spring gardening tips

Spring Gardening Tips

We have had our static caravan in Thanet for over a year now and as the summer approaches, we are enjoying the outside more and more – weather permitting of course. It’s nice to have another area to enjoy. We have bought a small table and chairs which comes in very handy for quick snacks and, in this case, sowing our seeds that Tesco kindly sent us through along with a wonderful hamper of bits and pieces to help make our garden even more special.

It’s only a small patch of grass to the side and another stretch in front which was initially covered with a decking area but had to be ripped down by the new management for ‘health and safety’ reasons. Annoying as a new balcony around the caravan will cost a minimum of £7000!

So we want to make the most of the area we have without creating enormous amounts of work. Can it be done?

Tesco set up a conversation for me with Katie Rushworth and I share her top spring gardening tips on how to get the best out of your plot for the summer.

1. Plant out summer bedding, half-hardy annuals

Spring is the perfect time to dust off your trowel, get planting and give your garden some love.

When you start, try to plant and stick to a colour theme throughout your containers and baskets. Maybe a mix of hot colours and the odd chilli plant thrown in to your window box might spice things up. If you fancy something a little more ‘cottage garden’ in style then stick with pastel shades and add some herbs to the mix. Half-hardy annuals such as Cosmos, Zinnia, Cleome and Nicotiana can all be sown straight into the ground at this time of year and are fantastic colour fillers.

acer tree plant

An acer tree plant bought in Tesco

2. Pressure wash, or hose down and scrub

A great and easy way to get your garden looking its best is to get the pressure washer out and give that patio, path or deck some TLC. Just removing any dirt and moss from your seating area will instantly make your garden appear smarter. They are also great for cleaning down garden furniture and children’s play equipment, often they look brand new again.

3. Paint a fence or wall

gardeing tesco

It’s a great time of year to treat any wood that is in the garden – spring offers slightly cooler days with a possible chance of sunshine (unpredictable English weather) so your fence/wall will have time to properly dry. Whether that be fencing, a shed, garden furniture, wooden planters or a children’s climbing frame – all will last longer if given some added protection against the elements, and it will also give them a new lease of life. If you’re feeling brave, add some colour! A brightly coloured wall can make a fantastic statement all year round, a steely grey coloured fence can add a contemporary feel.

4. Costs

Have a plan for your garden and stick to it. Keep an eye out for retailers and garden centres who will have a wide range of deals available in the lead up to the summer months. Tesco is offering some great deals on its garden range available, in store now or visit online for more details and inspiration.

5. Lawn

Don’t forget to look after your lawn, as a freshly cut lawn makes all the difference. One of the top gardening mistakes Brits with a garden are committing is letting the lawn become unruly and overgrown. Make sure you remove any bare patches by getting rid of any dead grass and moss from the area. Then sprinkle some topsoil, followed by some lawn seed. A final fine dressing of topsoil will keep any wildlife from eating the seed as well as ensure that the seed comes into contact with the soil. Lightly water to prevent any of the seed from being disturbed.

6. Stake and support plants

Any plants that you know need support to look their best will benefit if you visit your local retailer or garden centre and get those supports in now. Even if they are weeks from flowering and still have lots of growth to put on, getting those garden canes in now and tying things in is much easier to do when you don’t have to navigate excess foliage and other plants in flower. As the plant continues to grow it will also naturally disguise the canes or framework you have put in place and leave you with beautiful looking flowers.

Tesco summer cup

A quick snack for the workers!

7. Lighting

Garden lighting is often overlooked, but it can really extend the use of your garden and add ambience and atmosphere to any outdoor spaces. String lights always look fabulous and add a festival feeling, whilst clusters of lanterns on steps and tables add charm and elegance. Up lighting a tree can add drama and give the garden an evening focal point, as well as give that holiday feeling. Don’t forget the fire pit which also gives warmth as the evening draws in.

8. Hoe

According to Tesco’s research the most dreaded gardening job for over a third of adults with a garden is weeding. However this task won’t seem so daunting if you find yourself a hoe (this is my favourite garden implement). It makes easy work of keeping on top of those weeds! On a dry day, slice the top of the weed off just below the surface of the soil. This will prevent the weed from photosynthesizing and the root will dry out and die. Sometimes the weed may eventually regrow, but this definitely weakens the plant so it is much less likely to make an appearance. For more persistent weeds, removing the whole root maybe necessary. However intermediate hoeing can make weeding a much more manageable garden task.

aperitivo

9. Prune spring flowering shrubs

Any shrubs which have flowered this spring can be pruned now if they are getting too big and unruly. Tesco has found that people are not confident when it comes to pruning plants but this is really easy to do! Remove any dead or damaged growth first, then any growth which is weak or crossing over one another causing stems to rub together in a tangled mass. Always cut the branch on an angle and to a new outward facing bud to increase air circulation. Shrubs can tolerate being cut back hard now, so removing half of the plant may seem brutal and look a little drastic, but it will recover over the summer months and reward you with lots of fresh new growth.

10. Dress it

Cushions, throws and outdoor rugs are the finishing touches that really make your garden feel like an extension of your house. Tie the colours in with colours you have in the home as well as colours you have used in the garden to create a unified and cohesive design. You don’t need green fingers for this, and it’s amazing how much more welcoming a garden becomes when it has a seat with a lovely cushion and a throw on it. Also, don’t forget to invest in a decent BBQ – this is essential to have, especially if you are planning to entertain friends and dine alfresco. Check out the wide range of outdoor essentials and BBQ’s available at Tesco on tesco.com/direct/garden.

cheers Tesco

Tesco is running unbeatable deals over the next month on its garden range. Don’t forget to head down to store, or shop online, to take advantage of these great deals and get your gardens set for summer.

Disclosure – This is a collaborative post with Tesco, I hope you can make the most of Katie’s tips, I certainly will be over the coming weeks. As you can see I have a lot to do. Cheers!

This is a collaborative post with Tesco.

sloe gin

Who had the most fantastic weekend this last one? We did and I really hope you had a lot of fun too. I just love the Sloe gin that Gordon’s has made, have you tried it yet?

First things first, the British weather played ball and husband got his BBQ out TWICE! He was over the moon, a barbie and a beer and my man is the happiest soul on earth.

wendy house completed

 

Secondly, we got round to building the girls wendy house I mentioned in my Asda Direct post a short while ago and they LOVE it, we hadn’t got the roof on and they were already moving in.

mari and grandmother

Thirdly, we invited the Golden Oldies round to share our BBQ and we had a wonderful meal outside.

But our fun weekend doesn’t stop there, the girls finally at very long last have picked up how to ride a bike, at school they’ve been practising on balance bikes and gaining confidence. We have been asking if they’d like new bikes for their birthday in July and been met with tears and angry frustration, ‘But I can’t ride without my stabilisers!’ no manner of ‘We’ll help you-s’ went to aiding the situation and we had even started thinking of other presents and then school jumped in and did the ground work for us, it’s amazing how they’ll dig their heels in with us but go ahead quite happily with their teachers.

Anyway, very content with themselves, we had a practise run before turning the camera on and it went perfectly and then we went for a second take…oops!

I should have foreseen it shouldn’t I? Typical!

Anyway here’s my third attempt with Alice showing off her new skills – you can hear me saying ‘Watch where your going!’ this time too :)

I weeded my veggie plot and it’s now looking respectable again, I need to get my hands on some sawdust or make a quiche quick, crush the egg shells and use them to deter the slugs and snails from eating my baby vegetables!

vegetable plot 17 may 2014

So a quick run through of our building Wendy house task, we started on Saturday and had to dig up the uneven garden, lay a base – we used patio slabs on sand and here we put the base down to work on.

wendy house base

Second part was to start constructing the front panel, adding the door and windows and that took us to about 4pm on Saturday when we called it a day as we had family coming for a BBQ.

Sunday morning we were up and out by 9am, we wanted to get as much done as possible quickly so we could sit back and enjoy the gorgeous day, the next part is to put the back and sides on followed by the front, once this part was done the girls were LOVING it and already moving bits in whilst we carried on with the work

wendy house construction

The roof was next and by this time it was getting hot, I’d like to point out that no money was added to the swear box and the instructions were easy to follow too.

wendy house construction

The roof went on, the felt cladding went on, which is a dirty sticky job and then the last fascias and what nots to finish off the job. You’ll notice I haven’t added the panes to the windows yet, this is because I want to paint it first and don’t want to fiddle about with masking tape

wendy house twins

The girls are in their element, I do worry they may grow out of it quite quickly, so to make it more personal I’m going to put some pictures up on the wall they’ve brought home from school, add some books and toys in there and to start them off well, we all went in on Sunday evening and had a game of Uno, they thrashed us! I taught them far too well it would seem.

playing Uno

I’m taking part in Point and Shoot this week
Point+Shoot_snowingindoors.com

garden harvest

It’s three years now since we moved in and three years that I have half heartedly been working on the garden.

Firstly I never thought it would be such a lengthy process.

Secondly I realise I MUST dedicate more time if I am to have hugely successful harvests

and Thirdly, I am 100% certain this is very much a learning curve at which I can only get better.

I had a good chat with Maggy Woodly from Life at the Zoo and Penny Carr from Being Mrs C on Google + this morning and I picked up some very interesting tips too.

My own harvest

  1. Carrots – they have grown all curly in a clump and next year I shall make sure I thin them out and ensure the earth is very well turned over.
  2. Potatoes – for my first year of chitting potatoes and growing them in a bag I am impressed with our harvest. Sadly one bag seems to have got a bug and the potatoes were ruined. This may have been my fault by cutting the growth off too early and leaving the spuds in there too long.
  3. Leeks – I pulled two up and they are very skinny, I learnt from Penny that they take forever and to just leave them in the ground even for a year!
  4. Broccoli – after last year’s disaster with the brussel sprouts I decided to go with broccoli and little did I realise they too would be a haven for caterpillar and slugs. In fact no broccoli came up at all, I imagine somebody ate the shoots when they were tiny so all I had was stalks.
  5. Tomatoes – usually I’m very good with tomatoes but this year I planted too late and have a very green crop – watch out for a green tomato chutney recipe coming up.

Work to do

  1. I’m still waiting for the apples to be ready for picking. I have the baby Golden Delicious tree that yielded 5 last year and has at least double this year plus the other sweet apple tree which suffered from aphids all summer so the apples are a little wonky in apsect.
  2. Bulbs – It’s the right time of year to get planting bulbs, I seem to have lost all the ones I planted 2 years ago as nothing came up last year so I am armed with daffodils and tulips ready to go.
  3. Cutting back and pruning – lots
  4. Wedding – lots
  5. Fruit trees – I’m so impressed with our apple tree i was wondering whether to invest in a second fruit tree and may take a trip to the garden centre to see what is on offer.

 

TheBoyandMe's 365 LinkySecond week of the Easter holidays has been lovely.

Saturday – we went over to my brothers for lunch, we watched the Grand National. Between us (8 betting) we had most horses covered and I think a few winnings came in too. I love these shots of Dee cuddling Bessie, Rosie showing her phone to Alice and Paul and Jean watching the Grand National. I think one of my horses was Mr Moonshine but I don’t think he did anything.

grand national and family

The evening we dashed over to Paul’s brother’s to celebrate George’s birthday and had a lovely evening. The girls were truly knocked out the next day and slept in till gone 8.30 am – unheard of!

Sunday – a lazy day at home, I say lazy but I painted the skirting boards, radiator and door in the guest room and annoyingly it’s going to need another coat. I cooked our roast dinner and in the afternoon I planted potatoes, seeds of carrots, leeks and purple broccoli AND weeded down one side of the garden. I also turned over the veggie plot. My hands suffered for about three days and after asking on Twitter I was advised Aveeno, Burt’s Bees and Crabtree & Evelyn handcreams. Must stock up!

NB: The girls ‘dusting’ the railing of spider webs :)

gardening

Alice was also tempted to take one stabiliser off her bike with daddy’s help but Bessie didn’t want to know. I love that when I went to take a photo I noticed she’d found a ‘flower’ and tucked it in her back pocket. That’s my girl!

learning to ride a bike

Monday – Date in the diary –  a meet up with the twin mums at Godstone Farm. You may remember this place in the news a few years back for E.Coli. Well they are very much back in business and we had a fabulous day there. The kids loved getting up close with the animals, they were so happy on the tractor ride and the sand pits are enormous – each one stocked up with buckets, spades and lots of other toys. An excellent day out.

Godstone Farm

Tuesday – A quiet day at home. The girls played lots of games, I even got the Play Doh out (which I hate as it’s so messy) We made a start on the homework and the Bug Club reading.

playing games

Wednesday – I baked bread in my Panasonic breadmaker and it was delicious, so delicious Paul used most of it to make his sandwiches. now to decide whether to always bake my own or buy sliced as his slices were doorsteps.

making bread

Thursday – I tried a self portrait in the car. It’s a bit frown-y as I’m not sure if I’m doing it properly. It’s more difficult than you think as you don’t know where to shoot from to make sure you’re in the photo

self portrait - marianne

Friday – It’s raining and I can’t put my washing out to dry, I hate it when It’s all draped around the radiators. The girls are playing lots of games including this one ‘spinning around’ Looks like fun!

spinning around