Grandma In the Garden (Lots of Tips)

Featured in the August 2010 handbook.

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● Keep patio containers well watered and feed with a liquid fertiliser every fortnight.

● Cyclamen are starting to set seed now, so increase your stock by sowing the fresh seed in gritty compost (one part grit to one part potting compost) and leave in open cold frames

● In hot weather, raise your lawnmower blades as longer grass is more tolerant of dry conditions.

● Remove rampant bulrushes or irises from your pond before they go to seed and make the problem worse.

● Regularly mist plants in greenhouses, polytunnels and conservatories to prevent red spider mite infestation

● Pinch out the top of tomato plants to concentrate the growth into the fruit that has already started to form.

● If you have a glut of autumn raspberries, blackberries or loganberries, freeze them on trays for a couple of hours and then bag them up to use over winter.

● Plant out any rooted runners of strawberries for a good crop next year.

● Hanging baskets need watering twice a day; to make this easier consider attaching them to a pulley system, another tip is to water hanging baskets by putting ice cubes on the top, moisture is slowly released as the ice cubes melt. Ensure these do not touch the plants as this may cause damage

● To prevent slugs getting to plants in containers, smear outside of container with petroleum jelly or WD40.

● To stop cats using your flower beds as a toilet - spray tea bags (either new or used) with Ralgex (Deep Heat). Bury the teabags just below the surface of the soil - when the cat disturbs them they will give off the scent of the spray - which cats can not stand. In time the tea bags will break down and nourish the soil.

● Dog pee kills grass - twice a day put one tablespoon of tomato juice in with your dog food. The harmful acid in the pee is neutralised, which means that the grass is not killed. (This does not harm the dog!)

● If you find handles of tools, mowers and shears uncomfortable to hold try buying a foam bicycle handlebar grip. Slip the grips over the tool handles, using washing up liquid or Vaseline if it proves difficult. If the handle in question is continuous try slitting the grip horizontally to allow it to be slipped over the handle. Pipe insulating foam may also work.

A quick and easy mulch for thirsty plants:

Put the grass clippings on a plastic sheet and leave for one day in sunshine. Turn the pile of clippings and leave for another 24 hours, or until they have turned brown. Apply the mulch by spreading round each plant. Never cover the crown of a plant.


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