I remember heading out on a sunny day in May, some years ago now.  My new raised bed was completed, so I was heading over to my allotment, filled with excitement and armed with an open packet of Hesperis matronalis var. albiflora seeds.  Somewhat comically, I tripped up en route, throwing myself and the entire contents of my seed packet down onto my neighbour, Caroline’s allotment.

April is a truly generous and forgiving time of year for gardeners.  This month provides us with numerous opportunities to grow an extensive range of exciting and exotic fruit and vegetables from seed.

Although there’s a wealth of seed choices on offer, not all of the unusual edibles we can grow are guaranteed to succeed in our variable climate and not every variety produces the best flavoured harvest. 

Finding the Best Composts to Grow Tomatoes

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for using peat-free composts.  Every year, I uncover the best quality peat-free composts on the market in my peat-free Compost Trials.  I ran this Compost Trial to help you find top quality composts that will enable your tomato plants to produce bumper harvests of tomatoes!

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.

Brilliant plants for bees and butterflies!

The furry bees, colourful butterflies, mysterious moths, darting hoverflies, and other pollinating insects that visit my garden are just as fascinating as the plants I grow.  The sound of bees buzzing and the sight of butterflies fluttering relaxes and inspires me.  I want to help you find the best pollen and nectar-rich plants to attract insects and bring your garden to life!

Every year I run Compost Trials to discover the best quality peat-free composts on the market.  Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing composts in all of my Trials, over the past seven years.

One of my favourite products is Dalefoot’s Double Strength Wool Compost, a nutrient rich, organic compost, comprised of natural materials, including bracken and Herdwick sheep’s wool. 

Wisteria

I adore Wisteria!  This divinely fragrant climber is in its prime in May.  Wisteria brings a welcome touch of romance to the garden, complimenting both modern and historic architecture.  Whether your style is cutting edge or traditional, grand or homely, Wisteria adds another dimension of flowers, scent, and interest, to enhance your home and garden.

Rather than purchasing plants online, I’d recommend you visit a nursery or garden centre this month and choose a grafted Wisteria plant.  

Lovely gardening jobs to do from April to mid-May

Sowing seeds is a wonderfully cost-effective way to garden.  Many hardy annual plants can be grown from seed this month, providing us with a quick and easy way to fill our gardens with beautiful flowers, in a wide range of colours and forms.

Many annual plants provide a valuable source of nectar, pollen, and food for insects.  

The weather in May can take us by surprise – we might be basking in the heat of the sun, or we are equally as likely to be jolted, shocked, and stopped in our tracks, as we turn to grab our coats to protect us during periods of rather bleak, chilly weather.  It’s the same for our plants – they won’t enjoy a check in their growth if inclement weather strikes, so take care to protect any tender plants in your care this month.

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.

Edible Plants to Entertain

To create a really sumptuous and relaxing outdoor area where you can dine and unwind, as well as sun loungers, garden furniture, fire pits and BBQs, you’ll require the perfect blend of aromatic, delicious and attractive plants to enhance your entertaining area.

I love hedgehogs!  Hedgehogs are so endearing and entertaining.  Every time I have encountered a hedgehog has been such a special and uplifting moment; each hedgehog I have seen shuffling along or snuffling about has touched my heart, lifted my spirits and brightened my day.

Sadly, nowadays there are many threats to hedgehogs – hedgehogs are in danger as they try to cross our busy roads, but even away from the roads, hedgehogs face many dangers in our own gardens, because of these dangers, hedgehogs are becoming more scarce. 

I co-wrote this article for the May 2014 edition of Vantage Point Magazine with Anna Maynard from the Godalming Chiropractic Health Centre.

Gardening: How to Have Fun and Prevent Injuries!

Anna Maynard from the Chiropractic Health Centre and Beth Otway from Godalming in Bloom have joined forces to help you enjoy gardening safely and avoid injury while working outdoors.

Gardening is a fascinating hobby; as well as stimulating your mind and senses it is wonderful exercise for your body. 

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.  

With April sunshine and showers, let’s hope we see lots of rainbows this month!

Sowing seeds is a wonderfully cost-effective way of gardening, and a quick and easy way to provide a valuable source of nectar, pollen, and food for insects.  If you would like to grow more plants beneficial to bees, butterflies, and other pollinating insects, then now is a good time to sow Cosmos bipinnatus and Verbena bonariensis seeds under cover.