Posts Tagged ‘Compost mix’


I don’t know about you but it’s about his time of the year I start thinking about cutting the hedges. I was brought up in the country and I remember my dad used to take a lot of advice from a farmer friend when it came to hedge cutting. “When you see the farmer out with his tractor and hedge cutter then its time to cut the hedges” he used to say.

Well last weekend the farmer in the back field was out bright and early trimming the hedgerows  so I thought I’d get the step ladder out and start tidying up our mixed hedge. It’s about 60 meters of mixed hedge in total and has pretty much everything in it from lleylandi to hazel with the odd walnut sapling thrown in for good measure.

The hedge was here when we moved in and as each year goes with careful management it just gets better. Although it isn’t perhaps the most beautiful hedge you’ll find but it does host a variety of native birds and flora so it’s always best to wait until the birds have stopped breeding before cutting.

Every year I have the challenge of finding something to do with the waste material. Well this year a friend of mine gave us a small electric shredder. It doesn’t actually shred the waste, more like grinds the branches into submission!


Having said that it is a great little machine and I’m immensely grateful for it, not least as it enables us to create a by-product from the hedge trimmings which serves several purposes.mulchFirstly it makes a great surface for around the entrance to the nursery which is soft under foot and when its had a chance to break down it turns into the most amazing springy compost material.

The great thing is its cheap to produce and lasts for several seasons and you can throw it onto the compost heap or simply lay it on top of the beds and wait for nature to do its stuff.

Last year we started to scatter the trimmings on the paths in the kitchen garden to create a more natural feel.  One year on and its turned into the most amazing mulch which is soft under foot and can be used for mulching the flower beds.  I simply spade it onto the beds and work it into the soil and worms do the rest!

If you’re thinking of buying a shredder then the bigger you can afford the better is my advice. I love my little shredder but do sometimes wish I had a little extra power.

Here are my tips for trouble free shredding!

  • Read and follow the instructions that come with your shredder.
  • Be patient and avoid stuffing too much green material in at once especially Leylandii as it has a tendency to clog the machine.
  • Resist stuffing large branches in or you’ll likely burn out the motor. My little shredder will comfortably take branches up to an inch in diameter. Anything larger gets stripped of its branches and either used for poles in the garden or for winter firewood.

Like most of the green waste in the garden hedge trimmings can be a pain to get rid of  but if you’re able to invest in a modest little shredder I’d say go for it as the by-product is can easily be recycled.

I didn’t manage to finish the job this weekend so will be shredding some more next weekend.

Best wishes

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners



Still living the dream …

Read Full Post »

How To Recycle Egg Shells?

We’d love to hear for anyone that has had any success composting used eggshells. We use a lot of eggs in our house and my girls are producing well at the moment, but I just can’t seem to recycle my egg shells. 😦

It’s particularly relevant at the moment as I’m moving my compost heaps to make way for the new shed we’re building.

  • Do they rot down eventually … If so when ?
  • Do they attract rats?
  • Is there anything else we can you do with them?

When I come to turn the heap there they are staring up at me as if to say you have to be joking mate if you think we’re going the way of the rest of the heap!

How To Recycle or  Compost Eggshells

One year on ..

I seem to always end up chucking them in the bin which isn’t exactly very green!

I’ve tried crushing them first and mixing them with some green stuff,  but they are still there a year later, a stringy tangled mess of shell.

Perhaps it takes years before they break down and we’re just impatient?

If you have a compost heap and manage to compost your eggshells can you share your secret.

Thanks all!

John And Tania The Rural Gardeners

Read Full Post »

Wahoooooo! … It’s finally finished!

I’m actually ready to share my first free gardening eBook with the world. I’m calling it my ‘Introduction To Frugal Gardening’.

Download Your Free Copy

It’s basically a collection of suggestions, strategies and money saving tips that I’ve pulled together from the last few years.

At 25 pages it’s crammed full of useful information for anyone looking to create their own garden paradise, without spending a small fortune along the way!

It did take a fair bit of work to prepare and may not be perfect first time round, but I would really value any feedback you’re prepared to offer as I want to write more stuff so others may benefit.

If you’d prefer not to then that also fine, in which case please enjoy the  content with our best wishes.

Oh, and we’ve also been recording a few videos over the weekend you might be interested in.

Part 1 explains in some detail how to take softwood cuttings, and how you improve your chances of success.

Part 2 introduces the idea of a sand box.


Hope you enjoy the read!

Best wishes,


Read Full Post »

Growing Cut Flowers In Your Garden


This is the second part in my series on creating your own cut flower garden.

Firstly a huge thank you to everyone that dropped me a note with suggestions of what cut flowers to grow.  I’ve compiled quite list!  (See foot of this post for full list)

About 3 weeks ago I sowed the first of the seeds for the new cut flower garden and some of them are now ready for pricking out.  Of course some of the seeds grew faster than the others, but all in all they’ve done pretty well in such a short time. If you’ve never tried it before have a go at growing a few flower seeds.

I start mine off on the window sill in pots. When they’ve come through I move them into the polytunnel and cover them with fleece if there is any sign of frost.

‘Potting On’ or Pricking out as it sometimes called is basically taking a seedling and planting it into a slightly larger pot or container so it can grow into a healthy plant ready for the garden. It’s a fairly laborious job but I find it quite therapeutic to be honest. I dissapear to the polytunnel and put on my wind up radio and away I go.

I plant my seeds in basic John Innes seed compost, with a good helping of vermiculite to stop the mix from getting too wet. The secret is to get the seeds to germinate before they get a chance to rot. Once the seeds are through I try to keep my compost on the dry side. You’re actually more likely to kill your seedlings by over watering.

When it comes to growing on the seedlings I use John Innes number 1, again with a decent amount of vermiculite. You don’t have to be too precise, something like 70% compost to 30% vermiculite works ok. Like a lot of things in gardening it’s what works best for you.

My Compost is a 50/50 mix of John Innes Number 1 and Vermiculite.

It’s really easy, but you’re going to need something to lever the seedlings out of the pot and a pot to put them in. I use an old fork, a 3″ plant pot and old pencil or dibber.

It’s a good idea to have your pots filled ready so you can minimise the time the seedlings are out of the soil. When they are so small they can easily wilt so my advice is to have everything ready to go.

When you’re ready fill a 3″ pot with compost and dib a hole ready for the seedling, then take hold it by a leaf and gently remove from the compost, then drop the seedling into the hole, carefully firming it in as you go.

I’ve quite a few to do, but it’s not the worst job in the garden and in just a few weeks they’ll have grown into decent plants ready for planting in the beds.

Not all the seeds have come through yet, some of the smaller ones like the nicotiana and anthuriums are taking a lot longer to germinate.

I’ll keep an eye on the watering, and cover them with fleece if frost is forecast. Other than that I’ll leave them to pretty much get on with it and continue getting excited about what’s to come!

Back soon,

Rural Gardener

A few recommendations for anyone new to cut flower gardening.

  • Delphinums
  • Cosmos
  • Roses – Bush varietys
  • Sweet Peas – variety xxxx
  • Verbina Borensis
  • Brampton Stock
  • Lupins
  • Blue Thistle
  • Campanulas
  • Sweet Williams
  • Sweet Rocket
  • Cornflowers
  • Sunflowers
  • Nigella (Love in a Mist)

Take me to Part 3

Read Full Post »