June is a magical time for gardeners.  All risk of frost has passed now, which gives us an exciting opportunity to grow a wide range of tasty vegetables from seed.  Unless you have a balcony or patio garden, there’s no need to bother with pots and compost.  Seize the moment and sow seeds directly in the ground where you want you want your plants to grow. 

June bestows blessings upon us – a final opportunity to grow incredibly productive and delicious vegetables this summer!  Savvy gardeners who sow cucumber and courgette seeds directly in the soil now avoid the hassle of washing up pots, the time needed to pot up seedlings, and the expense of buying compost.

All risk of frost has passed so you don’t need a greenhouse. 

I enjoy running horticultural trials; I spend much of my time searching for the most gorgeous plants that will produce a profusion of flowers and attract bees and pollinating insects.  I love to share the most successful plants from my trials with you to help you find top quality plants to enhance your garden.  The plants I recommend in this column need to be grown in a bright and sunny location, in well-drained soil or containers filled with peat-free compost.

Vegepod Gardening in the Shade

Whether you garden in sunshine or shade, there are plants that will be perfectly suited to growing in your garden – it’s just a case of finding them!  In 2019, my Vegepod was moved from a sunny spot, to a new enclosed, deeply shaded area of my garden.  I am not exaggerating when I say that in its new position my Vegepod truly was shaded – my Vegepod was sandwiched in a tight space, wedged between a tall conifer hedge, a two storey high wall, a tall fence, and an 8ft tall pergola that was smothered with climbing plants – the plants growing in my Vegepod did not receive any direct sunshine whatsoever.

Many ornamental grasses hold onto their foliage overwinter; this provides a delightful structural softness, texture, and delicacy for our winter gardens.  Grasses will be producing new growth soon; therefore, this is the ideal moment to pop on some gardening gloves and use your fingers to comb through deciduous grasses, removing all the old stems ready for the arrival of fresh new growth.

In case you missed it, last week I posted my latest Compost Trial Report.  The top-performing composts in this trial were Heart of Eden All Purpose Natural Compost, Harmony Gardens Multipurpose Compost, and Bathgate Horticulture Peat-free Multi-Purpose Compost; these are all peat-free growing medias.  I’d urge everyone to use peat-free compost.  Peatlands are unique wetland nature reserves and habitats for rare plants and wildlife

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. 

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. 

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 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.

Clematis are divided into three groups.  We assign each clematis to a group based upon the time of year the plant flowers, and when the growth that holds their flowers develops.  By evaluating our clematis and assigning our plants to a specific group, we can establish the optimum time to prune our clematis.

  • Group One Clematis produce their flowering stems in the summer before flowering and bloom early in the year (in autumn, winter, and springtime).
  • Urgent Action is needed to protect our peatlands

    We urgently need our leaders to take responsibility and introduce laws and treaties that will protect our environment.  There is so much to be done that could help our planet and not enough action being taken.  Many of the messages and promises that were shared at COP26 are statements that have been shared many times before but are yet to be acted upon. 

    Happy new year!  I want to help you create a positive and uplifting garden where you can relax, grow your favourite plants, and make real connections with nature.

    Do you have a compost heap in your garden?  How about in your college or office garden?  Composting is such a wonderful thing to do; it’s great for the environment, good for wildlife, produces amazing compost, and saves money! 

    Peatlands cover just 3% of our planet’s surface, yet these precious areas store more carbon than all the world’s forests and vegetive plants combined.  Home to rare plants and wildlife, peatlands support a biodiverse range of plants, insects, birds, and wildlife, including many species that can only survive in these unique habitats.  As well as protecting us from climate change and providing us with beautiful open countryside refuges, peatlands offer us many other advantages. 

    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. 

    The Labelling on Bags of Compost is Changing – Find Out About the Responsible Sourcing Scheme for Growing Media

    I’ve been campaigning about the lack of regulation for the labelling of bags of compost for many years, so I was interested to hear that finally, things are changing – a new Responsible Sourcing Scheme (RSS) comes into effect in January 2022. 

    RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (part three)

    Welcome to the third part of my overview of the RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2021 (see part one here and part two here)……