Tag Archives: grow your own

City Gardening

City Gardening

Balcony and Rooftop gardens

Being in a city isn’t the be all and end all for gardening! Similarly if you can’t get an allotment or even don’t think that you could manage such a big task there are still gardening opportunities! Here are a few clever tips and tricks for making the most of that space, be it a balcony, rooftop or windowsill!

Top tips

To start with;

  1. Go gradually; add a few plants at a time and see how well they do in your balcony/ roof’s climate. It is also a good test to see whether you will look after them, before you spend any money on them!
  2. Watch the sun; how much sun exposure does this area get? 8 hours of sunlight classifies as full sun, partial shade is 4-6 hours and shade is anything under 4 hours. Plant labels are clear about which the plant requires although if you are unsure any of our experts in store would be more than happy to help you.
  3. Think about water; being on top of the roof may make watering hard. This is why something like a water butt is a great solution. Also use water retention techniques like mulching; try using bark or wood chips. For something more interesting you can also use pebbles or gravel. Read our watering guide for pot plants here.
  4. Prepare for wind; being on top of the roof there will be very little shelter so it is a good idea to incorporate a wind break to protect your plants.
  5. Storage; where will you store your tools, compost etc? There are plenty of options including small waterproof boxes, shelving or bench seating with some storage beneath.
  6. Furniture; if you have space for a small table and chairs this is a great spot for relaxation and a haven away from city life.
  7. Lighting; if you are planning to relax there and garden in the evenings after work then you will need some lighting. Why fuss about getting electricity working up on your rooftop or outside when you can so easily install effective and attractive solar lights!

Then;

8. Have a base; a selection of a few evergreen plants will mean that you have greenery all year round and that your balcony never looks bare or desolate.

9. Think vertical; make the most of the height! Upwards rather than outwards will save a lot of space and can also look really interesting. For example by piling up to 5 different size pots on top of each other (a wooden rod through the middle) you can grow 5 separate containers and only take up one part of the ground!

10. Flowers never go a miss! Adding a hint of colour amongst the green can have a huge impact and make the space look bigger and more interesting. At the same time, be careful not too add to much colour! Stick to around 3 shades of colour to prevent the small area looking too busy and crowded.

11. Place strategically; a few simple tricks of the eye can help make your area look a lot bigger. Using the height will help, similarly placing mirrors will make it feel much bigger

12. Go! Add in your containers and raised beds wherever you can fit them and start planting!

Fruit and Veg

Even growing a small amount of fresh food to incorporate into your diet and cooking will be worth it! Keep in mind that your fruit and veggies may have less growing room than they would normally. Compensate for this with high quality soil and composts.

The best fruit and vegetables for small spaces;

  • Herbs; these all grow well in small containers. You can grow a great combination of herbs and they are a great bit of fresh produce to start with. Why not try a medicinal herb garden? Read all about how to create and use one here.
  • Blueberries; these can grow in any container over 45cm! All they require is regular watering, an acidic compost and an ericaceous fertiliser
  • Chillies and peppers
  • Salad; cut and come again salad leaves are great, the yield is high and they can be grown in any container!
  • Tomatoes; tomatoes will grow perfectly in containers. Just stake them early and keep them well watered. Alternatively you can plant them in hanging baskets!

Hanging baskets

Hanging baskets are great for space saving and you can even have containers below to double your growing space! So many surprising things can be grown in hanging baskets including;

Strawberries, tomatoes, herbs, salad leaves, cucumbers, aubergines, courgettes, peas and runner beans.

Flowers

The best low maintenance flowers for rooftops and balconies;

begonias, marigolds, fuchsias, hydrangeas, chrysanthemums,  petunias, clematis plants.

Note on Rooftop Gardens

Roof gardens are a brilliant idea because they look incredible and make use of a space that is otherwise redundant. However before you start with this its important to ask for some structural advice and to know if your roof can take the weight and if you will need permission.

Harvesting organic vegetables

National Allotment Week 2018

National Allotment Week 2018

For those people who love gardening and don’t have one on their doorstep, allotments are the perfect solution.

This week (13th-19th August) marks National Allotment week. It is a great time to celebrate the benefits of growing your own produce, not only on the environment but also on our diet, mental and physical health. During National Allotment week the  National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners (NSALG) is encouraging allotment owners to open their gates! This will allow people to showcase something that a huge amount of time and effort has gone into and will hopefully inspire and encourage others to start their allotment or garden. Not only can allotment owners share their allotment for a day, but more importantly share their tips, tricks and expertise among the gardening community!

Visit their website to see if there are any events near you.

Top tricks & tips for allotment owners

  1. 1. Decide & plan. What are your favourite fresh fruits and vegetables? Which flowers do you like to cut for your house? Grow these! There’s no point putting so much time and effort into something that you may not enjoy at the end! Once you have decided what you will grow it is important to plan meticulously. In a limited space you need to think everything through thoroughly, what layout do you want? How will you separate your beds? Will they be raised beds? There are several benefits of each way so after some research decide which is best for you. Definitely draw it out, and maybe again just to be sure.
  2. 2. Be limited and balanced. Make sure you don’t try and grow everything in your first year, you may be tempted by all kinds of exciting seeds however you will soon find that they all have different growing requirements and you will be left with little amounts of lots of things. Also have some balance; incorporate flowers and herbs into your garden as well because these will attract bees and butterflies that will pollinate your other plants.
  3. 3. Weed! The importance of weeding should not be underestimated. It is also great as it will loosen up the soil as you go. If your allotment is covered in weeds don’t try and complete the job half-heartedly. Instead focus on completely clearing one area so that you can use that and then when you have free hours you can continue on the rest.
  4. 4. Protect your plants! There is not worse feeling than loosing all of your precious produce to birds! Invest in some netting to keep away birds and some slug traps for slugs and snails.
  5. 5. Talk! This is why allotment week is such a great idea. By speaking with fellow allotment owners you can hear about what works best for them, problems they have faced and how they have overcome them.

Allotments in Exeter

For those readers who live in Exeter, there are plenty of allotment sites from St Thomas to Topsham. For anyone who has been inspired recently, or has always dreamed of having their own flourishing garden now is the perfect time to apply. Visit this page to apply for your allotment and then pop in to store for everything you need to get started!

Finally

Read this article on Exeter Veg Share which is a new initiative from Exeter University. This is an inspiring story to show that growing your own fruit and veg and eating organically can bring us together and bring something great to the community!

Day Lily

August Garden Jobs

August Garden Jobs

The Flower Garden

  • – Keep everything well watered especially Camellias and Rhododendrons to promote development of buds for next year.
  • – Day LilyStake any flowers that are overly tall or heavier at the top to keep them safe from wind damage.
  • – Dead head lilies, perennials and bedding plants to help with longer a flowering period and next year’s growth.
  • – Prune wisteria and summer flowering shrubs once they have flowered.
  • – Prune rambling and climbing roses after they flower.
  • – Collect seeds and store them appropriately to plant them out next year.

The Kitchen Garden

  • Broad Bean Plants with flower showing– Harvest beans. Both French and Runner beans need to be picked early and often. This will prevent them from going to seed, stop them from becoming stringy and also encourage a second growth.
  • – Add a high potash feed like Tomorite to pepper, cucumber and aubergine plants when you see the first fruits.
  • – Water and harvest sweetcorn; harvest when milky juices come out of a corn if you pop it.
  • – Trim herb plants; cutting back old growth will allow a second growth that can be harvested before the cold weather sets in!

The Fruit Garden

  • – Feed citrus plants with a specialised feed or fertiliser.
  • – Give any container foods a high potash feed such as Tomorite.
  • – Protect your precious crops from birds with a netting over your fruit.
  • – Begin harvesting fruit trees such as plums, apricots, peaches and cherries.
  • – Remove mulching from around strawberry plants to avoid the spread of disease and plant out any rooted Strawberry runners for next year.
  • – Blackcurrant bushes need to be pruned after all of the fruits have been harvested. Only prune the stems that fruited this year.
Tomatoes on plant

July Jobs in the Kitchen Garden

July Jobs

July is known to be a hot and dry month so a lot of watering in the vegetable garden is necessary. Aside from this, there are many other ‘July jobs’ to be done to ensure a fruit and vegetable yield as high as possible! Here are the jobs that need doing this July;

Vegetables

  1. tomatoes on plant1. Reduce water loss by mulching to trap the water and hoeing to break up the soil.
  2. 2. Sow the final seeds; you can still sow these in July
    1. Turnips, beetroot, carrots, chicory, spring cabbage and radishes
  3. 3. Plant out; broccoli, leeks and cabbage are all ready to be planted out into firm soil now
  4. 4. Pepper plants – should be moved into a larger pot
  5. 5. Tomato plants – pinch out side shoots and feed them with a fertiliser such as Tomorite once a week. Also remove leaves underneath the first fruit to avoid disease. Ensure that when you water them the moisture is spread evenly to avoid split fruit or blossom rot.
  6. 6. Aubergine plants – get rid of the growing tip after you count around 5 fruits to allow them to put their energy into this.
  7. 7. Courgette plants– also get rid of the growing tip. Picking young fruit regularly will enable more fruit to grow.
  8. 8. Runner beans– harvest beans regularly as this wills top them becoming stringy and will also allow new beans to develop.
  9. 9. Check often for disease, blackfly and butterfuly eggs and get rid of anything that you find including any dead foliage around the plants.

Fruits

  1. ripe raspberry1. Give fruit plants a good soaking in any dry spells, especially those with swelling fruits such as apples.
  2. 2. Net around your fruit plants to deter birds.
  3. 3. Give the fruit trees a thinning to help give a larger yield.
  4. 4. Give fruit plants that are in containers an high potash feed such as Tomorite.
  5. 5. Prune apricot, peach, plum and cherry trees and blackcurrant bushes once you have harvested.

Ask our experts in store for any more advice!

A mix of salad leaves that grow as cut and come again salad

Cut and come again salad

Cut-and-come-again salad leaves

Recurring rocket!

It is easy to assume that salad is not worth growing and guessing that it has an almost non-existent yield. However, with cut-and-come-again salad leaves you can have several harvests of the small salad leaves over a long period of time.  This is achieved by cutting the leaves before they have been allowed to mature- which enables the plant to sprout again for another harvest.

How to grow and harvest

  • – After you have sown your seeds simply wait until the leaves grow to an appetising size
  • – When the leaves look to be the size you want, snip them off at approximately an inch above the root for a fresh salad
  • – for the crisp and crunchiest leaves do this in the morning.
  • – when the leaves become slightly bitter or start to flower you should uproot and compost them – each seed should produce 3-4 harvests
  • – we suggest sowing seeds in batches every couple of weeks to create a continuous harvest.

Now that we are in May, these crops can work equally well in patches or, for those who have less space, in small patio containers.

What to use

The following are perfect seeds to use as cut-and-come-again leaves;

Basil, beetroot, coriander, chard, dandelion, land cress, leaf celery, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, pak choi, parsley, radicchio, red kale, rocket, sea kale and spinach.

Our garden centres also sell some cut-and-come-again salad plants in mini 6 packs. Each pack costs just £2 and we have varieties like mixed Mibuna and Mizuna, chard, pak choi, sky rocket and spinach amazon.

Please call ahead to check availability and prices before making a special journey.

(Old Rydon Lane; 01392 876281, Clyst St Mary; 01392 876281).

 

Strawberries being grown in a hanging basket.

Strawberries in hanging baskets

Switching it up with your strawberries

Strawberries make the perfect summer fruit and are one of the most versatile crops. Now you don’t even need a kitchen garden to grow them in!

Hanging Baskets 

Juciy, red, homegrown strawberries.

Strawberries are a tasty summer favourite and can be grown in several different ways!

This season how about growing your strawberries in a hanging basket? With the fruits growing over the edges, they look great and the fact they will have plenty of air circulating around them eliminates the likelihood of mould and mildew occurring. Additionally, because they are off the ground, they are completely safe from the wrath of slugs and snails.  If you don’t want to reach for the heights, strawberries will grow brilliantly in terracotta pots or even in window troughs.

Top Tips

Our tips for growing strawberries in containers are;

  • – keep them well fed and watered.
  • – don’t worry about the lack of soil, it isn’t a problem as strawberries only have shallow roots.
  • -whilst feeding and watering we recommend trying to keep water away from the leaves to avoid fungal diseases.
  • – try this popular feeding trick- to use a liquid tomato feed (like Tomorite) every couple of weeks once the strawberries have begun to flower. This works well due to the high potash content in the feed.
  • – hang your baskets or place your pots in a sunny spot which is ideal to encourage the swelling and ripening of fruits.

Strawberry Varieties

With 7 different varieties being grown here at St Bridget Nurseries, all with different qualities such as yield size, harvest times, disease resistance, flavour and plant shape. There will inevitably be one to suit your garden needs. Speak to our experts if you need more information about the specifics of each variety of strawberry!

Other ‘edible baskets’

If you love this hanging basket idea, it is also adaptable to tumbling tomatoes, chillies,  cut and come again salad and herbs! What will your next edible basket contain?