Zen and the Art of Skip Salvage – A Practical Guide

Following on from my previous post about skip-diving, I thought I’d bang on a bit more about my worst habit. There is much to be gained from nosing round First World Human Detritus  – and it’s not all tangible loot. Skip-tenets hold true for Life. To master the art of Skip-Diving is to master yourself.* *Not really, but…

Forcing Lily of the Valley

Such a harsh word. Pretty much any spring bulb grown indoors this time of year is ‘forced’ – hyacinths, crocuses, daffs – none of them really want to come out for Christmas, but they’ll show their faces, not too grudgingly, if they’re treated nicely. I first came across the idea of forcing Lily of the…

The Leeks of Doom

At first I didn’t realise there was anything wrong. I mean – look at this – looks fine, yeah? Okay, so it wasn’t going to win any prizes but it looked at least supper-worthy. Looks can deceive, however. I started noticing strange, wiggly-looking leaves but still I wasn’t too worried. Then it came to teatime this…

Dividing Hostas

I adore hostas. Of course I have to share them with the giant mollusc population, but a combination of grit, copper vessels and my boot on an early morning means I generally get a good show. I’ve had several for many years and they’ve been getting more and more congested and this year I really…

On Test: Egg & Chips®

Okay, so if I thought T&M’s TomTato® (a tomato grafted onto a potato) was a curiosity this one has gone one further – Egg & Chips®, an aubergine or egg plant, grafted onto a spud.Again, it’s not completely nuts biologically; both the aubergine and potato belong to the same solanum family and fruit growers have been…

Hospital Corner

Oh dear. I totally failed my duty of care for this poor fellow this winter. He somehow got stuck in a corner of my tiny conservatory and I neglected to water him enough. Serious TLC is needed. I’ve already removed the dead leaves (there were lots) and the obviously dead twigs – anything that doesn’t…

Taking a chance on garlic

First Day – April 25th, 2016. I always plant my maincrop garlic in late September to overwinter. I’ve been growing the same variety for years – I have no idea what it is, but I understand garlic slowly adjusts itself to the soil its in, so I always save a few bulbs for planting and the…

Reflected Seedlings

This time of year every single space with any kind of light source at all in my house is taken up with trays full of seedlings. I’ve got windows, but no windowsills, so they end up being balanced on piles of books, trays across the bed, and my dining table. Sadly the light sources are…

Unwanted Volunteers

Bloomin’ heck, look at this. An invader among my lovely January King savoy cabbages. To be absolutely honest, it’s the cabbages that are the invaders, this plant was here first, but it has to go. Last season I grew International Kidney potatoes (grown as Jersey Royals in the Channel Islands) in this bed, and I…

Year-Round Events: Pea Shoots

Ever since I read the ever-excellent Naomi Schillinger’s column in Grow Your Own last year, I have been growing pea shoots. I read it after experiencing a week’s worth of  pea shoots decorating every meal I ate on holiday in Nottinghamshire (I don’t think it’s anything to do with that area of the country, just that they are…

The Maid of February…

Crime Writers! Looking for an unusual way to kill off a particularly annoying character? Perhaps a Mary-Sue, a little too pure-as-the-driven-snow to be fun? How about making them more interesting by subjecting them to… ….DEATH BY SNOWDROP. In this blog, I’ll often talk of the joys of edible flowers, but here’s one I don’t recommend. In France this feisty…

Event Number One, 2016: Forced Rhubarb

I’ve never known garden-forced rhubarb this early – 30th Jan – before, but then I’ve never known a winter so mild. I put the forcer over the burgeoning buds back in late November- normally they’re not even showing ’til January. It’s a rather lovely terracotta forcer I bought for home, but my garden faces north-east; rhubarb there…