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July Gardening Tips - Northern Living

July Gardening Tips - Northern LivingFlower Garden
Cut back lupins and delphiniums that have finished flowering to encourage a second flush later in the season.  Continue to deadhead the flower border on a regular basis as this will also encourage more flowers later on. Don't forget to feed all the flower borders and containers every two weeks and water well in dry weather. Containers may need watering as much as twice a day in very hot weather. Keep up with the weeding otherwise the weeds will take moisture and nutrients meant for your flowers. Take time out to sit in your garden and enjoy! 

Lawn
Keep mowing regularly unless there is a drought. Set the mower blade slightly higher than before so that if it becomes very hot the grass will not dry out so much.  Only water any recently sown grass or new turf. If an existing lawn does go brown it will recover after the first rains. 

Fruit and Vegetables
If apple trees are still over crowded with fruit after the June drop then take out any blemished fruit and the central apple from each cluster.  As soon as summer fruiting raspberries have been cropped cut out the old canes. Regularly pick courgettes to prevent them from becoming marrows. Pick peas and beans as soon as they are ready or they will become tough and stringy later. Lift and use over wintered onions. Sow spring cabbage and winter salad crop seeds. 

Wildlife
Top up bird feeders and tables regularly but avoid chunky food that could be taken back to fledglings and choke them and keep the bird bath topped up with fresh water.  Plant marigolds around the vegetable garden to attract hoverflies and grow more plants that have single flowers rather then doubles as these seem to attract insects better. Don't deadhead roses that produce hips as these will be a valuable food source later on in the season. 

Looking Good This Month

Delphinium - Tall growing stately flowers in many shades.
Helianthus - Sun flower. Tallest growing flower with large heads.
Nicotiana - Flowering tobacco. Large leaves with fragrant white flowers.
Nymphaea - Water lilies. Good colour, shape and coverage of ponds.
Roses - Climbers, ramblers, bush, shrub and patio. Good colour and scent.
Solanum Crispum - Potato vine. Fast growing climber. Profuse lilac or white flowers.
Verbena Bonariensis - Tall airy plant that you can see through with purple flowers atop.

Environmental Benefits of Wood Burning

Environmental Benefits of Wood burningWood burning is better in environmental terms than most fuels as the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is the same as that absorbed by the tree during growth. It is also a renewable resource, particularly when derived from plantations and cultivated woodland. When using your wood burning stove, for optimum results, we recommend logs should be seasoned for 2 years or more to achieve a moisture content below 20%. This will not only give up to twice the output of freshly felled timber but help avoid a build up of tar in your stove's flue. Not only do modern woodburning stoves burn much cleaner and more efficiently than older conventional stoves, but the view of the fire is just spectacular. By upgrading to a CE certified and HETAS accredited wood burning stove, you can save wood, reduce smoke and enjoy the view all winter long.

The Forestry Commission have recommended that millions of trees are planted to cover an extra 4% of the UK in woodland, equivalent to 30,000 football pitches a year, increasing the UK's total woodland cover to 16%. According to the Solid Fuel Technology Institute, logs are the cheapest form of heating energy. The cost per kW of useful energy is now around 4p. This compares to 5p for anthracite, 7p for natural gas, 7.5p for oil, 9p for LPG and 12p for electricity.

House Warming Selby presently have a number of stoves on special offer. Although summer might seem like a counterintuitive time to consider a stove installation, it actually has a number of advantages. Most obvious of which is it's reasonably warm outside so you'll not loose the heater from your house during installation.

Himalayan Balsam control along the River Seph

Himalayan Balsam control along the River SephHimalayan balsam is a plant native to the Himalayas and was introduced to Britain by Victorian plant hunters. The first record of it being planted in gardens is 1839.

It can be identified by a pink, slipper-shaped flower which has a sickly sweet smell. It has a hollow stem and can grow up to two metres tall. The exploding seed pods can scatter seeds up to seven metres from the parent plant.

It's often found growing along riverbanks where it rapidly outcompetes our native plants, forming large, dense patches. The seeds remain viable in watercourses and those transported downstream can establish new colonies. The plant is annual so it dies back completely in winter, leaving riverbanks without any stabilising vegetation, making them susceptible to erosion. With more water run-off into rivers the sediments reduce water quality, and spawning areas of salmon and other fish can be smothered and the risk of flooding increases.

A bit of background

Our project began in 2008 following concern over the large amount of Himalayan balsam found along the lower sections of the River Rye. However, as the plant's seeds can be spread via watercourses we needed to start tackling the balsam right at the top of the catchment and work downstream. This meant starting on the River Seph which begins at Chop Gate in Bilsdale and is the main river that flows into the River Rye. The River Seph in turn is formed from the confluence of Raisdale Beck and Bilsdale Beck.

Getting it under control

A survey was carried out in 2008 to map out where the balsam was growing, then in 2009 the control work began on two tributaries - Raisdale Beck and Bilsdale Beck. Local contractors were hired to do the bulk of the control work through a combination of strimming and hand pulling, the local community and volunteers have also helped.

By 2012 we had covered 21km (13.5 miles) of riverbank, taking control work right up to the confluence of the River Seph with the River Rye. We also carried out repeat control work which is necessary due to the presence of a seedbank in the soil (seeds can remain viable for approximately 18 months) and the varying growth rate of the plant. Control work also began along an embankment north of the village of Hawnby which was found to be abundant with balsam. National Park Volunteers also tackled stretches of riverbank on the Rye in Duncombe Park National Nature Reserve, working with Natural England.

The Sweet Smell of Success

The project is now in its sixth year and we are delighted our efforts are proving to be worthwhile. Very little balsam is now being found in those areas previously controlled, and in some areas the balsam has been eradicated.

This year, 2013, we were able to extend the control work onto the River Rye and tackle the stretch from the Seph confluence as far down as Rievaulx Bridge, a distance of about six km (four miles).

Next year we will continue our work on the Rye and extend the control area all the way to Helmsley and the National Park boundary. Hopefully the small amount of balsam left in the Seph catchment can be hand pulled by local volunteers.

More Info here

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Gaining or Losing the Plot

Gaining or Losing the PlotReader Submission by Bill Thornton

About twelve months ago, I was invited down to have a look at the Live Well, Eat Well allotment run by Pendle Leisure Trust at Hodge House Allotments, Nelson.

Upon arrival at the allotments, the first thing that grabbed me was the sheer size of the operation. The area is taking up by more than a hundred self contained allotments. Each allotment has its own unique character with a variable amount of sheds, caravans, polytunnels and greenhouses adorning each plot. One allotment in particular housed a homemade greenhouse constructed entirely out of recycled plastic bottles and it soon become apparent that life in allotment world is very much waste-not, want-not. An old bath or toilet can quickly be transformed in to a floral masterpiece or strawberry haven. My colleague Chris and I quickly quenched our thirsts with some wonderful ice cold Elderflower juice which we were presented with and at that point we decided that we wanted a slice of life on the allotment. Upon making enquiries we were informed that there was a large waiting list but our application would be considered should any plots become available (highly unlikely as waiting lists across the country are growing by the day) then in May of this year we got the call….


Due to work/life commitments, Chris and I had already decided that we were going to share at an allotment as spare time was of the essence and our prior knowledge was limited (I had previously tended to a small blueberry bush and Chris had helped his mum pull up a few onions from her garden!) After having a little tour of the available allotments, we ended up selecting a plot that appeared to need less work and was south-facing to maximise the power of the sun. We soon realised that this year was all about preparation for next year. We have missed the majority of the growing season so our intention was (or still is) to prepare the land, fix the fences, get the necessary greenhouses and polytunnels in place and maintain the leaky caravan. Now bearing in mind that our allotment had been dormant for about three years, you can probably imagine the size and depth of the weeds and grass. We purchased a petrol strimmer (the lack of electricity on the allotment is something that you quickly get used to) and Chris got to work with the powerful beast and soon revealed five beds that had previously been constructed as well as a pathway that went right down the middle of the allotment.

My main role was now to fork the soil, removing the myriad dock leaves and assorted weeds and prepare a bed fit for planting. We had been donated several plants and seedlings so decided to plant them and hope for the best. Chris was now concentrating his efforts on the deconstruction of the chicken coop that we had been left with. Our allotment neighbours had informed us that the previous tenants had been contacted by the local RSPCA and subsequently evicted due to the condition of the would-be egg making factory and its inhabitants. This monstrosity of a shack made with corrugated iron, kitchen cabinet doors and any other bits of wood was proving a real nightmare for Chris but he eventually got through it, separating the good wood from the rotten. It was now time to plant for the first time. We were both excited at this prospect because at the end of the day that was why we were there. Our fellow allotmenteers busied themselves with pigeons, chickens and bees but our intention is primarily to grow. After only a couple of months in the business I can definitely see the benefits of having an allotment. It is a ‘safe haven’, somewhere to go to reflect, take away the stress of modern life and more importantly quite literally see the fruit of your labours! I suppose only time will tell whether all the effort is worth it or if it’s easier to simply visit the fruit and veg aisle of the local supermarket.

To be continued…

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