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Celebrating Self-Watering Containers: Making Growing Edibles Easier for All & Saving Water too!

Spring and summer weather often leaves plants and gardeners wilting during punishing droughts and intense heatwaves.  Raising plants in containers requires far more water than growing plants in the ground.  If you’ve got a penchant for container gardening, I’d like to introduce you to self-watering containers: literal lifesavers for plants and gardeners! 

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I love growing herbs.  I get such pleasure from growing plants with tantalising flavours to enhance our meals and drinks.  Just a small pot of mint can enhance cocktails, herbal teas, savoury dishes, fruit salads, and more decadent desserts.  With autumn‘s arrival, I’m mindful that I don’t want to waste the lovely fresh leaves that will soon wither when the weather changes and frosts arrive.

Giving Thanks for Gorgeous Easy-to-Grow Houseplants!

I’m feeling so grateful today.  I’m grateful to the special people and plants that I share my life with.  I relish sharing information about stunning houseplants that are easy to grow and will happily bloom through the autumn and winter months.  This is when the nights are longer, the days are shorter, and we spend more time indoors – when flowering houseplants can brighten up our days and evenings! 

Houseplants are almost magical; they can make a dull room look and feel inviting and transform a dreary room into a luxurious and relaxing space.  In this article, I’ll reveal some of the secrets that will ensure your houseplants retain their magic!

First of all, always grow houseplants in containers with holes at their base that allow water to run through the pot and enable air to reach the plant’s roots. 

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. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Early Autumn

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in September!  Since my last update, we’ve gone from one extreme to the other – from drought – to a stormy week of thunder, lightening, and heavy rain; followed by more rain over the last two weeks.  My pond (and water butts and water tanks) are all full to the brim! 

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.

Over 430,000 acres of the UK is segregated into gardens; precious sanctuaries where we indulge our horticultural desires and celebrate nature.  We are our gardens’ curators, creating personal oases, but have we included the essential habitats that wildlife need to survive?

After the punishing drought and intense temperatures this summer, many trees are dropping their leaves early.  Standard gardening advice recommends removing aquatic plants’ foliage in autumn, to prevent decaying leaves enriching the water. 

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.

Rosa ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ is a Wonderful Rose!

Last year, Roses UK and Dickson Roses kindly sent me a ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ rose; I was particularly excited to receive this plant, as ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ was the winner of the Rose of the Year Competition 2022.  A year has passed since my plant arrived and I can now tell you just how wonderful this rose really is! 

New English Roses from David Austin Roses for Autumn 2022/2023

One of the things I look forward to most at the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show is the opportunity to meet the new rose introductions face to face and discover their fragrances.  I was sorry to miss visiting the Chelsea this year.  David Austin Roses launched two brand-new roses at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2022. 

June blesses us with the truly wonderful convenience of being able to sow seeds outside without any risk of frost culling seedlings or dashing our hopes.  Make the most of this wonderful moment: summer can feel endless, but speed is of the essence if you are to provide your courgettes, pumpkins, French beans, and runner bean plants with sufficient time to grow, mature, and produce a decent harvest.

Love Orchids

I adore orchids and houseplants.  I get so much enjoyment from being surrounded by foliage and flowers and I simply love growing orchids and houseplants.  Since Brexit, the range of orchid nurseries open to UK customers has dramatically reduced.  Thankfully, we still have a number of UK nurseries who are growing orchids in Britain.  Love Orchids are a small family-run, British company, based in Southern England. 

Moth Night 2022

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.

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. 

The Peat Free April Campaign starts today!

This #PeatFreeApril we need your help to find the country’s #PeatFreeHeroes – and tell the #PeatVillains we’re on to them.

Any time in April you visit your local garden centre or supermarket, look out for their compost.  Do they only sell peat-free compost?  Then they’re a peat-free hero! Take a picture of their peat-free compost. 

The Most Sustainable Compost is Homemade – Sharing Over 20 Tips for Successful Composting!

To celebrate Compost Week, I’m sharing tips to help you make top-quality compost in your garden, allotment, or neighbourhood.

Why Compost?

Making a compost heap or setting up a compost bin is such a positive thing to do.  Even if you don’t really care about getting fabulous (free) compost delivered straight to your garden, or you’re not interested in improving your garden soil, if you compost your grass cuttings, prunings,  and vegetable peelings, you’ll save yourself time and energy, and spare yourself the need to make trips to the tip to get rid of your garden or kitchen waste at weekends. 

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.

Take the Pledge to be Peat-Free and Proud!

For decades, we’ve heard hundreds of empty promises to protect and restore our peatlands, but the sad fact is that our peatlands are still in danger and these precious areas are still being damaged today.  Humans have been relentlessly draining these rare habitats and ripping out the life and soul – the mosses, plants, life, and peat – from our peatlands for an unthinkable amount of time.