Tag Archives: planting

Spring Glow

Are we nearly there yet?

‘Depending upon which definition you use, there are actually two different dates that the mark the first day of spring.’

1 March 2018 is the first day of the meteorological spring

20 March 2018 is the first day of the astronomical spring

The skies are still mostly grey and dismal, the temperature outside is still cold but spring is officially here!

However, it‚Äôs a joy to see my garden and allotment begin to wake up after winter. The spring bulbs and fruit trees are blossoming…that ‘Spring glow’ is everywhere.

The daffodils are looking stunning!20180414_1228521478062419.jpg

The willow is sprouting nicely.


The rhubarb has already contributed to a delicious apple and rhubarb crumble.


The perennial Kale tastes delicious and continues to add a ‘punch’ to dinner.


The broad beans and garlic are growing nicely too!


Spring is the busiest time on the allotment and in the garden, so I’m trying my best, despite the weather, to get on with the jobs but I’m still behind in my planting!

The potatoes are still chitting, a second batch of broad beans have just sprouted along with a sowing of ‘Moonlight’ runner beans.

I’ve managed to plant three ‘Gardeners Delight’ tomato plants in the new greenhouse raised bed. Fingers crossed they’ll be ok – no luxury heating in my greenhouse :-/

Tomato plants are looking strong…doing my bit for recycling too by using old labels found in my seed box!


Some of my favourites in the garden at the moment are Honeyberry flowers, Cowslips, Hidcote Pink comfrey, Night Scented Phlox, Anacylus and the gorgeous blue Lithodora (Heavenly Blue)


Hopefully you’re enjoying the ‘spring glow’ and managing to potter on with the planting, despite the gloomy skies ūüôā


Willow, radiant Willow


Willow 2

I love the look of Willow.¬† It grows quickly, comes in a range of beautiful colours and you can make things with it!¬† I’ve decided that now¬†is the best time to work on a new allotment project using willow.

My plots are on the side of Welsh mountain,¬†consequently crops¬†can suffer from the effects of strong winds, so I’m aiming to grow a living fedge (a cross between a fence and a hedge) to create an informal boundary along the most exposed edges of the plots.¬† The aim is to reduce the wind speed coming down from the top of the mountain.¬† I’ve read that the most effective windbreaks¬†need to¬†be semi-permeable¬†and I’m hoping that my Willow fedge¬† will filter 50-60 percent of the wind!

This weekend we took delivery of 34 twelve inch rods of Willow…17 different types.

Willow 1

1.White Willow 2. Scarlet Willow 3. Flanders Red 4. Golden Willow 5. Candida 6. Goat Willow 7. White Welsh 8. Black Willow 9. Bay Willow 10. Purple Willow 11. Curly Willow 12. Green Dicks 13. Sekka 14. Dicky Meadows 15. Black Maul 16. Viminalis 17. Grey Willow


I’m using one of the larger flower beds on the back allotment plot as a¬†‘nursery’.¬† The¬†‘Willow nursery’¬†has already been covered with weed suppressant which is an absolute must when it comes to growing Willow.¬† Willow can grow up to 6¬Ĺft¬†each year but despite their vigorous growth,¬†young Willow trees cannot cope with any competition from weeds or even grass!


I’m hoping my fedge will eventually look something like this…

Photograph from: http://mygarden.rhs.org.uk






Lightening Seeds

Loving my windowsill propagator…

Rosella tomato seeds planted  February 27th at 14:21

Germinated  March 2nd Р(photographed at 11:38)

Romping away March 3rd at 16:11 !!

There’s something really exciting about watching your seeds germinate and¬†grow into strong plants.¬† I’ve been growing from seeds for a few years now and I’m still loving it! I wouldn’t say that I’ve mastered all things ‘germination’ yet but I’m getting closer every growing season ūüôā

Gardd Mamgu (Grandma’s Garden)

‘At the bottom of the garden there lives a little gnome’

I love my garden.¬†¬† I’ve always appreciated the beauty of a lovely garden buzzing with wildlife and I hope that I’ve managed to pass on that love of nature to my¬†children.¬†However as a grandparent I’m taking ‘gardening’ to another level by trying to create a little magic…

There’s a little gnome house in the old tree stump:-)


‘Tiddler A’¬†loves stories about fairies and gnomes.¬†A few¬†strategically placed items seem to¬†light up¬†her imagination and keep her interested in the garden as a whole.

Red mushroom.jpg

I truly believe that we shouldn’t be precious about our gardens…so what if it’s kitsch?!


I always¬†have watering cans ‘dotted’ about the place and ‘Tiddler A’ regularly fills up¬†from the garden tap before helping¬† me with the watering – she¬†knows how plants grow.¬† ‘Tiddler A’ has planted seeds of most vegetables and nurtured her chosen flowers seedlings with joy but sadly she is the only child in her class that understands the process of gardening.¬† None of the other children had ever sown a seed, watered a flower, dug up a home-grown potato or even made rose petal perfume! Sad, very sad!!

My garden is the perfect and most natural place for¬†the ‘Tiddlers’¬†to play and learn.¬† Why, oh why, is gardening¬†generally ‘discovered’ later in life?!¬† We have a responsibility to be sharing gardening skills with our grandchildren…if necessary with a little sprinkle of fairy dust!

‘What we sow in their minds today will reap a priceless harvest tomorrow.’







Growing Medicine for the Mind

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

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 ūüė¶ 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 ūüôā Look at these gorgeous ‘dinner plate’ varieties!


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

  • Don‚Äôt 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?





















On the mend: One step at a time

At the end of June, I suffered what I thought was a minor garden injury: I¬†fell over the allotment ‘wonky’ path, hurting the¬†side of my foot.¬†It hurt like crazy but I comforted myself with the knowledge that no one had seen me fall!¬† I limped home, wincing with¬†each step, a¬†100% sure that it was nothing major.

The next morning my foot was swollen and heavily bruised.¬†I could barely¬†walk. My family tried to persuade me to go to A&E but… ‘no way was I going to waste NHS resources with a bruised foot’ so I plodded on, literally!

Fast forward to the end of September, I was still in a ridiculous amount of pain, my foot had changed shape and I had lost all movement in my toes!¬† I visited the doctor.¬† Long story cut short…I had torn the ligaments, chipped bone and fractured my foot!

My foot was placed in a surgical boot (actually 2 boots because I wore one out!)¬†¬†for 9 weeks.¬† I’m left with possible nerve damage, post-traumatic arthritis and a programme of physiotherapy¬†ūüė¶


Apparently…’ Around 300,000 individuals in the UK attended Accident and Emergency departments after having an accident in the garden in 2004. Some 87,000 people were actually injured while gardening.’

Gardening injuries are terribly common, I know.¬†I’ve had plenty of¬†bruises, cuts and aches but this has stopped me in my tracks. No digging. No clearing. No weeding. Nothing.¬† Luckily, my injury has fitted nicely into the ‘quieter season’ of gardening.¬† The weather hasn’t been brilliant either, so the whole allotment site has been generally deserted.

I’m itching to get back to my ‘sanctuary’ plots but this gardening season I’m going to have to plan carefully in order to make things easier for myself.¬† So far, I have a basic 5 point plan…

  1. Have a kneeler or seat nearby for regular rests.
  2. Get all the tools ready before starting a job.
  3. Look out for adapted equipment…more raised beds, tools with longer handles or lighter weight etc
  4. Invest in a cart or barrow.
  5. Consider a tool belt or work apron to carry ‘bits n bobs’ like secateurs or a knife.

Do you have a tips for a injured allotmenteer?  What about you?  Have you ever come a cropper in the garden?







































‚ôę ‚ô™Speckled Frog Eating Delicious Slugs ‚ô™‚ôę…Fingers Crossed!

Finished frog pond complete with Percy (a gift from my parents) the plastic frog.

Apparently one third of our natural ponds have disappeared in the last fifty years which has had an enormous impact on wildlife, particularly, frogs, toads and newts. ¬† Luckily, amphibians¬†aren’t fussy…they’ll occupy anything from a water-filled bucket, to a fancy-pants wildlife pond! So creating a wildlife pond, no matter how small, is a great way to do your bit for the neighbourhood‚Äôs wildlife.

We bought a cheap moulded plastic pond from our local aquatic centre.

Providing an area to home frogs on the allotment¬†could also help reduce the effects of the predicted invasion of slugs this summer. I need all the help I can get as I’m not using slug pellets…¬†I’m passionate about keeping my plots organic!

My wonderfully kind and helpful family dug over the frog bed and sunk the pond.

Also the Tiddlers A, E and C are fascinated by bugs, worms and mini beasts. In fact Tiddler E and C are totally in love with everything ‘frogs’ (especially poison dart frogs!) so with this in mind I set about creating a frog pond on the plots.

Nearly done…after collecting rocks and stones from around the allotment.

I’m told that it is best to allow animals to arrive at your pond naturally, although I was tempted to deposit some ‘study’ tadpoles to the pond (I’ve resisted). ¬†I’ve been assured that frogs will travel over a kilometre to find a new pond, usually within the pond’s first year. In the meantime, I’ll be happy if a dragonfly (or two) or ¬†even a few water boatmen drop by.

Tiddler A inspecting our handiwork after adding a few more edging stones donated by my parents.
Oxygenating plants (lily pad was insisted upon by the Tiddlers!),¬†¬†Hosta and a few more edging stones added…Thank you dear parents (once again!)¬†



Worm Village (under construction)


20160501_100906Two more towers have been added to ‘Worm Village’…one more to go. Tiddler A is designing and constructing the final tower.


I’ve struggled to find coloured ink free waste paper to make the base for the compost towers so I’m considering ‘investing’ in a few rolls of cheap kitchen roll. If I wait a few more days I can gather some shredded paper from work but I really dislike waiting. I HAVE to get the job done this weekend!


Mud Dwellers to the Rescue!

Plots 4a and 5a are in the process of having a few new ‘installations’ this week…. ¬†I’ve decided to test an alternative form of composting – vermicomposting, which is basically composting with worms.

I have two compost bins currently. ¬†The typical Dalek type and my homemade pallet composter. Both are filling up nicely, however I’m going to be waiting a while before I (and the plots) will be able to reap the rewards. Hence the test… worm towers.

‘Castle Tower’ has been placed near the shallots, in the hope that I’ll actually have a crop this year!

My worm towers are made of a length of pipe with holes drilled in the bottom half which is then buried halfway into the ground. I’ve painted my 1st worm tower – Tiddler A wanted the worms to have a castle to live in ūüôā¬†Scraps of food will be put in the tower, this will then be ‘processed’ by the worms. It’s a win win! ¬†The worms will enjoy an all you can eat ‘buffet’ and my allotment will get an instant boost of nutrients, ¬†eliminating several stages of the composting process.

Excuse the dodgy artwork…painted with children’s brushes!¬†

I’m making four towers and I’m intending to strategically place three around the plots. ¬†The fourth one, I’ll test out in one of the raised beds. I’m hoping the ‘towers’ will feed and nurture my plants for me.

Reading up on the ideal ‘mixture’ to tempt the worms it’s clear that there are some definite dos and don’ts…

  1. Do give the worms a little bedding to wriggle into e.g. wet (not dripping but moist) shredded newspaper.  Apparently worms enjoy an environment of 75% water.
  2. Don’t add manure to the bedding. This could result in cooked worms!
  3. Do add something gritty like soil or ground egg shells. This will help the worms grind up the contents of the tower.
  4. Do place the worms in the middle of the ‘tower mixture’ then leave them for a few days.
  5. Do (after about a week) start adding the food scraps.  Soft fruit and veg is best.
  6. Don’t add paper with coloured ink – it’s poisonous to worms!
  7. Do ‘feed’ the worms a little at a time. ¬†Once a week is perfect.

I’m not sure what my allotment neighbours will make of my experiment but I’m hoping my plots will love me!