Traditionally, parsnips are left growing in the ground over winter to allow time for the frosty winter weather to improve their flavour.  However, parsnips tend to develop canker and become less appetising as they reach old age.  To achieve the healthiest harvest, lift your parsnips now, before decay sets in and store your parsnips in the freezer until you are ready to use them. 

2022 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener and a passionate advocate for peat-free gardening.  I want to help you be a successful gardener, so every year I run independent Compost Trials and share the results on my website.

I’ve included organic and vegan, peat-free composts in this Compost Trial.  All of the composts in this Compost Trial are 100% peat-free.

This month I am celebrating some of our succulent, soft fruit superstars: plums, damsons, and greengages!  This closely related group of fruits require less pruning than apples and pears and offer a contrasting range of flavours: from deliciously sharp and tart damsons, sweet-tasting plums, and syrupy, honey-flavoured gages.  Greengages, damsons, and plums all have different flavours, but tastes also vary from one named variety to another. 

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2022!

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday the 15th July 2022 until Sunday 7th August 2022.  I’d really like to encourage you to join in and take your own Butterfly Count – they’re great fun!  A Butterfly Count only lasts for 15 minutes – this activity won’t take up much of your time – you could take a Butterfly Count in your lunch break.   

When midsummer passes us by, rhubarb production naturally slows down.  Unless you’re growing a late summer and autumn cropping rhubarb (like ‘Livingstone’), stop picking rhubarb now to allow your plants to build up their strength for next year’s harvests.  Rhubarb thrives in wet summers.  After heavy rain (or a thorough watering), spread a mulch of well-rotted manure or homemade garden compost over the soil around your 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.

Moth Night 2022

Wow!  I am thankful for the weather being good overnight for Moth Night 2022 and I’m immensely relieved for the soft refreshing rain that we enjoyed for much of the morning.  I took my Moth Night Moth Count last night.  My favourite moth that I found this morning was the Privet Hawk Moth.

The Results of My Moth Night 2022 Moth Count

I’ve taken my Moth Night 2022 Moth Count in my garden. 

Moth Night 2022

Moth Night is a fun event; it’s free to take part and open to everyone!  Most moths are night flying insects; they’re out and about doing their thing, while we’re usually tucked up indoors.  Consequently, many people miss out on seeing even a single species of moth, during the year; this is a great shame, as moths are incredibly beautiful and very interesting creatures.

Runner beans are miraculous vegetables that will comfortably fulfil any gardener’s lofty ambitions to grow stunning plants that look attractive, flower freely, and produce an abundant harvest of delicious beans within a small space!

I am a self-confessed runner bean fan.  For years, I’ve been running Runner Bean Trials searching for the best tasting and most productive runner bean varieties and the optimum growing methods to cultivate these vegetables. 

Sunflowers bring such positive energy and welcome cheer to our gardens!  If you want to brighten up your garden with pollinator-friendly flowers in summertime, April is the ideal time to sow sunflower seeds.  There’s no need for any special equipment; sunflowers are hardy annuals that can be sown outdoors now.  Seeds can be started off in containers of peat-free compost and planted out after they have developed their first true leaves. 

Magnificent Bluebell Woods and Bluebell Gardens

Bluebell woods are such relaxing and uplifting places to visit.  I hope you can enjoy time walking in amongst the bluebells this spring, so you can envelop yourself with the scent and beauty of these awe-inspiring flowers.  This is truly magical time of year!

I am a huge fan of our native British bluebells, which are also known by their latin name of Hyacinthoides non-scripta. 

The Most Sustainable Compost is Homemade – Sharing Over 20 Tips for Successful Composting!

To celebrate Compost Week, I’m sharing tips to help you make top-quality compost in your garden, allotment, or neighbourhood.

Why Compost?

Making a compost heap or setting up a compost bin is such a positive thing to do.  Even if you don’t really care about getting fabulous (free) compost delivered straight to your garden, or you’re not interested in improving your garden soil, if you compost your grass cuttings, prunings,  and vegetable peelings, you’ll save yourself time and energy, and spare yourself the need to make trips to the tip to get rid of your garden or kitchen waste at weekends. 

Sheltering from the Storm and Appreciating Orchid Seed Pods & Flowers

Mother Nature reminds us of her immense power today.  Storm Eunice currently has us firmly in her grip.  Eunice is battling against the trees, pushing them, flaying, whirling, and then ruthlessly discarding anything that isn’t tied down securely enough.  As I write, I am eternally thankful that my sturdy glasshouse and Vegepod are both intact and remain where I left them, safely in my garden. 

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2022

If you’re in need of some time out, a delightful and quite simply enchanting activity that you can take part in this weekend is the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2022 – spending a restful, restorative hour watching and counting birds.  I love birds, wildlife and nature.  I adore taking part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch! 

Urgent Action is needed to protect our peatlands

We urgently need our leaders to take responsibility and introduce laws and treaties that will protect our environment.  There is so much to be done that could help our planet and not enough action being taken.  Many of the messages and promises that were shared at COP26 are statements that have been shared many times before but are yet to be acted upon. 

Happy new year!  I want to help you create a positive and uplifting garden where you can relax, grow your favourite plants, and make real connections with nature.

Do you have a compost heap in your garden?  How about in your college or office garden?  Composting is such a wonderful thing to do; it’s great for the environment, good for wildlife, produces amazing compost, and saves money! 

New Miniature Orchid Flowers

I’ve taken pictures of a few of my miniature orchids to show you the plants that I’ve been focusing my attention on this week.  Currently, my main preoccupation has been to be poised and ready to pollinate my Aerangis macrocentra plants, in the hope that the last remaining flower of my first plant to bloom survived long enough for my second plant’s first flower to open. 

One very good thing to come out of the pandemic has been the rise in online talks and events.  We’ve realised that we don’t have to get in our cars and drive to meetings, we can enjoy listening to speakers, learning about plants, and connecting with groups, charities, and organisations, from the comfort of our own homes.  Together we can discover more about plants and make real connections online, whilst saving money on transport and avoiding all the associated environmental costs. 

The Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods

I attended the ‘Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods’ conference, hosted by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.  I fully support the Kew Declaration on Reforestation for Biodiversity, Carbon Capture and Livelihoods.  I am just one of the 3000 global experts and concerned citizens from 114 countries that signed this declaration which aims to promote the long-term protection and restoration of natural forest ecosystems worldwide. 

2021 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for peat-free composts.  I know from experience, that it’s not always easy to find a good quality peat-free growing media.  I understand that gardeners who have used peat-based composts all their lives might be hesitant to switch to a peat-free compost; while gardeners who have purchased a poor performing peat-free compost could naturally be reluctant to try peat-free growing media again.