A for Aeration

A for Aeration

Why aeration is important 

  • Aeration  is  important cause  it  allows  air  and  water  to  circulate  through  roots  sward  and  encourages  the  grass  to  root  better.
  • It  also  relieves  compaction  of  the  soil  
  • Improves  drainage  

Methods  of  aeration  

How to Aerate, Spike & Hollow Tine a Lawn – YouTube

http://www.lawnsmith.co.uk – Some handy tips on aerating your lawn using a hollow tine fork, spiking aerator and aeration shoes or sandals
My  own  personal  view  these  spikers  just  do  what  they  say  they  spike &  do  nothing  more  than  that. And  from  what  i  can  see they  are  hard  work  especially  if  you  have  heavy  clay  or  stoney  soil.

For  better  pernertration  you  are  better  off  with  a  fork 

Aeration with solid spikes using equipment such as the garden fork, aerator sandals or shoes, rolling lawn aerators or powered machinery is generally done to a depth between 1 and 6 inches with the top two inches being the most important. There are also star like slitters that can be inserted as a cassette into turf machinery or towed behind ride-on mowers or lawn tractors. On sports turf, spiking is done as often as possible; every other week being quite normal. This is because the effect is q…

Apart from the annoying worm cast that block up your mower or make a mess on your lawn with heavy rainfall worms actually help your lawn by making holes in your lawn naturally as they tunnel down into the subsoil plus they are apart of the food chain

What to do about worm Cast in the lawn Great article about the benefits of worm cast – now you can optimize it by buying or making your own biochar I would buy it first and mix in with with the worm casting and leave for a day so it would absorb the nutriments first then apply it to the beds Never leave warm cast on the grass ~ wait till it hard then useing a swish broom brush them into the flowerbeds as worm cast contain bacteria that would determental to grass but beneficial to the flowers ~ after all why worry about them they help aerate our soil ~ break down organic matter and feed the birds by putting chemicals down will only alter the food chainThorny problems: what can I do about worm casts…www.scoop.itOur green-fingered guru solves your gardening problems. This week: a closer look at worms and the official start of spring
To  encourage  worms  there  is  one  simple  thing  to  and  that   finely  chop all  your  leaves  from  the  trees  in  Autumn   to  a  fine  manageable  pieces  with a  lawn  mower   with  no  bucket  attached   and  scatter  the  leaves  on  ground thinly  and  wait  till  the  worms  come  up  to  collect  it  and  bring  it  down  to  their  burrows.

Another way you can aerate the lawn is by a mechanical hollow tine aerator

A hollow tine aerator

As you can see they come in all shape and sizes depending on how large your garden is ~ The only set back is that you have to hire these out as no garden store sells these as they are either too expensive or not called for.
And with that the cost of hiring is pretty expensive so the best thing to with any expensive machinery is to have a joint share

Picture of large hollow tine aerator

Hollow  tines


There  are  two  manual  tines   on  the  market  today  and  both  can  be  bought  from  any  good  garden  store.

The  only  thing  that  is  wrong  with  these  is  that  are  ideal  only  for  small  lawns  and  do  take  up  a  lot  time  &  energy   

The Yard Butler Store provides the best in lawn and garden tools direct from the manufacturer, Lewis Tools
Autumn Feeding.For Autumn the care regime is basically promoting healthy root growth. This achieved by firstly feeding the grass with a propriety lawn food and spreading the fertilizer by the use a hooper as in the Spring and Summer regime. But this time the fertilizer contains a high percentage of phosphate…

Here we have an example of forking the ground to aerate it this to me is rather hard work and time consuming. and like the solid tine roller above is fine wether you are relieving compaction on the grass

Here is an excellent guide to what to do in the garden this February.
But things have changed whether it the fault of the climate or new ideas and advancements on technology
One thing that has changed is Lawn care. The old school training that I had been taught has to be retaught.
For example, when I was doing a day release course in groundsman ship for a local borough I was taught that spiking was the ideal way to aerate your lawn.
Now it seems that hollow tining is the proper way to go now, Also another thing that has changed is the method. Instead of putting tons of lawn top dressing down its best to use a solid tine method as well.
When applying fertilizer its best to get the Autumn weed and feed to strengthen the roots & Apply the moss killer as a separate application.But make sure to rake or scarify the lawn first to remove the bulk of the moss then apply the chemical afterwards – This ensures that chemical go down to the whole plant
As for digging, I usually do that in the Autumn to allow the soil to be weathered down
Connect to a branch: 08457 28 28 28 Online enquiries: 08456 02 19 61 Home  ›  Gardening  ›  Lawn care  ›  Powered Lawn Aerator Aeration is the key to achieving a fine turfed finish. This self-propelled aerator is available with solid tynes. It relieves compaction, improves drainage and reduces surface thatch by penetrating the soil. To view these files you will need to have Adobe Reader installed on your computer Prices (E and OE) are exclusive of VAT and are in UK Sterling Go to HSS LiveHire (Account Customers only)

To top dress or not to top dress
Not long ago everyone in the industry was told to apply top dressing to the lawn .
But now there a second line of thought that you can either leave it open or solid tine it in the opposite direction.
This will :-
(a) close up the holes as it compresses ~ thus leaving a level finish .
As many greenkeepers will vouch that by hollow tining you are removing cores from the soil and then adding fresh material back
(b) You can either just leave it
(c) Go over with a scarifier and break up the pivots of soil and break them in
If you just got a normal lawn then top dressing with soil is not really needed only for cricket pitches and bowling greens who need a smooth a surface

However if you do find that you are left with bare patches you are left with two choices
(a) to reseed
(b) to turf
Depending on size of the lawn and what effect you want either then your best choices are to lay turf down ~ But it doesn’t come cheap now days best of turf come in at £4 per metre thats roughly $8 in the USA currency
Your other option is to wait for the two to three weeks before the seeds start sprouting

In the 21st century lawns may be going out of fashion. They are seen as high maintenance and environmentally unfriendly because of their need for preciouses irrigation water. However the advantage of making a new lawn from seed is, that you can choose any type of grass seed you want. Drought resistant, low maintenance slow growing, fine or course.


Spring Lawn care. Feeding Now that the warm weather is here it time to look after your lawn and put back what this wet few months have taken away from it all. The signs to look out are as follows :- Is your grass getting a bit anaemic  …

The 6 main pest and diseases of rose & how to treat them.

Pest  and  Disease  Control  of  Roses  

Introduction  – What  is  IPC  and  its  Methods

For  those  that  have  followed  My  blog on

general  pest  &  disease  control   Will   remember  that    I  use  the  IPC  method  on  all  plants  especially  roses. So  you    will  just  need  to  skip  this  paragraph   until  you  get  to  the  one  you  that  you  know. For  those  that  are new .  I  will  briefly  explain  what  IPC  is  before  going  on to  the  Pest  and  Disease  section .

Briefly  I  P C  stands  for  :-

  • Identify  –  By  Identifying  the  pest  or  disease  you can  then  isolate  it  and   treat  it  without  harming  any  other  insects  or  predators  that  are  beneficial  to  the  plant
  • Prevention  –

Prevention  is  better  than  cure

If  you  followed  the  guide  lines  that  i  told you. You are   less  more  than  likely  to  get    infected by  a  blight  or  pest  but   like  the  common  cold  no  matter  how  much  we  keep  healthy  we  still  get  it.  so  is  very  much  like plants

in  their  case  they  will  become  less  sickly  if  we  observed  their  requirement  from  the  off  set  as  I   have  pin  pointed  in  the  first  blog  

Control   or  Monitor   methods –   And  finally  Control    With  the  pest  or  Disease on  rose    isolated  we  can  begin  the  applying  the  safe  practise  of  control   whether its  Chemical  or  Organic  or  mechanical

The 6 main pest  &  Diseases 

& How  to  treat them

The  main  6   pest  &  Diseases  of  roses  are :-

  1. Aphids  
  2. Black Fly
  3. White  Fly
  4. Mildew
  5. Rust
  6. Black Spot

There  are  others  pest  like  the  leaf  cutting  bee   thrips &saw flies   but  those  are  the  main  six

Saw  Flies

These are caterpillar-like larvae, which feed on the leaves of your roses in the spring. They are about 1 ¼ inch long and are light green, some with black spots. If you get on top of this pest right away, you should be able to control them by simply hand-picking them. Look for them on the undersides of the leaves.

Saw  Fly  symptoms

Saw fly larvae symptoms

These  you  just  simply  remove  and  incinerate as  the  caterpillar is  well  protected

Up  close  and  personal  these  critter  look  quite  menacing  a  little  like  caterpillars  but  in  a  large  abundance


Saw Fly  larvae  up  close  and  personal

Leaf  Cutting  bees


leaf  cutting  bee

Tel tail of leaf cutting bees





Thrips are tiny, slender, dark brown or black, sucking insects that damage and destroy opening rose buds turning them brown and leaving them only partially opened. They also feed on the upper surface of the leaf. They can be difficult to see outdoors. If you think that your rose may have thrips, take a cutting inside and shake it over white paper to see if any fall out. Look for a brownish black insect with a narrow body up to 1/16 inch long. They thrive in hot, dry conditions. Regularly watering your roses and spraying with an insecticide or simply cutting off the affected rose or leaf should do the job




I have   already  been  mentioned  in detail along  with  white  fly  in  the  following  blog




  1. 0258BlackFly  


Black  Fly

Black Fly

As  you  can  see  from  this  picture  these  pest  can  be  easily  Identified &  tend  to  swarm  in  colonies  attacking  anything  that  is  green  and  sappy  whether  it  your  green  beans or  bedding  plants  to  roses  that  have  been  over  feed  with  high  nitrogen  fertilizer  to  produce  sappy  growth .



The  best  way  to  prevent  your  roses  being  attacked  by  these  pest  is  to  carefully  check  your  feeding  of  roses.

As  I  said  above  these  and  other  pest  like  aphids  like  green  sappy  growth  for  their  piecing and  sucking  mouth  parts

Feeding this way causes problems for the plant: aphids can transmit plant viruses, and the sticky honeydew they exude can attract sooty moulds to grow

As  in the  case of  lime  trees  every    where

Good  hygiene  too   don’t  compost  any  infected  plants  in  winter  as  the  females  lays  its  eggs  in  the  autumn on  plants  to  feed  its  nurseries and  ounce  the  eggs  has  hatched  in  spring  they  fly  off   on to  much  better  food  supply  and the  circle  begins.

So by  either  bagging  up  infected  plants  or  burning  them  you  are  at  least  cutting  down  on  the  numbers  in  your  garden . But  since  they  can  fly  doesn’t  really  guarantee  you  that  you  are  free  them

So  we  go  to  the  next  Section

Control  or  Management 

There  are   3   methods  of  control

  1. Cultural  

By  this  mean   good  hygiene  and  feeding  regime  as  I  said  above  also  to  encourage  their  natural  predators  into  the  garden   like  Ladybirds lacewings   even  small  birds  feed  on  the  insects  now  and  again

Click to tweet   how   you  can  attract  more  predators into  your  garden  

Spraying  with  tar  oil  or  winter  washes   tends  to  work  well in  winter    when  the  female  lays  it  eggs

Click link to  learn  about  the Natural  Predators


2. Biological  Control  

is comparatively expensive, but effective – if you can create the right conditions. The main problem being that there will be a time lag between being able to source the biological control of Blackfly. Together with this, there will need to be enough Blackfly for the biological predators to act upon.

However  ongoing  research according  to  this  article  here  published  in  2005

This discovery has applications for pest management – the aphid sucrase enzyme could be a suitable target for specific inhibitors that would abolish its dual role in osmoregulation and carbon nutrition of the aphid.

that  these  pest  can  be  controlled  by  spraying  or  other  methods  not  yet  mentioned,

Current research is focussing on determining the mechanism – it’s possible that an anti-microbial with the symbiotic bacteria as the primary target may have evolved in certain plants.

As  I  already  have  gone  into  detail  about  the  use  of  chemical  as  a  method  of  culture  I  wont  go  into  detail  here  but  only  to  stress  the  dangers 

Disease  Control




The effect of Mildrew on roses

As you  can  see  from  the  picture  that  Mildew  can  be  easily  recognised  by  its  powdery  white  effect  on  leafs  and  stems .                        In  fact  Mildews  a  fungal  Disease  rather  like BlackSpot  but  cause  its  feeds  on  moisture  on  the  plant  leaves   it  easily  remedied  by  following  the  procedure


Cultural  control

If you  seen  any signs  on   your  roses  whether  on the  leaves  or  buds  its  best  to   prune  them  out  to  avoid  the  spores  from  spreading  any  further.

Good  hygiene  again  is  important  –  keep  the  center  clear  of  branches  in  the  spring  to  allow  air  flow  through  and  around  the  plant

Try  avoid  watering  from  above  or  in  between  the    branches  water  from  the  bellow ,

Avoid  watering  in  them  evening   go  for   in  the  morning    where  if  you  have  splashed  the  leaves  the  water  has  a  chance  to  dry  off

Plant  rose  far  enough  part  so  they  can  spread  out


Rose Rust


As  you  can  see  from  these  two  examples  that  rose  rust  can  be  easily  recognised  by  its  orange  flex on leaves  and buds

Rose  Rust

Rose Rust on buds

Rose  Rust

Rose Rust on leaves

And  like  Powdery  Mildew  its  a  fungal  disease  on  the  roses  but  less  severe. That  occurs  from  the  beginning  of  spring  right  up  to  summer  should  the  environmental conditions  be  right  for  the  spores  to  spread


6  Cultural  Methods of  controlling  rust  

  • Good  Hygiene  as  always  –
  1.  remove  infected    leaves  and  incinerate  to  prevent  the  spores  from  spreading    like  Black Spot   spores lay  dormant  in  the  on  the  soil  surface  until  they  are  either  splashed  up  by  the  rain  or  watering  from  above   or  carried  up  by  insects  especially  ants . So  clearing  the  ground  of  debris  around  the  plant  is  a  must.
  2. Pruning –  By  leaving  the  center  clean  and  cutting  out  crossing  branches  improves  the  air  circulation  around  the  plant  thus  reducing  the  breeding  grounds  for  the  spores  to  live  by  drying  out  the  leaves  and  buds.
  3. Weeding  –  By  clearing  any  weeds  around  the  plant  esp  oxalis  that  get  infected  by  rust  you  are  reducing  the  risk  of  it  spreading  to  the  roses
  4. Improve  the  soil  structure  of  the  soil  by  forking  over  the  ground  in  spring  to  improve  drainage
  5. Avoid  watering    from  above   always  water  from  the  base  of  the  plant
  6. Avoid  working  on  rose  beds  when its  wet  as  you  can  spread  the  spores  by  simply  walking  around .


Chemical  Control  

When  you  see  the  first  signs  of  rust    spray   the  entire  rose  bush  with  a  copper formulated  compound   examples  can  be  found  here     until  the  bush  is  cleared  giving  it  a  good  drench.

Always    go  by  the  rules  i have mentioned   for  proper  chemical  Management

Organic  Control

There  are  many  new  ‘organic  formulations’  on  the  market  you  could  try if  you are  organically  minded  one  is  the

Disease  spray

Vitax organic spray for pest and disease

Vitax  2  in  1  pest  and  disease  control  spray    Yet I  haven’t  had  the chance  to test  it  out  yet.

But  Vitax  is  reputable  firm  that  specialize  in Rose  Care  products

Black Spot.


Black Spot  spores  on  roses

Black Spot spores on roses

Finally  I  come  to  most  dreaded  killer  of  all  roses,

Black Spot  –  as  You  can  see  by  this  image    this  too  easily  recognized  by  it  instinctive black splotches  that  are  actually   spores .  The  thin  white  threads  are  in  the  roses  stem. hence once  you  see it  its  pretty  much  that  there is  no  real  cure  for  it  except  to  either  live  with it  or  destroy  the  bush  all  together.

In  cases  of  My  many  Clients  they  rather  live  with  it  until  it  dies  completely

So  what  can  be  done  to prevent  it


Cultural  Prevention

  • As  I  mentioned  at  the  very  start  of  the  Blogs  on  roses    That  when  planting  a  new  rows  always  make  sure  the  rose  gets  a  good  start
  • Mulching  around  the  roses  in  spring  with  sterilized compost  like  Cocopeat  or  peat based formulations     This  will  stop  any    fungal  spores  that  i  mentioned  above  from  splashing  up  and  infecting  younger  shoots
  • Pruning  out  any  dead  diseased  or  dying  branches  and  incinerating  it  (  Do  not  compost  them
  • Improve  the  air  circulation  around  &  inside  the  bush  by  cleaning  out  any  inward  pointing  branches
  • Don’t  plant  roses  close  together  as  one  rose  can  spread  the  disease  to  another  and  this  too  allows  air  to  circulate
  • Water  from  the  base  only

Chemical  Control  

Organic  Control

How to make a compost bin for next to nothing

Step (1)

Now  that we  have  the  leaves  falling way  before  their  time  its  time to  plan  head  and  think of  how  we  are  going  to  recycle  them  in  our  garden. I  did  that  for  one  of  clients  a  few  days  ago  and  now  I’m  going  to  show  you  how  I  did  it .

The  first  thing  you  need  is  wooden  crates these  are  free  if  ask  any  hard  ware  store  for  them  as  they  are  used to  stack  bags  of  compost  ect  and  then    disposed  off  when  finished  so  why  not  recycle


Step (2)

Now  we  have  the  bin  set  up    we  can  now  add  our  garden waste  but  wait there  are  few  important thing  to  remember  first and  these  are :-

  1. Leaves  are  not  like  green  waste  like  grass cutting ,weeds  ect. They  are  made  of  a  simple  carbon  all  the  nutriments have  gone  back  into  the  plant  as  it get  dormant  –  there  as  with  all  other  carbon  bio-products  these  will  take  a  little  longer to  rot  down. About  a  year or  two  according  to  the  environment.
  2. You  can  accelerate  the  process  by  first
  •  munching  the  leaves  in  either  a  blower  or  lawn  mower


  • Then  emptying  the  bag  into  the  bins
  • A  tip  i  learnt  from  experience  is  to  moisten  the  leaves  first   with  a  fine  rose  cause  the  fungi  that  break  down  the  leaves  thrive  on  a  wet  well  ventilated  environment
  • If  you  have  spent  mushroom  compost  handy  or  even  toadstools or  mushrooms  growing  in  your  garden add  these  with  your  garden   rubbish  you  got  from  your  bed     –  these  will  also  contain  other  beneficial  organisms  that  will  speed  up  the  decay
  • Make  sure  that  your  bins  are  well  ventilated  by  adding  chipped  clippings  from  your  shrubs  that  you  have  pruned    but  do  not  add  diseased  wood  or  leaves  to  the  pile  these  are  better  burnt  then  added  to  your  pile
  • Leaves  to  avoid  are  large  veined  like  oak and  plane  tree also do  not  put  street  tree  leaves  in  the  pile  as  they can  harbour  toxins  from  pollution

I  hope  you  enjoyed  this  article

Please give me  feed  back

Are the RHS and Defra BARKING up the wrong tree

Chapter 2

Bark Mulch

What is  Bark  Mulch 

English: Aged mulch of coarse home compost Cat...

 Bark mulch is a byproduct of the forestry industry, making use of the bark stripped off timber that is being milled for lumber such as two-by-fours. Bark and green waste such as wood chips and branches are collected into a huge pile. The material is then put through a chipper to break everything down into similar sized pieces. The chipped green waste is then processed in an aeration system, or compost plant. The material is then partially composted. This begins the decomposition process of the material so that it is already on its way to forming a nutrient rich mulch for gardens and landscapes. Once the composting stage is complete, the bark mulch is processed through a screening plant Bark  mulch comes  in  several  shapes  and  sizes   two  of  the  most  popular  are  the  general  Amenity  mulch  made  from processed  mixed  conifers to  the  rich  small  nuggets  of  the  pine  mulch.


Contractors Turf

Pine bark  mulch .

This  According  to  Malcourt   or neat,small nuggets  giving  you  that  deluxe  and  high performance  and  that  rich reddish  brown.Like  all bark mulches it’s  is  biodegradable  which  mean  over  time  it  will  slowly  rot  down  into  the  soil  to  give  it  fibre  and  carbon.As  there  is  no  nutrients in  the  bark  it self  despite  what  other  tell  you   As  this  pdf  will  tell  you  bellow

Melcourt Soil ameliorates, compost and Topsoil Product Specification Guide

Also  another  thing  to  bare  in  mind  is  that  all  bark  mulches  are  very  acidic –  I  know  from  experience  that  my  clients  call  me  out  when  they  have  the  ‘  Butcher  Squad  ‘ there  words  not  mine  been  cutting  and  chipping  trees  down    and  spreading  the  wood chips  every  where without  knowing  the   consequences .

I  come  over  and  see  plants   dying cause  of  it.  So  if  you  want  to  Pine  bark  Mulch  or Any  Amenity  Mulch    down  think where  you  are  going  to  put  first.

Advantages  of Pine  Bark  Mulch


  • It is like  CocoPeat  it  biodegradable    over  a  period  of  3  yrs
  • Its  not  porous  &  that  means  it  soak  up  moisture   like  a  sponge   and  benefit  the  plants  roots  –  this  can  also  be  a  bad  thing  which  i  will  tell  you  later  on  how  to  work  around  this
  • its  a  natural  local  source  product
  • Pine  Bark  Mulch  because  of  it  colour  its  naturally   appealing
  • Pine Bark  Mulch or  any  mulch  in  fact  deters  slugs  and  snails

Disadvantages of  using Bark  Mulch 

  • Some bark mulches may be toxic to young plants, particularly if the bark is fresh or if it has been improperly stockpiled. Toxins can be leached from bark by heavy watering or evaporated by thorough aeration.Bark mulches are most likely to cause damage to plants if the mulch particles are small, if the mulch is particularly deep, or if high proportions of plant roots are in the surface layer of the soil.
  • If  the  heap  is  still  fresh  ie  in  the  state  of  decomposition then the  nitrates  its  produces  will  kill  of  the  fine  root  hairs or in  other  cases  it  will  cause  nitrogen  rubbery . Best  to  make  sure  that the  pile  is  well  &  fully  decomposed  or  buy  it  from  referable  supplier like  Melcourt
  • Make  sure  that  any  Free  bark  chips  are  free  from  pathogens  first  check  your  source  –  although  you  might  get  along  with  your  neighbour  or  arbour the  wood  might  pass  the  pathogens  on  to  your  stock.  You  wouldn’t  put  any  wood  chipping  that  came  from  your  tree  that  been  infected  around  your  new  stock  so  why  would  you  do  it  on  your  trees
  1. However  with  this  new  method  of  renewing  the  source  another  way  which  is  called  biochar  –  this  I  will  explain  in  chapter  3

Finally  I  come  to  the    Bark  Compost

Bark Compost

What is bark Compost 

Bark Compost is a renewable resource and is one of the most widely used components in commercial container media, although barks from many other species are also processed for this purpose.Bark particles used in container media generally range in size from dustlike to about 3/8 inch in diameter.




  • Bark lacks the moisture-holding capacity of peat moss, There  fore  its  free draining &  like  Biochar & coir  its  needs  to  pre soaked  for  a bout  a  day
  • As  I  mentioned  above  bark  alone  holds  no  nutriments at  all. So  best  either  mix it  up  with  your  compost  or  buy  it  from  the  store  that  has  it  already  mixed
  • but it can dramatically increase the porosity of a mix.


  •   Bark  cause  of  it  size  when  mixed  with  other  medium  will  increase  the  porousity  of  the  compost
  • It is  biodegrable  &  therefore  old  compost  can  be  put  into  compost  heaps to latter  be  dug  into  the  ground
  • If  its  mixed  with  shredded  leaves  in  autumn  and  placed  in  a  OPEN  compost  container  the  fungi  that  break  down  the  chipping  rot  the  down  the  leaves  too  to  make  leaf  mould  –  The  purpose  of  the  Open  container  is  to  allow  air  flow  threw  the  compost  and  moisture  from  the  rain  or  dew  to  activate  the  heap.

fungi  don’t  need  heat  to  live  only  the  damp  and  wet   conditions  like  a  typical  autumnal  day not  like  grass  cutting  that  need a  dry  condition  to  generate  heat

A successful container   potting medium  must  :-

  •  stable reservoir of moisture and nutrients and remain loose enough to allow for root development ,water movement and the exchange of gases in the root zone.
  • A growing medium must also have a pH (a measure of the alkalinity or acidity of a medium) that can support adequate nutrient uptake,
  • Be  virtually  sterile
  • Be  neutral  in  PH  depending  on  the  plant
  • The  Medium  should  supply  a  goog  anchorage  and  support  for  the  roots
  • must  be  heavy  enough  to  allow  anchorage


.If you have a good mix, water will penetrate it quickly and drain freely from the bottom of the pot. When the excess water has drained away, air will fill the large pore spaces, but enough water will be retained in the smaller spaces to provide ample moisture for the plant. In a poor mix, water may be slow to penetrate, the medium will become heavy and waterlogged, and a crust from algae or accumulated salts may form on the surface. Under these conditions, the roots become starved for oxygen, plant growth slows, foliage may begin to yellow, and plants often succumb to root rot.


With  this  taken  on  board  I would  definitely  choose  a  coir  based  compost  cause  with    bark  there  are  so  many  variables  either  you  over  water  or  you  under  water  ect

At  least  Coco  Peat  is  sterile  so  there  less  chance  of  getting  soil  borne  diseases  than  bark  si  there  a  less  thing  to  worry  about .  Off  couse  its  got  to  mixed and  soaked  before  hand   for  it  be  any  benefit

Well  thats  My  say  what  yours




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” For peat sake choose another compost ”

Have you  ever been confused on what to buy now since the Department of Environment  Food & Rural  Affairs ie DEFRA along with the Royal Horticultural society  are  calling  out  to  us  gardeners  &  Horticulturist

For  Peat sake Choose  another  compost

Well  I’m  here  to  ease  your  worries  as  I  have  done  extensively  researched  each  product  old  and  new. &  what  i   found  is  that  are  at  least  3  known  growing  mediums  available  on  the  market today .

So what  are they?

Well  lets  start  of  with  one  that  you  know  most  about .And  That  is

Public display by members of a cooperative mak...




 What is Coir

Coir or  coco peat  is  a  fibrous  material  found  between the  hard shell  and  the  outer coat  of  the  coconut.

And depending  on  the  uses whether it used  for  upholstery or  Horticulture –  the  brown  fibre from  the  ripe  shell  of  coconut  to the  white  fibre  of  the   unripe  shell – for  brushes  ect. Comes  into  two  shape &  forms

raw  coco peat  fibers

raw coco peat fibers

Lets  deal  with  the  Horticultural  and  Environmental   side  of  coir . As   we  are  looking  into  it the  alternatives  of  Peat.

From what I  managed to  source   about coir fibre products is  that  they  come  in  very  shape  and  forms for  example  Coir  logs  Coir  Blankets  for  environmental  problems  like  landslides to biodegradable coir  pots.

Lets  start  with  the ones  we  know  about  first  :-

Pure Coconut Coir

As  I  mentioned  before  the   other alternative  to  peat   which  the  RHS  is  pushing  is  the  use  of  Coco  peat  compost . Made  out  of    brown  coir fibre  found  ” between the  hard shell  and  the  outer coat  of  the  coconut.”

What are its  advantages

  1. Because  its  very  fibrous  its  an  ideal  growing  medium  to  grow  young  seedling   or  mature  plants  as it  promote  good  active  root  growth.
  2. It is  also  a  very  sterile  medium  too  hence  its  use  as disc  and  brushes –  this  means  no  fungi  spores  can  thrive  on  it  and   it  repels diseases
  3. Cause  of  this the  Horticultural  disc  are  ideal  for  mulching around  young  plants .
  4. It  is  very  light  to  carry  as  it    either  comes  in  blocks  which  you  have  to  soak  over  night   if  you  want  to  use  the  next day or  the  loose  form
  5. It is  said  to  repel  slugs  –  this  is  because  of  its  bristly  nature   that  they  don’t  like
  6. Coir  biodegrades  easily

What are  the  Disadvantages 

here are  a  few  disadvantages  that  I  know  by  experience  as  horticulturist   that  because  all coir   fibre products

  1. Is  the  cost  all Horticultural  Coir fibre products esp  Coco peat  are   made  over  seas  the  products  tend  to be  very  higher  than   the  other  compost  on  the  Market.
  2. Although  saying  that  after  the  out  cry  a  few  years  back  about  the  same  thing   Many  top  end  names  have   switched  there  peat  to  coco  peat.And  maybe  now  the  price  has  dropped  to  encourage  buyers   to  switch
  3. Coco peat   tends  to  be  alkaline   –  so  try  and  avoid  putting  it  around   acid  loving  plants
  4. As  I  said  before  coco  peat  blocks  needs  to  pre-soaked  over night  to  allow  you  to  use  it  –  a  bit  of  inconvenience  better  prepare  them before

Other  Coconut Coir  fibre  products  are ;-

Coir Pots


Advantages  of  Coir  Pots

  • These  biodegradable  Coir  Pots  are  ideal  because  of  the  nature  of  the  coir  fibre  products it  allows  the  young  white  tap  roots  to   grow  though    fibre as  you  can  see  from  this  picture
  • This  means  that  plants  can  be  transplanted  straight  outside  or  re-potted  without  putting  the  plant  under  too  much  stress

Disadvantage  of Coir  Pots

From  My  experience  in working  in  my  clients  greenhouse  is  that  :-

  • Coco  peat  is  very  free  draining
  •  Thus    watering  has  to  monitored   carefully    other  wise  the  plants  will  just  wither  &  die  in the  Coir  pots

This  can  be  counter measured  if  the    coir  is  treated  before  hand

  •  And  since  these  are  biodegradable coir  pots  –  be careful  not  to  over water  as  well  as  the  pots  will  disintegrate

These  are  used   as  another  alternative  to  mulching  around  young  plants  especially  Tomatoes  where  it  avoid  splash  back  from  the  soil  where  the  pathogens  live and  gives  the  plant  a  chance   to  grow  .

Made  from  woven  coir  fibre in  a  circular  form  these  can  be  used  in  conjunction  of  these  biodegradable  coir  pots

The  only  disadvantages  is  that you  still  have  to  clear  the  leaf  litter  from  it  for  it  to  have  an  effect  an  example  of  Cocopeat Ring  mats  can  be  seen  below

Coir  Erosion control  products

There  are  two   Erosion    products  that  I  know  off  :-

  • (1)  Coir  logs.


Coir logs, silt checks, dewatering bags and silt fencing. This combination of both synthetic and natural fiber materials helps to address runoff requirements around construction sites, storm drains, streams and inlets

Coir  logs  are biodegradable coconut coir  pith  measuring 1 – 6 metres in  length and  10  –  0 60 Metres  in  length These are  tightly packed in  a  tubular  coir fibre netting  made  from  coir  twine

It’s a  very  efficient  way  of  reducing  water velocity at  the  base  of  slopes ,shoreline & stream  banks.

Coir  Blankets are a biodegradable product designed for long-term erosion control in steep areas and demanding areas . Products are made from several all-natural materials to create erosion control that is effective and biodegradable .

Erosion blanket installation

Erosion blanket installation (Photo credit: Sound Native Plants)

Related articles

(more to  follow  on  the  next  blog)
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Things to Do in Winter

As the weather is still mild there are just a few thing that need to done this time of  year  apart  from  sweeping the  leaves:-

  • Pruning –  As the last  of  the  apples and  leaves  fall  from  the  tree  now  the  time  to  prune  your  standard  tree &  not  your cordon  that  is  pruned definitely  in  may  and  June  and  will  be  covered  in  a  separate blog  when  the  time  comes.

The thing  to  remember  is  treat  an  apple  tree  the  same  way  as  you  prune  the  rose . That is  the  to  remove  all  the  Dead,Dieing and  Diseased  branches  first   or  the  3  Ds   then  to  clear   anything  that  crossing  the  branches  to  avoid  them  from  rubbing  together  and  thus  causing  a  callus   where  infection  can  get  in.

After  that  clear  all branches in  the  middle  to  allow  better  circulation


When pruning  apple trees  it’s best  to  count  down  to   seven  nodes ,and then if can  cut  with  a  slant slanting  away  from  the node. This allows  water  to  run  off  and  not  get  into  the  main  branch .Avoid  cutting  back  the   leader  if  you  pruneapples4bhave  too, although   by  pruning  back  the  leader  will  produce  more  lateral  growth .  And  in  that  case  its  not  cut  back  hard  but  just  snipped  out  from  the  top



But  in  some  cases  where  the  lateral  is  too  high or  unaccessible  this  isn’t  possible.  So  A  long range  pruner  may  be  necessary  to  bring  it  down  to  size.See picture  bellow.

These  have  a  long  telescopic  handle  and  the  lopper  works  on  the  pulley  system.The  saw  is  rather fragile  so  be carefulpruneapples4c  not  to  cut  in  knot  as  it  lightly  to  get  stuck ,bend  &  then  finally  snap  as  you  try  and  wiggly  it  free

Another job you  can  do  is  to  really  hard  prune  back your  dog wood  or  cornus  alba  really  hard  now  especially  the  old  growth  as this  produces young  bright  red  shoots  from  the  base   which  add  that  special  bright  colour  through  the  snow.

However  special  care  should  be  taken  if  you  have  Cornus which  produce the  yellow  and  green  foliage  in  the  spring  so  a  compromise  will  have  to  taken  colour or  form   leaves  or  stems.

Pruned_Cornus_sibiricaThe  main  problem  with  Cornus   alba Siberica especially  the  wild  variety  it  that  it  suckers easily  and  thus  will  need  continual pruning  otherwise  it  will  be  terribly  evasive  plant





long  range  prunning saw

long range pruning saw