I first grew Chinese Kale ‘Kai lan’ (also known as Gai lan or ‘Kailaan’) in about 2006; I was really impressed by this vegetable’s speedy growth and the bounteous harvest my plants produced.  ‘Kai lan’ leaves, flower buds, and stems are all edible, but it’s the stems that provide the main harvest.  Try it raw, stir-fried, steamed, or boiled; ‘Kai lan’ is a little like broccoli.   

In times of stress, our gardens and allotments become our refuge and remind us of the true value of plants and outside spaces.  For me, time in my garden is priceless; it lifts my spirits, leaving me feeling revitalised.  One of my favourite things to do is to grow my own food.

You don’t need a large garden to grow your own vegetables. 

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.

Sweetly scented summer flowering shrubs

I relish plants that produce fragrant flowers.  Philadelphus aren’t the most memorable group of plants for ten or eleven months of the year, but while they’re in flower, these shrubs perfume the garden with their intoxicating and deliciously sweet scent.

Philadelphus

Philadelphus aren’t fussy plants, they’re fully hardy and flower reliably every year.  Plant in full sun or partial shade, in any well drained soil. 

Fabulous Florence Fennel

What a joyful month June is!  June’s warm sunshine seems to infuse every fibre of our beings, imbuing our souls with a feeling of uplifting bliss that can only be found outdoors.  June also brings us the gift of sweet summer rain to refresh our plants, and the excitement of a great many wonderful growing opportunities in the garden; it’s hard to beat this time of year!

Containers filled with your favourite coloured flowering plants can bring so much joy to you, and to the bees and butterflies in your garden.

Beautifully scented plants are always top of my list.   The dwarf, compact, lavender cultivars, known as Lavandula angustifolia, are such lovely options for containers in a sunny spot, where their calming, soothing fragrance can be welcomed and enjoyed by all.  

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.

Why Peat Free?

I have always loved our natural world.  I have always wished to protect every important habitat for plants, animals, and nature, all over the world.  I am passionate about protecting the rainforests and the many other wonderful, precious environments and habitats that exist on Earth, including peat bogs.  Peat bogs are amazing environments, covering just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  

The garden is fascinating at this time of year.  I love the wonderful sound of the birds singing, and I just relish the scents of honeysuckle, roses, and other flowers; even the scent of the grass is so relaxing.

If you get time to put your feet up it’s the ideal time to pre-order bulbs, corms, and tubers from specialist nurseries to plant this autumn.  

I just love this time of year when everywhere is developing a beautiful shade of green!  Every year it’s like a revelation, as hedgerows, trees, lawns, everywhere, turn the most beautiful shade of fresh, new, positive, wonderful, green!  There are many jobs you can do now to keep your garden or allotment looking beautiful; here are some ideas to get you started…

The Chelsea chop, so called as it’s carried out around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show, is simply a term to describe cutting back herbaceous, perennial plants, reducing the plants’ height by to up to a half, before flowering.