Words of Wisdom from the Gardening Guru

Sow What?

Varieties of Peppers – Seeds to Sow

Posted on February 20, 2013 by Samantha Ford

Pepper Seeds - Tondo Piccante Cherry

February and March are the months of the year when we start to sow seeds in earnest, particularly those that require a long growing season to ripen.  Of course, this is easier if you have a greenhouse or can start seeds under cover, such as on a sunny windowsill.  If you can start to sow seeds now in batches, then you still have time to sow a few more again later if you have any problems with germination.

Peppers have to be one of my favourite crops to grow as there are so many different colours and varieties to suit all tastes, such as the standard bell pepper as well as ornamental, cayenne and chili peppers.  They are versatile in cooking and can be stored in many ways once harvested.  Here are a few different varieties to try. Read the rest of this entry →

Planning Your Plot – Crop Rotation

Posted on February 05, 2013 by Samantha Ford

Garden Crop RotationLast time, I started my discussion on how to plan your garden so that it is most productive all year round by giving advice on companion planting.  Companion planting, or the practice of growing vegetables with herbs and flowers, is useful for deterring pests and keeping the soil in balance as different crops need different nutrients as they grow.  However, whilst some crops return nutrients to the soil that can be used by others, if members of the same crop family are grown together in the same place year after year, nutrients can be depleted and pests will be encouraged to return.  Most farmers and many seasoned gardeners follow the practice of crop rotation to improve yield, moving crop families around the plot each year in a particular order.

Even in a small garden, crops can be rotated to take advantage of the many benefits.  In fact, I recently designed a system of rotated raised beds for a family to grow food on their garden patio.  The children really enjoyed growing the tomatoes and courgettes in particular.  Hopefully, the following advice will encourage you to try it for yourself – no excuse!

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Planning Your Plot – Companion Planting

Posted on January 28, 2013 by Samantha Ford

Tips for companion plantingIt is the ideal time of year to sit down and think about which seeds you will be sowing during the next few months.  Rather than growing the same as last year, try something new for a change and take inspiration from the range of unusual garden seeds from around the world, available to browse at www.originaltouch.co.uk.

When planning your plot, give a thought to how you could include crop rotation and companion planting in the design.  The many benefits have been known and practised for centuries, such as saving space and preventing pests as well as being attractive.

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Feeding Birds In Winter in Your Garden

Posted on January 22, 2013 by Samantha Ford

Feeding Birds in Winter

Feeding birds in winter is very important to help our birds to survive by providing fresh food and water.  Once a feeding routine is established, keep it up as birds will become used to returning to your garden and they will be a valuable ally in combatting garden pests in the coming months as well as being fun to watch.  Follow these tips and you will be enjoying their company all year.

Some of you may be taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch this weekend.  This is a fun activity that also helps to record the numbers of birds in our UK gardens.  Last year we witnessed a decrease in starlings but an increase in wood pigeons so it will be interesting to see if the trend continues.

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