Preserves, Winter

Surprise Citrus!

I was a little surprised to discover that the dwarf Meyer lemon I bought a little while back, is, in fact, a cumquat tree.

Something extra to add to my citrus marmalade.

 

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Digging Tools, Garden Work, gardening, Winter

Tools! Digging stuff.

Tools! No I’m not making a statement about government official again. I’m talking about garden tools – those used for digging. During the winter months I make time to clean out my garden shed, and go through and repair and clean my garden tools.So what kind of digging tools do I have hidden in the shed, and what do they do?

Fork

A garden fork(also known as a spading forkor graip) is a long-handled tool with four (sometimes three or five) flat, thick metal prongs. Forks are used to loosen soil, break up clods and clay, and dig up stones and rocks.

Hand-Held Fork

This is a smaller version of a garden fork. It is also known as a boarder fork or a ladies fork. These forks generally have three prongs set close together. Hand forks are used for wedding around plants, and to assist with lifting out root vegetables.

Rake

A rake is best described as a broom used for the outdoors. It is a long-handled tool with a (usually metal, sometimes plastic) toothed bar fixed to the handle. It us used like a broom, to scrape together leaves, grass and garden debris.

Shovel

A shovel is a long-handled tool with a blade fixed to the end. The blade is usually made of metal and appears to have a seam in the centre. This creates a bucket-like shape. Shovels are used for digging, lifting and moving material around your garden.

Spade

A spade is like a shovel in that it is used for digging. It is also a long-handled tool but the blade at the end is narrower and less curved than a shovel (they’re often quite flat). The flat blade makes a spade a good choice for digging, chopping up roots and breaking up soil.

Trowel

A garden trowel is like a hand-held shovel. It has a pointed, scoop-shaped blade and is used for breaking up soil, digging small holes (for planting), weeding, and scooping fertilisers into the soil. This is a ‘must have’ garden tool. You can get ones with metal or plastic scoops.

brassicas, Seasonal guide, Winter

Brassicas

Winter is a great time for brassicas. In fact, if you planted them in late Autumn you should be getting close to the harvest time. The brassica family of vegetables includes broccoli, broccolini, cabbage and cauliflower. They are easy enough to grow from seed, but growing from seedlings is more convenient (especially if you are planting them late)

Brassicas are generally slow but steady growers. They get very green and leafy over two months and then almost overnight, start to develop the veg bit you want. It then takes about 2 weeks for the brassicas to develop good- sized produce for harvest.

Check out our Brassica fact sheet: Brassicas 

 

Maintenance, Pruning, Winter

Pruning season

 Winter is the best time to prune your deciduous trees, and unsightly shrubs, as this is when the plant is dormant or at its slowest growth point.

Pruning can be a daunting prospect for the inexperienced, but it’s really not that difficult. Even if you make a mistake, your plants will be forgiving.

The first thing that you need to do is ensure that you have clean and sharp tools. You may use a pruning knife (suitable for smaller branches and roses), secateurs (suitable for small branches) and a pruning saw (suitable for larger branches/bigger jobs).  Make sure that you are wearing a long shirt, and a sturdy pair of garden gloves. (I recommend that you wear glasses to protect your eyes).

  1. Remove any dead branches, flowers and leaves.
  2. Remove any canes (branches), which are growing in towards the centre of the plant. (You are aiming for a vase shape – unless you are cutting a topiary).
  3. Cut back the remaining canes (branches) by up to two-thirds.
  4. Cut above a knot in the branch.
  5. Fertilise the plant if it needs it.

Happy Pruning!