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Some people prune their plants every day, whilst others never even consider it! However, it doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated to reach that middle ground. That’s why we want to help you learn how to prune the two most common plants in your garden.

Go on, stalk us below!

To do the cuttings, you will need:

Which plants do I prune?

This can be difficult to answer because, as a rule, not all plants need pruned, and when they do, the time in the year varies depending on the plant. This is because the main reason to prune a plant is to control growth and define the shape for the following season.

For example, Hydrangeas bloom on the buds formed in the previous year. If you take their cuttings in winter then you will remove these buds, meaning that throughout the year you won’t see a single flower.

Spring-flowering shrubs should be pruned in late June, after they have flowered. We recommend pruning larger shrubs quite hard, whilst giving the younger plants just a small cut at the back.

How to prune roses

Roses are pruned in spring to rejuvenate the plant and stimulate its growth. Remove all of the dead or dying stems, as well as those with a brown interior as this implies that the winter cold has frozen them.

Always cut above a bud that is growing towards the outside of the plant, at a height of around 5cm or 6cm above. This allows the sap to reach the bud as normal, fostering growth.
It is also important to remove any stems or twigs growing at the base of the plant, sometimes known as suckers. It’s highly likely that your rose has been grafted, and allowing these branches to grow not only leaches nutrients from the rest of the plant, but can also eventually kill the grafted part.

thehandymano manomano prune plants rose cutting prune

How to prune geraniums

Geraniums are pruned in late winter or early spring. This will strengthen the plant and remove the thick, unproductive stems that tend to spoil them.
Pruning geraniums is much more drastic, as you are reducing the plant almost to ground level. This can be difficult to come to terms with at first, but, remember that for each stem you cut, more will appear!
Remove any stems that are diseased or weak, and any others that obstruct the shape you want to give the plant. The more compact geraniums are, the better they look and the more flowers will bloom.
Don’t forget that from all of the offshoots you remove, you can take cuttings for new plants. Cut the stem on an angle, apply rooting powder, and sow them in a pot with new soil.
During the blooming period, remove any flower heads the minute they begin to wither. This will allow the plant to produce new flowers instead of wasting its precious nutrients on the creation of new seeds. Cut the heads at their lowest point, right where they join the main stem. This will activate dormant buds, which will begin to grow and form new buds.

thehandymano manomano prune plants geraniums cutting prune

Top tips on how to prune

  • Don’t forget that a cut is basically a small wound that we’re creating on the plant. To prevent it from becoming infected, we recommend you use pruning sealer any time the cut has a diameter greater than 5mm. To use, apply the sealant to the cut area then spread with your fingers around the sides of the stalk. It’s a good product to keep handy not only when you are pruning, but also as a preventative measure in case of accidental breakage of our plants, grafts, or any damage caused by frost or hail. If you don’t have access to pruning paint then just make sure that you prune at the correct time of the year, as this will leave the cut to naturally heal itself!
  • You also need to keep your pruning tools sufficiently well maintained.
    One of the most important things to do is disinfect them with alcohol any time you are working on a plant that may be diseased. This prevents disease from spreading from one flower to another.
  • Quality pruning tools will provide many years of service. Make sure to clean them thoroughly after use, and oil them if you’re using them a lot. I personally recommend going for the well known brands, as you will also easily find spare parts or replacements if needed, saving yourself the price of new ones.
  • Last but not least, don’t forget to feed your plants. Especially if they’ve just survived the winter cold and now we’ve subjected them to stressful pruning.

We hope you rose to this occasion and will now help your flowers bloom!

When it rains : Gardening Advice

To celebrate the Royal Wedding of Harry and Meghan, we thought we would help you out with some money saving tactics for an outdoor wedding. We know how expensive weddings can be, but with our ideas for outdoor DIY wedding venues you can still have a beautiful wedding whilst keeping a lid on your budget! Fortunately, many of these DIY ideas can also be transferred to other outdoor events too! You’ll be so proud of hosting a DIY outdoor event that you’ll be made of honour

DIY Wedding Flowers

Flowers can take up a lot of a wedding’s budget, our first tip is that if you are going to buy them them from a florist then try not to mention that it’s for a wedding straight away. That way, you can see what their prices are like before the wedding mark-up fee, and they are likely to stick to their original price rather than charging you more just because it’s a bigger occasion.

However, to really save some money, we recommend growing your own roses in your garden first (if you have the time!). You can grow them from your own cuttings by selecting roses with long, strong and healthy stems. Make the cuttings 25cm long, leaving one leaf at the top but removing the rest. Our top tip is to stick the cutting into a potato before planting it in the soil – this will make sure that the plant receives enough moisture to prevent it from drying out.

To prepare your rose bouquets by hand, first place them all in a tall bucket filled with cool water and floral preservative. Then, gently take the outer layer of bruised petals off each head and skim the thorns with a sharp floral knife (note: make sure that you don’t cut them off as they act as a water reservoir!). Next, cut the bottom of each stem at an angle and immediately place them back into the cold water until they fully ‘open up’ again. Once the roses have fully opened, begin to arrange them by placing one stem between your forefinger and thumb and then adding each stem on top of the previous one until you have created a bouquet (this is fiddly, but worth it!). Remember to keep checking the top of the bouquet to ensure that that it is round and balanced. Finally, wrap the bouquet in stretchy floral tape (available at craft stores) leaving a 2 inch gap at the bottom so that you can place the flowers back into the water until you’re ready to use them!

Another tip is to add Gypsophila (also known as baby’s-breath, shown below) around the bouquet to give it a finishing touch! The flowers can be found very cheaply and also look great as hair pieces, center pieces on the table, and as decorations.

thehandymano mano mano diy outdoor wedding party decoration rose bouquet 2

 

Don’t go bacon my heart – Food and Drink Ideas

Catering for a large number of people is never cheap, so have you ever considered doing a large barbecue instead? It can take some planning, but can leave your guests full with good food for a much smaller price!

When planning your menu, it is important to consider the person who will actually be running the grill – we recommend asking a trusted friend or neighbour, or asking your family to take turns on it (depending on the size of your wedding). Once you have organised this, then you can buy meat in bulk such as pork, chicken, ribs, hot dogs, burgers and seafood…)and focus on creating some delicious sides! Consider serving your salads in mason jars, and corn on the cob on a stick, keeping in mind that it can’t be too messy to eat! Some other great side dishes are fruit, coleslaw, potato salad and grilled vegetables. For dessert, it’s worth noting that wedding cake goes with everything (yes, even barbecues 😉 ), however, you can always serve bite size summer desserts such as ice cream, cheesecake or grilled peaches instead to really keep within the rustic barbecue theme.

For the drinks, you can use a either a planter or a wheelbarrow to keep them cool. Simply fill it up with lots of ice and place your glass bottles in to keep them cool! It an take them up to an hour to cool down so we recommend topping it up with water to encourage the ice to melt and submerge the bottles fully.

 thehandymano mano mano diy outdoor wedding party decoration barbecue

Remarqueeable DIY Garden Wedding Decorations

Even if your wedding is in the middle of Summer, make sure you have an ‘indoor’ area available for guests in case the British weather turns against you! A gazebo or a marquee can provide cool shade from the sun or shelter from any rain and keep you and your guests happy! As the structures are relatively simple, it gives you a lot of freedom with how to decorate it! Fairy lights can add a perfect touch as the sun begins to set, and you can use solar lamps around pathways to make sure that your guests don’t go stumbling anywhere. For the day time reception, you could also use Tulle, the most versatile fabric for weddings, to drape around entrances and make the gazebo romantic.

 

thehandymano mano mano diy outdoor wedding party decoration marquee

Wood you just look at that!

We are clearly unable to write an article without including our favourite pallets! Pallets are so easy to disassemble an assemble again that we can’t stop finding new uses for them. They’re also great because you can often find them for free (find out how here) which can help you save some extra money at your DIY wedding. So, what do we suggest you use the pallets for? Here’s a list of just a few ideas:

-Personalised signs for information or adorable purposes (see photo below)

-Build your own comfortable chairs like this one or stack them up and throw a blanket over them!

-Build your own easy bar! Find out how to here

-To make your own lanterns like this one

-To show your guests their seating plan (you can even leave the pallet unpainted for a more rustic feel if you want)

 

thehandymano mano mano diy outdoor wedding party decoration pallet

 

What do you call a melon that’s not allowed to get married? A cantelope…

Enjoy more articles below!

 

How to Make a Pallet Bed

How to Make a DIY Pallet Trolley

It’s easy to say that the UK has had its fair share of rain, and even though we love the summer, we only really appreciate it because the rain gets warmer. Fortunately for you, your garden doesn’t have to suffer! We have gathered our top gardening advice about what to do when your plants are drowning in British drizzle.

Get picky!

thehandymano manomano mano mano uk gardening rain dandelion

-Start pulling up dandelions and thistles while the soil is wet as you’ll have a bigger chance of getting the root out whole.
-Nettles also tend to grow quickly in these conditions, but, rather than throwing them out why not try a nettle tea or soup?
-Fortunately, lettuce benefits greatly from cool conditions and moist soil, so are enjoyed best during rainier weeks.
-Start planting watercress! Watercross is one of the few plants which doesn’t mind being waterlogged, take up the opportunity to plant some in half an inch deep holes outside.
– Get mint-tea! Mint leaves love moist conditions and if it’s blue outside then treat yourself to a fresh cup of mint tea.

Protection is a big dill

thehandymano manomano mano mano uk gardening rain tomatoes

-Feed your poor plants! Some plants, such as tomatoes, may begin to look like they’re running out of nutrients. If this is the case, give them some love and help restore them back to good form. If your plants are looking pale or lanky then they are likely to be suffering from low light levels – rotate them towards the sun.
-Rescue your waterlogged plants! Many plants risk dying if their compost becomes saturated and you can begin to save them by removing the trays from underneath them.
-Mix up your compost heap to mix the wet and dry layers to prevent the water from depriving the microorganisms in your compost. If your compost is really waterlogged, consider adding in some newspaper to soak up more moisture.

Plan(t) ahead

thehandymano manomano mano mano uk gardening rain pathway stepping stones

-Buy mulch material and apply it to the surface as soon as soon as the rain stops, laid at a depth of 2 inches it will seal enough moisture to sustain plants throughout summer.
-Start planning your path to save hassle next year. Make sure that this is the last year that you squelch to the greenhouse and lose a welly – consider bark chips as a short term solution or start thinking of bigger projects such as stepping stones or a gravel path.

Stalk us some more…

National Gardening Week – Top 10 Edible Flowers

Hacks to Help You Prepare for Your Spring Garden

Small Vegetable Garden Design Tips

Growing vegetables doesn’t have to be difficult and it can save you a lot of money in the long run! A small vegetable garden can offer you the opportunity to reduce the amount of pesticides used in your food and can be an excuse to get the children outside. This article is aimed at beginners who want to start a vegetable garden but have no idea where to begin! We’re rooting for you! View our large selection of seeds here.

Don’t pick a sorry site!

the handy mano manomano gardening tips gardener outside digging vegetable

Realistically, the more sunlight the plants receive, the better! Plants need at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day, so make sure you choose a spot which won’t be shaded over due to trees, walls or buildings. It’s also good to keep your site away from large trees because they can compete eachother for water and nutrients. If you’re very new to gardening, why not start off in a pot and move that around until you feel comfortable choosing a patch in the soil.

Lay it all out!

the handy mano manomano gardening tips raised bed grow vegetable garden

The most common way to grow a vegetable garden is using a raised rectangular wooden frame. The raised beds help the soil warm quicker in the sun which lengthens the growing season! Plants that are started in cold soils may grow slowly and develop poorly. Remember to make sure that your raised bed isn’t too big though, as you still need to water the center of it! Design your vegetable garden in a way that makes plants get progressively taller from the south edge to the north. You can also see what vegetables are good to grow together, the list is endless but we recommend growing spinach, garlic chives and sweet basil together and tomatoes, oregano and bell peppers together.

Not mushroom for every vegetable?

the handy mano manomano gardening tips raised bed grow vegetable bell pepper

Start small! We recommend that you start your vegetable garden with this staple selection.

Bell peppers: Green peppers will eventually turn red, orange and yellow the longer they spend on the vine! They also resist the most garden pests, meaning that you’ll get a large variety just from one vegetable. We suggest putting two or three matchsticks in every hole that you plant the seeds in too with a teaspoon of fertiliser to give them a bit of sulphur which they love.

Cucumbers: Make sure that you have fertile soil which is warm and moist and not soggy! Fortunately, cucumbers grow fast and don’t demand a lot of care, just make sure that you keep their soil consistently moist!

Green beans: There are two types of green beans to plant – bush beans and pole beans. Bush beans spread out horizontally while pole beans climb vertically. Plant each seed around 2 – 5cm deep and about 2 to 4 inches apart. A standard wood much also works great with green beans as it can prevent the soil from getting too cool or warm whilst retaining enough moisture.

Watermelon: To get a jumpstart with watermelons, cover the planting area with black plastic and start growing the seeds indoors for 2-3 weeks before moving them into the garden. However, watermelons can take up a lot of space! If you are starting with a small vegetable garden and want to grow various vegetbles, then perhaps leave watermelons until you’re more experienced!

Do you have any tips for starting a vegetable garden? Start a conversation with us on Twitter!

National Gardening Week – Top 10 Edible Flowers

To celebrate National Gardening Week 2018, we have put together a list of our favourite edible flowers which you can grow at home! (No, we’re not pollen your leg…) Because why buy expensive edible flowers for cake decorating or herbal teas when you can just grab them from your garden instead?

Number 10 – Chrysanthemum


the handy mano manomano edible flowers chrysanthemum

You can use the bright petals to flavour and cream soups, fish chowder and even egg dishes! You can also make your own chrysanthemum tea by drying out the leaves and placing them in tea strainer into hot water. The tea can provide many health benefits such as relieving stress and anxiety, migraine pains; digestion after a heavy meal, high blood pressure and can boost your metabolism. Pretty impressive for something which is just growing in the garden, isn’t it?

Number 9 – Hollyhock

the handy mano manomano hollyhock edible flower hollyhock

It is quite well known that these stunning petals are often dried out, crystallized then used to decorate cakes. But, similar to Chrysanthemums, they can also be used to sooth respiratory and urinary tracts in the body and also relieve dry coughs. However, Hollyhock is one of the few flowers that can be used fresh in salads, added to light baking and infused in syrups due to its mild floral taste.

Number 8 – Pot Marigold

the handy mano manomano hollyhock edible flower pot marigold

When first discovered, these plants were said to have relieved hiccups and the effects of being struck by lightening… Nowadays, Pot marigolds have a naturally intense colour and peppery taste making them great for soups, stews and puddings. You can also use the petals in vinegar or added to oil or butter – what could be butter? 

Number 7 – Rose


the handy mano manomano edible flowers rose petals

Coming from the strawberry and apple family, it is said that the more fragrant a rose then the nicer it is to eat! These petals can be crystallized, used to flavour drinks (eg rose lemonade) and even ice summer cakes. Other uses are to mix some dry petals in butter to make it more fragrant for baking, leave it amongst sugar to change the flavour of your tea, and to alter the taste of vinegar when used in salads. Are you able to rose up to the challenge?

Number 6 – Hibiscus

the handy mano manomano edible flowers hibiscus

Hibiscus is known for its distinctive flavour and deep colours, although, many don’t realise that it has powerful antioxidant levels which are even higher than those in green tea! The most surprising common use for it is in tacos – yes, tacos – as it is commonly used as a meat substitute and mixed with roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed vegetables before being wrapped in a tortilla leaf. For the meat lovers, you can throw some hibiscus tea into a marinade to tenderise beef or lamb whilst adding a lot of lfavour and colours due to its tannins (which are the same as the ones in red wine).

Number 5 – Sweet Violet

thehandymano mano mano edible flowers sweet violet

These delicate flowers are bursting with colour making them perfect to decorate soufflés or to garnish cakes with. They have been found to be slightly laxative and are also a gentle expectorant but have many uses such as used fresh in salads, used to colour and flavour vinegar, made into a delicate jelly, mixed into porridge, and even fermented into a sweet wine! It’s clear that these bright beauties have more to them than meets the eye, and can alter your cooking experience for the better!

Number 4 – Tiger Lily

 

the handy mano manomano tiger lily edible flowers

It is important to note that despite the Tiger Lily being fit for human consumption, parts can be toxic to cats so make sure that you keep your feline friends far from your culinary creations! In Asia, the plant is grown for its edible bulb, which when cooked, resembles a turnip flavour! You can also boil, pickle or use the bulbs to make starch/ The flowers, on the other hand, can be used fresh and dried in soups, salads, omelets and rice dishes. Make sure to do some research about what type of Tiger Lily plant you have though, as some can be unsettling for the stomach!

Number 3 – Bergamot

the handy mano manomano edible flowers bergamot

These funky flowers are members of the mint family and have a surprisingly strong spicy scent which makes them perfect for tea but they also compliment savoury food such as bacon, poultry, rice and pasta. The strong flavour also makes it a perfect addition to a cocktail or in a sweet dish (such as cookies or muffins) alongside rosemary. If you have any left over, you can always throw them into a potpourris to add colour and spread its scent!

Number 2 – Sunflower

the handy mano manomano edible flowers sunflower

Known for its majestic petals and use in cooking oils, the sunflower has many more uses in the kitchen. Pull the seedlings from your sunflower patch while they are around 6 inches tall. You can eat the sunflower sprouts straight from the ground, on top of salads, or in a stir fry, meaning that you get to enjoy a meal whilst cutting down on plant waste! You can also eat the leaves of older plants alone or in in a salad, meaning that not a single part of this flower goes to waste. You can also, of course, place the flower heads in a dry and well ventilated place and allow the seeds to mature before eating them too. This plant can basically give you a three course meal if you want it to!

Number 1 – Nasturtium

the handy mano manomano edible flowers nasturtium

We chose this brightly-coloured, peppery flower as our favourite because you can use the whole flower in salad and pasta dishes, as well as on egg and toast as pictured above! Both the leaves and the petals of this flower are packed with nutrition and contain high levels of vitamin C meaning that it can help improve the immune systel, tackle sore throats and fight bacterial and fungal infections, whilst having lots of flavour packed in too! Why not make it the star of your meal tonight?

Still got green fingers? Dig into our other garden articles…

Hacks to Help You Prepare for Your Spring Garden

Garden Design – Spring Garden Planter Ideas