Saturday
May212011

In the Garden

Not only have I been busy on the allotment, I have also been taking time out over the bank holidays and weekends in the garden. I have been training Mrs McGregor’s roses, redecorating her craft den, maintaining the containers and borders and getting out my garden furniture. However, after all that hard work I noticed the lawn is looking a little worse for wear; I should have paid more attention to it while I was tending to the borders.

It’s time for some damage control to get my lawn looking healthy; I believe there is nothing better than a luscious green lawn, but with winter just gone and the sun being quite hot, my lawn is looking far from a thing of beauty. We haven’t been getting a lot of rain over the past couple of months either, leaving my garden looking quite bare. Lawns tend to usually bounce back after a good shower, so a good watering with the hose is in order.

Mowing and trimming the lawn is becoming a regular activity for me in the garden as grass naturally grows more vigorously when the weather is warm. After mowing I have always found it best to rake up the thatch from cast away clippings and put them into the compost bin; having those nutrients will really help create a healthy compost you can put back into the garden (but if you have treated the lawn, don’t put the clippings with the other compost material).

However, I will also have to feed to lawn with a summer feed to promote a lush green colour and scatter grass seeds for an even ground cover. When I asked Mrs McGregor to fetch some feed from the garage she gave me what we had left over in the autumn feed, good thing I checked the label before distributing it across the lawn! There is a great deal of a difference between the two; an autumn feed contains nitrogen that will encourage vegetative growth over the cold months, whereas a summer feed will help the grass regain its lush green colour.

I have also found that the key to a great looking lawn is all in the aeration; to do this pierce the lawn with a garden fork or aerator, this will encourage invigorating and energetic gardening activity, which alleviates compaction.  

Mr McGregor

Thursday
May192011

Our Summer Season is Launched

Our summer season collection has just been launched on Notcutts.co.uk and what a great range of flowers and garden essentials we have to offer you. Now is the time to get your hanging baskets ready to help dress the walls and fences of the garden and have an abundance of containers brimming with colour and fragrances across the patio. Summer is such a wonderful time, the grass is green, the sun is out and the flowers are filling our borders attracting wildlife to our homes.

When we think of the summer, we can’t help but day dream about the barbecues we will be having with family and friends, getting our hands dirty planting new flowers and watching them blossom to their full glory. And with our summer season collection you can do all of that.

You can find a great range of flowers to incorporate into the garden, amazing deals on a variety of barbecues and so much more, the possibilities are truly endless. When the sun is out who wants be stuck inside when there is so much to do and see in the garden?

If you want to be sure your garden is being put to good use, not only by your family and yourself, but by wildlife, there are some quick and easy steps you can take. Putting up a bird table will encourage birds into the garden, but to keep them visiting over the sunny months why not put up a nest box in a tree and create a safe home for them? Another creature you may want to encourage in the garden is the bee, they are humble insects that many gardeners love to see in their gardens. As they collect pollen and nectar, cross pollination occurs, which can have incredible effects in the borders.

There is so much you can do in your garden, making it a sacred place to relax in; you never get twogardens looking the same, which makes gardening such a fun, personal and rewarding activity .

Notcutts


Tuesday
May172011

Mr McGregor: Veg Of The Month!

I love beetroot, not only for the taste and its versatility (you can make pretty much anything from beetroot; enjoy it in a salad, make a soup and much more), but also because of its colour. Just by grating or slicing small pieces of the crop onto a salad livens up the plate instantly and when you grow your own you can find the crop produces many different patterns and shades. Not only does each and every crop give you something a bit different, you can also experiment with the varieties that are available to you.

Beetroot varieties include:

•    Beetroot Bolivar – Duchy Originals Seeds
•    Beetroot Alto F1 Hybrid
•    Beetroot Kestrel F1 Hybrid Seeds
•    Beetroot Boltardy Seeds and more

Growing your Beetroot (Sow March to July)

•   The best way I have found to grow beetroot is to sow the seeds about 5cm apart in rows 23cm apart. With early sowings protect them with a cloche or fleece, but with later sowing protect with wire netting as this will deter birds away.
•    When the crop is large enough to handle, you can begin to thin them out. However, this is less important if you are growing the beetroot as a salad leaf. If they are growing for the intention for picking, leave about 5cm between each, but if they are being grown for salads and cooking leave about 10cm.
•    It is very important to keep the crops weed free and watered well during dry spells and should be repeated every two weeks.
•    The beetroot should be ready for harvesting between 12 to 16 weeks, but remember to water the rows the day prior.

An appetising Beetroot recipe

You can see how much I love beetroot and the dishes you can create with it, as it was my Veg of the Month in June last year. Last time I shared with you a great beetroot risotto recipe and I must say it went down quite well with the family; they couldn’t get enough of it! So this time around, I am going to share with you how wonderful beetroot is when tossed into a salad, a warm mackerel and beetroot salad. Looking around for inspiration to put a new twist to the much loved English salad, I came across this on Good Food, and it looks delicious, so had to try my hand at it.

Ingredients

450g new potatoes , cut into bite-size pieces         3 smoked mackerel fillets, skinned
250g pack cooked beetroot                                  100g bag mixed salad leaves
2 celery sticks, finely sliced                                 50g walnut pieces
6 tbsp good-quality salad dressing                        2 tsp creamed horseradish sauce

Method

1.    While you are boiling the potatoes until tender (about 12-15minutes) prepare the mackerel fillets and beetroot. You want to flake the mackerel into large pieces and cut the beetroot into chunks.
2.    Drain the potatoes and when allowing them to cool slightly mix the salad dressing and horseradish sauce together in a salad bowl and season. When the potatoes have cooled a little tip them into the sauce.
3.    Add the salad leaves, mackerel, beetroot, celery and walnuts, and toss gently.

Simplistic yet full of flavour,

Mr McGregor

Friday
May132011

The Magic of Gardening  Competition

Find more information on the competition todayThere is nothing better than capturing nature as it begins to flourish and breathe fresh life into our gardens. So this summer we are giving you the opportunity to share your photographic flare with a camera and capture something gardenrific. It’s time to get your creative caps on and come up with a photograph that will blow us away, and in return we have some amazing prizes to offer you.

On hand to help judge and present the prizes will be British gardening writer, Peter Seabrook and TV presenter, Christine Helen Walkden. They will each be looking for imaginative and inspiring images that perfectly illustrate magical moments in and around the garden.

HOW TO ENTER: All photographs will be accepted from May 16th 2011

There are two categories to this extraordinary competition; one for adults and one for under 18’s. Entering is easy – simply visit www.notcutts.co.uk for more information.

Closing date for receipt of all entries is Friday 12 August 2011. Winners will be announced no later than 1st September 2011.

THE PRIZES:

So you have heard what the competition is about and how you can enter. Now, here comes what you are wanting to hear; the prizes:

Adult Category:

1st Prize – The best adult entry will win a prize that is worth £1,000! It comprises of a top of the range digital camera and £500 worth of Notcutts products.

Runners up – The runners up will receive £50 worth of Notcutts plants that will help you turn your outdoor space into a colourful haven for you to enjoy.

Under 18’s Category:

1st Prize – The best under 18’s entry will win a compact digital camera, now that is sure to help you become a professional photographer in no time.

Runners up – The runners up will receive £25 worth of Notcutts vouchers to spend.

For more information and full terms and conditions visit www.notcutts.co.uk

Good Luck, we can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Notcutts



Wednesday
May112011

On the Allotment

April was a busy month for me, I had been sowing my spinach, broccoli, carrots and lettuces, which will be harvested later this month and I also got round to planting my potato plants. My allotment is looking quite healthy. Over the last couple of months I have been sowing and tending to my peppers, tomatoes, onions, leeks, garlic and calabrese and they are all growing nicely.

Already my allotment is producing some great crops that soon will be dug out of the ground, washed, cooked and served to the family. That is what I love about growing my own veg, it is so rewarding to see your seedlings become food that everyone enjoys. My son still can’t get over how a seed can turn, over time, into the food on his plate and he loves to come to the allotment with me to see how the crops are doing. He gave me a helping hand with the tomatoes we are growing in the garden and they are nearly ready to be picked, we’re just waiting for them to turn red, which he’s very excited about.

Now that this month is settling in, I can’t believe it is May already, where has the time gone? I will be getting myself down to the allotment to sow some more delicious crops for everyone to enjoy. I have chosen to grow beetroot, French beans, pumpkins (as I forgot last year, I wasn’t a very popular father at Halloween) and some more lettuces to keep up with the demand for salads.

Beetroot is my Veg of the Month this time round and I have a great recipe for you to try out when your crop is ready to be harvested, so keep coming back.

Mr McGregor