Welcome to the twelfth part of my Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium Trial – growing epiphytic orchids, which are endemic to Madagascar, inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.  In this update, I am excited to share the delight of the snowy white, newly opened flowers of Aerangis citrata with you!  Since my last update, I’ve introduced a few new orchids to this Madagascar BiOrbAir Terrarium and I’ve recently replaced the moss, to add a verdant green carpet to enhance the plants inside this special terrarium.

Teaming with Nutrients: The Organic Gardener’s Guide to Optimizing Plant Nutrition
Author: Jeff Lowenfels
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-314-0

Teaming with Nutrients is the second book in a series of three books written by Jeff Lowenfels, for the publisher Timber Press.  Each book is focused on a different area of plant science; the other books being, Teaming with Microbes (written by Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis) and Teaming with Fungi

I am sorry to say that 2018 was a terrible year for many of the daffodils grown in the UK.  The daffodils that were grown for my 2018 Scented Daffodil Trial experienced snow at the end of March, at a time when many of my trialled daffodil cultivars were grown, some of my daffodils stood poised and ready, just thinking about blossoming and coming into flower. 

Why Use Peat Free Compost?

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which cover just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  These scarce ecosystems are also very fragile, they are dependent on sufficient moisture levels being available, and they require a slightly cooler temperature range to allow the necessary sphagnum moss, which slowly forms peat, to grow, flourish, and reproduce.  Peat bogs can increase at a rate of one millimetre per year if the desired conditions are present. 

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! 

Why Peat Free Compost?

There are many wild, beautiful, and fascinating areas of our planet that are diminishing due to human destruction.  These precious natural areas require our protection urgently, before it’s too late and they are destroyed or lost altogether.  There are relatively small areas of rainforests, peat bogs and peatlands remaining on our planet, yet these areas are continuing to be destroyed by humans. 

I have found that peat free composts can vary enormously: from bags of compost filled with bark chips, which could be used as a mulch, but can’t be used as intended – as a compost to grow container plants or seedlings, right through to the other extreme – the finest quality composts, which are capable of producing prize and award winning plants, and of course, every compost in between these two polar opposites! 

I love growing sweet peas!  I hope to inspire and encourage you to grow your own sweet pea plants, so that you can experience these wonderful plants for yourself.

Sweet peas, also known by their botanical name of Lathyrus odoratus, are beautifully fragrant, hardy annuals.  Throughout my ongoing Sweet Pea Trials, I work to provide my readers with a wealth of information to help you to learn how to grow the healthiest, most floriferous sweet pea plants, that will produce the earliest flowers, with the tallest flowering stems over the longest flowering period!

I love growing Restrepias!  Restrepias are elegant and strikingly beautiful orchids, which despite their exotic appearance are easy to grow.  For me Restrepias bring a sense of wonderment and awe as each of their exquisite blooms open.

I have grown a variety of different Restrepia species inside my BiOrbAir terrariums, these miniature epiphytic orchids have flourished inside the humid environment that this specialised terrarium provides.  

Fragrant daffodils deliver an uplifting joy and bring an unadulterated cheer into the spring garden; these scented daffodils can brighten your view and gladden your heart.  Many daffodil cultivars are listed as being scented, but some daffodil cultivars are more perfumed and more pleasing than others.

In 2016, I decided to run a Scented Daffodil Trial, to showcase the most beautifully scented, long flowering daffodils.  

One of the gardens that I was most excited to visit at the RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show 2017, was the RHS Kitchen Garden.

The Royal Horticultural Society commissioned Garden Designer Juliet Sargeant to design this special Feature Garden, to demonstrate the many interesting methods that gardeners can use to grow vegetables, fruit, herbs, and flowers.  The RHS Kitchen Garden has been designed to showcase the extensive variety of beautiful, edible plants that are available for us to grow and eat.  

Apart from your plants, everything else you need to plant up your BiOrbAir terrarium is included when you buy your BiOrbAir – it all arrives together in one wonderful, ginormous box!

I find my BiOrbAir terrariums easy to look after and care for.  I love growing miniature orchids, ferns, and other terrarium plants inside the BiOrbAir terrarium.  Here is a guide to the regular, general terrarium maintenance, and plant care that I give to my BiOrbAir terrariums.

Peat Free Compost

Last summer, I ran a Peat Free Compost Trial to compare the different peat free composts available, and find out how well each of the composts performed growing dwarf French beans under the same conditions.  In my trial, Dalefoot Composts Wool Compost for Vegetables and Salads, and Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost were the clear winners producing healthy plants with a great harvest.

Why Peat Free?

I have always loved our natural world.  I have always wished to protect every important habitat for plants, animals, and nature, all over the world.  I am passionate about protecting the rainforests and the many other wonderful, precious environments and habitats that exist on Earth, including peat bogs.  Peat bogs are amazing environments, covering just 2-3% of the planet’s surface.  

Though I didn’t find 2016 to be a particularly successful year for growing Sweet Peas – the plants grown for my 2016 Sweet Pea Trial didn’t produce as many flowers as I had hoped, my love of Sweet Peas has not diminished in strength.  I love Sweet Peas.  I highly recommend that you experience growing these magnificent annual flowers.

The Sweet Peas I have grown for the 2016 Sweet Pea Trial, are also known by their botanical name of Lathyrus odoratus.  

Eric Wall Ltd is a family owned business.  Eric Wall established the company with his business partner Hugh Stevenson, in 1977.  Eric and Hugh started out together with one hectare of glass in 1977.  Fast-forward to 2016, and Eric Wall Ltd currently operate just less than ten and a half hectares of glass in Barnham, which is near Chichester, in West Sussex; they also operate a small site of just over one hectare of glass, which can be found just outside Deal, in Kent.  

It’s an exciting and romantic time in the garden, with lots to do this month, and so much to look forward to in the garden!  Take time out to relax and enjoy the wonderfully scented flowers of Daphne, Sarcococca, and Hamamelis.

Prune Buddleja davidii now.  If you’ve got an old, and maybe rather neglected, specimen then start to rejuvenate your plant now, by removing any old dead wood and cutting it back hard.  

At this time of year, it’s lovely to look through the catalogues and choose seeds, plants and other exciting new products to try out.  While I was looking through The Organic Gardening Catalogue I spotted the EarthBox, a patented container gardening system, developed by commercial farmers, who designed it especially to offer a low maintenance, self-watering, portable method to garden and grow vegetables, even if you don’t have a garden.

Most garden centres and nurseries have a section featuring some of the loveliest seasonal plants currently in flower or berry, potted up, ready to purchase and take home.  These plants look at their best at the very moment you visit, and make a super gift, either for yourself or for a loved one.

If you’re looking to purchase a winter flowering plant and pot it up yourself to give as a Christmas present, maybe because you’re looking for a specific plant that’s a favourite of the recipient of your gift, or because you want to design and plant up your own container, it’s important to use a good quality growing media or compost.

I love Sweet Peas.  Every year I look forward to being charmed by the Sweet Pea’s beautiful flowers and romanced by their heavenly fragrance.  Sweet Peas are certainly an annual that I recommend you try growing.  Sweet Peas, which are also known by their botanical name of Lathyrus odoratus, are very versatile, here in the UK, you can sow their seeds from September right through until April.