Make winter a time for light!

As we enter a new year, we can look forward to the oncoming spring and summer. But are autumn and winter really all that bad? As the clocks go back in October, we can spend the winter months bathed in the warm light and rich colours of our homes. A time to hunker down and make the most of our cosy retreats.

Every October, the clocks go back one hour. The idea was first proposed by William Willett who spent his days trying to persuade people that putting the clock back was a good idea. People doubted it at first but then it was adopted in law in 1916.

image credit

So how much light do we get in October?

The sun gives us about 11 hours of daylight on average and about 13 hours of darkness compared with the height of summer, which can be as much as 16 hours a day light.

During the day this reaches its lowest in December with the lowest level of an average of only eight hours to an average of 16 hours of darkness per day.

However, did you know that darkness does not exist?  There is only light. Scientifically, darkness is only the absence of light. Simply put, it is the lack of illumination.

We are all familiar with how a dimly lit room can make you feel a little gloomy or tired. In the same way, a light or ambient room can make you feel more awake or relaxed. Combine lighting with stunning fixtures like Ceiling Roses to get the most from your illumination. For a selection of ceiling roses click here

The great masters of literature, including Shakespeare himself often used the metaphor of darkness to evoke fear, as with characters such as the “prince of darkness” in King Lear.

We’ve all heard about “using the dark side of the force” in Star Wars, evoking the dark side of our emotions. And we are all familiar with how darkness can make us feel. We understand that darkness can affect our mood and brain to stop producing so much serotonin, or “happy chemicals”. So, knowing this, it’s important to get your winter lighting right.

Image credit

Autumn and winter are not to make us sad but to look at the bright side and how we can make our homes light, bright, welcoming and warm. The dark of night makes you appreciate arriving home to your warm, comfortable home. And of course, the delightful little lights that lift our spirits are a treat to see.

Adding lights and replacing bulbs helps to raise the overall lighting levels and in turn can lighten your mood! We need to be bathed in a warm glow to feel comfortable and relaxed. Darkness strips the homely feel of our living space. Even the most stylish elegant home can look sad in the dim light. Darker houses seem less friendly than the house that is well lit. Why not just add a touch of brightness?

 

Caring For Your Tomato Plants

Feeding those lovely plants

If the plants growing in a well prepared greenhouse border soil, they will be happy without additional feeding until the tomatoes on the first truss are the size of small marbles. At this stage start feeding with one of the available tomato liquid feeds, applied every seven to ten days in accordance with the instructions on the label.

I have to admit that I never used any fertilizer from the shops, always made my own. I will tell you how, but first I have to warn you that this fertilizer only suitable for plants grown in the soil. For those plants in growing bags or pots I strongly recommend a special tomato fertilizer from the shop.

Making your own liquid feed:

It is an old traditional method used widely for many years and in my experience it does work, I always have beautiful, strong growing plants and extremely tasty fruits.

Collect some stinging nettles (Urtica dioica) and/or some comfrey (Symphytum officinale), if you have both that is the best. Place the leaves into a bucket or some container poor some water over it, at this point you might need something on the top to keep the leaves under water. Cover the mixture and leave it for about 7 days. The leaves will rot down and you will have a smelly liquid feed. Judging by the smell of it, you will think that it has to work, but trust me it does.

Dilute the mix until the feed becomes sort of light green colour and water your plants with it once a week. Be aware it will be smelly, but it will do your plants good and you save money! And you can use on any old fruiting veg not only tomatoes, give your aubergines and peppers a treat too.

Sub Arctic Plenty, One Of The Earliest Tomatoes

Stopping the plants

As you all know for sure there are two main type of tomato plants considering the growing habit of the plants. Bush (determinate) type tomatoes do not need side shoot pinching and all that, just let them grow as they wish and they will provide you with plenty of fruits. The cordon (indeterminate) types need more care and attention.

Pinch out the side shoots from the start, these are the small new growth which appears in the leaf joints. This way you will reduce the plant to one main stem, and will encourage vertical growth, which is necessary for the plant to develop nice long trusses and tasty fruits.

Stop the vertical growth by pinching out the very top of the plant, when the plant has five trusses. This is just a general guide, in colder climate you should stop the plant at 4 trusses and in a warm climate, especially in a greenhouse you could get away even with six.

Removing The Leaves As The Fruits Ripen

It is believed by many gardeners that leaf removal will help the fruit to ripe more quickly by exposing the tomatoes to the sun. In fact, the speed of ripening depends on the prevailing temperature and not on direct sunlight. Direct sun on the fruits can be positively harmful, especially in a greenhouse, by overheating them and turning them a bolchy, orang, sometimes with a hard, green ring at the stalk end, known as green back.

The leaves are the factory where the sun’s energy is used to convert the elements into food for the plant. It is sort of a sabotage to remove the leaves from the tomato plants. Nevertheless, you should break off the first few lower leaves at the base of the plants as they wither and brown, this will help air circulation and lower the risk of disease that might develop in the rotting vegetation.

In the greenhouse too it is a good idea to remove the lowest leaves, they will be shadowed by more vigorous growth from above anyway. These early leaves may be whithering and therefore becoming more susceptible to rotting and disease. Removing them will also make it easier to get to the container for watering.

You may also find that the foliage on greenhouse plants becomes very thick. In these circumstances, to reduce the risk of fungal disease developing in the still, trapped air, remove a couple of leaves here and there from each plant, to open them out a bit and let the air circulate freely.

Curly Tomato Leaves

If you have a small greenhouse you may find that your plants have curly leaves. It is due almost entierly to the big contrast between day and night temperatures. The plants make a surplus of food during the warmth of the day, but cannot absorb it at night because the low temperature slows down their biological activity. The result is a stop start growth pattern wich produces the curly leaves. This is not such a problem with outdoor tomatoes, where the day and night temperature range is not so great.

Summer temperature control is not easy in a small greenhouse where night temperatures may plunge to below 10 Celsius, then during a sunny day may easily reach to 35 Celsius. To cool the plants by day, cover the glass with plastic shading cloth or paint the glass with shading paint. An other way to cool down the greenhouse is to sprinkle water on the path inside, but be careful not to overdo it, as excessive humidity can encourage fungal diseases.

Growing Fuchsias in a Greenhouse

Fuchsias are ideal pot plants for a heated greenhouse, where they will flower in flushes of blossom from April to November. In unheated greenhouses the flowering season is from May until early October.

With little care, fuchsias can easily be trained into a verity of shapes by pinching out the tips of the main stem and the side shoots that grow from them.

Each time a shoot is stopped, the stump of the shoot branches into two or more new shoots. The more shoots you encourage the plant to form, the more bushy it will become. And since fuchsias flower mostly from the tips of the shoots, the more shoots there are the more flowers will be. Greenhouse fuchsias, like their outdoor relatives are not difficult to grow.

The most important caring instructions

Always use a good potting compost. When potting up, firm the compost lightly with your fingers. Shake the compost into the root system by tapping the pot sharply on the edge of a bench or with a trowel.

Start training early, wrapping plastic ties firmly around the supporting cane, then slacken as the plants grow.

Do not let your fuchsias become pot bound. Examine the rootball regularly and when the roots become visible as a network on the outside of the compost, pot on.

Water regularly early in the day. Keep the compost just moist it is important neither to let it dry out nor become sodden.

In hot weather keep the doors and windows open, and cover the outside of the glass with shading paint. Dampen the floor at midday to increase humidity and keep the temperature down. Aim to keep the plants at a temperature of no more 24 Celsius.

When the flowers are open do not spray the plants to avoid bloom spotting. Once a week give a plants a liquid feed of balanced fertilizer. Most houseplants feeds are fine. Keep Reading 6 Ways You Can Prepare Your Garden For Winter

Inspect for pests, most common problem is white fly.

If you grow the flowers in pots then you will have to feed them with fertilizer from the garden center. If you grow them in a greenhouse border then you might want to check out how to make your own feed, this can be useful if the plants in a rich soil and need additional feeding, you can find how to do it on my caring for your tomato plants hub.

Tips On Keeping Your House Warm This Winter

When looking to keep your house warm, there are a number of options that you can try out. Whether you opt for a new smart thermostat or you opt for traditional methods such as corrugated sheet, this could be what you need to keep your home warm all winter. To help you get started, we have compiled a list of our tips and tricks to help you keep your house warm this winter.

What Color Goes With Sage Green Walls? Combine Well

Green is a colour that is not often used in decoration, although it is a tone that can be used on the walls of any room in the home. Initially, it doesn’t seem very easy to combine, but it is not. It is quite easy to connect and create different environments inside the house. Many shades make a perfect symbiosis with the colour green, being a safe and very elegant bet. If you like this tone but you don’t know what color goes with sage green walls, we give you a few ideas that you can apply to your home.

How Your Home Decor Can Boost Your Happiness

Many of us already know that our environment can affect our moods and this plays a huge role in our work lives, where we want our office environment to boost our productivity levels. However, our home decor can have a huge impact on the way we feel too. Your home is supposed to be a place where you feel relaxed and safe, but if you’re unhappy with the decor of your home, you’ll likely feel stressed and unsettled. It’s important to decorate your home in a way that not only looks good but makes us feel happier. Here are a few decor ideas which can empower you and make you and your home feel better than before.