Around this time of year, the sights and smells of summer gardens begin to pose a real temptation those whose gardens might only contain paving slabs. But for the enthusiastic amateurs seeking to transform their outdoors into a prospering flower garden, there are some realities to come to terms with: one of which is weeding.
What’s lurking beneath the surface of your garden?
Weeding might seem like a constant uphill struggle for gardeners, but it actually becomes easier over time. There will always be weeding to- especially annual weeds, the seeds for which can creep into your garden over the year, but on the whole weeding is a cumulative effort- as you continue to diminish the size and strength of perennial weeds, your weeding efforts will become easier. Perennial weeds spread through deep & often complex root systems that allow them to survive for years beneath the ground. You’ll need to commit to years of monitoring and digging before you finally eliminate them- it’s all about causing as much damage to the root network as possible, because as long as the fronds remain beneath the surface, the weed itself will return again and again.
Weeding or mulching?
The two means of fighting weeds- weeding (extraction) or mulching, are equally popular with gardeners seeking to reduce the prominence of weeds in their garden or allotment. In truth the two methods are not so separate- as effective mulching must be followed by some degree of weed extraction. Yet if your garden is suffering from a particularly heavy infestation of weeds, mulching can be a low-effort way to reduce them, limit their growth and spread and make for much easier removal. Simply cover the area between your plants, either with compost, grass clippings or leaves, to keep sunlight from reaching the weeds below. This will stifle weed growth and reduce water loss from the soil, and the organic matter should decompose into the soil. Ensure you leave the developed plants you wish to keep clearly exposed- the mulch will fertilise them, kill weeds and insulate them during colder months. Bear in mind that while this procedure increases fertility, h if that’s your main goal you could also consider top dressing or even plant food water additives. The other method of mulching involves a less sightly strategy- covering the weed-affected area with cardboard or black plastic sheeting to completely deprive the plants beneath of sunlight. In time they’ll shrivel and die, allowing for much easier removal. Unlike mulching with organic matter this approach cuts off the plants beneath completely from water as well as sunlight, which understandably causes a degree of trauma to the soil and won’t insulate as well- so ensure you time your choice of which form of mulching to use according to the weather.
While regular gardens and lawns might benefit from weed killers and additional chemical additives, those growing fruit and veg might prefer a more organic approach that kills weeds and stifles any spread of plants into undesirable areas of border or allotment- this is something organic mulch does very well, and in addition it offers a wide range of drainage, fertility and insulation control qualities.
By comparison weeding is a simpler task- you can pluck the weeds out by hand (always satisfying when successfully ousting a particularly unsightly specimen) or using tools like a fork, hoe, trowel, scissors or even a specialist purpose-built weed remover to uproot them. In the cases of annual weeds, lightly hoeing the area removed the stems from the roots and allows the dead heads to be removed easily, raked away or simply left to rot into the soil. With perennial weeds a more rigorous approach, aimed at removing the roots entirely from the soil, is needed to prevent the plant from regrowing or spreading. Lots of specialist tools are available for this task, although a simple garden fork is often the most popular.
Weeding with a fork, hand fork or trowel should be undertaken every day, or as often as possible to keep weeds down and should be across your garden- as any area where weeds can flourish can lead to spread across the rest of your garden. If you compost, remember to separate annual weeds from perennials, as the latter can take over your garden or even compost heap, are hard to extract and should be disposed of.
Top soil supplier costs can be a serious factor when determining the scale of your garden project. Limiting costs is a high priority for every gardener seeking a large-scale garden renovation, and high-value bulk topsoil orders can be an investment that determines the scale of your new garden. Even raised beds and small allotments can lead to mounting costs- not to mention difficulty transporting the amount of topsoil needed.
So how can you get the lowest possible top soil price without compromising either blend quality or the quantity you end up providing your plants? With Topsoil Shop!
We only stock the best garden top soils to ensure your plants prosper, but we also make sure you get the best possible value for money on your order, with our top soil calculator- which lets you see the exact amount of top soil you need to complete your project. Our soil improvers are all competitively priced & we’re always working to give you even lower prices on all our gardening products. We can provide the exact measure of topsoil you need, delivered straight to the site of your project, with expedited delivery if necessary. Though this combination of high quality, minimum waste and quick & affordable delivery, we have been able to help gardens around the UK blossom & thrive while saving money for the hard working gardeners who want to create them reach their luscious potential.
Whether you’re setting up a new garden, establishing raised beds or simply reorganising your allotment, we deliver bulk bags of high quality screened topsoil at a great price, to ensure your plants get the most benefit from the soil- whether planted out or grown from seed. So don’t let excessive top soil supplier costs deter your from that long-planned garden redesign, the addition of new species or boost to soil fertility. View our range of soil improvers here, and find out how we can help your garden prosper.
We decided to test out B&Q’s foray into apps- the new Outdoor Assistant, which claims you can identify plants or weeds and get advice on gardening techniques.
B&Q recently conducted research that claimed while more Brits are gardening than ever, 10% are guilty of mistaking flowers for weeds, while 15% allowed weeds to grow thinking they were flowers. Helpfully they have introduced a new app for those unsure whether they’re weeding a border or demolishing grandma’s prize orchid.
Free to download and advertised as ‘Shazam for plants’ the app sets itself an ambitious task- using image-recognition software to identify any plant the user photographs. While other, similar apps are available, the promising mission statement and corporate brand made us decide to take this one for a test drive.
We found the app simple and functional, without unnecessary bells and whistles- which proved to be vital, as we ventured further into the garden it began to struggle with speed and connectivity. Several searches crashed or had to be abandoned after taking too long to load- leading to a series of searches being conducted on clippings inside with the benefit of WiFi.
Overall the accuracy was distinctly average, and while it didn’t seem the app promised to provide encyclopedic knowledge- in providing a selection of possible matches it came across as aware of its fallibility- correctly identifying 6 of the 12 plants certainly highlighted that work is still needed. Assuming that the majority of users are drawn in by the claimed ability to identify plants, we certainly hoped for more precise results.
Seeming to function better in well-lit conditions, it scored 4 for 6 in the first, border-based testing, correctly identifying primrose, tulip, daffodils and hyacinths- admittedly probably the easier end of the spectrum. Somewhat unfairly we decided to test it on strawberries’ distinctive leaves, which perhaps understandably was unsuccessful.
On the second, cloudier attempt (weeds, shrubs and pot plants) connectivity proved a huge problem, as did the gravel setting on which many of the weeds were situating- completely confounding it. The zoom required for a suitable picture produced blurry images that again failed to register and required several attempts- several had to be pulled up in order to be captured to the app’s satisfaction- though many of these still proved incorrect. It did however correctly ID an anemone and a particularly tricky Japonica- for a total of 2 for 6, slightly disappointingly. Eventually it crashed mid-way through a search- a fairly inauspicious ending to our experimenting. Admittedly there is an option to save a picture for searching later- though this seems like a fairly impractical measure for countering a poor internet connection in the garden.
-If you have gravel, don’t expect miracles. Gravel seemed to totally flummox the software, probably due to the variety of colours and textures interfering with the image recognition technology.
-If you have slow internet, you might be better off with a book. Despite an increase in urban gardening, many of those who garden aren’t fortunate enough to be situated in 4G hotspots- something that proved rather tedious during our time trialing Outdoor Assistant.
-An option to retrieve previous searches would be ideal.
-Though ostensibly a plant-identifying app, there’s an awful lot of shopping options built in below the surface.
-British weather seems, as usual, to stop play. The app contains a marvellous gallery of high definition stock-style images, all showing crisp and lovely plants in full bloom in thoroughly Mediterranean weather. Perhaps predictably then, it seemed to struggle to find a match for some of our markedly less luscious offerings- particularly a fuzzy close up of shaded flowering broccoli as dianthus- which could lead to some interesting border choices from less experienced gardeners.
Increasing numbers of Britons are gardening alongside using social media- with 24.3 million posts using the hashtag #garden in March alone. The RHS, meanwhile, has announced a £27 million investment in raising awareness of the positive effects of gardening- meaning that gardening could be about to take off as millions seek the therapeutic effects of ‘getting back to nature’, the RHS Claims. In the context of the decline of gardening and gardens, apps like Outdoor Assistant present an innovative, engaging and thoroughly 21st century solution to gardening illiteracy. Unfortunately there seem to be some problems that need ironing out- and while the idea certainly merits more development, there’s a lot of gardening books that can do the same job more reliably.
We all seem to enjoy starting the year with a bit of a health kick. Of course, this doesn’t always last- but the same principle works for your garden, and if you stay the course a little extra attention in spring can help your lawn hit new highs all year through.
Once you dig the mower out of the shed, get yourself up and running with a light mow that leaves plenty of length on your lawn to promote hearty growth.
There’s more to setting your lawn up for the spring than a quick trim, though- consider scarification and aeration to improve drainage during those spring showers, and remove moss. But to give your lawn even more of a helping hand, make the most of the spring growing conditions with a top dressing with our specialist top dressing top soil. This will improve drainage, fertility and general lawn health throughout the year and help develop a thick, luscious lawn- and regular top dressing gives the soil structure itself a fertility boost that will benefit your lawn for the months ahead. Top dressing also helps level the lawn, creating a more even and fertile platform for even growth and that perfect smooth appearance.
Many gardeners how include top dressing in their springtime lawn care routine, due to the thorough boost it gives and how easily it can provide a thicker lawn in conjunction with overseeding- the best way to fill in any patches left by digging out weeds and moss that have sprung up during the winter period.
Topsoilshop.co.uk has everything you need to make sure your garden gets off to a perfect start this spring- whether you’re keeping your lawn in pristine condition or growing veg in an allotment, we have something to help you get the most from your efforts.
The Plant Risk Register has been updated for 2017.
Responsible gardening means understanding invasive species and diseases- be sure to know the risks and regulations new for 2017. The Plant Risk Register was updated in January to cover the most recent concerns regarding plant and tree diseases.
In the latest updates to the register now includes some new risks, including
• Texas Phoenix Palm Decline – a phytoplasma disease killing palm trees in the USA
• Acalolepta sejuncta – Asian longhorn beetle which attacks trees
• Crisicoccus pini – Kuwana mealybug, a pest of pines recently introduced to Italy
• Monilinia polystroma – Asiatic brown rot
• Fusarium oxysporum f. sp. Cubense: a fungal infection effecting bananas.
While some of these may sound slightly exotic for the majority of UK gardeners, there are a number of extant risks that have been reassessed in the 2017 update. These include Candidatus Phytoplasma mali, cause of Apple Proliferation Disease in apple trees, now subject to increased monitoring and regulations following reports of increased spread inside Europe. Another serious disease is Candidatus Phytoplasma pyri, a cause of Pear decline that could potentially be a serious risk to the country’s perry orchards, and viewed as low risk but carrying the highest impact if allowed to spread to orchards. The Iris Yellow Spot Virus, a danger to onion crops, is considered a likely danger farmers and gardeners will have to deal with in 2017.
The spread of disease is something all gardeners need to be familiar with- as if allowed to spread to farms or to other vulnerable areas, they can have serious repercussions. By identifying and removing plants that carry infectious diseases, we can ensure our gardens don’t contribute to the spread of invasive or dangerous plant species, diseases or pests.
Tags: vegetable growing