Seasonal Tips - Grow Your Own

Grow Your Own

Flower Power

Good Housekeeping

Protect plants from winter pests

“Protect Your Plants From Rabbits, Deer And Other Winter Pests”

Pests that can be a problem at this time of year on many garden plants include rabbits, deer and squirrels, which gnaw the bark of trees and shrubs and eat any shoots or leaves within their reach.

More casualties occur in winter than summer as there is less for the animals to eat in the wild. Don't admit defeat! There is a range of solutions to suit every budget that will protect your plants this winter and in the years to come.

The worst case scenario is for these pests to remove a complete ring of bark around a tree or shrub - just under the bark lies plant material that transports sugars produced in the leaves down to the roots. If 'ring barked' (or 'girdled') the plant will struggle on for a short time before death occurs.

Stems and trunks of plants and trees can be easily and cheaply protected by wrapping their stems in tree protectors. These protectors allow the plant to continue growing away happily and come in a wide range of heights and sizes. They are a common sight on the sides of motorways where new trees and hedging have been planted. As a plant gets older and the bark becomes thicker, pests find the tree less attractive, and eventually the protectors can be removed.

Another pest to watch out for is the 'winter moth'. The adult females climb fruit trees between November and February to lay eggs which will hatch in spring. The resulting caterpillars will decimate the new leaves affecting the overall health of the plant greatly. You can solve the problem by placing grease bands, or layers of tree grease, in a continuous ring around the trunks of fruit trees to prevent the wingless female moths climbing up the trunk. Tree stakes too will also need grease banding if they provide a route up into the branches.


“Advice To Make Winter Pruning Easy And Effective”

Cutting branches off a tree or shrub at the wrong time or in the wrong way and you run the risk of sacrificing next year's flowers and fruit. Our best advice is to make sure you have a plan of attack and don't just prune for the sake of it.

Some gardeners panic and start hacking off limbs before consulting a book. As a general rule, fruits containing a stone should be pruned after you have picked them. Most other fruits like Grapes, Apples and Pears are pruned in winter.

Our pruning guide provides more detailed, easy-to-understand information. The following instructions apply to all trees and shrubs. Find out the time of year when a particular plant needs to be pruned, carry out the following tasks, and then finish off with the advice specific to that particular plant. This makes things a whole lot less scary!

•  Prune out 'The Four Ds' - this is any growth that is Dead, Dying, Damaged or Diseased.

•  Prune out any growth that is crossing from one side of the tree to the other as this can reduce airflow and increase disease problems.

Make winter pruning easy and effective

Mini orchard

“It’s Not Too Late To Start Your Own Mini Orchard. Plant Now For A Bumper Crop Of Fresh Fruit”

Ideally autumn is the best time to plant fruit trees but they can actually be planted succesfully at any time of year.

You don't need a large garden, as many young fruit trees, like the ones we offer on dwarf rootstocks, can be grown in a pot on a patio.

The only time you can't plant is when the ground is frozen or waterlogged. Make sure the soil is well prepared with plenty of organic matter, such as well-rotted manure, compost, composted bark or tree planting compost.

When the trees are dormant (very much alive, but the sap is not rising - cuts when made will not 'bleed') fruit tree growers dig them up from the fields and wash off all the soil. The trees are then said to be 'bare rooted'. Hundreds of thousands of trees of all sizes and varieties are transported and planted each winter to great success.

When the trees are dormant (very much alive, but the sap is not rising - cuts when made will not 'bleed') fruit tree growers dig them up from the fields and wash off all the soil. The trees are then said to be 'bare rooted'. Hundreds of thousands of trees of all sizes and varieties are transported and planted each winter to great success.

To Plant your trees follow the simple steps below:-

1) Dig a hole twice as big as the rootball and fork over the bottom to allow the roots to grow.

2) Add a good helping of fertilser such as Blood, Fish & Bone or manure to help the trees establish.

3) Plant the tree with the graft above the soil (the nobbly bit about a foot up from the roots).

4) Water in well and leave to grow!

5) If growing in pots use a pot with good drainage and plenty of space - around 30 litres is ideal.

6) Use a soil based compost such as John Innes No3 and a good helping of fertilser.

The only extra care needed when buying bare rooted trees is that you must never let the roots dry out, so keep moist until you plant, do not expose to the air, and keep well watered well into spring and summer until strong new roots have been produced.