It’s not the end of the year, so it may seem a little silly to be looking back over 2019, however, when you are a gardener you are always reflecting and the end of one season and the start of the next is the perfect opportunity.


It’s hard to imagine the garden cold and bare, looking out now into the sunshine, but until March this year, there really wasn’t much happening. It was still far too cold to plant any seeds, even with a greenhouse, so March is when it all started. March is our “get seedlings going month” and also the month when we usually have a wee dabble in something new.

This year we tried something a bit different for beetroot in the raised beds. We used seed tape. I’ve always liked the idea of seed tape for the carrots, mainly because with the smaller seeds like carrots, you always sow too many and have to “thin them out” later on. This basically means pulling the “runts” and binning them. Which I hate doing, it’s just such a waste (more on carrots in a second).

So we saw seed tape and gave it a try.

If you’ve never used this before, it’s basically a big row of seeds encased in some paper. So you bury the whole strip and you get the precise amount of seeds, at the precise spacing you need for your bed. Sound awesome.

Not to mince my words… it was crap! We have had precisely NO BEETROOT this year. None, zip, squat, zero, nadda! Won’t be using that stuff again!

Obviously there could be lots of reason for this, but given that beetroot is probably our most successful crop ever and we are usually giving them away, this year has been a blow. We have had leaves, almost every seed germinated, but they just either bolted or didn’t give us anything other than leaves. Sigh! So this post has started with fail…. onto a win then 🙂


Yup, we tried something a tad different with the carrots this year too… not seed tape but root trainers. Which I will admit was a bit on the mad side, but hey that’s how we roll!

If you aren’t sure what root trainers are, they are little seed trays that are really tall, letting the seedling roots develop without being impeded by a shallow pot or tray. They split apart so that you can take each little plant out and plant it without disturbing the roots.

So I planted the carrot seeds directly into these and it meant I could bring the carrots on in the greenhouse, which is a bit warmer than the raised beds. It worked a treat. The carrots ALL germinated, and all came on really quickly. And best of all, no need to thin any carrots out, I used all the seedlings – smug!!!!!!

This seems to have made a huge difference with the carrots this year, all of them have been huge and most of them have been pretty straight. Normally we have some right weird ones.

The new greenhouse has been great in letting me try out these ideas. Having the staging makes it so much easier for me to deal with seedlings in there, without the constant back pain of having things on the floor. It was even great to get hanging baskets started off in there, now that I have hanging rails.

Only downside though, I kept smacking my head on them.


April was a busy month, busy, busy, busy. We had banana bread, hot-cross buns and little name tags for the plants.

The name tags were so much fun to make (who doesn’t like hitting things with a hammer?) and have been a whopping success. The greenhouse and beds all still have their little tags and they are all completely readable.

There was one bit of sad news in April though, Jim McColl, the longstanding presenter of Beechgrove garden retired. He has been an inspiration of mine and indeed can probably be blamed for my start off in gardening. So… it was only fitting that I paid tribute.


So April came and went, the seedlings got bigger and got planted on but just before then… some of them got brand new homes to go to. We have started the huge job of replacing our old, falling apart, raised beds.

To be fair, those beds were never meant to last this long, they were a tester to see if we liked the idea of gardening, I’m guessing we do then?

So out with the old and in with the new, solid railway sleeper raised beds.

new raised beds made from railways sleepers

I think you’ll agree that they do look absolutely amazing… but there was an awful lot of digging and moving heavy things involved and …. I put my back out.

Eli levelling the ground for the raised beds

I wish I could say that this was my only downside of May to tell you about, but alas it’s not to be. Some muppet also burned the hell out of the front lawn. It looked awful…. I wonder who that was????

But it did give us something to focus on and you guys really enjoyed joining in with us on social media and following the hashtag we created. It was fun hearing from you all on the stories of your lawn problems and knowing you were rooting for us (pun intended).


June saw the lawn go from bald to lush as the sun finally started to wake up and give us some sunny bright days and the greenhouse came alive.

The tomatoes began appearing and we even named a tomato plant in honor of Jim (see the previous mention of Jim McColl).

June was such a successful month that I don’t have any failures to tell you about, only successes, so instead let me remind you how amazing homemade Bakewell tart is….. mmmmmmm

We blogged our recipe especially for Luke, the young gentlemen who lives next door. We gave him some last Christmas and he has apparently been raving about it, so we gave him the recipe. He’s yet to pop in with a slice for me to try…. disappointed. This year he is getting coal!!!


Boy, this was only meant to be a quick update blog post but it’s been such a busy year, we’ve so much to tell you.

So July, I think the best thing I can do for July is not to tell you how awesome it was, instead let me show you. Fancy coming for a walk around the garden with me?

So that finally brings us to August

In August I shared two of my top gardening tips with you, pollinating your greenhouse by hand to increase your harvest and deadheading your flower to increase the colour and beauty in your garden.

We did have one sad face for August, I told you guys about our first experience of blossom end rot. Was a sad one as this was also the first time we’d grown San Marzano tomatoes so it was really frustrating to see something stealing them from us, but the good news is…. we think we’ve defeated it – yippeeeeeeee.

Watch out for a youtube video on Friday to find out more…..

So that’s us, a mahoosive update for you on the year so far… I can only guess what’s still to come. Keep popping back to find out.



Having fun in suburbia.
Growing our own, baking our own, brewing our own and generally enjoying life to the full.

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Senior Lecturer at the Reid School of Music (The University of Edinburgh) Visit Nikki's research site

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