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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.

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. 

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. 

Rainforest Terrarium equipment update, part two

I set my Rainforest Terrarium up in April 2018, to provide a home for a number of the orchids that form part of my National Collection of Miniature Phalaenopsis species and my National Collection of Miniature Aerangis and Angraecum species.  This particular update focuses on how the equipment installed inside my Rainforest Terrarium has performed from March 2019 until May 2020.

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.

Growing Aerangis citrata

This is Aerangis citrata, a miniature orchid species, that’s endemic to Madagascar.

Aerangis citrata naming

The genus ‘Aerangis’ gets its name from the Greek words aer (air) and angos (vessel or container), as plants grow in the air (epiphytically) using aerial roots, and the flowers each feature a nectar filled spur.  The second part of the name, (the specific epithet) ‘citrata’, refers to this orchid’s flowers, which are sometimes pale lemon in colour, when they first open. 

I feel a strong and passionate desire to protect our planet’s peat bogs.  This is an urgent matter, it’s not something we can keep putting off to consider again in the future, at a more convenient time – for the peat that is being extracted now can’t be saved and so if we continue as we have done in the past, the opportunities we have in our hands, right in front of us now, will be lost forever.

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.

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.

Peatlands and peat bogs: precious environments that urgently need our protection

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which now cover just 2-3% of our planet’s surface.  Home to a fascinating range of native plants and wildlife, peatlands form unique ecosystems that support incredible flora and fauna.  Many of the plants, insects, birds, and wildlife that have evolved in these boggy, acidic areas can’t survive anywhere else.

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. 

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.

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners 2019

Christmas time is such a special time of year.  It’s a time for meeting up, celebrating, and showing our thanks and appreciation to those around us.

Make the promise of a day out together, to visit a snowdrop or daffodil garden

Love and friendship are priceless gifts.  Why not gift the promise of a day out together in a magnificent snowdrop garden, in January or February? 

Creating a Wildlife Pond

I’ve always had a great interest in ponds, to me, the underwater world is fascinating.  I’ve been interested in aquatic plants since I was a young child.  I can still remember the feeling, as my heart leapt and did a little somersault when I discovered a clump of Marsh Marigolds (Caltha palustris) for the very first time, whilst I was out for a walk with my Grandparents; I was utterly captivated by the beauty of this large clump of Caltha palustris

November Gardening Tips & Ideas

November is an exciting month, full of opportunities in the garden.  Take time out to enjoy the fleetingly beautiful glory of the moment, as leaves of burnished gold and crimson light up the landscape.  At this time of year, it’s important to plan ahead and to plant trees and bee friendly flowers, for future generations to enjoy.

Garden Twine Trial

Twine is an essential product for gardeners.  This small, but vital product helps us to support, tie in, and train our plants.  Garden twine assists us as we hang up bunches of herbs, garlic, and onions, for storing and drying.  Twine enables us to mark out rows, and carry out all manner of garden tasks.  Whether you enjoy growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, or cut flowers, if you’re fond of tending herbaceous borders, or you enjoy taking part in any other form of gardening activity; twine is a universally useful product!

Growing Tomatoes in Dalefoot Composts’ Peat Free Compost

I am a passionate advocate for going peat free.  I’ve always been a peat free gardener, but I’ve not always managed to find good quality peat free compost.  To search for good quality peat free products, I run peat free Compost Trials every year.  Dalefoot Composts have been the top performing compost brand, in all of my trials to date.