Faced again with the problem of needing manual labour, this time in the garden to give it a revamp, I pondered. Gardeners cost £10- £15 per hour where I live, but I often just need the muscle power to dig, shift and lift. Then I had a novel thought.
I tried contacting the local job centre to see if there were keen people available at a more economical sum. Sure enough, it was really easy to dictate my needs to the man on the phone, be given a reference number and signed, scanned and returned a document which guaranteed I would pay the minimum wage. There was no charge for this and within an hour I started to receive calls. There were in fact so many calls for the £6.50 an hour job of heavy digging in my back garden, I had to call the job centre again to switch off the advert having agreed to one person and recording a back list of another 4 keen types.
Now, it was not a gardener I had hired, even though he professed to have done a fair amount of landscape gardening for a local council. He needed tutoring on how to dig up roots, rather than chopping them of at the surface; and I had to explain and that digging up a patch of ground containing rubble required penetrating the soil rather than scraping the turf from off the top of it. But that was what I was prepared for, and I did get a good chunk of the work done for a fraction of the price. Well, I did have to deflect the request for more funds as “the work had been really hard”.
So for £50 I got two sections of the garden cleared and felt encouraged to jet wash my large balcony as he had carried all the planters off it for me. They now sit at the bottom of the garden ready to be potted up with the spring display that I will see from my kitchen window. I will spend time this weekend assessing the next stage of work, and when the pots are ready, the top soil ordered, I will call up the numbers on my list, or re post my job centre ad and complete the next stage of the garden revamp. Hoorah! Watch this space. Wendy
The side bed covered in the ivy I had got as far as dragging off the wall. Can you imagine the amount of roots to dig up?
Every week I stay over with friends who have just moved to a house that has a 10 acre garden. Not all the garden is cultivated, but the section that was most recently agricultural, has been kept mowed as a giant lawn for perhaps 10 years. The main reason for the move was 3 young boys needing safe outdoor space. Coming from a small hard surfaced back yard in which to ride their bikes, they now have use of a giant trampoline, a cricket net on wheels, football pitch, some golf flag poles and a tennis ball throwing machine. In their first summer, last year they slept out under the stars and had giant bonfires. This is all in the first year and there is still sooooo much more garden.
But at this time of year there is little outdoor activity for the boys. For me the pleasure of being there every week is that I see so vividly the first of everything as it emerges and fleshes out the vast open space.
Moles can cause a big mess in a garden, creating lots of little brown mole hills in an otherwise perfect, smooth, green lawn. Mole traps are a great way to take care of this problem; you can use tunnel, claw or spring traps. Follow this method to set them up for optimum results:
You Will Need:
Something long and thin to use as a probe (such as a screwdriver)
Something to firm the soil in the mole tunnel (such as the handle of a garden tool)
First, try to figure out where the main tunnel is – the brown patches on your lawn (the mole hills) are usually along small branches off the main tunnel. These side branches may be up to 6 inches long and may not be revisited by the mole, unlike the main tunnel. Therefore, it is best to place the trap within the main tunnel rather than in the side branches.
Try to find the most recent hills (to maximise the chance that the mole will pass through) and use the probe to gently and carefully press into the ground near where you think the main tunnel is. It may take a few attempts to find the tunnel as it won’t be very big – about the size of a golf ball. You will have found it when you come upon an area of the ground which offers little resistance when you press down gently with the probe.
Once you have found the tunnel, use your trowel to dig the soil out of the tunnel, creating a small hole which is big enough to fit the trap, though not much bigger. Clear away as much loose soil along the tunnel as possible and press the base of the tunnel (using the handle of a garden tool for example) to make it firm and compact, so the mole is less likely to squeeze underneath the trap.
When this is done, carefully set the trap and put it into the hole. You can test that it is working by using the probe to trigger it; then reset it and put it back into the hole. Put the turf back over the hole, making sure to cover any gaps where light could filter through while stopping any soil from tumbling into the tunnel.
Try to check the trap every day. If the trap has been triggered but you can’t see the mole, it is possible that it managed to find its way underneath the trap so you may have to adjust its position and make sure the base of the tunnel is still firm. Using multiple traps to cover the network of tunnels will increase the likelihood of successfully removing the moles from your garden.
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