Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Mike's Backyard Gardening

A serious lack of gardening lately has left me scouring the interweb for gardening websites and blogs that will see me through the winter months when it's too cold to be motivated outside.
Along with the the blogs I regularly read without fail (though I often forget to comment) that are listed on the right hand side I've managed to find a few new ones and one in particular has really had me hooked as it is full of brilliant information and tips.

It's called  Mike's Backyard Nursery and while many of you may already know of the website I'll explain what is interesting about Mike to those who aren't familiar with him.
Mike and his wife live in Ohio and have worked extremely hard, clawed their way out of bankruptcy and set up a successful business from their own home selling nursery plants. What amazes me about this guy having read his story in his own words is that he happily and enthusiastically shares his successes, his failures and his own methods with the general public despite residing in an area that is already rife with competition having at least 130 wholesale growers within a 10 mile radius of his property.
It's not often I read the 'about me' section of a website or blog because I feel I get a good idea of a persons character when reading their posts but something made me want to understand where Mike came from and what bought about this passion for sharing his business methods. His story is available here and it is well worth a read, in fact it wouldn't be out of place on the big screen.

Mike's Backyard Nursery is a website jam packed with useful information whether your passion is simply creating your own garden and propagating for it or if you're interested in using your own plant material and garden space and having a go at selling propagated plants from home. Mike's hints, tips and ideas will certainly have you saving money on plants whether it be from propagating, swapping or selling.

Mike also has some great ideas for building your own tools for the job and shows you how he makes these things work for him, such as these "propagation flats"

Mike also has hints and tips on all aspects of pruning, some of which may differ from what we think we already know such as "How to prune a Butterfly bush"

The information that Mike makes available to his followers doesn't end on his website, he has a Youtube channel you can subscribe to full of interesting videos he has made on various topics from topsoil to pruning to potting bench plans.
And he doesn't stop there either, Mike has created a FREE Ebook titled "The Gardener's secret handbook" which you can download FREE and is also available on Facebook

The points I have included in this post really are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Mikes website, it is literally full of information as is his Youtube channel and the Ebook link where there is an information bar on the left packed with further reading.

Now that I've filled you guys in I'm off back to Mike's to learn a bit more about how he does what he does.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Garden ressurection

This year gardening has taken a different turn for me. I've finally admitted after another year of wasted veggie growing that I really do want to take a break from it for a while - just the veggie growing though.
I begin every new year with the renewed interest and excitement about growing Sweetcorn and onions etc the same way every gardener does I guess but over the last couple of seasons I've noticed it has become a chore rather than an interest and all those lovely veggies I sow and tend to slowly but surely get neglected to the point where they're just left to their own devices - and seeing as they're in a polytunnel they soon succumb to thirst.
I thought maybe I was just trying to grow too much because I have the space so this year I grew just what I knew we liked to eat as a family - Sweetcorn, Cucumber, Strawberries, Beans, Courgette and onion - but even those have been left to rot away, in fact the strawberry runners have just about made their way out of the polytunnel door in search of water.
I haven't even kept on top of the Sweetpea this year and that is the one plant I love to grow every single year as a cut flower. It's usually still producing plenty of flowers this time of year however whereas the garden sweetpea is still in flower the ones in the PT are well into seed now.
So I have decided, next year I am NOT growing fruit and veg (oh yes the apples have all been left to drop and rot too). My polytunnel will get an overhaul, the beds will be renewed and maybe even a different layout installed, I'm not even going to do the cut flowers next year (least I don't think so).
2015 is going to be the year I concentrate on renovating the second half of my garden and it's going to be epic. I have so many ideas floating around - thanks to Pinterest - and I can't wait to begin tearing everything up, building and planting.
So I've been watching the garden more keenly this year to see what works and what doesn't, what plants are thriving and what is just limping along and I have plenty of cuttings taken and a load of new plants waiting for a home.

Here's a few pix of part of the mess I'll be tackling next year, it looks like a lot of green healthy growth and plants but it's really not, there's the odd few decent shrubs and perennials in there (mostly in the wrong place) but it's mainly weeds.

The next picture shows the Leycesteria that has self seeded everywhere. It's a lovely plant and I'm loathe to take any out especially as it tolerates the sever gales we get here but it's getting way too invasive and greedy now. The Hebe to the right is about 13 years old now and is huge, it flowers twice a year and takes a real battering in the winter.

The tall plant in the back centre of the next picture is a Rose bush, it flowers profusely every year and never suffers from blackspot like most of the others however it always (without fail) seems to flower in time for a downpour of rain and then the blooms rot immediately.

The grass in the above picture is so invasive it's ureal, I've been pulling that stuff out for years but you only have to miss one root and it pops up all over again. There are a couple of Rose bushes in there also but they never really did well even before all the rest of the stuff grew so I'll probably dispose of them - though I may plant them elsewhere just out of curiosity to see if they grow better.

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Hydrangeas, Willow and Dragonflies.

Well the weather couldn't have done more of a complete U turn could it. we've gone from temperatures in the 80's to pouring rain and a cold wind - is that summer over and done with?

The garden is way too wet for me to get out and clear weeds, I'd be doing more harm than good so I've had to make do with tidying up and filling bird feeders and not much else.
I noticed the Hydrangeas are really doing well this year. I think I pruned them at the wrong time last year and they hardly flowered at all, this year though they are all full of blooms.
Walking from one end of the garden to the other I noticed the gradual colour change in the blooms so going along with the current way of thinking my soil goes from acidic to neutral in quite a short space

Before this weather change I had spent a few days clearing our pond of reeds. I usually refuse to do this job because the pond is huge and very deep and filled to the brim with all kinds of reptiles and jurassic insects ( I kid you not) but Mr TG and Miss TG decided to bring ducks home so i felt the pond had to be cleared and I was the only one with the time to do it. The pond looked much better on completion but I'd been concerned that my interference may have impacted the Dragonflies - the only insects I can stand - however just as I lay next to the pond to get a low shot look what appeared

I guess I don't need to worry about insect life.

I also had a go at turning a couple of willows into an arch a few weeks ago. I tried it last year but it just kept breaking apart with every wind so I lost interest, this time I used more twine to temporaraily hold them together and so far it has held. If this works and holds over winter then I'll be completeing the willow walk as soon as the willows are tall enough to reach over