Tips and tricks to get your garden prepared for Spring.
You cannot deny it, the weather this year has been, to say the least, interesting. A long and very hot summer has turned into a, currently, mild and wet winter. So, here are a few tips and tricks to prepare your garden for next year’s springtime, and the unknown weather that may bring with it.
- Order summer-flowering bulbs and seeds
This is the perfect job whilst it is wet and windy outside. Summer-flowering bulbs such as Lilies, and Gladiolus can be planted in early spring for a colourful summer display.
- Clear up your flowerbeds and borders
A great thing to do, is to do an all-round tidy up of your flowerbeds etc, by removing leaves and other debris.
- Clean your greenhouse
It might sound a bit odd, but washing your greenhouse before spring arrives is a good idea. Once the spring arrives, your greenhouse will be home to trays of seedlings and cuttings. Clean off any plant debris on the floor and benches and disinfect with a hot solution of garden disinfectant. Ventilate your greenhouse well over the next couple of days so it dries thoroughly.
- Sow seeds that need a longer season
In January and February, you can start to sow seeds of plants which require a longer growing season, such as Geraniums, Begonias and Antirrhinums.
- Move deciduous shrubs
If you have a badly placed deciduous shrub then now is the time to move it whilst it is dormant. Be careful to keep a wide space around the shrub when digging it up and try to take as much of the root ball as possible for the quickest establishment in its new location. When planting shrubs in their new position, place them at the same level they were previously in the soil, and remember to water them in well afterwards.
- Fix fences, gates and trellis
Although it is getting colder outside, it is the perfect time of year to get those small jobs out of the way. Any broken structures or tools are best fixed now so you have more time to spend in the garden during spring and summer.
- Create a composting area
Set up a compost area in your garden can be as easy as simply a ready-made compost bin. You can even build a compost bin yourself using spare bits of wood. Not only will it give you a place to put your garden waste, but your plants will benefit from the rich compost created when it all breaks down. Make sure you have a good mixture of grass clippings, vegetable peelings, paper and woody prunings. It is a great idea for all those holiday vegetable peelings and leftovers. Turn your compost with a garden fork each month to keep it aerated.
Most of your trees and shrubs can use a good prune at this time of year, especially those that bloom on new wood. Going into early spring will also then be the perfect time to prune and shape woody ornamentals. Whenever you prune your plants, it is a good practice to add a little fertilizer to the soil to ensure that the plant has the nutrients on hand to heal its wounds quickly.
A great product to help with many of these jobs in your garden, and saw you lots of time in the process, is the new Roamwild Multi-Cutter. This unique patent pending drop forged long handled garden shears incorporates 3 garden tools in one - An ultra-sharp light weight telescopic hedge shears, powerful bypass garden loppers and a unique attaching long reach branch cutter pruning saw. As everything is combined in this one great item, there is no more swapping tools between jobs, which saves you time and money. The shears are extremely lightweight and the carbon steel blades make pruning effortless. The pruning saw has an easy click locking mechanism that quickly attaches to the long-handled shears. All this means that you can get so much done in a shorter space of time, meaning you can be outside for less in the cold winter weather, but still look forward to a flourishing garden come the Spring.
- Mandy Gasson
The amazing New Roamwild Car Crack Vac – An ideal gift for the car or home owner!
The Roamwild Car Crack Vac is the brand new compact clean up tool for those little inside clean up jobs that we all have inside our car and home. It is a completely unique product with so many useful features designed into it. It has been designed by an ex Dyson engineer, so, as with all Roamwild products, you can be sure that the performance is exceptional!
It has a multitude of built in features, all in one single compact product which fits almost anywhere, in a glove box, centre console, or drawer.
It’s amazing built-in debris pick up system, is a hand rolling beater bar, which makes easy work of cleaning up those annoying small areas of dirt that get dragged into the car. It has a magnetic release debris tray, which is as quick and easy to empty as the press of a button.
Both sides of the Car Crack Vac are coated in luxurious velour lint-catching fabric, which is perfect for coaxing any pet hair or dust of any interior surface of your car or home, such as car seats, dashboards or sofas and work tops.
There is an incredible magnetic crack retrieval tool, which is a thin extending 360 degree rotational tool. This can be used to hook, push or flick any object, such as keys, coins or even phones out from under tight spaces, like under your car seat or beneath the kitchen fridge.
The bright built-in LED light is incredibly useful for looking in any dark areas of your car or home, or even under your car bonnet and in the engine. Surrounding the light is a neodymium hoop magnet, so that when you find what you are looking for you can easily grab it and pull it out.
The Car Crack Vac also has two different brushes. One is a stiff bristled debris brush, which is ideal for tight spaces. The deliberately stiff bristles mean it really does its job quickly and easily. The second is a soft delicate bristle brush which can be used to clean those more delicate parts of your car interior etc such a brushing dust off air vents, dashboards, computer keyboards or other nooks and crannies.
The Roamwild Car Crack Vac really is an invaluable tool for anyone who has a car or caravan, or just for any little job around your house. It even has Roamwild’s amazing guarantee built in – If you are not 100% satisfied, we will give you your money back! Buy yours now from homgar.com
- Mandy Gasson
Our Top 5 Woodworking Tips for More Efficient and Rewarding Results
1 – Make your sanding easier by using a block
Sanding your woodwork by hand is always a bit of a chore, but with the right quality sandpaper, you’ll get results that often outshine a power sander. Try using a sanding block for faster, more efficient results. All you need is a small block of wood, which you wrap your sand paper around. It distributes sanding pressure more evenly and maintains a flatter surface than merely folding a piece of sandpaper. It is less stress on your hands, as you have a more stable item to hold, rather than a flat sheet of sandpaper. You will also find the paper does not rip as easily, and you get more use out of a single sheet, as you just rotate it around the block as you go. Sand with the grain of the wood, especially for the final grits. To remove deep scratches and stains, try angling across the grain up to about 45º for the first sanding. Before moving to the next finer grit, sand with the grain to remove all cross-grain scratches. One thing to note, however, is that if you use a Pull Saw, such as The Roamwild Multi-Pull Saw Pro, the need for sanding the edges of your wood are vastly reduced, due to its superior fine blades which leaves the wood ends with no splinters or rough edges.
2 – Know your wood’s moisture content
When working with wood, knowing the correct moisture content of each piece of wood is invaluable. If the wood is too dry, the finished product may swell or crack with the pressure of moisture creeping into it. On the other hand, if it is too moist, then the end item may shrink or warp as it dries out. Therefore, it is crucial to know the moisture content of each piece of wood before you use it. For instance, if you are planning an inlay job using two different varieties of wood, you will need to know the moisture content of each type so that your inlay glue joints stay intact. A great way to avoid a ruined project is to use a moisture meter. Another option is to use a wood moisture app. There are various ones, some even free, which are available online for you to use.
3 – Prevent excess glue stains
To stop stains caused by oozing glue along joints, try clamping the pieces together first without any glue. Use masking tape and place it over the joint, then cut it with a sharp utility knife along the edges. You can then separate the pieces, apply the glue you wish to use, and clamp the pieces back together again. Any of the glue that oozes out, will go directly onto the masking tape, not the wood. Remember, though, to remove the tape BEFORE the glue dries.
4 – Keep a clean, orderly workspace
It may seem obvious, but having a clean and tidy workspace can be as simple as clearing clutter from your work area. A disorderly room can hinder your productivity. Try to only keep out items that you use every time you do any woodwork, and keep everything else in designated areas, so that you know where they are and they are quick and easy to find when you need them.
5 – Keep your blades sharp
Another thing that is probably obvious, yet is something that people often forget, is that dull tools such as chisels, blades, planes, scrapers and gouges don not cut cleanly, and can be a danger in your workspace. They can tear the wood fibers resulting in an uneven, unprofessional look. Tools that have been chipped or nicked will also require sharpening. Tools with sharper blades make woodworking easier, more efficient, and safer. One of the sharpest and most reliable blades you can find, is on The Roamwild Multi-Pull Saw Pro, which has specialized hardened Japanese steel blades, which hardly ever need sharpening. But when you do find it time and you need a new blade, the replacement blades are easily available from Homgar.com, and are so easy to change over, using the special quick release button built into the handle. This means less waste for the environment, and a saw that will last you for years!
- Mandy Gasson
Why is a Pull Saw better than a conventional Push Saw?
When it comes to woodwork etc, most heavy-duty jobs are done these days with power saw and machinery. However, there is very much still a place for the traditional hand saw, especially for the home decorator, DIY-er and handyman. There are two main choices when it comes to picking a handsaw, and these are the conventional “Western”-style push saw and the “Japanese” pull saw. But, is one better than the other, and which one should you chose? Here is how these two main types of saw compare in their ways of cutting technique and blade design, etc.
The hardened steel blade of a Japanese pull saw is designed so each tooth has three cutting edges (except the rip tooth, which has two). This feature means that the saw can cut straighter, faster, smoother, and cleaner and yet still is able to rip and crosscut.
What this means, is that the Japanese pull saw can be used for a wider variety of cutting jobs, on a wider variety of materials, such as wood, laminate, chipboard and plastics, than the Western push saw, making it more efficient and versatile overall.
A typical Western style push saw has a wide, tapering blade and a distinctively shaped wood or plastic handle that comfortably fits the hand.
There are two main types of Western push saw, and these are the crosscut saw and the rip, or ripping, saw. A ripping saw, which cuts in the direction of the grain, has a zero to positive rake, fewer teeth per inch, a wider set, and a deep gullet behind each tooth for transporting sawdust out of the cut. A crosscut saw, designed for cutting across the grain, has more teeth per inch, a zero to negative rake, narrower set, and a beveled cutting edge.
As mentioned above, Japanese saws tend to have thinner, more flexible blades than their Western counterparts. This results in a thinner kerf, less effort to remove material, and usually much more control over the cut. Basically, it means that you can cut longer, more accurately, and with less strength and effort required.
The thicker blade that is usually on a Western saw means that it has a thicker saw kerf and more material to remove. This is why you need more strength and energy to complete a cut. However, a properly tuned and sharpened Western handsaw can cut extremely well. A Western saw is also less maneuverable than a Japanese saw. This can be a good thing because once you start the cut, it will stay in a straight line. However, as the Japanese saw works on the pull cut, this automatically gives more reliability and a straighter cut, with less need to checking constantly for said straightness.
Many woodworkers find a Japanese saw easier to use than a push saw for fine detailed work due to the extra control afforded by pulling the blade towards the body. Japanese saws also rarely need to be sharpened because the blade is very hard. Except for very expensive saws, it is more practical to replace a Japanese blade rather than attempting to hone it yourself.
Japanese pull saws outshine the Western push saw because:
- they give cleaner cuts
- they saw with much less effort and better quality results and finishes
- they cut a larger range of materials
- Mandy Gasson
What are the best foods to feed birds in the winter?
If you offer the best winter bird foods, you will find a greater variety visiting your feeders even on the coldest days. While you want to be sure to offer the foods that your garden birds like best, the following foods are excellent choices. All of these foods offer great nutrition, and their high calorific content will give birds plenty of energy to build fat reserves for those winter nights.
Sunflower Seed Hearts - Sunflower seeds are by far the best food to offer birds in any season. They will attract a wide range of hungry birds. By using the pre-hulled sunflower hearts or chips, you can avoid a buildup of discarded shells that will get buried under snowfall and can damage new grass in the spring.
Suet Fat Balls / Cakes - For high calories, suet is one of the best foods to offer birds. It is available in many blends with different ingredients to tempt different species of birds. It is even easy to make your custom suet flavours. There are different suet shapes for more feeding fun, including balls, bells, and wreaths. In addition to suet cakes, chop suet into chunks or shred it so more birds will sample it.
Peanuts - Peanuts are a high calorie, fat-rich nut that appeals to many garden birds. Because the nuts don’t freeze, they are perfect for winter feeding. Peanuts are also popular to mix in suet. Do not give birds flavoured peanuts or any with chocolate coatings. Peanut butter is a great option as well and can be smeared on bark or offered in small dishes. Both crunchy and smooth butter will be a big hit! Crushed peanuts are recommended over whole peanuts as whole peanuts can choke baby birds in the spring time – so better to be safe than sorry.
Nyjer Seeds - Nyjer or thistle seed is a favourite food of a lot of birds. This is another oily seed that offers a lot of calories, helping birds store the fat they need to keep warm through the season. Nyjer is typically treated so as not to germinate if spilled on the ground, but the hulls can get messy underneath feeders. It also has a bitter taste which squirrels etc do not like, so they are less likely to attempt to try and steal them!
Fruit - While a lot of birds that eat fruit will migrate in the winter, many other birds that stay will enjoy the treat. Offer chopped apples, orange wedges, banana slices, halved grapes and melon rinds. Chopped or dried fruit can also be added to suet mixtures, or you might try a garland strung with cranberries or other fruit for a festive feeder. You could even plant fruit trees and berry bushes for birds and leave the fruit on the bare branches to give birds a natural food source.
Millet - Millet is a favourite food of many small birds, particularly sparrows. This starchy grain is inexpensive and can be easily offered in feeders, and by sprinkling it on the ground it will attract even more small birds. Millet is often a large component of many different birdseed mixes. To make millet more attractive, mix it with sunflower seeds at first. Gradually change the mix proportions until birds are used to straight millet.
Salt - Many birds crave salt as an essential mineral, particularly in the winter. Create a strong saltwater solution and let it evaporate in a shallow dish to make larger crystals. Salt can kill grass and make it difficult to grow plants, so keep the salt you’re offering the birds well away from gardens and other plantings. To keep birds healthy, only offer salt in minimal amounts.
- Mandy Gasson
Our Top Bird Feeding Tips For Winter!
Winter can be a tough time of year for birds. But there are some ways you can give them a helping hand and keep them safe and healthy over the colder months. Here are some of our top feeding tips!
Know your birds
Different species of birds will eat different things. Sparrows and finches love their seeds. Tits like fat (e.g. suet). Thrushes and robins like fruit and worms. Starlings will eat just about anything! Make sure you're providing the right menu for your feathered guests - find out what to feed birds.
Look out for leftovers
Some of our own food can be good for birds – for example, fruit cake or mince pies, dried fruit, unsalted nuts, or apples and pears past their best. Birds love dried fruit! But choose the right stuff... Birds probably won't want to eat your unwanted brussel sprouts, and putting out turkey fat is a big no-no! It is so soft it sticks to birds' feathers and stops them from keeping waterproof and warm.
Keep water in your bird baths and ponds unfrozen
Birds need to drink and bathe every day - even when it's really cold outside. A pond or bird bath is great, but even an upturned bin lid or plant saucer can give birds the water they need.
Keep it clean!
Dirty bird feeders and bird tables can help spread diseases. Make sure you clean them regularly to keep your visitors healthy and happy. And always wash your hands after feeding the birds!
It’s all about location!
Keep you table or feeder somewhere:
Quiet - where birds won't be disturbed.
Safe and open - to stop cat-ambushes and allow for a quick getaway
Sheltered - from harsh cold winds, rain or snow.
Most importantly - Enjoy!
You've got a thriving feeding station and garden full of hungry visitors. It's time to take a moment to watch and enjoy the birds the happy birds feasting on the food you've provided!
By following our tips, and feeding the birds in your garden, you'll be helping them get through what can be a tough time of year.
- Mandy Gasson