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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.

Moth Night 2020

I’ve been eagerly looking forward to Moth Night for quite sometime now.  I was hoping for good weather last night and hoping to have caught one of the Red Underwing Moths, so I could show you one or more of this interesting group of moths.  I wasn’t that lucky with the weather and I didn’t spot any Red Underwing Moths, but it’s lovely to be able share the results of my Moth Night Moth Count with you and show you the moths I caught in my moth trap this morning.

Moth Night 2020

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.

Summer’s golden sunshine warms our gardens and gladdens our hearts, it’s sublime!  Make time to sow seeds now to enjoy stunning flowers next spring and delicious vegetables over the coming months.

Cornflowers (also known by their botanical name, Centaurea cyanus) attract a wide range of bees and butterflies; these rosette shaped blooms make great cut flowers, too. If you’re not a fan of the traditional blue cornflower, take your pick from the white, pink, cerise, lilac, purple, and (almost) black flowered forms available.

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count 2020

I adore spending time immersed in nature, studying plants and butterflies.  Today I wanted to tell you about the Big Butterfly Counts I’ve taken at Bookham Common, in Surrey.

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday the 17th July 2020 until Sunday 9th August 2020 – so you still have plenty of time to join in and enjoy taking your own Butterfly Count! 

Butterfly Conservation Big Butterfly Count 2020

Butterfly Conservation’s Big Butterfly Count runs from Friday the 17th July 2020 until Sunday 9th August 2020.  A butterfly Count lasts for 15 minutes, it’s a fun, relaxing and easy thing to do.  You don’t need to know anything about butterflies to take part.

Why count butterflies?

The information gathered from all the Butterfly Counts across the nation, will help Butterfly Conservation identify the species of butterflies and day flying moths that are becoming more scarce. 

2020 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for peat-free composts.  I know from my own 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 and gardeners who have purchased a poor performing peat-free compost could naturally be reluctant to try peat-free growing media again. 

New Plants for Free

Would you like some free plants?  If you’ve got a gloriously healthy evergreen shrub or a magnificent tree growing in your garden, then why not take semi-ripe cuttings to increase your stock and share the joy of these beautiful plants with your neighbours, friends, and family?

Ivy (also known by its botanical name of Hedera)

Many plants can be propagated using semi-ripe cuttings, including ivy (Hedera). 

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.   

Trying to control blanket weed and algae in my pond

Over the past year, I’ve watched in despair as algae has wrapped its ever extending arms around my pond; I feel like algae is threatening to suffocate my pond at any moment.   The other ponds I’ve created in the past have never really suffered with algae to the same extent that my current pond has. 

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.

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. 

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!

What am I growing inside my Vegepod?

Since I first told you about my Vegepod much has changed.  Back in 2018, my Vegepod was set up in an area of my garden that enjoyed partial shade, but after trialling the Vegepod in this fairly beneficial position (vegetables thrive when they’re grown in sunny and partially shaded sites), I decided to move my Vegepod to a more shaded area of my garden, to see what I could grow successfully inside my Vegepod with more challenging growing conditions.

This year, Mothering Sunday, also known as Mother’s Day, will be held on Sunday 22nd March 2020, in the UK.  If you’re looking for a special family day out, the following gardens and attractions are all offering special offers to celebrate Mother’s Day 2020.  The offers differ, so I’ve listed the details of each event for Mother’s Day 2020 offer separately for every venue. 

Peat free Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing peat free composts in all of the Compost Trials that I’ve run over the past seven years.  Rather than just continually highlighting every year that Dalefoot Composts are the best peat free composts to use, I designed this Compost Trial to demonstrate methods you could use to get the best results from one of their products, namely Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost.

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. 

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2020

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 2020 – 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, it is one of my favourite events of the year! 

2020 Calendar of Specialist Plant Fairs, Festivals, Sales, and Swaps

Happy new year!  Happy new plants!  Here are the dates and details of plant sales, plant festivals, plant swaps, seed swaps, and other super opportunities to buy wonderful, locally grown plants at fantastic prices; as well as details of events where you can swap plants or seeds for free!  Great quality, rare, hard to find, special, and unusual plants can be found at the specialist plant fairs and other events that I have listed for you below, in this, my 2020 Calendar of UK Specialist Plant Fairs, Festivals, Sales, and Swaps!