Deadheading your flowers: why, how and when?

Deadheading basically just means taking the spent flowers off your plants and there are two good reasons why you should:

  1. dead and decaying flowers just don’t look great and can make your whole plant look a bit ropey
  2. it can encourage your plant to keep flowering for longer or even give you a whole second flush of flowers

Why & when?

Well, basically the whole purpose of life (plants and animals) is to reproduce. For plants, this means producing flowers, which turn into seeds which then disperse. And Voila! Baby plants. So if you take off the flowers after they have stopped looking gorgeous but before they set seed, it will encourage most plants to create more flowers.

It doesn’t work with all plants, but for some, like sweetpeas, it’s absolutely essential.

Most nights after work, we take a short walk around the garden with a bucket and pull any flower heads which we think have “gone over”. So that’s our petunias, primula, viola, mimula, marigolds, gerbera, etc.

How?

Just pinch the faded blossoms off the stem, or you can cut them with scissors. With some plants, you may get more than one flower per stem so be careful not to cut a stem below a bud which hasn’t opened yet. That would defeat the purpose somewhat.

Also, a fantastic tip, from experience, be careful if you pull a plant, if the roots aren’t strong you may actually pull the plant out of the soil (I’ve done this a few times). So pinch the flower off with your fingernail or snip with scissors just to be safe.




Hanging baskets – time for a bit of a refresh

When the garden is in bloom there is no better antidote to the blues. Bright, colourful flowers and a bit of sun may just be the best thing in the world. However, this weekend saw us give in and accept that the hanging baskets needed a wee bit of help. They weren’t horrendous, I mean there was stuff in them, they were just a bit… lacking.

I take full responsibility for it though, I was a bit over eager to get some colour out there after the winter and I’m afraid to say I threw the poor little baby petunias out of the greenhouse a few months too soon. Poor wee souls, shivering away in the cold.

So they were a wee bit under developed.

Oh no!!!! A trip to the garden centre, how horrendous! NOT!!!

It’s a bit like when you go to Ikea, you go for a specific thing, like some tea light candles and come home with a Billy bookcase. Well a trip to the garden centre is exactly the same with us. We go for some petunias for the hanging baskets and end up with 100 quid’s worth of plants and two planters. Watch the video and see how much we ARE NOT miffed by this LOL.

We did our usual and stood at the entrance with Kate saying, “we only need one trolley. We’re only getting some plants for the hanging baskets.” To which I, as always, replied, “yeah we always say that and then you send me for another trolley cause we’ve filled the first one.”

Guess what happened? Yep two trolleys.

So off course, that mean we HAD to fill them. It turns out, it was just as well, but I’ll tell you all about that in a second.

So petunias for the hanging baskets, you guys know by now what our favourites are, so as usual, my favourites: easywave

And Kate’s favourites, starry night

We also got something new, you’ll have to trust me on this cause in the photo it looked just like the pink and white easywave petunias, but it’s not quite. In fact it’s not a petunia, although I can’t for the life of me tell you what it is. It was labelled up as a trial and had “???” Where the name should be. But it’s got flowers like smaller versions of the petunias but the leaves and more like succulent leaves and stems. We thought we’d give it a go though.

So I was telling you that it was a good thing that we bought extra plants. Well… we came home and got stuck in. Kate was tidying up the rockery and I was sorting out the planting out back. That includes two big wooden planters which we’d bought new plants for. They are full of aquilegias which die back in late summer which leaves the planters looking as bit empty, so we got some new bits and bobs for them. While I was arranging the plants, not planting or touching the planters in anyway, I heard a thwump noise. I turned around to see one of the planters had just basically disintegrated. One side had completely fallen apart and the soil and plants were trickling out. I SWEAR IT WASN’T ME!

Turns out the wood had just rotted and eventually just given in. They are 7 years old to be fair. So it was a quick jaunt out to replace the planter. Actually we replaced both cause on inspection the other one was pretty much rotten as well.

Means we have a couple of nice bright new planters though which match the colourful pots we have around the garden.

As well as all this fun, we got a few new plants that are just the perfect photography models (there are just some plants that are wayyyyyyy more photogenic than others). So here are some of our new gazania.




New raised beds – railway sleepers

I just looked over our old blog posts to see when we installed the raised beds and it gave me a bit of a warm glow. I love going back over the old posts to see how the garden has changed and grown over the years.

Turns out we installed the beds very early on in our gardening adventure.

Back then, we were VERY new to gardening, in fact, this is our first garden ( my balcony doesn’t count), so we were working things out and learning as we went. Still are to be honest.

When we moved into our lovely new home here at Ar Bruidair, we new nothing (you know nothing Jon Snow!). We had seen the raised bed thing on TV and thought it sounded like a convenient thing to do. Boy were we shocked by the amount of work it took to get them going.

Kate putting in the old raised beds way back when…

However, nothing compared to the work that’s gone into replacing them. Sigh, and we’re not finished yet.

So why have we replaced them?

Well simply, the old ones were very cheap and have started to rot, split and fall apart since they were put in. It has been 7 years! We’ve been saying for the last couple of years that we needed to do this, and dreaming that lovely railway sleeper raised beds would be great. We just never got around to actually doing it. Then, with the new greenhouse meaning we no longer needed the sleepers under the greenhouse, an opportunity arose, so to speak.

So the plan….

Well we’ve so far only replaced two (we mentioned in a previous post that we’d made a start). The third is full of strawberries so that will wait until next year when those strawberries are at the end of their life cycle anyway.

We did bed one a couple of weeks ago before the carrots and beetroot were ready to be planted out. Bed two we did last weekend as the courgettes will go in there in a few weeks.

So what was the process?

Boy, was it backbreaking, really. I’ve spent most of this week struggling to move. Why? Well let me tell you.

First job: cut the sleepers to size

Kate took care of the hard work here, but through this we have learned one awesome piece of advice to give you guys so you don’t suffer as we did.

So we had sleepers already, most excellent, meant for the first bed we didn’t have to buy anything. However, they weren’t the right size so had to be cut. Railway sleepers are solid oak and 200mm by 150mm. We (actually Kate) cut the first bed by hand. It was a killer and her hands and shoulder were killing her for days. First piece of advice for you guys, if you are doing this, buy a cheap electrical saw!

Kate marking out where to cut on the railways sleepers

Once the sleepers were cut, we put the first level together on the patio so we could make sure it was square and level. Then put the next level together and squared it all up. We didn’t attach the two layers though.

Next piece of advice: this job is so much easier to do on a nice flat accessible space rather than trying to do this in situ. Oh yes!

Kate building the raised beds from railway sleepers

Job two: empty the beds of soil

You want to completely replace the beds, well it’s gonna be easier if they are empty, so all that soil had to be dug out and put somewhere. A big tarpaulin on the lawn did the trick.

Eli emptying the soil form the raised beds

YAY! Now we can get the new ones in right? Well no… if you go read the original story of us installing the beds, you’ll hear about how uneven the ground was and the half arsed job we did of levelling the original beds.

We decided this time we would try to make a better job, while we had the opportunity. That was a killer.

Job three: level the ground for the beds

We ended up having to dig the back end down about 6 inches on average, it was way more at one side and less at another, as this side of the garden slopes quite a lot. It took forever and our soil is clay so it’s hard going to dig. In the end, the first bed looked awesome, properly level from all angles.

There were gin painkillers that night, let me tell you. So what’s next?

Eli levelling the ground for the raised beds

Job four: put it all back

Now things are level you can put the new beds in place and fill them back up. Hurrah!

A handy, dandy tip for you guys on this. We build the two sections separately, it made it manageable (I won’t say easy) to carry them and put them in place. Once the first layer was in and level, we added the next layer and fixed them in place with huge, big, carriage bolts. They are all nice and securely fastened together now and nothing is going to move these suckers!

So two beds done, third will get done next year. Oh we’re looking forward to doing all of this again! NOT!

new raised beds made from railways sleepers

Our beds have done us so well over the years, we’ve had bounteous harvests of carrots, beetroot, courgettes, salad, broccoli, sprouts, chard, kale, strawberries etc. Here is our homage to our raised beds…




Compost, how to use it and when to sieve it

If you haven’t been following our adventure with composting over the past few years you won’t know that we started off with the big, standard type compost pile at the back of the garden (build from odds and ends of wood) and are now using a swanky hotbin composter.

Our old home made compost bin

But fear not, you can catch up on the adventure with the post below and come back for the latest chapter if you like:

The hotbin composter

We are very lucky that we have the fancy hotbin composter that produces compost very quickly, unlucky however that I sometimes find I have compost ready for use but I don’t actually need it. This happened over the winter when I had to empty the compost bin as it was full and I obviously still needed a way to manage our waste. So I emptied the bin and stored everything in black rubble sacks ready for when I would need it.

My custom built filtering sieve and bags of compost ready to go

Now here is a useful thing to know for any new composter types out there. Fresh garden compost can be quite rough and bulky, don’t panic though, just cause it doesn’t look like the super fine stuff you are used to buying from the store. The reason the stuff you buy is super fine is because it has been sieved.

Here’s the skinny… you know when Jim on Beechgrove Garden or Monty on Gardener’s World tells us to add organic matter to the soil to make it better? Well this is what they mean, the rough and ready compost. It adds bulk and texture and air etc to the soil. Stops the soil being too fine and getting compacted and if you have sandy or clay soil helps to change the composition. The bigger bits keep on breaking down providing nutrition too. All in all this is awesome. You will also have heard Jim and Monty talk about mulch? Yeah well this compost is exactly that, mulch, so you can even spread it over the soil around plants to feed the soil and suppress weeds. Money saver!

Now what if you are potting up plants or little seedlings? Well then this compost is a bit rough for this, so you would sieve or filter it to get rid of any larger bits and pieces and leave you with the finer stuff. This will be much more recognisable as the stuff you would buy (which you’ll probably see as labelled multi purpose).

Fine soil after sieving

So, how does this all work?

To do this though, you need the compost to be relatively dry otherwise it’s a bit on the sticky side and it clogs up the sieve.

Here was our problem, the compost I had been storing was still quite damp. I had hoped for a few sunny days where I could spread it out on a tarp in the garden and let it dry in the sun, but alas, we’ve had rain for months. So it never happened. This weekend though we finally got a chance, so hurrah.

This also provided Kate with a chance to put her DIY skills to the test yet again to make my life easier. You see, I have a standard, bucket sized, garden sieve, which works great, but…. would take forever to sieve a few rubble bags worth of compost. Also it’s very fine, suitable for making potting compost but it takes a very long time to sieve out from brand new chunky stuff.

I need something which a much bigger mesh size, an in betweener if you like. Also bigger would be great given the amount of compost I have to get through.

Kate did a fantastic job and built me my very own extra large garden sieve just for my compost. Just some leftover bits of wood and some fine chicken wire.

between my little bucket sieve and my fabulous big DIY one.

We didn’t record the making of this as it’s dead easy but if you want some instructions fear not, someone else has done an excellent job of this.

https://www.gardenersworld.com/how-to/diy/how-to-make-a-soil-sieve/

So speaking about fresh compost being a bit lumpy, you can see from the pic here what I mean. You sometimes get bits of twig or whatever left over that haven’t quite finished breaking down. It’s no biggie, you just throw those back in and they finish their job. Having a big filtering system does make this easier though. The action of the compost lumpy bits running across the sieve help break down lumps which are just stuck together and separate this from actual large pieces which are not ready.

Fresh compost straight from the bin

So how does the whole sieve thing work? Well, to be honest, it’s all very scientific and complicated, I’m not sure you’d understand. You need to add your fresh compost to the sieve and ………

shoogle!!!!

I usually do this over a great big tarp, then shovel it from there to wherever it needs to be but I can also put the sieve straight onto the frame of my raised beds if I want some finer soil for in there.

using a tarp and sieve on top of the raised bed to filter compost.

And there you have it, lots of lovely mulch, compost for the raised beds, potting on etc. The world is your compost of choice.




Decoding garden seed packets & catalogues

Part 2 of information on your seed packets.

Right now it’s early morning, so it’s still dark outside. The wind is wiping hard enough around the garden that I can hear it quite clearly indoors. It’s cold and there are next to no leaves on the trees I can just about make out in the dark through the window. This time of year can be a bit miserable for a gardener like me who doesn’t actively grow over winter. I am really looking forward to spring. REALLY!

January, however, is seed catalogue month, so I have some glorious time to spend all cosy indoors with a mug of tea, and my gardening porn (see yesterday’s conversation about seed catalogues). Yesterday we spoke about hardiness zones, about knowing how to find out what seeds and plants would grow in your area. Today we are going to decode the information on your seed packets and catalogues so we can work out exactly what seeds and plants we might want to buy.

So let’s dive in and have a look at some of my seeds and discuss a few of the terms. Some are very specific and have standards or legislation behind them (like organic or GM) and others are more open to interpretation like heirloom.

F1 or hybrid varieties

I see F1 hybrid written on quite a lot of the seeds I have bought over the years, especially on my courgettes but exactly what does that mean and is there an F2? Would F2 be better?

The easiest way to understand an F1 hybrid is to think of it like this. Imagine a plant breeder sees something really desirable in a plant, but also something they don’t like, perhaps it grows really vigorously but the flowers aren’t a great colour. In one of their other plants it doesn’t grow as vigorously but the flowers are fantastic. They could take the best plant from each, and self-pollinate (in isolation from other plants) each year and, then each year, the seed is re-sown. Eventually, every time the seed is sown the same identical plants will appear. When they do, this is known as a ‘pure line’.

If the breeder now takes the pure line of each of the two plants he originally selected and cross-pollinates the two by hand the result is known as an F1 hybrid. Plants are grown from seed produced and the result of this cross-pollination should be vigorous and have awesome flowers.

Genetically Modified (GM)

These are seeds which have been created by manipulating the genes of the plants in laboratories. GM seeds aren’t licensed for sale to amateur gardeners in the EU.

Organic seed

This means the seeds have been grown from plants by certified organic means without pesticides, fertilisers or herbicides and must also be packaged without being treated with fungicides.

Annual, Biennial or Perennial

Annual plants grow, set seed, and die in a single season. Biennials take two seasons to set seed. Perennials, however, live year after year.

Determinate and Indeterminate

This is something I see a lot as I grow tomatoes and this relates specifically to them.

Determinate tomatoes (which you may also see labelled as patio or bush tomatoes) reach a certain height and then stop growing. The have multiple stems, hence being called bush, and can give high yeilds. I grow Sweet Million tomatoes which are this variety.

Indeterminate tomatoes keep growing and can get very tall, it’s not uncommon for these plants to reach over 10 feet in height, so they require sturdy support or regular pruning to tame the vines. You will also hear these refered to as cordon tomatoes.

Heirloom and open pollinated

An heirloom variety is just an open pollinated variety which has a lineage that can be reliably traced back for a number of generations; it is a case of historical record rather than any difference in the genetics.

Open Pollinated or F1?
Theoretically, open-pollinated varieties are more genetically diverse so will thrive in a wider range of growing conditions and will, over the years, become more suited to growing in your garden. Flavour in open-pollinated varieties can also be better because F1 varieties tend to be grown for commercial growers where traits like uniform ripening and long shelf life may be chosen over taste. Not always but it’s something to consider.

F1 seeds, however, may be a better choice for disease resistance. For me, the conditions in Scotland are damp and cold so I see mildews and mosaic. F1 varieties allow me to choose plants which are resistant to this.

Sow and Grow

You will also find some useful info on the back of your seed packets about when to sow your seeds and if they should be started off indoors before planting out. This is a rough guide, it’s good to think about this in terms of the weather in your area. For example, living in Scotland, I know we tend to be a bout a month behind other areas of the UK before I can get seeds germinating outdoors.

OK so you are now armed with some information on the various things you’ll read, time to get the kettle on and go look at some seed catalogues.




Hardiness zones, what can I grow?

January is the perfect time for sitting with a mug of tea, a couple of biscuits (ok, ok a plate) and a pile of seed catalogues (or as Kate calls them, garden porn). Just browsing those wonderful blasts of colour and potential beauty is enough to keep me going all through the beginning of the year, but… I remember the first time I picked up the seed catalogues and I remember feeling lost in the jargon and abbreviations. So let’s make this part 1 about all the different pieces of information you’ll find in your seed catalogues, seed packets and in garden centres. Let’s start with hardiness zones.

When it’s time to decide what you’ll be ordering this year

Seed catalogues are full of options, wonderful varieties of plants you’ve never heard of with pictures that almost make you drool thinking of them in your garden. The thing is, not everything is going to grow well in your garden and working out what will and what types you want to buy is a bit of a labyrinth for any new gardener.

Hardiness zones

If you are a new gardener then hardiness zones might be a new term for you, but it’s something that’s really useful to know. It essentially gives you a rough way of looking at plants and knowing if they will thrive in your area, for example, there really isn’t much chance of tropical plants growing outdoors here in Scotland. It’s a wet and cold climate but would a palm tree? Well, let’s look at the hardiness zones and information that the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society) publish. This gives us the USDA Zones and some info about the temperatures in them but more importantly, the RHS hardiness rating which you are likely to see in catalogues and garden centres in the UK.

The zones

RHS Rating Temperature Hardiness USDA Zones Notes
H1a >15C Tropical 13 To be grown under glass or as a house plant
H1b 10C to 15C Subtropical 12 Can be grown outdoors in summer in warm, sunny and sheltered locations, but will generally perform indoors
H1c 5C to 10C Warm temperate 11 Can be grown outdoors in summer throughout most of the UK.
H2 1C to 5C Tender cool 10 Tolerant of low temperatures, but will not survive being frozen.
H3 -5C to 1C Half-hardy 9 Hardy in coastal/mild areas, except in hard winters. Likely to be damaged or killed in cold winters, particularly with no snow cover or if potted.
H4 -10C to -5C Hardy 8,9 Hardy through most of the UK apart from inland valleys, at altitude and central/northerly locations.
H5 -15C to -10C Hardy 7,8 Hardy in most places throughout the UK even in severe winters.
H6 -20C to -15C Hardy 6,7 Hardy across the UK and northern Europe.

So looking at the table we can see a few important pieces of info, let’s take USDA zone 9 as an example. This is the zone I live in. The table shows that it has an RHS rating of H3, so if we see that in the garden centre we know that means us. The winter temperatures are on average between -5C to 1C and it’s considered half-hardy. We can also see a bit of advice. “Hardy in coastal/mild areas, except in hard winters. Likely to be damaged or killed in cold winters, particularly with no snow cover or if potted.” So something that usually survives winter might not survive a harsh winter, especially in a pot.

Useful to know. Means I may want the ability to move a plant into the greenhouse or indoors during a bad winter.

Zones in the UK

So the first thing I want to point out is that Scotland isn’t just one zone. You can see the west coast is marked as zone 9, whereas if you head inland towards the Cairngorms National Park it’s a hardiness zone of 6. This is because in different areas you can expect lower temperatures over winter, different levels of frost and snow. Knowing which zone you are in can really help you decide which plants will do well in your garden. However, don’t take this as absolute fact, keep your garden journal up to date and get to know your garden. I know that even though I am in zone 9, there is a bit of a local microclimate around my area which these charts can’t predict.

So that palm tree… well maybe, most palm trees are tropical meaning no they wouldn’t grow here, but you can look for palms which are labelled as hardy. These could be grown in pots so that you could bring them indoors over winter or wrap the stems to prevent damage from our cold winters.

Take a look at the RHS plant search site and have a look at the plants recommended for your hardiness rating.

https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/search-form




2018 – reflection on the year past

It has been such a busy year at Ar Bruidair this year, it almost seems to have passed in a flash so I though it might be a good thing to pause and reflect on things before getting stuck head on into 2019.

Every year has ups and downs, and it’s important to remember this, rather than fixate on the things which didn’t go to plan or went wrong. That’s not a healthy way to live your live. I spoke at work recently about how blogging is a good tool for mindfulness and reflection so let’s reflect. Yes there was snow but there was so much more.

2019 was a year of extremes, the so-called ‘beast from the east’ brought with it ridiculous wind and snow meaning most of the UK suffered in spring. Then summer was a roaster with heat waves and droughts. Too cold for plants one minute and too hot the next.

January

The fear and emotional turmoil after an accident, some time to sit and reflect and the positivity that cycling can bring as a new charity venture was born near us.

February

From mental health to physical health, new greenhouse gadgets and making the greenhouse taller.

March

Learning to love the birds who visit the garden, jazzing up the raised beds and a warming bowl of barley risotto.

April

April saw us dealing with a deluge of compost, a deluge of youtube viewers and the final retreat of the deluge of snow.

May

We accepted our limitation and the power of the UK weather and learned about buying plug plants when growing from seed doesn’t work. New skills, new knowledge and new opportunities.

June

The new greenhouse gadget is working a treat meaning we had more basil than we knew what to do with, so we learned to make pesto, oh and we perfected our honey, roasted seeds. It was a tasty month.

July

July gave us sunshine, peanut butter and focaccia. What a wonderful month. Lots of time outdoors.

August

Sunshine and warmth brought abundance to the greenhouse. indigo Rose tomatoes were a new addition we wouldn’t have tried had it not been for the awful spring weather. Plugs plants gave us new things to try.

September

I get insanely excited by new cookware. Enough said.

October

The garden winds down and the kitchen winds up. Spiced muffin treats, a hug from some spicy butternut squash soup and using up the last of the tomatoes to make passata. We are feeling the autumn richness.

November

When the cold sets in, you enjoy being indoors. Hygge or còsagach? Cast iron or non stick? And a shiny new greenhouse.

December

December is always such a busy month, so much food, so many crafts and so much fun. Mince pies, advent calendars and eggnog.

2018 was a wonderful year full of new things, new adventures and lessons learned. We can’t wait for 2019, bring it on.




Top 10 gifts for gardeners

It’s that time of year where I am continuously asked what I want for Christmas and usually, the answer is simple, I don’t need anything, but this is rarely the answer that’s desired so again but what do you want?

So I thought to help all you folk out there who are being asked, I would put together my personal top ten gardening gifts, that way you can just send people a link to the blog post. Job done.

Number Ten

Knee Pads – as a gardener, I spend a lot of time crawling around, kneeling and generally crouching. This means sore, skinned knees and trousers get trashed. The answer is most definitely big, padded knee pads to just make my knees happier. You can also get kneeling stands etc, but I just find they can be a bit cumbersome and get in the way, knee pads go where you go. I don’t know any gardener who would say they couldn’t find a use for a good pair of knee pads.

Knee pads – https://amzn.to/2Qq1Op0

Number Nine

Useful tool box / lunch box –  I already have one of these tins for keeping all my seeds organised (you’ll see it pop up in the blog and youtube videos often). I don’t think you can ever have enough organisation type boxes and these tin boxes with latched lids are fantastic. I can absolutely picture my flask of tea and a sandwich in this one.

Tool and tuck tin – discounted https://amzn.to/2Qt0At7

Number Eight

Down to earth gardening wisdom by Monty Don – Gardening books are a fantastic gift for any garden from beginner to advanced and Monty is a British treasure not only for his gardening, but also his fashion sense, advice and honesty. Let’s not forget Nigel the dog too.

Down to earth gardening wisdom by Monty Donhttps://amzn.to/2QLsy2M

Number Seven

Alan Titchmarsh – How to garden (greenhouse)  – sticking with the bok theme, this one is actually a bit sentimental for me. This is one of the books Kate bought me when we bought Ar Bruidair to help me create and manage my first garden. It’s full of fantastic advice.

Alan Titchmarsh – How to garden – greenhouse – https://amzn.to/2zVu6NY

Number Six

Alan Titchmarsh – How to garden (growing veggies) – again one of the books Kate bought me and my absolute inspiration for my greenhouse. This book is great for a first timer, taking you thought all the things to think about like sun postition, hot spots etc.

Alan Titchmarsh – How to garden – growing veggies – https://amzn.to/2LeDVLf

Number Five

Paper pot maker – space is an issue every gardener faces. Not just space to grow things, but space to store things too and every year I had a battle on my hands to find space to store all the pots I needed for spring. This little paper pot maker solved all of that and now we make pots out of old newspaper and they break down in the soil, no storage needed. It was one of those genius things Kate came across while surfing the web on Sunday morning and I’m glad she did.  See it in use: https://youtu.be/ml38gTKcNZ8

Paper pot maker https://amzn.to/2LcZvzS

Number Four

Chilligrow planter – You guys all know how much I love my quadgrow planters so no christmas wish list would be complete without one of these. This one is the chilli version, so slightly smaller but I’ve had fantastic success with mine and I use it for way more than chillies, I have herbs in mine too.

Chilligrow planter – https://amzn.to/2Bi4JFS

Number three

Quadgrow planter – I’ve mentioned Chilligrow planters, now meet it’s much bigger brother the quadgrow. Holds and looks after 4 tomato plants easily, keeping watering even and giving my bumper crops. I love this guy.

See my journey from newbie to lover in my video playlist: https://youtu.be/ucI6Vl76oUc

Quadgrow planterhttps://amzn.to/2QIHEWT

Number Two

Gardening gloves –  now let me clarify, I don’t mean big, heavy gloves to protect your hands from thorns etc. I mean these delicate little things that you can do all sorts of jobs while wearing, even potting on seedlings.

I have fallen in love with these gloves over the last couple of years because quite simply, they let me get on with things. I have tiny hands and it is impossible to find gloves that I am comfortable wearing because the fingers are always too long. These were not only a great fit, but they let you still “feel” meaning you can do all sorts of garden jobs without that gloves on, gloves off, gloves on, gloves off thing.

Gardening gloves – https://amzn.to/2Cbj6hb

Number One

A Journal – my number one gift idea. A journal to keep track of the garden from season to season is one of the best gifts you can give any gardener. I was given mine from friends and I have since bought the same one as a gift for my sister. My number one gift for gardeners!

Gardening Journal – https://amzn.to/2SKVHsa




Making the most of your 6 by 8 foot greenhouse

Last week she was bare, this week she is all gussied up in her finery.

So how do you make a small greenhouse work for all seasons?




New greenhouse: we’ve got a rhino in the garden

After 6 years, metres of duct tape, 4 replacement roof panels, countless replacement bolts, and a lot of chasing random sheets of plastic about in the wind…  we have finally replaced our little polycarbonate greenhouse with a nice, shiny, new rhino. This time it’s a traditional glass one, with toughened safety glass and it’s not boring aluminium, it’s GREEN!!!!! I am so excited.

Our old, polycarbonate one did us well. It was our first proper greenhouse, so we didn’t want to fork out a huge amount of money to discover that we really weren’t into the greenhouse gardening thing, the cheaper option was a good starting point. And let’s be honest, it was a step up from my very first (pretend) greenhouse, which was a tiny plastic thing on my balcony. As you can imagine, I didn’t get many tomatoes… well any!  God, it’s a wonder I even gave things another try really.

As you’ve seen over the years, the polycarbonate greenhouse did a damn good job, giving us huge harvests of tomatoes and peppers (she was a bit of a youtube star) as well as herbs but it didn’t stand up well to the crazy winds we get here in East Lothian and we were continuously making repairs and chasing bits of polycarbonate around our neighbourhood in a storm. So after the last storm, we decided it was time for her to retire (we lost most of the roof).

Although she did sport some glamorous hedgehog duct tape for a while (thanks Kirsty).

We’ve decided this time as well, to have a proper installer come and build it. Kate and I did it ourselves last time and although it wasn’t horrendous, we’ve decided we wanted to start off on the right foot, have the greenhouse properly put together so that it will last us many years to come. And lets face it, this thing wasn’t cheap, so having a proper installer put it together doesn’t seem like a crazy expense does it?

So as we mentioned, we’ve gone with Rhino, a British made greenhouse that is advertised specifically as being crazy strong and capable of standing up to incredible winds. It also has a 25 year guarantee. I’d say that is money well spent.

As I write this post, Danny Paton the local Rhino greenhouse installer is out in the garden in the pelting rain and freezing cold (he’s wearing a wetsuit – tricks of the trade) installing it. I feel really guilty so will keep him going with tea and biscuits.

We’ve chosen this specific greenhouse after months of research, we really wanted something strong, durable and something which is going to last. We weren’t focussing on all the different asthetic designs as we are happy with the look of our other greenhouse. But I don’t want to be lying awake at night listening to the wind and worrying anymore.

Another thought had been, do we want to take this opportunity to get a bigger greenhouse, and it was a tempting thought as I do a lot of seasonal shoogling to make things work in my greenhouse. I have different needs for spring as i do the rest of the year, but we decided that as we use the garden for a few different purposes, we didn’t want to sacrifice any more space when I had pretty much got my greenhouse routine down. So we’ve stuck with an 8 by 6ft.

So… I guess you are all saying – “come on Eli, shut up with the rambling and introduce us to Olive” (that’s what I’m naming her).

See the new greenhouse and it being installed…