Rather than traipsing around the shops and frittering the weekend away in seemingly endless queues to buy gifts this December, I’d like to encourage you to head out into the garden to propagate your favourite plants and share the joy of home-grown gifts this Christmas!

Mint is a fast-growing and spreading plant.  I always recommend growing mint in containers to prevent this plant’s naturally assertive growth from taking over your garden, patio, and any nearby countryside! 

Grow Mint: Reinvigorate Your Life & Awaken Your Senses!

I adore mint and relish this herb’s energy.  Freshly harvested mint leaves can be used to make enticing cocktails, herbal teas, and an array of delicious savoury and dessert recipes.  Most people are familiar with peppermint or spearmint, but have you tried any other varieties?

A whole world of different flavoured mints is available to those who grow their own plants. 

June blesses us with the truly wonderful convenience of being able to sow seeds outside without any risk of frost culling seedlings or dashing our hopes.  Make the most of this wonderful moment: summer can feel endless, but speed is of the essence if you are to provide your courgettes, pumpkins, French beans, and runner bean plants with sufficient time to grow, mature, and produce a decent harvest.

Growing Microgreens & Edible Sprouting Seeds Indoors

One of the many joys of growing our own food is that this wonderful process allows us a marvellous opportunity to eat freshly harvested fruit, vegetables, and herbs, which usually have a dramatically improved flavour and freshness compared to the equivalent alternatives we can purchase in our local supermarket.  Usually, when we imagine growing our own produce, we think of a process that takes anywhere from between a number of months to a number of years to produce vegetables, fruit, or herbs. 

Chilli pepper seeds are usually sown from February to the end of April.  However, these vegetables command a long growing season, requiring sufficient time for the plants to mature and their fruit to develop and ripen.  Accordingly, I find that chilli peppers are best started from seed sown in January.

Nurseries stock a limited range of chilli pepper plants in springtime, but gardeners who grow chillies from seed are blessed with the choice of a vast range of varieties. 

The Quadgrow Self Watering Planter

Earlier this year, Greenhouse Sensation sent me a Quadgrow Self Watering Planter to try.  If you’ve not seen a Quadgrow before, it’s a plastic container growing system (made from recycled plastic) that uses capillary action to provide plants with automatic watering.  This clever design alters the way we irrigate plants.  Instead of watering plants in the traditional sense (watering plants from above with a watering can), with the Quadgrow we deliver the water and nutrients right where they’re needed – at the plants’ roots. 

What to do with your tomatoes in September

As autumn’s whisper reverberates through our landscape, many plants are now fading, as they respond to the changing season and become rapidly aged by the ever lengthening nights’ embrace.  This is a season of salvage, protection, and celebration; it’s time to bring tender plants inside our homes, conservatories, and glasshouses, and to gather in our harvest.

Growing tomatoes is so much fun!  Tomato plants will grow happily in a sunny border or in large containers of peat-free compost.

There are two types of tomatoes – cordon and bush tomatoes.  Cordon (also known as indeterminate) tomatoes can form tall plants, reaching 2m or more!  Don’t worry – you can ‘stop’ your plants from growing any taller by simply pinching out the tip of your plant’s stem, when your plants have reached your desired height.

Grow your own figs and grapes

Holidaymakers buying plants or collecting plant material as holiday souvenirs often bring home more than they bargained for and unwittingly transport pests, diseases, or invasive species into the UK; causing lasting, and sometimes irreversible, problems for themselves and UK horticulture as a whole.

Instead, make your holiday excitement last all summer, every year, with UK grown plants that will flourish inside your conservatory or glasshouse, at your garden or allotment. 

I feel a strong and passionate desire to protect our planet’s peat bogs.  This is an urgent matter, it’s not something we can keep putting off to consider again in the future, at a more convenient time – for the peat that is being extracted now can’t be saved and so if we continue as we have done in the past, the opportunities we have in our hands, right in front of us now, will be lost forever.

Peatlands and peat bogs: precious environments that urgently need our protection

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which now cover just 2-3% of our planet’s surface.  Home to a fascinating range of native plants and wildlife, peatlands form unique ecosystems that support incredible flora and fauna.  Many of the plants, insects, birds, and wildlife that have evolved in these boggy, acidic areas can’t survive anywhere else.

How to Control Red Spider Mites on Orchids and Indoor Plants

Spider mites are a serious pest of orchids, indeed they are a pest of a great many other plants too, but with the warm weather we’re experiencing in the UK, today I wanted to remind you about the importance of controlling spider mites on orchids and other indoor plants.

Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions. 

More ways to use less plastic in the garden

Over the past few years, we’ve all become more aware of the dangers of our over use of plastic and the damage that this material can do to us, our environment, and to creatures of all shapes and sizes who live in the rivers, oceans, and in the landscape around us.  For the most part, the horticultural sector has taken their time to address the horticultural industry’s use of plastic. 

The RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019

Welcome to the second part of my overview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2019.  (If you missed the first part of my Chelsea overview, click here to see the first instalment.)

The Royal Horticultural Society’s Chelsea Flower Show is the world’s most prestigious flower show.  Held in the Royal Hospital’s grounds, at Chelsea, the RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a great place to find inspiration and ideas for your home and garden. 

Controlling sciarid flies around houseplants and inside terrariums, on plants grown inside our homes, conservatories, and glasshouses What are sciarid flies?

Sciarid flies are teeny, tiny flies, from the family Sciaridae, they’re also known as fungus gnats, or by their genera’s scientific names of Bradysia or Lycoriella.  Although sciarid flies live outdoors, as the flies are so minute in size, you’re unlikely to notice these insignificant little flies outside. 

Orchids at Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew hold a special place in my heart.  These accessible gardens have so much to offer visitors, whatever the season or time of year.

I thought you might like to see some of the orchids on display at Kew’s 2019 Orchid Festival.  If you’d like to visit this festival, make your arrangements now, as you don’t have long – Kew’s Colombian themed Orchid Festival closes on Sunday 10th March 2019.

Kew Gardens, Celebrating the Colour of Colombia!

This weekend the annual Orchid Festival opened at Kew Gardens.  This is the 24th Orchid Festival to be held inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, at Kew.  Each year the Orchid Festival has a different theme, this year, Kew’s Orchid Festival celebrates the colour and vibrancy of Colombia!  Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. 

Kew Orchid Festival 2018 Thailand!

From Saturday the 10th February 2018, until Sunday the 11th March 2018, The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are hosting their 23rd Orchid Festival.  If you’re looking for a wonderful day out, you’re sure to find it here, at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew!

This inspiring plant extravaganza has been designed to celebrate Thailand’s vibrant plants and culture.  

Protecting your plants from Slugs and Snails

For many gardeners, the slug and snail population seemed to explode last year, with many fraught and distressed gardeners asking for my advice on the best way to protect their plants from slugs and snails.  I am strongly opposed to slug pellets.  I wouldn’t wish to kill any of the slugs or snails in my garden, as I believe a healthy eco system is important.

If you’re looking for something fun and tasty, that’s quick and easy to grow, I think you’ll enjoy growing Suttons Seeds F1 Bodacious Sweet Corn Shoots.  I sowed my Bodacious Sweet Corn Shoots on 1st December 2015, and I have been enjoying eating them today, on 9th December 2015, just 8 days later!  Sowing these Sweet Corn seeds would be a fun and very easy activity to include your children in – I am certain that most children will love the sweet flavour of the Sweet Corn shoots, which are also rich in vitamins and nutrients!