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What to do with your tomatoes in September

As autumn’s whisper reverberates through our landscape, many plants are now fading, as they respond to the changing season and become rapidly aged by the ever lengthening nights’ embrace.  This is a season of salvage, protection, and celebration; it’s time to bring tender plants inside our homes, conservatories, and glasshouses, and to gather in our harvest.

2020 Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

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

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.

I feel a strong and passionate desire to protect our planet’s peat bogs.  This is an urgent matter, it’s not something we can keep putting off to consider again in the future, at a more convenient time – for the peat that is being extracted now can’t be saved and so if we continue as we have done in the past, the opportunities we have in our hands, right in front of us now, will be lost forever.

What am I growing inside my Vegepod?

Since I first told you about my Vegepod much has changed.  Back in 2018, my Vegepod was set up in an area of my garden that enjoyed partial shade, but after trialling the Vegepod in this fairly beneficial position (vegetables thrive when they’re grown in sunny and partially shaded sites), I decided to move my Vegepod to a more shaded area of my garden, to see what I could grow successfully inside my Vegepod with more challenging growing conditions.

Peat free Compost Trial: Growing Broad Beans

Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing peat free composts in all of the Compost Trials that I’ve run over the past seven years.  Rather than just continually highlighting every year that Dalefoot Composts are the best peat free composts to use, I designed this Compost Trial to demonstrate methods you could use to get the best results from one of their products, namely Dalefoot Double Strength Wool Compost.

Peatlands and peat bogs: precious environments that urgently need our protection

Peatlands are extraordinary environments, which now cover just 2-3% of our planet’s surface.  Home to a fascinating range of native plants and wildlife, peatlands form unique ecosystems that support incredible flora and fauna.  Many of the plants, insects, birds, and wildlife that have evolved in these boggy, acidic areas can’t survive anywhere else.

Every year I run Compost Trials to discover the best quality peat-free composts on the market.  Dalefoot Composts have produced the top performing composts in all of my Trials, over the past seven years.

One of my favourite products is Dalefoot’s Double Strength Wool Compost, a nutrient rich, organic compost, comprised of natural materials, including bracken and Herdwick sheep’s wool. 

Garden Twine Trial

Twine is an essential product for gardeners.  This small, but vital product helps us to support, tie in, and train our plants.  Garden twine assists us as we hang up bunches of herbs, garlic, and onions, for storing and drying.  Twine enables us to mark out rows, and carry out all manner of garden tasks.  Whether you enjoy growing vegetables, fruit, herbs, or cut flowers, if you’re fond of tending herbaceous borders, or you enjoy taking part in any other form of gardening activity; twine is a universally useful product!

Growing Tomatoes in Dalefoot Composts’ Peat Free Compost

I am a passionate advocate for going peat free.  I’ve always been a peat free gardener, but I’ve not always managed to find good quality peat free compost.  To search for good quality peat free products, I run peat free Compost Trials every year.  Dalefoot Composts have been the top performing compost brand, in all of my trials to date.

Growing tomatoes

I just adore growing fruit and vegetables!  Any form of edible gardening is a soul enriching experience, which I would encourage you to try.

When to sow tomato seeds and plant tomato plants outside?

Last year, I ran a Tomato Trial, to discover delicious, productive, and reliable tomato varieties.  My tomato seeds were sown inside my Access Garden Products Glasshouse in the middle of March. 

Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters

A number of forms of air pruning pots are available, I am a fan of these types of containers, as they prevent plants’ roots from becoming pot-bound.  I have found that plants grown in air pruning pots establish more readily when they’re planted in the garden, when compared to plants grown in regular containers.  They’re very effective.

Last year, as part of my Tomato Trial, I used Haxnicks Vigoroot Planters for the first time.

Tomato Trial

I love growing fruit, vegetables, and herbs.  We’ve all got our favourite heritage tomatoes, but have you tried any new tomato varieties?  Last year, I grew lots of new tomato varieties, as part of my quest to discover the most delicious and productive tomato cultivars available to gardeners!

The objectives of this Tomato Trial were to identify delicious, productive, disease resistant tomato varieties, and to discover whether any of the trialled tomato cultivars perform differently when planted in the ground or grown in a container. 

Christmas Gifts for Gardeners

In this column I share my favourite gift ideas with you, these are the best products that I have personally tried and tested this year, as part of my quest to help you find quality presents for your loved ones this Christmas!

Vegepod

Vegepod is an award-winning container gardening system that is really quite marvellous!  This raised bed system has universal appeal, you don’t need access to the soil, so if you’re gardening on concrete but ache to grow vegetables, this is for you. 

Vegepod Raised Garden Beds

I love growing vegetables, it’s a truly wonderful, soul enriching experience to grow your own food!  Sadly an increasing number of us are without the luxury of a garden or allotment and have nowhere to grow vegetables, herbs, fruit, or flowers; while a great many others struggle to garden in small, often paved spaces, without any access to the soil.

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. 

Fabulous Florence Fennel

What a joyful month June is!  June’s warm sunshine seems to infuse every fibre of our beings, imbuing our souls with a feeling of uplifting bliss that can only be found outdoors.  June also brings us the gift of sweet summer rain to refresh our plants, and the excitement of a great many wonderful growing opportunities in the garden; it’s hard to beat this time of year!

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. 

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! 

Since I published my December 2017 Orchidarium Update, a number of readers have had questions about how I gather my data, with many asking why do I collect data, and what equipment do I use?  So, here’s an article that I have written especially for you, which I hope will answer all of your questions.

Data is really exciting! 

It’s easy in life to make assumptions, but assumptions are rarely accurate.