New year, new you- or at least, that's the idea. Whether the new year is about finding a new direction or just doing the same routine, a little bit better, it's part of the fun of gardening to embark on new projects and seek out exciting new ways to enjoy the outdoors. Each Spring we have the chance to pursue bold new objectives with our garden, and to improve on previous years' successes (or lack thereof) with optimism and the wisdom of experience. Here are our suggestions, some bold and some less so, for the gardener seeking to try something a little different in 2018.
Growing mushrooms is a lot easier than many gardeners assume. The unique nature of mushrooms mean they need completely different (in fact, almost opposite) conditions to normal plants, and once established and activated can be produced at an astounding rate. With a bewildering array of delicious varieties available for growing at home, and interest in the mouth-watering flavours available growing, there’s never been a better time to start producing your own. Check out our mushroom-growing blog for more information on the ways you can turn an unused corner of your garden into a perfect habitat for these tasty delicacies.
Whether it’s soil improvers for root veg or wood chips for the humble mushroom, compost delivery from our shop takes the effort out of boosting your plants and creating a fertile base from which to bear record yields for your springtime crops.
Breaking the ‘slime trail stalemate’
Though the Christmas truce between exasperated horticulturalist and gluttonous gastropod might stand for a few months, don’t rest on your laurels. There are many things you can do over the winter to prepare the ground for the next time these munching molluscs storm the border (or allotment, beds, containers, insert as appropriate). A cutthroat battle of wits it may be, but with a little help you can make this spring a turning point. Here’s some steps to reduce your slug infestation, and with it your blood pressure.
- Break out the Copper: police the pests with the long arm of the lawn
Copper is a useful tool to prevent the spread of slugs across your garden. Small electrical charges make the metal plate uncomfortable for them to cross, meaning many avoid it. Copper rings, wire and tape is becoming more and more widespread in UK gardens, though its effectiveness compared to other new methods, such as fences, is a subject for debate among slug-afflicted gardeners.
- Use pine straw to give pests a prickly welcome
Pine straw- essentially packed, dried Christmas tree needles- is widely used across the pond for mulching, and is popular with berries as it’s reputed to spread slight acidity into the soil. But it’s most popular as a solution to greedy trespassers- slugs hate the spikey needles, and won’t cross them. This makes them especially useful for ‘low hanging fruit’ such as strawberries, where mulching (hence straw-berries) is essential.
- Make your own nematodes
Nematodes are a popular way to control the slug population in your garden- essentially bacteria that affect only slugs, they have come to the rescue of many exasperated gardeners. If you want to produce your own, you can save a trip to the garden centre. Many slugs already carry the bacteria, and once picked up and kept securely in a bucket with as many other slugs as you can grab, a little water (you’re not trying to drown them, this is more of a marinade) and some leaves for food, you can quickly produce your own nematode soup via your unwitting helpers. Mix them up and keep adding slugs caught in the act of invading your garden (a pair of rubber gloves might come in handy) and after a few weeks you’ll have a perfect nematode tea courtesy of your bucket of bacteria-carrying captives. This water can be strained, replaced, and used to spread slug-busting justice across your allotment.
Following on from our tips on slug control, perhaps the ultimate anti-slug weapon is the humble chicken. Of course, the advantages to keeping hens extends far further than pest control. More and more families are keeping their own, savouring home-produced eggs and the bond between owner and animal. With an increase in interest in small-scale animal husbandry driven by an enthusiasm for animal welfare and organic produce, there is more information and material available to assist homeowners in keeping happy, healthy hens than ever.
Whether you’re treading new ground in 2018, or seeking to improve on last year’s rotation, our unbeatable topsoils, composts and other products will drive your garden to new success year after year. Check out our shop for more on our excellent range of products.