Sowing a new lawn from seed…

Last summer (summer of 2018) we decided to rip up the old lawn that was full of moss and thatch and weeds and sow a brand new lawn from grass seed.

The old lawn covererd quite a large area (around 140m²) so we hired a turf cutter to get it up. We also took up a path to extend the lawn further onto an unused area of the garden, to make the total area for the new lawn around 210m²

After getting up all the turf, we then hired a rotavator to loosen all the existing soil

In order to get a consistant flat surface, we attached some rope to a heavy plank of wood and dragged this back and forth in alternating directions over the soil until it was completely flat.

Once the area was flat, we added 30 tonnes of fresh topsoil to give a good depth of 10-15cm for the new grass seed to establish strong roots. The below photo shows the first 10 tonnes being added…

We raked out each of the piles of soil and went back over the area with the plank to even it out and create a flat surface after adding each 10 tonne load.

When the area was finally ready,  we put down some growmore fertiliser using a spreadser before adding the seed a couple of days later using the spreader, then spinkled a light layer of topsoil on the surface.

We positioned two sprinklers to ensure the whole area was watered twice a day for the first week or so, then once a day after that, in the event that we did not get any rain. We also hung some foil trays on string across the lawn area to help deter pigeons from stealing the seed.

The photo below shows the growth just 16 days after sowing the seed

The below photo shows the lawn after it’s first cut, just 20 days after sowing the seed!

The general advice online is to wait 8 weeks until the grass reaches 3 to 3.5 inches before cutting for the first time, however it was already up to 4-5 inches in under 3 weeks, so we thought it better not to wait any longer!

The grass seed we used is called ‘Superstar Back Lawn’ from The Grass People. I researched a lot before purchasing and found it to give the most hard-wearing, lush and green lawn. You can buy it direct from Amazon (https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B…). I purchased the 20kg bag to do around 210m², as I sowed it at 70g per M2 rather than the recommended 50 per M2, which helped to produce a thicker lawn quicker. Sowing a bit extra also helped to offset any seed lost to hungry pigeons!

It was a long gruelling job but the end result was definately worth the effort.

 

 

 

The Wildlife Pond…

The garden originally had a substantial pond at the edge of the lawn under a large oak tree. The pond had been badly neglected, so we decided  to fill it and have a smaller pond better situated elsewhere  in the garden.

We settled on a 500 litre preformed pond, which spend the next year stuck in the shed. When we bought the pond we were told we could have a few small goldfish in, my only concern is the Heron, as it has taken a couple of my father in law’s fish I don’t really want to cover the pond with a net. After much planning where the paths and lawn are going to go, we decided have to pond the left hand side of the greenhouse.

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By placing the pond near the vegetable patch and strawberry cage the hope is that it will attract frogs & toads who will feast on any nearby slugs and snails!

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We dug out for the pond over a weekend and backfilled any gaps, then filled the pond with rain water from the water butts. Fortunately it rained for a couple of days which filled them back up quite quickly.

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Now for the fun part, we  went to our local garden centres to choose some plants and have a look at the fish. I’ll add a list below of what plants we’ve bought so far. I’ve yet to choose a Water Lily, I want something really beautiful and special. I’ve bought a couple of Lotus seeds from eBay which have to be left in water to germinate – I don’t hold out much hope but it will be interesting to see if they work!

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Hopefully this weekend we can go and pick a couple of fish and a few more taller plants for the centre of the pond. We will be edging the pond with slate chippings and adding ground trailing plants around the pond.

Pond plants purchased so far: –

  • Dutch Rush
  • Miniature Reedmace
  • Creeping Jenny
  • Red Water Lobelia
  • Orange Peel Plant
  • Monkey Musk
  • Ragged Robin
  • American Purple  Water Iris
  • Water Forget Me Not

Tomatoes…

Tomatoes are one of the easier and the most rewarding plants there is to grow.
I first started to grow tomatoes back on 2013. I had two Money Makers bought from the local allotment. Since then I’ve been growing several varieties. Walking into the greenhouse on a warm afternoon smelling their beautiful scent is bliss.
This year I sowed the seeds in the middle of February and placed them in an heated propagato. Once they have germinated they are left in a warm room until it’s warm enough to go out into the greenhouse. I don’t leave the plants in greenhouse overnight until temperature stops regularly dropping below 10 degrees. If we are forecast to have a cool night I’ll leave the heater on and cover the plants with a fleece to keep the temperature over 10 degrees.
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When potting the tomatoes into their final pots I add a small amount of Epsom salts to the soil. Once the plant has started to flower I add 1 tablespoon per 5 litres of water for about 4ish plants in every other feed, plus a general tomato feed. This helps with magnesium deficiency. I had wonderfully healthy plants last year and I believe this was down to Epsom Salts.
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This year we’re growing even more tomatoes than ever before – 13 plants. We hope to save some of the seeds from one of this year plants called Big Red. A couple of years ago we had fantasicly large red juciy tomaotes from this plant. Unfortunetly we can no longer get hold of the seeds, so saving the seeds is our only option if want to enjoy these fantastic tomatoes next year.
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Happy tomato growing!

Tulips…

I’ve never before felt the joy Tulips can bring to the garden. This is the first year I’ve grown Tulips (or any sort of cut flowers for that matter). When we bought the house most of the garden was covered with shrubs, which we are slowly removing to plant many beautiful flowers.

The first Tulips started to appear 4 weeks ago, I eagerly waited for them to open – I wasn’t disappointed! A beautiful bunch of bright red flowers were open ready to greet me one sunny morning.

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I bought a galvanized trough to plant the Tulips in next year. These will be planted quite deep and left in all year round. Once the Tulips have died back I can then use the trough for cut flowers. This year I was only able to plant the bulbs in pots along side some Daffodils. I’ve not yet decided where I’m going to put the trough, but it needs a permanent home for sure.

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I reluctantly cut four Tulips to bring into the house, I felt really rotten cutting them. They looked really beautiful lapping up the sunshine. Hopefully next year I’ll have double the amount and wont feel so bad cutting them.

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The Daily Slog…

Taking the tender plants to and from the greenhouse daily is starting to become a bit of pain in the bum. A couple of nights ago, I remembered I’d left them in the greenhouse. Grabbing a torch, I headed down to the greenhouse in my pyjamas and slippers, hoping the neighbours wouldn’t see me going to rescue my babies! Luckily I’ve not yet forgotten to bring them in.

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Last year I made the mistake of leaving Tomatoes in the greenhouse far too early. The leaves on the plants started to turn a purple colour, this is due to the fluctuation in temperature and them being exposed to the cold too early. Needless to say it didn’t damage the tomatoes. This year I’ll just stick to harden them off in the greenhouse and taking them in at night until the cold nights have passed.

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I’m growing several varieties of Tomatoes. We can comfortably fit 10 tomato plants inside the greenhouse (although I could fit more if I didnt have the staging for the other plants). I had great success last year growing a Winter Butter Squash vertically up a piece of old metal wire. This week I cheated and bought a red pepper plant. Last things to be growing in the greenhouse will be the melons, which I’ve also grown vertically in the past, although they didn’t seem to ripen. I don’t seem to be having much luck this year either as I’ve planted several but they don’t appear to be germinating.

Strawberry cage…

We love home grown strawberries, we’ve been growing them for the past 3 years. Our local Lidl store was selling six plants for £2.99, so whist I was at work my husband went and bought five packs! We already have 18 runners which I planted up towards the end of last year, in addition to the plants they were grown from.

As much as we love strawberries, the amount we had posed a bit of problem as we didn’t  know where to put them all. I didn’t fancy having them taking up so much room in the greenhouse. We thought about planting them in the galvanized trough, but it was bought with the intention of using it for cut flowers. I then remembered Lavender & Leeks had made two wooden strawberry cages. I showed the picture to my husband and the following evening we were buying timber!

Any DIY project we start, my Father in Law normally helps us (we have him to thank for doing most of the work renevating our house) so this time we wanted to see if we could do it ourselves. Putting all our DIY lessons into pratice, we made the main body of the cage by screwing together lengths of 1800mm x 47mm x 22mm timber, cutting them in two for the width and into three for the vertical pieces. We then made the lid in two halves and added the hinges to attach them on.

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The next job was to attach some chicken wire to the inside of the wooden frame… Nearly 500 staples later and we had it finished!

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We’re over the moon with the finished cage, it’s turned out even better than we imagined (all those DIY lessons surely did come in use). My husband was thinking about making a second frame after the success of making the first one, although attaching the wire was very time consuming.

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The cage measures approximately 6ft x 3ft x 1.5ft. The timber is pressure treated but we gave it another coat of preservative just in case and to coat the edges that we had sawn to size.

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Hopefully the chicken wire will prevent the squirrel from stealing the strawberries this year!