Potty Plant Facts
Its a place where you can get all of the plant and gardening gossip of the here and now, its where we review the past season, providing you with the top tips and chatter of the RTF potting shed!! We hope you enjoy our seasonal comments and gardening tips feel free to let us know what you think.
Leaf mould is fantastic stuff: easy to make and incredibly useful, and it makes use of nature’s bounty when the trees have finished with their leaves. A good bit of leaf mould on the garden in spring will help transform the dank days of winter to the beautiful growth and burst of colour that we all look forward to in the spring. So how do you make a good leaf mould?
Now is your moment! As the last of the leaves gather on the ground you can collect them up – and there’s an easy way! A great big pile of soggy wet leaves is right ready to start decomposing to make fantastic leaf mould. And Jon has a brilliant trick up his sleeve. If you’re a composting fan, this is definitely one you need to know!
The best way to collect fallen leaves is with your lawn mower. It will suck them up for you, and also shred them. This is a big advantage – shredded leaves have a much larger surface area for the bacteria to get into in order to turn them into leaf mould. And that’s not all. It’s a big, fat myth that all you want in your leaf mould is leaves. To make the perfect compost, you need 50% nitrogen and 50% carbon. So you need half of what you put in to be green (that’s the nitrogen – ever noticed after lightning that the grass looks greener? That’s not your eyes playing tricks on you, the nitrogen in the grass has been “fixed” by the lightning). So adding your grass cuttings can get you up to the right amount of nitrogen. The other half should be brown – there’s the carbon. The fallen leaves are a good source of this but you can also add cardboard to increase your carbon input. By using shredded leaves, your compost will be ready to use much sooner than if you use whole leaves in your compost. And your lawn mower has done the work of collecting them too.
Once you’ve got your leaf mould components well mixed they need to enjoy some quiet time at the bottom of the garden or in your composting bin. Turn them a couple of times over the winter and come March you should have some wonderful leaf mould ready to use in your garden. If you’ve made your leaf mould just with fallen leaves and some grass cuttings there should be very little in the way of weed seeds in there, and you should be free of pests and diseases. Just some beautiful, useful compost.
There are a couple of different things you can do with your leaf mould. You can sieve it to use it as potting compost. Here’s the recipe Jon uses for the best potting compost:
1 barrowful of compost
1 cup of gardener’s lime
1 cup of balance fertiliser.
Don’t forget to get your hands in and get a bit of dirt between your fingers. Just for the fun of it!Celebrating autumn colour:
Autumn is such a special season. It stimulates every sense; the chilly nip of the morning air, the rich smell of decay and decomposition, the delicious squelch under foot and the crispy rustle of the leaves as you kick them into the air. And the colours. Every shade of green turning to red, orange, yellow, brown and so many colours in between. As the evenings draw in and the sun sits lower in the sky the reds and yellows burst from the trees providing an incredible, vibrant contrast with the dark trunks and grey skies.
In terms of autumn colour not all plants are equal. There are some really special trees and plants out there that can bring the best of the autumn colours into any garden, and it’s not always the ones people think. So here are Jon’s top three picks for fabulous autumn colour.
First on the list is Stag‘s Horn (Rhus typhina, also known as the Schumacher tree).
It’s common name comes from the really unusual flowers. They look like the horns of a stag, with beautiful pink downy fur. Interestingly, this is the stuff that brought us pink lemonade – the flowers are used to dye the drink that pretty pink colour! The leaves turn a lovely orangey-red colour; a dream for any painter, and with an attractive texture that will provide good coverage. It is a robust plant that will readily spread and can become invasive if left to its own devises. With a bit of attention this tree that grows up to six feet high can be a great feature in any autumn garden.
Next up is the Spindle bush (euonymus europaus).
There are several fantastic things about the spindle bush. The flowers are not one of them, but once over this plant produces beautiful orange seed pods. They are really stunning, and also something a little different giving great interest in the garden at this time of year. Once the leaves, which turn red and pink are over, the bright green stems are left exposed, providing gorgeous greens throughout the winter months. It’s also an easy plant to grow particularly compared to the ever-popular Japanese Maples and Acers, and it certainly has just as much to offer, if not more!
Another advantage of the spindle bush, and one not to be overlooked is the benefits it provides for the environment. If you’re keen to encourage wildlife in the garden this plant is a favourite of birds and will draw them to the garden, and as a naturalised plant it contributes to our natural flora without taking over.
And top of Jon’s list, the Norway Maple (Acer platanoides).
Don’t confuse this one with it’s relative the lowly sycamore. The Norway Maple has so much more to offer. Most notably, the extraordinary, vivid and spectacular colour of the autumn leaves. Interestingly, the leaves can be different colours in different years. This year has been a yellow year but other years the same tree’s leaves might be orange, red or yellow. Another claim to fame is that apparently Stradivarius violins are made from Norway Maple. It really is the star tree for autumn colour and will brighten even the gloomiest autumn evening.