Posts Tagged ‘gardening’

Blooming Secrets!

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

'Blooming Secrets' blog post banner

red flowers being sprayed with a yellow water bottle

It’s been a beautiful, sunny day and we’ve just spent the afternoon on our new allotment – digging, weeding, planting & pruning. It’s tough work as the site has been neglected for many months, but it’s great fun.

view of our garden

Having had a hot bath to ease those aching muscles we’re now relaxing at home – and are actually browsing the web doing some virtual gardening!

garden peas

We consider ourselves garden novices really. We have a small courtyard style garden at home & our newly acquired allotment. They’re quite different spaces. One is shady & damp – the other more open & sunny. Each has it’s own distinct challenges and indeed opportunities – and we’re always happy to get personal tips or improve our knowledge through books & websites.

'Caribbean Cocktail' flowers

The Blooming Secrets website is an ideal port of call.

tomatoes, beetroot and carrots growing in the ground

It’s best described as a personalised gardening service founded by John Toepfer and Susan Brandt – a brother & sister team who launched their site after John shared stories with his sister about the numerous questions he’d received from his neighbours asking for advice and help with their own gardens.

selection of herbs growing in zinc containers

You create a personal profile which is free of charge. It then recommends products based on interests, suitability, skill levels & growing conditions.

seeds in brown envelopes and seedlings and bulbs in plant pots

The website is easy to navigate, combining shop & blog which can offer information, advice and answer questions. The shop sells a large range of plants, seeds, tools and other accessories. Every month, there are be exclusive gardening offers to purchase.

watering can and other garden tools with a straw hat

The founders stated goal is to inspire people to garden and make a positive impact on our environment. This isn’t just lip service – the icing on the cake with this website is that a percentage of each purchase goes to a gardening or conservation organisation of your choice. You simply click your preferred option at checkout – blooming marvellous!


Allotment Diary: Going to seed

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

'Allotment Diary' blog post banner

Two seed catalogues

Two seed catalogues that we’d ordered online arrived this week. A mind-boggling array of fruit, vegetable and flower seeds lay within their pages.

Two seed catalogues open on the sweet pea pages

But we remained single-minded and didn’t allow ourselves to go wild with the ordering. We were only after some scented sweet pea seeds for now.

Justin digging and weeding a bed on the allotment

Our idea was to break the allotment up into small areas and concentrate on them one at a time. Rather than to try and tackle the whole plot in one go. We chose a spot that we wanted to make into a bed to grow, you guessed it, sweet peas. We dug it over…

Justin laying a path with salvaged bricks on the allotment

…and Justin laid a path using some of the salvaged bricks we found strewn all over the allotment last week. I know, it looks like Justin did all the work… someone had to take the photos!

A robin visits us on the allotment

With all the digging going on, it wasn’t long before this cute, little robin stopped by to feast on the worms that we’d uncovered. Smart little birds, robins – get the humans to do all the hard work!

unfinished sweet pea wig wams on the allotment

By the end of the afternoon, the bed was dug, the border and path were laid and the first few canes of the sweet pea wig-wams had been erected. Not a bad day’s work.

Allotment Diary: Our first day

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

'Allotment Diary' blog post banner

Daffodils in flower with Fudge on his bed in the background on our allotment

This is the first, proper entry into our new, virtual Allotment Diary.

Celandine in flower on our allotment

Surveying the plot, we were feeling slightly overwhelmed – there was so much work to do, where do we start?! We didn’t want to just rip out all the plants that were already there. Daffodils and celandine are in abundance – they look so bright & cheery.

old plastic water butts and garden chairs on our allotment

We began by having a general tidy up, moving all the strewn plastic chairs, bins and empty, abandoned plant pots over to a far corner.

old plastic plant pots on our allotment

We didn’t want to throw any of this away just yet, we want to reuse as much of it as possible.

vintage bricks and slates on our allotment

There were lots of red bricks and terracotta roof tiles lying around that we stacked up and put into piles. We already have some plans for these!

vintage bricks on our allotment

Many of the bricks are impressed with ‘Newhey’ or ‘Coptrod’, both former brickworks in Rochdale.

old metal pergola on our allotment

There was even a discarded metal arch that we’re planning on running some flowers (or cucumbers!) up.

leaf mould heap on our allotment

I began to tackle the thick carpet of leaves, forming the beginnings of a leaf mould heap in a shady, north-facing corner.

swept path on our allotment

There was some evidence of paths once some of the leaves were gone. Still very overgrown though.

old metal baths on our allotment

And how about transforming this pair of old baths into salad or herb beds?

brick foundations of a derelict greenhouse on our allotment

There are remains of a lower half of a dilapidated greenhouse in a sunny part of the plot. We’re considering what to do with it. We have lots of options available, lots of decisions to make. But there’s no need to rush in and try to do it all at once – one thing at a time – we’re just enjoying the journey!

Allotment Diary: A new adventure!

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

'Allotment Diary' blog post banner

our new, overgrown allotment

As of this week, we have a new allotment – and a new adventure!

our new, overgrown allotment with other allotments beyond

There’s plenty of work ahead. The perimeter fencing is in a bad state and the plot is a bit overgrown in places. It’s full of potential though, with plenty of space and good-quality soil. And we’ll be inheriting some well-established shrubs & fruit bushes.

our new, overgrown allotment with its broken fence

We’re full of ideas – what we want to grow and how we’d like it to look (we love that allotment chic!!). It’s already got a nice feel to it – quite enclosed with an almost secret garden quality. We hope to develop this a bit further – natural, pretty, and yet productive – that sums it up really.

our new, overgrown allotment with tumble-down lean to and plastic garden chair

In this series of posts, we’ll share the journey – the new projects, successes, failures, the produce grown and what we do with it. Along with a spade, we’ll always be sure to pack our camera! Feel free to share your own comments, ideas & tips as we travel along the allotment road.

Gimme Five! Windowsill greenhouses

Friday, March 28th, 2014

"Gimme Five!" blog post banner

selection of 5 windowsill greenhouses

I bought some magnolia vine seeds off the internet way back in January. After soaking them overnight, potting them up and leaving them somewhere cool until now, I’m going to put them on a warm, sunny windowsill in the kitchen so they can germinate. I’m fed up of the ugly, plastic windowsill greenhouses that are so ubiquitous. I want something a bit more… pleasing on the eye.

There are a few of them out there that aren’t boring green or black, cheap-looking, moulded plastic; but you have to search long & hard. We’ve helped make that process a little bit easier with these that we’ve found.

  1. Plantini mini model planthouse kit by Another Studio: £24.95, Notonthehighstreet
  2. SOCKER Greenhouse, white: £12, IKEA
  3. Vintage glass house / terrarium: £26.03, Etsy
  4. Vintage handmade lead & glass terrarium: £68, eBay
  5. Little Gardeners – My First Mini Greenhouse: £11.99, Amazon