All posts by Claire Atkin

Claire is an oya lover from the West Coast, where she grew up gardening with her mom, dad, and two sisters, five bunnies, six gerbils, eleven fish, one cat, two dogs, and a plethora of avian garden visitors. She loves farm animals, the beach, and running our social media. Please say hi for questions, comments, or virtual high fives! Our contact page is below. While you're there, sign up for our newsletter to get the best deals on oyas when you most need them!

Moving With Your Young Fruit Tree

Moving any time soon, but feel emotionally connected to your fruit tree? If it’s young enough – take it with you!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A large pot
  • Some compost
  • Your fruit tree
  • Liquid plant feed
  • Water absorbing granules
  • Some mulch

Instructions:

  1. Choose a large pot with a wide base. About 16 inches across.
  2. Fill your pot with peat-free organic multi-purpose compost, with some kelp-based water absorbing granules. This will make watering far easier when it gets hotter!
  3. Before planting, soak the tree in a bucket of water and plant it to the same depth as it was in the nursery pot. Water a LOT and lay mulch across the surface of the compost to retain as much moisture as possible.
  4. Feed your tree with compost every spring and with liquid feed once a month throughout the growing season.
  5. Prune as you like! Some prefer a minarette, some a column, and some as a standard tree. You could ask for a demonstration at the nursery you bought it if you need help. Also, YouTube. Seriously.

To decide how big it will grow, choose a rootstock that will limit its size. From smallest to biggest:

  • Apples: M27, M9, M26, MM106
  • Pears: Quince C, Quince A, or EMH
  • Plums or Damsons: Pixy or St Julien A
  • Cherries: Colt or Gisela 5
  • Crab Apples: Often come from a dwarf species

Chives

There were many evenings growing up when my mother would yell from the kitchen for one of us to go get chives from the garden. Chives and their mild onion flavor are best added to a dish at the end of cooking, and just after the leaves are freshly snipped.

They’re also gorgeous in the garden. They grow in dense clumps of fine grass-like foliage and are great for the edges of beds, window boxes, or larger containers.

Chive seeds can be planted after the first frost, or if bought as seedlings, plant young clumps about six inches apart in spring, in sunny, fertile and moist soil. Clip the flowers in early summer to increase leaf growth. You can add them to salads! They are delicious.

Chive plants tend to die down in the winter, but they can be potted in autumn for indoor windowsills. Water and fertilize regularly, and every 3-4 years, in the edge seasons around summer, divide the clumps with a sharp knife to separate and replant them.

Sowing Methods for AMAZING Vegetables

Root crops should be sown where they are to grow, while others often require a nursery bed or container for later transplanting. Beware, though, of the seeds going to seed in a hot summer. Wait until the soil is warm – and you can heat it by covering the bed with cloches or plastic for a few weeks – and not too wet. Dry soil might need a sprinkling of water.

To sow outdoors:

  1. Loosen the surface with a hoe to kill weeds and aerate the soil
  2. Rake the bed, making it clear of weeds and larger stones
  3. Using a line or cane, mark out shallow furrows in parallel to each other
  4. Sow seeds sparingly, spacing larger ones to avoid later thinning. Cover them with soil and sprinkle lightly with water again.

To sow indoors:

  1. Sow early and succession crops in small pots or seed trays while waiting for space or warmer weather.
  2. Using fresh, moist seed potting mix, fill the containers and tap them to settle the earth.
  3. Sprinkle seeds sparingly on the surface, and cover with a layer of compost.
  4. Set in a warm place indoors or a shady spot outside in the summer
  5. Keep moist during germination!

Most veggies seeds respond well to the same basic sowing routine: sowing, thinning or pricking out, and transplanting. It’s important to get the timing right, and to become familiar with the seasonal rhythm of raising vegetables over time.

Pricking out – or thinning – is important so vegetables are not unnecessarily competing with each other for nutrients as they grow. When seedlings have two true leaves and are big enough to handle, you’ll know it’s time to water them, allow to drain, and then loosen the roots with a table fork. Holding each seedling by a leaf (never the stem), transfer to potting soil. For larger seedlings, 4-inch pots is appropriate. For smaller ones, trays are fine, spacing them 2 inches apart. Water the seedlings and keep them in a well-lit place while they grow.

Before seedlings get too large, it’s important to transplant them. Before you do this, water them about an hour or two beforehand. Lift outdoor plants with a trowel without disturbing the root. Plants in pots can be tapped out upside down, and those in trays can be separated with a sharp knife. Plant the seedlings in holes made with a trowel, firm into place with your fingers, and water thoroughly.

Grow!!!

Adapted from The Chef’s Garden

Grow Your Own Peanuts

Peanuts grow on small plants that are surprisingly easy to grow at home. Children love them, especially because of their unique propagation method!

What you need:

  • A medium or large pot
  • Compost/sand mix
  • A raw peanut in its shell

Instructions:

  1. All you need to plant a peanut plant is a nut. Any unsalted, unroasted nut that you’d buy to eat. Peanuts with their shells are preferable because shelled nuts can be dry, but its best to take the peanut out of its shell before planting.
  2. Plant one nut about 1 inch deep in a well-drained pot filled with sandy compost. Water it and then cover with plastic wrap or a plastic bag to keep it warm and moist.
  3. As peanut plants grow over the summer, their leaves look like clover. Eventually you’ll see yellow flowers.
  4. After flowering, the plant grows a stem downwards and into the soil, and ‘plants’ a seed in the ground. This is why soft, sandy soil is important! (And why kids love to watch peanuts grow).
  5. By the autumn, peanuts will be growing under the surface of the soil. You can eat them or re-plant them, or offer them as bird seed. Whatever you do, it’s an entertaining plant to have in the house!

 

Adapted from Growing Stuff, An Alternative Guide to Gardening 

How to Seed Your Plants

Some plants are easier than others to grow from seed. Here are some tricks of the micro-propagation world.

  • Seeds should be at the correct depth according to their size.
  • Flat seeds (aka cucurbit seeds) should be sown on their sides. This goes for marrow, melon, squash, cucumber and other flat seeds.
  • Make sure seeds get lots of light! They need it to germinate.
  • If your seed tray has a cover, remove it as soon as the majority of the tiny seedlings have appeared.
  • Disturb the roots of the seedlings as little as possible. This will help them grow thick and tall!
  • Seedlings (like our cats) hate being soggy.
  • Be ruthless with weak or overcrowded plants! It’s better to pinch out (to cut them at the soil level) one or two healthy plants than to let two plants suffer later by pulling them apart. Sad but true.
  • Handle the seedlings and even the young teenage plants by their leaves – never by their stems – to avoid damaging them.

 

Viewers Up In Arms After BBC Cancels Gardeners’ World

Our favorite link from the week, a terrible bit of news!

By Camilla Turner 

The genteel world of horticulture is “up in arms” about the BBC’s flagship gardening programme getting bumped in favour of snooker and football matches.

Devotees of Gardeners’ World have started an online petition begging the corporation to keep the half-hour BBC Two show in place on Friday evenings, and end the spate of cancellations to accommodate sporting events.

Even the programme’s presenter Monty Don has waded into the row, telling his 26,500 Twitter followers that he finds the show’s hiatus over the coming weeks “galling”.

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Gardener’s World presenter Monty Don has waded into the row CREDIT: ANDREW CROWLEY FOR THE TELEGRAPH

 
It is one of the longest running gardening shows, having been on air since the 1960s, and shares tips, advice and ideas from experts.

“Thousands of us avid viewers of Gardeners’ World are up in arms with the BBC who, for the past few years, have entered into contracts to televise sports events which clash with it,” Valerie Corby, a retired lawyer from Taunton, Somerset told The Telegraph.

“Viewers are incensed because it is only on for half an hour a week and the Spring is our busiest time in the garden; we look to Monty Don and his team for advice.”

In the current series, an episode was cancelled to air the Women’s Euro 2017 qualifier, and there are a further two cancelled programmes in the coming weeks.

Heather Redhead, 57, a sonographer from Chester, said: “We gardeners are heartily sick of the one regular gardening programme aired by the BBC being repeatedly replaced by other programmes.

“I really feel the BBC is taking no account of the numbers of people who garden. I’m a long time member of the Royal Horticultural Society and as a passionate and experienced gardener, I also feel it is important to assist and encourage the newer gardeners.”

Mary Baillie, 50, a retired communications consultant from  South Lanarkshire, added: “It is incredible that every Friday without fail when there is a sporting event being broadcast, the schedulers opt to cancel Gardeners’ World.

“Scheduling aside, spring is the busiest time of year for gardeners.”

An episode was cancelled to air a Women’s Euro 2017 qualifier
An episode was cancelled to air a Women’s Euro 2017 qualifier CREDIT: MATT WEST/REX 

 

Nicola Brown, 31, an insurance claims advisor from Norfolk, said: “I am really disappointed with the constant weeks that keep being missed on Gardeners’ World for sports events.

“I also cannot comprehend the reason behind not showing it for a week, leaving 14 days between episodes at this time of the year. This is a vital time in any gardener’s calendar, whether old or young, experienced or novice.”

Concerned viewers have started a Facebook group, which attracted hundreds of members within a day.

The BBC has received dozens of complaints about the show’s cancellations, but has said that “contractual commitments” to air sporting events mean they are left with little choice.

A BBC spokesperson said: “Gardeners’ World is an important part of the BBC Two schedule and we do try to minimise disruptions but our commitment to live sport coverage, which is also enjoyed by BBC Two viewers, means that our schedule is occasionally subject to change.”

From The Telegraph this week.

Plant Spacing For Intensive Planting

PLANT SPACING FOR INTENSIVEPLANTING

What Makes Good Soil? pH!

With soil, pH is the most important number to remember. The acidity or alkalinity of soil is measured on a scale from 0 to 14. The higher the concentration of hydrogen ions in the soil solution, the lower the pH, or acidity. Seven, being the middle number, is neutral, and plants grow best between 6.0 to 7.5.

Certain plants prefer different acidity levels. Blueberries, for instance, like acidic soil because iron and aluminum can be extracted easily from it. Pine needles around blueberry bushes are especially helpful for increased acidity!

Wet and Dry Climates

Rainy climates often have acidic soil because other nutrients like calcium, magnesium and potassium tend to get washed away, leaving hydrogen ions behind. In arid climates, the opposite is true; those important nutrients tend to dominate the top layers of the soil.

Changing The pH

This is where compost is helpful! Compost buffers the acidity of soil by binding to soil nutrients until the plants need them. If compost doesn’t do it enough, to change the acidity of your soil, you can also add ground limestone to make it more basic or sulphur to make it more acidic. The change that these methods create tends to be temporary though, so it’s best to match the right plants with the right soil pH.

We Have Lids!

The last while, we’ve heard some great feedback about our oyas – with one criticism: we didn’t have lids!

Well, we heard you. Thanks very much for all the questions and comments, we really appreciate it. All new oyas will be sold with a bright green lid. This goes for all sizes: small, medium, and large.

These lids are made from silicone so they withstand the sun and the elements. They avoid evaporation from your oya in hot climates, and keep critters like lizards, slugs, and mosquitos out of the freshwater meant for your plants.

This lid is easy to put on and off, fun for kids, and people are loving them! Thank you again for the recommendation!