As GardenSIte's plant specialist I always keenly anticipate the HTA National Plant Show. This is my chance to visit nurseries, find out what's trending in the horticultural world and source new stock, all from under one roof.
Composting is an entirely natural way of recycling your garden and kitchen waste, transforming it into a nutrient rich material that your plants will love. Nathan James Dodd shows how easy and cheap it is to replicate nature with a compost heap or bin.
Good compost can be used when planting or added as a mulch. It has everything that your plants need and is excellent for improving soil structure and increasing moisture retention.
There's no single way of constructing a compost bin but building one is a fairly simple job. Mine consists of wooden slats (the same width as floor boards) nailed to three posts about 3ft - 4ft high to make up a frame. Make sure there is a gap of about two inches between the boards so that air can circulate. On the fourth side the slats are removable for easy access.
Compost bins are also available online and from garden centres in various designs. Bins made from tough plastic are rot and rodent proof while timber has a more traditional look, attractively designed and manufactured with pressure treated softwood.
When you are adding material to the compost heap remember that everything that has lived can be beneficial, the process is free and demands little effort as bacteria and worms do all the work for you.
Build up the heap with a balanced mixture of materials, not too wet (grass clippings, vegetable waste) or dry (prunings, paper). Nearly everything that is organic can be composted from banana skins to old cotton shirts.
There are some exceptions including diseased or pest infested material, very woody plants (these take too long to break down), the roots of pernicious weeds, foliage of main crop potatoes, cooked kitchen waste and any weeds that still have seeds
After about six months, but depending on the time of year and the materials used, you should be able to harvest the rich brown compost that is packed full of nitrogen, phosphates, potash and other nutrients.
Remember that, if you have two bins, mature compost from one can be used while you are still adding to the other. But whatever method you choose, the end result is less waste going to landfill and a wonderful compost that will greatly enrich your garden soil.
Nathan James Dodd
With gardens becoming smaller, neighbours closer and roads busier, we all suffer from different types of noise pollution. But, as Andy Taylor reports, Forest have now come up with a new kind of fencing that minimizes this nuisance.
Although gardening activity in February may not be so frenetic as during the summer months, there's still plenty to be done and Spring is just around the corner. Nathan James Dodd suggests the jobs you should be tackling in the garden this month.
Dan Everton helps you look after your pond during the February with some tips on the precautions you can take to avoid the water freezing over, and advice on keeping fish at this time of the year.
Heating will be a deciding factor on the variety of plants you are able to grow in a greenhouse and the number of plants that can be kept over winter. Here, Robert Hall goes through the pros and cons of the different types of heating that are available.