Featured

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!

If you suffered any gardening disappointments last year, I want to help you improve your growing techniques, so you’ll experience the uplifting joy of gardening success, this year!

Gardening is such a positive hobby, growing plants truly enriches our lives; yet it can be utterly disheartening when seedlings die, our plants decline to flower or fruit, or don’t perform as well as we hoped. 

The RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2021

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 2021 – 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, this one of my favourite events of the year! 

Chilli pepper seeds are usually sown from February to the end of April.  However, these vegetables command a long growing season, requiring sufficient time for the plants to mature and their fruit to develop and ripen.  Accordingly, I find that chilli peppers are best started from seed sown in January.

Nurseries stock a limited range of chilli pepper plants in springtime, but gardeners who grow chillies from seed are blessed with the choice of a vast range of varieties. 

Mistletoe is a prized plant at Christmas time, when it’s the custom to decorate our homes with the berries and foliage of holly, ivy, and mistletoe, in celebration of the season.

I’ve always greatly admired the evergreen spherical forms that mature mistletoe specimens hold high up in the treetops.  Mistletoe’s naturally forked growth and branching habit display a symmetrical form that enhances the plant’s beauty, highlighting its simple green leaves and white pearl-like berries.

Do you have enough houseplants? I don’t know about you, but I’m always willing to make room for more indoor plants.  If you’re considering purchasing a new houseplant and you’re keen to make a lasting purchase, hoping for the long-term, leafy love affair we all dream of, then I have some fabulous ideas for you…

Ceropegia linearis subsp. woodii is also known as String of Hearts or Hearts Entangled. 

Don’t miss the opportunity to plant spring flowering bulbs

Pieter and Ben, from Dutch Grown, have very kindly sent me a range of their bulbs to try out.

When these bulbs arrived, all of my containers were already allocated to specific trials, so I am incredibly grateful to my wonderful friends, Terry and Nicky, who were absolute superstars and saved the day, by lending me a number of their pots. 

Happy Thanksgiving!  If you’re celebrating today, I wish you a joyful and uplifting day of celebration.  Today, I’m celebrating my Thanksgiving cacti, which are keeping perfect time and flowering for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving cacti (also known by their botanical name, Schlumbergera) are easy to care for, long-lived houseplants that thrive in shaded and semi-shaded conditions.  Unlike traditional cacti, which grow in bright and sunny, dry and arid conditions; Thanksgiving cacti flourish in a humid environment, away from bright sunshine.

October offers us many opportunities in the garden.  The soil is still warm, so it’s a great time for planting or moving plants that aren’t yet in their ideal position.  It’s worth taking time out to consider how your garden works for you.  Did you sustain any losses over the dry spring and summer?  Has this opened up any new planting opportunities?

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.