Tag

Spring

Browsing

The UK has enjoyed 3 days straight of some much-welcome sun, and there is a renewed sense of optimism as spring approaches. Now is a great time to head out into the garden and plan a colourful and lively space for the summer months ahead. We’ve collected a list of some of the essential March gardening jobs to help spark some inspiration and creativity.

FLOWER GARDEN JOBS

Grow sweet peas in the garden in March
(C) Gemma Evans
  • Now that the soil has warmed up enough to be workable, this is a great time to mulch your garden beds. One of the top March gardening jobs, mulching helps to introduce new nutrients into the soil and discourage weeds. Before getting started, make sure that your bed has been thoroughly weeded. Dig a layer organic matter at least 5 cm deep into the soil. Ensure that you leave a gap around the stem of any plants.
  • By the last week of March you should be able to plant out any young plants that you have hardened off. When planting, gently tease out some roots to encourage the plant to get established.  If the ground is already moist you don’t need to water it in, but do give it a drink of water before you remove it from the pot.
  • March is the month to plant any summer flowering bulbs you have bought. Double-check that bulbs have sufficient drainage when planting, if not they may rot. Alliums, Begonias and Gladioli are all excellent summer flowering bulbs that bring a splash of colour wherever they are placed.
  • Tending to your roses is best done in late winter before new growth has started appearing. Although pruning techniques vary between different types of roses, these are some basic guidelines. Always wear gloves to protect against thorns and keep your secateurs sharp. Make sure to leave 5mm above a bud and angle angle the cut away from the bud. For this type of pruning you are looking to cut out dead, diseased, and spindly stems.

VEGETABLE PATCH JOBS

Essential gardening jobs in March
(C) Eugenia Romanova
  • If you are raring to go and want to plant seeds out as soon as possible, then take this opportunity to start warming up the soil. Cover your beds with sheets of black plastic or cloches to give it a head start. This covering technique can also be used to encourage an early crop of strawberries or rhubarb.
  • Once the soil reaches 6°C you can start sowing your first lines of seeds outside. For these initial seeds it is best to start with broad beans or sweet peas. Help your your sweet peas by soaking them overnight before you plant them. It is possible to start growing some salad now, but plants tend to grow better when the ground has been warmed up.
  • Shallots and onion sets can be planted out in suitably warm soil. Plant them in a warm, sunny area. If you are buying any bulbs from the garden centre, avoid ones that are already shooting as these are likely to bolt during summer.
  • Now that the weather is warming up, slugs are starting to come out in force. Take this opportunity to prevent slugs from invading and eating up your young plants. There are a variety of slug deterrents and pellets widely available, but you can also use a more natural approach. Beer traps can draw slugs away from your seedlings, or you can remove them by hand and dispose of them at your discretion. Alternatively, slugs do not enjoy crawling over broken eggshells or copper, these materials can be placed as a barrier around plants.

GREENHOUSE JOBS

(C) Curro Mali
  • This is a good time to turn your attention to potted plants and give them a pot upgrade. Move plants into larger pots, and give them a generous amount of compost. As you are potting out the plants, tease out the roots out to encourage them to get established.
  • While repotting plants, take the time to check for vine weevils. At this time of year the larvae start to hatch and become active, so taking action now can prevent a more serious infestation later on. Examine the rootball of plants as you repot, looking out for small maggots that are a white-ish, creamy colour with an orange head.
  • Starts seeds for celery, celeriac, french beans and cauliflower ready to be planted out later on. You can also try growing plant plugs to get a large number of plants for relatively low cost. If you haven’t managed to get yours seeds going in time, plant plugs are a good alternative.

Source:  ww.rhs.org.uk

Did you enjoy this article on essential March gardening jobs? Why not read our article on caring for your Monstera, or Swiss Cheese, Plant or even our guide on choosing a parasol or gazebo!

Are you gardening this month? Share your finished results with us on Instagram using the #mymanomanoway#manomanouk and #youvegotthis hashtags!

Spring is here and some of your plants will be looking forward to changing pots. Or you might have recently purchased plants for the express purpose of transplanting them directly into your garden’s flowerbed. In that case, before you can put them in the ground, you will first need to extract them carefully from the pots in which they were grown. Follow our article, step by step, to find out the best way to repot or transplant your plants!

Soil and drainage material

Every plant needs suitable soil. Some people make the big mistake of using soil that is not suitable for the plant variety.  
Ericaceous plants, such as azaleas, rhododendrons, heather and camellias, like soil that has a pH below 7. You will find this kind of soil sold under the name “ericaceous compost” or “soil for acid-loving plants”. Cacti and succulents prefer soil that is porous and less compact. Soil that facilitates drainage prevents the stagnation of water and thus eliminates the risk of your plants developing root rot.  

Universal compost, as its name suggests, is suitable for a wide variety of plants. At the same time, there are some differences between the various brands. Some types are made up of small beads that look like polystyrene, while others are comprised of slow-release fertiliser granules, which are small and mostly yellow. 

Which soil you choose should depend on where the plant will be grown and the type of watering it requires. For example, we recommend a substrate that retains water if you’re using a small pot which will be exposed to the sun throughout the day. Otherwise, the plant will run out of water and begin to suffer from water stress. 

For your houseplants, on the other hand, you should use a substrate that offers good drainage. You can make it more effective by adding pebbles. 

Carefully removing plant pots.

Carefully remove the root ball by holding the plant between your fingers, making sure that the soil doesn’t break up. Use your hands during this process.

To help plants grow even better, you can also improve the soil in your garden. The texture of clay soils can be loosened up simply by adding sand and organic matter such as manure. In contrast, you can help make sandy soils more compact by adding some organic material. Natural fertilisers or peat will do the trick. 

When it comes to drainage material, we recommend using clay or lava pebbles. Be sure to place them in a thin layer at the bottom of the pot or directly in a hole dug in the ground. This is the perfect solution for certain varieties, such as bulb plants, since it prevents the water from stagnating and eliminates the risk of root rot. 

Gardening tools 

You’ll need a pair of gardening gloves to protect your hands. You’ll also need a small and/or medium size spade, depending on whether you intend to transplant your plants into a pot or in the open ground. Finally, you’ll need a pail or a bucket and a watering can. For planting bulbs, we recommend making the job easier with a bulb planter. The specific shape of this tool is used to dig perfectly round holes. 

Transplanting your plants

Transplanting your plant.

First, look at the roots of your plant. Sometimes it is necessary to loosen them up a bit. For the Tradescantia zebrina shown here, you won’t need to follow this step. It came from a cutting we put in the soil after it came off the mother plant while being handled. 

Extract the plant to be moved

  • We recommend watering or soaking the plant in a pail or bucket filled with water. This makes it easier to remove the root ball from the pot and prevents the soil from breaking up. 
  • If the roots are coming out through the drainage holes in the pot, you can trim any protruding roots with a pair of scissors. If they are very thin, they will grow back without any problems. 
  • To remove the root ball, you must gently turn the pot upside down and squeeze on it. Always use one hand to support the base of the plant. With your other hand, press the plastic pot to turn the plant out, as though it were a flan or caramel custard.  
  • For ceramic pots, you may need to tap the bottom of the pot. Tilt it on the ground or pull lightly on the base of the plant, if the latter is large. This is a step that requires a very delicate touch. Indeed, some of the roots will inevitably break. 

Preparing to transplant your plants

  • Try to leave the plant in its pot until you transplant it into the hole you have prepared. To form a hole, use a shovel or garden trowel. Make sure that it is bigger than the root ball. In fact, the plant will appreciate a large hole that is filled with a spongy substrate to promote rapid root growth.
  • At this point, you must extract the plant from its pot. This will allow you to take a close look at the roots. If the plant has been in the same pot for a long time, it will probably have created a cluster of spiral roots to fit the shape of the pot. If this is the case, you should tease out the rootbound cluster by moving them very carefully and trying to open them up. This step makes some people nervous for fear of harming the plant. Don’t worry; your plant will appreciate this extra care! You can also use this step to remove part of the old soil. You can then place the root ball in the soil you have already prepared. Now your plant has extra space to stretch out and grow! Make sure that the ground or pot soil is properly loosened and ventilated. 
  • At this stage, you must exert a slight amount of pressure on the roots so that they are well integrated into the ground. Any air bubbles or hollow spaces at the roots can hinder their growth.
    Add the substrate, or soil, carefully and use your fingers to make sure the roots are surrounded by soil. This step must be performed with both a firm and gentle touch. Do not compact the soil, as that will prevent the roots from breathing.
  • After you’ve moved the plant, you must also avoid covering up the top layer of soil – from the original pot – with new soilThe base of the stem should always be at the same level as the soil you’re adding. It must not fall below that level. While there are some exceptions, this step prevents the risk of root rot.   
  • Next, water the plant thoroughly and generously so that the root ball is properly integrated into the surrounding soil. 

Repotting houseplants

Repotting houseplants

Squeeze lightly around the plant so that the soil settles. Water thoroughly after each transplant.

Last but not least, here’s a tip that is sure to succeed. Before transplanting, we recommend checking for two things:

  1. Look for roots coming out of the drainage holes at the bottom of your pot. Your pot may have become too small and the plant may be feeling cramped. You don’t need to get a pot that is significantly bigger. Instead, just go up one size from the pot you already have. 
  2. Check the state of the roots. After generously watering the plant, carefully remove the root ball so you can see how its roots have grown. You might notice there are less than you’d imagined. In this case, we recommend leaving the plant in the same pot.

How about you? Have you got any transplanting tips to share with the community? We’d love to have your comments on our blog and on social media.

If you liked reading this article, we invite you to read our Essential Gardens Jobs for April.

Looking for materials for your transplanting your plants? Visit manomano.co.uk to view our full selection of home gardening products.

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