Showing posts with label soil. Show all posts
Showing posts with label soil. Show all posts

The Beechgrove Garden ep.24 2017

  The Beechgrove Garden is a blaze of early autumn colour and Jim and Carole show off some of the very best for this time of year from dahlias to hydrangeas. Scone Palace Gardens are overrun with rabbits and deer.


  At the start of the series, we saw head gardener Brian Cunningham setting up an observation to see what methods, if any, work to deter them and to find out if there really are rabbit-proof plants. Brian pulls a rabbit out of a hat with some surprising results.


The Beechgrove Garden ep.23 2017



It is hedge-clipping time at Beechgrove and Jim, Carole and George trim their way around the garden. Chris finishes the planting in the heather garden to help create the windswept, top-of-the-mountain look, adding a range of tough grasses and ferns. From prodigious parsnips to dinner plate-sized dahlias, Jim visits the showers and growers at the Dundee Flower and Food Festival. Earlier this year, the Beechgrove team visited some of the entrants to the show to see how preparations were going. Jim catches up with them again at the show to see if their labours have borne fruit.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.23 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.23 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.22 2017



 The whole Beechgrove team are on the road again, this time to the Fife county town of Cupar. Renowned for its award-winning floral displays, the Cupar in Bloom team have invited Beechgrove to come and take a look at their efforts, as well as hosting a Beechgrove Gardeners' Question Time in the Corn Exchange. Jim, Carole, George and Brian attempt to answer as many Cupar gardening questions as possible. The team also visit some of Cupar's outstanding gardens and tee off with a visit to Elmwood Golf Course.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.22 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.22 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.21 2017

 Jim takes a final tally and taste-test of tomatoes in the greenhouse. Carole is in Ardersier for Vegetable Garden on a Budget. Carole catches up with Mari Reid for harvest and a picnic on the beach, and to hear how much three families have saved and gained by growing their own.


 Tourists and townspeople often stop to admire the front garden of James Findlay in Carluke. Jim joins the crowd and James explains how he took over his neighbour's garden to increase the kerb appeal in Carluke.
The Beechgrove Garden ep.21 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.21 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.20 2017

They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Well, this week in the Beechgrove Garden, Jim and Carole munch their way through the veg plot as they taste-test turnips, a new broad bean and some blight-resistant potatoes.


Chris takes a look at the new rose garden and has a new take on some age-old remedies for common rose problems. George visits the grand Drummond Castle Gardens near Crieff in Perthshire. The formal garden and parterre are among the oldest in Scotland and reputedly some of the finest in Europe.
The Beechgrove Garden ep.20 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.20 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.19 2017

  The whole team travel deep into Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Sunset Song country, to the Howe of the Mearns village of Arbuthnott. For anyone who drives the A90, the red clay soils of one of the most fertile and productive areas in the country will be familiar and are the dominant feature of the area.


  Jim, Carole, George and Chris explore the area horticulturally and also solve some gardening problems for the gardeners of Arbuthnott gathered in the Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Centre for a Q&A.
Jim and George visit one of the oldest gardens in Scotland at Arbuthnott House, while Carole visits the contemporary gardeners of Milltown Community.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.19 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.19 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.18 2017

In the Beechgrove Garden, Carole and George have a tough job of taste testing the new super-sweet tomatoes and thin-skinned cucumbers in the tender veg polytunnel. Jim visits Glasgow Botanic Gardens - now in their 200th year of existence - to see how the new young gardeners of Glasgow are being trained through a unique apprenticeship scheme.


George is in his horticultural element as he visits Rosa Steppanova in Lea Garden at Tresta on Shetland. This extraordinary garden is 12 hours and 200 miles by sea from Beechgrove, and yet it is an astounding display of plants from all around the world.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.18 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.18 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.17 2017

Scotland's favourite gardening programme.


In the Beechgrove garden, Jim and Carole enjoy a red cabbage success story. Chris plants a range of hostas in the Beechgrove cottage garden. Since hostas are usually tasty morsels for slugs and snails, Chris also tries out a range of preventative measures. George visits Fiona and Euan Smith's garden at Kierfiold House on Orkney. The garden is a lesson on how creating shelter allows for planting in exposed conditions and is home to a large collection of hardy geraniums.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.17 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.17 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.16 2017

The whole Beechgrove team are on the ferry to the Orkney Isles this week. Famously a place of only two seasons, 18 hours of light or 18 hours of dark, with constant winds but mild and with little or no frost.


The assumption always is that nothing much grows on Orkney in those conditions, but Jim, Carole and George find that is far from the case as they discover the determined gardeners of Orkney and how much they have achieved, to the extent that there is a thriving Orkney Garden Festival across the islands.
Jim, Carole and George host a Beechgrove Gardeners' question and answer session in Kirkwall and visit a host of good gardens on South Ronaldsay.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.16 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.16 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.15 2017

 Life is a way more than a bowl of cherries at Beechgrove this week as Jim and Carole harvest bucketfuls of ripe cherries in the fruit house.


Carole visits two passionate showers and growers who are entering the Dundee Flower Show. Alistair Gray in Brechin is a show vegetable grower and winner of the 2016 World Potato Championship, while Bruce McLeod in Meigle grows champion chrysanthemums.
Jim visits Philip and Marianne Santer at Langley Park near Montrose. With little previous gardening experience, they have reclaimed the long-neglected garden to create a haven of colour. To their amazement and delight, the garden has been attracting visitors to what they call their little piece of paradise.
The Beechgrove Garden ep.15 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.15 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.13 2017

 In the Beechgrove Garden, Jim takes a look at progress of his favourite cutting flowers and adds an easy staking system to the beds to keep flower heads up.


Last week, Brian visited Pitmedden Gardens to see how they deal with the threat of box blight on their six miles of hedging. This week he is experimenting with a range of slow-growing, small-leaved evergreens as potential alternatives to using box.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.13 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.13 2017

Carole visits David and Laura Gill in Dunblane to see the garden that David has created from scratch over the last eight years. The garden's centrepiece is a beautiful pond that provides a floral oasis of calm in a busy life.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.12 2017

  In the Beechgrove Garden, Jim is growing tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers side by side in his domestic-sized greenhouse. They shouldn't work together, but with limited space you have to make it work, and Jim is determined to find a way.


With pruning saws at the ready once again, Carole and George take the Woodland Garden in hand as, at the moment, you can't see the wood for the trees.
 Brian visits the meticulous Pitmedden Gardens in Aberdeenshire to find out how head gardener Susan Burgess tackles the problem of box blight, with the six miles of clipped box hedging to maintain.
The Beechgrove Garden ep.12 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.12 2017


The Beechgrove Garden ep.11 2017

In the Beechgrove Garden it's fire and water as Carole and George don waders and climb into the pond to clear the blanketweed, while Jim also wages war on weeds with a new flamethrower.
Brian and George plant up a new alpine wall with blue and white plants that will create sky beyond the alpine mountains. Carole is in the water again as she visits Julia Young's unique garden in a quarry at Blebo Craigs, near Strathkinness, as Julia has a small rowing boat to weed and plant around the quarry.

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What a beautiful summer’s day at Beechgrove this week and in the low maintenance garden, Jim, Carole and George were admiring the Viburnum and Azalea both flowering at once, illustrating what Carole had remarked on earlier in the season that there seemed to be a concertina effect with everything flowering at once.
At the start of the series we remarked on the concertina effect of bulbs – crocuses, daffodils and
some tulips all flowering at the same time. In the Driveway Garden, George claimed bragging
rights for the beautiful Meconopsis flowering there which he had planted last year. As well as the more common ‘Lingholm varieties’, there was also Meconopsis ‘Slieve Donard’ of Irish origin named after the mountains there. The variety ‘Mildred’ which is a slightly paler blue form has a number of different flower heads on one stem.
‘Marit’ is a white variety. George explained that after flowering they need to be fed. A thick layer of wellrotted farmyard manure or leaf mould should be put around the base of the plants to a depth of at least 4” They like cool, moist conditions. The seed heads should also be removed as we don’t want them to set seed. This means they will bulk up and flower for next year.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.11 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.11 2017

The Beechgrove Garden ep.7 2017

In the Beechgrove Garden, it's tomato time as Jim and Carole both start off their own tomato trials. Brian Cunningham is back at Beechgrove and he continues with the next phase of development for the alpine garden. George packs his loppers and cuts a dash to see Sheila Harper in Banchory. Sheila's garden boasts two old, unruly apple trees which George brings back down to earth.

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Jim is visiting the inspirational Firpark School in Motherwell and finds that horticulture is at the very root of the school's success. Firpark has 150 pupils with a range of additional support needs, and pupils learn to take produce from fork to fork and from garden to bistro.

Pruning Apple Trees Sheila Harper in Banchory is living in a rented property with two magnificent, old and unpruned apple trees which now crop way above her head. Once upon a time they were trained as espaliers. George thought that given the size of trunk and size of branches, they may be somewhere between 70-90 years old. George carried out some very necessary pruning work to both balance and prolong the life of the trees. The top growth was reduced by around 1/2.
The results looked severe but George reassured Sheila that the trees would recover and that the shoots which would grow from the cut branches would need to be pruned back to half their length and thinned out next year.
The trees were just coming into growth at the time of pruning which was ideal as it gave George and Callum an indication of where it was possible to thin out and cut back the branches. George advised Sheila that the trees has just had a major operation and recommended feeding the trees with blood, fish and bone around the base in spring and autumn and keeping them watered to aid their recovery.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.7 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.7 2017


The Beechgrove Garden ep.6 2017


A couple of year ago, Chris added some standard weeping roses to the side border of what was then the cutting garden. This week Chris is adding to the collection of roses using the 4 central rectangular beds. First though – some pruning of the now 2 year old weeping standard roses and the reason for leaving the pruning so late is so that the long stems have time to produce some growth and be weighed down so you get an idea of what wood to prune out (where the previous flowers were) and that which is dead diseased or frosted in this case.


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Use sharp clean secateurs so as not to spread disease and take off the tips about 1cm above a good healthy bud, then go through the entire canopy. On the main trunk was a shoot of the root stock – the dog rose, this needs to be taken out as they would become way too vigorous and take over the plant.
Christhen fed them with a specialist rose feed and then watered it in. A layer (2 – 3cm deep) of well-rotted horse manure was then added around the base. In the four beds in the middle of the garden, Chris wanted to show some variation and diversity of types of rose but have a coherent theme.
The centre of beds were planted with species roses to provide height with varieties of ground covers and others to provide a kaleidoscope of colours and scents. The preparation of the beds for new roses is paramount. Roses like free draining soil, but a firm soil and ours was a bit too light and fluffy which would allow root rock, so to make the soil a bit heavier, Chris added well-rotted horse manure to the beds. This was forked in and the beds were tramped over the beds to firm up the soil to give the roots a good firm hold in the soil. To the planting holes he also added seaweed (kelp) meal and mycorrhizal fungi. Chris was planting the roses quite deep so the shoots are coming from ground level, as the current thinking is to plant roses slightly deeper as this will keep the roses in a healthy condition. It is essential in the first few months after planting to keep them really well watered.
At a later date, there will be under planting of herbaceous plants and bulbs to complement. We ordered our plants bare root, which is a cheaper way of adding to your plant collections and here in
Aberdeen we are just about at the end of the bare root season. Elsewhere you may have to buy container raised plants. If you are not ready to plant then you can heel them in to keep the roots as moist as possible. Heel right up to the crown of the plant. The roots will be vulnerable to drying out so keep them moist until you are ready to plant.
Chris featured a few favourite varieties:
A large centrepiece large shrub rose is Roseraie de L’Hay, with a wonderful fragrance. Very large, double flowers of rich crimson-purple with contrasting stamens. A vigorous, dense shrub. Completely reliable.
• Repeat Flowering
• Highly Fragrant
• Ideal for poor soil
A modern English Shrub rose is Munstead Woodc combining the old-fashioned bowl shaped roses with a sweet fragrance and long flowering of the modern rose. Ground cover is Kent, one of the County Series and a really good ground cover rose with double button white blooms. A new floribunda is Burgundy Ice. This is a relatively unusual plant derived from a well known rose called ‘Iceberg’ – This new one has all the vigour of Iceberg but with a burgundy tint.
These roses came from David Austin roses, and the information above is from their catalogue.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.6 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.6 2017


The Beechgrove Garden ep.5 2017

Jim is planting a selection of swedes and turnips for later in the year.Meanwhile, Chris is attempting to create a rose garden at Beechgrove, but how will it cope with exposed Scottish conditions?

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Carole is in Ardersier for Vegetable Garden on a Budget, with recent research suggesting that a family of four could save roughly £1,500 a year growing their own vegetables. Mari Reid lives and gardens in Ardersier and has come up with a clever way of helping others to grow their own by using community-minded land or garden share.

The Beechgrove Garden ep.5 2017
The Beechgrove Garden ep.5 2017


Growing Tomatoes in Containers or Raised Beds

Tomatoes are the most popular crop grown by home gardeners worldwide, and perhaps, the most difficult plant to achieve consistent results year over year.Tomatoes require a porous soil mixture that permits good drainage, allows good root growth and adequate oxygen in the root zone.
Balanced nutrition consisting of:
Major Nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K)
Secondary Nutrients: Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg), and Sulfur (S)
Micro nutrients or Trace Elements: Boron (B), Chlorine (CI), Copper (Cu), Iron (Fe), Manganese (Mn), Molybdenum (Mo), and Zinc (Zn)
The proper soil PH to enable our plants to extract the nutrients we have provided to the soil, according to experts, is around 6.0 to 6.8. With neutral PH at 7.0, then tomatoes prefer to grow in slightly acidic soil.
Often times, we achieve an excellent soil mix by adding all of our primary, secondary and micro nutrients. We care for our plants daily; yet still have spindly plants, watery fruits, and even experience blossom end rot, where we achieve beautiful fruits but they rot away on the blossom end. This is caused by the plants inability to take up Calcium.



(One successful container tomato grower in Nashville, TN USA.)

A closer look at Calcium (Ca):

Calcium is essential for many plant functions, including:
Proper cell division and elongation
Proper cell wall development to provide strong cell walls to resist disease
Nitrate uptake and metabolism to support plant and fruit growth
Enzyme activity to enable photosynthesis and development of plants sugars
Starch metabolism in plant leaves
With Calcium playing such a central role to our tomato crop, it's critical to understand how to make Calcium available to our plants.

A brief explanation:

Calcium is found in adequate quantities in most soils formed from limestone (Calcium Carbonate) or Gypsum (Calcium Sulphate). The difficulty is that 98% of the Calcium found in soils is not in a soluble form and cannot be taken up by plant roots. Additionally, as soil PH increases, insoluble Calcium may bind with Phosphorus, creating Ca-P compounds that are not readily available to plants.
In many cases, we are advised to add egg shells, lime, gypsum, or other forms of insoluble calcium to our plants with mixed results, particularly for pot-grown plants.
So, what is the answer to solving the Calcium conundrum in tomatoes:
Calcium Nitrate is a completely soluble form of Calcium and Nitrogen, which can be mixed with water and applied to the plant's root zone similar to other liquid fertilizers.
In emergencies, it can be mixed and applied as a foliar spray to provide a more immediate boost to the plants.
In its soluble form, the Calcium can be immediately taken up by the plant. The Nitrogen component is converted by microorganisms in the soil to ammonium. The ammonium then becomes the source of plant nitrogen for amino acid formation, and thus, all plant proteins.
Bottom line: add the forms of Calcium your prefer to the root zone, but help insure the results of your tomato crop, by utilizing a fertilizer that contains a soluble form of Calcium and Nitrogen throughout the growth of the plant.

DIY Potting Soil



 The basic soil-less potting mix found on big box shelves is composed mainly of Sphagnum Peat Moss some perlite and often contains fertilizer. It can become very expensive particularly for those gardening in containers.
Gardener's can mix their own at lower cost in order to grow more plants.
Here is a widely recommended seed and potting mix that can be adjusted to one's particular climate and plant needs.

Basic Mix with Compost

2 parts well composted manure and other compost. Finely screened mushroom compost is an excellent option.
2 parts Sphagnum Peat Moss or Coconut Coir (Either retain significant moisture. In cooler slower drying conditions it may be wise to lessen the amount of either in the mix.)
1 part Perlite
1 part Vermiculite
Perlite and vermiculite are both good at retaining water, but vermiculite acts more like a sponge, holding much more water than perlite and offering less aeration for the plant roots. Perlite retains water because of its large surface area with nooks and crannies available for water storage. Because it is porous it allows excess water to drain more readily than vermiculite and improves soil aeration. In cooler slower drying conditions it may prove wise to lessen the amount of vermiculite and add more perlite and/or sharp sand in the mix. Sharp sand (builders sand) maintains looseness of the mix and aids drainage.

Basic Mix with the Addition of Nutrients

Add ½ cup each per every 8 gallons of mix:
½ cup Bone Meal (Phosphorous)
½ cup Dolomitic Limestone (raises soil PH and provides calcium and magnesium)
½ cup Blood Meal or Soybean Meal or Dried Kelp Powder (Nitrogen)
 The single greatest cause of plant failure is over watering and the resulting growth of bacteria and fungus. Select seed trays that can be watered from the bottom which prevents disturbing the seeds. Be sure to remove excess water from the watering tray once the soil is saturated.
Remember to sprinkle cinnamon on the surface of the seed tray after planting to deter gnats and kill fungal spores.

Costa's Garden Odyssey ep.15 ( Series 1 ep.2)

Costa visits a garden that has brought healing to a fractured community in Sydney's Macquarie Fields. He completes his drainage solution for a family with major water issues, as well as visiting the Heritage Apple Festival to taste 200-year-old apple varieties.


Costa is a man of the people. A man who can connect with all. His infectious character and passion for his subject puts people at ease and makes them shine. A Landscape Architect with an all-consuming passion for plants and people - Costa knows how to find the best in both of them, and takes great pleasure in bringing them together. Costa’s Garden Odyssey is a groundbreaking magazine style series that allows this unique Greek Garden Guru an opportunity to do what he does best - spread his green wisdom while communicating with people and celebrating cultures and community in a way never seen before on Australian television.

Costa's Garden Odyssey ep.15 ( Series 1 ep.2)
Costa's Garden Odyssey ep.15 ( Series 1 ep.2)

Costa's Garden Odyssey ep.14 ( Series 1 ep.1)

The odyssey begins with Costa visiting a community garden in Brisbane's CBD to learn about their groundbreaking sustainable practices. Costa also examines a major water issue at a house built on a swamp and travels out to the unique Chinchilla Watermelon Festival.


Costa is a man of the people. A man who can connect with all. His infectious character and passion for his subject puts people at ease and makes them shine. A Landscape Architect with an all-consuming passion for plants and people - Costa knows how to find the best in both of them, and takes great pleasure in bringing them together. Costa’s Garden Odyssey is a groundbreaking magazine style series that allows this unique Greek Garden Guru an opportunity to do what he does best - spread his green wisdom while communicating with people and celebrating cultures and community in a way never seen before on Australian television.

Costa's Garden Odyssey ep.14  ( Series 1 ep.1)
Costa's Garden Odyssey ep.14  ( Series 1 ep.1)