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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. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Springtime

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in springtime.  Over the past few weeks, our weather has been so very summery; my Marsh Marigold flowers have simply sparkled in the sunshine!  I’m having an amazing time by my wildlife pond.  I’ve got some really exciting news to share with you about the wildlife I’ve seen by my pond; I’ve even got a homemade video for you – so you can share in the excitement, but first of all, let me tell you about the water in my pond and show you how my aquatic plants have developed since my last update

Water Levels

I took this picture not long after my last pond update

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.

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Winter

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in winter!  It feels funny saying ‘winter’, as the weather has been so mild this season that it already feels like spring.  Many of my aquatic plants are now coming into growth.  Last weekend, whilst I was observing all the new leafy growth on our aquatic plants and marvelling at the abundance of duckweed, I spotted a frog! 

The Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composter

I’m such a fan of home composting; I want to encourage everyone to set up a compost bin!

Last year, the designers of Aerobin sent me one of their Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composters to try out.  Over the past year, I’ve put the Aerobin 200 Litre Home Composter to the test.  I decided to trial this product because it’s designed to be placed on a paved or concrete area, and this together with the product’s compact size makes it perfect for small patio gardens. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Autumn

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in October.

I’ve been very fortunate – the wish I made for autumn sunshine (I expressed this hope at the end of my last update) came true!  September blessed us with glorious warm weather and uplifting sunshine; it was so hot on a couple of days that it felt like mid-summer!

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Late Summer

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond at the end of August.  I find peace and solace in nature and I love spending time by our wildlife pond.  Usually my visits are fleeting, lasting just a few minutes, but these short burst of connection with plants and wildlife revitalise and recharge me, instantly eliminating all the stresses of life. 

2021 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for peat-free composts.  I know from 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; while gardeners who have purchased a poor performing peat-free compost could naturally be reluctant to try peat-free growing media again. 

Rosa ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ – Winner of the Rose of the Year 2022!

I absolutely adore roses, their flowers can be everything I want in a bloom; roses can be sumptuous, glamorous, and luxurious, yet also relaxing and comforting.  I find the scents of my favourite roses feel uplifting and reviving.  Every year, I look forward with great anticipation to meeting the winner of the Rose of the Year Competition.

For the past fourteen years, I’ve grown a delicious harvest of Florence Fennel bulbs by going against traditional gardening advice; instead of ending my sowings of Florence Fennel seeds by June or July, I’ve continued sowing seed throughout August and September.  Gardeners in Northern regions of the UK would be unlikely to succeed following my advice, but in my Surrey garden’s sandy soil these later sown seeds have produced a wonderful last hurrah of medium-sized sweet tasting Florence Fennel bulbs.

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Midsummer

Hello, and welcome to my wildlife pond in midsummer.  I’ve got so much to show you, as this area of my garden is currently full of plants at all stages of growth.  I can’t wait for you to see the flowers, but what you can’t see is the scent.  I’ve only grown a few plants with perfumed flowers in this area, but they produce strongly scented flowers that fill this part of my garden with fragrance. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Early Summer

Summer has finally arrived!  Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in summertime.  It’s so lovely to be able to share my wildlife pond with you through these updates; I am looking forward to taking you on a tour of the aquatic and herbaceous plants growing in this area of my garden. 

An Update from my Wildlife Pond in Springtime

Hello and welcome to my wildlife pond in springtime.  Spring is a fascinating time to observe a pond and watch wildlife, as the water is literally teaming with life; amphibians are mating, and new insects are emerging and appearing every day!  Whenever I’m in my garden, I’m always drawn to our pond – on the look out for newts and insects, and eager to see how my plants are developing.

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. 

2020 Compost Trial: Growing Dwarf French Beans

I’m a peat-free gardener; I am a passionate advocate for peat-free composts – I want to encourage everyone to go peat-free!  However, I do understand that gardeners who use peat-based composts might be reluctant to switch to a peat-free compost, if they aren’t familiar with this type of growing media.  Trying a new compost can feel like a venture into the unknown; none of us want to start the gardening season off on the wrong foot, to be unnecessarily delayed, or to have our gardening compromised by using products that are not as good quality or effective as we might wish for. 

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. 

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!

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.