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, please give me a call.
Tel: 07963 291504
Tuesday, 1 September 2015
Friday, 14 August 2015
Earlier in the year, the lovely folk at Suttons sent me a heap of veg seeds to trial.
These included a pack of spring collection Seed Tapes which look like thin strips of loo roll, with seeds impregnated in the ‘tissuey’ fabric at regular intervals. (There is a winter collection too)
You get 10 veg strips per pack which have to be gently torn apart to get to the veg seed strip you wish to plant.
For goodness sake, do not….I repeat…DO NOT ‘sow’ your seed strips on a windy day. Unless you want your garden to look like a scene from an Andrex disaster movie, might I suggest sowing on a ‘waftless’ day. Remember, I do these experiments so you don’t have to.
These are our ‘Square Foot Gardening’ beds which had been topped up with fresh compost. It’s quite simple, make a shallow drill (don’t breathe out), lay the thin tissue strip in to the hole (do not exhale), quickly, before a gnat wafts by, cover the strips, label, water, stand back and BREATHE!!
The photo above was taken earlier in the year and you can see my beetroot, carrots & lettuce lines had sprouted. I didn’t sow everything in the pack.
These photos were taken this morning.
The lettuce has been eaten, the carrots & some beetroot given away. I have a feeling Master TG pinched all the spring onions. These strips were an excellent idea, no thinning, no judging sowing distances, just cover, water, smile at occasionally & wait.
Easy veg growing!
This is the same bed, which later in the year I added my own sweetcorn & tomato seedlings to. After last years sweetcorn disaster where I forgot to shake the pollen, I made sure that I gave them a damn good shaking & finger wagging…result…
…big, fat, juicy cobs.
Meanwhile, in the other bed, my main tomato crop is firming up nicely but not reddening up quick enough for my liking…Grrr.
I am a sucker for a weak seedling, if a seed has taken the trouble to grow but there are trillions of them then I’m afraid I have to give them a chance. So these black troughs running alongside the greenhouse are the ‘thinnings’ that survived.
The strawberries were a great success this year. These are just grown in troughs alongside the raised beds.
So there you have it.
Don’t forget, apart from the troughs, ALL of my veg is growing in 2 SMALL raised beds that measure just under 1m x 1.5m. You really can do soooooo much in a tiny space.
This photo was also taken this morning after a downpour which we needed, so thank you Mother Nature.
Have a fab weekend everyone!
Saturday, 1 August 2015
Saturday, 11 July 2015
Monday, 15 June 2015
Just a quickie to let you know that I’ve edited a couple of recent posts where I’ve tested & reviewed garden products. It’s really disappointing when a product later fails but it’s also important that I give up-to-date & honest reviews.
So, product updates include…..
Philips Solar Lights& JML Mega Hose.
Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Last year I got my green fingers on some carnivorous plants….(Click HERE for details).
A – Trumpet Pitcher
B – Nepenthes
C – Sundew
D – Venus Fly Trap
E – Parrot Pitcher
They live in the greenhouse, eating all the nasty critters that are lured within their sugary traps.
Alas the Nepenthes is no more…sniff!
Unlike the others, which need to be left in a small tray of RAIN WATER, this one shouldn’t have been. I think I drowned it & root rot followed…Yer live n’ learn (or in the case of my Nepenthes, you die…sniff!) I will get another one soon.
So this year, joy abounds, as each plant has come into flower!!
The Pitcher flower stem is about 2’ tall…
…and its flower head about 2” across. Underneath those red petals is a lime green balloon-like pod full of seeds waiting to burst.
Amazing aren’t they?
Meanwhile, the Venus Fly Trap is still munching its way through those filthy bluebottle flies.
It too has long, slender flower stems,about 1’ tall…
…and a cluster of beautiful, white flower.
Some say that allowing the VFT to flower will ensure its demise.
Well I’m gonna take that chance & see what happens.
The Parrot Pitcher flowers are a smaller version of those on the Trumpet Pitcher…
…the petals are a deeper red.
Here they all are, in all their sticky, flowering, fly-munching glory.
These RAINWATER lovin’ carnivores are dead easy to look after. Mine are in a slightly dappled area of the greenhouse, sitting in shallow trays of RAINWATER, for goodness sake…don’t use tap water!!
Give ‘em a go.
Friday, 22 May 2015
This is an Auricula loaded post.
If you’re not an Auricula-a-holic, you may wish to step outside.
I have no idea of the names of any of these are as they were all grown from a variety pack of plugs & seeds. Feel free to let me know if you recognise any of them.
Almost all of the Auriculas are grown in hanging baskets & remain in-situ all year round hanging in the apple tree and from brackets outside our back door.
Sometimes we get 2 or 3 flushes of flowers throughout the year.
This one is a bit special.
This year, one particular plant has been struck by the fascinating condition called ‘Fasciation’
’Flattened, elongated shoots and flower heads that look like many stems compressed together are called fasciation. This strange-looking problem may be ugly or attractive, but is always interesting’ (Source RHS)
The stem may have a flattened, runner-bean appearance but just LOOK at the amount of flowers on that one stem….INCREDIBLE!!
I’ve seen this before on a Delphinium & Cowslips but the following year the plants have returned in their normal state.
Right…you can come back indoors now.
Friday, 15 May 2015
Last week I received a set of Blossom solar-powered lights from Philips to trial & review. The timing couldn’t have been better as we’ve just started to sit in the conservatory in the evenings, now that it’s warmer, and the opportunity to see the garden in a different light (no pun intended) was an exciting prospect.
I’ll admit that when I was told a set of 2 lights were en-route, I thought this was going to be a hopeless trial. I wanted to see the garden in another light, how on earth were just 2 lights going to do that? When I saw that they retail at £109.99, I almost fainted!
The lights were easy to assemble. I didn’t really need the instructions to put the different parts together, it was all pretty self-explanatory. Most parts simply twisted together & I only needed a screwdriver to add the stakes. There is the option to screw the bases direct into hard surfaces (decking, patios, etc) or you can screw the bases onto the stakes to use in soil or the lawn.
The solar panel is quite large, (about 24cm x 24cm) and can be screwed to a wall or set at 3 different heights. You just choose how many rods to screw together to get the height to suit your requirements. I have used all 3 lengths as I’ve positioned it in a flower bed with tall perennials. There is an On/Off switch underneath the panel, so if you don’t want the lights coming on just press the switch to turn off.
Each light is joined to the solar panel with a wire 2.5m long, which means they can be positioned up to 5m apart. The LED lights are a flat-sphere-like shape, in a soft milky white colour on dark grey, strong metal posts. The stakes are strong & sturdy & long enough to securely sink them into the soil. The lights are about 87cm tall.
It’s mid-May & the lights are automatically turning on just after 9pm at the moment (with the light-level that it is here in Hertfordshire at this time of year). According to the box, with minimal light level charging I should get about 2hrs worth of light. With maximum sunny, solar charging, I should get a maximum or 6hrs of light.
Alas my photo above does absolutely no justice to these lights. There’s a street light on the other side of our fence that goes off just after midnight, so I had to stay awake to get this photo of the lights in action (I do these experiments so you don’t have to). Of course, taking night time photos is hopeless. In fact these lights are SO BRIGHT that the camera was struggling with the light they were emitting so ignore the photo above completely!!
I then got up at 3am (Yes! 3am!!! The lengths I go to in order to trial products!!) to see if they were still on and within 15mins they went off (6hrs of FULL light)
These lights far, far, far exceeded my expectations.
They are worth EVERY penny of that £109.99.
I can easily move these around the garden, they’re FREE to run & mains supply lights would have meant getting an electrician round (an additional cost) and to get the amount of light that these 2 give out, I think you’d need LOTS of regular solar lights.
Edited Post – June 2015
I’m really disappointed to be adding an edit to this post.
I recently decided to move the solar panel to a different spot in the flower bed and despite my gentle pushing of the plastic stake into the soil, it snapped and broke off.
I contacted Philips to request a replacement and amazingly they do not have spare stakes. At £110 I’m terribly disappointed that they don’t carry replacements as this is the flimsiest part of the whole kit. Philips didn’t even offer to open another package to use as spare parts!!!
I have managed to tie the remaining post & solar panel to our apple tree so it does still work, but isn’t ideal.