Tag Archives: kitchen garden

Jobs List: 1) Sort Snips and Secateurs


Good tools are essential in the garden or allotment.  Every gardener knows that well cared for garden tools require far less physical effort to use and more importantly, they’ll cut cleanly.  My little collection of snips and secateurs range from a few ‘cheap and cheerfuls’ to the ‘most I could affords’.

During a visit to Jekka’s Herb Farm last year, Jekka advised sharping snips and secateurs after every use!  I try to follow her advice at home, however the allotment tools don’t enjoy such a pampering…they’re lucky if they are sharpened a handful of times during the whole season :-/

Anyway… first job was to give them all a good scrub using a metal pan scourer and soapy water to remove ingrained dirt etc.  Then thoroughly dry with a kitchen towel.        I like to use a little Niwaki twin diamond file for sharpening which is light and really efficient (it is a little expensive but worth every penny in my opinion).   Finally I wiped off the blades with an oily cloth. Job done.

Next job will be the cutting edges of hoes and spades after I’ve cleared the mini shed of spiders and mud!




Growing Medicine for the Mind

“Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food and medicine to the mind.”

I love growing flowers on my allotment plot. To me, they look stunning, they attract pollinators and very importantly are they can be used as an environmentally friendly bug barrier!

I’m currently growing perennial flowers such as daffodils, verbena, hydrangeas, lavender and rudbeckia but I also grow a number of annual flowers such nasturtiums, sunflowers, sweet peas and marigolds.

This year I’ve decided to dedicate Plot 5A to flowers. So far, I’ve planted 2 beds of bulbs and they’re already up!


In 2016 I have to admit that I was very disappointed with the results of ‘direct sown’ seeds – they either didn’t germinate or produced 3 inch high plants 😦 so this year I’ll be starting ALL my flowers off in the greenhouse.  I’ve already started stockpiling a few beauties (these will go straight into the ground)…Any tips on growing dahlias will be gratefully received 🙂 Look at these gorgeous ‘dinner plate’ varieties!


I’ve managed to gather a few basic planting tips:

  • Don’t rush to plant – dahlias hate cold soil. Wait until all chance of frost is past.
  • Plant in full sun. They need 6 to 8 hours of sunlight to thrive.
  • Protect from the wind.
  • Soil should be rich and well-drained.
  • You can start tubers indoors.
  • Be cautious with watering – tubers rot easily.
  • You can expect flowers within around 8 weeks of planting, starting in mid-July.

Do you have any tips or advice on growing Dahlias?

On my wanders around gardens in the UK, it’s clear that most kitchen gardens combine flowers and veggies.

These two pictures show the Agatha Christie’s kitchen gardens at Greenway House…


Love the combined planting!


I’m aiming to create a mini version of this sweet pea and bean (the beans have been cleared) arch (at the National Botanical Gardens of Wales) over the central pathway on Plot 5A…


Do you grow flowers on your allotment?  How do you ‘mix them up’? What are you most looking forward to growing in 2017?





















At my Garden Chores

‘at my garden chores
for MP3 I’ve no need
birdsongs-humming bees’

The allotment chores list is growing longer by the day and with the dark evenings, all jobs have to be stuffed into the weekend!

Jobs list 1 (of many):

  • Chop and weed the cut flower bed. STARTED BUT NOT FINISHED!
  • Prune the old gooseberry bush, replant (in a more suitable position) and dig over the ‘old gooseberry’ site. STARTED BUT NOT FINISHED!
  • Transplant the honeyberries.
  • Lay the weed suppressant on the pathways. STARTED BUT NOT FINISHED!
  • Dig wooden raised bed. DONE!!!
  • Fill metal raised beds with topsoil, manure and compost. STARTED BUT NOT FINISHED!
Raised beds
Raised beds
  • Pull up beans and poles then dig a bean trench. STARTED BUT NOT FINISHED!

I am currently a ‘chores butterfly’…flitting from job to job!  Fortunately, I still have a treat or two growing on the plots to keep me going 🙂

Yum yum!!
Yum yum!!

Ideas for Stealing

This weekend I was lucky enough to have tickets for the Chelsea Flower Show (a Christmas present form the children) so spent most of the weekend in the London area.  One of the places we visited was RHS Garden Wisley, which contains one of the largest plant collections in the world.

However I’m sure many people have written about the wonders contained in the gardens but I’m focussing on (and stealing) a few details of interest to an allotmenteer.

The first was a blackcurrant bush pruned into a standard – freeing up some all important space underneath for a few pots perhaps!

Standard Blackcurrant Tree

The next two are simple…pretty planting!  Allotments don’t have to be ugly.  A little thought to the planting can add interest. How about a multi-coloured lettuce bed?!

Pretty Planting Lettuce

A Chive spiral.  Why leave it at that?  I’m thinking a multi-herb spiral ensuring every space is used.


Plant supports also caught my eye at the gardens… a basic four legged support with a twig spiral.

Support 1

Pea support…they look fab don’t they?


Look at the detail…so clever!

Pea Branches

Another one for peas…

Support 2

I was keen to find out how the RHS gardeners protected their crops from the ‘Wee Beasties’ too. They protected cabbages by earthing over the mesh!

Earthing up

Stopped ‘net sag’ by stringing up…

String and hoops

This method was used with hoops, wire and wood.

Wooden posts

I’m definitely stealing a few of the ideas for my allotment!