Our summer fruit harvest has been pretty good this year. We have a few strawberry plants that have produced lots of fruit – and now, dozens of runners between them. We don’t want to just cut them back and waste them. Also, you shouldn’t just keep the same strawberry plants, growing on the same plot (or in the same soil) year after year, as they accumulate viruses – and crops diminish.
About three years is the optimum life for a strawberry plant apparently, so we’re going to propagate a few over the coming weeks. We had a look at what the venerable Monty Don had to say on how to go about it – and it’s incredibly easy. You can never have too many strawberry plants because you can never have too many strawberries!
Here’s a trio of different strawberry pots – from less than a tenner to over £50 – which we’ve found that would be perfect for our allotment and garden…
- Large 45-litre plastic herb / strawberry planter / grow bag: £7.95, Amazon
- Terracotta strawberry pots: £35.00, Etsy
- Terracotta strawberry planter: £64.99, Crocus
Quilted homewares are nothing new. There have a long history of (mainly) women – around the world – getting together to sew, share and support each other as they create magnificent works of art.
Recently, we’ve been noticing a big resurgence in quilted soft furnishings; this time, it’s no longer confined to blankets, bedspreads and throws. Quilted seating is offering up a twist on the classics with all new patterns, colours and materials.
Quilted chairs and sofas are so tactile and inviting – sitting or reclining on one is like getting a big warm hug!
- Meritalia La Michetta modular sofa: £1,013.15 – £1,982.24 per unit
- Percy armchair: £1,190, Sofa.com (available end August 2017)
- Quilt armchair by Established & Sons: £4,131.00
A couple of weeks ago, we watched an ex-fireman show Nadiya Hussain how to easily and cheaply home-smoke food. All you need is one of these cold smoke generators and a cardboard box. I immediately thought I’d like to try my hand at it so investigated online how to get started.
The process of cold smoking is done without the need for actually cooking the food. This means it’s ideal not only for meats and fish but also – if you’re vegetarian like me – tofu, cheese, eggs, nuts and vegetables. Smoked almonds and garlic are amongst my favourite smoked foods.
There are lots of YouTube tutorials for making a cold smoker out of a cardboard box. However, if you’re not confident, ready-made ones are available from Hot Smoked. A variety of sustainable wood dusts are available to try when cold smoking such as alder, apple, beech, cherry, hickory, maple, oak and whiskey oak.
- 6”/12” stainless steel round pellet tube: from £6.59, eBay
- Jaeger Sparbrand stainless steel cold smoke generator: £24.46, Amazon
- Pro Q cold smoke generator by Hot Smoked: £34, Notonthehighstreet
Invisible furniture can be practical, attractive and humorous. Invisible could mean hidden in clear sight, transparent or even camouflaged. The three examples we’ve chosen cover all these bases.
The concealed bookshelves are really affordable and can free up precious wall and floor space. In addition, they’re a great way of showing off your most attractive book spines and covers. The transparent trunk is a useful piece of furniture; great for storage or an imaginative way of displaying something extra special. Have you spotted the HD television in photo #3? It’s masquerading as a framed artwork. It’s such a fantastic way of transforming what is usually a big, blank, black rectangular space. You can choose from a number of different frames and artworks to suit your décor… or even display your own photographs or family snaps!
- Umbra Conceal bookshelf: from £10.50, Red Candy
- Clear acrylic trunk / coffee table: £1,774.03, Etsy
- Samsung The Frame Art Mode ultra HD TV: from £1,999.00, John Lewis
If indoor space is at a premium, then multi-functional furniture can be a godsend. And if it looks as good as these pieces then so much the better. This is when great design really comes to the fore. We’ve chosen three pieces suitable for lounge, dining or bedroom spaces. Although concept piece #3 would have definite camper van potential too!
- Doc sofa bunk bed unit: (p.o.a.)
- Stompa European single high sleeper bed with storage: £1,079.99
- Convertible sofa (concept piece)
It’s the 21st century and almost everyone may have cameras on their smart phones these days, however, there’s still a place for instant cameras.
They’re perfect for events like birthday parties, wedding receptions and stag and hen events. If you’re like Justin – one of those rare people in this day & age who doesn’t have a Facebook account – you won’t be able to see, share and tag images on there with friends and family.
My favourite is the most expensive one (and not the orange or purple one, for a change!). Being a hybrid, you get the best of both worlds. The photos are taken in a square, Instagram-like format and you can preview your shots before you print. Again, like with the Instagram app, you can add effects, create vignettes and adjust the brightness. You can save the last 50 images to print whenever and as often as you like. You can even export and save your snaps to a memory card.
- Polaroid instant film camera PIC-300, purple: £71.99, Viking
- Leica Sofort instant camera in orange: £224.00, Jessops
- FUJI Instax square SQ10 hybrid instant camera: £249.99, Selfridges