Price Points: Strawberry pots

Strawberry pots | H is for Home

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…

  1. Large 45-litre plastic herb / strawberry planter / grow bag: £7.95, Amazon
  2. Terracotta strawberry pots: £35.00, Etsy
  3. Terracotta strawberry planter: £64.99, Crocus

Allotment Diary: April & May

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cow parsley growing on our allotment

We’ve not done an Allotment Diary post for quite a while – that’s not to say we’ve not been busy.

Working on our allotment in May 2015

We’re bringing you what we did in April & May… all in one go!

Justin digging beds on our allotment in May 2015

We cleared more overgrown areas for planting crops.

Adelle securing tomato plants on our allotment in May 2015

Some lovely young tomato plants donated to us by Trudi next door went into this bed.

Making pots from newspapers for potting on seedlings

We’ve also been planting lots of seeds at home where we can keep an eye on the young plants. Adelle spent an afternoon making these little pots out of old newspapers to accommodate some of them…

Growing radish seedlings for our allotment in April 2015

…and seed trays are full to bursting.

Growing bean seedlings on our allotment in May 2015

Young plants are then taken to the allotment to plant out – French beans in an old bathtub here!

Growing squash seedlings under a cloche on our allotment in May 2015

And these little butternut squash seedlings have found a new home under their cavernous cloche.

Chitted seed potatoes being planted in trenches on our allotment in April 2015

The potatoes we chitted and planted a few weeks ago are doing really well – no frost, thank goodness!

Potato plants thriving on our allotment in May 2015

We have them dotted all over the place in beds & bags – Jersey Royals, Maris Peer and King Eddies.

Strawberry plants flowering on our allotment in April 2015

Strawberries are developing flowers that should become nice juicy fruits. This is another bathtub project which we’re very hopeful of – keeping them slightly elevated under nets should keep slugs and birds at bay.

Last year's celery still growing on our allotment in May 2015

We left these celery plants in their beds at the end of last year – they seem to be growing nice new stalks this spring, so we’ll see what happens.

Currants on our allotment in May 2015

Fruit bushes are looking very healthy this year – these redcurrants should be full to bursting come September.

Creature proofing our allotment

We’re started putting up protection after last year’s crop devastation. Also, a network of canes are in place along bed edges at the moment. This is an attempt to teach our dog Fudge to walk along designated paths like Nigel the Golden Retriever on Gardeners’ World!

Woodpile on our allotment in May 2015

Other jobs included sweeping the very last of autumn’s leaves and cutting back overhanging branches which shade the plot. More sunshine for the plants and a bit of firewood for us!

Flowers on our allotment in May 2015

We like to keep some areas on the allotment over for flowers – they look pretty and are great for wildlife. Many of them self-seed, so it’s just a case of giving them loose boundaries and transplanting where required.

Training a rose bush on an arch on our allotment in May 2015

We inherited a rather tangled and untidy rose bush which grew almost horizontally through the undergrowth. This metal arch should give it more structure and opportunity to flower – the brick path will eventually be extended beneath which should look great.

Robin perched on a spade handle on our allotment in May 2015

One beneficiary of some natural areas are the birds. We might not want them eating our strawberries, but there are plenty of insects that they can get stuck into. We get all kinds of finches, tits and thrushes. Our friend the robin has been a permanent fixture on our visits. You can’t leave your tools unattended for long without it using them as the perfect vantage point for freshly uncovered worms. We do have one bird problem though. We’re fans of Mark Radcliffe & Stuart Maconie on 6Music. Unfortunately, we caught one episode where they said that the wood pigeon’s call sounds like “My toe hurts Betty”. It drives us nuts now – we just can’t get it out of our heads!

Picking stinging nettles on our allotment in May 2015

It’s not just wildlife that benefits from the untouched corners of the allotment. These nettles are growing in a rusty old trough at the far end of the plot. The young tips make great soup… and nettle bread was one of our recent Cakes & Bakes posts.

The robin perched on a fence on our allotment in May 2015

It’s certainly been beneficial to get going a bit earlier this time round – hopefully we’ll reap the benefits later in the year!

Gimme Five: Tumbling tomatoes

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Selection of 5 types of tumbling tomatoes

Our potatoes have been chitted & planted out, the first of our veg seedlings have sprouted, it’s time to start thinking about getting some tomatoes started.

Our garden (and allotment for that matter) is really shady, a definite no-no for sun-worshipping toms. The sun only hits our back garden from around 1pm, and only at a height of 4 foot and above. We have a tall south-facing fence so we’ve decided to try growing tumbling tomatoes along it. We have a couple of hanging baskets and just bought some hanging grow bags.

Mark Ridsdill Smith aka the Vertical Veg Man recommends ‘Cherry Cascade’ for hanging baskets. In a Telegraph gardening trial ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ came out tops. After some research, we’ve come up with this short-list of tumbling tomato contenders.

  1. Tomato ‘Tumbling Tom Yellow’ (10 seeds): £2.25, Marshalls
  2. Tomato ‘Gartenperle’ (25 seeds): £1.49, Crocus
  3. Tomato ‘Cherry Falls’ (15 seeds): £3.19, Mr Fothergill’s
  4. Tomato ‘Romello’ F1 hybrid (6 seeds): £3.99, Thompson & Morgan
  5. Tomato ‘Hundreds and Thousands’ (8 seeds): £3.99, Suttons

Allotment Diary: Clearing up, winding down

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cabbage, apples and potatoes from our allotment

Autumn is well & truly here – and our weekend visit to the allotment certainly proved it.

ripening tomatoes on our allotment

It was a beautiful sunny day, but the unmistakable signs of nature winding down for the year were all around.

collecting fallen leaves into a wheelbarrow

We picked a few remaining crops and cleared fallen leaves & beech masts.

robin on our allotment

Within seconds, our canny little friend appeared to snack on freshly uncovered worms & insects.

chilli apple compote made from windfall apples

Justin didn’t go hungry either – he rustled up an evening meal from the last of the vegetables and windfall apples.

pork chop with veg and apple sauce made from produce from our allotment

Pork chop with an apple & chilli compote – baby potatoes & cabbage with balsamic vinegar. Ready, Steady, Cook – eat your heart out! 😉

Monthly Mood Board: Allotment Chic

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'Allotment Chic' mood board | H is for Home

Regular readers of our blog will know that we took on a very overgrown allotment just over a month ago. We’ve been down there at least once a week, digging & weeding, pruning shrubs and sewing seeds. We have an idea in mind of how we’d like it to look this time next year. We want it to be a place of refuge and relaxation, somewhere to while away the hours on long summer days. Before that can happen though we’ve got a lot more hard graft ahead of us!

  1. 7′ x 7′ (2.10 x 2.09m) Windsor corner shed: from £369.95, Shedstore
  2. Burgon & Ball tool & tuck box – petrol blue: £19.95, Ocado
  3. Pure Raindrop water butt & watering can: £199.99, Crocus
  4. Traditional Sussex trug: £54.95, Harrod Horticultural
  5. Oil drum charcoal BBQ: £44.99, Argos
  6. Wooden seedling tray: £10, Garden Trading
  7. Joseph Bentley plant labels: £2.39, Lead the Good Life
  8. WBC bee hive with gabled roof: £175, Amazon
  9. Seed saver envelopes by Memo Illustration: £7.50, Notonthehighstreet
  10. Lamboro garden wheelbarrow: £35.29, Wayfair
  11. Green ‘Verdi’ outdoor folding table & chairs set: £252, Debenhams
  12. Vintage flower seed packet country garden bunting flags: £14, Etsy

Gimee Five: Exotic mushrooms

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selection of five different grow your own exotic mushroom kits

It’s getting to that time of year when wild mushrooms start to appear. A lovely free meal if you know what you’re picking!

Exotic mushrooms taste delicious in all kinds of pasta & rice dishes – or thrown into a simple omelette. Foraging isn’t possible for everyone though – so here are five kits that offer a convenient & safe option.

  1. Lion’s mane – £21.99, Thompson & Morgan
  2. Grow your own pearl oyster mushrooms kit – £14, notonthehighstreet
  3. Common morel morchella esculenta mushroom kit – €16.96, eBay
  4. Elm mushroom growing kit – £9.99, Amazon
  5. Mushroom windowsill kit – shiitake – £9.99, Suttons Seeds