The main trade garden and leisure show, of the year, GLEE, took place at the NEC in Birmingham early this week. Most of the new products on show were again related to 'grow your own'. Many were suitable for our smaller growing spaces.
Erin, www.leisuregrow.com, showed a new range of seed growing kits, called Eco Grow kits. The kits come with fibre pots made from recycled and sustainable resourses, reduced peat or coir compost and quality seeds. They are great for novice gardeners as they all come with everything you need and good information on how to grow. They also are producing a mushroom kit that promises up to two indoor harvests of white cap mushrooms.
Our small yard garden is now three years old. We started with a blank canvas as the house was on a new green field site in rural Devon. The plot is small, south facing, on a heavy soil and slopes steeply towards the house.
In those three years we have worked to create a plot that gives us somewhere to sit, relax and entertain as well as planting that gives us twelve months of interest and also a certain amount of food in the form of salads.
Birds now visit our garden to feed and then bath in the clear water of the rill. We have bats flittering over the garden at night in search of the insects that hover over the lush foliage.
Sadly our neighbours have plots in the state they were when the builders moved out. A square of grass or gravel and maybe an odd shrub or two. No trees even when offered by the builders are planted in these barren plots. I can understand that they are not interested in traditional gardening or do not have the time to improve their plots but what a waste. A waste in enlivening their lifestyle by not using this available space when there is so much information around to help and garden furniture, plants and accessories to excite.
Blue skys and bright sun lit up the planting growing beneath the front of the deck. The luxuriant planting includes aquilegeas, chives, Lonicera nitida, box and mint. The reflecting metallic leaf is from a range from www.tinklingtoadstools.co.uk
There was an interesting item in this weekends Telegraph concerning British Waterways idea to use old canal barges as floating allotments along suitable stretches of the canals.
British Waterways will now begin work in identifying other plots around the county and start a number of pilots to work out the best way to run the scheme. It is expected most of the land will be leased for free to community groups who then find public or private funding to run the allotments. The organsiaton are also looking into using retired work boats for growing vegetables.
Half the population of the UK lives within five miles of a waterway and Gill Owen of British Waterways said it was a perfect way to get people out enjoying rivers and canals.
It seems a great idea but I think security may be a problem.
The snow has melted, the rain has disappeared for a short while but both has left the decks, walls and patio green with algae. The decks are not only unsightly but also slippy and dangerous.
There are many products and ways to clean these areas but the best I have found is Brintons PatioMagic. It doesn't smell ,is easy and safe to use and the results last a long time. You can spray it on with a garden sprayer but a find splashing it around with a watering can works best!
No Pressure Washing, No Scrubbing, No Sweat
Unique new generation high performance antibacterial fungicide which kills mould, algae and moss with in days and then helps to clean the treated surfaces in the following weeks and months.
Just dilute and apply with watering can or low pressure garden sprayer
2.5L Concentrate (Makes up to 25L)
Perfect for Patios, Garden Furniture and Conservatories
It is available at garden centre and DIY stores. £9.99 2.5l
On the BBC's 'One Show' this week there was a report on the benefit of eating blueberries to improve memory especially in old age.
Blueberries have been used for centuries as a treatment for a wide range of ailments from bladder stones to mouth ulcers. In WW2 it was reported that pilots nighttime vision was improved after eating blueberry jam!
Blueberries can be easily grown in 30-40cm containers using an ericaceous compost that contains no lime. Plants are available in pots now ready to plant and should cost about £12.00.
The berries are produced in two crops and one bush should produce 2-5kg of fruit. For the best crops it is advised to grow more than one plant to improve pollination.
There are compact varieties of blueberry that are perfect for growing in small spaces - Toro and Bluetta are possibly the ones to look out for.
I'm talking about 'grow your own'. So much has been written about it, the Sunday paper magazines are full of how to grow this and that, with all the resulting health and financial benefits. Book shops are now full of tomes on self-sufficiency and organic gardening. But how many of us are actually getting out of our chairs and into the garden centre to buy seed potatoes, onion sets and vegetable seeds. Very few I think.
Make a start today, not tomorrow, not at the weekend, today!
Plan what you want to grow in your yard. Work out what will be most productive and what crops fit in with your lifestyle. Do you want to grow small quantities of veg that are very seasonal with a low return yet are rewarding in exceptional flavour such as new potatoes or grow salad crops such as salad leaves that can keep you in salad greens for almost twelve months of the year.
Whatever you decide to grow there are a myriad of solutions waiting for you at your garden centres and DIY stores. Mini polythene greenhouses, raised beds (available in pre-pack form), cold frames and cloches, growing bags and even specialist crop bags designed to grow a specific crop from planting to fruiting with only the task of regular watering. So go and check it all out.
Having lived on a new build for nearly two and a half years we have struggled to attract any wild birds. No matter how stylish the feeder or tempting the food, birds just past us by. This winter though with the harder weather at last we have had some feathered visitors. At first pigeons, then blackbirds and starlings but in the last few weeks we have been visited by a 'twitchers' dream - the elusive TWITE.
I had never heard of a Twite before it dropped in. Not usually found in our area it must have drifted south from Somerset.
'The twite is a small, brown bird, similar in size to a linnet but with a longer tail and stubbier bill. Its back is tawny, heavily streaked with dark brown, its flanks have dark-brown streaks and its belly is white. In breeding plumage the male's rump is pink. It forms large flocks in winter when it spends most of the time feeding on the ground.'
The new year, bringing, as we are daily informed, all the financial woes of the credit crunch we will find that our own personal space especially our outdoor personal space will become more valuable.
Holidays, leisure activities, retail therapy, etc. will all be more expensive as will the risk of the cost of food rising again due to the increased cost of fertilizers. How we use our own space will be paramount in living through these changes. Using the availabilty of your yard to relax, entertain and cultivate food crops will help stretch dwindling financial resourses.
Yardz over the coming year will hope to continue to post on interesting and useful items that will enhance your yardz lifestyle. The change in style and layout, I hope will bring a fresh and uncluttered look for 2009.
I hope you enjoy my blogging scrapbook of all things relating to owning and living with a very small garden.
My own yard is only 5m x 5m so I understand the challenges involved in trying to use this small space to the full.
I have been involved all my working life with design, garden design, horticulture and garden retailing. At present I work as a buyer for a large South west garden centre.
I have a passion for good cutting edge design and plants that excite.
Please contact me on email@example.com with any comments or questions.