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An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Winter

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond.  In this post, you can see the pictures I’ve taken of my wildlife pond throughout autumn and winter 2020/21, right up to this weekend and the present day (hello future readers, this weekend was the 27th and 28th of February 2021).  Other than observing my aquatic plants as they’ve died back, my husband and I have not carried out any maintenance to our pond since my last update, but that’s all about to change!

Featured

Growing Microgreens & Edible Sprouting Seeds Indoors

One of the many joys of growing our own food is that this wonderful process allows us a marvellous opportunity to eat freshly harvested fruit, vegetables, and herbs, which usually have a dramatically improved flavour and freshness compared to the equivalent alternatives we can purchase in our local supermarket.  Usually, when we imagine growing our own produce, we think of a process that takes anywhere from between a number of months to a number of years to produce vegetables, fruit, or herbs. 

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. 

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. 

Specialist Snowdrop Nurseries & Other Places to buy Snowdrop Bulbs & Snowdrops in the Green

I love snowdrops.  If you wish to grow snowdrops in your garden, then I want to make your dreams come true and help you to find the best places to purchase these wonderful plants!

It’s important to buy quality snowdrops from reputable suppliers, firstly to ensure that you receive the snowdrop variety that you’ve purchased, and secondly to avoid purchasing bulbs that have been taken from the wild. 

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.

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Autumn

Hello.  Welcome to my garden and an autumnal tour of my wildlife pond!  My pond doesn’t appear as beautiful in autumn as it does in late spring and summertime.  None of my aquatic plants are in flower today, so you could be forgiven for believing that as most of the plants are dying back and there aren’t any flowers around, that there’s not much life here now. 

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. 

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.

Grasses form a fundamental part of many gardens.  The seed heads of ornamental grasses take on a magical quality as they shine in September’s golden sunlight.  September is a superb time to plant ornamental grasses, like: Deschampsia, Festuca, Heliotrichon, and Stipa.

Has your garden been hosting family sports tournaments this summer?  If your grass is worn through in places, it’s the perfect time to fill in those bare patches. 

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.

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.   

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.