Welcome back to another 7 Hints and Tips post. This week I am giving some tips on what to pack in you and your baby’s hospital bags. It has felt like I have had mine packed for ages in hope of her arriving just before her due date. Here I am at 40+4 still waiting with my bags packed at the bottom of the stairs.
Mine has been packed since 34 weeks!
Well it’s Thursday again so time for another 7 Hints and Tips post. This week I want to help out with tips on preparing your gardens for Spring. Being nearly 40 weeks pregnant at this time of year I am really behind with my Winter garden prep, so it’s going to have to wait this year. The upside is that I have all Summer off on maternity leave so I am sure I will have some spare time to get out and about in the garden.
So It’s that time of year, where we are all waiting for Spring to arrive. Now is the time to get outside in the garden on a dry day and start working on the garden preparing for Spring. If you get some work in now, you won’t be caught out if we get an early Spring. Here are my 7 Hints and Tips on preparing your Winter garden for Spring.
- Tidy – Now is the time to have a bit of a tidy up. Clear up dead leaves and debris from around the garden, flower beds, boarders and patio areas. Remove any dead flowers that have been missed, prune bushes and shrubs before the first Spring growth.
- Compost Area – Create a compost are where you can put all your garden waste. This could be one you have made yourself with a few pieces of wood, or a compost bin bought from your local garden centre. This is great for putting all your vegetable peelings and grass clippings.
- Fix Fences and Trellis – Get the fixing jobs out the way so you have more time for planting in the Spring and Summer.
- Garden Pests – Now is the time to remove and control pests around the garden before they get out of hand in the Spring. Remove hibernating slugs, snails and aphids.
- Install Water Butts – I have 2 water butts in my garden and I couldn’t do without them. Not only does it save on the water bill during Spring/Summer but the rainwater is much preferred by some ericaceous plants such as Rhododendrons and Blueberry bushes.
- Greenhouse – If you are lucky enough to have a greenhouse (I unfortunately do not due to my garden being a hill so no flat areas for one!) I would suggest giving it a clean out before you start to plant your trays of seeds. This is so that any pests that are hibernating inside are removed.
- Gardening Tools – Clean and sharpen your gardening tools, to not only prevent the spread of diseases but also to preserve their lifespan.
Hopefully these hints and tips will help you get a head start on your garden for Spring. Now I have sat down and written about these tips I have just realised I have a lot of work to do in my own garden!
Do you have any of your own gardening tips on preparing for Spring?
I set up my blog 10 months ago and have found it really hard to get ‘my blog out there’ if you know what I mean. So to make a start on my 7 Hints and Tips Thursday series for the new year I have decided to do some research and come up with my own simple hints and tips to help promote my blog in the vast spaces of the World Wide Web. These are the hints and tips I want to share with you all.
- Posts- Write high quality posts that will engage your readers. I have found the more I write the better a writer I have become. Don’t forget to reply to any comments on your posts – it’s polite to do so.
- Promote Others Content-Find similar blogs/websites to your own and retweet/comment on it. Connect with influential bloggers, you may find them retweeting one of your posts to their many thousands of followers.
- Daily Action Plans- Use tools like Buffer and Hootsuite to schedule your post tweets throughout the day. I schedule 10 tweets throughout the day, mainly that day’s post and a few of my other recent posts.
- Join Other Blog Linkies- One of my favourite parts of blogging is to link up to other blog linkies. It’s how I have discovered some of my favourite blogs. I try to link up with at least 3 a week.
My favourites are:
There are lots more out there to discover!
- Share Posts on Social Media- After each post is published I like to share them on lots of social media sites such as Twitter, my Facebook page, Instagram, Google + Pinterest. Twitter and Instagram are my favourites and where I get the most interaction. The others I need to work on!
- Social Media Buttons- I recommend including social media buttons that are easily accessible to the reader. These are very quick for the reader to share your posts or to follow you building your audience. This is one of my plans for my blog – to add social media buttons to one easy place.
- Run Competitions- I found out last year that running competitions are great ways to build up your blog views. There are lots of compers out there that will add your competition to sites such as The Prize Finder and Competition Database where lots more readers can find your blog. If you run regular competitions you will get the same readers returning time after time.
I hope some of these simple hints and tips you will find useful and apply to your own blogs. I would love to hear some of your favourite tips for promoting your own blogs. Also if anyone has any ideas that I could use to improve my blog, they would be most welcome.
This is one of my azalea shrubs out in bud. It’s a gorgeous red colour and stands out well in my back garden against the barked area. My back garden is sloped into the hill, so I have found that azalea’s are perfect for bringing colour and interest to this drab area.
The azalea’s I have are very young plants, so I am looking forward over the coming years to see them grow and develop. This is my white azalea below, it’s very forward compared to the red one above. They have such beautiful spring blooms and bring joy to my garden.
So as you enjoyed my other hints and tips post’s here is another 7 Hints and Tips to add to the series. This time on how to plant and care for azalea’s.
- Appropriate Location – choose a location that is not in direct sunlight. Azalea’s prefer the morning sun and afternoon shade. My shrubs have the morning sun and are shaded by the house in the afternoon due to them being planted in the slope. Azalea’s grow well when planted under shady trees
- Soil Conditions – Azalea’s love well drained acidic soil. My garden has a very high clay component in the soil, so to get around the drainage problem, I loosened up the soil with lots of compost and other organic matter. Another way to get around bad draining soil is to plant the shrubs in pots or raised beds.
- Watering – When newly planted, azalea’s need to be watered every 2-3 days until the roots are established. They need to be kept moist, not wet or dry. Too much water is just as bad as too little.
- Mulching – Azalea shrubs like some sort of protection around their roots. This can be pine bark, pine needles, wood chips or something similar. This helps to keep the roots warm in winter, retain moisture around the roots and keep weeds away.
- Pruning – To keep the shrub full bodied, you can prune azalea’s after blooming. Prune no later than 3 weeks after the blooms have died down, otherwise you will be cutting off next years flower buds.
- Fertilising – I think the best time to feed your azalea is after blooming. Only use a little as they are light feeders and only require a small amount of feeding, otherwise you could burn your plants. Do not use any fresh manure on your azalea’s as it is too strong, and could kill your plant.
- Common Diseases and Pests – Insects that can affect azalea’s are lace bugs and spider mites. Lace bugs are more prone to attack your shrub if it is grown in full sunlight. They attack the underside of the leaf sucking out all the chlorophyll, leaving the leaf a grey-white colour. The azalea can be treated with sprays which you can buy from your local garden centres who can advise you on the best course of treatments.
I won these beautiful boxes of asparagus with @GrownWithLove
on Twitter last week. It might sound strange to some of you, but I have never tried asparagus before so this is an ideal chance for me to discover what it’s all about. They look very beautiful and fresh.
I have been reading up on what asparagus actually is and how can it benefit you.
Apparently asparagus is a spring vegetable and only the young shoots are eaten before the buds start to open otherwise they turn woody.
Over the past few years orchids have become very popular for indoor plants. You can find them in almost every supermarket nowadays at various prices and in many different colours. The orchid below was given to me about 4 years ago when we just moved into our first house. It is still going strong by following a few a tips on how to care for your orchid.
Due to the popularity of my previous hints and tips posts (book reviews
and caring for cacti
) I have decided to continue the series, so here is another set of 7 hints and tips, this time on how to care for your orchids.
- Watering instructions – Water every 5-12 days depending on the temperature of the room, the type of orchid and the time of year. More frequent watering is required during summer months. Always check the watering instructions when you buy the orchid. Orchids prefer soft water.
- Support – When your orchid is in bloom support the stems with clips and sticks, which you can pick up from any good garden centres.
- Sunlight conditions – Orchids prefer bright indirect sunlight. North or east facing windows during summer and south facing in winter months.
- Trimming – Orchids have little nodes (triangular bumps) on the stem and each one is a potential flower bud. So when all the flowers die and fall off, trim the stem down to the lowest node and cut diagonally to stimulate new growth.
- Growing media – Orchids prefer moist well drained conditions. There are several types of growing media that can be used: fir bark, rocks, cork, sand and potting soil. Most of the orchids you buy at the supermarkets are grown on bark. Re potting should be done every other year to encourage growth. Remember to remove any dead roots and old compost.
- Leaf health – You can tell how healthy your orchid is by looking at the colour of the leaves and checking to see if they are getting enough light. They should be bright green rather than dark green, which tells you that the orchid is not getting enough sunlight if it’s too dark. Reddish green leaves is too much light. If the leaves develop black blotches it most likely has sunburn, through being in a hot sunny window. So move to a north facing window.
- Pests and disease – Orchids can be affected by mealybugs, scale and aphids. These can be washed off and treated with insecticidal soap, which again can be found at all good garden centres.
This stunning pink orchid I picked up at M&S at a reduced price.
I love how perfectly formed the flower heads are. The orchid is one of the most highly coveted ornamental plants, and in ancient Greece the orchid represents fertility, because in the ancient Greek language, orchid actually means testicles!
It’s also associated with beauty, love, luxury, strength and wisdom. They have very delicate and graceful flowers which shows perfect symmetry.
Different coloured orchids have different meanings:
- Pink, like the one above represent happiness, innocence and joy.
- Blue represents spirituality and meditation. They are also very rare.
- White stand for beauty, elegance and innocence.
- Yellow orchids represent friendship and new beginnings.
- Purple symbolises royalty and respect.
- Lavender coloured orchids represent grace and feminine beauty.
- Green orchids represent health, nature, life and longevity.
- Orange coloured orchids stand for boldness, pride and enthusiasm.
My favourite colour orchids are the pink ones and they represent happiness which is how I feel at the moment in my life. What would be your favourite colour orchid?