The Quadgrow Self Watering Planter

Earlier this year, Greenhouse Sensation sent me a Quadgrow Self Watering Planter to try.  If you’ve not seen a Quadgrow before, it’s a plastic container growing system (made from recycled plastic) that uses capillary action to provide plants with automatic watering.  This clever design alters the way we irrigate plants.  Instead of watering plants in the traditional sense (watering plants from above with a watering can), with the Quadgrow we deliver the water and nutrients right where they’re needed – at the plants’ roots. 

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.

Phalaenopsis pulchra growth, development, and flowering

My friend, Gary Firth kindly gave me this Phalaenopsis pulchra plant, for my National Collection of Miniature Phalaenopsis Species, exactly two years and eight months ago.  I must say, it’s always a huge relief when I don’t immediately kill a plant that a friend has given me!  Consequently, I’m celebrating the fact that this orchid remains alive and well and I am delighted to be able to share my photographs of this Phalaenopsis pulchra specimen’s first flowering with you. 

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.

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. 

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. 

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. 

Last month, I published a lovely competition from Burpee Europe and Mr Fothergill’s who gave readers an exciting opportunity to name their first ever blight-resistant orange tomato!  Thank you to everyone of you who entered; it was tough to decide on a winner as we received heaps of super name suggestions for this interesting new tomato.  Our favourites were:

Sweet Amber, suggested by Laura Blackburn
Tangerino, suggested by Roger Seaman
Golden Girl, suggested by Irene Wilson
Merrygold, suggested by Ann Page
Hope, suggested by Penny Grant and Helen Tottle-Nugent
Sunpop, suggested by Georgina G.

WIN Seeds & The Chance to Name A Brand-New Tomato Variety

We could all do with a little cheering up and what better way than to get your thinking caps on and join in with this naming competition. How would you like to be in with a chance to name a brand-new tomato variety from Burpee Europe?

To help you with your creative juices, here is some more information on these sunny looking balls of joy!

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.

Acrobat ant update

Last year, I discovered Crematogaster scutellaris ants on the cork I purchased for my new Tall OrchidariumCrematogaster scutellaris ants are known as acrobat ants, but these ants are found in many different countries, so they’re bound to have many other common names, too.  With their distinctive amber coloured heads and pointed abdomens, these ants are easy to identify. 

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.

Things to look our for when you’re setting up a new Terrarium

I’m currently in the process of setting up a new terrarium, which is very exciting!  Don’t worry, I’ll take you on a tour of my new Tall Orchidarium in due course.  However, today I wanted to tell you about something unexpected that happened to me, while I was gathering together the materials for this new enclosure.

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Autumn leaves

Autumn is such a magical season.  Each year, I’m utterly enchanted by autumn; I watch in delight, as the leaves on trees and shrubs turn from green to gold, burnished amber, and a stunning array of fiery autumnal hues.  Autumn leaves twirl and dance, as they make their descent, gliding and tumbling through the air, whispering softly as they flutter, before gently landing on the ground below. 

An Update on the Orchids growing inside my Orchidarium (part four)

In February 2017, which (as I write to you in September 2019) was over two and a half years ago, I decided to create an Orchidarium with an automated misting unit, LED lights, and fans, to house some of my miniature orchids and provide them with automatic care.  This wasn’t about creating a beautiful enclosure; I built this Orchidarium to house as many orchids from my collection as possible inside this enclosure and to provide these plants with automated care. 

Orchidarium Update

In February 2017, which (as I write to you in September 2019) was over two and a half years ago, I decided to create an Orchidarium with an automated misting unit, LED lights, and fans, to house some of my miniature orchids and provide them with automatic care.  This wasn’t about creating a beautiful enclosure; I built this Orchidarium to house as many orchids from my collection as possible and to automatically administer the plants’ lighting and watering, and control their growing conditions.

Orchids flowering inside my Orchidarium today!

I designed this Orchidarium in 2017; it was constructed in the early spring of 2017.  If you’re interested in the materials I’ve used, you can see the step-by-step process of my Orchidarium build here.  I thought I’d share some of these pretty orchid blooms with you.  These orchids are all in bloom inside my Orchidarium, today.

The Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium

Welcome to the thirteenth part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, which are endemic to Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.  I first planted this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium in March 2017.  So, at the time of writing, in August 2019, this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium is now two and a half years old.  In this update, it’s a pleasure to show you a few of the twinkling, crystalline flowers of Aerangis hyaloides, alongside the beauty of the snow-white, pendent blooms of Aerangis citrata, as they fade. 

Miniature Orchid Trial BiOrbAir Terrarium

Welcome to the twenty-second part of my BiOrbAir Review – Growing Miniature Orchids in the BiOrbAir!  This trial update is not all about success.  Since my last update, two orchids have declined – one more so than the other.  One plant looks like it’s probably in the process of dying; while another miniature orchid just isn’t looking as healthy as I would like.

How to Control Red Spider Mites on Orchids and Indoor Plants

Spider mites are a serious pest of orchids, indeed they are a pest of a great many other plants too, but with the warm weather we’re experiencing in the UK, today I wanted to remind you about the importance of controlling spider mites on orchids and other indoor plants.

Spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions.