirty and pruning
Be a bit careful about pruning evergreens or deciduous specimens after the middle of October. Cutting them now will spur them onto new growth and this may be susceptible to frosts. However keep on deadheading roses and be ruthless about clearing the ground of any decaying matter or pests, except in areas set aside for wildlife. Protect your clothes, hands and knees (see our selection) and use a shrub rake to clear the ground. Dig over cleared ground and prepare for planting new trees and shrubs later this year or early next year.
Dahlias and cannas
Leave your dahlias in situ till the first frosts have blackened their foliage. Then you have a choice:
Either lift and dry them off before storing them in a frost free shed, or if you are feeling confident, cut off the damaged foliage and then mulch them deeply with bracken, compost etc at least 3'' deep.
We will be doing both again this year, leaving some in place under a mulch and storing the rest - belt and braces!
Collect the seeds of hardy annuals now as well as allowing some of them to self-sow.
Flowers that come true from seed gathering now are cosmos, nasturtiums, .
There is just time to sow some salad crops to over-winter especially if you are prepared to offer them some protection in the coldest weather. We also gather seeds from heritage varieties of tomatoes and squash. We grew a variety of tomato called 'Auntie Madge' this year and she proved to be a prolific and tasty winner; thin skinned, disease resistant, small, plum shaped.
If like us you have a glut of tomatoes this year why not use them to make PESTO - we grew lots of basil from our culinary herb collection. Pesto is great for adding flavour to all kinds of ragu and you can just stir it through plain pasta for a quick and simple lunch.
See our Recipe section.
Cuttings and Propagation
Bring in tender plants lie pelargoniums (indoor geraniums) and take cuttings of them and other specimens like box. Put them in a propagator and watch them like a hawk keep them on the dry-ish side and discard any that appear to be growing a fur coat - they probably have botrytis and won't make it. If your cuttings are looking turgid and putting on a bit of growth- congratulations! But do resist the urge to 'check' them or fiddle with them too much in case you damage their delicate new roots.
John's- Almost Fool Proof Cuttings Guide
Ready prepared pots of sharply draining compost (50/50 general purpose compost and sharp sand, or grit, or pearlite, watered and drained.
Cutting surface (he usually uses the bread board)
Pelargoniums, fuchsias, box etc
This works for masses of shrubs. Assemble your cutting material. If you've pruned shrubs then examine these for likely candidates. Choose un-flowered side shoots, or the tips of subjects that have grown tall enough for their position, preferably that have made some good growth. Cut them just below a leaf joint about 50-100mm long (depending on the habit of the plant), gently stripping off the lower leaves till the upper three or four remain and insert them gently into the prepared medium using a dibber. Place in a propagator (or simply in a clear polythene bag on a windowsill) and be patient till you see new top growth (4-8 weeks), then wait a little longer before you pot them on so as allow the new root growth to fill out.
Shrubs, roses, conifers.
As above but this time remove the whole side shoot with a 'heel' (sliver of the old wood). Insert into potting medium or into the soil of a cold frame.
Over the virtual garden fence
In the deep mid-winter gardening is a distant memory of sun-filled days and fresh green shoots, richly coloured flowers, or even of unending chores like mowing and weeding. We hope this occasional newsletter puts the excitement of anticipation back into the garden for you. We've sprinkled it with a few seasonal ideas that will get your garden off to a flying start, or give you something useful and optimistic to do if you're fed up with being cooped up and long for some healthy outdoor activity.
Snowdrops, a winter favourite
Everyone loves the sight of those green shoots and the evocative nodding bells of fresh white touched with contrasting splashes of green. They bring that feeling that spring is about to burst and a New Year of possibilities awaits.
Galanthus, the Snowdrop species name, is derived from the Greek 'Gala' meaning milk and 'Anthos', flower. They are also called Candlemas Bells because they are in flower on February 2nd, traditionally the day when candles were blessed and particular prayers said to Virgin Mary, which gives them their other name of Mary's Tapers. The festival sits halfway between the winter solstice and spring equinox, therefore is halfway through winter. Old superstitions say that:
"If Candlemas Day be fair and bright,
Winter will take another flight.
If Candlemas Day be cloud and rain,
Winter is gone and will not come again."
The Galanthus provides gardeners with a delightful range of variations on that much loved theme. The common Snowdrop (Galanthus Nivalis) flowering in February can be supplemented with other forms to add flower from January to March, in fact you could find varieties to bring flower from November to April. Our tip this January is to move them in the green (while flowering) making sure to seek out the new seedlings that will form new clumps of flowers. When you're selecting a new site for them consider associating them with cyclamen. The cyclamen flowers will be over but will provide a wonderful contrasting leaf shape, but with complementary white veining to enhance the effect of the snowy flowers. Replant the snowdrop clumps to their original depth and they will act as if they've never been touched, new bulbs should be planted three times the bulb depth.
Planning and ordering
Seed catalogues and displays in garden centres are the starting point for colourful beds and productive vegetable and salad plots. Of course you can mix flowering and edible plantings and indeed many edible flowers are also available, but all need to be ordered now to ensure you give them a good start. If you plan to grow potatoes, it's time to select and order the varieties now. Why not grow some of the more unusual ones that the supermarkets don't stock; there are some fabulous salad varieties and lots of highly coloured tubers to add zing to your dishes. We don't stock spuds, but we do have tomatoes and salad mixtures, edible flowers and fruits, lettuce and vegetable collections on our website that are delicious to eat and colourful enough to add to the border.
Apparently 60% of gardeners grow their own edible produce, but we believe it should be 100%. Even if you've got a pocket-handkerchief sized plot, or just a window box or two there's always room for the edible. Dwarf beans look wonderful, have most attractive flowers and taste great; you can grow them in pots too. Courgettes have great yellow trumpet flowers that add a touch of the exotic. Lettuce can be green through to red and have leaves in a wide range of shapes just like ornamentals fit for the flower border. Of course, no summer would be complete without strawberries and they too can be very successful in containers especially the alpine varieties (check our selection for ideal subjects for container growing).
When you're thinking of annual flower seeds, be bold with your colour scheme and think of contrast as well as harmonising schemes. Hot oranges zing with cooler blues and you can get away with really dramatic contrasts if you remember to include greens and interesting leaf-shapes to allow some respite from the carnival of colour. The most memorable planting schemes come from the least expected combinations, the most forgettable are also the most predictable. If you find you've gone too far, don't worry no scheme is permanent and you'll learn so much more from a planting scheme that was too ambitious than from one that's too conservative!
Things to do now
If the weather is fine enough it's a good time to dig over open soil and let the frost break down larger clods, avoid walking on it if it's too wet. It is also a good time to incorporate organic matter while you're cultivating the soil. There are no rules worth worrying about here, it's a matter of using whatever you can get the most of most cost-effectively. If you have to have something delivered, it's going to cost more than if you can produce it yourself like composted kitchen waste, or collect it yourself like horse manure from a nearby stable (not an option for many urbanites). You do need to think about what you intend to grow if the organic stuff has high alkaline content like mushroom compost (potatoes prefer higher acid content like manure based composts, but brasicas like cabbage and brussels will love the mushroom compost).
It's also a good time to mulch rhubarb crowns with composted manure and to cover them with upturned pots, or proper forcing pots if you're lucky enough to have them. If not, anything you've got that will exclude light will help produce those lucious long and sweet stems of early rhubarb.
Top fruits like apples and plums should be winter pruned and some soft fruits like gooseberries, black and red currants can be pruned as can grapes. Of course your tools will need to be in good condition to ensure clean and healthy cuts when you prune, so it's a good idea to check over their condition first. Sharpen and oil cutting edges, clean and lubricate mowers and rotavators, replace damaged and worn parts.
Prune back large late flowering clematis, wisteria, honeysuckle (lonicera) and grape vines (vitis). Compost the softer material and shred the harder stuff if you have a shredder, or set aside the woody stems for free and natural-looking plant supports later in the season.
Cut down your ornamental grasses to just above ground level.
Early autumn planting and stuff
Its' a busy time again now and to get you in the mood for the planting season we are pleased to offer Free tulip bulbs with every order of our stainless steel garden dibber while stocks last.
Stainless steel garden dibbers are great for bulb planting - strong, robust and more pleasant to handle than a traditional bulb planter. Gardener's World on 21st September 2007 suggested using dibbers as effective bulb planters and we agree! Put us to the test! Buy a stainless steel dibber and we will give you free Golden Apeldoorn tulip bulbs so you can see for yourself how easy they make this job!
Order soon - our last free offer was so popular we were out of stock in no time!
Grow your own tea. Read your tea leaves
More Free Stuff!
Get your free tasseology glossary with all orders of our herbal tea selection or any of our pocket garden seed collections while stocks last.
Read on for some intriguing tasseomancy tips (come on, you didn't know what it meant any more than we did!). Call it tasseomancy or tasseology or tasseography, which makes it sound more scientific.
Make fresh tea and pour without using a strainer into a cup with a white interior.
Now drink the tea, being careful not to swallow any of the leaves.
Leave a little tea in the bottom of the cup, just enough to cover the leaves.
Swirl the tea around inside the cup. Different people have different rules for this, some hold the cup in the left hand and swirl it three times anticlockwise. Probably doesn't have much effect on the outcome though.
Turn the cup upside down on to the saucer.
The remaining liquid will drain into the saucer and as it does so the tealeaves will stick to the side.
Look into the leaves.
Concentrate on one simple question and look for patterns relevant to the question.
Surprisingly there are a number of patterns that turn up regularly and you will find these described in the glossary that will accompany each order of our Italian parsley.
Pests love the wet
The wet weather and the mildness of our summer has given rise to a bumper crop of new diseases and pests in the garden, or is it only ours? Thank heaven for the Garden Detective CD, which helped to solve the mystery of a new pest on our neighbour's Oleander. A very specific and unpleasant little yellow bug now thankfully despatched. The Garden Detective is a great tool for identifying pests and also for the best way to eradicate them whether you choose to use chemicals or not.
Towards the end of September start protecting your fruit trees from attack by fixing grease bands around the trunks to deter wingless female coddling moths from crawling up the trunks to lay their eggs in wait for next season's fruit.
Continue to sow turnips, spinach and winter lettuce. Many garden-in-a-bag varieties will be successful given sufficient light. Continue your love affair with Mediterranean cooking by growing Italian parsley conveniently in your kitchen.
Tea Time Treats
See the Tea Loaf recipe for an apetising treat.
Herbs and tea-tisanes
Basil - and the scorpion in your brain!
A selection of herbal facts, lore and simple, delicious recipes for you to enjoy. Everything in the article can be simply grown at home; many don't even need a garden for great results, demanding nothing more than a window sill!
Basil - facts and fantasy
Basils name comes from the Greek for "King," Basilica and it is also revered as a sacred herb in the Hindu religion. In Europe during the Middle Ages it was believed that scorpions bred under pots of Basil and that just smelling Basil would breed a scorpion in your brain!
Basil has a strong fresh pungent fragrance with a hint of pepper. The pungent aroma of Basil repels many flying insects. It's a good idea to have either a pot or a vase of cut stems on the table when eating outdoors.
Why not plant basil near tomatoes to counteract fruit fly and improve the quality of the fruit?
Basil is excellent with all tomato dishes as well as egg and shellfish dishes, soup, salads and salad dressings.
Sue's Pesto Recipe- see recipes
Coriander facts and fantasy
Coriander is one of the world's most commonly used herbs - in spite of the fact that the name comes from the Greek, "koris", meaning bed bug! Native to southern Europe and the Middle East, the plant is now grown worldwide.
Some people find the taste unpalatable, while others find it delicious and it is an essential ingredient of cooking from Portugal to Egypt and most of Asia.
Add coriander leaves to tomato dishes, salsa, chutneys and poultry, fish, rice and bean dishes.
Use Sue's recipe below to make a flavoursome vegetarian soup with fresh and ground coriander. Serve with cheese and onion bread for a warming supper or lunch.
Carrot and Coriander Soup-see recipes
Lavender facts and fantasy
This herb is highly aromatic, with a clean flavour and fragrance. Add fresh or dried flowers to baking and jellies. Add to black tea for a fragrant cup. Add to herb pillows, potpourris and sachets.
History of Lavender
Lavender has been recorded in use for over 2,500 years.
The Greeks and the Romans bathed in lavender scented water its name comes from the Latin word "lavo" meaning "to wash"
Queen Elizabeth I of England commanded that the royal table should always provide lavender conserve. She also drank Lavender tea to help ease her migraines and used it as a body perfume.
Queen Victoria popularised the use of Lavender throughout England in one form or another. It was used to wash floors and added to furniture polish, as pot pourri to freshen the air, and to scent drawers and linens.
During the First World War, nurses bathed soldiers' wounds with lavender washes.
- Use as a flavouring ingredient in all savoury dishes and soups and as a garnish.
- Blooms bring honey bees to the garden.
- Sip lavender tea for insomnia, headache, depression or when stressed.
- This tea can be used as a mouthwash or gargle, or as an external wash.
Lavender meringues -see recipes
Tomatoes facts and fantasy
- The town of Buņol, Spain, holds "La Tomatina," a festival based around an enormous tomato fight at the end of August.
- The tomato plant was first grown in England in the 1590s.
- Gerard's Herbal, published in 1597 mentions the tomato however he believed that it was poisonous!
- Tomatoes contain lycopene a very effective antioxidant that research is beginning to show could protect our skin from UV damage from the sun.
- Don't stop using your sun block! - but it's good to know that tomatoes in your diet may help protect your skin from everyday sun damage.
Use tomatoes and basil together for a bright and delicious salad.
Simple and natural alternatives that are easy to grow and prepare.
Bergamot tea is claimed to be great for treating colds and catarrh and digestive complaints, the flowers are easy to grow and beautiful. The leaves are used for the tisane and the flowers may be used in salads.
Lavender tea helps relieve stress, fatigue, headache and insomnia. Drinking a cup of Lavender tea before going to bed is thought to promote a good night sleep.
Peppermint tea naturally caffeine-free, may help relieve mild asthma and stress. It may also ward off wintertime colds.
Anise tea may help the treatment of asthma, colic, bronchitis and nausea.
German Camomile tea may help against sore stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a gentle sleep aid
Camomile is also used to make a rinse for blonde hair.
Agrimony tea is mildly astringent and is used as a tonic- you can even use it on bruises and strains!
Grow your own for a healthy and green lifestyle
Growing your own is becoming ever more popular as people discover the tremendous pleasure in the simple acts of sowing and harvesting your very own foods. Creating a herb garden and vegetable garden is so easy with windowsill garden kits.
Why is it so popular? Our customers like to know exactly what they're eating, to know that the product is the freshest possible (nothing fresher than just picked!), isn't sprayed with chemicals, hasn't flown half way round the world and is all their own work. Plus they're all selected for flavour and most varieties aren't available on the supermarket shelves.
All done by mirrors
Take a look at our latest, new, fabulous, gorgeous garden mirror. Yes, we love it and so will you. Your garden, whether it's measured in hectares or is a town courtyard, has room for the surprising. Our range of garden mirrors adds style and even humour by giving a new perspective to your garden. Simply reflecting your plants, pots and features can add a sense of depth and borrow light for dark corners.
The beautiful new Leaf Mirror is in galvanised steel blending an art nouveau inspired tendril and leaf design with a very modern metallic finish. It will last and look fabulous for years. It's just come into stock and we are sure they will be very popular, so order yours before they are all gone!
Full dimensions are in our Garden Mirrors Section where you can find our wide range of garden mirrors, including the Open Gate, Georgian Window and Perspective Arch Trellis.
Parsley facts and fantasy
Parsley is said to be very difficult to germinate (but not if you choose our garden in a bag type!). It was said to have to go 9 times to the devil before it would grow
In the West Country of England it was thought that only a woman should sow parsley and then only if the church bell was ringing!
Chew Parsley after eating garlic it's suppose to help get rid of the smell.
Parsley is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin K. There are significant health giving properties and vitamins in Parsley and you would need about 2 tablespoons of a day to give you the recommended dose.
Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb
Rhubarb contains oxalic acid which scientists from Yale University have discovered can be used to repair the hole in the ozone layer! (that's gonna take one long stick)
It's the oxalic acid that makes your lips pucker if the rhubarb is not sweetened enough.
Oxalic acid is poisonous to humans (would take a lot of uncooked rhubarb to do you too much damage) and is also toxic to aphids!
Make delicious Rhubarb and ginger jam ? Go to our Recipe Section http://www.sandedge.com/acatalog/Recipes.html
Want an aphid killing recipe? Read on.....
Rhubarb aphid spray
Boil 2-3 lbs. of Rhubarb leaves in about 3 litres of water for 30 minutes. (Use an Old pan for this)
Cool, strain and add about 3oz of soap.
Pour into a suitable sprayer and zap the aphids.
Do not use on edible plants and as with all insecticides keep safely out of the reach of children.
Puny Pumkins Not So Scary
The RHS blames the strange weather patterns we had in the UK during 2011 for disappointing pumpkins this Halloween. The spring was dry and affected early root growth. That's a crucial time for annual crops as the roots provide every drop of moisture and nutrient to the growing plant. Then summertime overnight temperatures were unusually low - what happened to those balmy nights of summers past? In addition the hours of sunshine were below average so leaf development was poor. Dry spells encouraged mildew and the low temperatures at night caused flowers and embryo fruits to rot and drop off. See RHS growing advice for the squash and pumpkin family.
Making The Most Of Your Pumpkin Harvest
Here's an image of one of my pumpkins grown in previous years; this years are just too embarrassing to publish. Fewer, smaller fruit are all that's on offer this year. But our roasted pumpkin recipe will still bring out the best of whatever crop you've managed to grow or buy in.
The best performer this year was the turban variety. It has naturally smaller fruit and we planted it on a deep bed near the beans so it benefitted from all the extra watering they got. It was still a poor show in volume terms, but we're ripening up one to store for Christmas. Roasted pumpkin is wonderful with the traditional roast on Christmas day. And any leftovers can go into the rich golden Roasted Pumpkin Soup (see the Recipe Section).
Try growing your own
Grow your own is the most popular new initiative and anyone can grow vegetables at home on a windowsill or in the smallest space in the garden.
Grow your own on a windowsill
Free Growing Kit with selected purchases over £20
Grab a free gift when you spend £20 or more from most product ranges (excludes larger products like furniture, mirrors and the rhubarb forcer).
Claim either the Grow your own discovery kit herbs, or strawberries.
Fragrance concentrate (0.35fl oz) just put few drops on the
Ceramic amulet, for hours of perfumed enjoyment.
Packet of herb or strawberry seeds
Metal plant marker
Book of cultivation advice.
Claim this Free offer while stock lasts
If you have a little more space then have a look at the brilliant new design for a mini allotment that is so easy to install in your garden you can start growing your own straight away. This brilliant British designed kit gives you the opportunity to grow a variety of veggies in a small space and the raised bed makes weeding easier and allows the soil to warm up quickly to maximise germination. Raised beds also reduce back ache.
You could also use a cloche to protect new seedlings from marauding pigeons and safeguard your plants from any possible late frost and to bring on your tender salad leaves to perfection. Protect your tender leaves and serve in perfect condition.
Patio to your door
A new patio is a great project to enhance your garden and it's a lot easier than you think! All the hard work of calculating what you need for the project has been done for you. Make your choice of what style and finish to order and the whole thing can be delivered to your door. No fuss and no time spent parking and queuing - get started right away.
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