Green Fingers I Wish

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Tomato Growing Tips

Growing tips

Unless you are growing a bush tomato, the aim is to create a single-stemmed plant. To do this, snap out shoots that grow in leaf joints and when your plant has produced four sets of flowering trusses, pinch out the growing tip. This will ensure all its energy goes into producing fruit. Water plants daily and once flowers have started to appear, feed with tomato fertiliser every week to ensure the best fruit.

If you find yourself with a glut of green tomatoes at the end of the growing season, try putting a few in a kitchen drawer with a banana to encourage them to ripen.

There are hundreds of varieties of tomatoes, from tiny cherry tomatoes to huge beefsteak types. Why not try a few different varieties every year.

  • 'Cream Sausage' - creamy coloured, plum shaped and very sweet
  • 'Black Russian' - a large, dark skinned variety
  • `Gardeners Delight` - popular for its abundance of sweet fruit
  • `Sungold`- masses of cherry-sized fruits ideal for salads
  • `Marmande` - a classic beefsteak tomato

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Aloe

Aloes are some of the toughest, most reliable undemanding and striking landscape plants available. A flowering succulent, the genus is native to Arabia, Madagascar and Africa but is most diverse in South Africa.

They are amongst the most voluptuous and showy of succulents. In Australia, there are several varieties available depending on climatic region and the size of the garden. Brisbane Botanic Gardens, at Mount Coot-tha has a wonderful collection of aloes. There are over 300 species and hybrids.

Aloes are evergreen perennials, with architectural foliage that can be decoratively toothed or almost smooth, vibrantly green, blue or grey. Frosts, or cool winter temperatures, can often darken or tinge the foliage of some species with red - a wonderful seasonal bonus. Most aloes flower from autumn to spring making them essential ingredients for winter gardens.

Some to look out for include Aloe cameronii because of its firey flowers. They dribble nectar, attracting honey bees and birds into the garden, bringing life in the middle of winter. It’s adaptable to a range of soils and it doesn’t mind frost.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Saving Water

Saving water

It makes sense to save rainwater with a water butt, providing your plants with lots of water whenever they need it. This will help you beat the hosepipe bans and drought orders that have become common during the summer months.

Butts are really easy to attach to your house, shed, garage or any other garden building that has a gutter and a down pipe. And if a building such as greenhouse doesn’t have any, then consider having them fitted – you could save many litres of water. It is estimated that around 24,000 litres can be saved from the average house roof every year.

An alternative to a water butt is a rainwater harvesting system. They look like water butts, but are more expensive due to a powerful filter that cleans the water and have an internal pump in the tank which can drive water powerfully through a hose. Below ground tanks can also be installed, which have a bigger storage capacity.

Choosing your butt

Water butts are available in lots of shapes and sizes, and can hold between 100 and 700 litres of water. They generally look like barrels, but some are more streamlined for fitting in tight spaces. The most useful ones have a tap for filling watering cans easily. Many come with stands so the tap is at the right height to fit a watering can underneath

How to fit a water butt

Installing water butt

There are two ways to fit a water butt. The easiest way is to sever a plastic down pipe with a hacksaw and place the butt directly underneath it – an overflow pipe can be attached to the butt to channel away excess water to a drain or into another butt. Alternatively, cut a notch out of the pipe and fit a rain trap and connecting pipe – this will transport water to your butt and allows you to put it in the most convenient place.

Caring for your water butt

Keep your water butt well covered to prevent debris falling in or algae, slime or scum from forming - If it appears try adding a few drops of a biological rainwater treatment which should keep it clean for up to five months.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Outdoor Living Supplies Gardening Forum Moved

The Outdoor Living Supplies gardening forum has been incorporated into a Chat Forum by the name of Daily Talk Forum.

Why not visit the forum where you can "Discuss gardening, plants, flowers, vegetables, fruit, native gardens, garden settings, wildlife, fish, birds, reptiles and pets."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

British Birds Headed for Extinction Report

Greenfinches, ptarmigans and even the common blackbird could be among the next British birds to begin the slide towards extinction, according to a report published today.

The birds were highlighted by a new "early warning system" designed to identify species currently abundant but at risk of serious decline in the future. By predicting the next species likely to suffer a fall in numbers researchers hope to give conservationists a head start.

At least a fifth of British birdlife is already on the nation's red list of endangered species, a figure that is expected to rise when the list is revised later this year. According to the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, the number of red-listed species could hit 50 or more, and include the woodpecker, lapwing and curlew.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cut Taxes on Plants

The RHS said people on lower incomes were less likely to use their gardens
A petition calling for a tax cut on ornamental garden plants and seeds has been launched by the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS).

The society said the move would help people to "green up" their gardens, and combat climate change.

RHS director general Inga Grimsey said research showed people on lower incomes were less likely to use their gardens.

She said RHS Wisley, in Surrey, sells plants worth £5m each year. The VAT on top, paid by consumers, was £875,000.

According to the RHS, plants are the best way of trapping CO2 in the ground, and the more plants and trees there are, the more CO2 will be taken out of the atmosphere.