Adopt a garden (either your own or somebody elses!) and complete clause 1,2 and four clauses of your choice which provide a personal challenge. You should look after the garden for a minimum of 4 months whilst working on this badge.
Clause 1 Demonstrate a working knowledge of garden safety, such as wearing sensible shoes, using power breakers etc. Know how to clean and store garden tools. Ensure all chemicals and seeds are stored in a safe place, and know what to do if something is accidentally swallowed by a child or a pet.
My footwear depends on the job I'm doing I often wear my walking boots, if I'm just doing a spot of weeding or a job such as planting tubs I'll wear old trainers, in the summer I also wear a hat to avoid sun burn. I normally wear old clothes and gardening gloves when appropriate.
We do have a shedder and use goggles and ear defenders when using it. We have a circuit break which we use be using any power tools or the lawn mower.
All our tools are stored in the garage, each one has its own hanging space. Any surplus mud is remove before storing All our chemicals are stored in a high cupboard in the garage which neither our son nor neighbours cats can. If some chemical was swallowed however, I would ring the nearest surgery or A&E department and take along the remains of what was swallowed along with the packaging. Under no circumstance would I make them sick. If there were any specific instructions on the packaging I would follow these.
We don't have any seeds, but if we did they would be store in a cool dry place, probably in a box in a cupboard in the garage.
Clause 2 Know how to do the following:
Handle seedlings by the seed and make a hole in the new soil with a dibber deep enough for the roots. Firm the soil gently and water in.
Remove a plant from a pot without damaging it to either "pot on" or plant into the garden
Choose a pot that is larger than the plant's existing pot; if replanting into the garden dig a hole slightly larger than the pot, loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and add a good handful of compost or fertilizer covered with a little soil. Water the new hole well. Make sure the plant you are moving is also well-watered. Tap the pot firmly on the ground to loosen then invert it, supporting the plant by the soil surface and lift the pot off. If the plant is pot-bound, the roots may have come through the bottom of the pot so you will have to ease it off gently. Tease out any roots which encircle the root ball and place it in the prepared hole or pot, making sure the top of the original root ball is level with the surface of the soil. Fill in the space with fresh soil or compost and tread in or pack with fingers, being careful not to damage the plant. Water well.
Dig up a plant to move it
This will depend on the size of the plant you wish to move, you may have a large root ball and lots of soil, so you may need help to lift it. If there hasn't been any significant rain for a few days, water the plant you are going to move - make sure the roots are well soaked. Whatever the size of the plant, don't try to dig too close to it - try and lift as much soil as possible with the roots, and avoid damaging the roots if you can. The hole you are moving the plant to needs to be bigger than the root. Dig carefully round the plant - a fork will cause less damage than a spade - and them ease the fork under the roots when you are sure you have dug down deep enough. Lift the plant and attached soil onto a piece of sacking or a plastic bag and use that to transport it to its new home. Plant as above, stake if necessary, and water well.
Clause 3 Lawn: Learn how to care for a lawn. Know how often to mow it, the correct way to mow, and how to care for the lawn mower and strimmer (if used). Edge the lawn. Know when to apply lawn feed, how often to water, how to treat areas of moss or weed, or how to replace a patch of turf. Or Prepare a surface to become a lawn and lay turf or plant seed. Care for it as it grows.
Removed an old and dead hedge and a low growing conifer. Half the area has been left for a new hedge the other half has been dug and fed (using a feed that came with the grass seed) and had grass seed raked in. After about 10 days a slight green tinge could be seen in the area seeded and after two weeks there was a definite growth. The grass is now thick and lush, the only difference between it and the rest of the lawn is the lack of weeds in the newly grassed area.
The front and back lawns at the beginning of the season were raked using a springtime rake to remove any thatch and then had a three in one treatment watered in. The lawn edge was defined using a half moon tool as it had been allowed to grow in the border. Once the growing season had started the lawn was mown and strimmed every week. Every second or third week I went round the edges with the edging sheers
Clause 4 Soil Do a soil ph test Find out what type of soil you have (sandy, clay, chalky etc). Discover the pros and cons of that type of soil, and anything you can add or do to improve it. Take some steps towards improving the soil in one area of your garden.
Have taken several soil samples from the garden, front and back. Some areas have had new top soil, others have had compost and some areas have not had anything added. Our soil is a clay type, though not a very heavy clay. All the PH tests I did showed our soil to have a PH of between 6 and 7.
Clay soil can be improved by adding grit to improve drainage. Acid soils can be improved by adding lime. About 4.5 Kg of lime to 9 Sq meters is required Alkaline soils can be improved by adding sulphur. About 4.5 Kg of sulphur to 9 Sq meters is required
Clause 5 Compost heap Create a compost heap in your garden. Know what kitchen waste can be put on the compost heap and what should not be added. Know when the compost is ready for use on the garden, and add some to your soil.
We have two green plastic compost bins, unfortunately these are at the bottom of the garden and which is across the grass and through the shrubs, which is ok on a nice day, but when it is raining I'm afraid we don't use it. I do have the option of having one by the side of the house but have not yet found one small enough. We have thought about a wormery but think that it would probably be too cold in the winter for the worms. When we don't compost we use the green waste sacks which the council collect weekly.
We compost uncooked fruit and vegetable waste, tea bags/leaves, egg shells, dead flower heads, grass clippings anything that has gone through the shreader if there is too much for the bins to hold the remaining waste goes for the councils green collection. We have now started putting weeds in the council waste as since using the compost bins the weeds have multiplied. My in laws managed unknowingly to grow tomato and marrow plants from soil that has been used from the compost bins around the garden. Compost takes around a year to breakdown enough to be dug back into the garden.
Clause 9 Hanging Baskets or tubs Plant 4 hanging baskets or tubs. Choose suitable plants for the basket/tub and the location it will be sited in (sun, shade etc) Care for the basket or tub. Know how often to water it etc.
My three year old and I planted about 6 tubs with spring bulbs in October 2005. We planted iris, tulips, two types of crocus, grape hyacinth and daffodils. The tubs were placed close to the house over the winter but once they had begun to grow they were moved to the edge of the patio. No watering was necessary as we had plenty of rain. Once the spring tubs had finished the dead leaves were removed and the pots put to the side of the house.
We then purchased five new tubs which I planted with bedding plants. Each pot had a number of trailing lobelia and either French Marigolds or Busy Lizzies in them. The tubs are on a sunny patio and therefore need watering every day, unless there has been sufficient rain, our next door neighbour watered the tubs whilst we were on holiday. The remaining bedding plants were planted in the border around the bird bath. Although these looked good when they were first planted the trailing lobelia didn't trail and grew taller that the French Marigolds and Busy Lizzies and so didn't look any where near as good as they should have.
Clause 11 Weeding Identify 5 weeds that grow in your garden. Know how to successfully manage the weeds, e.g. pull them up, apply weed killer etc Keep an area of your garden free from weeds whilst you are working on this badge.
A weed is a plant growing somewhere you don't want it, so the forget me nots growing in between pathing slabs are weeds as are the cowslips growing in the lawn.
We have plenty of what I call real weeds in the borders and lawn. We have buttercups and dandelions the lawn. Some of the borders have more grass than areas of the lawn. Pretty though they are I don't really want them there.
Some of the weeds I have identified (mostly from pictures on this web site http://www.dgsgardening.btinternet.co.uk/index.htm) are:-
Hairy Bitter Cress
Broad Leaf Willow Herb
Have decided to keep the area round the bird bath weed free. Which I managed to do quite successfully, I just pulled each one out as it grow. Once the bedding plants covered the area they helped to keep most of the weeds at bay
Clause 13 Where in your area can children play? Locate the playgrounds and other recreational areas in the area. Find out what ages can use them, and when they are open. Are they safe? What equipment do they provide?
We have three outdoor parks with childrens swings all have safety matting and two are enclosed with no dogs allowed. One of these play areas is tucked out of the way behind the football pitch and very few people know about it and it's a flat walk from our house. On the down side it is small and would be easily overcrowded. We have another park down by the castle, this is much larger and has a wider range of activities but is a mile down a very steep hill. The play area is enclosed and has a grass area nearby for where ball games can be played, however dogs are walked in this area and often off lead. The third area is in a housing estate. The play area is not enclosed but is in a large grass area where people walk their dogs. All three areas are away from the road. In our estate we have a couple of grass areas suitable for wide and ball games. These are not enclosed and are used by the local cats and dogs they are also near the road, having said that we are in a cul de sac and traffic is not heavy
Clause 16 Undertake a gardening project of your choice
The hedge that we had in our front garden was Berberis Darwinii, over the years this died off a bush or two at a time working from the left side to the edge of the drive. Although most bushes were replaced they also died. We have no idea why this happened, we asked a couple of professional gardeners, they couldn't explain why we were having this problem. Our next door neighbour has a similar hedge at the moment she does not seem to be having any problems.
Once the last bush was no longer we decided it was time to do something about it. Over the Easter weekend all the remains of the hedge were dug out along with a low growing conifer that was taking over the drive. Luckily our neighbour was having some landscape garden work done and all the plants and roots were taken away by her gardeners. The ground was left fallow for about a month. We then removed some of the top soil and dug in 300 litres of compost. This made our front garden look much more presentable, we even had comments about it. We then researched hedges on the web. At first we thought about having a privet hedge, however this can only be supplied by our chosen nursery in October.
We eventually chose hornbeam, during the late spring, summer and early autumn the leaves are green. The leaves go brown in the autumn but don't drop. 36 plants arrived by courier these were bear rooted and were planted the same day. The plants have been watered regularly when we have had dry weather. We now have a double row of what can only be described as twigs stuck in the ground they are however growing. We regularly weed between the plants and in September we pruned each plant by about a third.
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