Two Wests & Elliott's GardenBlog

A garden blog from Two Wests and Elliott. Visit our site today

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Dealing with the Wild Weather

With the warmest December on record happening at the end of 2015 you would have been forgiven for thinking that we might have escaped the worst of the winter and can look forward to a mild spring.

Unfortunately, the freezing temperatures we’ve been exposed to in January have put paid to the hopes of a mild winter.

So how can you protect your plants in these freezing and changeable conditions? It’s hard to predict the weather – especially since the past couple of weeks have seen daffodils and other bulb-plants begin to emerge due to the mild temperatures only to be dashed again by the snowfall.

At Two Wests we have a range of cold frame kits that will keep the heat in and take advantage of the mild weather, but protect your plants and seedlings when the temperature plummets as it is likely to do often throughout the rest of January and into February.

A greenhouse is always a useful tool to have at your disposal but if you don’t have the room or the funds to get one then there is always the option of a mini greenhouse. These are readily available and easy to put up.

Mini-greenhouses will give your plants a basic level of protection from the elements – the wind, rain and snow – but will not be the best at regulating temperature. This is a great idea for if you are growing plants that are hardy enough to withstand the English winter and you don’t want a heating element.

If you are growing smaller plants and you don’t want to risk leaving them exposed outside, even with cold frame kits, you could always utilise a propagating tray indoors to encourage the plants to grow until they are large enough to handle the outside world – or until Spring comes for real!



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Garden Planters: What to do with them in Winter?

Garden planters look stunning in the sprint and the summer when they are in full bloom, but what can you use them for during the cold winter months when there’s nothing in them?

Usually taking up quite a bit of room, your garden planters can be used to create a stunning winter garden to bring some life to your outdoor space when it gets really cold. Dedicate a planter to evergreens and perennials or even attempt some poinsettia to add some festive red.

There are plenty of flowers and plants that are resilient enough to withstand the English winter and will save your garden from looking drab from October to April. You can choose from Violas, Pansies, Sweet William and many more winter bedding plants that come in a variety of colours.

You can save yourself some propagating time by buying these plants as younglings instead of having to cultivate them yourself – guaranteeing you garden’s good looks all year round.

If you don’t want the hassle of looking after plants that need a lot of attention in Winter then you can always opt for a Christmas-themed garden planter. Use some outdoor decorations coupled with lights and some evergreen plants like a Conifer or a Larch to create a Winter wonderland that will look amazing when the snow starts to fall.

This option requires a little effort to set up but once it is in place in the raised bed or planter you can simply kick back and enjoy the sights. And when Christmas is over you can always remove the lights and decoration and still have a garden planter you can enjoy year round.

If you have a new planter or you want to start from scratch you can structure your plants so that you have different ones flowering at different times of the year, with daffodils and such bursting out in Spring and Pansies in Winter to keep you from having to consider what to you with your garden planter once a season finishes.

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Paraffin Heaters

Paraffin heaters are an excellent solution for heating a greenhouse or outhouse in the winter months and keeping your plants alive.

You can buy these popular heaters relatively cheaply compared to more expensive electric versions, which use more power and tend to take longer to get a room up to the desired temperature. You can buy decent sized paraffin heaters from Two Wests for £41.99 which will suitably heat most greenhouses at a reasonable cost for the fuel.

Paraffin heaters, although allowing you to quickly heat up a space, are a little tricky to use if you want to regulate the temperature which means you should keep a close eye on the heater and only use it when you are present to ensure the light doesn’t go out – which could fill the greenhouse with gas which causes all kinds of problems for your and your plants.

The downside to paraffin heaters is that you are relying on gas canisters or liquid kerosene for the power, which can be used up quickly if you are using the heater often. Gas canisters and kerosene can be bought cheaply from Two Wests and from many camping and caravanning stores to replenish your stores although if you use the heater sparingly you can make the fuel go much further.

Another way to get the most out of paraffin heaters is to make sure that your greenhouse is fully insulated so that the heat that is being produced is being kept inside teh greenhouse for as long as possible. You will need to monitor the temperature constantly to make sure that the temperature doesn’t get too high, but this is an opportunity to see how efficient your greenhouse is by judging the rate of heat loss.

As with any form of liquid fuel, care should be taken when replacing cannisters or refuelling the heater to ensure that the fuel isn’t contaminated or spilled. Always refuel the heater in an open space which is well ventilated to avoid inhaling the fumes which can be toxic.

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Greenhouse Heaters

With the weather becoming colder it’s about that time of year to blow the dust off of those greenhouse heaters you’ve been storing, or maybe look at other heating options for your greenhouse for the winter months.

Keeping your greenhouse at an optimum temperature is absolutely vital to allow your plants to thrive throughout the cold months. Cold nights and frosty mornings can be devastating to your young plants that grow in the winter months, but there are plenty of options for heating a greenhouse in winter to keep them alive!

Temperature control is one of the hardest things to master when considering the heating required for your greenhouse. It’s a minefield of potential harm, with plenty of room for error which can lead to your plants not surviving the winter. Set the temperature too high and your plants will be just as vulnerable as if you have no temperature regulation at all; set it too low and it will be a complete waste of time and money.

There are products available that have a thermostat on them that will maintain a constant temperature, making it a lot easier to judge and maintain the climate inside the greenhouse and means you don’t need to be checking the thermostat in the greenhouse every hour to make sure it’s still warm enough.

Greenhouse heating is notoriously tricky, with gas greenhouse heaters, electric heaters, generator heaters and a myriad of other products that all serve to keep your greenhouse warm. It can be difficult to choose the most appropriate product, but for whether you’re a seasoned gardener who has seen many harsh winters or a relative newbie to the greenfingered nature of growing, there is a heating product that will suit you.

Timing is yet another issue to consider when deciding on your greenhouse heating strategy. Some plants are much more robust than others and will be able to cope better with the cold, but others will need a constant level of heat to ensure they survive.

Buying a greenhouse heater with a timer as well as a thermostat will allow you to have more control over the temperature regulation, as you can set the heater to come at at particular times for a set duration at a set temperature of your choosing. You can have the heater on to maintain a temperature so that when the mercury dips below the required temperature it will kick in an regulate it.

See our range of greenhouse heaters at Two Wests and Elliot to get a better picture of the kind of products available.


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Misting Kit: The Advantages

A garden mister can be a handy tool to have for propagating your cuttings, providing a moist atmosphere in the greenhouse to ensure they have plenty of water to flourish.

The advantage of a misting kit over a traditional hosepipe is that it provides a much gentler watering solution, compared to a hosepipe that can be very aggressive and risks damaging more delicate plants or cuttings.

A misting kit will also cost you a lot less time, as you won’t need to go from seed tray to seed tray to water each plant or cutting individually. The mister will fill the entire room with water vapour which is easily absorbed by young plants and will leave you with plenty of time to do more green-fingered jobs!

Misters are also very easy to use and maintain. No more traipsing backwards and forwards to refill the watering can or to get a different hose attachment. A misting kit will allow you to set up the watering system then simply turn on the water to allow all of the plants in the greenhouse to be thoroughly watered.

Ever wonder if your cuttings are getting enough water? Do you think you run the risk of over-watering them, especially if it’s a plant you have never grown before? A misting kit will solve this problem for you as it will create the environment that allows the plant to draw as much moisture from the atmosphere as it needs, without running the risk of drowning them or flooding them.

Whilst misters work best in a greenhouse where you can control the amount of water used and the area you will be watering, there are also garden mister kits that give you the same benefits for your whole garden as well as just your greenhouse.

The only problem with this is that the elements may come into play, causing the water to be blown away from certain plants or rain to cause over-watering. Garden mister kits are useful for bigger plants that need plenty of water when there is a dry spell but care should be taken when using them in your garden with smaller plants.

You can buy a whole range of misting kit products at Two Wests and Elliot, browse our selection for all of your watering solutions.


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Potting Benches – Dedicated to Nurturing

Potting benches are the ideal place to begin to cultivate your garden, whether you have them in a shed or outhouse or if they’re out in the open.

The allow you to create a dedicated space where you can move seedlings over to their own pots, re-plant crops that have outgrown their current crops or even perform more delicate tasks that aren’t even related to potting, like taking cuttings from existing plants.

A potting table allows you to have a place where you can get lost in your gardening and completely immerse yourself in the experience, rather than having to clear a space at the kitchen table or worry about getting soil all over the place.

Another advantage of having a potting bench is the added storage it provides. Many potting tables and benches have cupboards or shelves underneath that are perfect places to store plant pots, bags of soil or even tools so that everything you need to work on your planting is in one place. No more rooting through the garage and shed to try and find the dibber or searching in the greenhouse for the trowel!

Potting benches come in many shapes, sizes and designs, with something to suit everyone. For the city gardener with just a small space to tend such as a rooftop or a small yard, it is possible to buy a folding potting bench Obviously this will not have the storage options but it will allow you to pot in peace and simply fold the table away after use – great for storing too.

For the gardener with a little more space, there are plenty of potting benches with large worktops and plenty of storage for your soil, pots and tools. Some even have backs to them which give you the opportunity to hang tools from hooks for even easier access.

Whilst many potting sheds will be used indoors, in greenhouses, shed or outhouses, some may prefer to have their potting bench outside in the open air. Whilst this allows you to get some fresh air whilst gardening, in the British summer it’s likely that you will experience some rainfall so a little cover is recommended, especially if you’re doing a lot of planting.

Potting benches are available in metal and wood giving you the option to choose which kind of style would benefit you. If you have a rustic theme going on then wooden potting benches are a good choice but for sturdiness and longevity it’s hard to beat a metal potting table.

Browse our range of potting benches online at Two Wests and Elliot to see what kind of potting area will best suit you.

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Fruit cages for protecting your produce

Fruit cages are a brilliant invention that creates a barrier around your produce to protect it from birds and other vermin that could destroy your crop.

Growing fruit is a great way to save money and provide yourself with some delicious home grown produce. If you have a bumper crop or a large allotment you could even make some money by selling the fruit to your neighbours and friends.

It’s also a great way to fuel your gardening hobby and is a rewarding past time in the summer months when the sun is shining and you can see your produce flourishing.

This is why it can be so devastating when a squirrel or a bird spies your fruit and decides to pilfer it, taking away your reward and often destroying the crop in the process.

Fruit cages protect your fruit by providing a boundary that cannot be crossed by vermin or birds, but still allows the plants access to the sun and rain to let them grow naturally, with different heights and sizes available to ensure that the plants never run out of room to grow.

There are many different kinds of fruit cage to choose from, some of which can be expensive. A heavy duty fruit cage can cost quite a bit, but if you have a serious rodent problem or you just can’t scare away the birds and have tried everything, they are a worthwhile investment to protect your plants.

Fruit cages are a worthwhile purchase for any keen gardener who doesn’t want their produce to be vulnerable to creatures, they can be used as a vegetable cage or even just to protect delicate plants that you have in your garden and don’t want to risk being trampled.

At Two Wests we have a large selection of our own brand fruit cages as well as fruit cage frames which allow you to build your own cage. If looked after properly, fruit cages can last for many seasons which makes them a popular investment for gardeners who are growing around the year and want to protect their plants at all times.