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Here are some tips and tricks if you’re frustrated about not having enough garden space but still want to have the same level of greenery in your home.

Window box


Window Box is a really useful type of planter to have in your garden. Many choose to have them positioned hanging from a high point like a window or a fence, or they could be placed on a narrow balcony. If this is the case, make sure they are secured with hangers with good grip. Another advantage of window boxes is that you can mix and match lots of different types of plants depending on what suits you. Some beautiful flowers that go well together are:

  • Begonias, gerberas, busy lizzies, ivies, pansies, fuchsias, helichrysum, heathers, dwarf conifers, hostas and ferns.

Alternatively, you could also grow some gorgeous smelling herbs such as:

  • Chives, tarragon, parsley, rosemary, sage, mint, thyme, basil, parsley and oregano are ideal, as are low-growing fruit and vegetables. Try strawberries, bush tomatoes, salad leaves, radish, stump-rooted carrots and beetroot.

These plant work perfectly as they are shallow rooted and no not disturb one another. You can arrange them based on seasonality, where they are located in your space, and the level of care they would need.

Indoor – tomato plants

If vegetable growing is your particular favourite then there are a few options. Mostly microgreens grow best indoors, but we would also recommend growing tomato plants. They do well in containers and are then easy to keep an eye on to make sure they are healthy. Some of the best variations of tomatoes are Red Robin, Tiny Tim, Toy Boy and Florida Petite. They will thrive with the warmth of your home as they are sensitive to the cold, just make sure to put them next to a window that gets plenty of sunlight. Start off by sowing them in a tray. You can then transfer to a pot once the seedlings have grown to 3 inches tall. Then, fertilise every two weeks and water up to twice a day, depending on temperatures.

DIY Planters

DIY vertical garden which can hang on your wall.

In order to make the most of your outdoor space, you could also find or make your own planter.

Here are some tutorials on how to make them yourself:

Find out how to make a DIY planter box with a hose reel inside.

DIY vertical garden which can hang on your wall.

How to make your own out of pallets.

 

For more DIYs, check out these below:

Garden Design – Spring Garden Planter Ideas

DIY Indoor Planter – Self Watering

 

Is all you’ve avo wanted a beautiful and healthy avocado tree? Avocados are hugely popular for their high source of nutrients and the fact that they are a low carb plant friendly food. Plus, be-leaf it or not, they are super easy to grow with a bit of patience, love and care.

To grow your avocado plant you will need:

1 avocado

1 plastic cup

Water

3 toothpicks

For potting:

1 medium sized pot

Soil – enough to fill your pot of choice

Water

  1. Take your avocado and cut in in half to access the seed.
  2. Wash off any excess flesh for a super shiny seed.
  3. We don’t want to be the devils avocado but, one of the best way to ensure spouting is to peel off the seed’s outer skin to reveal the lighter layer underneath. This means that when the new stem is prepared to form the seed can crack when it’s ready.
  4. Making sure the seed is facing upwards, (the top is the more rounded and pointed side) stick in your 3 toothpicks about ¾ of the way up the seed at an upward angle.
  5. You should then be able to rest your avocado seed in the plastic cup.
  6. Fill your cup until it’s just over halfway up the seed and set it up on a window with lots of sunlight. Change the water every 5 days or so to prevent any fungus or bacteria growth.
  7. You should be seeing a sprout in around 4 to 8 weeks.

Potting method

  1. When your seed has begun to grow a stem and has reached at least 6 inches tall it is then ready to pot.
  2. In order not to damage the root system, make sure that your chosen pot is deep enough to hold your plant and its roots without separating them. Plan out where they will be placed before adding soil.
  3. Add a base layer of soil and then position your plant. Hold it steadily whilst filling in the rest of your soil until level with the toothpicks.
  4. Slowly pull out your toothpicks. If they are too stiff to remove you can also cut them at the base, it may sound pit-ifully wrong but it’s ok!
  5. Give it a light water with room temperature water, making sure not to over do it and just moisten the soil.
  6. Remember to water it regularly as it and give it a weekly feed of fertiliser, as well as keeping an eye on your plant to make sure it’s tall and healthy.

Your tree should start to produce fruit in a few years depending on the type of avocado you’ve used. Avo great time planting!

 

Top Nine Low Maintenance Flowers

Top 5 Useful Indoor House Plants

 

The day the clocks go back is somewhat monumental. It’s the day we lose an hour of daylight, but gain an extra hour in bed 😉. If you are or know of the kind to go into immediate hibernation as soon as the sun sets, spread the word – the day isn’t over! This post will ensure that the clock change means you can still make the most of your day, light or dark.

Meeting the night wildlife

Although our instincts may be to go back inside when it gets dark, many animals just outside our doorstep do the exact opposite. By using any pet food or leftovers that you might have and leaving them outside, you could attract the local neighbours of badgers, foxes, hedgehogs, bats or even deer if you’re lucky! It’s can be pretty breathtaking to watch nature in all its glory.

Star and planet gazing

Not only can you see so much already from your back garden on a clear night, but you’ll be able to also see the whole sky so much clearer with simply a pair of binoculars or a birdwatching telescope should you have them handy. It’s a wonderful activity to do with the kids as you can teach them about space and the different moon phases.You can show them the full moon on the 23rd of November, whether they think it’s made out of cheese or not. 😉

Light a bonfire

This is a really sociable way of getting your friends and family outside during the colder months. Getting some wood together and a box of matches (and even some wooden scraps from an old DIY) is the perfect recipe for an evening of toasted marshmallows and great conversation, you’ll want seconds.

Visit a viewpoint

This may only apply to those of you who live near or in a city, but it’s a beauty. A great thing to do as the sun sets or as soon as it gets dark is to go to your favourite highpoint and take in a view of the city. The street lights and tiny houses will make it seem so small, and you get perspective on how huge everything really is!

Make some DIY lights

A great way to celebrate the darker months is to decorate your space with your own DIY creations. You can even use leftover firewood or things around the house, to light up your indoor or outdoor space. If you’re in need of a little inspiration, this blog post has 20 great ideas for light ideas you can make yourself. We also have a tutorial on how to make your own upcycled glass bottle light and a plastic concrete pendant light. De-light-ful!

Plant some shade-friendly greenery

There’s no denying that as the clocks go back, not only is it a sign of the coming cold but it also means that your plants don’t get as much light per day. So, here’s a heads up on some fern-tastic plants which grow in these conditions.

A plant that will give your garden a spot of colour and are perfect for this time of year are autumn crocuses. If you’re looking for greenery which loves the extreme shade look no further with Autumn ferns. They don’t need too much care when integrated into your garden, and Japanese maples are trees which are ideal to plant in Autumn, are relatively easy and will give you flowers in early to mid spring.

Camp with your kids

A guaranteed way of bringing the kids outside when the clocks turn back is by using your back garden as a camping ground. What better way to bring them on an adventure – on your own home turf! Activities such as teaching them how to set up a tent, playing around with hand shadows from a torch  or listening out for owls will give them an experience of being that little bit closer to nature!

We hope you enjoyed this post are now looking forward to the clocks changing! Enjoy spending time doing lots of fun activities with family and friends, and quite literally, have the time of your life!

 

Essential Gardening Jobs for November

Eight Winter Jobs to Get Your Garden Ready for the New Growing Year

 

Ever get frustrated that your plants can’t stay with you for more than a couple of weeks from a disease you never saw coming? This post is here to save you from the worry of them targeting your precious plants again with these handy tips.

 

In order to choose your plant protection products wisely, you first need to identify what exactly is wrong with your plants. Below are the most common issues:

  • Insects – They bite or drill holes in the leaves, stem and fruit, and can cause serious damage or even death to your plant. They usually hide out on the underside of leaves, making it relatively easy to find them. To get rid of or ward off insects, you will need an insecticide.
  • Moulds – These attach themselves to your plants and feed on them. The first warning that you have mould is when you see any staining and discolouration on leaves and stems. To treat, you need a fungicide.
  • Excess nutrient or nutrient deficiencies – You will normally notice these only when the leaves change colour, as they tend to turn paler or yellow. To solve this problem, you will require fertiliser or a deficiency corrector.
  • Excess or lack of irrigation/ exposure to sunlight – If you haven’t found any bugs or noticed spots or stains, and the leaves are a good colour, then it may be that you need to water more or less, or provide more or less sunlight.

The critical thing is to identify the issue. Applying insecticide won’t help if your plant has mould, or vice versa.

 

The essential plant protection first aid kit

Let’s suppose you have ruled out any issues with watering, that the plant receives enough sunlight, and that you fertilise it regularly. In this case all you need is an insecticide and a fungicide, as well as a few targeted products that we will discuss later on.

It’s good to know that most of these products play a preventative as well as curative role. After all, prevention is always, always better than cure. As an example, in summer some regions are prone to torrential rains. This provides the ideal conditions for the appearance of moulds, as these thrive in heat and humidity.

After it rains, it’s a good idea to apply fungicide to your plants, as a preventative measure. This stops the mould or fungus spores from finding a suitable environment to settle in.

The same goes for insecticides. Have you ever noticed that the instructions tell you to reapply the treatment after a few days? That’s because many insecticides target the adult insects, but do not work on the eggs that may have been deposited on your plants. These will hatch after a few days, giving rise to a new generation of bugs that will continue to cause problems.

Earlier on we mentioned that apart from fungicide and insecticide, there are some targeted products that can also be essential to your first aid kit:

  • A molluscicide, or in other words, a product against snails and slugs. A must-have in any plant first aid kit if you have a vegetable patch or garden. Slugs and snails don’t tend to appear on terraces or balconies unless they hitch a ride on one of your plants.
  • If you have geraniums, we recommend keeping a specific insecticide handy that targets the larvae of the butterfly that this plant attracts. This is a very specific pest (also known as geranium drill) which targets this plant only, meaning you should be prepared if you want to keep your geraniums healthy and eye-catching.
  • An iron chlorosis corrector to combat a lack of iron in hortensias, camellias, gardenias and hibiscus, amongst other plants. The leaves begin to turn yellow, shrivel and then fall off.
  • Calcium-rich fertiliser for your tomatoes, especially if you’ve already suffered from apical-blossom end rot, as per the photo above.

How to apply plant protection products

Most of these products come in powder form for dilution, or directly in liquid form. To apply, you’ll need a sprayer as this allows you to spread the product uniformly over the leaves and stem.

If you only have a few plants at home, you can make do with a spray bottle, such as the ones for household cleaning. But we highly recommend getting yourself a pressure sprayer (available in 2, 5, 8 and 16 litres). These are really comfortable to use because by pumping the lever you can achieve enough pressure to spray the liquid without having to continuously pump. The nozzle is usually adjustable, allowing you to create small droplets that will be finely dispersed over the plants.

Larger pressure sprayers also come with a lance or wand, meaning you don’t have to bend down or come into direct contact with your plants. This is great not only in terms of comfort but also to keep you as far away as possible from the product being applied. Some products may cause respiratory problems, hence we recommend reading the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. We don’t want to scare you off, just warn you to take the necessary precautions and apply them 100% safely.

Let’s finish up with a couple of additional tips: try to apply your plant protection products at the start or end of the day, to avoid the direct sunlight over your plants. This will prove far more effective and convenient, particularly with organic products, as most of these are photosensitive, meaning they are less effective in sunlight.
When you’ve finished applying the treatment, release the sprayer’s internal pressure by opening the valve: this will lengthen its service life. 

Thanks for reading!

 

How to Prevent Plant Pests

Top 8 Weird Flowers

Nobody likes to discover that their plants are infested with aphids, or that fungi has bloomed. That’s why here at The Handy Mano, we’ve put together some tips to help you prevent plant pests and keep your plants strong, beautiful and healthy.

How to Prevent Plant Pests

1. Fertilise your plants!

Did you know that insects have a preference for weaker plants? That’s why our first piece of advice is to fertilise them regularly. A healthy plant is less attractive to plant pests which means that it’ll bloom better for us! You can use a generic fertiliser for flowering or leafy plants. There are specific fertilisers for veggie patches, orchids, cacti and even a specific one for bonsais. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, because excessive fertiliser can also do more harm than good!

Aphids and red spiders (pictured) prefer plants that are rich in nitrogen, meaning that any excess of this nutrient can turn your plants into something extra delicious for them, so make sure to always read the label and follow the instructions!

thehandymano mano plant pests how to prevent them leaf with red spiders

2. Check your plants regularly

Check both sides of the leaves, and keep an eye out for discolouration, small holes or webs. It’s easy to realise that you have a whitefly infestation even if you just brush past your plant, so make sure you keep checking up on them!

In doing this, over time you will be able to identify potential problems quicker and therefore be able to give your plant the correct treatment sooner. Many plant pests are cyclical, and repeat year after year, so don’t let them stress you out too much. Try to stay positive, because experience counts and if the pests come back next year, you’ll know exactly what to do.

3. Not all bugs are bad!

It can be an interesting exercise to identify the different insects swarming around our gardens, because they don’t all munch through our plants. Some prey on the plant pests that do eat them, and in such cases, these bugs are the ones we should be concerned about inviting to visit our gardens or plant beds.

That’s what plant biodiversity is all about. For example, a balcony which has only one type of plant growing there may awsell have a neon light to attract its preferred plant pests! Those of us with urban gardens know this all too well, hence we never forget to pair up certain plants with our food crops.
For example, Basil repels mosquitoes and white flies, and Nasturtium repels snails and ants (and it looks great, too!)

4. Apply preventative treatments

You can choose to treat your plants when they already have a problem, or you can apply specific products to prevent the problems from occurring in the first place. If you have geraniums and know that they struggle every year because of the butterflies that lay their eggs on them… why not try to prevent it from happening by using an insecticide?

thehandymano mano plant pests how to prevent them plant bacteria

5. Strictly follow application guidelines

When the doctor prescribes us antibiotics, he always recommends finishing the course of medication even if we feel better, right? Well, it’s the same with plants. Many insecticides work on the adult insects that swarm around the plants but they don’t kill the eggs which can hatch within 15 days.
Repeat the treatment if the instructions recommend you to do so.

6. Beware of over-watering

Most fungi appear because of excess water. This can be caused by either watering too much, or, because of the British weather!
Regardless, it doesn’t hurt to try to prevent fungi growth by using a preventative fungicide. Although we can’t stop the rain, we can at least help our plants a little and get rid of the excess fungi.

7. Dry leaves don’t always mean disease!

If you’re a newbie to gardening, don’t get too worried if you discover some yellow leaves. This doesn’t necessarily mean that your plant isn’t receiving enough nutrients.
During any plant’s growth period, it’s perfectly normal for it to shed some leaves
In such cases, look at the leaf’s position on the plant. Is it one of the biggest and oldest? If yes, relax: it has simply come to the end of its life cycle.
However, it’s okay to worry when the leaf in question is a new leaf or one of the smaller ones, as that means that it was likely to have been born with a deformity or a strange colour. You can find out the likely root of the problem by searching for the plant online and trying to identify the specific symptoms to figure out the next steps to take.
In potted plants, you might notice the leaves lack that ‘luscious green’ look. This is a common issue, and as the leaves are telling us they lack certain nutrients, it’s just up to us to invest in more nutrients and feed them!

Which plant pests worry you the most and how do you keep them at bay? Let us know!

Hungry for more gardening articles? Try out these for more tips:

Types of Shrubs – Seasonal Guide

Lawn Mowing Tips and Tricks