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Happiness is pottering in the garden

Your questions answered for as long as the lockdown lasts!

We have been sharing tips with our locked-down customers who want to keep their gardens looking gorgeous until their next Kate & Co. visit! And we thought why not share some of their questions (and our advice) with you all….

Help! How do I get rid of a rat in the compost? 

While it’s always nice to have a hand in the garden, a rat in the compost is a clear exception for most of us. 

A combination of chilli flakes and coffee grinds mixed through the compost should do the trick!

Also try not to add cooked foods (meat, fish and cheeses) that are likely to get their attention. 

The rat will likely lose interest once the breakdown process is established and compost is ready to spread which is also reassuring. 

When is my compost ready to spread on the garden? 

You want it to get to a stage where it looks like a blended dark mass (like topsoil) without all the separate bits and pieces visible (so the break-down process is fully underway).

It also should smell okay - past the point where the fumes are knocking you out!

How can I look after a plant in it’s pot if I’m not quite ready to plant? 

There is no real urgency to get a plant into the ground just because you have bought it home from the nursery. The plant won’t mind - it’s been in its pot for most of its life so far! 

Just remember to keep it watered and pop it somewhere that best matches the conditions it prefers, whether sun or shade.

The plant should already be well fed with long term fertilizer during its time in the nursery so when you’re ready for planting, just pop some sheet pellets into the newly dug hole (or pot) to help it settle in.

How do I treat my thrip-infested eugenia hedge to stop it dying? 

Here is an approach our teams are finding is working. It’s a pretty rigorous process to start but generally does save the hedge:
- Super Shield, Mavrik, neem spray or Bugtrol used per instructions (and generously) on the leaves to disrupt the thrips' egg-laying cycle. You can find Mavrik at Countdown and New World.
- Spray in the evening when good insects aren’t impacted
- Clear all fallen leaf litter under the hedge where eggs can hide and can reinfect the plants
- Spread neem granules generously under the plants, watering them in well well (this strengthens the eugenia from the inside out). Don’t worry if you don’t have this on hand, post-lockdown is fine
- Stick to just a light trim of the hedge while being treated, no heavy pruning
- Cut out any dead sections or particularly infected leaves with secateurs.

Don’t have any garden product handy in the shed? Try adding two tablespoons of liquid soap to an empty spray bottle filled with water and spray the leaves generously. Spray in the early morning and repeat every 4-7 days. 

How far can I prune my star jasmine without killing it? 

These you can hack right back after blooming - any time from now is good as the temperatures have cooled and they are not under stress.

Don’t be afraid to go right back into the vine but do give the jasmine a good feed of fertiliser (sheep pellets are fine) around the base roots to boost them after the prune.

If you are happy with the overall thickness and shape of the hedge and prefer a more subtle approach, here's a video that might be handy :-)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kTe6DoodAOU

What shall I do about my griselinia hedge if it has dead sections after this summer of drought? 

We recommend just keeping an eye on it - let’s be honest there aren’t many other options right now! 

Now that we have had some rain and temperatures have cooled, you might start to see some signs of new growth and from there you will get an idea of any plants that might need replacing longer term. 

If you just have to know, pull lightly on the tree. If it’s completely gone, the plant will lift out easily as the root system is no longer alive. If it doesn’t budge easily, then there's hope! Leave it and give it some sheep pellets for a food boost. 

Even the really brown ones can make a come-back so be patient! 

Does that edging wheel thing actually work on lawns? 

Yes it does! 

The edging wheel is an amazing little contraption that has been around for many generations and uses the strength of your foot to cut a tight edge around your lawn. 

As long as the wheel is kept sharp, it works fantastically and is so much easier (and quieter) than a strimmer. 

How do I best prepare a hole for my new tree? 

Here are some quick tips for tree planting... 

First, make sure you’re not trying to plant anywhere near underground pipes and cables - emergency plumbers are expensive!

Then dig a hole that's generously larger than the base (you want a gap of around 10cm around the tree, room for plenty of nice fresh soil).

Fill the bottom of the hole with a few handfuls of sheep pellets and back-fill the hole around the tree with good soil, especially if you’ve been digging into clay.

No need to loosen the roots - some trees don't like this and most trees will take care of themselves once they are in the ground.

At the moment we are getting some good rainfall so just water lightly when it hasn’t rained for a couple of days.



 

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