Garden Maintenance, tips

Garden Maintenance in Winter

Garden Maintenance in Winter

Winter seems like horror for the garden.  The short days and dipping temperatures makes it very hard to grow anything. But a bit of planning can really set you up for the months ahead. It is the time nature gives for extra maintenance. I take it that way.

Structure maintenance – Checking all the sheds, fences and other structures can be done in this time of a gardening pause. Check and repair before snow and frost take a toll on them.

Caring for the Lawn – The soil needs more surface area to breathe in winter when the snow comes. Hence keep a thin covering of grass to let the soil breathe. Get rid of weeds, moss and leaves by putting into the compost pit. Never burn them on the lawn.

Cleaning the garden tools – Garden tools also need a look up. Clean and remove the rust. You can also use oil to make them ready for winter snow removal.

Caring for Vegetables – The carrots and other roots can be grown in the winter by covering with dry leaves. If it snows you can use a heavy rug for the snowy days. This will help get the roots for the hot soup during winters.

Perennial Shrubs – Prune the perennial shrubs before the first signs of frost. This will prevent broken branches due to heavy weights of snow.

Compost time – Winter is the best time to build a compost hole which can store the dry falling leaves. This can be excellent manure for all around the year.

garden decking

How to smarten up your garden decking area?

Gardens are one of the most versatile and most fun parts of your house to dress up. The entire garden decking area has a huge scope in turning your house from a normal average home to a luxurious resort. Decking up your garden is easy and not too expensive but it also requires style and a flair for bringing the best out of the area.

Understanding your garden deck

The first step to turning your garden completely around is to analyze what your garden looks like and the strengths that you can play towards. Large gardens are a wonderland for opportunities and can be created in to an entire themed garden. Garden corners, concrete pathways, the pool or fountain and even the rock bed and shaded areas must be noted. This is because; different pieces of furniture look good at different places. Placing a day bed under the shade of those huge oak trees would be a better and cooler alternative that placing it under direct sunlight. Garden corners allow you to play with angular rattan sofa chairs and a pool is the most amazing thing to style your garden around.

garden decking

Once you’ve done so, pick a theme for your garden. Theme does not mean under the sea or pirates or anything fancy, theme would mean urban, wooden, concrete or flowery or simply anything you can work it which allow a little bit of cohesion between things.

Picking the right furniture

Now that your garden and you have familiarized yourselves, it is time to pull in the furniture. A mistake commonly made by many home owners is to simply throw in a couple of garden chairs, add a table with an oil cloth around it and call it a garden lounge. Mistake, mistake, mistake. That may be good for a backyard but not a garden.

Garden furniture staples include lounge chairs, day beds, a table and chair set and even a swing. When shopping for garden furniture, the rule of thumb is to avoid anything with too much cloth or cushion as well as anything that does not have anti rust paint on it. This is because it may rain, it may snow and it may smog; and you definitely do not want to ruin your furniture investment. Rattan furniture almost always is the way to go. Rattan comes in a few types of colors and pair a set with spunky cushions to bring out the fun side of your garden.

herbs gardening

Something on Herb Growing and Cooking

Herbs are great. They are fantastic for your health and they also add wonderful flavours to your food, vegetables, smoothies, you name it. Now who doesn’t know about my love for gardening, and coupled with the fact that I am a little bit of a health fanatic, I haven’t been able to resist preparing a little patch in my garden for herb planting. Herbs are fascinating and can be grown for fragrances, incense-making and for tea, but of course their main use, for me in any case, is in cooking for soups, poultry stuffing … name it. I think the reason more of us don’t use herbs regularly is because there is so much mumbo jumbo mixed up with most herb literature.


What I love is that herbs take practically no space, and because they don’t need any major soil preparation, you can grow them easily. Herbs mustn’t be planted in a wet place and I’ve got this perfect little patch close to my kitchen where I’ve got a good mix of soil, compost, loam and sand, all nicely sifted. I’ve got mint, basil, fennel, coriander, chives, sage and thyme growing and I know they’re going to be especially good on lamb. Want to start some herb growing and cooking too? Please share some of your ideas here and any tips you may have for me.


How does Your Garden Grow?

There are some plants which just seem to enhance the beauty of the garden, and it is exciting combining some indigenous plants with some exotic flora. I want my garden to be a rich treasure of varied, beautiful plants – even those which grow under difficult conditions. For me this is a big achievement getting these ‘difficult’ plants to grow. I’m always rewarded by glowing splashes of colour.


I know lots of people say it costs a lot of money to have a lovely garden. Just remember that lots of nurseries have a surplus list of trees and shrubs which have grown too large for their pots and they are marked down drastically as they need to be transplanted. Of course once you have learned enough about trees and plants, you can master the trick of getting them from the ‘wilds’ and having your own ‘wild garden’ on your own grounds.

To get your garden growing I always say ‘get your soil in shape‘. Organic substance is the primary means to build good soil for your plants. There is no doubt that rich soil will mean your plants will grow faster and be superior. If you’ve also got a vegetable garden, you’ll find that the insects are less likely to destroy your healthy plants grown in rich soil.

Gardening in small spaces

Grow delicious Vegetables in Good Soil and in Pots


Many of the so-called fresh vegetables we buy in the store today don’t have the same nutritious value of the same vegetables out of our gardens. If you have a vegetable patch, it is important to investigate the fertility of your soil. What if your soil shows a deficiency in one of the basic fertilizers? The secret to growing healthy, nutritious vegetables is good soil. You can buy an inexpensive soil test kit at your local nursery or garden store. Results will reveal your soil’s pH and soil texture.
A high or low pH will result in plant nutrient deficiency. The best pH is anything between 5.5 and 7 as this will ensure your veggies can absorb nutrients. Always add organic matter to the soil which is natural and has the right mix of potassium, phosphorous and nitrogen for your vegetables.

Pots are Great for Veggie Growing

With richly fertilized soil, vegetables are stronger and grow faster. Insects find it harder to destroy healthy vegetables grown in rich soil. Remember not all vegetables need to be planted in the ground. In fact, any vegetable that grows in the ground can be grown in a container. If you don’t have space for a vegetable garden, there are some veggies that are quite happy to grow in pots. All you need is a generous-size container filled with good potting soil and a nice sunny spot.

Pots and containers are great for growing veggies and they allow you to also overcome problems such as poorly drained soil. Just remember to choose the right container which provides drainage. The larger the plant’s root system the bigger and deeper the container should be.

Gardening in small spaces, Tools and Gadgets

Considering a New Gadget


Gardening gadgets can make life easier.

Photo credit: Vilseskogen / Foter / CC BY-NC


While gardening is great exercise, I find I need a few gadgets to make it easier, especially on those days when I wake a little stiff and achy. One big problem is constantly kneeling, then moving a few inches only to kneel again. I tried the knee protection used by construction workers, but they didn’t really solve my problem. I tried a foam pad, sold in the gardening department, but I still had to struggle with standing, then moving the pad only to kneel again, in the new spot. I think my pride blinded me to other options. After all, no one wants to admit they are not nearly as lithe as they were in their early teens!

I saw something called a “Garden Scoot” while browsing a catalogue. I’m not sure I’ll get one, but it would solve most of my kneeling issues. The purist in me wants to stay as close to the soil as possible, knees and all. However, the aging gardener in me wants to end my knee pain and move around quicker. It even has a long handle, so I can pull it along, like a wagon, when I want to avoid the embarrassment of being seen by the neighbors while sitting on it!



Container Gardening, Winter Gardening

Getting Ready For Winter

Been bit of a busy month for me, keeping out of the wifes way as she prepares the house for Christmas and the influx of friends and relatives. So best place for me, my greenhouse and potting shed! I have spent my time productively, well mostly, found time for a quiet bit of reading, my potting shed is quite comfy. I actually have spent quite a bit of time making sure my greenhouse is ready for the winter especially as they predictions are indicating a worse winter than we have had in a long time with arctic weather brrrr. Thanks to ferratum UK I have now invested in a nice heating system and heated propagator for the greenhouse – early Christmas present for myself.

I have also used the time on the couple of good days we have had to get the garden into shape for winter, given it a good clean up, removed old plants and turned the soil.  Another thing I have been doing is getting ahead with my summer plants and potting up some seeds. I have chosen Antirrhinum or snapdragons as they commonly known because I just love the variety of colours and they cut so nicely (keeps the wife happy) plus they are quite a hardy plant and can be safely put into the cold frame quite early in the season. The other thing I have done is create a couple of containers for the patio, just to add a bit of colour on a cold winters day. If you fancy doing the same you would do well to look at this site for tips and advice.



garden containers for a bit of winter colour


Gardening Projects

The Christmas Plant

Plum Poinsettia a change from the usual red poinsettia popular as the christmas plant

Plum Poinsettia

Christmas is nearly here and my yearly project is coming to fruition and looking very good. Every year I provide family and friends with the Christmas pot plant poinsettia on the understanding that they are returned to me by end of March.  That is when I cut them down and start the regrowth cycle. Over the years some of my poinsettias have re-bloomed 4 or 5 times.  I love Poinsettias, my father always bought one for my mother every year on Christmas Eve but she certainly did not have green fingers it was normally dead by the middle of January but it is one of my endearing memories of my dad wandering into the home, slightly tipsy carrying a poinsettia. These great plants originate from Mexico, where it was cultivated by the Aztecs who called the plant Cuetlaxochitl, they considered it a symbol of purity. The poinsettia bracts ( coloured leaves) also made the reddish – purple dye.  there are number of colours available now alongside the traditional red. I am waiting to find a Plum poinsettia, for myself.   So if you are lucky enough to have a ponsettia plant this Christmas here are my tips for looking after it.

  • Water poinsettias sparingly as overwatering can damage plants. As a rule of thumb, only water when the surface of the compost has begun to dry out. The flowering life of plants is extended by humidity, so mist plants regularly.
  • Feed monthly with a low nitrogen, high potassium fertiliser.

For those of you who want to try and keep your plant for another year, look in in my blog posts in April or have a look here.


Gardening in small spaces

Container Gardening

Cooks garden

Small space?  Beginner at Gardening? Fearing failure? Then container gardening is for you.  A cooks garden is a good choice for a beginner. Think herbs. What better use of a small space than to grow your own herbs? They are expensive to buy and quickly need replacing, so let’s grow our own. The most popular herbs for container use are

  • Basil,
  • Rosemary,
  • Thyme,
  • Parsley,
  • Oregano,
  • Lemongrass,
  • Assortments of mint,
  • Coriander ( Cilantro)

There is nothing more wonderful then just popping outside and cutting a bunch of your own herbs.  The scent is amazing. Take a look at this interesting video on herb pots which also suggests herbs for the non cooks among us… Don’t forget that most herbs can be frozen so you can have a winter supply of your favourites, take a look at Away to Garden, really useful blog.

Some pointers for when you start thinking about container gardening,

Use big pots! The bigger the better I find, obviously you have to take account of the space you have available but bigger pot equates to bigger yield. Use your imagination, on one of my balconies I had a collection of old mop buckets in a variety of colours, beg borrowed and stolen from family and friends. Loved it, so bright and cheerful, like a rainbow! Let me know what you use?

Use your imagination when it comes to containers.

containers provide imagination in gardening

Use your imagination when it comes to containers

As mentioned before think about what sunlight your plants will get and where you can position the pots.

How easy it is to get water to them?

Get informed; there are numerous websites and books out there for the beginner, the more you know the better your crops. I recommend McGee and Stuckeys” The Bountiful Container” full of interesting ideas and ‘how to’s’.

So don’t sit there reading go fill a pot and share with me what you are growing.


Gardening in small spaces

Gardening in Small Spaces

Did you know that it is possible for you to grow your own vegetable garden in small apartments and cramped quarters? You do not need a giant backyard to have your own plants, after all!

If you are thinking of planning your own small-space garden, you have to make sure that you do it in a systematic manner. First of all, you should figure out how much space you have. This, you can do by finalizing the area in which you are going to garden and physically measuring the same. If you do not have enough horizontal space, find out if you have vertical space- and put your plants in a tall container, or use climbers! The area you have chosen must get enough sun. You should also figure out if the area you have chosen has soil (and if so, what type) or if you have to get it from somewhere else.


It should be possible for you to transport some water to the area where your garden is going to go up. You can choose to have a garden for decorative purposes (to make the house look better, or to cover up something ugly you have to keep in the house). You could also create your own kitchen garden, if you are not looking for something decorative.

Once you have figured out the purpose of the garden, and where it is going to go, you will be able to design your own small-space garden with absolute ease!