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The Great Autumn Clear Up!

The Great Autumn Clear Up!

Glorious autumn leavesWhilst we may not want to let summer go, there’s no denying that autumn has arrived and is comfortably settling in around us. Known as the ‘season of harvest’, we’ll soon be reaping the bounty that we sowed in spring and glorious colour will be coating the trees and paths as the leaves turn and tumble.

Although the colder nights and shorter days will naturally bring plant growth to a halt, there’s still plenty to do in the garden. A little bit of effort before the winter kicks in will go a very long way!

Tidy up pots, planters and borders

Time to clear out summer bedding. Divide & reposition any perennials that need it. Remove as many weeds as possible. Clean up foliage from roses, peonies and any plant with diseased foliage. Remove and dispose of dead plants. Only compost healthy plants, if it showed any signs of disease, it should be disposed of to reduce the risk of re-infecting your garden next year with the same disease.

Mulch the beds

When the beds are tidy, mulch them with a thick layer of well-rotted garden compost or bark chips to keep the soil in good health and protect any slightly tender plants.

Protect from frost!

Wrap tender plants to protect them from harsh winter conditions. Fleece is cost-effective and can be bought by the metre, or we stock a great range of cloches and tunnels here at Orchard Park.

Inspect your trees

Remove any broken branches, making a clean cut close to the trunk. There are lots of long handled pruners, secateurs and pruning saws that are perfect for this task available to buy in store. Remember this is just a tidy up and major pruning should not be done until trees are fully dormant. Check tree ties and stakes on young trees.

Compost sack full of leavesClear the ground

Remove all fallen and rotting fruit from the ground around trees—they will attract pests and diseases which may last through the winter. Don’t leave autumn leaves on the lawn. Instead, rake them up and add to the compost heap in thin layers mixed with other material. Leaves will make good compost quicker if they have been shredded. Use the mower to chop them and pick them up. Give your lawn a final cut before winter and an autumn feed to strengthen roots.

Don’t forget your equipment…

Clean and store away your tools. Remove all traces of soil and if you’ve been trimming diseased plants, disinfect pruners and dry fully before storing away. Spray a little WD40 or light oil on steel tools and scrape the old lawn clippings off the mower.

Plan it and Plant it – this Autumn

Autumn is usually the safest time to plant hardy plants whether they are trees, shrubs, bulbs or perennials. The warm and reasonably moist soil is so welcoming for plant roots; the conditions are just right for encouraging new root growth without the burden of having to support masses of leaves. The result is that the plant is nicely settled before the spring when the pressure is really on and the plant is calling for the maximum amount of water and nutrients to support top growth.

plan-it-plant-itSo plan your project now and then plant it this autumn. Clay soils around this part of the world can be difficult to manage if they are too wet at the end of the winter but with a little added coarse grit and well-rotted compost they are very productive and this is usually another good reason to get things done sooner rather than later. For many folk new to gardening, timing the garden care jobs can be a bit of a mystery.

Lawn care and weed control are good examples but if you can understand what is happening to the plants then the mystery lessens. As temperatures fall, growth rates get slower as the plant prepares for the dormant season. They will want to make sure that their fruits are ripened and dispersed to provide for the next generation, or draw back all the goodness from their leaves to store overwinter and provide for the following spring. Read More

Growing Bulbs

Plant Guides

Bulbs Through the Seasons

It’s planting time again! Hardy plants that get their roots down into the warm, moist soil at this time of the year, get a flying start when the next spring arrives. That goes for evergreen as well as deciduous shrubs, herbaceous perennials and of course bulbs!

You need to plant spring flowering bulbs, including alliums, crocus, tulips and narcissi in Autumn, before the first frost arrives.

Spring is the time to plant most summer-flowering bulbs including gladioli, irises, dahlias, nerines, agapanthus and lilies (which can also be planted in autumn).

Typically, the earlier you buy bulbs, the better the selection and quality, and we have a wide range of great quality bulbs in store now!

Using bulbs, you can create a mass display, add height to a flower bed, try a small clump of a low-growing variety in a border or grow them in pots. All the nourishment for the flower is stored in their bulbous roots. After they have bloomed, many bulbs can be left in the soil to come up again the next year – so simply check the information on the packet and get planting!

 

Read More

Cobb BBQs at Orchard Park

What are Cobb BBQs?

The award winning Cobb BBQ is a true all rounder when it comes to cooking; allowing you to bake, boil, smoke, fry and grill virtually anywhere!  The innovative design means it is cool to the touch on the outside while searing hot on the inside and ready to cook in just 10 minutes when using the patented Cobble Stone.

How is the Cobb made?About_the_Cobb_Image

  1. Dome: made with stainless steel and it has a heat-resistant handle. The holes in the Dome ensure even
    ventilation throughout the cooking process creating an oven affect.
  2. Grill Grid:with an easy to clean Teflon® non-stick coating. Excess fat drains away through the holes and into the moat.
  3. Fire Basket: A secured area for the Cobble Stone or loose briquettes.
  4. Stainless steel moat:catches all excess fat. The moat can also be used for cooking vegetables.
  5. Base: with anti-slip rubber feet, the base remains stable and cool to touch during use.

Fuel for the Cobb BBQ

There are four different fuel types that you can use with the Cobb which are as follows:

COBB COBBLESTONE: This fuel is specifically manufactured for Cobb. It is manufactured from a renewable source – Coconut shell, is quick and easy to light, burns hotter than charcoal briquettes and lasts for approx 2 hrs. (Perfect all rounder for both on plate cooking and general roasting).

ULTRA QUICK: This fuel has the same composition as the Cobblestone and burns for approx 1 1/2 hrs. (Perfect for on plate cooking).

GOOD QUALITY CHARCOAL BRIQUETTES:  For more heat use up to 15 briquettes. For baking use only 4-8 briquettes and keep the dome shaped lid on at all times in order to keep the heat in. Burns for approx 3 hrs. (Does not burn so hot as the Cobblestone but works well especially for those longer cook times).

RESTAURANT GRADE LUMPWOOD: Is a perfectly acceptable fuel source, a full fire basket will burn for up to 2 hrs.

 

How to cook on the Cobb

The Cobb BBQ offers safe outdoor cooking wherever you are whether it’s grilling, roasting, smoking, boiling or frying.  The Cobb’s build in safety features mean that children can now participate in the fun of cooking, making family gatherings an inclusive experience for the whole family.

Family_Cobb

 

 

 

 

It’s Butterfly Season!

Sir David Attenborough 300x300As well as being beautiful to look at, butterflies have an important role to play in the garden as they pollinate flowers.  Butterflies and moths are valuable indicators of a healthy environment and healthy ecosystem.  Areas rich in butterflies and moths are often rich in other wildlife such as earthworms, spiders, molluscs and snails which all have their place within your gardens eco system. As butterflies react very quickly to change in their environment it makes them an excellent biodiversity indicator and a decline in numbers is an early warning sign for other wildlife loses.

Butterfly numbers have decreased in recent years and Sir David Attenborough is calling upon the public to help reverse butterfly decline by taking part in The Big Butterfly Count, the world’s largest butterfly survey.   It was first started in 2010 and fast became the world’s largest survey of butterflies with over 36,000 people taking part in 2016 counting almost 400,000 butterflies and day-flying moths across the UK.   This year’s count runs from Friday 14th July to Sunday 6th August.

It is easy to get involved and counts are welcome from anywhere: parks, school grounds, meadows or even your own garden.  Each count lasts 15 minutes and can be done from one spot or whilst out on a walk.  If you are counting from a fixed position, count the maximum number of each species that you see in a single time (this is to avoid the same butterfly being counted twice by accident).  If you are doing your count out on a walk, total up the number of each butterfly species                                                                                                             that you saw in the 15 minutes.

To record your butterfly count and to download your free butterfly identification chart visit CLICK HERE.

How to attract more butterflies

To encourage more butterflies into your garden you need to provide a welcoming environment by growing the right type of flowers.  Adult butterflies are especially fond of plants with long, tubular flowers that grow in sheltered sunny areas to feed on the nectar.  The butterfly season starts in March and runs right through to October/November time when the frosty weather starts.

Some of the best plants for butterflies are as follows:

Buddleja davidii

This is one of the best known plants for attracting butterflies and is commonly referred to as a ‘butterfly bush’ with fragrant and high nectar flowers.  There are many varieties of Buddleja davidii to choose from and will grow in most soils as long as it is in a sunny position, they will produce blooms throughout the summer and into the autumn.

Verbena bonariensis

This tall perennial has erect, branching stems that grow up to 2meters in height with clusters of small purple flowers from summer to autumn.  Verbena Bonariensis can be grown in most soil types as long as it is well drained and works particularly well in flower borders to add height.

Hebe

Hebes are great evergreen shrubs that attract a wide range of insects including bees and butterflies.  These summer and autumn flowering evergreens are suitable for rock gardens, shrub boarders and ground cover with flowers ranging from white and pink to purple and mauve.  Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies are particularly drawn to Hebes.

Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’

With dark grey-green leaves and upright racemes full of mauve flowers, this bushy evergreen perennial attracts bees, butterflies and moths from March right through to October.  Erysimum can grow in moderately fertile, well drained neutral or alkaline soil in full sun.

You can also attract butterflies to your garden with artificial butterfly feeders which you can buy or make yourself at home.

 

Why not make your own butterfly feeder!

To do this you will need the following:

  • 1 empty clean glass jar with a screw tight lid (make sure it doesn’t leak)
  • 1 Kitchen sponge (about ½ inch thick)
  • Hammer and nail
  • Scissors
  • Saucepan
  • String – x2 pieces 24 inches each
  • Sugar
  • Water

Optional

  • 3 brightly coloured plastic mesh scourers OR Silk flowers (you will also need glue to secure these to the jar)

 

Step 1

Start by making your butterfly food by mixing 10 parts water with one part sugar in a saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved.  Take off the heat and allow to cool.

Step 2

Punch a small hole through the centre of your jar lid using the hammer and nail.  If needed, ask an adult to help with this to avoid any accidental injury.

Using your scissors cut a strip about ¼ inch wide from the kitchen sponge and trim it down so it is roughly one inch long and ¼ inch wide on all sides.

Carefully poke this one inch piece of sponge through the hole in the lid made by the nail.  This is fiddly and has to be done carefully as to not tear the sponge; it should be a snug fit.

Step 3Butterfly Feeder One 275x300

Turn your empty jar upside down and tie both pieces of string together around the top of the jar with double knots opposite to each other as shown in the picture.

There should be two knots, one on the left and one on the right, each with two pieces of string off of each.  Take the two pieces of string closest to you (one from the left and one from the right) and tie another double knot one third of the way up the jar.  Repeat with the other two pieces of sting on the other side.

Repeat the above process with the second lot of knots roughly 1-2cm from the top.  Tie all four pieces of string together in a knot at the top to make it secure.  After that it should look like the picture below.

Butterfly Feeder Two 275x300

Step 4 (optional)

To make your feeder bright and attractive to butterflies you can decorate your jar by placing plastic mesh sponges into your jar before pouring in the sugar solution or by gluing silk flowers to the outside of the jar.

Step 5

Fill your jar with the cooled sugar solution and screw the lid on tightly so it won’t leak.

Finally, find a sunny sheltered spot in the garden to hang your butterfly feeder and wait for the butterflies!

BBQ Season at Orchard Park

Top Tips from Orchard Park for the Perfect BBQ

To celebrate National BBQ Week 2017 (29th May – 4th June) we will have special offers on our range of Weber BBQs and accessories as well as in Lagan Farm Shop butchery.  To kick off BBQ season we have put together a guide on how to create the perfect BBQ!

Get the Right BBQ

This may seem like an obvious statement but having the right tools for the job is essential, which also applies to barbequing!  The debate over which is best, gas or charcoal, is a fierce one but with the help from Weber we hope we can help you decide.

It is recommended that you choose a BBQ which is best suited to your needs.  Charcoal BBQs add to the excitement and anticipation; setting out the coals, lighting them and then waiting until they are up to the perfect cooking temperature is what makes a perfect BBQ for some.  Others prefer the convenience and spontaneity of a gas BBQ as they offer the flexibility to just ‘fire it up’ whenever you like and start cooking almost immediately, adjusting the temperature with simply a twist of a dial.

Here at Orchard Park we have a great range of Weber BBQs (along with accessories) and are able to offer advice to help you choose the right BBQ for you.

Make Your Own BurgersLamb_Cooked_Burger

Our Lagan Farm Shop butchers have been busy making burgers, sausages (available gluten free), rump steak kebabs and chicken skewers as well as marinated sticky BBQ ribs all ready for the grill!  There is no doubt about it, homemade burgers are simply better! If you would like to give making your own a go, we have grass fed beef and lamb mince available from our own farm next door.  There are so many different flavour combinations to choose from achievable by simply adding different seasonings or fresh herbs.  Lamb burgers with freshly grown and picked mint from the garden and sweet chilli beef burgers are always a firm favourite.  Lagan Farm Shop also has a selection of chutneys, pickles, seasonings and sauces.

BBQs Aren’t Just Good For Meat

Contrary to popular belief BBQs aren’t just for the meat-eaters among us and can be used to create a variety of hearty vegetarian meals.  Pizzas, pasta dishes, flat breads and even cakes can all be cooked and baked on the BBQ by using some of the Weber accessories.  Take a look at some great recipes available from Weber, click HERE to open the link.

Finally, Set the Scene

This year make the most of your outdoor space and let your garden be an extension to your living area.  Here at Orchard Park we have a range of quality garden furniture from Cosy Bay and Alexander Rose, along with a range of decorative fencing, aggregates and stoneware, garden lighting, outbuildings and of course plants that can transform your garden into a space for entertaining and relaxing.

So what are you waiting for? Make the most of your summer and get grilling!

Weber

Things to do in the Garden in Spring

Spring has now sprung! There is blossom on the trees and hawthorn hedges are leafing up, along with the cheery blooms of daffodils and primroses enjoying the sunshine between the rain showers. Now is a great time to start sowing and planting outdoors but be mindful there is still the risk of occasional frosts.  Here is a list of things to do in the garden at the end of March and through April:

Keep weeds under control before they get a hold

Weeds can be controlled with the help of weedkillers or by cultural and organic control measures that rely on killing or restricting the weeds physically.  This can be done by removing them manually, smothering weeds with plastic, burning or by using weed barriers.

Protect fruit blossom and non-hardy plants from frost

Most top fruit and soft fruit are very hardy but once they start spring growth the flowers and buds are particularly vulnerable to frosts.  You can protect frost sensitive plants by wrapping in fleece or by using a cloche.

Sow hardy annuals and herb seeds

Many vegetables, annuals, biennials and herbaceous plants can be grown from seed sown outdoors. The secret to success is to prepare a good seedbed, free of weeds and with a crumble-like soil-surface texture.

Sow new lawns and repair any bare patches

Patches in lawns can appear for a number of reasons and when they do, it is always advisable to repair them. Re-seeding or turfing these areas will prevent weeds germinating in the bare patches, and of course, it will look much better. It is best to repair these areas in the spring or autumn.

Top dress containers

Growing plants in containers is a great way to bring life and colour into otherwise dull spots in your garden such as patios, balconies and even window boxes.  Almost any plant can be grown in a container.

Plant summer flowering bulbs

Bulbs are great for adding colour to your garden. Planting summer-flowering bulbs such as lilies and gladioli can provide dramatic, tall blooms that are scented.

Put up some bird boxes

Birds will be looking for suitable places to nest and bird boxes increase their choice of nesting sites. Bird boxes hung on walls tend to be safer from predators such as cats than those hung on trees.  A north or north-east facing position is best as strong sun can make nest boxes too hot and uninviting.

 

national-nest-box-week-workshop

British Yorkshire Pudding Day!

British Yorkshire Pudding Day is celebrated annually on the first Sunday of February.  Traditionally Yorkshire puddings were made in one larger tin that was divided into portions rather than the smaller puddings we know and love today!  They were originally served before the main meal to fill empty stomachs to reduce the amount of meat needed especially during harder times.  Roast beef is the meal that Yorkshire puddings are known to accompany but they are delicious whatever they are served with!

Finding the right Yorkshire pudding recipe can be a challenge as oven temperatures, electric or fan assisted and dietary requirements are all factors.  We have everything you’ll need to make your own Yorkshire puddings here at Lagan Farm Shop (including some delicious Irish Moiled topside and brisket roasting joints from our very own farm next door!) as well as our favourite recipe from Jamie Oliver:

Ingredients

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 100 g plain flour
  • 100 ml milk
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 225°C/425°F/gas 9. Get yourself a cupcake tin and add a tiny splash of vegetable oil into each of the 12 compartments. Pop into the oven for 10 to 15 minutes so the oil gets really hot.
  2. While the oil is in the oven, beat the eggs, flour, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper together in a jug until light and smooth.
  3. Carefully remove the tray from the oven, then confidently pour the batter evenly into the compartments. Pop the tray back in the oven to cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until risen and golden.

Seed Potatoes

Our new season’s range of seed potatoes are now on sale, and are certified Elite Basic Scottish Seed grown from healthy stock and produced in areas free from pest and disease.

Choose from:

1st early, 2nd early and main crop varieties depending on when you want to harvest them.

You can grow-your-own on a small scale every bit as easily as in a larger garden or allotment.

Container growing has some great advantages – you can get an early crop when prices in the shops are high. Container growing produces spuds with loads of flavour and almost non-existent skins so no need to peel.

All you need is a pot or growing bag of some sort, a vegetable or multi-purpose compost and a sunny spot in the garden.

Potato Chitting 325x325All seed potatoes do best if they are given a start by ‘chitting’. This simply means encouraging the seed potatoes to sprout before planting. To do this you need a cool but frost free place with some light where the seed potatoes can be set out and allowed to make shoots of about 2 or 3cm long [that’s an inch]. An egg box or similar works well to hold them upright,

Plant out when the shoots are formed and the weather has improved; traditionally Good Friday was always seen as the best day to plant!

Container growing can start earlier and will give you an earlier crop.

We have loads to choose from:

2kg bags of First early, Second Early and Maincrop varieties at £3.99

10 potato ‘Taster’ packs £1.99

10 potato ‘Special Varieties’ £2.49

Apple Day at Orchard Park

What is Apple Day?

Apple day is a celebration of the English apple and the orchard held annually in October. It is a day, or few days, to recognise the diversity of apples in the United Kingdom and was first started in 1990 by a local arts and environmental charity, Common Ground and launched in Covent Garden market.  The following year in 1991 apple day was launched Nationwide with over 50 events ranging from village hall markets to larger apple roadshows.  Apple day has been celebrated every year since and has grown from a small local event to a nationwide celebration of the humble apple.

200pix-by-250pix-apple-day

 

Apple facts

  • Apples float in water because 25% of their volume is air
  • In Ancient Greece tossing an apple to a girl was a proposal of marriage and catching it was a response of ‘yes’
  • There are more than 8,000 varieties of apples – the largest variety of fruit to exist
  • It takes about 36 apples to create one gallon of apple cider
  • To prevent apples turning brown once sliced add a few squeezes of lemon juice or lime juice.

 

Orchard Café Apple Scone Recipe

600g Stoates Self Raising Flour (plus a small amount for dusting/ rolling out the dough)

500g approx. Bramley Apples Diced (a sweeter apple can be used if preferred)

3 Free Range Eggs

125ml Buttermilk

125ml Milk

80g Butter

50g Caster Sugar

1 Free Range Egg (for glazing)

Method

  1. Heat the oven to 160*c for fan assisted ovens or 180*c/gas mark 4.
  2. Rub the butter and the flour together until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs then add the caster sugar. Make a well in the centre of the dry mix and gradually add the eggs and milk.  Add the diced apple and mix until a dough has formed.
  3. Scatter some of the flour put aside for dusting onto the work surface and tip the dough out onto it.  Sprinkle some more flour onto the dough and your hands and knead very lightly before patting/rolling the dough till it is about 2cm thick.
  4. Cut out 12 scones and place on a baking tray.  Brush tops with beaten egg and cook in the oven for 12 minutes until lightly browned and risen.  Serve with butter and enjoy.

scones


Orchard Park Garden Centre, Shaftesbury Road, Gillingham, Dorset, SP8 5JG
Tel:01747 835544
info@orchardpark.uk.net
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