Spring into action!
After a long, cold winter, spring is finally starting to make an appearance and Easter is just around the corner. Many things can be sown or planted out in the garden now, and those that can't will be happy in the greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill. We've got all the kit you will need to get this growing season off to a great start so it's time to get into the garden!
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If you are fond of growing your own vegetables, and have been organised enough to start them off from seed, then chances are that by now your sheds, greenhouses and windowsills are full of seed trays and propagators full of young plants and seedlings.
If you are like us, then every available surface is being used to full capacity and it’s exciting to see so many seeds successfully germinating and forcing their shoots upwards. However, germination is just the start of the long process of growing your own, and many pitfalls are along the way. Here are a few tips to keep your young plants healthy before planting them out:
- Protection - Nights can be cold and frosty outside in the greenhouse, and even in an unheated outhouse or utility room you might find the cold weather will prove fatal for your young plants, so do be prepared to wrap them up a little or bring them inside in the warmth at night. A layer of fleece is ideal, but don’t let it rest on your easily-damaged seedlings.
- Watering - Seedlings must never be allowed to dry out totally. Check the compost on a daily basis and be prepared to water using a watering can with a fine rose attached. It’s advisable not to use rainwater for young plants because of the risk of impurities causing disease. We like to water our seedlings from underneath and have found these Garland Self Watering Propogators are fantastic for keeping small plants constantly watered - the odd weekend end away doesn't cause a problem either!
- Pricking out - Give your seedlings room to grow by pricking them out once they have established. If you don’t do this they will become so crowded in their trays and pots that they will become starved of light and nutrients and then begin to malform as they struggle for survival. Use a small dibber to gently loosen them from the compost and then holding the leaves gently transfer them to their own pots or cell trays. Damaging roots or stems at this stage will most likely prove fatal so do take care. A small dibber is perfect for pricking out and comes as part of the Potting and Seedlings Tool Pack. The neat size of these tools makes them ideal for working on a smaller scale. The pack includes a double ended dibber and a small fork.
- Potting up - If you have sown seeds in individual cells – like rootrainers or the 12 or 24 cell self-watering propagators, then they are ready to be potted up when their cells have filled up with roots. Gently remove the whole plant with its rootball intact, either by opening up the cell or pushing it up from the base. If the weather is warm and the risk of frost has passed, then your plants are ready to brave the outside world, either straight in the ground or in vegetable planters. Although some will need the heat of being under glass in a greenhouse. Once outside think carefully about irrigation needs as the summer progresses and don’t forget plant supports – such as ring ties, or soft tie or plant halos if needed.
It’s the ultimate luxury vegetable, with a tantalisingly short picking season and a frustratingly long growing time but those long green fingers will surely repay your patience in the end.
If you are thinking of growing asparagus you need to be in it for the long haul. It will take at least two years before your spears will be ready to harvest and once planted they will be around for 20 years or more. Asparagus need a lot of space in well drained soil so are ideal for allotments or raised beds with plenty of sun and some protection from the wind. For once it’s a vegetable that doesn’t like containers or shade – if you’ve a small garden or a heavy clay soil then your attentions are better off spent elsewhere.
March and early April is the best time to plant out crowns, so you’ve still got time this year if you act quickly.
Dig the ground over thoroughly, removing any perennial weeds you find, then scatter some general fertiliser in to the soil and rake it level. The DeWit 12 tine rake is the perfec tool for leveling the soil in beds.
How to plant:
Make a straight trench, about 20cm deep , then pour soil down the middle to about a depth of 10cm. If you struggle with getting the llines straight then a garden string line is a really useful tool for planting out or sowing in rows.
Next take your asparagus crowns and sit them on top of the mound, spreading the roots out well around them. They’ll need to be at least 30cm apart.
Cover them with about 5cm of soil which has been sieved or riddled and keep covering them as the crowns grow. The trench should be completely filled by autumn. This highly practical, deep plastic garden sieve is supplied complete with two interchangeable screens - 6mm and 12mm hole size. Each screen features tough, galvanised woven wire. The perfect sieve or riddle to keep in the potting shed for compost.
Water your crowns thoroughly, keeping them moist during dry weather. You might find an irrigation system is the surest form of keeping the crowns healthy. Why not try lengths of weeping hose, which are more environmentally friendly, especially when used with a water timer.
You may find some very tempting asparagus spears appear soon after planting but do resist picking them or you will weaken the crowns. Instead, let them form ferny foliage and cut them down to stumps in the autumn.
Continue like this for two years, until they are ready to harvest. Wait until the spears reach about 12cm tall and cut them off just beneath the soil. Darlac’s Harvesting and Asparagus knife is the perfect tool as it has a straight tip that is ideal for asparagus - just slide below the soil level and around the spear drawing backwards for an amazingly clean cut.
And by mid-June you must resist the urge to keep on picking and leave the plants alone to gather their strength for next year’s glorious season.
Well cleaned and maintained tools will last longer, perform much better and will repay your financial outlay in buying them initially.
As a keen and conscientious gardener you will of course have been keeping all your equipment in tip top condition and cleaning it regularly throughout the year as you have been using it. Or maybe, like some of us, you threw everything down in a heap on the shed floor at the end of October and haven’t ventured in there since!
Whichever type of gardener you are (and most of us will be somewhere in between the two!), we all know how important it is to give your tools a much-needed blitz and spritz.
Always put your tools away as clean as you can manage. This is important because tools that retain moisture can lead to the development of rust. Also, when you have tools and blades that come in contact with various twigs, branches, leaves and dirt, you can easily spread the disease of one plant to another. It is important to not only remove dirt and grit but to kill any bacteria that may have come in contact with your gardening tools.
Always wipe tools with a dry rag after using them and before putting them away. A quick rub over with tool maintenance oil may be all that is needed on a regular basis. For deep cleaning soak the metal end of tools in a tub of hot soapy water. After soaking for 10 or 15 minutes, then rinse. Using a bleach solution of 3 parts water and 2 parts bleach in bucket, take clean rags and dip into the bleach solution and wash all surfaces of the gardening tool. Dry the washed gardening tools, by hand then lay them down on a dry, clean surface, such as another old clean towel or piece of cardboard.
Condition wooden handles of gardening tools by using a small amount of linseed oil. The linseed oil helps to prevent splintering and rotting of the wood, or you could try out Wax & Revive treatment, which contains the best ingredients to treat, maintain and protect wooden and metal garden tools. To use, simply place tool on a sheet of newspaper, spray with WD40 & remove any rust with a wire brush or steel wool. Apply a coating of treatment wax. Rub in with a rag, wipe off any excess wax and polish with a dry cloth.
Lats, but not least, sharpen the blades. If your tools have really been neglected and are very blunt then the Darlac tungsten sharpener is ideal. This sharpener is recommended for very blunt workshop & garden tools, knives and scissors. It has an integral oil holding sponge which allows you to oil tools after sharpening.
For other tools in your shed, Darlac’s diamond sharpeners in coarse and fine create the ultimate edge on garden tools, workshop tools, kitchen knives and scissors. With approx 52 billion diamond particles per sq. inch these sharpeners continue sharpening even when they "smooth out", exposing more sharpening edges to keep your tools and cutlery in "like-new" condition. Always file in one direction away from you. Adjust your angle as needed to file the entire edge evenly; usually 10 strokes will expose clean metal over the entire edge. Then do the same with the other blade, and never use small jerky strokes, because it will cause you to lose the factory edge.
So even if your tools have been a little bit neglected until now, they can still seem as good as new, ready for action!
Welcome to Garden Gear
Welcome to our website. Garden Gear offers a wide variety of garden- related products including tools, accessories and gifts or presents for gardeners of all ages. We know that gardening is always a pleasure but when you have good quality and innovative tools to help it can become just that bit more enjoyable.
Our tools are always high quality and value for money which is why we stock the full range of Darlac gardening tools and equipment. In stock now is a large range of products for watering & irrigation including sprinklers and micro irrigation systems.
We offer a fantastic choice of garden products for children - from tools and gardening gloves specifically designed for little hands, to children’s garden games and educational items to encourage youngsters to learn about life in the garden.
We also have an exciting array of gifts for gardeners and non-gardeners along with a stylish range of outdoor living and homeware items.
At Garden Gear we pride ourselves on our first class customer service and fast delivery times. We always aim to post items within 24 hours of ordering and if you need next day delivery just get in touch and we will let you know if it possible.
Spare parts are available for many of the tools featured and we are always happy to offer advice and answer any questions you may have – just get in touch by emailing email@example.com find us on Facebook or follow @garden_gear on Twitter.