Spring is the perfect time to get your vegetable patch back up and running. If you've never tried growing your own, why not use March and April to get green-fingered and grow your own veg?

We've chosen three vegetables that are fairly easy to get started with, but don't let that limit you - it's possible to grow all sorts of things in your very own vegetable patch!

A pile of fruit and vegetables

Most fruits and vegetables should be planted in March/April, so now is definitely the time to get your plot up and running. Everything has different growing requirements, so before committing, make sure you have the correct plants for your garden, and be sure to stock up on pots and compost.

Here are a few simple planting instructions for some of the UK's favourite fruit and veg.

When to Plant Potatoes

When to plant your potatoes depends on what kind of potatoes you're growing. New potatoes must be planted earlier as they appear earlier in the summer, but the big 'maincrop' potatoes can wait until mid-April. Remember, as potatoes are root vegetables, they need space to grow - so make sure you have a plot or pot big enough.

Potatoes

New potatoes are an ideal crop for beginners - they're less prone to diseases like potato blight, and though they're expensive to buy in shops, they're surprisingly easy to grow yourself. You'll never get them from the supermarket again!

Simply plant your new potatoes in March (with adequate frost protection) and wait 10 to 12 weeks. Your new potatoes should be planted 12cm deep and 30cm apart, in rows. You'll have the perfect potatoes before you know it!

'Maincrop' potatoes are larger - these are the ones you'll want to use for mash, roasties and jacket potatoes. These take longer to mature, so they're harvested later in the summer. Plant these in mid to late April, then harvest from late July to September. Plant your seed tubers 12cm deep and then space then 75cm apart, in rows. These larger potatoes usually taking 16 to 22 weeks to grow.

When to Plant Carrots

Carrots grow best in open, sunny, well-drained soil. Luckily the sowing season is quite long, meaning you can plant any time from February to July; however most varieties of carrot grow best between April and July.

Carrots in a wicker basket

The great thing about carrots is that they are drought resistant, making them perfect for the longer, drier summers we have been experiencing lately. However, remember to use horticultural fleece - pests like the carrot fly can rot your carrots, meaning all your work will be for nothing! Horticultural fleece will stop pests from getting to your veg, so it's wise to invest in some if you're planning to do some growing.

When to Plant Tomatoes

Tomatoes need a little bit of extra love to grow properly, but they are relatively easy despite the extra steps. Sowing your tomato seeds indoors will give them a head start. Keep the seeds in pots wrapped in plastic bags so the leaves can sprout. Once the flowers on the first 'truss' open, transfer the plant to a growing bag. A truss, by the way, is the little cluster of small stems; you should be able to see them beginning to develop as your tomato plant grows!

Red tomatoes on a vine

Alternatively, most garden centres will have young plants that you can put straight in the ground. You should aim to plant tomatoes in May or June. You'll find that it won't take long for little tomatoes to grow, and once they turn red, they will be ready for eating!

We know how much joy an abundant garden can bring. Why not book a Spring Lawn Treatment so you can grow your veggies and flower beds with peace of mind, knowing your lawn is already taken care of?

Did you know that the types of plants and flowers that are planted in your garden can have an effect on the wildlife that you find coming and going? Well, they can! By choosing the right plants, you can provide both food and shelter for certain wildlife, especially birds. So, if you’d like your garden to be a nature hotspot, try adding these plants to attract different species of birds.

 

The best plants to attract birds

 

Ivy (Hedera)

The best plant for attracting wild bird is common wild ivy as it is the most wildlife-friendly plant, however, it does need to be managed. Common ivy provides UK birds with dense cover for nesting sites, nectar and winter berries, perfect for the colder winter months. Ivy also attracts insects, which are perfect for attracting birds as these act as food. Plant ivy on a shady wall or on an old tree and let mother nature take over. Its stems cling tightly to the tree bark so once it begins to grow, there is no need to train it or tie it down. Ivy usually grows up to four metres and is the perfect place for tree sparrows.

 

Sunflower (Helianthus)

Sunflowers are not only loved by young children and teachers but birds too! The plentiful seeds that are closely packed at the centre of beautifully bright coloured petals provide and oil-rich nourishment through the autumn months for nuthatches, finches, long-tailed tits and other seed-eating birds. As sunflowers come in all sizes and a variety of colour, they make the ideal plant for attracting birds in any sized garden. Choose sunflowers that have the largest flower heads, as these will produce and contain the most seed. Leave the plants to stand in the autumn or cut off the heads and tie them to a fence and watch the birds come flocking.

 

Teasel (Dipsacus)

Teasel is a tall architectural plant that you can find in the wildlife gardening area of the plant centre or on the seed shelves. This plant form unmissable seedheads in the early autumn which can often last right up to December, depending on weather conditions. Teasel first attracts butterflies, but later it’s the seed heads that start to attract birds, namely finches, sparrows and buntings. Once you plant teasels, new plants will grow from the seeds that the birds miss, so you won’t have to worry about planting anymore yourself.

 

Rambling Rose (Rosa multiflora)

A rambling rose is ideal for those that have space to spare in their gardens. They provide masses of beautiful summer colours of cream, white and pink, perfect for that picturesque aesthetic. The flowers themselves are small, but they do grow in big clusters, which is why space is essential when this plant is around. The beautiful flowers are followed huge amounts of rose hips which are loved by so many birds during the winter. Rambling rose also provides excellent places for birds to nest and protect themselves from cats, birds of prey and most other things that mother nature tends to throw their way. Be cautious, however, as this plant can grow up to seven metres long.

 

Firethorn (Pyracantha)

Firethorn is loved by birds, especially thrushes and blackbirds. Its thorny evergreen shrubs with creamy white flowers and autumn berries provide the perfect shelter, protection and nourishment. And there’s something about the way its branches grow that attracts birds to make their nests. So, not only is firethorn a great choice for gardens looking to fill in an empty space but it also great for nesting birds!

 

And there you have it, the best plants to attract birds in the UK! If you’re hoping to bring some more wildlife to your garden in the form of our flying little friends, be sure to plant any of these and watch the birds start to flock.

As soon as the clocks go back signifying the end of British summertime, you can guarantee two things: shorter days and colder weather.

Sadly, neither one of those seasonal traits lend themselves well to gardening and, while the former can be depressing, the latter can have a particularly damning effect on the green, green grass of home – specifically your home.

Ensure your green fingers don’t come down with frostbite this winter by implementing these fool-proof tips into your garden defence.

 

protect your garden in winter

 

Bring Out Your Dead

Wintertime is the perfect opportunity to give your garden a spring clean. Or should that be a winter clean… either way, you get the idea.

Dead plants, weeds and leaves can carry disease and fungus that can prove damaging to other healthy plants nearby. This is particularly applicable to spent annuals and vegetable plants.

Meanwhile, pests can also thrive amongst dead, rotting vegetation, which too can cause subsequent damage to your garden.

Removing any plants that have past their expiration date should remove the problem and any possibility of springtime issues down the line.

 

Get the Drinks In

If a drop in temperature is predicted in advance, pre-empting the big freeze and watering your plants ahead of time can pay dividends once the cold spell hits.

Sub-zero temperatures can cause the ground to freeze, preventing water from permeating the surface and ultimately reaching the roots.

Getting ahead of the curve allows your plants to soak up the moisture while it still can, which can be particularly helpful when it comes to annuals and potted plants.

Speaking of potted plants…

 

All Gone to Pot

Terracotta plant pots can make for an aesthetically pleasing addition to your garden. Unfortunately, terracotta isn’t invincible and this is never more evident than during the wintertime.

To prevent your pots from cracking by gathering them up and placing them together, ideally in an unexposed area of the garden that’s sheltered from the elements, such as near the house.

For an additional layer of protection, you can even go one step further and wrap them up with hessian or horticultural fleece for enhanced insulation.

The combination of swaddling your plant pots with heat retentive materials and grouping them together in a huddled formation should help ensure they survive the winter unscathed.

 

Mulch Ado About Nothing

As noted above, the harsh winter conditions can make the surface hard and difficult for water to permeate. To counteract this inevitability, mulching over the autumn/winter can help the soil to retain water and regulate temperature, protecting your plants in the process.

What’s more, adding mulch to your flowerbeds will help keep root temperatures stable, preventing churning and heaving, while it can also inhibit weed growth. Meanwhile, as the mulch breaks down, it naturally deposits additional organic nutrients into the soil.

 

 

For more tips on autumn and winter garden protection, why not drop us a line today? Call now on 0800 111 4958 or get in touch online by clicking the button below.

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Kitten playing with flower

For animal lovers, pets aren't just an interesting addition to the home, they can often become a cherished part of the family. As such, taking care of your pet can be just as important as looking after a loved one.

If you're a pet owner, it's important to know the do's and don'ts of animal care. From a gardening perspective, this includes knowing which plants are safe for pets and what ones pose a danger.

Luckily, our team and Lawn & Weed Expert are here to help. We've created a handy list to help you differentiate between the cat's meow and the dog's b...uh, the dog's bark.

 

Safe plants for cats and dogs

Undoubtedly two of the most popular pets in the UK, cats and dogs are a common sight in homes across the UK. In fact, according to We-Love-Pets.co.uk, out of the 12 million UK households that have pets, roughly 41% of those include a feline friend or canine compadre.

That figure equates to almost 5 million homes, more than the entire population of both Wales and the Republic of Ireland respectively - that's a whole lot of Pedigree and Whiskas!

If you happen to be one of those lucky homes, keeping Fido and Felix footloose and fancy-free will be a high priority and picking the right plants for your home and garden can be surprisingly important.

Here's a short list of popular plants generally considered safe for most cats and dogs:

  • Hibiscus
  • Basil
  • Spider plant
  • Boston Fern
  • Swedish Ivy

 

Safe plants for rabbits and rodents

If you prefer your domestic animals to be a little furrier and compact, this section may be of interest to you. From rabbits and guinea pigs to hamsters and gerbils, these fluffy companions can make a great pet for those thinking outside the cat/dog box.

The downside of these pets (particularly for garden aficionados) is that rabbits and rodents do have a tendency to pick on plants and lunch on leaves. As such, knowing the plants in your home and garden are animal-safe is vitally important.

Popular common plants safe for most rabbits and rodents include:

  • Jade plant
  • Basil
  • Wheat grass
  • Orchids
  • Marigolds

 

Safe plants for reptiles and lizards

If you own a reptile or amphibian, chances are that you also own the relevant equipment to house it (i.e. a vivarium).

As your pet will spend most of its time confined to these four walls, incorporating a plant or two can be a welcome addition, while also making for stylish and eye-catching decor.

But not all plants are an appropriate addition to your reptilian real estate and some can be outright dangerous. The following are popular plants generally deemed safe for reptiles and lizards:

  • Ficus
  • Hibiscus
  • Pothos
  • Philodendron
  • Spider Plant

 

Safe plants for birds

Outside of the furry, fluffy and scaly, birds are another popular choice of pet for many Brits across the nation. Much like their land-loving brethren, these feathered-friends are also at risk from the dangers of the plant world.

Some popular plants that are considered safe for most types of birds include:

  • Dandelion
  • Marigold
  • Boston Fern
  • Magnolia
  • Swedish Ivy

 

Plants that aren't safe for pets

While the above focuses on plants that ARE safe for pets, the list of poisonous plants for pets is long and wide-ranging, confusing and, at times, frustrating too. What's great for humans and perfectly healthy can catastrophic for our furry friends.

Take aloe vera, for example: great for the skin, rich in antioxidants and a go-to for detoxing, it's a much-loved plant that can do no wrong, as far as human consumption goes. However, for animals - particularly cats and dogs - the aloe vera plant itself can be toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhoea.

To play it safe, your best bet is to only introduce plants into your home and garden that you know are safe for your pets. A simple internet search can help identify whether or not your plant of choice is fit for your pet-friendly home, so be sure to double-check before you bring any new shrub into your house or garden.

 

Are your plants safe for pets?

While the above list is very much a rough guide on which plants are safe for pets, it's important to remember that plants can come in many forms with a range of variations. This list is merely a base guide to give you an idea and is far from complete.

If there is a particular species of plant you are eyeing up for your home, it's wise to do your homework. Don't be afraid to dig a little deeper and find out whether or not your dream shrub is pet-friendly. You could be in luck and be able to kill two birds with one stone...okay, bad choice of words, but you get the idea!

If you're still unsure about the plants in your home and garden, why not drop us a line? Our team of experts can even provide you with a free survey and help treat your lawn to ensure it's risk-free and pet-safe.

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