I never purchase supermarket watermelons; I dislike their lack of flavour and irritating hard seeds.  However, after years of growing melons for Melon Trials, I hope I always spend spring and summertime growing watermelons!  The best watermelon I’ve grown so far is ‘Little Darling’.  I adore this watermelon’s sensationally sweet flavour and refreshingly crisp texture.  ‘Little Darling’ produces hardly any seeds, the few seeds that do materialise are soft and not noticeable. 

Grow Mint: Reinvigorate Your Life & Awaken Your Senses!

I adore mint and relish this herb’s energy.  Freshly harvested mint leaves can be used to make enticing cocktails, herbal teas, and an array of delicious savoury and dessert recipes.  Most people are familiar with peppermint or spearmint, but have you tried any other varieties?

A whole world of different flavoured mints is available to those who grow their own plants. 

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. 

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! 

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.

April is a truly generous and forgiving time of year for gardeners.  This month provides us with numerous opportunities to grow an extensive range of exciting and exotic fruit and vegetables from seed.

Although there’s a wealth of seed choices on offer, not all of the unusual edibles we can grow are guaranteed to succeed in our variable climate and not every variety produces the best flavoured harvest. 

Sow these tomato seeds now to grow the tastiest tomatoes this summer!

Every year, I trial new plants and products in my quest to discover the top performing composts and the tastiest and most productive edible plants.

Last year, the Quadgrow Self Watering Planter performed exceptionally well in my Trials.  Growing tomatoes is easy with the Quadgrow; simply top up the Quadgrow’s 30l reservoir with Nutrigrow and water and the planter will automatically water and fertilise your plants for around two weeks. 

Book Review: Growing Orchids at Home: The Beginner’s Guide to Orchid Care

Growing Orchids at Home: The Beginner’s Guide to Orchid Care
Authors: Manos Kanellos and Peter White
Publisher: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
ISBN: 9781842467183

Orchid growing is a wonderful hobby!  You don’t need a garden or lots of space to grow orchids; a wide range of orchid species can be grown inside our homes. 

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. 

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.

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. 

Giving thanks for my Thanksgiving Cactus

Four or five years ago, two of my favourite people in the whole world gave me this lovely Thanksgiving Cactus.  I love this plant because I associate it with two people that I love very much but also because this cactus is a fun, easy going, and reliable houseplant that flourishes inside my home, in less than bright conditions.

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. 

Controlling sciarid flies around houseplants and inside terrariums, on plants grown inside our homes, conservatories, and glasshouses What are sciarid flies?

Sciarid flies are teeny, tiny flies, from the family Sciaridae, they’re also known as fungus gnats, or by their genera’s scientific names of Bradysia or Lycoriella.  Although sciarid flies live outdoors, as the flies are so minute in size, you’re unlikely to notice these insignificant little flies outside. 

Orchids at Kew

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew hold a special place in my heart.  These accessible gardens have so much to offer visitors, whatever the season or time of year.

I thought you might like to see some of the orchids on display at Kew’s 2019 Orchid Festival.  If you’d like to visit this festival, make your arrangements now, as you don’t have long – Kew’s Colombian themed Orchid Festival closes on Sunday 10th March 2019.

Kew Gardens, Celebrating the Colour of Colombia!

This weekend the annual Orchid Festival opened at Kew Gardens.  This is the 24th Orchid Festival to be held inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory, at Kew.  Each year the Orchid Festival has a different theme, this year, Kew’s Orchid Festival celebrates the colour and vibrancy of Colombia!  Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries on the planet. 

This year, I’ve enjoyed getting to know a couple of new Phalaenopsis hybrids.  These plants were grown in the UK by Double H Nurseries, they’re part of the nurseries’ new range of Phalaenopsis plants, which have all been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit.

The Award of Garden Merit was set up by the Royal Horticultural Society, to help gardeners find plants that will perform well in regular growing conditions, without any specialist care or attention. 

Through my work I have become very well acquainted with so many fascinating plants, but I have also enjoyed getting to know some interesting people, many of whom I have met at the different gardens I have visited.  I hold a deep affection for the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew.  I am a great fan and supporter of Kew’s work in conservation and plant science, and I love to visit the beautiful glasshouses and gardens at Kew; Kew’s plant collections amaze and delight me! 

Kew Orchid Festival

The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are currently hosting their 23rd annual Orchid Festival.  You’ll find an array of colourful orchids, inside the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew, until Sunday 11th March 2018, when the Orchid Festival closes for another year.  I hope that you can make it to Kew to see this impressive orchid spectacle during the next couple of weeks! 

Now that the Christmas decorations have been taken down, if you find yourself wondering how to add a renewed freshness to your home, if you dream of an energising, yet relaxing sanctuary, then you might wish to consider growing some new houseplants and bringing some living greenery to your home.

It’s best to work with the conditions that your home can provide.