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I relish the opportunities that each season offers us.  January provides the chance to pause and rest, take stock of our plants and introduce new plants to delight us over the years ahead!

This is the perfect time to plant trees, hedging plants, roses, and soft fruit: plants that are lifted during the dormant season and sold bare root; the plants’ roots are coated in wax or wrapped, to prevent desiccation. 

For my 2015 trialled and tested list of gifts for gardeners, I recommended a hand-made Trug Makers Trug – Trug No.7 – a large, deep versatile trug, ideal for harvesting large vegetables and fruit.  I am still using my Trug No.7, this versatile trug is just as good now as it was when it arrived with me in 2015.

After he read my 2015 review, Trug Maker Kevin Skinner very kindly offered to send me a trug of my choice, I love growing sweet peas, daffodils, and cut flowers, so the choice was simple – I opted for the Daffodil Trug, the trug that you see pictured below. 

Teaming with Fungi: The organic grower’s guide to mycorrhizae
Author: Jeff Lowenfels
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-729-2

Through his book Teaming with Fungi, author Jeff Lowenfels, aims to dispel the myths associated with fungi; this book informs and educates readers about fungi and their fascinating relationship with plants.  80-95% of all plants form symbiotic relationships with mycorrhizal fungi.  These relationships are incredibly beneficial to plants, so it makes sense for gardeners, horticulturists, and those working in forestry, agriculture, plant propagation, or indeed any career or hobby based around plants, to learn and understand more about mycorrhizal fungi species and the true nature of their relationship with plants. 

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

Teaming with Microbes, the Organic Gardener’s Guide to the Soil Food Web  
Authors: Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis
Publisher: Timber Press
ISBN: 978-1-60469-113-9

In their book, Teaming with Microbes, authors, Jeff Lowenfels and Wayne Lewis, highlight the importance of a healthy soil food web, describing the benefits a fully operational and functioning soil food web has on plants.  Healthy soil is teeming with life! 

Dear Readers, I caught up with Pippa Greenwood recently, Pippa has a website where you can purchase vegetable plants, seeds, and other gifts for gardeners.  Pippa offers a service where her customers can order the vegetables they want to grow, the vegetable plants are then grown in Lincolnshire, in the UK, and posted out as garden ready plants in early to mid May, when the vegetable plants can be planted out in your garden, or at your allotment. 

Endangered orchids

If we hear that an item is rare – be it a jewel, or an item of clothing, or a plant – the very idea that there is limited stock of whatever it is available can send our minds into overdrive, just knowing that there is a restricted quantity of the product in question in existence, can fervently increase our desire to own the item – we don’t want to miss out after all! 

More ideas to use less plastic

In March 2018, I shared some of my ideas of how to reduce plastic use and try live more sustainably.  I love our planet, I want to do all I can to protect our world, this is an important issue for me.  I’d love to help you to find new ways to live sustainably and happily, saving money and having fun along the way!

Wildlife friendly ways to kill slugs and snails

I don’t like slug pellets.  Slug pellets have had a disastrous effect on the wild food chain – as well as killing slugs and snails, slug pellets harm hedgehogs, song thrushes, and other creatures.  Slug pellets kill these dear animals in the most cruel, drawn out, and painful manner.  Nothing could induce me to use slug pellets in my garden, allotment, or anywhere for that matter – however large the slug or snail population had become, and however many of my precious plants had been eaten. 

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! 

It’s so important to appreciate, look after and cherish every square inch of earth, every inch of our planet.  For those living in town centres or cities, or areas where outdoor space is at a premium, it can sometimes be hard to find inspiration of how to green up and make the most of the limited areas of ground, roof, or wall space that are available. 

The Temperate House is the world’s largest surviving Victorian glasshouse!  This substantial glasshouse is sited at the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, which itself is a National Treasure and an UNESCO World Heritage Site.  The Temperate House is a Grade I Listed Building.  When this glasshouse’s refurbishment programme commenced work in 2013, the Temperate House was in a dilapidated condition, at this time the Temperate House was on English Heritage’s Buildings at Risk Register.

It may surprise you to know that in the garden, as well as on the catwalk, fashions change and evolve, often quicker than we expect.  A plant that’s regarded as a ‘must have’ plant one minute, can soon be taken for granted and neglected, before being cast aside to make way for the latest modern plant introductions, when the superseded ‘must have’ plant is then at risk of being forgotten, often within a shorter time period than you might anticipate. 

When I was a child, it was my aim that by the time I became an adult I would have saved up sufficient funds to purchase, and forever after protect a beautiful woodland or forest, and at least one meadow!  I haven’t succeeded in my aim – I sadly have been unable to protect any of our woodlands, forests, or meadows, but I still feel just as passionately about plant conservation. 

Remembering loved ones

When you’ve lost someone you love, it’s natural to want to arrange a fitting memorial and to plan a meaningful tribute in their memory.  Memorials of any kind are such a personal choice, but I want to help you by sharing some information and ideas of ways that you could leave a lasting legacy, one that will beautifully celebrate the life of someone close to your heart, whilst being kind to the environment. 

I love our planet, I love plants and nature.  I want to protect our environment.  I want to live more sustainably.  Sustainability is not a new desire for me, it is something that I have always aspired to.  Firstly though I must tell you that I am far from perfect, I make mistakes and I am always learning.  I want to improve, I want to make changes to live more sustainably and to live ethically. 

I am a sentimental old soul, I treasure so many things that most folk would not think twice of throwing away.  I also keep things, just in case they become useful one day.  Yes, you could describe me as a hoarder!

I love our planet.  I love fields, meadows, glades, forests, hills, marshlands, bogs, mountains, streams, rivers, and oceans.  I love to see wildflowers growing in the wild. 

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. 

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!