Gardening, Grow Your Own, How To, Plants

How-To-Grow-Your-Own-Tomatoes

Easy to grow but producing abundant yields, tomatoes are often the first crop a gardener has in their allotment. In return for a sunny spot and the odd dose of feed, they will reward you with plenty of fruits that can be used for a range of recipes. Primed for beginners and experts alike, read on for a useful guide on growing your own tomatoes.

Determinate and Indeterminate Tomatoes

A tomato plant can either be indeterminate or determinate, and depending on which type they fall into, they will require their own unique care. For example, indeterminate varieties should have their side shoots pruned, while determinate varieties should not as this can hinder their yields. Below we detail key differences that will help you decide which type is best for you: 

Indeterminate Varieties
  • A vining habit. 
  • Grows indefinitely.
  • Crops until the first frost.  
  • Fruits can be larger in size. 
  • Requires more support. 
Determinate Varieties
  • A compact bush habit. 
  • Good for small gardens. 
  • Fruits ripen concurrently. 
  • Less support is needed. 
Do I Need to Support my Tomato Plant?

In principle, determinate tomato plants do not require support. Nonetheless, once fruits appear, they can become weighed down, and this can make them vulnerable to pests and disease. It is therefore not a bad idea to tie them to a sturdy stake or enclose them in a tomato cage.

With indeterminate tomatoes, it is important that you provide a good amount of support. This is because their stems can grow much longer than a determinate variety’s. We therefore recommend that you drive two stakes into the ground and carefully attach your plant with soft ties.

Growing your Tomatoes

How-To-Grow-Your-Own-Tomatoes

You can either grow tomatoes from seed or start them from young plug plants. Although growing tomatoes from seed requires a little more time, it is best if you wish to grow rarer varieties. Young plants, on the other hand, can be more convenient to grow as they allow you to stagger your growing schedule. This will spare you more time, space, and attention to focus on crops that are growing before spring (nevertheless, they should be hardened off first). 

Growing from Seed
  • Fill 7.5cm pots with moist compost. 
  • Apply a layer of vermiculite and provide a watering.
  • Cover each pot with cling film, and place in a propagator or sunny windowsill.  (Cling film will help retain moisture and heat, which are both important for allowing germination).
  • When two small leaves appear, it is safe to assume that germination has occurred. 
  • Transplant into 9cm pots that have been filled with all-purpose compost. 
  • Move to a windowsill that receives plenty of sunlight. 
  • Using increasingly larger pots, repeat these steps  as your tomato plants continue to grow. 
Growing from Young Plants

Once a truss begins to open, your tomato plants can be planted in your garden (a truss is the stem of a plant in which flowers, and later tomatoes, grow from). 

  • Plant your seedings out in 23cm pots (approximately), or in your garden’s borders, distanced 45cm to 60cm apart.
  • If you are planting in a border, make sure that the site is rich in organic matter. 

 

Caring for your Tomatoes

How-To-Grow-Your-Own-Tomatoes

Watering and Feeding 

We advise that you water your tomato plants once a day, making sure that the soil evenly moist. If you are growing your tomatoes in a container, you can water them twice a day; and this rule can be applied to tomatoes growing in borders if the weather is particularly warm. Signs to keep in mind are if the leaves are drooping, you have under-watered, and if the leaves are yellowing, you have over-watered.

Once every two weeks, feed your tomato plants with a balanced liquid fertiliser. This will keep the soil’s pH optimal for growing thriving plants. When the first fruits have appeared, you can then swap for a high potash feed. 

Sun Requirements

Your tomato plants will relish warm and sunny conditions, so they should ideally receive between six and eight hours of sun per day. As the season comes to an end, you can remove old leaves to allow more sun to come through. 

Pruning Tips

If you are growing determinate varieties, it is best to pinch out any side shoots that become visible. Unlike the lateral trusses of a tomato plant, these shoots are more vigorous, and as such, will compromise the plant’s energy. By keeping these side shoots at bay, you are leveraging greater energy into fruiting. 

Another pruning tip is to remove foliage beneath the lowest truss of fruits. This enables more light to travel through, but also helps ventilation and speeds up ripening. As more trusses develop, you can continue to remove more and more leaves. An added benefit of this approach is that blight or mosaic virus can successfully be treated; simply rescind all of the plant’s leaves. 

Harvesting your Tomatoes

How-To-Grow-Your-Own-Tomatoes

When the tomatoes turn fully red, they are ripe enough to be picked. Depending on the conditions outside, you may want to harvest your fruits when they are green. To aid their ripening, we recommend that you store them next to a banana. Bananas release a gas called ethene, and this encourages nearby fruits to soften and have their starches convert to sugars. 

 

Decoration, Decorative Features, Garden Design, Indoor, Make over

Painting furniture is a great way to add your own personality to your furniture. But it can be a daunting task if you’re not used to it; we’ve all had the worry of “what if I make it look worse?”. So we’ve compiled some basic tips and ideas to help guide you in the right direction so you can enjoy the process and have some success with painting your furniture. We’ve also got some decorative ideas to help get you thinking on how to make any furniture item your own.   

Prepare your furniture for painting

  1. Always give your furniture a clean before painting. Make sure it’s free from dust by going over it with a damp cloth and then a dry cloth before you start.
  2. Some items of furniture may come already varnished or treated in which case you may need to sand them before you can paint. For wooden furniture, a standard sandpaper will work fine but for metal items, you may need to purchase some special sandpaper.
  3. If there are areas of the furniture you wish to remain paint-free, cover these with masking tape or a special painters tape from a DIY store.

Prepare to paint

Paint choice 

Once prepared you can begin painting your furniture. The paint that you use will be dependent on the material you’re are painting so its best to consult your local DIY store to select the right kind. They will usually divide their paint shelves into sections for materials like wood and metal. 

Brushes

It’s a good idea to have a number of different brushes when painting. You can use larger brushes for covering smooth surfaces and use smaller brushes for getting in and around little details. Any patterns or designs that you wish to paint on top of the furniture will likely be best achieved with the smallest brush. You should feel free to experiment however and see the effects of different brush sizes, shapes and materials have on your furniture.

Start painting

When painting your furniture its best to take things slowly. Work systematically doing one section at a time and take the time to slowly cover the furniture in a smooth coat of paint. This will guarantee you a much neater finish than just throwing paint on quickly. If you’re using spray paints you can apply the same principles; start off with just a light layer of paint and slowly build it up to full coverage.  

Finish up 

Once your furniture is painted and dry you can leave it as it is or cover with a protective varnish. Applying varnish is probably a good extra step to take if your furniture will be outside a lot as it will protect your work from adverse weather. You should bear in mind that a varnish may adjust the final look of your furniture; it may make the overall look much darker or washed out, so it’s best to check this beforehand and buy paint that will work well with your chosen varnish. 

Decorative Ideas

Using tape

Tape can be used to block out parts of your furniture to achieve a certain design. Simply wrapping a strip of tape around the foot of a table leg before painting over it, for example, can give a simple line that will make your table look unique and special to you. You can experiment with blocking parts of your furniture off with tape to add simple line designs to anything. 

Colour blocking

This is a really easy way to make any item of furniture look personalised. Divide your furniture into sections and paint each section a corresponding colour. A chest of drawers, for example, you may wish to paint the outer casing one colour, the draws another colour and the drawer handles another colour. This gives you a colour boost whilst ensuring you still maintain a sense of continuity.  

Use a colour palette generator 

The web has lots of generators that can make you a colour palette for use in your designs or furniture upcycling. Our favourite is https://coolors.co/ You can even upload a favourite photo and extract a colour scheme from that.

Add other materials

Mixing materials is a great way to add a unique stamp on your furniture. Mixing natural materials like wood with some metal features like handles can really make your furniture stand out.

Paint on a design/use a stencil 

All you need is a printer and a craft knife and you can easily create a stencil from any image or pattern that you find online. This is a great way to get a consistent design on your furniture without having to rely on freehanding your designs. 

Blog Series, Clocks, Decoration, Decorative Features, Garden Design, Gary, How To, Outdoor Living, Planters, Water Features

A well designed outdoor space can be just as satisfying as a new kitchen or cosy living room, but getting a complete look can be difficult when decorating outside. You can easily redesign a space with a few simple changes, without having to hard landscape or make changes to the structure of the garden. We’ve pulled together three classic garden designs to inspire you to recreate your space with minimal effort.

Moroccan Riad 

The Riad has been a feature of Moroccan architecture since the Roman era. Typically a Riad is a small tiled courtyard dotted with large plants with a pool of water or a fountain in the middle. It’s a space to relax and escape the trials of the day, and it’s an easy look to achieve in a few simple steps. 

  • Choose the right colours – the backbone of the Riad is vibrant, but cool colour combinations .White, blue and terracotta should form the backbone of your space, with some splashes of yellow and turquoise to tie the look together
  • Keep it symmetrical – these gardens are a mixture of a personal oasis and formal garden, keep it as symmetrical as you can to achieve an authentic, and impressive look
  • Make use of rugs – this is a space to relax and entertain in comfort. Traditionally, soft furnishings like rugs or cushions are dotted around the space to soften it.
  • Pick the right plants – space-filling plants that give off strong perfumed scents are the key to getting this kind of space right, lavender and rose bushes mixed in with olive trees and ornamental grasses would be a great selection for the authentic feel.
    Shop the look : 

We’ve put together a selection of accessories that we think would be the great jumping-off point to creating your own Riad garden. This combination of planter, water feature, rug, and chiminea all compliment each other well and could be enhanced with Moroccan style stool

 

Italian Riviera 

 

The tightly packed villages, stone facades and well-manicured gardens of the riviera were the inspiration for some of the finest artists of the renaissance and the ideals of the enlightenment still shine through in their design today. These gardens are refined, elegant and relaxing. They’re also deceptively easy to create: 

  • Make the air smell of citrus – Sicily and the Italian coast are known for their lemons and oranges as much as they are for their tranquillity. Plant a few lemon trees in containers to get the look and smell of a summer on the shores of the coast of Genoa 
  • Select tough plants –  this area of Italy is known for the muted green colours of its plants. Rosemary, Cistus, and myrtle are great options to plant in containers alongside olive trees and pink climbing roses to get that refined look 
  • Don’t overlook statues –  evoke Italy’s romantic and classical history by adding some statuary to the garden. A few well-placed statues amongst your plants really create the look of a formal garden on the grounds of a large manor
  • Build the space around a pergola – shaded areas and canopies are a staple of Mediterranean garden design. If you can why not fill the centre of your garden with a pergola wrapped in wisteria that brings that grand touch to your design 

Shop the look : 

Our version of this classic garden design brings together all the classic elements of statuary, large planters, citrus trees and ornate wall decoration together to create that classic cool style. We’ve chosen to shade our garden with a sail shade rather than a pergola to make this design achievable in any space. 

Spanish Garden

Spain is the number one holiday destination for the British, so why not bring that feel and style into your garden.  A Spanish garden is a place to eat, entertain and relax with friends. The look is simple to achieve and can be made to work year-round if done correctly: 

  • Plant to impress – flowering vines and climbing roses are must-haves for the authentic look. Train them to climb a wall, fence or pergola and you’re off to a great start. For added fragrance, plant jasmine, oranges and  scented heirloom roses to complete the effect
  • Create a shaded space – the siesta is an important part of any day, and if you can it should always be done in the garden. Put a small shaded area into your space with a pergola or sail shade, hook up a hammock, and you’re ready for your midday nap. 
  • Combine the old and the new –  Spain has one of the oldest cultures in Europe, and the old country villages that dot its countryside are familiar to anyone who has visited. Capture this traditional look by adding aged or distressed pieces into your garden. 
  • Make use of railings – small window boxes edged in cast-iron railings are a common sight

 

These are just a few ideas on simple ways to improve your outdoor space. If you like these designs and want to see more, check out our website to see the full range of products we have picked out. We’d love to see what you’ve done with your space on Instagram or Facebook

 


Images Courtesy of:

 

Ruth, S | Gill, L | Rosemary, B | Rachel, E | Diane, R | Trisha, S | MR Evans

Awnings, Garden Design, Outdoor Living, Scott

Welcome to our ultimate guide to awnings. Read on for some great advice on choosing an awning, installation and set up as well as cleaning tips.

Awning for shade

What is an awning?

In its simplest form, an awning is a sheet of canvas or other material that is stretched across a frame to provide shade from the sun or protection from the rain. 

How can I benefit from an awning?

A garden awning can increase the comfort levels of a seating area by making it a location suited to all weathers. It can shield you from harsh sunlight but also keep you dry in the rain, allowing you to extend the time spent outside. 

You can also transform your planting options by introducing more shade. Shade-loving plants like ferns become a viable option when you can easily block out the strong midday sun. 

What types of awning are there?

By our simple definition, an awning could be interpreted as anything that provides shade or shelter on a frame; this could include gazebos, marquees and shade sails. For this guide, however, we’re going to be talking about mounted patio awnings. This is typically what we think of when we say an awning and is the variety you may often associate with shop windows, cafes and coffee houses. 

What kinds of mounted awning are there?

There are a lot of things you can consider when selecting a mounted awning. Size, material, special qualities like waterproof material of extra UV protection but the first way we categorise our awnings is how they retract.

Full cassette -this means that when the awning is retracted, all of the material will be concealed in the cassette case.

Half cassette – this means that when the awning is retracted, only the back of the sheet will be concealed in the cassette case.

Standard – this means that the awning will simply roll up on retraction, without being held in a cassette case. 

Primrose Awnings Certified Shop

How do I fit a mounted awning?

The preparation for installing an awning can usually be completed by one person. You will, however, require assistance when lifting the awning into position. 

You can install most of our standard awnings by following the basic instructions below. For specific instructions, you can find the required PDfs here: https://www.primrose-awnings.co.uk/instructions.php

Required equipment:

  • Step ladder
  • Tape measure
  • Drill
  • Pencil or sharpie for marking the wall
  • Screwdriver (optional for starting screws off)

Basic installation guide:

  1. Determine the position of your awning on the wall. It’s best to position it between 8 and 11 feet off the ground. Bear in mind that the awning will extend out at a diagonal so the furthest end will be lower than the starting height.
  2. Measuring out the awning and mark the position on your wall for where the brackets will be positioned.
  3. Drill holes for fixing your brackets to the wall. Be sure to drill into brick and not the mortar as this will be too weak. Most awnings will only need 8 holes to be drilled with 4 on each side (large awnings may require more holes to be drilled)
  4. Attach your wall brackets.
  5. Lift the main awning into position and fix to the bracket. This is the step you should never attempt on your own and is best done with assistance. 
  6. Slowly extend the awning out to ensure everything operates correctly. 
  7. Enjoy your awning!

How do I clean an awning?

Washing Awning

Extending your awning when it’s raining will do a lot of the hard work for you but it’s good to give a regular clean once every 6 months or so. This will keep it looking fresh and new but will also help prolong its lifespan. With a step ladder you can clean your awning in 4 easy steps:

  1. Use a long-handled broom or brush to remove any debris from the awning fabric.
  2. Use a simple solution of washing up liquid and water in a spray bottle to lightly soak your awning fabric and brush with a soft brush.
  3. Rinse off with a hose and leave the awning extended to dry naturally in the air.
  4. Use a cloth and some of the liquid solution to clean the cassette casing. 

Do awnings need planning permission?

Residential properties generally do not require planning permission to install an awning. Commercial properties such as cafes and shops will usually need permission, however.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this ultimate guide to all things awning!