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Our gardens and outdoor spaces can play a hugely beneficial role in maintaining mental and physical wellbeing, especially in summer with its warmer, longer days!

Recently the benefits of gardens to ‘biophilia’ – our inbuilt need to connect with nature and other forms of life – have been proven by scientists, who have shown how spending time out of doors (whether in gardens, the countryside or public parks) can satisfy this need.

So how can you benefit the most from your outdoor space?

Grow some fruit or veg

Growing food to eat doesn’t need to be hard work. Whether you have an allotment, patio or balcony, there are plants to suit every space. Why not start with a dwarf tomato plant, a variety such as Summerlast, and enjoy picking and eating the fruits with your friends and family? A 2-litre plant can thrive in the same pot that it arrives in with regular tomato feed and water.

Go to the green gym

Gardens are great places to exercise. Whether you’re in the potting shed, watering plants, mowing the lawn or chopping firewood – every activity helps to burn a few calories. Maybe you practice yoga or Tai Chi on your lawn or patio? Whatever you do, your ‘green gym’ is good for both body and soul.

Plant a tree

The plants in our gardens absorb pollutants, offer food and shelter for wildlife, and can reduce noise too. They also provide a great focal point and can provide you with some delicious fruit – dwarf pear, apple, peach and plum trees will thrive in a container on a patio. By planting a tree or perhaps a shrub, you’ll soon see and feel the benefits!

Meditate or take time out

There’s nothing like a dose of green therapy to recharge your batteries after a tough day (G&T optional). Being amongst plants brings you closer to nature and is sure to improve your mood – so get some ‘outdoorphins’ and feel your spirits lift! If you have a favourite spot in the garden, find a suitable seat so you can dwell a while.

Socialise with friends

Gardens and balconies are increasingly being used as extra outdoor ‘rooms’ – spaces in which to socialise and to relax. Creating a social space (or several) within your garden creates opportunities to have fun with friends away from the confines of the home. With comfortable outdoor furniture for dining and lounging, atmospheric solar lighting, outdoor heating and maybe some speakers, you’ll be very popular with your friends (maybe invite your neighbours around too)!

Spend time as a family

The long summer evenings are a great opportunity to spend time as a family. Relaxed seating such as hammocks, swing seats and bean bags encourage people to lounge a while.

Cook outside

Firepits, barbecues and outdoor stoves are a great way to get all generations involved in preparing and enjoying a meal – especially if you’ve grown some of the fruit or veg yourself. But toasting marshmallows is also good fun!

Play games

If you are up for a challenge, why not get some garden games? Boules, skittles and giant dominoes are firm family favourites!

We hope you’ll make the most of your outdoor space this summer and experience the many benefits it brings.

The post Gardening is Good For You! appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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Summer is great for us but the hot weather, combined with our summer gardening activities, can prove a challenge for wildlife. Here’s how you can help the wildlife in your garden thrive (and survive!) this summer.

Leave areas of long grass

Cutting your lawn less often creates a refuge for small animals, frogs, newts and insects – especially when you leave areads of long grass around ponds.

If you do need to cut an area of long grass or overgrown vegetation, carefully check it for signs of wildlife before you start up your strimmer or mower! Hedgehogs are especially prone to strimmer-related injuries, as their fear response is to freeze and curl up in a ball – that’s no defence against power tools! So, take a look thruogh any areas you’re planning to cut and maybe run a garden rake gently through longer grass first. The, if you find a hedgehog or frog, simply pop on a pair of gardening gloves and move it to safety nearby.

Avoid trimming your hedge

The RSPB recommends that you avoid trimming hedges between 1st March and 31st August, although some birds may nest outside of this period. Ensure that any nests are unoccupied before you start work – it is an offence to intentionally damage or destroy wild bird nests that are in use or being built.

Grow beneficial plants, shrubs and trees

There are lots of wildlife-friendly species available including varieties that benefit bees, butterflies and other pollinators, and those which provide seeds as food for birds during the winter. Trees and large shrubs offer shelter too, giving birds somewhere safe to roost and to nest. Grow whichever species you have the room for and remember that native species have fantastic benefits for wildlife.

Feed the hedgehogs

Specialist hedgehog food or wet meat-based dog or cat food is great for supporting emerging hoglets and their mums. They don’t have long to fatten up in preparation for hibernation. Also, check that any drains around your home are properly covered (try using chicken wire) to prevent them from falling in.

Keep feeding birds

Birds require high protein foods during the summer months, especially while they are moulting, so the RSPB recommends only feeding them certain foods. These include Black sunflower seeds, pinhead oatmeal, soaked sultanas, raisins and currants, mild grated cheese, mealworms, waxworms, mixes for insectivorous birds, good seed mixtures without loose peanuts. Avoid peanuts, fat and bread as these can be harmful to chicks.

Remember to clean your bird feeders regularly or you could be spreading diseases. Keep bird tables and feeders clean and free from droppings and mouldy food, and wash them regularly with a solution of 50% disinfectant.

Make fresh water available

A shallow dish of clean water left on the ground makes an excellent drinking and bathing spot for birds, amphibians and hedgehogs. Leave it in an open spot, away from places where cats might hide in wait, or raise your bird bath up out of harm’s way. Water dishes should be rinsed out and replenished daily.

Neaten your nets

Birds will be attracted to any soft fruit that you are growing, so you may need to cover fruit bushes in netting. The RSPB advises using 4cm netting as this reduces the possibility of birds getting caught in it – you’ll also need to keep the net taut. Try hanging old CDs from it to make it more visible to birds.

Football goal netting can be hazardous to foxes, deer, hedgehogs and birds. Putting nets away after use will prevent animals and birds becoming trapped.

If you have a wire mesh fence you’ll need to check it regularly for trapped wildlife.

Perfect your pond

If you have a net across your pond, ensure that it is kept taut to avoid small animals and birds becoming caught in the mesh.

Many small birds use ponds to drink from and bathe in, so consider adding low-hanging branches, sloping sides, a ramp and/or a platform in the middle to give them an escape route or refuge until you can help them.

Careful with that compost heap!

Be careful when turning your compost heap! Hedgehogs and other small animals nest in the bottom of a warm compost heap and a garden fork is a rude awakening (or worse). They also forage in woodpiles, so move your logs or garden waste before lighting a bonfire.

Take a look at our range of wildlife feeders, drinkers, nest boxes and habitats here – and give wildlife a helping hand in your outside space.

The post Give wildlife a helping hand this summer appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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Are you keen to help pollinators? Whether you have a window box or a large garden, there are some simple things you can do to help.

It’s Bees’ Needs Week 8 – 18 July 2019 and the organiser, The Bumblebee Conservation Trust, has 5 tips to benefit bumblebees:

  1. Grow more flowers, shrubs & trees

We need more pollen- and nectar-rich plants in our gardens, balconies, allotments and in the landscape around our homes. These provide food for bees and other pollinators throughout the year.

How you can help: plant some species that bees love: Pussy willow, Primroses and Crocuses in spring, Lavenders, Meadow cranesbill and Ox-eye daisies in summer, Ivy and Hebes in autumn, and Mahonia shrubs and Cyclamen in winter.

  1. Let it grow wild

Wild areas provide food sources and/or breeding places for pollinators and you can take simple actions to manage your outdoor spaces.

How you can help: leave patches to grow wild. Plants such as stinging nettles and dandelions provide other food sources (such as leaves for caterpillars) and breeding places for butterflies and moths.

  1. Cut grass less often

Native flowering plants in grass areas, field corners, verges and specially sown flower-rich habitats support the greatest diversity of insect pollinators by providing nectar and pollen resources, places to nest or breed and leaves for caterpillars.

How you can help: cut your grass less often. Removing the cuttings allows plants to flower.

  1. Don’t disturb insect nests and hibernation spots

As well as ensuring there is food throughout the year for insect pollinators, it is also important to make sure they can nest in safety so that they and the next generation can survive over the winter, to start again in the following spring.

How you can help: avoid disturbing grass margins, bare soil, hedgerows, trees, dead wood or walls, as this is where nesting or hibernating insects like to be.

  1. Think carefully about whether to use pesticides

Pesticides are detrimental where pollinators are active or nesting, or where their food plants are flowering.

How you can help: avoid chemicals and try adopting organic gardening methods, such as picking pests off your plants and by using barriers and traps instead of chemicals.

Gardening to Attract Bumblebees Food

Bumblebees are dependent on the nectar and pollen of flowers, but they also shelter. To supply a continuous food source for the bees, plant a variety of species that will bloom from spring to autumn. Most bumblebees prefer perennial flowers, so herbs and traditional cottage garden plants are great.

How you can help: plant pollen- and nectar-rich plants in large clumps or drifts, so that the bees don’t need to travel too far to forage for their favourite flowers. Blooms of different shapes are also essential, as each species has a different length tongue.

Flowers that attract bumblebees

  • Oregano, Lavender, Rosemary, Catmint and Deadnettle
  • Foxgloves and Hebe
  • Teasels and Scabiouses
  • Vetches, Clovers, Broom, Trefoils and Runner Beans
  • Single-flowered Roses, Brambles and Raspberries
  • Heathers, Blueberries, Bilberries and Strawberry Tree
Nesting

Bees need suitable places to nests, which may be below ground (mining bees and many bumblebees), in dense vegetation on the surface (carder bumblebees), or in holes in logs, plant stems and walls (mason and leafcutter bees).

How you can help: provide artificial bee nests or make your own! Studies show that the most successful designs were nests made of bamboo cane sections or wooden blocks drilled with holes. Also, try not to be too tidy – leave a part of your garden a little wild to offer suitable nesting sites. These might include long grass, compost heaps, woodpiles and hedgerows.

Why are Pollinators Important?

Insect pollinators – including honey bees, bumblebees, solitary bees, wasps, hoverflies and other flies, butterflies, moths and beetles – are essential for seed production by wild plants as well as flowers, vegetables and fruit grown in gardens. They support healthy ecosystems by helping plants to produce the fruits and seeds that birds and other animals rely on.

Gardens are essential habitats for bees. By growing a range of the right sorts of flowers throughout the year, leaving some areas of tall vegetation and providing nesting sites, you can increase the value of your garden for bees and other pollinators, benefit wildflowers and your garden plants, plus ensure that your fruit and vegetable crops are productive.

Follow Bees’ Needs Week on social media from  8 – 18 July 2019 using the hashtag #beesneeds.

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The post Bees’ Needs Week 8 – 18 July 2019 appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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Native to Asia, the Box Tree Moth (Cydalima perspectalis) was first reported in the UK in 2007 and has since become widespread in the south. The impact of its caterpillars on box plants (Buxus) can be is devastating and hedges can suffer defoliation.

Identifying the Culprits

Box Tree Caterpillars

Box Tree Caterpillars can completely defoliate box plants and there are several generations of caterpillars in a season from April-October. The moths lay a sheet of pale yellow flat eggs that overlap each other on the underside of leaves. The hatching larvae feed within webbing and are greenish-yellow with black heads.

As the caterpillar larvae mature, their green bodies develop dark brown stripe. Very mature larvae have thick black and thin white stripes down their bodies, with large black dots outlined in white.

The caterpillars start at 15-20mm long and grow up to 40mm long. They then develop into pupae, which wrap themselves in white webbing.

Box Tree Moths

The Box Tree Moths has a mainly white body, a brown head and white wings – with a wingspan of about 40mm.

Signs of Damage

Box Tree Caterpillars feed on Box leaves, leaving the plant disfigured with patches of what looks like dieback (not to be confused with box blight – a fungal disease, causing brown leaves and bare patches). In extreme cases, defoliation can occur.

Pest Control

If you have small Box bushes, the larvae can simply be removed by hand. However, this is unlikely to be effective on large, older topiary or bushes. Highly attractive pheromone lures have been designed to specifically attract male Box Tree Moths into traps. The pheromone attracts the male moths to the lure, which then drop down into a funnel trap filled with water. By catching male moths, mating and egg-laying can be reduced, and populations monitored for additional control measures.

Installing Your Traps

Pheromone traps include a lure, which should be removed from its sachet and placed in the small cage holder in the top of the trap. Next, add some water to the trap bucket. This will need to be regularly replaced – the funnel trap has a clear bottom, so catches and water levels can be observed.

Hang the trap on a pole, cane or stick close to the vulnerable Box plants. This should be in an open area, so the moths can be easily attracted to fly in.

Box Tree Moth flying season is between April to October when there can be up to three generations of the pest. Each lure lasts up to six weeks when used with one of our unique traps. These replacement lures can be used as needed to cover a whole season and reduce damage to your box tree hedges.

View our complete range of garden pest control products here.

The post Conquering the Box Tree Moth and Caterpillar appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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The allotment season is joyously in full swing and it really is a fun time to be down on our plots. The long days and warm temperatures mean early evening visits are a real treat. It is the best time to water too, not that we’ve needed to do much of that yet! Allotments are also a great place to potter around, unwinding after a stressful day at work.

Summer holds so much unbridled promise and excitement with all the tasty, fresh produce now starting to come our way. I’ve harvested my first Broad Beans of the year and delicious they were too! They really are a must-have on my plot. Harvest them young and the flavour is unrivalled. Broad Beans also complement early and second early varieties of potatoes, which are now also ready to eat in abundance.

For a burst of late-season potatoes, July is the time to sow a variety such as Nicola. There is no need to chit the tubers as the soil is so lovely and warm now. If planted right up to the end of July, the potatoes will be ready for harvesting at the end of October into November. If you grow them in well-drained soils or large containers, why not keep a few until Christmas Day? Frost becomes a risk from mid-September so, by late summer, it is a good idea to dig out the trusty frost protection fleece.

My burgundy-coloured Mangetout ‘Shiraz’ plants had wonderful flowers on them around the middle of June. They wouldn’t have looked out of place is a mixed border or potager. Purple-coloured mini pods soon formed and I’ve had the first picking of what looks like a big crop on its way. Young Shiraz pods are tasty when eaten raw. I also lightly steam them. Peas of all types thrive in wetter, cooler conditions.

It is interesting that Strawberries are considerably later than this time last year on my plot. Do ensure that you keep them covered with netting. In damp weather, it is important to keep the rows as weed-free as possible to maximise airflow and help minimize fruit rot.

Due to the shortage of sunshine in June, my Courgettes are developing slower than last year. They are forming nicely now though. French Beans and squashes have also struggled to get away due to the cooler temperatures.

The flipside is my brassica collection has really responded very well to the generally wet conditions of June. When compared with last year, the contrast couldn’t be greater. Last summer growth was slower and whitefly struck some of the stressed plants. This year the leaves are bigger, a deeper green colour and they are loving life! Differing weather conditions bring different positives and negatives with each passing year.

Now that the season for picking Asparagus has ended, it is an ideal opportunity to give the plants a good feed. An organic product such as Earth Cycle Compost Soil Conditioner does the job well. If your beds are prone to drying out, using Strulch mulch will retain moisture and deter many annual weeds.

Frustratingly, while hoeing in between the showers recently, I severed a French Bean plant. Typically, I have fewer of these than anything else and now I’ve got one less!

Last week, I spotted a lone frog in a patch of long grass near my shed and fruit bed. This is welcome as frogs are a natural slug predator. This is also a further example of a natural balance developing on chemical-free plots. That said, there is a limit to what one frog can do. Fingers crossed he or she has some friends!

Finally, there is still plenty of time to sow follow on crops of favourites such as Carrot, Kohl Rabi, Lettuce, Radish and Turnip.

The post Top July Allotment Tips appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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“Summer afternoon – Summer afternoon… the two most beautiful words in the English language.”
– Henry James

July is payback time! All that effort earlier in the year will now reap a reward in terms of fruit and vegetable harvests, and cut flowers for the home. It’s the month when the delivery of veg boxes can be suspended as we enjoy our home-grown crops of tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, potatoes, strawberries and much more.

Flower beds will be alive with colour this month and, hopefully, you will have included enough pollen- and nectar-rich plants to enjoy the sight and sound of bees and other insects as they forage.

Much of the heavy gardening will have been done earlier in the year, although there is always weeding, so now is the time to relax and enjoy the beautiful space that you have created.

BBC Gardeners’ World Live Win for Delphinium Cinderella

We are proud to have won the BBC Gardeners’ World Live ‘Best New Plant Introduction 2019’ for our Delphinium Cinderella! 


Cinderella plants are more than garden worthy – they’re robust, cold tolerant, disease-proof and flower twice a year! The stems are strong like bamboo and at just four feet tall, they’re great for small borders or large containers on the patio. The development of a triple-layered bloom gives greater longevity and their pompon structure stays intact far longer.

Special Offer: Double Delphinium Collection

Following our RHS Chelsea nomination and BBC Gardeners’ World Live win, we have now sold out of Delphinium Cinderella. However, we are delighted to offer our breath-taking Double Delphinium Collection, featuring the two new varieties Bolero and Christel, at half price for a limited time.

July Tasks

Our top ten recommended tasks for July include:

  • Dead-head bedding plants and roses to encourage further flowering and remove any fallen rose petals to prevent fungal disease forming
  • Baskets and containers can dry out quickly in warm, sunny conditions and may need watering twice a day. Feed regularly to promote flowering
  • Faded flower-spikes on lupins, campanula, delphinium, etc. can be cut down to just above a new shoot or leaf. Apply liquid feed to each plant to encourage fresh growth
  • Keep onions well-watered so as not to affect the size of the crop. Your onion hoe needs to be busy this month keeping down the weeds
  • Remove side shoots on cordon tomatoes and feed regularly with a high potash liquid tomato fertiliser
  • Houseplants enjoy spending the summer outside, so find a sheltered spot for them and give them some air
  • Prune established plum and apricot trees
  • Keep picking sweet peas for enjoying as cut flowers indoors and feed the plants every 12 days
  • Prune shrubs that flowered in early summer
  • Your garden birds will enjoy a dish of fresh water to both drink from and bathe in – and you’ll get the pleasure of watching them

Herbs for Wildlife

Many of us, including our town and country councils, are turning away from manicured lawns and neatly strimmed roadsides. Instead, the sowing of wildflowers is growing in popularity – either to form meadows, to clothe verges or simply to fill a space in the garden. Have you set aside a little space for beneficial insects?

The good news is that, in addition to flowers, many herbs are also beneficial to insects. So, you can enjoy their form in the garden and include them in your cooking whilst also helping garden wildlife. Just remember to give the herbs a good shake after cutting. You don’t want to be inadvertently eating those very insects you are trying to help!

Dill – attractive to hoverflies, bees, ladybirds and lacewings  Leave the dead dill in place over winter so that insects can hibernate inside the hollow stems.

Chives – these produce loads of nectar so are much loved by bees and some butterflies.

Lavender – bees and butterflies will linger on this nectar-rich plants and seed-eating birds will have a feast once the seed heads have dried.

Lemon balm – bees enjoy the smell and nectar, plus humans can use the leaves to relieve the pain of stings and bites! It smells much better than dock too!

Lovage – attractive to bees, hoverflies and wasps (yes, there are beneficial wasps!)

Rosemary – flowers early in the year providing welcome nectar to hungry bees, hoverflies and butterflies.

Tansy – not only attractive and colourful to the gardener but also to bees, lacewings, ladybirds, wasps and butterflies.

Angelica – tall and stately, the flower heads will be covered in beneficial insects with blue tits and finches enjoying the autumn seed.

Christine’s Patch – Caring for Fruit Trees

Hi, I’m Christine Loader, Horticultural and Technical Advisor here at Suttons. I have been an avid gardener all my life and have a passion for growing fruit and vegetables. When I am not in my greenhouse I can usually be found on my allotment. Gardening has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to sharing my expertise with you in our newsletter. This month we’re looking at how to get the most from your grafted veg plants.

Now is the time to prune stone fruit such as Nectarines, Peaches, Apricots, Plums and Cherries. Prune away all diseased or dead wood and remove any overcrowding branches. On stems larger than ½” use a sealant such as Arbrex to minimize the risk of infections.

Suckering growth below the rootstock should be pulled off immediately whenever it appears to ensure no vigour is lost.

Keep the grass clear from around the base of the fruit trees and water them during dry periods. Mulching around the base of the trees is a great way of preserving the moisture in the soil and it slowly releases nutrients for the tree. A starved tree cannot support a large crop and lack of nutrients will affect next year’s harvest.

Bacterial Canker is a serious threat to all Prunus species and spraying with a solution of copper sulphate is recommended once the fruit has been harvested and repeated once a month until October. Spray one more time just before the buds open in the spring.

If your Peach or Nectarine leaves are covered with red blisters and are curling up, then your tree may be affected by Peach Leaf Curl. This is a fungal disease spread by wind and rain. Keep your tree out of winter wet in a protected place such as a greenhouse. Spray with a fungicide before any buds open and again after the fruit has been harvested.

Greenfly infestation also causes leaves to curl and, if left untreated, the growth will be stunted and poor.

Fruit trees grown in pots will need extra careful watering and feeding. Nutrients can be washed out faster if watered frequently. Compost can dry out quickly in hot weather and great care must be taken that the compost is fully hydrated. Dry roots will cause a lot of stress on a tree and it may abort any fruit or fruit may not develop well. Never apply a fertiliser when the compost is dry, always water first and then apply the fertiliser afterwards.

RHS Gardening Shows

Not only is a day spent wandering around one of the many glorious RHS garden shows relaxing and enjoyable, it’s also a perfect way to gain ideas and inspiration. So, definitely not a “jolly”, more of a beneficial research exercise!

Upcoming shows to visit include:

RHS Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival
1st – 7th July 2019

“A wonderful summer’s day out packed with gardening inspiration, stunning floral displays and workshops in a majestic setting.”

RHS Tatton Park
17th – 21st July 2019

“A fabulous day out bursting with colourful gardening inspiration, fun family activities, have-a-go workshops and boutique shopping.”

RHS Garden Hyde Hall Flower Show
31st July – 4th August 2019

“Hyde Hall’s 10th anniversary Flower Show is a five-day floral extravaganza. with specialist nurseries, shopping, expert advice and live music.”

Offer of the Month

F1 Summerlast: 3 x 2-litre potted plants for £15!
Or 1 x 2-litre potted plant for £7.99

A new blight-resistant tomato that everyone can grow!

    • Perfectly sized for patios
    • Crops throughout the summer and into autumn
    • Produces a good crop of large cherry-sized fruit
    • Sweet fruits – great to snack on or for salads
    • Stay green trait, so their leaves won’t turn yellow

    Buy your FI Summerlast plants while stocks last!

    The post July Newsletter appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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    Gardens are a vital resource for wildlife and many programmes. including the BBC’s Springwatch, are encouraging viewers to make space – however small or large – for nature in their gardens.

    Top wildlife garden ideas include:

    • leaving lawns to grow long or mowing less frequently
    • cutting hedgehog holes in your garden’s boundaries
    • sowing native wildflower seeds to encourage bees and insects
    • leaving patches of nettles to grow
    • creating ponds or leaving out water dishes
    • making leaf and log piles
    • installing nest boxes and bug hotels made of natural materials
    Best for Bees

    Bees species are specialists and they each thrive on different plants to avoid competition. Aim to grow a good variety of bee-friendly pollen-rich flowers in your garden or outdoor space, with differing flower shapes and blooming periods. Wildflowers (such as bluebells and foxgloves) and lawn weeds (such as clover) are especially beneficial, with dandelions providing vital pollen early in the season.

    Some trees and shrubs provide masses of flowers in winter and early spring, with wild cherry, willow and hazel offering essential food for bees early in the year.

    Re-wilding

    Re-wilding your garden to some small degree – whether it’s by planting nectar-rich flower species or simply leaving out a dish of freshwater for hedgehogs – could help to halt the decline of the UK’s wildlife population.

    A simple way to start is by preparing an area of ground and sowing wildflower seeds, which can be sown between March and May, and from mid-August to September. Suttons has a wonderful range of new and exclusive mixes choose from, which includes: Honey Bee Mix, Birds & Bees Mix, Butterfly Mix, Woodland Garden Mix and Winter Bird Feeding Mix.

    Every garden that makes space for nature will help to form vital wildlife corridors, which enable insects, birds and mammals to travel further in search of food and shelter. To see what wildlife it taking up home in your garden, take a look at our fabulous outdoor filming kits!

    The post Make Space for Nature in Your Garden appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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    ‘There are mating ladybirds!’ announced my seven-year-old upon arrival at our plot at the end of May. The chatter from both my allotment neighbours stopped in an instant. Suddenly, a moment of great hilarity then broke out!

    The Wonders of Wildlife

    Closer inspection revealed the statement to be impressively accurate. Without doubt, towards the end of May, there was an explosion of ladybirds. In some parts of the country, mass swarms of greenfly appeared too. Aphids are predated by ladybirds so this may partly explain the apparent extra numbers. It also serves to highlight that are plots are not just places to grow our own food. They are also important green oases, especially in urban and semi-urban areas. Plots that are managed organically or are free of artificial chemical sprays, develop a kind of ecosystem. Eventually, a predator-prey balance begins to establish. Predators like ladybirds and hoverflies will increasingly visit. Making the transition just takes a little time to allow that all important balance to develop.

    Still, on the wildlife theme, I observed an exciting development just outside the allotment site gate! Nestled just three foot off the ground, in the crevice of the back of a nearby street light, is a nest belonging to a family of blue tits. How industrious and clever is that? It is just about as safe an environment from predators as you could find. It just shows as we quietly go about our quest to grow as much food as we can, there is a hidden world going on around us.

    During May, I’ve been enjoying a bumper crop of asparagus, with pickings every two-three days. And the purple sprouting broccoli soldered on too – until the middle of May. Both of these crops are must-haves on any plot. They provide fresh nutritious veg at a time of year when it is in relatively short supply. As a sideshow to this, I discovered in the absence of my allotment bag, that both crops fit nicely in the basin of my sun hat for the walk home! Make do and mend and all of that… 

    It is worth remembering not to harvest asparagus beyond mid-June. This allows the plants to build up strength for next year.

    Tasks This Month

    Early June is a time when a key focus is on keeping our young transplants supplied with enough moisture. This will aid their establishment, as the plants still haven’t developed a full root system. In hot, dry weather, they will need a little help. The idea is that the roots head downwards looking for moisture, of course. Nevertheless, it is important to spot-water when required.

    Another routine task is to hoe regularly over the summer months. Using a hoe with a blade that is nice and sharp will cut down young weed seedlings before they can establish. The weeds can be left on the soil surface to wither away as a kind of temporary mulch.

    Perfect Potatoes & Brilliant Beans

    One of the highlights of June is a bumper crop of early (new) potatoes. Scrape away the soil gradually to reveal those tasty spuds whose skin can be left on or simply rubbed away. Rather than digging the whole plant up, by harvesting just a few at a time, this allows the remaining tubers to grow bigger.

    Maincrop potatoes should be growing strongly now. Periodic earthing up is a job now for the next three months, a job best done when the soil is damp.

    June also sees overwintered broad beans begin cropping. This is another welcome development on my plot. Nothing beats the flavour of young, tender broad beans, selected deliberately before the pods get too large.

    We may be starting the cropping season in earnest now but there are still plenty of seeds to sow.

    What to Sow Now

    All summer salad crops including, lettuce, loose mixed salad leaves, radish and spring onion can be sown. Beetroot and carrots can be sown every three weeks to ensure continuity. French Beans love warm conditions are the variety ‘Safari’ can be sown up to the end of June.

    There is still time to sow coriander and sweet basil too. Finally, mid-summer is the time when I sow swede ‘Ruby’ on my plot. I make a direct sowing in prepared seed drills, on a layer of compost.

    All of this goes to show what a fun time of year to be an allotment gardener, this is!

    The post Top June Allotment Tips appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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    “I wonder what it would be like to live in a world where it was always June.”
    – L. M. Montgomery

    June is a green month with trees, shrubs and plants arriving at their lush peak. Frost is a thing of the past and everything can now be hardened off and planted out into final position.

    Our gardens truly come to life this month and that doesn’t simply apply to the plants. Tadpoles will now be metamorphosising into frogs and leaving garden ponds and birds will be feeding their young with as many caterpillars and aphids as they can find. Frogs, toads, birds, etc are all our unpaid helpers, unless you count the small fortunes some of us spend on our ponds, peanuts and seed!

    One of the other many delights this month is sitting out late, enjoying the long evenings whilst listening to the birds putting themselves to bed and squabbling prettily over the most desirable branches on which to roost. Patio pots containing some of the night-scented flowers listed below will add an extra something special.

    RHS Chelsea Flower Show Winner

    We are delighted to announce that Sedum Atlantis has been crowned as the RHS Chelsea Plant of the Year 2019 Winner!

    Sedum Atlantis is a plant for our times…drought tolerant, suitable for small spaces and attractive to bees. Its striking foliage forms rosettes of serrated green leaves with thick, creamy margins and tips that turn a pink blush in the autumn. The pink-tinged flower buds open to bee magnet yellow flowers.

    The new leaves emerge in a beautiful creamy white, before developing into an attractive green with striking white borders and gradually forming a half metre wide cushion of drought-resistant leaves. To top it off, this plant then covers itself with a foam of bee and butterfly magnet yellow flowers from July through to September. Sedum Atlantis is a dramatic and versatile garden plant.

    Versatile and happy in a hanging basket, window box, pot, rockery or border, this winning plant is available to order now.

    If the weather allows you to do nothing else this month try and complete the following gardening jobs:

    • The longer days and warmer soil will be encouraging all things to grow, including weeds! Keep your hoe, kneeler pad and fork handy.
    • Pinching the growing tips from your bedding plants will encourage more flowers and a bushier plant.
    • Summer hanging baskets can now be placed in position. In warm weather, they will quickly dry out so don’t forget them during your watering regime.
    • Nothing smartens up a garden more quickly than a neatly mown lawn. Mow at least once a week and keep the edges well-trimmed.
    • Containers that have been hardened off can be moved to their flowering position. Place any scented ones near doors and open windows.
    • If you haven’t done so already then put plant supports and stakes in place for your taller perennials. Once they start to flop it will be too late!
    • As your tomato plants start setting fruit, feed them with a high potash feed, every 10 to 14 days.
    • If June lives up to its reputation and becomes a scorcher then you will need water, water and then water again. With some feeding in between!
    • Evergreens can be given a trim now. If you feel artistic then June is the perfect month to try some topiary. Doesn’t every garden need a dragon?
    • At last, you can remove the yellowed foliage from daffodils and other spring flowering bulbs. Mark where they are so that you don’t dig them up when looking to plant something new.

    I’m Just Mad About Saffron

    Call me mellow yellow but as well as being one of the world’s most expensive spices saffron is also one of my favourites. Easy to grow in well-drained soil in a sunny spot, Saffron Crocus bulbs produce deliciously scented purple blooms in autumn, when colour can be at a premium.  Once they are in flower you can head out early in the morning with a pair of tweezers and gently remove the red stigmas dangling from the flowers. This is your much-prized saffron. Simply dry it thoroughly, store in an airtight container and use it to enhance your cooking.

    Order your saffron crocus bulbs now for delivery in August, the right time for planting.

    Christine’s Patch – Grafted Veg Growing

    Hi, I’m Christine Loader, Horticultural and Technical Advisor here at Suttons. I have been an avid gardener all my life and have a passion for growing Fruit and Vegetables. When I am not in my greenhouse I can usually be found on my allotment.  Gardening has been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember, and I look forward to sharing my expertise with you in our newsletter. This month we’re looking at how to get the most from your grafted veg plants.

    Your grafted vegetable plug plants should all have grown well by now and be ready to be planted into their final place. They can be grown on in a greenhouse, polytunnel or hardened off and plant outside in a sunny and sheltered position.

    Choose large pots, a minimum of 30 cm (12”) deep and wide or larger if possible and use a good quality compost or grow them in well-prepared beds. Please remember grafted vegetable plants are not suitable to be grown in growbags as there is not enough space for the roots to develop fully.

    Ensure the graft remains well above the soil level and should any roots develop from above the graft, pinch them off and do not let them root into the soil.

    Stake the plants with strong bamboo canes and tie them in as they are growing up.

    Grafted plants are more vigorous than standard plants and will require more watering and feeding. Start feeding with a high potash fertiliser when the first flower buds develop and feed twice a week when the first fruits are growing.

    Check your plants regularly against greenfly or other pests and remove any leaves that are damaged or showing signs of deterioration.

    Cordon tomatoes need their sides shoots pinched out. Check larger fruits for Blossom End Rot, if the fruits start to go black at the base, remove them and increase watering. These are thirsty plants and the soil around the roots must be kept moist and not left to dry out. Only start to de-leaf tomato plants later in the autumn when you have pinched the growing tips out and just need to ripen off the tomatoes that are on the vine. If you grow the variety Sugar Plum Raisin and want to have vine dried tomatoes at the end of the season, stop watering the plants otherwise the fruit will not dry out but go mouldy instead.

    Cucumber plants are all female and will not produce male flowers unless put under extreme stress. Remove any male flowers to avoid bitter fruits. Avoid over-cropping in the early stages, just thin out the fruits and you will get a more even crop throughout the season. Provide good ventilation and humidity, regular watering and feeding and avoiding hot and dry greenhouse atmosphere. Dampen down the greenhouse path if necessary.

    Chilli plants perform best in hot greenhouses, in fact, letting the soil dry out a little between watering and stressing the plants produces hotter chillies! If the plants are reluctant to set fruit, increase the humidity and mist the flowering plants.

    Aubergine plants perform best in a greenhouse or on a hot and sheltered patio. The large leaves act as solar panels and should not be thinned out. Pick the fruits regularly when they are about 12-15 cm long. The more you pick the more the plant will produce.

    Melon and squashes grow happily outdoors in a protected bed, growing them through black polythene warms up the soil underneath but also increases the temperature around the plants.  Melons will benefit from cloches or fleece if temperatures are on the low side. Check the grafting point and do not let any side shoots from the graft develop as this would usually be rootstock. If the rootstock takes hold then the grafted part starts to weaken and will perform poorly.

    For comprehensive growing instructions for all our grafted vegetables, please go to ‘Growing Guides’ on our website.

    Night-Scented Flowers

    Hopefully, every gardener will have the opportunity, weather and warmth to enjoying sitting outside on at least a few summer evenings. Chatting and eating with friends, reading, or maybe just having a doze and enjoying the night air. And hopefully, that air will carry the subtle fragrance from night-scented flowers.

    Some plants such as roses and honeysuckle offer up their scent during the heat of the day whilst others, such as the herbs mint and rosemary, release their fragrance only when the leaves have been disturbed. And then there are those plants that hold onto their scent during the day, only releasing it when the sun has gone, and the cooler evening has arrived.

    So, why do some plants only release their scent after dark? The reason is to attract night-time pollinators such as moths and beetles. The scent simply acts as a guide for the insects, they follow it directly to the plant in search of nectar. For this same reason, the flowers tend to be pale, often white, as this makes them easier for the pollinating insects to see in the dark.

    These night-scented plants need to be positioned where you will most get the benefit. There is little point in planting them in a part of the garden that won’t be visited after dusk. So, plant them in beds and pots close to your patio, along paths, beneath windows and beside doorways.

    Ideally chose a fairly sheltered spot. You want the fragrance to sit gently on the night-air rather than simply being blown away. But also remember to give the day-time growing conditions that the plant needs!

    Just one word of caution. These plants are doing all they can to attract moths so if you don’t like moths, you’d better not plant them!

    • Nicotiana Evening Fragrance – A mixture of flesh pink, rose, red, lilac, mauve, purple and white flowers. Wonderfully fragrant. A mix of pink, red, lilac, purple and white trumpet-like flowers
    • Night-scented Stock – Delicate stems of small lilac flowers
    • Hesperis – Commonly known as “sweet rocket” with clusters of small white flowers
    • Night Phlox – A profusion of small delicate flowers above lance-shaped leaves
    • Globe Artichoke – Architectural by day and scented by night
    • Honeysuckle – Many but not all honeysuckles are night-scented so choose carefully
    • Verbena bonariensis – Delicately scented both night and day
    Offer of the Month

    To celebrate another wonderful win at the Chelsea Flower show, we are delighted to offer our Chelsea Favourites Collection at a very special price.

    Add a touch of Chelsea to your outside space with our selection of classic perennials inspired by the show. This selection of 6 perennial varieties (3 of each) will bring colour and height to your borders and containers, not only this year but next year as well.

    Varieties include Coreopsis Sunkiss, Rudbeckia Goldsturm, Geum Mrs Bradshaw, Lupin Russell Hybrid, Verbena Bonariensis and Heuchera Palace Purple, which are all familiar sights in the gardens of Chelsea, making them key to creating a look inspired by the show.

    Chelsea Favourites Collection | WAS £51 – NOW £36!

    The post June Newsletter appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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    We love this plant and were delighted when the RHS judges showed that they loved it too by naming it Plant of the Year 2019 at the Chelsea Flower Show.

    Read on to find out more about this fascinating plant, its origins and how to get the best out of it in your garden.

    History

    The original Sedum Takesimense was found on a volcanic island off Korea, where it had adapted to the well-drained soils. It has been grown in nurseries for a number of years, where it is sold as a garden plant or used for green roofs.

    Dave Mackenzie is a sedum specialist and has written books on green roofs and vertical gardens. Several years ago, whilst doing his daily check through his nursery on the banks of Lake Michigan, Dave spotted that one of his Sedum Takesimense plants had developed with striking variegated leaves. He was immediately excited about its potential and, over the following 6 years, tested its vigour and consistency until he was ready to release it to the public. Dave showed the plant to Peter Van Rijssen who travels the world looking for new and exciting plants, and he, in turn, showed it to Gavin Shaw, one of Suttons’ own ‘plant hunters’. Everyone at our offices loved the plant when we saw the pictures and loved it even more when we started growing them at our nursery down in Devon.

    Flowers & Foliage

    Most sedums sit quietly in the background and then surprise you with a burst of bee- and butterfly-friendly flowers. But when we were choosing plants to take to Chelsea for judging we genuinely struggled with whether to just show off the foliage or to take a plant in flower because the foliage is THAT striking.

    Initially emerging as pure cream, the leaf rosettes develop into serrated green leaves with striking creamy margins, expanding to form a cushion up to 50cm across. The plant covers itself with a foam of yellow flowers from July to September and finally, the leaves take on a lovely autumn pink blush.

    Drought-tolerance

    Sedums are more drought-tolerant than many plants for 3 reasons:

    1. They store water in their fleshy leaves and stems, which they can call on when water is scarce
    2. They have a waxy covering on the leaves which reduces water evaporation.
    3. They have a unique mechanism (Crassulacean Acidic Metabolism), which enables them to open the pores on their leaves to transpire at night when it’s cooler, rather than in the heat of the day

    Having said that, like all plants, they do still need some water. Ensure your plants don’t dry out completely during dry spells, particularly when your plant is first establishing.

    Care & Planting

    Whilst this sedum should thrive in the full sun of a British summer, its variegation makes it almost glow in the shade – by positioning your plants in half shade, you and your plants will get the best of both worlds.

    When potted, Sedum Atlantis makes a striking outside table decoration and will work equally well in a hanging basket, border or rockery. Although fully hardy in the UK, it doesn’t like having wet feet, so please make sure that it has adequate drainage, particularly in the winter months.

    Depending on conditions, your plant may lose its leaves over the winter, but don’t worry! Provided it has not become waterlogged, it should spring back into life to delight you again next spring.

    Good luck – we hope you love your Sedum Atlantis as much as we do! Check out our purchase options here and get Sedum Atlantis for your garden, hanging basket or table decoration.

    The post Get the best from your Sedum Atlantis appeared first on Suttons Gardening Grow How.

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