Gardening Advice

  • Fertilising your WoodBlocX raised bed

    Ensure your raised beds are ready and raring to go for spring by boosting the health of the soil.

    Good quality soil will help increase the crop yield of vegetables and promote healthier blooms in flowers; plus, the better soil structure builds up resilience to pests and disease. There are lots of composts and additives available and here’s a quick rundown of the most popular.

    Compost
    Good quality compost can offer lots of benefits. If you’re planting directly into your raised bed a good multi-purpose version is the best choice. It can also be used for raising seedlings in pots too and when doing this we use a sieve to make a finer mixture which will save you buying a separate seed compost mix.

    Soil improvers

    Garden centres stock lots of different soil improvers which can be scattered directly onto the surface of the raised bed and gently forked in and left to do the work. Many are enriched with beneficial nutrients and micro-organisms to support root growth and keep working for many months.

    Make your own
    Putting fruit and veg peelings, egg shells and cartons, tea bags, grass clippings and other garden waste into a compost bin and not the wheelie bin is a great feeling, right? They say good things come to those who wait, and homemade compost is one of those things. Remember to turn it regularly to allow air to get in. If the bottom layer looks like soil, it's ready to use. Spread it throughout your raised bed instead of shop-bought compost for a BIG nutrient boost.

    Get ready for the growing season

    Our raised are ideal for growing and make a beautiful addition to the garden. Use our calculator tool to check your measurements and work out the cost of a raised bed for your garden. If you have a bigger project or just need some advice contact our Design Team who can create a free design bespoke to your garden.

  • Top crops to grow now

    It’s January, the weather is gloomy and there’s not a great deal going on out in the garden; but don’t let that stop you being productive! Here are four easy to grow and useful veg that can be sown between now and the end of February, either directly in your raised bed or indoors.

    Garlic is a wonderfully versatile ingredient with the addition of some great health benefits. If you are keen to grow your own make sure you use the cloves from a bulb that is specifically for planting as those sold in the supermarket for cooking may not be suitable. Plant individual cloves in a sunny spot directly in the soil.

    A square, rectangular or even circular raised bed is ideal for growing garlic and vegetables.

    A fresh leek pulled straight from the soil is tender and tasty and a million miles from the supermarket leeks. Use in soups and stews or smother in cheese sauce. Leeks can be planted directly in the soil or in seed trays, but remember if you’re planting them directly to leave a good space between them.

    Raised beds are perfect for growing leeks and other root vegetables, plus weeding and watering is made so much easier due to their height. A classic rectangular raised bed is a great choice.

    Tomatoes are one of the most popular vegetables (or fruits!) to grow at home. Sow indoors towards the end of February in a warm windowsill or heated propagator to get them off to a flying start. Remember to gently remove the new leaves as they sprout in order to keep the plant focused on developing the fruit and growing new stems.

    If you prefer growing tomatoes in the greenhouse, the low-level large rectangular raised bed is a popular choice to install, and bespoke lengths are also available

    Broad beans are another versatile and easy to grow vegetable; simply sow in pots or undercover to begin with and then transplant into well-drained soil, making sure you leave plenty of space between them. Have some canes at the ready to train the plants to grow upwards.

     

    The long stepped planter is ideal for growing beans, climbing veg and fruit canes, and with different compartments it’s the perfect height for tending and harvesting.

    Growing your own fruit and vegetables takes time and perseverance, but it does give you complete control over the whole process, allowing you to grow organically or choose the fertilisers and pest control products that suit your preferences.

    WoodBlocX raised beds are ideal for vegetable growing, being raised up from the ground means they warm up much quicker than open soil, plus the wood used doesn't contain any harmful residues that could leach into the soil making the kits a great alternative to railway sleepers which are often treated with chemicals.

  • Winter WoodBlocX getting you ready for spring

    In the south, there have been very few really hard frosts, so even some tender bedding plants like geraniums have survived and it means that many of the bugs and other nasties are also thriving! So now is the time to go slug and snail hunting and dispose of them! Really we do need a good old cold snap to freshen things up.

    The constant damp and heavy recent rainfall is not good for the garden, resulting in waterlogged muddy beds that are difficult to work. So stick to ordering seeds, maintaining your garden, re-edging borders, pruning fruit trees, clearing out the potting shed and repairing your equipment ready for upcoming spring activity!

    Maybe this year you should think about a “No-Dig” system for your veggie patch or  raised beds? It is a low maintenance system, ideal for organic enthusiasts and if combined with a WoodBlocXraised bed, will make growing your own veg easier and less of a chore!

    Basically you remove any surface weeds and dig out perennials (in Autumn) then simply spread a generous quantity of well rotted manure or home made compost, on top of the raised bed (at least 4 inches deep) and leave it to nature. The mulch over the surface helps to keep the soil warm and, therefore, the worms active, drawing the compost into the ground. Later on, when you are watering your raised bed crops, you will find that on an un-dug bed it is easier because it soaks away through this organic matter whilst a bed that has been dug often has a surface that will smear and cause run-off.

    Apart from maybe sowing some shallots, radish, carrots and parsnips under cloches, you are better to wait til the end of February before sowing any seeds, as despite the unseasonably warm weather, low light levels will suppress growth. Carrot Marion is a good Nantes variety which is suitable for all year growing. Towards the end of Feb you can sow early salad crops in the green house and peas and broad beans without heat, but under cover. One of the oldest and most nutritious of all cultivated vegetables, hundreds of years ago broad beans provided protein in a meat poor diet! Try Sciabola Verde or Red Epicure (both from Marshalls-seeds.co.uk)

    Grow Your Own Anywhere!
    Whilst you are planning what new vegetable seeds to order from the catalogues, why not try growing some Dwarf French beans in a WoodBlocX planter? Maxi is a good variety to try and also new White Aubergine- Ivory (what else!) is another crop that can be successfully grown in a planter.

    Have a look at the various WoodBlocX planter options and see how you can create your own small kitchen garden anywhere.

  • How easy are modular systems to put together?

    Do you need to spruce up your garden fast? Perhaps you need to make some improvements before a big event? Or do you just want to add some finishing touches to a garden without the hassle of too much work? Plants are by far the easiest and best way to bring a bit of life to a bare outdoor area, and what better way to display them than in a neat, attractive timber bed?

    The simplest and fastest way to incorporate a lot of planting to a paved or decked area is to use large planters or raised beds, and the WoodBlocX system is an ideal choice. The beds can be put on any surface very easily, so there’s no need for extensive preparation, and there is a wide choice of off-the-shelf products that can be delivered to your home in as little as four days.

    The modular beds can be configured to fit almost any space; they can be squarerectangular, hexagonal and circular or pretty much any shape you want. You can also choose from a variety of heights to suit the designated area. There are also raised bed designs that include seating, or you can build and add separate benches. Because all WoodBlocX products use the same materials they can really tie a look together.

    All the materials needed for a WoodBlocX construction are supplied together, on pallets, so you save time on running around different shops trying to find just what you need. WoodBlocX calculate exactly what you need for each bed, making it easy for you. Once they arrive, they couldn’t be simpler to put together. All the specific instructions for each construction are supplied with the materials and there are also online videos. It’s just like building a Lego kit – and once you’re underway the BlocX are really very quick to go together.

    Once the bed is constructed, that’s it – job done, it doesn’t need any treating with varnish or preservatives. It could be painted if you want to add some colour, or leave the natural wood to fade to a soft grey over the years. Fill the beds with topsoil and add plants to transform the area. Just add garden party guests!

  • An easy and effective garden solution

    All too often a great design idea has to be amended beyond recognition because of the practicalities and realities of the garden and the budget. Perhaps all the materials for the garden have to be taken through the house, perhaps there are pets or young children around, or perhaps you’re on a deadline – all these logistical problems and more can mean that the original vision is compromised. However, whether you want to add planters or raised beds, benches or more to a problematic area, the solution can be found in a modular timber system such as WoodBlocX.

    Modular systems, because they are delivered in pieces rather than unwieldy pre-built wholes, can be taken into the garden much more easily. All the WoodBlocX components can be easily carried by one person, so even in the tightest of places there’s space to squeeze them through. They are delivered on pallets, which can be easily moved to get as close to the construction area as possible, saving time and effort in moving things around. This is also helpful when the garden build has to take place around household life – the components do not take up much space, so disruption can be minimised.

    Modular systems built from small components are also light and can be easily carried up steps. This means that it is also possible to build quite large planters on rooftops, and incorporate a rooftop garden to bring some life to a dull area.

    So, WoodBlocX are easy to get onto the site, but they are also easy to work with once the components are there. All the individual pieces are pre-fabricated to exactly the right size, and pre-drilled and mitred as well. Therefore you will not need any power tools to build up the BlocX themselves – no drilling, cutting or sawing is necessary. The BlocX are quick and easy to put together, and there is very little noise created in the process, keeping the disruption to family and neighbours to a minimum. Furthermore, the pre-cut modular system also means there is no dust or mess and virtually no waste to dispose of (and what waste there is can be easily moved and transported to the tip), saving time and money again.

    Modular timber systems like WoodBlocX are the smart choice for any garden, but especially those with access problems. Call our team for a chat about your project and how we can help.

  • Planting Late Summer Seeds… Choi Sum

    There are a whole range of remarkably cold hardy oriental greens. They are ideal to keep your plot going through the depths of winter, particularly if you don't have the space or time for traditional winter veg like brussels.

    Many are good both in salads and cooked - try Pak Choi, Mizuna, Chinese Cabbage, Mibuna, Tatsoi and Mispoona, all of which can be sown from the end of June through to end September (you can keep on sowing through into the winter if you have a polytunnel on you raised bed to).

    Choi Sum (Brassica parachinensis) is a member of the Mustard family is also referred to as a flowering pak choy or choy sum. Its green leaves are juicy and tender. If allowed to mature and bolt, yellow flowers will shoot and the plant becomes sweeter and more succulent. The whole plant is edible, which is why we are such a fan!

  • Reducing the cost of Garden Projects

    Whether you are just putting in a couple of beds for a vegetable garden or terracing the whole garden, it’s always good to be able to see all the costs of a project up front. Using a modular timber system for raised beds and other landscaping means that the material costs are really easy to calculate, and there’s no need to pay for someone else to do the work. Modular systems from WoodBlocX are available either as off-the-shelf pre-designed kits, or free bespoke designs can be created for your particular site.

    For example a set of three raised beds, each 2250 x 1125 x 450mm, could be used for a fruit, vegetable and cut flower patch, or for flower borders. The price of these off-the-shelf kits are less than £300 each. Larger projects such as driveway edging are easily calculated – a 250mm high edge for example, is less than £100 per 3m stretch. Delivery is cheap and easy because all the components easily fit onto pallets. Check out our online calculator to get a quick quote for your project.

    If there is nothing suitable for your garden project in the wide range of pre-designed beds, why not get WoodBlocX to design something to your exact specifications? The design service is free, and because they do it all for you there’s no need to worry about anything! WoodBlocX make sure that your design is safe, that it will work, and that you have all the right components so you are ready to build - no running to the shops for extra pieces – everything is supplied with the kit, along with some spares as well just in case. The design service also extends to ponds, edging, seats, retaining walls and steps. Alternatively, use the online calculators to work out what you’ll need for yourself. There’s no obligation to buy after using either service.

    When using a system like WoodBlocX, even daunting and complicated projects can be made easy – and it’s possible to do all the work yourself. Rather than get in builders or landscapers to do different parts of a project, such as terracing or retaining walls, and then look at putting in beds and steps afterwards, the whole thing can be done by you with WoodBlocX. This can save a lot of money, you get the satisfaction of having built it yourself, and it’s as simple as knocking together layers of BlocX: a win-win solution.

  • Successional Sowing: How to Get The Most From Your Raised Beds

    Sometimes less is more, so whether you have an allotment, a large kitchen garden or just a single raised bed, you should use successional sowing to ensure a steady, regular and appropriate supply of vegetables throughout the growing season, rather than experiencing a glut all at once. Basically, using the principle of little and often, it involves extending your harvest by sowing a row every few weeks or so. Quick growing crops such as French beans, peas, spinach, salads and carrots lend themselves to this way of cultivation. In this way you can ensure a regular, fresh supply of vegetables that otherwise would perish quickly under storage conditions.

    Other varieties that are prone to bolting (growing less leaves and moving into flower and seed production) such as rocket, spinach, broccoli, cilantro, basil, cabbage and lettuce especially need to be sown successionally.

    If you sow the longer fruiting crops such as courgette, cucumbers and runner beans and sweet corn in two batches, spaced a few weeks apart, you can optimise produce availability well into the autumn.

    There are four key methods for successional planting.

    1) Same crop, staggered plantings.

    Here you need to space out your plantings of the same crop, to around every 2-4 weeks, or when the plants from the preceding sowings are well developed, with four true leaves for leafy crops, or are around 5cm (2 inches) high in the case of peas or 10cm tall (four inches) for beans. Many vegetables put all their effort into producing a first flush of produce and then fade throughout the season, giving smaller and weaker yields. By employing a staggered approach, sowing more seeds as the first plants start to fade, you will ensure a regular supply of optimum produce over a longer period. Harvest mature, whole plants once they reach their peak. This will get light, water and space to neighbouring plants and make room for more sowings.

    2) Different vegetables

    Some crops like peas have a short growing season, so the area that they previously took up can be used to grow a later season plant like aubergine.

    3) Shared space

    Many a vegetable can be grown side by side quite well, and may even help to control pests. Try growing quick maturing radishes, which loosen the soil, ready for late sprouting carrots. Plus growing leeks or spring onions next to carrots may help to deter carrot fly. If you are really short of space, why not sow some veggies between your flowers in the borders. There are no rules to say you have to keep them separate and a few lettuce plants can look very good interspersed amongst the flowers

    Variety is the spice of life and if you want to keep a regular supply of salads going throughout summer, choose a range of varieties for continuous cropping. Lettuce ‘Little Gem’ and ‘Red Gem’ variety ‘Dazzle’ and carrot ‘Marion’ are ideal for successional sowing, and the later maturing varieties are also capable of being sown little and often. Once mature, they will also remain in good condition for longer.

     

    If sowing outdoors, sowings can be made every one to four weeks, from mid-April through to late summer. Indoors spring sowing can begin in March.

    Sow seeds thinly, in short rows, and if the seed is very fine, use shallow drills, watered first, prior to sowing. Don’t forget to label your rows, and space apart according to the instructions on the seed packet. By keeping an eye on how well the seeds are growing, you can work out when to re-sow. Don’t forget to keep your plants well-watered.

    WoodBlocX raised beds are ideal for sowing short rows in succession, and make for easier harvesting too. As with any sowing, ensure the soil is well dug in with organic matter (except for carrot sowing, as it makes them fork and grow into weird shapes).

    For the smaller sized wooden planters that WoodBlocX offer, use baby varieties such as carrot ‘Atlas’, an early maturing type that has round smooth roots that can be harvested at 2-3cm diameter. It grows well in any soil and has a good fungal resistance. ‘Baby Beet Action’ is a very sweet and tender variety, which still retains its round shape if sown quite thickly, and they can be harvested when they are about one inch in diameter.

    Wooden planters are also ideal for growing salads on a ‘cut and come again’ basis, harvesting the larger leaves by cutting them as required, leaving the smaller leaves to continue growing for cutting later on. Then sow another crop about three weeks later.

    Some cultivars do not need to be sown successionally, such as aubergines, peppers and tomatoes because they produce fruits over a long period, so are hence self-regulating. Similarly, those that store well, like onions and garlic, do not need to be sown successionally either, and neither do varieties that need longer to mature, like sprouts and leeks, which are best left to over-winter in the ground for picking as and when required.

  • Top Tips For Designing Your Dream Garden

    A new garden design – or a new determination to transform your garden – can be a daunting prospect. Caitlin McLaughlin, the RHS Young Designer of the Year 2016, gives us her take on what makes a successful garden design in the above video.

    Below are some tips on things to consider when preparing to design a garden.

    Before you start, spend some time thinking about exactly what you want the garden for. Do you want purely ornamental planting, or productive areas as well? Your plans might have to be amended as you go along to accommodate different circumstances – adding lower maintenance areas for example, or including more veg-growing space because you’ve discovered you enjoy cultivating plants for the kitchen. WoodBlocX can be used to build a wide range of raised bedsplantersseatingedging and even ponds – in a variety of shapes and sizes and all without a power tool in sight.

    Another consideration is how much, if any, lawn do you want – do you need to supply a sports pitch or play area for the children? What about seating and entertaining areas and storage - where’s the lawnmower going to live? Even the most difficult-looking of gardens can be transformed with a bit of thought. A steep slope can be terraced to create a stepped garden with flat beds and paths. Front gardens and courtyard gardens are often neglected, but a few simple beds or some edging can really transform their look and feel. Corner beds are especially good for small urban courtyards – WoodBlocX have single and multi-level options, or you can give them your specifications and receive a free bespoke design.

    After assessing what you want against how much time you will have to look after it, amend your plans as necessary. Once these decisions have been made, then it’s time to design your garden.

  • How to deal with Creeping Buttercup

    The Creeping Buttercup is a low growing perennial weed which prefers wet heavy soils. Creeping Buttercups spread with vigorous creeping stems that run along the ground rooting at intervals with a very fibrous rooting system.

     

    You need to make sure you remove all the fibrous roots as well as the main part of the weed, as this tricky weed will just keep coming back if any is left behind.

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