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Welcome to the Garden Guru!

You will find lots of useful information on compost, composting and all things grow your own, from hints and tips to step by step how to guides on all sorts of interesting subjects.

Browse through all our garden guru's articles below to find the subject you are interested in.

If the article you  are looking for is not here, just ask The Compost Shop Garden Guru and he will get back to you as quickly as possible with the answers you are looking for!

A beginner's guide to growing broccoli

It’s healthy, tasty, and looks like little trees- of course it’s broccoli – and it’s a crop that’s missing from many of Britain’s gardens. Despite this, it’s rewarding to grow successfully, and provides a great value staple veg to accompany your more pedestrian potatoes and carrots, as well as being far healthier. Discover more about the benefits of broccoli and the secrets to cultivating this magnificent crop in our guide below.

Growing from seed

Broccoli is best grown from seed in a greenhouse, regularly watered & fed with fertiliser. Plant the developed root balls out into a fertilised allotment with plenty of space between plants, and good level of sun. You’ll also need excellent drainage to prevent the plants developing club root. Broccoli prefers slightly acidic soil and as you continue to feed you plants you’ll want to use a nitrogen-based fertiliser along with their water. As they continue to grow you’ll need to continually space them out until there’s about 30-60cm between each plant, depending on layout (planting in rows requires more space).

Pest control

Pests pose a big threat to broccoli, and resisting their attempts to feast on your young plants is a big part of cultivating them. Make sure to control the various birds, caterpillars, cabbage root fly, slugs and snails which can seriously damage your young plants & the grown heads if allowed to. Use high quality netting & repellents to deter pests- unfortunately broccoli attracts a wide range of wildlife- if these get access to your broccoli plants, especially when younger, they will wreak havoc. There will be visible damage to leaves and heads if insects can reach your plants, and there’s also the risk of larvae growing around the shallow roots, causing considerable harm and eventually killing your plants.

Harvesting

Your broccoli will be ready to eat once the heads are well developed but the flowers have yet to open. Take the top spears first, before the ones from the sides.

5 surprising broccoli facts:

  • Broccoli was first eaten by the Romans in the 6th century, when they created it by cross-pollinating kale plants.
  • 100g of broccoli contains more vitamin C than an orange, and fewer calories and only 1.7g of sugar- compared to 12g in an orange! That makes it brilliant for anti-aging, healthy skin and eyes, and immunity.
  • Broccoli comes from Italian, meaning the flowering top of a cabbage. It’s a word English people have trouble with- it’s said to be the 6th most commonly misspelled word in English. Go on, close your eyes and give it a try.
  • In a shock 2017 poll by Diabetes UK, broccoli came in as the nation’s favourite vegetable, clocking an impressive 18% of the vote in Scotland and overtaking other regional favourites such as tomatoes (London, not a vegetable) and Brussels sprouts (the North East).
  • There’s a world broccoli eating contest! The current record holder allegedly consumed 453g of broccoli in just over a minute and a half.

broccoli

 

How to grow from a cutting: where do most gardeners go wrong?

 Many gardeners seek to expand the variety in their gardens, and a great way to do this is through cuttings. Free, easy and low effort, it’s the perfect technique to share plants with friends, and to spread the enjoyment of beautiful plants between gardens and gardeners. It’s not just about saving money: just like growing from seed, there’s a real pleasure that comes from raising a plant from a cutting. The process of growing a more developed cutting means a faster result that from seed. However, despite the obvious benefits, there are those who avoid it. Taking cuttings is as easy as snipping some scissors: but then growing the full plant from the cutting you’ve taken is a challenge. Here’s our guide to producing a healthy, flourishing plant from the cutting you’ve taken.

  1. Know your stuff

Taking a successful cutting is all about ensuring you give your new plant the best possible chance. There are lots of decisions you can make to ensure your plant prospers, and there are real differences in the smallest of factors. The season, time of day and location of the cutting you take all play an important role.

The time of the season is important when taking a cutting. This is because you need to ensure your cutting grows its own roots prior to shoots appearing in spring. The best point in the year to remove a cutting will depend on the species of plant. Early spring is ideal for taking softwood cuttings from flowers. Herbs and berry plants should be trimmed later, in mid or late summer, while cuttings from trees and more mature plants should be taken later, in the Autumn. All cuttings are best taken early in the morning, while the plant is still strong from a night of rest and moisture absorption. Bear in mind that younger plants root more easily that older plants.

  1. Be prepared

Your cuttings will flourish with the right care, and it’s vital they get into the conditions they need in time. Trimming part of a plant allows only a fairly small window of time before the part you’re hoping to cultivate begins to wilt. You should refrigerate your cutting to slow decomposition, yet if you’re prepared and in a good position to plant your cuttings straight away, you’ll be able to give your garden’s new addition the best possible chance of prospering. Some vital materials to keep on standby for your cuttings search include:

  • Secateurs, a sharp knife or scissors to take the cutting
  • A clean plastic bag for your cutting
  • Rooting medium
  • Root hormone feed
  • Small pots
  • A covering to keep the cutting warm and protected- for example a clear plastic bag or cloche.
  • Heating pads to ensure consistent temperature and minimise the risk of damage
  1. Take the right cutting

The most effective type of cutting you can take is a nodal cutting- this is a cutting taken from an area between nodes, or leafs, shoots or buds, areas that tend to build up the nutrients you need to promote root growth.

Take a straight cut from a part of the stem not too brittle or too bendy- as this is likely to be the area of the stem with the best balance of carbohydrates and nitrogen.

When the time comes to take your cutting, cut 6-8 inches of plant and remove leafs from the bottom half of its length before planting into a few inches of rooting medium. Keep it in the greenhouse, under a cloche or indoors in a plastic bag (warm but out of direct, strong sunlight, ensuring to allow it to air regularly) to ensure it grows strong enough to put down roots as desired.

  1. Feed and treat it correctly

Keeping your cutting healthy as it grows new roots means it needs the right feed, but it’s not regular fertiliser but rooting hormone that’s required. As with all plants, it’s not simply a question of volume: quality is equally important. Overfeeding your plant on nitrogen for instance will weaken the cutting. Similarly, you need to be careful what you plant your cutting in: soil will contain bacteria that can harm the fragile cutting. Using specialist rooting medium is the best way to ensure you get healthy root growth. Your cutting should be kept warm and well fed until its roots grow and it can be moved into a normal pot. Take care not to shock or damage the delicate cutting, and remove any damaged or dying material from the stem as often as you can.

  1. Move it on

After you’ve planted your cutting in rooting medium, it should take 3-4 weeks for your stem to produce roots. At this point you can move it on to potting out in special potting compost.

Whatever your gardening projects in 2018, we stock everything you need to help your plants prosper in our shop. All our products are rigorously tested on our farm, and we provide great value for money by delivering everything straight to your garden! 

 

How to keep warm while out in the garden

Common sense advice we all need reminding of occasionally!

Whether you’re trying to get your plants through the colder months or giving chilly wildlife a helping hand, you may find yourself heading to the garden. When you do, make sure to keep warm and safe with a good mix of common sense, hot drinks and our winter warmth tips!

The sheds and gardens of Britain won’t have seen much pottering recently- most of us will have been safely hunkering down indoors. But the outdoors sometimes has other plans. From looking after local wildlife to broken guttering to clearing away snow, bad weather sometimes can’t be avoided. When you do venture out, make sure you keep warm to avoid illness or injury as a result of the freezing temperatures.

 

1.Be warm before you go out

Keeping warm is all about preventing your body’s core temperature from falling too far- it will fall, but the higher it is when you set out, and better you’re insulated against heat loss, the longer before you begin to feel the chill. Before you head outside make sure you’re nice and warm to avoid the chilling effects of cold wind. Keeping warm is actually about retaining heat, so put your jumper, coat and shoes near a radiator. Have a hot cup of tea before heading out. Make sure your coat is done up and your hat’s on before leaving the door. These small things all help retain the heat you built up indoors.

 

2.Layer up

Without getting too scientific, it’s not the clothes themselves that keep you warm: it’s the warm air they trap. Therefore the idea of creating as many pockets of warm air as possible, by layering clothes on top of one another, is now widely seen as better for warmth than one very thick outer layer. In addition, it allows flexibility, taking off one layer without removing too large a part of your own protection from the cold. Advanced modern fabrics are excellent for this sort of careful layering, however wool is an excellent choice, warm but breathable. This reduces sweating, which helps keep you warm but dry- very important in cold weather.

 

3. Put the kettle on

Regular hot drinks are a great (and delicious) way to boost your body’s temperature. Just holding a warm cup of tea, coffee or cocoa can make a big difference- as well as being a morale booster when working hard in the frost! Of course- most of us won't need reminding of this fact! Regularly topping up from a thermos is a must for everyone outdoors for longer than a few hours.

 

4. Avoid moisture

There’s nothing worse than being cold…except being cold and wet. Moisture permeates fabric and drops the temperature right down to freezing. Water is far more effective at causing heat loss from the body than air. Warm, waterproof gloves, such as ski gloves, are far better than simple fabric ones that, once wet, will lose all their thermal qualities. Take care as ice may cover puddles which, once disturbed and cracked, might leave an unsuspecting gardener soggy and freezing! If you clothing gets wet, make sure to change it. Similarly, while keeping moving is, of course, a sure way to warm up, building up too much of a sweat can cause your body temperature to drop, as the moisture loses its heat and quickly becomes very cold.

 

5. Try not to get dirty

This might sound like strange advice for gardening- but contact with soil is by far the fastest way to sap heat from your body. Cold soil is icy and very slow to warm up. Only dig, or handle earth with gloves on- otherwise you’ll quickly feel the nip. Wear suitable shoes that won’t pick up cold earth or freezing mud. And remember to clean any tools you've used, as icy mud can cling on and cause damage to metal or fabric.

 

6. Wear a hat

Have you heard that most heat leaves your body through the head? This has been debunked as a bit of a myth, however because of the amounts of blood present, it’s true that both the head, face and chest sense temperature changes more sensitively than other body parts, and, if uncovered, you will lose most heat through the head- but only because it's uncovered when other parts are wrapped up warm. 

        

Common sense advice such as this can make a big difference, from preventing muscles & joints seizing up to reducing illness and, of course, helping maximise time spent keeping your garden from lapsing into frost-ravaged tundra come spring.

The fungal frontier: the undiscovered, simple, delicious world of home-grown mushrooms

mushroom compost & manure for sale, to John Innes compost delivered, so why not check it out today! 

 

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Next Day Delivery is available if the order is placed before 1pm Monday to Friday. Please view the product description to check availability. If you have any delivery concerns, please Contact Us.
OPENING TIMES AND CONTACT INFO

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