Happy New Year and Welcome Back to Your Garden

Winter Garden Scene

Happy new year to all our readers and we hope that you all managed some quality downtime during the festive season.

Now that we are into 2021 we can start to plan our activities in the garden. Hopefully you will get some weather that is suitable for outside jobs, but there are also jobs for the greenhouse if you have one.

Some of the January jobs for the various elements of your garden include the following.

Flowers

  • If the ground is not frozen, now is the time to plant bare-root roses, shrubs and hedging
  • If you buy snowdrops and hellebores in flower you can choose your favourite blooms and establish new colonies
  • In preparation for next Christmas – I know it has only just gone !! – press mistletoe berries in the bark of apple trees to establish new mistletoe plants
  • Deadhead winter pansies and other bedding plants regularly
  • Climbing roses will also benefit from pruning while they are dormant

Fruit and Vegetables

  • Winter pruning of apple and pear trees to remove and dead, damaged or diseased branches
  • Ensure all your seeds are in date, and if any are out of date, make a note which you need to replace
  • Prune fruit bushes such as gooseberries and redcurrents cutting back to three buds from base
  • Ordering of new plants may be even more important to do in a timely manner this year, given the situation. Plan and order for spring planting of seed potatoes, onions, shallots and garlic bulbs

In the Greenhouse

  • Sow winter salads for early harvesting. If you don’t have a greenhouse you can sow these in a conservatory or on a windowsill that gets full sun
  • Potted strawberries should be moved under cover to benefit from early fruiting
  • Check plants for bugs and take remedial action where necessary
  • Start planting seeds for hardy annuals [ i.e. cornflowers, cerinthe, ammi ] in trays ready for early flowering
window sill with early plants

Garden Maintenance

  • Bird baths need daily fresh water, and water may need melting on colder days. Birds will also appreciate bird boxes in sheltered spots before their nesting season starts and don’t forget high energy food helps birds through the sparse winter months
  • Repair any fencing that has been damaged by winter gales
  • Ensure that the lawnmower is in good working order and carry out any maintenance sooner rather than later when everybody else needs the local deal to service their equipment
  • Check all garden irrigation systems to ensure they are in good working order and have not suffered from the poorer weather

For more information on January jobs, visit Gardeners World

Merry Festivities

The garden and a variety of plants play a big part in our Christmas traditions.

Whose Xmas decorations would be complete without a tree? Traditionally we have decorated our homes for centuries and evergreens such as ivy, holly and yew are typical of the plants from our gardens.

It is believed that the Christmas tree tradition began in Germany in the 16th century and was first used in the UK by Queen Charlotte and became more widespread from the 1840s.

Christmas Tree

Sustainable Trees

Today’s Christmas trees are usually pine, spruce or fir trees and are a sustainable resource, often being grown on land that would be difficult to use for other cultivated plants. A 2m high Christmas tree takes around 7 years to grow, and brings all the benefits such as carbon sink, trapping CO2 and of course not using the unsustainable resources such as  plastic & metal that are used for “fake” trees.

There are also many ways to continue with the sustainability when the celebrations are over. Rather than burning your tree, consider chipping and using the bark in the garden; or adding to your compost. 

There are many other plants in the garden that can be used to add to your decorations, such as willow, birch and beech stems, alongside dried flowers from earlier in the year.

Remaining December Jobs

Once you have chosen your decorations from the garden, don’t forget those remaining, but vital jobs that need to be done before you hang up your gardening socks for Christmas.

  • Make sure that everything in the garden, including plants and pots that could be affected by frosts and low temperatures is adequately protected
  • Carry out a winter prune on fruit trees – this will not only control the size but also increase productivity for next year
  • Plan next year’s fruit and veg crops and order seeds – it might still be possible to add some to your present wish list?
  • Remember the birds – keep the bird feeders stocked and put out fresh water regularly
  • Check your automatic watering system, both outdoors and in the greenhouse, to ensure the right irrigation happens over the winter
Frosted red berries

Sustainably Watering Your Garden

Of course all our plants need water to survive. There is, however, a fine line between over and under watering.  Different plants need different amounts and frequency of water and one of the ways to overcome this is to have an automatic watering system in the garden.

You may imagine that an irrigation system in your garden will be expensive in terms of the water usage. Here at Instant Rain we can install above ground water tanks to enable you to harvest rainwater. Our garden irrigation system can then be installed to run off this harvested water and only revert to mains water once this stored supply has been depleted. There are many designs, shapes and sizes of water storage options now available and we can work with you to find the right answer for your budget and space.

Image of large above ground water storage tank

There are several benefits to using harvested rainwater; not only does it save money on your water bills, it is also a highly sustainable way to water the garden and rainwater is far better for your plants than “treated” mains water.

If your garden has any tendency to become water-logged, or you have occasions where your drains are struggling to cope with large amounts of rainfall, collection of rainfall can help to alleviate those issues in your garden.

It may be that you don’t have any large areas to situate large water tanks or water butts, but even one collection will help with both cost and sustainability.

Keep your garden blooming with sustainable water systems.

There are many additional ways to help save water, whether you have the capacity to harvest or not. These include

  • Digging in organic matter to improve the water retention capability of the soil
  • Cover soil in mulch in late winter to help retain the water in the soil
  • Place containers in “saucers” to catch excess water
  • When purchasing your automatic garden watering system, always ensure that your installation has sensors to control watering during rain and if the soil is already moist enough. Here at Instant Rain we can advise you on the correct settings depending on your soil type

The End of the Year Jobs !

The End of the Year Jobs !

Autumn leaves

As we near the end of the year, let’s have a look at what we should have done / be doing during November and December.

Gardening tasks have reduced considerably by this time of the year – which is a good thing I hear you saying, since it is often too cold or wet, or both, to want to spend too much time outside.

If you have potted plants that are still outside, you will need to get them the protection they need, either indoors or in the shed.

However, November is great for sowing seeds that can use the cold environment to their advantage. To find out what planting can occur in November, check out this List.

Other tasks for November include cleaning/sharpening/replacing your gardening tools; trimming and protection of your rose bushes; soil preparation such as adding compost and other nutrients; clear up all fallen leaves.

Don’t forget that your pots, even if they don’t have plants in them, could need to be protected from the frosts as well. With the oncoming frosts, pack straw or similar around the roots of tender plants or climbers to give them protection.

Garden in Winter

A tip to help with winter pests on your rose bushes is to hang a bird feeder near your roses. The feeder will attract hungry birds that will also pick off those winter pests. The birds will also appreciate fresh water being available daily.

Don’t forget your greenhouse will need some attention if you have one too. Make sure to monitor the temperature over the colder months and ensure that all your heaters are working correctly. Make sure that you keep watering to a minimum over this cold period to help prevent diseases.

You could add summer bulbs to your Christmas wish list – now is a great time to be ordering bulbs for next year.

Check out the November jobs list from the RHS Here, and the December jobs list Here.

All in all, that should be plenty to keep you busy for the rest of the month and December.

Have a great festive period and we will bring you more tips and hints for January soon.

Garden Watering – Is it time to hang up your watering can?

Garden Watering Systems

We all know that water is the key to all life. We also know that water is a very precious element and can be in short supply at different times of the year, in different places.

Those two reasons alone should make us think about how and when we water our gardens. We need to consider the amount of water needed when plants need watering and the most efficient way to deliver water to our plants and gardens.  Remember it isn’t just your plants that need watering – your lawn will also suffer without correct irrigation.

Have you considered how you and your garden could benefit from an automated system to cover garden watering?

Automatic irrigation systems can benefit in several key areas.

  • Time Saving – busy lives can always benefit from time saving tips. I know that my garden and plants have suffered sometimes, simply because there is not time to get the hose out after work, before dinner, before kids bedtimes, before that glass of whatever you fancy to end your busy day.
  • Less Effort – water is heavy – so carrying a full watering can around the garden can be hard work. Garden hoses are cumbersome, twisted, leaking, need to be stored etc.
  • Healthier – your plants will thank you for a regular schedule of watering. With an automated irrigation system, you can schedule the watering to happen at the right time of day / night. How often have your “drowned” your plants one day because you know you are not going to be able to water them tomorrow?  The plant can be very stressed by that.
  • Maintenance – your plants need the right soil structure to thrive at their best. Excess watering and under-watering can both cause issues that are overcome using an automatic watering system that will deliver a measured amount of water at regular intervals.
  • Money Saving – you may think the cost of a plant watering system in your garden is expensive – yes, it is an initial outlay – but the control over the watering you gain will save you money. Water will be delivered in the right quantities, at the right times. This will save in water costs, in replacing plants that cannot survive without regular watering.
  • Pleasure – you will always have a beautiful lawn and plants. Even when you go away, your garden is being looked after, and you will want to spend even more time in your garden than you did before.

Because gardens are as individual as their owners, irrigation needs vary, and we specialise in designing and installing the right garden watering system for your requirements and budget.

Our solutions include:

  • Micro drip technology
  • Water tanks and boreholes
  • Micro sprinklers
  • Pop up lawn sprinklers
  • Wastewater recycling

We can provide you with a precision watering method which delivers water to the plant right at the base of the plant or below the soil surface in the root zone.

An Instant Rain irrigation system delivers you automatic watering for your lawns, flower beds, pots and planters, precisely when and where they need it, our superbly efficient systems will give you the freedom and peace of mind that your garden is getting what it needs, when it needs it.

We provide:

  • Precise placement to ensure accurate, efficient watering
  • Pre-set water timers to deliver water at the hottest times of the day
  • Discrete placement to enhance the beauty of your plants and garden

Please do get in touch if you need more information or would like to discuss any of your requirements in more detail.

We are here to help you.

Happy gardening.

Perennials

In autumn, after a summer of leaf and flower growth, shrubs and perennials are busy growing their roots. If the temperature is warm or if it’s dry and windy in autumn, plants can quickly start to dehydrate and may need some watering every week or two to help the roots along.

Begonia Perennial

Wind is drying and may prevent the moisture in a plant from travelling down into its roots. It’s important to make sure they have adequate water to deal with high winds and cold temperatures. South facing plants and newly planted plants especially need water.

Watering in winter is not necessarily top of everyone’s list with the darker evenings and cold weather.

Autumn Leaves

One way to avoid worrying about a watering regime is to install an automatic garden watering system. If you would like more information on watering systems for your garden, check out our page on Irrigation

If you don’t have an irrigation system, make sure your hose and sprinkler are kept away from frost. Freezing will not only cause damage but will also make it more difficult to water as necessary.

For more information regarding Perennials, check out the RHS Website

More Autumnal Jobs

In autumn you should clear away spent plants on the vegetable plot before they start to rot and become a host to pests and diseases. Remove any plants in borders which show signs of disease such as rust and fungus. Removing diseased plants helps to keep other plants healthy through the winter.

Plant Disease

For more information on how to reduce the spread of diseases and to deal with the disposal of diseased plants, check out the RHS Website

Checklist for October

October Pumpkins

October is a busy month for gardeners. We hope your pumpkins are spectacular this year!

From planting bulbs for spring flowers to wrapping up to prevent frost damage, the weather in the UK garden may not be bright and sunny, but jobs done now will sow the seeds for a fantastic garden next year!

If you have a garden irrigation system, be sure to change settings so that you are not over-watering plants over the wet autumn / winter months.

Your greenhouse can benefit from a spruce up at this time of the year – sunshine is at a premium so make sure the glass is as clean as it can be to let in as much light as possible.  Also, ensure you have adjusted any automatic watering systems to the correct level for the cooler months.

General garden maintenance should include raking up leaves, look after the lawn by feeding and spiking – brushing in some gravel to the spike holes to aid drainage and irrigation next year.

October Leaves

Some specific flowers to plant now include crocuses & daffodils, while vegetables to be planted at this time of the year include hardy broad beans, peas and garlic.

Finally, make sure the shed is watertight for the winter storage of furniture, pots etc.

You can find much more information on October Jobs here on Gardeners World.

Happy “Octobering”.

Month By Month in the Garden

Do you have monthly checklists for jobs in your garden?  It can be easy to overlook tasks at some times of the year.

The BBC’s Gardeners World gives us some great lists of jobs for each month of the year.

Did you miss anything from the August checklist?

Did you remember to deadhead your perennials; Do you have a wonderful wildflower meadow area? If so, late August is a good time to strim or mow those areas as the plants will already have scattered their seeds.

If you did manage to get away in August, did you have any watering systems set up for hanging baskets, or other areas of the garden that need consistent watering in late summer?  Plan ahead for next year and look at the irrigation watering systems that are available.

Your September list includes the collection of ripe seeds to store safely over the winter for planting next year; take your cuttings now from plants such as fuchsias and of course leave the sunflower seeds for the birds to feast on!

For more information on useful hints, tips, and monthly task lists visit Gardeners’ World website.

Herbtastic!

Tasty herbs

Plate of Herbs

If you enjoy cooking, there is nothing like using fresh herbs from your garden.
They are extremely easy to grow, and perennial types such as sage, rosemary and thyme come back every spring.
Perennial herbs can become woody though, so some seasonal pruning is required. Prudent pruning will not only improve the look and vigour of your herbs but will also improve the flavour.

As we move into autumn consider deadheading your herb plants. To do this, pinch off old flowers and cut back spent or shrivelled growth. Ensure you do this long before cold autumn temperatures set in and plant dormancy begins.