Heart of a Garden Blog

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Category: Garden Tips

  1. Feed the birds!

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    garden-bird-feeders-heartofagarden

    Like most people, I get a lot of enjoyment out of watching the birds visiting my garden and from knowing that they are benefitting from my help at the same time. 

    There are several ways you can make your garden much more tempting to them, ways that will help them not only when food is scarce in the winter months, but all year round.  One such way is to think long term and to grow lots of wildlife friendly plants and flowers which will provide the birds with a natural source of food.  

    At the times of year when these natural sources of food are less available to the birds we can help by providing them with food on a bird table or in some hanging feeders, along with some fresh water. In winter a high energy food is best as it helps the birds survive the cold temperatures and fat balls are ideal.  Either buy them from the shop (remove the nets before putting out) or try making your own with our lovely easy recipe.

    Nice and Easy Fat Balls Recipe 

    fat_ball_bird_feed_recipe_heartofagarden

    Ingredients:

    • A pack of lard (don’t use cooked fat)
    • Mixed pack of bird seed

    For hanging fat balls:

    • String
    • Small yogurt cartons, coconut shells or pinecones

    Method:

    • Cube the lard and add it to a bowl.  Add a couple of cups of bird seed and mix together with your hands aiming for an even mix of seed throughout the mixture.
    • Either form into balls and then place in the fridge to harden.  When ready just place on the bird table or in a hanging bird feeder.
    • OR press into a yogurt carton or coconut shell, place in the fridge to harden.  Hang it of the bird table, trees or bushes with string.
    • OR use a pinecone with the scales opened up and press the mixture into the spaces between the scales.  Tie some string to the top of the pine cone and hang!

    pine_cone_bird_feeder_heartofagarden

    Other foods suitable food for birds:
    Sunflower (black if possible), nyjer seeds, millet, chopped peanuts (unsalted), oats, raisins (poisonous to dogs), hard cheese, bacon rinds, breadcrumbs, pasta, rice, boiled potatoes. Fruits – apples, pear, plums, soft fruits. 

    Hygiene:  To prevent disease, regularly clean out feeders and tables and only use fresh food.

    Water:      Remember to always place fresh water out for the birds too.

    Wildlife Friendly Gardening:

    • Grow plants which have fruits and berries.  For example the berries on holly and ivy are an excellent source of food for birds in the winter months.
    • Avoid using slug pellets and pesticides.
    • Leave some fruit on the trees and bushes over the winter months.
    • Leave cutting back your herbaceous plants as long as possible so the seeds heads and berries remain for the birds.
    • Create a wild area in the garden and allow plants to grow such as nettles and brambles which will create great hiding areas as well as food for the birds

    Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy watching the birds from the comfort of your home!

  2. 3 gardening ideas for a rainy March day!

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    No need to stop gardening on a rainy day!  Either put on your wellies and waterproofs OR stay dry and get on with gardening jobs indoors. 

    Here's 3 great ideas that can be done in the greenhouse, shed or the house!

    1) Sow seeds indoors:

    • Make some pots out of recycled newspaper and fill with seed compost, firm down and water.
    • Sow seeds according to instructions on packet - i.e. tomatoes, basil, peppers, sweet peas and stocks.
    • Cover with a propagator or plastic sheet and place in a greenhouse or on a windowsill.

    Recycled paper pots made with Paper potter patter - heart of a garden

     

     

    2) Give your garden furniture a new lease of life:

    Prepare your garden furniture  for warmer spring days when you can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine!
    It'll last longer and look better with a little TLC each year. 

    • Metal garden furniture:  Wash with warm soapy water and dry.  Oil any moving parts.
    • Wooden furniture:  Clean, sand down and add a fresh coat of varnish or paint.

    cafe range garden furniture - heart of a garden

     

     

    3) Plant up an instant spring pot:

    Nothing lifts the spirits more at this time of year than seeing spring flowers filling the garden with colour!

    • Buy some flowering spring plants from your local garden centre or nursery.
    • Find a pretty pot; add drainage material and compost, then plant up.
    • Place in front of a window so you can see it from indoors!

    pot of daffodils - heart of a garden

  3. Vertical planting in the garden

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    Vertical planting is a great way to expand on growing space for any small garden, patio or balcony and it doesn’t necessarily mean using climbing plants to cover bare fences and walls - you can grow almost any plant to give a ‘green’ wall, or if filled with flowers a ‘colourful’ wall!    A sunny wall or fence is an ideal place for growing plants, vegetables, herbs and flowers when you have limited space.  In small gardens the upper part of the wall or fence will usually be the last part of the garden to lose the sun at the end of the day, or for that matter to gain it early in the day.

    There are ready made vertical planting systems and plant holders available to buy if you want to create something instantly.  We now stock the Eco plant holders, a simple device for holding pots on fences, and also the Verti Plant system which can be used in pairs, rows or even to cover a whole fence for big impact!  Both are easily fixed to the fence.

    eco-plant-holder  verti-plant-planting-up  verti-plant-brown-with-plants-01
                 Eco pot holder                                                                               Verti Plant                                                                         

     

    Make your own vertical planters
    Why not have a go at making your own vertical planters with recycled items such as wooden pallets, plastic bottles or drain-piping.  Either leave them natural or paint them in colours to make a bright feature.  This photo shows what can be done with two pallets and some pots to cheer up a fence. Fix the pallet securely to the fence, then line with plastic to make bags for the plants to sit in, not forgetting to add drainage holes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

    pallet-garden-1
    Photo from woodenpalletfurniture.com

  4. Protecting Plants from Frost

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    There’s been a definite chill in the air today and here in the Lake District it looks like we’ve seen the last of the warm weather.
    It is a glorious time of year with the leaves on the trees beginning to turn lovely yellows, oranges and reds, and the fellsides becoming
    a mixture of greens, browns and oranges now that the bracken is dying back. 
     img_2572

    In the garden however there is work to be done!  Now is the time to put in place protection to keep plants healthy over the coming winter months.  Here are a few useful tips...

    •     Don’t cut back tender plants, leave the old growth of plants unpruned through the winter. It might look tidier cut back but the old growth helps protect the crown of the plant.
    •     Move any tender plants that are in pots under cover, or to a sheltered place such as by a wall and cover with fleece.
    •     Wrap bubble wrap around pots which can’t be moved under cover to help keep the root-balls of plants healthy and to protect pots which are not frost-proof from cracking. Make a frame for the plant with canes, wrap around fleece and keep in place with clothes pegs or string.
    •     Tender plants in the garden can be protected by covering with a thick mulch of leaves or straw.
    frost protection