Tidying gardens in Stevenage, Welwyn Garden City, Knebworth & surrounding villages.
If you would like help in the garden, whether it's for a few hours a week, a month or more, then please get in touch.
Tel: 07963 291504

Fully booked for 2020.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Spring 2020

With all the doom n' gloom in the world right now, the garden and allotment have become even more special to me. Somewhere to escape the insanity & fear every time you turn on the TV, radio or step into a supermarket. 

It's funny how some people's attitude to health & well-being have suddenly changed overnight to simply needing more 'stuff'...loo rolls, soap, canned food, pasta, water, blah, blah, blah...

Before the Coronavirus, where was the fear of all the other health conditions, that on a daily basis take so many people before their time? Why weren't people panicking then?  Why weren't people washing their hands really well or, more importantly, looking more closely at their whole well-being?

I hope none of us get this, I really do.
I hope that washing your hands and not being coughed or sneezed over keeps you safe & well.
What I hope for more than anything is that people will wake up, re-evaluate their lives, the 'preciousness' (if that's a real word) of our short time here and look at what they eat / drink / do on a daily basis. Mountains of loo roll are not the key to good health and washing your hands to the tune of Happy Birthday is only a teeny weeny part in our well-being.

I know a lot of people are being scared senseless by the news but I encourage you to step outside on a sunny, blue sky day and just breathe.

Close your eyes & listen to the birds singing. Grab a seat & soak up those ever warming sun rays. Look around and see what Mother Nature is sharing and try & clear your mind, even if it's for a few short moments. I find it a HUGE relief.

I found this little newt in a client's garden this week, playing dead. I didn't realise he was playing dead to start with. He was on his back, legs in the air, not appearing to breathe, move or blink. I felt quite sad that he hadn't made it thru' the winter so I placed him gently in a safe place & carried on working. 10 mins later I noticed the lil' bugger had moved...lol.

Back home, the pond is a bubbling mass of frogs spawn again. Such a happy time of the year listening to the frog chorus at night. The row must drive our neighbours nuts.

My final photo for today is of my one and only picking of Purple Sprouting Broccoli this winter from up the allotment. Bit of a disaster as I stupidly took off the netting thinking they would be fine, that there wouldn't be butterfly caterpillars at this time of year to eat them. I forgot about the pigeons...DOH!!!

Stay safe & sane people.
Look after your whole body and look out for others.
These are crazy, scary times but I hope to see you all on the other side. 

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Burpee Flower Seeds - Verbascum, African Marigold & Echinacea

Image courtesy of Burpee Europe

Allow me to introduce the stunning Verbascum 'Snowy Spires' from Burpee Seeds - Europe.
I introduced Verbascums to the Tidy Garden last year and was blown away by just how long their flowering period was, how elegant they looked and, most importantly, how much insects loved 'em.
So I'm thrilled to be trying out the beautiful 'Snowy Spires' this year. 
You can sow indoors now or straight into the garden in July / August. 
Burpee do not sell direct to the public so I have listed details of UK suppliers down below.

Image courtesy of Burpee Europe

Up next...the African Marigold 'Mission Giant Yellow'.
Now I am a HUGE fan of Marigolds...the allotment was ablaze with these fabulous flowers last year and a definite must-have, so I'm really excited to try these tall versions (24 - 36") this year. Seeds can be sown Feb / March for a fabulous summer display and the flower heads are enormous...3" double blooms!!

Image courtesy of Burpee Europe

And finally for today....Echinacea 'Sundress', NEW for 2020.
Gorgeous innit??!!
Not sure what I can really tell you about it. The picture says it all.
The Sundress is a pure white, insect magnet, standing at 65 - 75cm tall with a spread of about 75 - 85cm, flowering the year after sowing. Winter hardy and perfect in a sunny border.

You can get your seeds from the following suppliers in the UK...

Verbascum 'Snowy Spires

Nicky's Nursery
Plants of Distinction
Suttons Seeds

Marigold 'Mission Giant Yellow'

Nicky's Nursery
Plants of Distinction
Suttons Seeds

Echinacea 'Sundress'

Owls Acre Seeds
Suttons Seeds (Sept 2020)

Wednesday, 22 January 2020

Introducing - Burpee Europe Tomato Seeds

Tomato 'Veranda Red' image courtesy of Burpee Europe

Seed planning for the year ahead is in full swing here and I'm delighted to introduce to you a selection of tomato seeds from Burpee Europe, who will be selling at a number of outlets in the UK this year.

First up is Tomato 'Veranda Red', launched at the RHS Tatton Park Flower Show in 2019 and making it's debut in the Burpee Europe 2020 catalogue. Veranda Red is an excellent choice if you're short on space as it's perfect for growing in small pots (even pots as small as 11cm!!), on a balcony, patio or red veranda (see what I did there ...lol). Veranda Red is a dwarf, bushy variety but don't let it's size fool you...it may be small but each plant will produce between 50 and 75 sweet, cherry sized tomatoes from late July to early September. If you're a novice tomato grower or don't like the having to stake stems or pinch out side shoots then Veranda Red will be the perfect tomato for your summer garden. Perfect for greenhouse growing too. What's not to love!

Tomato 'Consuelo' image courtesy of Burpee Europe

Next up, Tomato 'Consuelo'. If, like me, the mere sound of the letter 'B' in the word 'Blight' sends shivers down your spine then you're gonna love this one. This is another newbie for 2020 from Burpee Europe who have produced a blight resistant plant producing large, flavoursome, cherry-sized fruits, great for salads or for cooking. The Consuelo can be grown outside or in a greenhouse and, as a cordon variety, will need staking and side shoots removed, but honestly, that's dead easy to do.

Tomato 'Honeycomb' image courtesy of Burpee Europe

Finally for today...can't have you overdoing the excitement...is Tomato 'Honeycomb'
Now the information on this one is bonkers...read this, close your eyes and then picture the scene... 150 - 200 fruits with sweet, juicy, honey undertones.
Well if that doesn't tickle your needy taste buds then I don't know what will.
Tomato 'Honeycomb' is another cordon variety in orange / yellow shades, perfect & pretty in salads, perfect and pretty just to coo over in the garden or greenhouse.

So there you have it....3 deliciously tempting tomatoes from Burpee Europe to add to your winter shopping baskets and try this year. 
Details of suppliers in the UK listed below. I've got mine, poised ready for sowing.
Now go!
What are you waiting for? 


Tomato 'Veranda' available at...
Pennard Plants
Plants of Distinction

Tomato 'Consuelo' available at...
Just seeds
Pennard Plants

Tomato 'Honeycomb' available at...
Just seeds
Moles Seeds Ltd
Nicky's Nursery
Pennard Plants
Plants of Distinction
Simpson's Seeds
Suttons Seeds

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Happy New Year 2020 & New Beginnings

Ahoy & welcome back!
2020...can you believe it?
Back in 2000, at the start of the millennium, 2020 seemed ages away. Time sure does fly by.
Anyway...here we are at the beginning of a new gardening / allotmenting year and I for one can't wait. I have big plans for up the allotment.  

One of those plans is to increase the number of compost bins. I have 3 already, one of which is now a year old, and if you'd been up the plot when I emptied out the contents, you'd have heard an excited 'SQUEEEEEAAL' as my first ever pile of homemade soil was revealed. 
Who'd have thought compost could be this exciting!!??
I didn't do any turning, just layered weeds / cuttings / discarded food with brown cardboard and grass cuttings, then repeated. The worms....bazillions of them...did all the hard work. 

So I plan *Cough!* to be a bit more forward thinking this year when it comes to crops. I've bought Charles Dowding's brilliant diary to help me with best sowing times, remind me about succession sowing and second cropping.  I also plan *Cough!* to concentrate on growing the things we love rather than EVERY seed packet that comes into my possession. 

One thing I'm really keen to try is more perennial crops and alternatives to the norm', for example (above)...Oca. Apparently Oca are really easy to grow & produce in winter, potato-like tubers that taste like lemony spuds. 
Really excited about these.

Another introduction to the plot will be perennial kales, Taunton Deane & Daubenton. I was lucky to get hold of one of each of these plants last summer. They are really sought after and many sites have waiting lists as they are so popular. Since then I have been taking cuttings and growing on more plantlets with the intention of having a whole bed dedicated to these fabulous plants. The Taunton Deane version can apparently get really tall. Very exciting!

And if that wasn't exciting enough...I've also been asked to try some fabulous seeds from Burpee who will be selling in the UK this year. Their tomato 'Veranda Red' was launched last year at the RHS Tatton Park show and will available this year. Lots to try...Aubergines, Sweet Peppers, Cucumbers as well as some flowers...Echinachea, African Marigolds (brilliant for companion planting with crops) and Verbascum.
More details on how to get hold of Burpee seeds to follow.

(Me last year propping up a sunflower)

No plans..at least not major ones...back home in the garden. 
Not sure my poor husband can cope with another of my redesigns...lol. 
I'm sure I'll have plenty to do though and I can't wait.

Monday, 23 December 2019

Updates & Festive Greetings

I can't believe another year is drawing to an end already. 
Where the flamin' 'eck have the days gone?
It's been another fabulous year of work and home gardening, with the added bonus of becoming an allotment holder. 

At the beginning of the year I took on Plot 38a and continued to look after the neighbouring one, Plot 38b. From January both plots will officially be mine. I'm over the moon...YAY!

Nothing beats homegrown... yes you have to flick off the slugs, wash off the mud and pick off the manky bits...

 ...but knowing it's chemical free is all that matters to me.

Not everything has gone to plan...I gave up on the kalettes. I planted too many, too closely in too small a space. My parsnips (photo below) taste delicious but are as wonky as hell. Not the easiest shapes to wash & peel but man do they taste sweet!! 

The carrots that I didn't protect got eaten by carrot root fly. Thankfully I grew 2 batches and the second (protected) ones were delicious. 

The photo above is for our Christmas dinner. Not sure why the sprouts look more like flowers than tight little button balls but we've had some already and they too are delicious. 
Lessons learnt, disasters had but oooooodles of fun & fresh food too. 
Roll on 2020.

Back home a few changes and decisions made.
First up I have decided not to grow plants for sale anymore. This was a tough decision but we only have a small garden, many plants take years before they're ready to sell, it's a lot of work on top of maintaining the rest of the garden, keeping an allotment and my day job...that and my poor husband having to step over my gazillion cuttings and seedlings everywhere.

So the end of the garden (my ex-nursery section) is now a composting area and ENORMOUS bug hotel.

It's a stack of pallets, layered like a woody sandwich and filled with moss, stones, leaves, twigs, pine cones, broken bricks and straw. 

Hopefully this time next year it will be home to a whole host of bugs n' critters and, fingers crossed, the hedgehog that sometimes passes through.

It's topped off with a roof garden (lol) of sedums, succulents and auriculas. 

So all that's left is for me to say thank you for visiting my wee blog.
Thank you to my wonderful clients for another fabulous year gardening.
Thanks also to the amazing gardening community and my awesome, ever-supportive family.
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
See you next year.
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