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.  

April Gardening Opportunities

April is a magical time in the garden.  This month offers us so many wonderful opportunities.  There are so many seeds you can sow now, so whether you favour growing vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers, don’t miss this chance to grow the plants that hold a special place in your heart.

Viola tricolor

Viola tricolor, often known as ‘Heart’s Ease’ is a dainty, yet easy to grow plant, which produces edible and very pretty, purple, yellow, and white flowers that have an attractive painterly quality. 

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. 

Treat yourself to a new asparagus bed!

An asparagus bed is one of life’s luxuries; an area of ground dedicated solely to the production of one glorious vegetable!  It may seem an extravagance, but I can assure you that an asparagus bed is 100% worth the investment, as freshly harvested asparagus is a true delicacy.  Home-grown asparagus, cooked a short while after harvesting, is a vastly superior vegetable to shop-bought stuff, its sweet flavour is utterly delectable!

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. 

Growing tomatoes

I just adore growing fruit and vegetables!  Any form of edible gardening is a soul enriching experience, which I would encourage you to try.

When to sow tomato seeds and plant tomato plants outside?

Last year, I ran a Tomato Trial, to discover delicious, productive, and reliable tomato varieties.  My tomato seeds were sown inside my Access Garden Products Glasshouse in the middle of March. 

Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters

A number of forms of air pruning pots are available, I am a fan of these types of containers, as they prevent plants’ roots from becoming pot-bound.  I have found that plants grown in air pruning pots establish more readily when they’re planted in the garden, when compared to plants grown in regular containers.  They’re very effective.

Last year, as part of my Tomato Trial, I used Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters for the first time.

Tomato Trial

I love growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs.  We’ve all got our favourite heritage tomatoes, but have you tried any new tomato varieties?  Last year, I grew lots of new tomato varieties, as part of my quest to discover the most delicious and productive tomato cultivars available to gardeners!

The objectives of this Tomato Trial were to identify delicious, productive, disease resistant tomato varieties, and to discover whether any of the trialled tomato cultivars perform differently when planted in the ground or grown in a container. 

I relish the opportunities that each season offers us.  January provides the chance to pause and rest, take stock of our plants and introduce new plants to delight us over the years ahead!

This is the perfect time to plant trees, hedging plants, roses, and soft fruit: plants that are lifted during the dormant season and sold bare root; the plants’ roots are coated in wax or wrapped, to prevent desiccation. 

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners

In this column I share my favourite gift ideas with you, these are the best products that I have personally tried and tested this year, as part of my quest to help you find quality presents for your loved ones this Christmas!

Vegepod

Vegepod is an award-winning container gardening system that is really quite marvellous!  This raised bed system has universal appeal, you don’t need access to the soil, so if you’re gardening on concrete but ache to grow vegetables, this is for you. 

For my 2015 trialled and tested list of gifts for gardeners, I recommended a hand-made Trug Makers Trug – Trug No.7 – a large, deep versatile trug, ideal for harvesting large vegetables and fruit.  I am still using my Trug No.7, this versatile trug is just as good now as it was when it arrived with me in 2015.

After he read my 2015 review, Trug Maker Kevin Skinner very kindly offered to send me a trug of my choice, I love growing sweet peas, daffodils, and cut flowers, so the choice was simple – I opted for the Daffodil Trug, the trug that you see pictured below. 

I always look forward to seeing Jonathan Hogarth and his beautiful displays of miniature Hostas at the RHS Chelsea and Hampton Court Flower Shows, so it was especially nice to have a chance to have a proper catch up with Jonathan this week; Jonathan has given me special permission to share his very best, tried and tested, Hosta growing tips with you!

Vegepod Raised Garden Beds

I love growing vegetables, it’s a truly wonderful, soul enriching experience to grow your own food!  Sadly an increasing number of us are without the luxury of a garden or allotment and have nowhere to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers; while a great many others struggle to garden in small, often paved spaces, without any access to the soil.

Dear Readers, I caught up with Pippa Greenwood recently, Pippa has a website where you can purchase vegetable plants, seeds, and other gifts for gardeners.  Pippa offers a service where her customers can order the vegetables they want to grow, the vegetable plants are then grown in Lincolnshire, in the UK, and posted out as garden ready plants in early to mid May, when the vegetable plants can be planted out in your garden, or at your allotment. 

I cherish every special, magical moment when I meet a person with whom I share a deep connection and enjoy a true and meaningful, lasting friendship.  One such fellow, whom I am very fortunate to call a close friend, is the horticulturist, broadcaster, journalist, author, plantsman and nature lover, John Negus.  John is a truly wonderful man, he is an expert gardener and horticulturist; John never fails to inspire me. 

More ideas to use less plastic

In March 2018, I shared some of my ideas of how to reduce plastic use and try live more sustainably.  I love our planet, I want to do all I can to protect our world, this is an important issue for me.  I’d love to help you to find new ways to live sustainably and happily, saving money and having fun along the way!

Wildlife friendly ways to kill slugs and snails

I don’t like slug pellets.  Slug pellets have had a disastrous effect on the wild food chain – as well as killing slugs and snails, slug pellets harm hedgehogs, song thrushes, and other creatures.  Slug pellets kill these dear animals in the most cruel, drawn out, and painful manner.  Nothing could induce me to use slug pellets in my garden, allotment, or anywhere for that matter – however large the slug or snail population had become, and however many of my precious plants had been eaten. 

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!

Garden designer Dr Catherine MacDonald devised the Seedlip Garden as a celebration of the pea – Pisum sativum.  The Seedlip Garden features peas and plants related to peas – plants from the pea plant family – Fabaceae.  This Space to Grow Garden also honours the work of three men and their work in relation to peas.  The first man that the Seedlip Garden commemorates is Gregor Mendel (1822-1824).