Green Fingers I Wish

Monday, April 28, 2008

Lawn Care Tips

Feeding with a lawn fertiliser will make it greener and thicker, which helps it resist weeds and moss. There are different formulations depending on the time of the year you are feeding, and there are also feed and weed products, which will kill moss, while providing nutrients to the grass.

Learn to tolerate a few weeds in the lawn, but if small patches or single weeds need to be removed, pull up by hand with the help of a daisy grubber tool or similar device. This helps to get the deeper roots of perennial weeds out. Alternatively spot-treat with a dab-on weed killer that can be bought in tubes. Use a selective weed killer on lawns with large colonies of weeds, such as creeping buttercup.

Little and often is the recipe for success. Regular cutting keeps the lawn thick, tidy and deters weeds. For most lawns, at the start of the year set the mower blades to 3cm (1.25in) and cut the lawn about once a week. When the grass grows faster during the spring and summer, lower the blades to 2cm (1in) and you may need to cut up to twice a week.

During long dry spells, mow less frequently, let grass grow longer and don't use summer feeds that will make lots of new growth. If you are in a drought area your lawn may turn brown in summer, but learn to live with this rather than using a sprinkler and it will soon recover when it rains in autumn.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spring Has Sprung Early

The chilly winds and snow smatterings of recent weeks suggest winter is still in residence.

But our gardens, parks and woodland are telling a different story.

Shrubs, trees and flowers that usually wait until May to blossom are already in their full glory.

Hawthorn - known as the May flower because of the time it usually blossoms - has been blooming for weeks.

Bluebells are carpeting woodlands at least a couple of weeks early while apple trees are already frilled with blossom.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Protect Plants Against Late Frost

At this time of year many plants succumb to frost or to cold, excessively wet soil. Leaves may become frost-bitten and roots can rot. You need to protect your plants before first frosts strike, to ensure a good display the following year.

In sheltered city gardens, you may get away with not protecting tender plants at all. However, if you are going to experiment, do pay attention to weather forecasts – don’t get caught out by a sudden hard frost.

Planted pots

For general protection of your garden apply a layer of bark compost or mulch 5cm (2in) deep around herbaceous perennials but use grit around the plants themselves. This will stop moisture collecting and rotting the stems while the mulch will keep them warm. The mulch will also help by breaking down over the winter months, adding organic matter to the soil and improving drainage. Also, as you prepare your plants, take cuttings as you go, ( in case plants don't survive.)

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Badger Cull in Wales?

Britain's first major cull of badgers for 25 years to combat tuberculosis in cattle could be announced later.

The decision to eradicate the mammals within a defined geographical area is expected to be announced by Welsh Rural Affairs Minister Elin Jones.

The controversial move would be one of a series of measures to tackle the disease - a growing problem in Wales.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Encourage Wildlife in The Garden

Ten ways to introduce wildlife-friendly features

  • Choose plants that are more attractive to native wildlife, for example, birds are attracted to berry-bearing plants in winter, such as cotoneasters, holly, pyracantha and skimmia. Also favourites with birds are natives like crab apples, hawthorn, honeysuckle, rowan, and sunflowers.
  • Allow some of your plants to go to seed to provide winter food for seed-eating birds. Seed-heads also have an aesthetic bonus, as they provide winter interest in the garden.
  • Look for alternatives to slug pellets and pesticides or reduce the use of herbicides, fungicides and insecticides - use organic methods of control. Many insecticides kill beneficial species as well as harmful ones.
  • Use bird-feeders or bird tables to protect birds from cats.
  • Provide nesting boxes for birds and even bats. Nest boxes are excellent substitutes for the holes in old trees. In many gardens, there may be lots of food, but nowhere to nest.
  • Plant perennials with broad flower-heads to encourage bees into your garden in summer. Avoid too many double flowers that can prevent insects from accessing the nectar.
  • Avoid using herbicides by hand weeding, applying mulch, using weed-suppressant fabric and planting good ground cover.
  • Have a water feature - even a simple bowl can encourage frogs and other wildlife which will feed on bugs and snails. Dragonflies will often breed in them, and many birds may use them to drink and bathe in. If you have room for a pond, site it in a sunny position and ensure the sides are gently sloping, so birds can drink and bathe, amphibians spawn and hedgehogs escape if they fall in.
  • Keep a pile of logs in an undisturbed corner of the garden to provide shelter for insects and mammals - if you are lucky a hedgehog or toad may find a home there and feed on all your slugs and snails.
  • A bundle of hollow stems in quiet spot that catches the morning sun can be a home for solitary mason bees.