Gardening, How To

Allotment and Garden Advice for August

August is a busy month for gardeners – the majority of the time in my garden has been spent watering! In most areas of the UK we’ve actually had a fair bit of sunshine this summer, which is marvellous for sunbathing but hard work for gardeners!

On the plus side, tomato blight seems to be thankfully absent this year – the warm dry weather is to thank for that. However we have had some short, intense periods of rain which have been fantastic for the plants, and also for the weeds!

If you are finding you are running out of space to compost the spoils of your weeding escapades, it may be time to invest in a compost bin! If you already have a bin, a compost rotation system involving two or more compost bins can be a very valuable addition to a well functioning and efficient garden. This system works by filling up one bin whilst the other gets busy composting. You can then empty one whilst the other is composting – fantastic!

Those of you who have been growing your own potatoes, broad beans and other veg will find that you have a constant supply of peelings and shells finding their way to the compost from the kitchen – we’ve found some fantastic compost caddies which can store uncooked kitchen food waste – especially useful when winter approaches and we all feel less inclined to visit the garden!

Sail Shades, TV

Kookaburra Sail Shades on ITV!

Alan Titchmarch recently demonstrated how sail shades can help transform an unattractive part of your garden into a modern, shaded sitting area.

Kookaburra Sail Shades

Using one of Primrose’s Kookaburra sail shades, he turned a neglected corner of the garden into a lovely secluded area to relax and unwind. He put up the sail in less than an hour, with the help of the home-owner, demonstrating how quick and simple these things are to get set up.

You can catch up with Alan on his programme “Love Your Garden” through the ITV website HERE (only available until Aug 14), and if you just want to jump to the relevant bits, then skip to 11:10 to 15:05, and 18:40 to 19:30 to see this amazing product in action!

Awnings, Gazebos, Sail Shades

Shelter in the Garden

Well, after all that lovely hot weather we had in spring, the summer so far has been a bit disappointing! Sometimes hot, sometimes fresh, often humid – we’ve even had thunderstorms!

However, even though it hasn’t quite been the summer we might have hoped for, there’s still no reason why you shouldn’t continue to enjoy your garden. Whether the sun is shining intensely or the odd droplet of water is falling, if you still fancy some fresh air, what you really need is some shade or shelter to offer a bit of protection from the elements – and there are lots of options to choose from!

One of the most cost-effective options and also one of the most flexible are shade sails. These are waterproof canvases that also protect against UV rays that you can set up anywhere in your garden – all you have to do is attach each corner to a pole, post or tree, making sure it is at the correct angle and covering the required area. As soon as it’s up, you can start relaxing underneath its protection!

An alternative to a shade sail is to invest in an awning. These naturally attach to the wall of your home so don’t have quite as much flexibility as a sail shade which doesn’t have to be placed against your house. However, awnings are very robust and long-lasting, look great and are perfect for providing shelter over a patio area.

Of course, awnings and shade sails only provide overhead shelter. For a different look and more all-round shelter, you may like to consider a small garden house or a gazebo. Often made of wood such as willow or hazel, gazebos will naturally blend in to your garden while creating an attractive spot for relaxation. Large enough to hold some garden furniture such as a few garden chairs and a table, a gazebo can offer some respite from the hot sun as well as greater privacy than an awning or shade sail.

The main point to check, however, is whether the gazebo is waterproof. While the fabric used for awnings and shade sails is waterproof, some wooden gazebos may have small gaps between the woven wood which could allow rain water to pass through.

Bird Baths, Insects, Pest Control

Bugs Galore!

How typical! It is exactly at this time of year, when all we want to do is enjoy some time in the garden – planting, lounging and gorging on barbecues – that all those bugs and creepy crawlies seem to have the same idea and come out to spend some time in the garden with us or even try to steal a bit of bbq sauce!

Obviously, some bugs can be very beneficial to gardeners, for example without the hard work of bees, our flowers wouldn’t be pollinated; but if you are starting to feel a bit overrun with creepy crawlies, there are a variety of ways you can control their numbers.

Insects and other bugs form a large part of many birds’ diet. Therefore, as logic goes, increase the number of birds in your garden and the number of bugs will decrease. You can do several things to encourage birds back into your garden: get a birdbath to provide them with a ready source of water; bird houses offer welcome shelter; leave some seeds on a bird feeder and watch the birds flock to it!

Another way to dispose of these unwanted pests is to invest in a trap or insect killer. Bug zappers use UV light to attract flies, mosquitoes and other flying insects before killing them quickly when the unfortunate bug gets close enough. However, if this sounds too cruel and you prefer a more humane solution that doesn’t kill the critter, try using citronella. This scent is pleasant to humans but pungent to insects and will have them flying or crawling away as fast as possible! Handily, you can find candles infused with citronella so for a bargain price you can add a little atmosphere to your garden at the same time as keeping those creepy crawlies at a safe distance.