Kick Start the Year by Growing Your Favourite Flavours: Sow these Red Chilli Pepper & Sweet Pepper Seeds Now!

Chilli pepper and sweet pepper plants grow slowly and can take longer than we expect to reach maturity and produce peppers.  January is my favourite time to sow chilli and sweet pepper seeds, as it gives the plants a longer growing season with extra time for fruit to develop and ripen, compared to the standard spring-sown plants. 

An Update From My Wildlife Pond in Autumn

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond – it’s lovely to be able to share my pond with you and show you around!  Since my last update, my wildlife pond is now looking more autumnal; the plants in this area of my garden are draining the energetic green tones from their foliage and starting to display a few yellow leaves as they gently let us know that autumn has arrived.

Raspberries are one of our most delicious but expensive fruits.  The good news is that raspberries are also incredibly productive, easy to grow, and they don’t take up much room.  We can make huge savings by growing raspberries in our gardens and allotments.

I adore growing raspberries!  For over 25 years, I’ve grown a vast selection of raspberry cultivars in various sized gardens and allotments; I’m excited to share my knowledge and help you grow an abundance of raspberries. 

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.

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in the Intense Heat of Summer & the Drought of 2022

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond during the heatwave and drought of 2022.  I’ve been anxiously watching the water level in my pond as it recedes.  I’ve invested in another water tank and I’ve been busy scouring the local area for any second-hand water butts and water tanks for sale. 

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.

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. 

Spring is such an uplifting time in the garden.  As the days lengthen and spring flowers come into bloom, the anticipation of the wealth of flowers we’ll admire in our countryside and gardens over the coming seasons provides me with an abundance of reasons to be thankful.  If your garden is looking a little lacklustre at the moment, don’t worry – there are some delightful spring-flowering perennial plants available at nurseries and garden centres, which will brighten up our gardens this spring and in the years that follow.

Clematis are divided into three groups.  We assign each clematis to a group based upon the time of year the plant flowers, and when the growth that holds their flowers develops.  By evaluating our clematis and assigning our plants to a specific group, we can establish the optimum time to prune our clematis.

  • Group One Clematis produce their flowering stems in the summer before flowering and bloom early in the year (in autumn, winter, and springtime).
  • 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! 

    Yesterday afternoon when I logged onto Twitter, the first thing I saw was an open letter on the use of peat signed by some well-known professional horticulturists and illustrated with a picture of Peter Seabrook.  Earlier this year, I responded to some of the claims Peter Seabrook made about peat in Hort Week; today I’m responding to the claims made by the following professional horticulturists in an open letter, which was published by Garden Trade News.

    Winter provides us with a wonderful opportunity to plant trees.  What could be a better Christmas gift than planting a tree with your family?  I’m a particular fan of planting bare-root trees: trees that are grown in the ground (not containers) and then lifted, dispatched, and planted while they’re dormant.  Bare-root trees are grown in the soil, they’re naturally peat-free, require less watering at the nursery, and can be grown plastic-free – as there’s no need for containers. 

    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. 

    Silent Earth: Averting the Insect Apocalypse
    Author: Dave Goulson
    Publisher: Jonathan Cape
    ISBN: 976-1-787-33334-5

    An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Autumn

    Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in October.

    I’ve been very fortunate – the wish I made for autumn sunshine (I expressed this hope at the end of my last update) came true!  September blessed us with glorious warm weather and uplifting sunshine; it was so hot on a couple of days that it felt like mid-summer!

    Planting bulbs is rather like giving yourself a wonderful promise of future flowers and happiness.  What could be lovelier?  If you want to enjoy spring flowers, such as daffodils and crocus, and early summer-flowering bulbs, like alliums, then it’s time to start planting bulbs!

    When purchasing bulbs, wherever possible choose top-sized bulbs, as larger bulbs are more floriferous than smaller bulbs.