Fantastic Gardeners tackles a wide range of exterior maintenance and design projects with professionalism and expertise. Enjoy your time and read some of the most exciting articles and news from the world of gardening and landscaping.
Hedera, which we commonly refer to as English Ivy (pl. Ivies), is a family of around 20 species of evergreen perennial plants. Depending on their surroundings, these woody plants can be both ground creeping or climbing nearby trees, rocks, buildings, and pretty much anything they can lay their stems on. Given a solid base, the […]
With Halloween behind us, Christmas is fast approaching and many businesses have already started putting up their holiday decorations. It is at this time that countless people throughout the country are faced with an annual dilemma, to buy a real Christmas tree or an artificial one.
While either option can be found on both the naughty and nice lists, the short answer is that real trees are the better choice for the environment. However, in order to make an informed decision as to what is best for your home, we will need to take a closer look at real and artificial trees.
Artificial Christmas Trees
If you were to enter a person’s home prior to the 1930’s you would only find real Christmas trees. This changed when the American toilet brush company, Addis Brush Company, created an artificial tree using brush bristles, inadvertently kickstarting an entire industry.
There are undeniable benefits to choosing an artificial Christmas tree over a real one. These include:
Guilt-free. Many of us don’t like the idea of cutting down a new tree every year to adorn our home for a month, artificial trees negate this guilt as they are re-usable.
Cost. Christmas is one of the most expensive times of the year for most of us. With presents and higher energy bills it can be difficult for lower income families to also buy a new tree every year.
Convenience. Artificial trees are a lot more convenient than a real tree. They are stored easily and there is no need to walk around in the cold choosing the perfect tree.
Watering. Unlike their living counterparts, artificial trees are incredibly easy to care for. There is no need to water the tree in order to keep it looking healthy for the entire holiday season.
Pine needles. Another advantage is that artificial trees do not drop pine needles everywhere. This means more time to spend with your family instead of cleaning.
Transport. The final advantage to choosing an artificial tree is that you don’t need to worry about transporting it to your home. Most fake Christmas trees come with a package that fits into your car and after the holidays you can easily store it in your attic, garage or closet.
Nothing in this life exists without flaws. This is especially true in the Christmas tree debate. The major disadvantages to choosing an artificial Christmas tree include:
Environmental impact. While you may think that buying an artificial tree is better for the environment since it doesn’t involve cutting down a healthy tree every year, a study conducted by an environmental consulting firm based in Montreal has turned this concept on its head. The researchers found that you would have to re-use an artificial tree for twenty years to be more ecologically friendly than their living counterparts.
Carbon footprint. The researchers mentioned above reached their conclusion by taking the production method, materials, and waste products into account. The production process requires an incredibly large amount of energy and since most artificial trees contain polyvinyl chloride (PVC) the waste materials are highly toxic and carcinogenic.
Non recyclable, non biodegradable. It should come as no surprise that plastic trees are not biodegradable, which is why many landfills are populated by broken artificial Christmas trees. But you may not know that fake trees are not made from recycled material and they also cannot be recycled.
Have a Jolly Holiday with a Real Christmas Tree by Fantastic Gardeners
How to select a non-toxic artificial Christmas tree
Artificial trees made from PVC often contain other toxic materials, such as lead, to stabilise the shape of the branches and bristles. Prolonged exposure to such materials has been shown to play a major role in stunting early-childhood development as well as nerve damage. Many scientists now believe that there is no safe level of exposure to lead.
The good news is that many companies are moving away from 100% PVC trees in favour of a mix of polyethylene (PE) and PVC. This method not only reduces the potential toxicity it also allows the trees to look more realistic. Three-dimensional PE bristles occupy the majority of the branch with flat PVC bristles filling the back of branches.
If you will be buying an artificial tree this year, check the tips below in order to choose one with the lowest toxicity.
Look for the phrase ‘molded tips’ on the packaging.
Check the bristles at the front of branches. PE bristles are rounded and life-like whereas PVC bristles are flat.
Real Christmas Trees
If you were to ask people what comes to mind when asked about the ‘perfect’ Christmas tree, most of us would picture a large, healthy, real pine or fir tree. Although there are undeniable benefits to choosing an artificial tree, real trees also have their good points.
Treecycling. Knowing what to do with a real tree after Christmas is one of the reasons people opt for artificial trees, but there are a multitude of ways to repurpose that browning tree. You can replant it for re-use next year, donate it to a local zoo to be used as a big cat toy, repurpose the wood to be used to build garden ornaments, or simply recycle it by cutting it into logs for your fire. For more information on treecycling check out our article by clicking here.
Slim to none environmental impact. As the picture above suggests, nowadays real Christmas trees are grown in organic farms, which reduces to a minimum the environmental impact when cutting the tree.
Mulching. Send your old tree to be recycled and it will, most likely, be turned into chips to be used as footpath material or mulched to be used in landscaping.
Organic tree farms. A lot of Christmas tree farms nowadays are organic. They grow trees in a sustainable manner and don’t use pesticides. Buying from an organic provider can give you peace of mind that the tree is environmentally friendly and you aren’t bringing potentially dangerous chemicals into your home.
Wildlife habitats. Large Christmas tree farms grow more trees than they will sell and there is a constant cycle of new growth. These reforested areas provide excellent habitats for a lot of wildlife such as birds and small mammals.
Tradition. Continuing with certain traditions can bring us a sense of comfort and reignite happy family memories. This is especially true for Christmas traditions.
Look, feel, smell. No matter how realistic artificial trees get they will never be able to match the look, feel, and smell of a real tree. Since our senses are assaulted by Christmas decorations from mid-October a lot of us have become numb to their effects, however there are certain smells which invoke the Christmas spirit and a real pine or fir tree is one of those.
Transport. Transporting your fresh Christmas tree from the farm can be a hassle, especially if your car is not large enough to hold it. Plus, the cost of having it delivered can be expensive if you don’t live close to the farm.
Disposal. While the issue with sending artificial trees to the landfill is that they are non biodegradable, the opposite is true for real trees. As pine and fir trees rot they release large amounts of methane and other gases into the environment. the gases of one tree may not amount to much in the greater scheme of things but imagine the effect millions of rotting trees can have.
There are quite a few Christmas tree myths floating around, the most popular of which are concerned with the fire risk posed by real and artificial trees.
There is a common belief that real trees are at a greater risk of catching fire. This is mostly due to the fact that artificial trees have a fire-retardant coating. Although real trees can catch fire faster, flame-retardant artificial trees will resist fire for some time. When they do burn, they emit large amounts of highly toxic smoke.
So as long as your properly care for your real Christmas tree it is much less likely to pose a fire risk than an artificial one. Follow these tips to reduce the chances of a Christmas tree fire.
Choose the freshest looking tree, avoid trees which are dry or browning.
If the tree was pre-cut, cut the stump down by one or two centimetres and place it in water.
Water the tree regularly.
Clean up all dropped needles around the tree.
Do not overload the tree with lights. Try not to overload electrical sockets as well.
Switch the tree lights off at night before going to bed.
So there we have it, your definitive guide to the difference between real and artificial Christmas trees. After taking everything into consideration, we support and recommend the use of real Christmas trees. Not only are they better for the environment, they also carry a sense of nostalgia and perfectly embody the Christmas spirit.
To make this Christmas less stressful, we are offering a Christmas tree delivery, installation and disposal/recycling service. You can order all or just one of the services and a team of professionals will arrive with your tree. Once Christmas is over, you don’t need to worry about what to do with the tree as our teams can come to collect and recycle it. Contact us now for a quote from one of our Fantastic representatives.
Did we miss anything? Do have any tips for choosing a Christmas tree? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!
The all-year round wait is over – Fantastic Gardeners brings you the jolly hugs of evergreen trees! From this month forward, real Christmas tree delivery is available at every door in London. Forget the hassle and concentrate on gift selection or yummy recipe browsing, while we take care of the centrepiece in your holiday decoration.
Why Fantastic Christmas Tree Delivery?
Fantastic Gardeners game up to deliver a premium-grade service with the everlasting popularity of Nordmann Fir Christmas trees. You will receive a high-quality product, grown in an eco-sustainable environment in Denmark and Scotland. Here’s what you can expect from our service:
Contact a member of the jolly sales office – specify the size of your desired tree, as well as the time you need it supplied.
Delivery – when the time comes, a technician will come with your fresh tree, delivered at your doorstep;
Free Installation – in order to extend the tree lifetime, the gardener will chop off a little part from the trunk, so that it absorbs water easier;
Complimentary stand – for a longer lasting effect, we will place your Christmas tree on a special stand that will keep it alive and healthy throughout the entirety of the holidays.
Decorating – if you won’t have enough time between all the hustles around the holidays to think about lights, candles, balls and garlands, leave the decoration to the helpful gardener.
Green Waste Collection – a special “tree-cycling” service is available for pre-booking together with the Christmas tree delivery, which will result in a £29 discount for tree collection after the holidays.
Deck the Halls with Real Christmas Tree by Fantastic Gardeners
Sturdiness. This type of a Christmas tree is sturdier than the Norway Spruce, which is also popular, but quite fragile. It will last for around a month in a proper shape before the needles start falling off. This also depends on other factors, such as presence of heaters, excessive air conditioning or sudden temperature amplitudes.
Christmas fragrance. The Nordman Fir has a specific, delicate pine smell, that doesn’t interfere with the many fragrances in your Christmas home.
Environmentally better. A real Christmas tree has multiple advantages over an artificial tree, and, contrary to what you may think, it’s better for the environment. The artificial tree material is, in most of the cases, a non-recyclable plastic. Left in a landfill, it will take generations to degrade.
Suitable for indoor and outdoor use. The Nordman Fir fits both for outdoor and indoor environment. However, its needles remain intact for longer if you place it indoors.
High-quality non-drop needles. Its needles are dark-green on top and have white-blue stripes below. This gives depth of colour and more vividness. What’s more, the Fantastic Nordmann Fir Trees come with non-drop needles, compared to other Christmas trees, which means less sweeping from your side.
As it is with any cut plants, you need to treat your Christmas tree right. That means, providing a water reservoir stand is a must for a long-lasting effect. Luckily, our trees come with a complimentary one, which will satisfy its water needs and will make your life even easier.
Hop on the holiday sleigh and pre-book online Christmas tree delivery
As the country begins taking stock of the damage caused by hurricane Ophelia and works to restore power to much of Scotland and Northern England, gardeners throughout the country are lamenting the destruction of their gardens.
It may seem strange to worry about a ruined garden while there are people living without electricity, but many of us pour our hearts, souls, hard work, and time into crafting our ideal garden space. Gardens provide a refuge from the hustle and bustle of daily life where we can relax and forget about the world beyond the garden fence for a little while. So, to see the sanctuary you have created ruined can be disheartening, to say the least.
As upsetting as watching your hard work vanish overnight may be, it is a good reminder that some things are simply beyond our control. As such, rather than getting upset or angry, use that energy to refill your gardener’s optimism. Look at the damage as an opportunity to improve and strengthen your garden rather than as a disaster.
What is weather damage?
Following periods of extreme weather or single events, such as storms or heatwaves, it is common to find damage on the plants in your garden. While assessing the damage it can be easy to mistake some of it for evidence of pests or disease as the symptoms are similar to those found in weather damaged plants.
The main symptoms to look for when inspecting your plants are:
Brown leaves. The browning of leaves can occur on plants following large storms with a heavy, prolonged rainfall. This causes the soil around the roots to become waterlogged which causes buried roots to rot.
Scorched leaves. Finding scorched leaves or smaller scorch marks shows that the plant is using water faster than it is replenished. You will usually notice this during or after heatwaves.
Physical damage. This is the easiest type of damage to spot as it can be quite striking. Storms and high winds or fully capable of snapping branches and uprooting entire trees.
Dieback. The wilting of shoots or the browning of entire plants is a sign that nutrients and moisture are not reaching the leaves, this can be caused by some pests, disease, or fungus but it can be caused just as easily by waterlogged soil following a storm or dry soil following a drought.
When a weather warning is issued many of us begin making preparations to limit any potential damage to our family, home, and car, but few remember to make similar preparations to protect their garden.
Making the time to take a few preventative measures in your garden before an extreme weather event can greatly reduce the damage done to plants, garden structures such as sheds, and your home. Use the tips below to prepare your garden for the next storm.
Tidy up. Walk around your garden and collect any loose items such as garden tools, children’s toys, furniture, and fallen branches. The wind can blow debris around quite violently and cause damage to walls or break windows, collect and store items or debris out of the wind to remove this unnecessary risk.
Inspect trees and shrubs. Check the branches and roots of any trees and shrubs in your garden. Any broken branches should be removed and exposed roots should be covered. Doing this helps to protect the plant from additional physical damage caused by branches being torn off. It also reduces the chances of a plant being uprooted.
Trim top heavy flowering plants. If you have top-heavy plants such as roses in your garden it is advisable to trim them back before the storm arrives, even if it is not yet pruning season. Top heavy flowering plants are at a greater risk of being uprooted as heavy flower heads provide a great deal of wind resistance.
Pay closer attention to fir trees. Members of the fir tree family are exceptionally vulnerable in the face of high winds due to their dense foliage and height. Inspect the trees and remove any broken or dead branches. Consider reducing the height of the tree if the weather is good enough before the arrival of the storm.
Keep off the grass. It is best to wait for the weather to improve before walking or working on a lawn following a storm, especially if there was heavy rain. Lawns, after a storm are quite easy to damage. As the waterlogged soil cannot support additional weight, deep ruts in the ground can be formed by simply moving a lightly loaded wheelbarrow across wet grass. In extreme cases, an average adults weight can be enough to leave depressions along their route across the lawn.
If you were unable to make the above-mentioned preparations due to time constrictions or because the storm is arriving ahead of schedule, don’t mourn the loss of your garden just yet.
Here are five last-minute tips to help protect your garden.
Place potted plants and hanging baskets in a shed, garage, or conservatory to stop them ending up in your neighbour’s garden.
Group the larger plant pots together and lay potted trees on their side in an area protected from the wind.
Clean your roof gutters. Removing any leaves and twigs ensures that rainwater has an unimpeded path to the drain.
Tie securely vines or climbing plants to their supports with twine or string.
Stalk younger trees to secure them. Drive a 2×4 deep into the ground (around half a meter or more) and strap it securely to the tree trunk. The twine or string should have a little slack so that the trunk can move in the wind.
So there we have it, your quick guide on how to prepare your garden to survive a hurricane. As long as you remove any items or debris which can be blown by the wind, trim top-heavy plants, and maintain an optimistic outlook, your garden will not only flourish once the storm has passed – it will also be stronger.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any tips for preparing a garden for a hurricane? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!
“As cunning as a fox who’s just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University” Blackadder Goes Forth, 1989
The humble and cunning fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a common sight in towns, cities, and gardens throughout the UK. Sadly, many have come to view foxes as dangerous animals whose only thought is to kill. While it is important to keep in mind that wild animals can be dangerous, foxes are generally quite docile. They will avoid confrontations unless provoked, threatened, or cornered. But that doesn’t mean that they can be treated like our other domesticated four-legged friends.
Despite there being a seemingly unending stream of fox horror stories they actually do very little damage to our gardens. There may be signs of some digging, a pungent smell, and a bin on its side with trash spread across the lawn. In most cases though, foxes will run from people and household pets instead of savagely attacking. Even garden pets such as rabbits and guinea pigs are safe as long as the hutch is well-built and secured. Foxes may be cunning, but they also know when to give up if the effort outweighs the reward.
Reasons why foxes make it into your garden
Foxes are intelligent animals. They have been able to continuously adapt to our ever-changing landscape and are just as happy living in a sprawling urban environment as they are in the countryside. Our gardens often create a wonderland full of interesting and tasty things which are irresistible for the ever curious fox.
If you have spotted foxes or signs of fox activity in your garden but can’t figure out why they like your garden, check the list of some common fox attractants below:
There is a water source. If you have a pond, fountain, or swimming pool in your garden don’t be surprised if you get some thirsty night-time visitors. Foxes, like most animals, are drawn to safe sources of water and will return time and time again.
You feed other wildlife. If you leave food in your garden for other wildlife, such as birds or hedgehogs, you are most likely also being visited by at least one fox. Providing a wildlife-friendly environment is commendable but if you do not want foxes in your garden you should consider changing the way you feed other animals. Use specialised feeders where possible and place loose food in places which are easy to reach if you are small, like a hedgehog, but difficult to access if you are as large as a fox.
You feed your cat or dog outside. While the smell of leftover pet food may be repulsive to us it is a difficult meal to ignore for scavengers such as foxes.
Your garden is messy, overgrown, has a shed, or decking. Foxes are quite skittish and prefer to run and hide at the first hint of danger. Don’t be surprised to find that foxes are calling your garden home if it is overgrown, full of trash and discarded appliances. Or if you have decking or a shed with empty space underneath.
You keep birds or other small animals in your garden. Although foxes do not kill as many animals as you may think, that does not mean that they have no interest at all in these critters. If you do keep small animals or chickens in your garden and don’t want them to be eaten, you will have to make sure that their hutches are secure and not made of flimsy materials.
You have flowerbeds or freshly turned soil. The reason why foxes like to dig up our gardens may surprise some. Adult foxes like to dig up worms and grubs for a quick and nutritious snack On the other hand, fox pups just like to dig for practice and for the sake of digging.
You use natural fertilisers containing bonemeal, blood, or fish. As previously mentioned, foxes don’t need much of a reason to dig up your garden. However, using any of the fertilisers mentioned above is a guaranteed method of attracting foxes to your garden.
You routinely leave gardening tools, wellingtons, shoes, or toys outside overnight. Leaving items such as shoes and children’s toys in the garden overnight may save you a few minutes in the evening but it will attract foxes, especially cubs. Pups view our discarded garden belongings as chew toys or the perfect thing to practice hunting on, whereas adult foxes mostly defecate on them to mark their territory. No-one wants to put their wellingtons on only to step in fox poop, tidy your garden up.
If you are unsure as to whether or not your garden is receiving nightly fox visits, these are the signs to look out for:
A pungent, musky smell.
A fox smell in your garden.
Droppings in prominent places.
Dug up flowerbeds.
Holes in the lawn.
Chewed up shoes or toys.
Half-eaten fruit (if you have fruit trees or bushes).
Damage to fences, wire mesh, hose pipes, polythene tunnels.
Trash was strewn across your garden.
Your garden looking like a freshly ploughed field, foxes will dig up entire gardens if there is an abundance of beetle grubs.
What to do with foxes in your garden
As foxes are not the violent monsters they are made out to be, the best answer to the question “what to do if you have a fox in your garden?” is to learn to co-exist with the furry visitors. Doing so gives you a front row seat to witness fox pups joyfully playing, to watch the antics of adult foxes, and your garden will be kept rodent free.
However, it is understandable that some may not welcome such nightly visitors especially if there are young children in the home. This is not the only reason as to why you may want to keep foxes out of your garden. Constantly repairing damage and fixing your flowerbeds or filling in holes in your lawn can become frustrating.
If you find yourself asking ‘how to deter foxes from my garden?’ follow the advice below to humanely deter foxes.
Block all entrances to your garden. Inspect the edges to find out where foxes are gaining entry and seal those points of breach.
Gather all toys, shoes, or other loose items in your garden before the night falls.
Cover any sources of water.
Remove or cover any leftover pet food.
Block any entrances to spaces beneath your home, decking, shed, or other garden structures.
Secure hutches or cages of any small animals kept outdoors.
Remove sources of food. Make sure that all rubbish bags are tied and placed in bins with a secure lid. If you feed other animals in your garden consider purchasing specialised feeders so that others can’t get to the treats inside.
Use plant-based fertilisers rather than those containing blood, fish, or bonemeal.
Place a paving stone on top of your pet burial, if you have any. This way foxes can’t dig up the corpse.
Leave a radio playing in a shed to deter foxes and their cubs.
Use commercial repellents, they are not harmful to foxes, your garden, or any other critter.
If all else fails, there is the option of having more sophisticated fox deterrents fitted around your property. Fox deterrent systems of this type must be installed by a professional humane deterrent company.
We have prepared answers to some of the most common questions about having foxes in the garden. If you would like to welcome these little furry critters into your garden but have some concerns, keep reading.
Should you feed foxes and what should you feed them?
There is very little harm in feeding the foxes in your garden as long as you do it sensibly. Don’t give them large amounts of food and clear away any leftovers. Giving large amounts of food to wild animals does not tame them. All it does is reduce the fear they have of humans. This leads them to get close to people with the expectation of food which may be troubling for those not confident around animals. Make sure to dispose of any uneaten food – if you don’t, you may end up attracting less wholesome pests, such as rats.
As for what to feed foxes, they are mainly carnivorous and tend to eat birds, rodents, small animals, worms, and beetle grubs. However, foxes are also quite partial to fruit and, in adapting to our environment, they have developed the ability to eat almost anything such as cheese, bread, vegetables, and table scraps. Foxes will eat whatever you leave for them, just keep in mind that other animals may get to the food first so try to avoid onions, garlic, chocolate, and the other foods you wouldn’t give a dog.
If foxes have been frequenting your garden you may have had the pleasure of uncovering a small animal corpse while gardening. Don’t worry – the foxes aren’t ‘sending a message’, foxes store food in caches throughout their territory so that they have an alternative food source should it be needed.
NEVER try to hand-feed a fox, while it is unlikely to bite you it is still a wild animal and is unpredictable.Mark Clark, gardening expert
One of the biggest concerns for pet owners is whether or not their beloved animal companion is safe while there is a fox prowling around. Few people are surprised to learn that foxes will run away from a dog 99% of the time, but many are shocked to learn that foxes will also run away from cats most of the time. If they get into a fight, the fox is more likely to be injured.
The death of a family pet can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved, but if you bury your pet in the garden and don’t take adequate precautions a more disturbing image of its corpse being unearthed may be awaiting you.
Foxes have a very keen sense of smell and regardless of how deep you bury your pet they will do their best to excavate it. It is unpleasant, but not the fault of the fox as it thinks this is just more food.
If you must bury your pet in the garden, dig a deep grave and place a paving stone on top of the body to keep burrowing foxes at bay.
The damage foxes and their cubs can do to a garden is substantial. From digging to trampling plants, their destructive capabilities know no bounds. To reduce, or stop the damage being done to your lawn and flower beds try using a commercial fox repellent in specific areas. Just know that most of the plant damage is not being done maliciously. The majority of damage comes from the joyful playing of fox cubs and it is quite difficult to stay angry at small balls of fluff.
Another way in which adult foxes can destroy your garden is by marking their territory. You may be lucky and escape with just a terrible, musky smell but then again you may also encounter fox droppings. This is a reality you will have to learn to live and deal with if you would like your garden to be fox friendly.
So there we have it, your guide to foxes in the garden. These beautiful animals are often portrayed negatively in the media with only the most extreme and rare cases being mentioned. In reality, they are mostly docile creatures that just want somewhere safe to eat, sleep, and raise their young. So long as you take the necessary precautions you and the foxes can share the garden space and co-exist.
If you do not feel comfortable having wild animals roam your garden then we urge you to first attempt the deterrence methods listed here and if that does not work to contact a professional. Do not attempt to shoot foxes as you are more likely to only wound them. This leads to a slow death brought on by an infection. Instead of trying to ‘deal with’ a fox yourself call a professional.
The gardening task which most gardeners dread, especially those new to gardening, is often pruning plants. It can be overwhelming trying to figure out how and when to begin pruning. The primary concern is that we will take too much of the plant off.
However, pruning is not as difficult or intimidating as one might expect. By the end of this guide, you will have the knowledge and confidence to rein in every unruly plant in your garden.
Why we do it
Pruning the plants in your garden can bring many benefits. For instance, it encourages new growth, can increase the amount of fruit growing on trees, helps you fight plant diseases, and is one of the main ways to enhance the overall look of your garden. But the benefits of pruning are not limited to those already mentioned. Read below to find out more about what pruning can do for your garden.
Grow more fruit
Properly pruning a fruit-bearing tree or shrub opens up the canopy, which improves the plant’s ventilation and lets more light shine through. This gives the plant enough space and energy to grow more buds and flowers in the spring. With its healthy branches and buds, the tree or shrub will be able to produce larger fruits and more of them at a time.
Create a beautiful garden
Pruning has traditionally also been used to alter and improve the shape of plants. When done correctly, this can greatly enhance the decorative qualities of the plants in your garden. As pruning helps plants divert their energy to the healthiest branches and stems, it can also help them reach their full potential, resulting in vibrant and plentiful blooms.
Grow healthy plants
Leaving diseased or dead leaves and branches on your plants is okay if you hate plants. But, if you want your garden to exude vitality and flourish, you should regularly remove parts which are dead or show signs of disease. Allowing such plant parts to remain attached is an open invitation for pests, parasites, and disease to gain a foothold on the already weakened plants.
Restrict the size of plants
More and more people throughout the UK are reclaiming any available space they can to start a their own gardens. You, however, may only have a small courtyard, a balcony, or a few window boxes to work with. Pruning plants will allow you to control their size, which also gives you space to grow even more plants.
To make fancy shapes
As mentioned previously, pruning is the best way to mould shrubs and trees into any shape you want. With time, patience, and proper pruning, you can create some truly marvelous garden masterpieces, ranging from simple shapes to more complicated forms, such as dragons.
Revive old/overgrown plants
A lot of gardens contain at least one old or neglected plant. Many peoples first thought is to uproot the plant and replace it with a younger version. While this is definitely an option, it is a shame to destroy a well-established plant if it can be brought back to its former glory. Pruning can easily help you achieve this. Removing older branches and stems will give the plant the energy it needs to grow anew.
For safety reasons
Trees with diseased or rotten branches can pose a threat to the health and safety of yourself, your family, and your neighbours. Falling branches can also cause expensive damage to properties and cars. If you don’t want to remove the entire tree, the best option would be to prune the affected branches.
SCHEDULE GARDENING MAINTENANCE WITH FANTASTIC GARDENERS:
Just like with any hobby or DIY task, it helps to have the right tools for the job. Pruning tools come in many shapes, sizes, and forms, ranging from basic tools for general pruning to more specialised tools for specific tasks.
While you can use basic tools to complete most pruning tasks, you may feel more comfortable using specialised tools in case you are not confident in using ladders or if you are unable to grip tools for an extended period of time.
A pair of good garden scissors is an essential tool for all gardeners. They are perfect for pruning delicate plants and shrubs. Garden scissors are particularly suited for cutting flowers and removing dead flower heads.
Secateurs are, essentially, heavy-duty garden scissors. They are mostly used to prune shrubs with tougher stems, such as roses. To avoid accidents, and for easier use, it is recommended to buy a pair which will comfortably fit in your hand. If you cannot find an appropriate pair, there are adjustable versions available on the market as well.
Secateurs and the next tool on the list come in two varieties. These types are called a bypass and an anvil, respectively. Bypass secateurs work in the same way as scissors, with two blades passing each other. This results in a clean cut, which is most suited to pruning more delicate plants.
Anvil secateurs consist of one blade, which closes on a flat metal surface. They are perfect for plants with thicker and tougher stems.
Loppers are basically strong secateurs with long handles. The extra length allows you to exert much more pressure with both hands when cutting thicker branches. They are perfect for cutting smaller tree branches or stems in hard to access areas, such as the centre of a thorny bush.
Cut and hold pruners
This tool will not only cut what you need it to, but will also hold on to the branch or stem that has been cut. This means that you don’t have to continuously bend over to pick up plant trimmings. This makes them perfect for people with limited mobility who still want to enjoy gardening.
As trees contain an abundance of sticky sap, it can be difficult to cut through branches with a normal handsaw – the blade will get stuck and you will waste a lot of energy to constantly retrieve it. The teeth on the blade of a pruning saw are specially designed to resist sap and easily cut through green living wood, with many of them also sawing when you pull the saw towards yourself.
There are many variations of pruning saws available. Some look like a carpenter’s saw, while others may fold into a handle. When choosing a pruning saw, spend some time handling them and choose the one which feels most comfortable in your hand.
Tree pruning systems
These specialised tree pruning tools come with telescopic handles that you can use to extend them in order to reach higher branches. A variety of attachments are available here, including a collection of interchangeable saws and loppers to tackle branches of varying thickness. Other all-in-one tree pruning tools are also available, these consist of a telescopic pole, a heavy duty saw, and a pull-cord controlled lopper.
They are the perfect option if you don’t like the idea of cutting branches while perilously perched on a set of ladders.
Multi-change systems are the garden equivalent of a multi-tool. The interchangeable handles and heads make them an excellent all-around gardening tool. If you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a selection of specialised tools, this is the option for you. Multi-change systems give you the flexibility to tackle a wide range of tasks with a single tool.
Caring for your tools
To get the most from your tools and prevent the spread of plant diseases, it is incredibly important to properly clean your garden tools after using them. To disinfect your tools, either use a commercial product or mix one part household bleach with nine parts water and carefully clean the handles and blades.
If you read, or have read, any old gardening books, it is likely that you have seen that it is recommended to apply pruning paint to new cuts or wounds on trees that are larger than three inches. Pruning paint was traditionally used to seal fresh tree wounds in order to ward off disease and pests. With the passage of time and the accumulation of new knowledge, however, this practice dropped out of popularity. It is now common to be advised to leave the tree wound open and let it heal naturally so long as you prune the tree at the right time of year.
This is another reason why it is important to keep your garden tools clean. Diseases can easily spread from plant to plant if you prune them using an infected tool.
Pruning plants according to their type
Regardless of how far we have progressed as a species and how much control we can exert over our environment, the fact remains that there is an innate rhythm present in nature. Working against this natural rhythm in your garden can have disastrous consequences as some plants may die or fail to produce fruit.
Many new gardeners often ask themselves ‘What is the best time to prune?’. Generally, the best time to prune trees and shrubs is August as most plants have finished growing for the year and there will be enough time for fresh wounds to heal before the colder weather arrives. However, there are exceptions to this general rule and the most prominent exceptions have to do with the evergreen and deciduous species.
Evergreen trees and shrubs
Evergreens, such as Fir trees, Juniper plants, and Pine trees, are plants which do not lose their leaves during autumn and winter. The best time to prune members of the evergreen tree and shrub family is in the spring. Pruning them in August, or even closer to winter, will only lead to them dying out in the cold weather.
Deciduous trees and shrubs
Deciduous trees and shrubs are plants which shed their leaves as the weather cools down. Good examples of this are Chestnut trees and Hydrangea shrubs. The ideal time to prune members of the deciduous family is either at the end of the growing season in August or during the winter months, when the plant is in a dormant state. Avoid pruning flowering and fruit-producing plants in the spring as you run the risk of preventing the plant from blooming or giving fruit.
The plant world is one of endless variety and differing requirements. As such, certain plants may have a more specific pruning timeframe. For more information on the requirements of specific plants, check the comprehensive list put together by the team at UK Gardening.
The age of plants also plays a vital role in how you prune them. Young plants have different requirements than their older relatives.
Pruning young plants
Pruning from an young age is quite beneficial to plants and is commonly known as formative pruning. It promotes healthy and balanced growth, and also allows you to control the general shape in which it will grow into.
Young evergreens do not require pruning while during their development.
Young deciduous plants benefit greatly from formative pruning during the early stages of growth as they produce a lot of shoots that spread in all directions.
All young plants can benefit from the removal of overly long or sickly shoots, regardless of their type.
It is much easier to correct lopsided growth through pruning while the plant is still young.
Pruning old plants
Pruning older plants to revitalise them is best done during the winter while the plant is dormant.
Start by cutting out any dead, diseased, or crossing stems and branches.
Next, reduce the number of remaining stems by half.
You will notice that the plant is much stronger and more vibrant in the following spring.
Certain shrubs, such as Philadelphus, respond incredibly well to severe pruning. Any plant which responds well to extreme pruning should be cut back to just above ground level. This will let the plant re-establish itself with new shoots.
If you are not sure if a plant can survive a severe pruning, take a cutting first so that you can easily regrow the plant.
So there we have it, your guide on when to prune your plants. With the right tools and a little bit of common sense, the dreaded task of pruning will not be as scary as you may have thought. Remember to always clean and disinfect your garden tools after use and follow the natural rhythm of the plants in your garden. By doing this and using this guide as a stepping stone, your flourishing garden will soon become the envy of all your neighbours.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any pruning tips? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!
As Autumn approaches, many gardeners are putting their tools and gloves away in preparation for the long wait until spring. However, greenhouse owners are continuing to diligently tend to their plants in expectation of the harvest still to come.
Owning a greenhouse presents benefits that would put a smile on any gardener’s face, the biggest of which are:
An extended growth periodPest and disease controlHumidity, airflow, and temperature
Normally, gardeners have a set amount of time in which to grow the plants they would like (mid-spring to mid-autumn). With a greenhouse, the time available for growing plants is extended considerably. This means that you can continue to grow and harvest plants that would not have otherwise survived if grown outdoors. Another advantage of owning a greenhouse is that you have more time to grow your seedlings into strong, young plants in preparation for the planting season.
It is much easier to keep plants grown in a greenhouse healthy as signs of disease or pest infestation are more obvious and simpler to take care of. Plants in greenhouses are essentially quarantined from the rest of the garden pests and diseases are unlikely to spread, especially if you act quickly to resolve the issue.
One of the best aspects of owning a greenhouse is that you have control over the temperature, humidity, and airflow. This allows you to maintain the optimal growing conditions for whichever plants you decide to grow in your greenhouse. For instance, you can grow a wider variety of vegetables or something more specialised, such as orchids.
As with all things in life, the amount of effort you put into starting and maintaining a project will directly affect the results. Greenhouses are not self-maintaining environments so, in order to keep plants healthy and achieve the best results possible, you will need to expend some effort to keep your greenhouse in top condition.
When to clean
Generally, the best time to clean your greenhouse is during winter or at the start of spring, but choosing the right time to clean also depends on what you are growing. If you focus on growing summer plants, such as peppers, then clean in the winter. But, if you grow more specialised plants throughout the year, then the best time to clean is in the middle of autumn.
Regardless of what you choose to grow and when to clean, aim for a dry day with a breeze. This allows you to open up all of the windows, doors, and vents so that the greenhouse is properly aired and dried shortly after being cleaned.
Outside of the greenhouse
Remove any debris from the area around your greenhouse and sweep away any fallen leaves or built up dirt.
Wash the outside with warm water and a sponge. To clean the roof of your greenhouse, use a mop or a sponge with an arm which can be extended. If you don’t have one, attach your sponge to a broom handle or bamboo cane. Do not lean on any part of the greenhouse roof! The frame and glass are not designed to support your body weight and any injuries sustained from breaking a pane of glass, the frame, or falling are likely to be serious.
Clean beneath the window panel joints with a hose to remove any hidden dirt.
Look for any broken or cracked glass panes, as well as for any signs of damage to the frame, and repair any damage found to ensure that your greenhouse is providing the best possible environment for its plant inhabitants.
If you have a wooden framed greenhouse, inspect the frame and apply a wood preservative to any areas which need to be touched up. This will help keep the frame protected from rot for longer.
Inside the greenhouse
Now that the outside is all sparkly and clean, it is time to step into your greenhouse. This part is a little more involved, so have a cup of tea or coffee and a small break before starting.
If you have any electrics in your greenhouse, switch them all off and disconnect them from the mains, if possible.
Organise all of the empty plant pots and grow bags into ones you will keep and ones you will throw away.
Remove the equipment you will keep, all plants (wherever possible), and all shelving units. If it is winter, move any sensitive plants to a shed, a conservatory, or someplace sheltered.
Dispose of the pots and bags you don’t need anymore.
Use a broom to brush the interior walls and ceiling to remove dirt and cobwebs.
Follow this by sweeping the floor of your greenhouse to remove fallen leaves, dirt, spilt soil and any other debris that has accumulated.
Clean every surface on the inside of your greenhouse with warm water, a disinfectant, such as hydrogen peroxide, and a sponge.
Inspect all windows and vents to ensure they work correctly. If they are difficult to open, put some oil or commercial lubricant on the joints and hinges so that you can keep your greenhouse well ventilated.
Wash all shelving units with warm water and disinfectant before moving them back inside.
The bane of every gardener is plant-destroying pests. They can strike at almost any part of your garden and will do an extreme amount of damage if left unchecked. Be extra prepared by checking out our garden pest control articles here:
As greenhouses are somewhat isolated from the rest of the garden, it is much more difficult for pests to establish a foothold on the plants from within. But that doesn’t mean that this is impossible, since garden pests are persistent in their quest to eat your plants. There are, however, a few steps you can take to keep your greenhouse a pest-free area.
Control what enters your greenhouseThe enemy of my enemy is my friendKeep your greenhouse cleanStay vigilant
You have the final say over which plants have the privilege of living in your greenhouse. Carefully inspect every plant for signs of pest activity before welcoming it into the greenhouse club.
Some plucky pests will inevitably slip past your defences and begin to establish a home for themselves. Resist the urge to reach for the pesticide. Instead, capture the pests’ natural predator and release it inside your greenhouse. For example, if you find aphids sucking the vitality out of your plants, catch some ladybugs from your garden and watch as they decimate the aphid population.
Cleaning the inside of your greenhouse, as well as all work surfaces regularly with warm water and disinfectant, will help to keep pests at bay. As a bonus, you will also have a pleasant gardening environment to look at.
Check your plants for signs of pest activity every day. Things to look for include holes on the leaves and plants withering unexpectedly. As soon as you discover an infested plant, remove and dispose of it immediately, otherwise the pests will spread to other plants in your greenhouse or garden.
Source: Shutterstock / By Venera Salman
The humidity level in greenhouses is often much higher than that on the outside, which is beneficial to many plants. However, if the humidity level is neglected, it can cause the air inside to become either too humid or too dry. To maintain a decent level of humidity and keep plants healthy, check out the following tips.
If you feel that the humidity is too low, place a tray or a small bucket of water on the floor of your greenhouse during the day. The evaporating water will help raise the humidity level.
During hot summer days, it is best to keep the humidity in your greenhouse to a minimum. Open the vents and windows during the day to make sure that there is a constant flow of incoming cold air and expelled warm air.
Watering plants with cold water during the summer can cause the roots to enter a state of shock, which will reduce their effectiveness at absorbing moisture and nutrients. Avoid this by keeping a full watering can in your greenhouse throughout the summer. This way, the water will be kept at a similar temperature as its surroundings.
You can collect a lot of water from the roof of your greenhouse. Install some simple gutters leading to a water barrel for a free, natural supply of water for your plants.
Any hoses used for watering should be checked for cracks, holes, or blockages routinely. Remove any attachments and run water through the hose at its maximum capacity. This will dislodge any blockages and show you if there are any holes in the hose.
It is well established that plants breathe and their growth will suffer if they are kept in a stale, unmoving air. This is why it is important to make sure that your greenhouse has adequate ventilation if you want your plants to be healthy.
Make sure there are enough air vents. Every major greenhouse manufacturer can tell you the recommended number of air vents your greenhouse should have.
Install louvres. These are another type of air vent found at the base of greenhouses. They draw in cool air to maintain a constant air flow.
So, there we have it, your guide to keeping a greenhouse in top condition. As a greenhouse owner, you will need to keep it clean, well ventilated, and perform daily checks for structural damage and pest activity in order to provide the best growing conditions that your greenhouse has to offer.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any greenhouse maintenance tips? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!
Gardening is a beloved British pastime and one that has been enjoying a resurgence of interest in recent years. As with any hobby, it is important to have the right tools for the job and we have covered the gardening basics in a previous article. However, there is one piece of gardening equipment which is often forgotten or disregarded altogether, gardening gloves.
A lot of people choose to forgo gardening gloves, but a good pair is essential and allows you to accomplish more in your garden. From keeping your hands clean to pruning thorny rose bushes, the humble garden glove is a must-have for any serious gardener.
What are gardening gloves?
Gardening gloves are gloves designed for aiding you in safely completing a variety of garden tasks. As mentioned previously, many people choose to garden without gloves as they enjoy the feeling of soil and plants in the hands. But the truth is that you should wear gloves every time you have something to do in your garden as the dangers of gardening without gloves outweigh the feeling of soil. The gloves do more than just keeping your hands clean. They will help protect your hands from insect bites, prevent your skin from drying out, provide a better grip when handling tools, and stop pesticides from coming into contact with your skin.
Uses of gardening gloves
There are four main types, and countless brands, of gardening gloves to choose from. There are traditional gardening gloves made of leather, cotton, and rubber, and each one is used for specific garden tasks.
Traditional garden gloves – These are the gardening gloves you will find in all garden centres and are usually made from a waterproof material, with the fingers and palms covered in rubber. These gloves are great for general tasks, such as weeding, potting, and planting.
Leather gloves – These heavy duty gloves are mostly used for handling tools which can cut, poke, or scrape your hands.
Cotton gloves – This type of gardening glove can be worn all year as they are lightweight. They are mostly used when handling tools which require a more flexible use of your hands, such as a lawn mower, strimmer, or chainsaw.
Rubber gloves – Rubber gardening gloves are great for clearing your garden of debris and for providing extra grip when handling metal and wood.
There are two things to take into consideration when buying gardening gloves. One, are they suitable for the task and, two, do they fit?
According to use
Light gardening tasks – Cotton gloves are most suited for tasks, such as mowing the lawn and using a strimmer.
Heavy gardening tasks – Choose leather gloves for tasks, such as moving rocks or handling tools, which could easily pierce other types of gloves.
Wet gardening tasks – If the soil is wet, you are moving a pile of wet leaves, or mixing and using pesticide or fungicide, the gloves which offer the best protection are rubber gloves.
General gardening tasks – For smaller tasks, such as weeding and planting, the best gloves to use are the traditional multipurpose gardening gloves.
When buying gardening gloves, consider their task suitability and fitting. Click To Tweet
According to comfort
As gardening is heavily reliant on the use of your hands, using gloves which fit you correctly is quite important. If the gloves you choose are too small, your hands will feel restricted and you may not have a full range of motion. But if the gloves are too big, they can slip off of your hands, make you clumsy, increase your chances of injuring yourself with a garden tool, and generally make gardening more difficult than it has to be.
The best way to ensure that you choose the right size is to try the gloves on before buying them, if possible. Here are a couple of general tips you can use to tell if the gloves are the right size for you once you try them on.
While you are wearing the gloves, check the finger tips. If there is space between the tips of your fingers and the fabric, then the gloves are too big for you.
Make fists with your hands and move them around. The fabric should be close to your skin, but not so tight that your movements are restricted.
Most brands of gardening gloves will include their size either on the glove itself or on its label, so if it’s not possible to try them on, you can use the given sizes as a guide. If you want to make sure you are buying the right size, you can measure your hands before going to the shop.
To measure your hands for gloves, you will need a tape measure and your hand. Wrap the tape measure around your knuckles to measure their circumference . When you have the measurement, use the chart below to find your size.
S = 6.5 to 7.25 inches;
M = 7.5 to 7.75 inches;
L = 8 to 8.75 inches;
XL = 9 to 9.75 inches;
XXL = 10 to 10.75 inches;
XXXL = 11 to 12 inches.
How to take care of gardening gloves
Taking care of your gardening gloves is important unless you want to replace them often. It is not difficult, though.
Traditional gardening gloves – These gloves are machine washable and should be washed at a warm temperature. Then, simply hang them up to dry.
Leather gloves – This type of glove can be a little more troublesome. Use leather wax and a soft cloth to keep them in top shape. Some gloves, made of softer leather, can be machine washed, but always check the label.
Cotton gloves – There is no issue with machine washing cotton gloves. You can also dry them in a tumble dryer.
Rubber gloves – These are the easiest to look after. Simply rinse rubber gloves under a hose or a sink which isn’t used very often.
A neat glove storage tip is to install some pegs where you store the other gardening tools. When you have washed them, just hang them up near the other tools. This will let them air dry and will make them easy to find.
So, there we have it, your guide to choosing gardening gloves. They are as vital to gardening as a spade or a rake and will protect your hands while gardening. For the sake of your hands, please start wearing gloves.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any advice for choosing gardening gloves? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!
Photo by Agence Producteurs Locaux Damien Kühn on Unsplash
The humble potato has been a staple of the British diet since the end of the 16th century, it has earned its place in the pantheon of British dishes by adding tantalising delicacies such as mashed potatoes and roast potatoes, along with many others, to our palette.
It should come as no surprise then that, potatoes are one of the UK’s most farmed crops and have become a favourite among those who grow their own food. Normally potatoes require a lot of space to grow. When planted in the ground, it is recommended to leave at least 45 cm between each row. This space requirement is off-putting for many gardeners as it means either removing plants to make room or giving up on the idea of eating tasty, homegrown potatoes.
We are excited to introduce you to a method of growing potatoes that doesn’t require a lot of space and is, arguably, easier than growing traditionally. This method is growing potatoes in pots, as mentioned previously the biggest benefit of this method is that it does not need a lot of space. But this is just the first of the benefits, growing potatoes in containers will allow you to harvest them without hours of back breaking digging, and the plants are much less susceptible to disease as well as harmful pests.
Before we embark on our potato-growing adventure, there are a few ground rules to cover to help ensure healthy growth and a plentiful harvest.
The first and most critical rule is knowing how many plants a container can support and to not overload it. As a general guide, a 10-litre bucket can support one potato plant and adding any more will result in either tiny potatoes or no potatoes at all.
For large containers which will hold multiple plants, it is important to give each plant as much room to grow as possible so avoid placing the potatoes too close to each other.
The type of potato you will grow also has an impact on the end result, most gardeners prefer growing early potatoes in pots. The early type are ready to harvest by mid-summer, this means they are not affected by the late summer potato blight like other varieties.
The last rule is the same for all plants grown in containers. Keep them well watered. Keep in mind that, normally, plants can extend their roots deep into the soil in search of water, but when grown in containers the roots are confined and as such are reliant on you to keep the soil moist.
Now that the boring rules are out of the way, it’s time to move on to the guide for growing potatoes in pots.
What you will need
A container. Almost anything can be used as a container for potato plants, 10-litre buckets, large plant pots, an old bin. Whatever can hold enough soil can be used as a container. It is vital that your chosen container has adequate drainage, otherwise, the potatoes will rot. If it doesn’t have any holes for water drainage, then make some yourself.
Potting soil. For the best results, you should use the highest quality soil that you can, look for soil which is suited to container gardening as this type allows water to drain easily. If you aren’t sure which is the best compost for growing potatoes in pots, your local garden centre will be able to help you choose the right soil.
Seed potatoes. The great thing about growing potatoes at home, apart from them being tastier than usual, is that you can grow your favourite variety or a selection of different varieties. You may be thinking “How do I grow Maris piper’s in pots?” or “How to grow new potatoes in pots”, don’t worry. The process is the same regardless of the variety of potato planted.
Fertilizer. The decision to use fertilizer comes down to personal choice. Some gardeners prefer to mix slow releasing fertilizer into the soil during potting, whereas others prefer to use natural liquid plant feed once the foliage has developed. Regardless of what you choose, read and follow the fertilizer instructions and do not overfeed the plant.
Water. All living things need water to survive, however, potato plants need extra care and attention when watering. The soil should be kept at a relatively consistent level of moisture, not too wet and not too dry. If the ground is allowed to dry up the plant and foliage will die but if there is too much water in the soil your potatoes will rot in the ground.
Sunlight. Place your potato containers in an area that gets at least 6-8 hours of sunlight each day.
How to prepare potatoes for planting
When you have gathered the needed supplies it is almost time to start planting. First, you will need to prepare the potatoes. There are few ways people use to prepare their potatoes but none seem to have much of an effect on the eventual harvest, so choose whichever method you prefer.
Planting whole. This is the most common method, simply plant the whole potato once it has started to sprout.
Cut potatoes in half. Following closely in second place is the cutting method, this is good to use if you don’t have many seed potatoes. There is some variety within this method, some people don’t plant them for a couple of days after cutting and others plant immediately after cutting. But as we said before, none of this has a real impact on your harvest.
Now that your potatoes are prepared it is time to plant them, follow the steps below to ensure this is done correctly.
Fill the bottom of your container with 8-12 cm of soil.
If you are going to use a slow releasing fertilizer, mix it into the soil now, if not skip to step 3.
Place your seed potatoes on top of this layer of soil while making sure there is as much space as possible between them. Don’t try to cram more potatoes in, remember that a 10-litre bucket can only support one plant. So if you have a 30-litre container you can plant a total of three potatoes.
Cover the potatoes with approximately 5-10 cm of soil, don’t worry if this doesn’t seem like enough you will understand why it should be done like this later.
Add water until the soil is moist. An easy way to tell if you need to add more water is to stick your finger in the soil until it is around two knuckles deep, if it is moist stop watering but if it is dry add more water.
What to do while they grow
So now that the potatoes have been planted that’s it, right? Wrong. There is more work to be done during the growing process. Тhis additional work is called hilling.
When your potato plants have sprouted and grown to around 12cm in height, it is time to start hilling the soil. Тhis is basically adding more soil to the container. See, we told you there was a reason why you should only cover the potatoes with a shallow amount of soil in the beginning.
TIP: Add 4-5 cm of soil around each plant so that they are all surrounded by a small hill which covers around one-third of the showing plant. Don’t worry about the covered leaves dying, the plant will grow more.
Repeat this process as the plants grow, and potato plants grow very quickly so check them regularly to make sure you aren’t left behind. Keep repeating the hilling process until the soil reaches the top of the container.
You will know that your potatoes are ready for harvest when the plants begin flowering, although some people wait for the foliage to start dying. After all of that hard work, care and attention it is finally time to claim your reward.
Normally, harvesting potatoes is a back breaking task but with container potatoes, it couldn’t be easier. The best way to harvest is to lay a plastic sheet on the ground and empty the container directly onto the sheet, this way you can easily sift through the soil to pick out the buried deliciousness. Another method is to empty the container into a wheelbarrow or simply just stick your hand into the container and root around until you find potatoes.
We recommend the first option as it is the easiest and the whole family can get involved in the grand potato hunt.
Rigid containers aren’t the only things which can house potato plants. Bags will work just as well and the process is a little less involved. Many garden centres carry a stock of both plastic and natural growing bags but you can also use heavy duty bin bags, just be sure to add some drainage holes.
To grow your potatoes in bags just follow these steps.
Fill the bag with soil until it is around 2.5cm from the top.
Plant your seed potatoes at a depth of 10-12cm.
Cover them with soil.
Place the bag somewhere warm and sunny.
That’s it, there is no need to follow up with the hilling process. Harvesting works the same as outlined above, but you can also cut the bag open if you prefer.
So there we have it, who knew that growing potatoes in pots could be so easy. By following this guide and a little bit of work you will be eating tasty home grown potatoes in no time.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any tips for growing potatoes in pots or bags? Let us know in the comments below or give us a shout on social media!