Firstly can I please say a big “Thank you” to everyone who has read my blog and given feedback. I must say I was really worried that no one apart from my mum would read my blog so it’s really nice to hear from everyone.
In this month’s blog, I am enclosing some photos of the construction phase of the greenhouse. We have been really lucky in that so far the weather has been much the same as last year, generally between one and six degrees, with rain (sometimes heavy), South Westerly winds and hardly any frost. On the thirteenth of January we had all four seasons in the same day. Lovely spring like drizzle in the morning, warm but not quite summer sun just before lunch, followed by a sudden temperature drop and wintry sleet in the afternoon, and then a beautiful autumn sunset. Have you experienced anything like this in your area?
Up until the back end of January we only had one day when the temperature was zero degrees after nine in the morning – this was great for me as I have been able to get out on the weekends to do some gardening. I work full time in the week, and the nights aren’t quite light enough to go out when I get home. Unfortunately I have only been able to plant my Thompson & Morgan Speedy Mix Salad Leaves, in pots on the kitchen windowsill, when they germinate, they will be pricked out and moved to my old greenhouse. I have selected the tomato seeds to sow next month Gardeners Delight and Sweet Aperitif, and have I been planning what else to grow from seed. For definite I will be growing Aubergine Enorma, and some Sweet Bullhorn peppers.
I haven’t decided what flowers I will grow yet, but every year I grow dahlias and a single variety of sunflowers sharing them with my brothers for their children to grow. It’s brilliant that 2015 is year of the Sunflower. I may just have a sunflower festival in our garden and grow Italian Whites, Russian and/or Mongolian Giants and some Teddy Bears. I also like the look of the Maximilas sunflower. Has anyone had any success with this perennial?
That’s the best thing about winter gardening for me; the planning. Choosing the things I want to grow and ordering them via the catalogue or using the website or having T&M vouchers to spend in their January sales. As well as looking back on last year’s successes and failures, and watching for signs that a new season is on its way.
I ordered my new greenhouse in late November, from a reputable company online, they gave me a delivery date of the Seventh of January, as this was when they were would be delivering in our area. I was happy with this as with Christmas and everything, it was something to look forward to in the New Year. Next we visited a local building supplier to order blocks to mount the base, and a ton of 6mm dust to be delivered on the same day. Both companies kept their agreement and delivered on the day. (We won’t need the whole ton of dust for the greenhouse, but that’s the quantity it comes in so we are going to re-lay the patio area so nothing is wasted.)
Using string and broken canes, Mark then pegged out, the trench he would be digging. We decided to do this after delivery In case anything went wrong with the purchase. A few days later and he had dug the trench, and that’s when I realised the enormity of our project. I could have paid extra to have a greenhouse installation team do the hard work for us, but as Mark had erected the smaller greenhouse he was happy to do this one too. I have every faith in him as the original greenhouse stood up to ninety mile an hour winds in March last year. It twisted and bucked, but I only lost two panes of glass due to a solar light being plucked from the rose border and hurled into the air. The light hit the lower pane and the top pane slid out after it.
The block laying turned into a nightmare, due to heavy rain our clay soil was unworkable as it stuck to everything it shouldn’t. Hands, feet, spade and clothes. Also we knew our garden was on slope and totally uneven and stony but one edge (the tenth foot part of the trench) had to be dug nine inches lower than its opposite side to compensate for the gradient. Each block had to be laid, and then spirit levelled, adjusted, and then measured again. There was no point in trying to lay the blocks in a line and then measure and adjust after, as it would have got even messier. But finally on the 21st of January the block laying was complete and the base secured in position. We then let the ground settle before the next phase.
Phase two, is think ahead. Where to get topsoil for the borders of the greenhouse? I have got homemade compost and will probably buy in some extra, but if we can put in some topsoil it should improve the soil structure. A phone call to my brother and the issue is resolved. Also as mentioned in my previous blog, I hate failing, and it suddenly occurred to me, that it would be just my luck for the first time for something to go wrong with my tomato plants. I had a nightmare vision of doing a blog of the new greenhouse with nothing growing in it! Again T&M came to my rescue, as in conjunction with a well known magazine they were offering six free tomato plants for just £3.20 postage and packing, as well as cucumber plants at a reduced price. I quickly ordered them along with a different offer of a free potato kit, again just paying P&P.
Phase three, the constructing of the aluminium frame, and what happens? The weather turns. The mild drizzly days are replaced by beautiful blue skies but dropping temperatures some really hard frosts and icy winds. Mark has worked outdoors all of his life, but there was no way I wanted him to freeze for me so I just said “So long as it’s constructed by the end of March I am happy to wait. After all I have the other greenhouse and I can keep the plants in there, in pots until then. Besides, it’s too cold for seed germination just yet.”
On the Seventh of February the weather broke, ironically this would have been Dad’s 70th Birthday, to take my mind off it we decided to keep active. So after grocery shopping and lunch it was time to construct the greenhouse.
The plans looked simple enough, there were a suitable amount of images and a short note stating that anyone can be reasonably expected to build the greenhouse, so long as the instructions were followed and common sense applied. I freely admit my building skills are more destroy-it-yourself than do-it-yourself, so I volunteered to be teas maid, leaving Mark to it. I just pottered around the garden and did some chores. Mark started by moving the car from the drive and laying out each section of the greenhouse in turn. Using the guide and carefully noting the number of screws, nuts and bolts needed, he started with the back panel and moved onto the sides. Each section took about twenty to thirty minutes. He constructed the door, and then said “I’m just going to put the rubber seal around the door, and I’ll do the roof tomorrow.” The seal was fiddly so Mark used a drop of Silicone spay to help ease it on to the aluminium. It was getting too chilly for me, so I went indoors. After an hour I was beginning to wonder if there was a problem as it was now late afternoon and beginning to get dark, Mark was still outdoors, I thought that sealing the door would be simple, so I sneaked to the bedroom window and was totally shocked to see all of the greenhouse frame attached to the base and the roof completed.
Mark decided, he might as well finish the job. I am at a loss as how he could manage to put it all together on his own including the ten foot roof brace. He says he just bolted the brace to one of the short edges, leant it on an attached side panel, and then bolted the other end on. He says he also had to stand on a breeze block to reach the holes as at five foot ten he wasn’t quite tall enough. If it was me I would have needed a ladder. So we have almost finished the building, we have decided, it will be easier to mark out the borders and put in the topsoil and path inside the greenhouse before the glazing goes in, firstly because of the amount of soil we need to put in there, as it will be frustrating going in through the narrow door with the barrow, and secondly I am clumsy, and will probably end up putting the spade through the window by accident when unloading the stuff.
I am starting to get really excited as I can visualise a warm July day, collecting trugs of produce and sharing them with my family and friends. In the next few weeks I will be starting off my tomato and potato plants. I have done some early sowings of aubergines and garden peas, they are currently sitting in their pots silently splitting their shells and slowly emerging through the compost. My speedy salad mix in the kitchen germinated in four days, they are growing strongly and will soon need to be pricked out. Hopefully by this time next month the glazing will be done, the soil prepared and if I am lucky be tasting my first Mizunna lettuce.
Until then, Happy Gardening.
At Thompson & Morgan, we have been selling plants for over 20 years now, including thousands, if not millions, of fuchsias! Our customers love a good fuchsia; from the small-flowered, table top style to the glorious trailing varieties. But, for now, we’re talking about the ‘big Daddies’ of the fuchsia world; the giant-flowered trailers!
They may look fancy, exotic and drenched in colour, but the giant-flowered fuchsias are actually English-bred, and guaranteed to perform in our ever-changeable English climate! As easy to grow as any other fuchsia, they’ll feel most at home in a dappled, shady corner, so are ideal for jazzing up a front door or garage that doesn’t get the sun!
Each bloom is filled out by an extra layer or two of petals, giving flamboyance and a bloom that swells to almost 6 inches in diameter! Some of my favourite varieties include the dark, mysterious ‘Voodoo’, the playful, brightly coloured ‘Cecile’ and marbled ‘Bicentennial’. The key to more fuchsia blooms is an early pinching of your plants. But, don’t get over-zealous with this, just 2 pinches will be enough.
The blooms can be twice the size of a standard fuchsia flower such as ‘Swingtime’, and you’re sure to love them! Bear in mind you might get a few less blooms than the usual trailing fuchsias, but this is only because each bloom is bigger and they take up more space! But, I urge you to try some for yourself, giant-flowered types aren’t ready available in the garden centres, so snap some up while you can!
Couldn’t get tickets for the opening weekend of Fifty Shades of Grey? Get out in the garden instead; try our Fifty Shades of Green this season!
We now offer a range of over 300 mature shrubs and perennials for instant impact in your garden. No garden should be without hassle-free herbaceous perennials; they return each spring and require little help to put on a stunning show. Here is part 1 of our 50 shades of green series, giving you our top 25 varieties from our instant gardening range that are sure to set your pulse racing.
1. Our first shade of green is Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’! This RHS AGM variety is an attractive evergreen shrub that makes a useful addition to any garden. Euonymus fortunei ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ is a must have plants for low maintenance gardens due to its tough and versatile habit, thriving in almost any position.
2. Lavender ‘Hidcote’ is one of the nations best known varieties of English Lavender. The fragrant stems of Lavandula ‘Hidcote’ are ideal for drying and cutting. The nectar-rich flowers will also attractive bees to your garden.
3. Brunnera Macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ boasts heart-shaped, silver leaves that will brighten up any garden. ‘Jack Frost’ is a quick growing and resilient hardy perennial,that makes a fantastic ground cover plant in those tricky shady areas.
4. Mahonia aquifolium is a shade of green that offers all year round interest. Mahonia plants are the ideal choice for security planting due to their prickly habit.
5. Choisya ternanta, otherwise known as Mexican Orange Blossom, is a popular choice for the evergreen foliage. Their shiny green leaves and accompanied by white fragrant white flowers from late spring and then flowering again in late summer and autumn.
6. Veronica prostrata ‘Aztec Gold’ Ground cover so bright you’ll need sunglasses.
7. Laburnum Anagyroides looks spectacular even when it is not in flower. Long racemes and silvery pods makes this variety an ideal plant to grow over an archway.
8. New for 2015 is Weigela florida ‘Monet’. This compact shrub is perfect for smaller gardens. Soft pink flowers compliment the green foliage and makes a reliable and tough addition to your borders.
9. Sorbaria sorbifolia ‘Sem’ A compact shrub that looks superb in the middle of borders or in a pot on the patio.
10. Mint ‘Gingermint’ is a shade of green you don’t want to leave out of the herb garden. These plants are rich in nectar which will attract bees to your garden. You can grow mint in perennial borders, herb gardens and also summer containers.
11. Tradescantia ‘Bilberry Ice’ is a new selection, emphasising berry-coloured florets surrounded by green sword-like foliage.
12. Fragrant flowers should be grown in every garden. Sarcococca hookeriana var. digyna emits a powerful fragrance throughout winter and thrive in deep and partial shade. Sarcococca can be grown into a low hedge similar to Box. In fact, it is sometimes known as Sweet Box or Christmas Box.
13. Spiraea ‘Arguta’, also known as Bridal Wreath, is smoothered in white flowers which will appear each spring. An easy to grow, deciduous shrub with a fast-growing habit.
14. Cornus alba ‘Elegantissima’ adds a cool shade of green in the bleaker months. The ideal shrub to add winter colour in your garden.
15. Pleioblastus argenteostriatus f. pumilus Low-maintenance and evergreen, with deep green leaves and red-flushed canes.
16. Euonymus fortunei ‘Blondy’ boasts golden yellow and green foliage giving you a striking display. Euonymus plants will thrive in any position as this evergreen variety is durable and extremely tough.
17. Heptacodium miconioides is an unusual shade of green for the garden. But it’s exotic appearance and hardy nature makes it very appealing.
18. Cornus Canadensis A very pretty ground cover plant for using in problem areas of the garden.
19. Garrya elliptica is perfect for a sunny or shady position. It’s unique shade of green is hugely attractive and the tough foliage makes this plant an ideal addition in winter gardens.
20. Veronica prostrata ‘Aztec Gold’ is unique with golden green leaves contrasting blue flowers from the beginning of summer.
21. Festuca Glauca ‘Elijah Blue’ An easy to grow evergreen plant for patio pots, borders and rockeries.
22. Hosta undulata var. undulata. The bright green leaves have a curious, twisted growth habit which gives them a fascinating appearance.
23. Cornus Canadensis are herbaceous, and form a dense mat of oval leaves, produced in whorls on stems only 15cm (6″) in height. Plants will create a weed-beating blanket, and are good for planting beneath trees and shrubs.
24. Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Carpet’
25. Carex oshimensis ‘Evergold’ is a sun-loving ornamental grass with evergreen, slender leaves, etched in green and gold. Carex ‘Evergold’ can also be planted into shade, where it will brighten up a dark corner.
More and more people are keen to get their hands into trying home-grown fruit & veg in order to cut down the cost of their weekly shop. Combined with healthy eating campaigns such as Jamie Oliver in schools, the appetite to become more self-sufficient is higher than ever.
Growing your own fruit and veg is both satisfying and healthy. The best part is; it is a lot simpler than what you might think. You don’t even need an allotment or a big to garden to be able to grow your own. If you need a little more guidance on how to grow your own fruit and veg, we have a wide range guides to help you.
Gardening technology and innovation has also come on leaps and bounds, and this innovation has allowed us to become more savvy and smarter with our gardens. New concepts such as Raspberry ‘Ruby Beauty’® mean that you can have delicious raspberries straight from your balcony or patio without the use of invasive canes. So whether you have a huge garden or lack space, everyone can enjoy the benefits of home grown fruit and veg.
We want to know if our customers find one fruit & veg easier to grow than others and if our customers have a ‘favourite veg’. We took to our social media pages to find out. Topping the leader board for customer’s favourite vegetable is carrots!! Closely followed by; beans (runner and broad) potatoes and tomatoes.
Judith Allen on Twitter said ‘Carrots. Easy to grow and love them raw and cooked’.
Catherine Thomson on Facebook said ‘Carrots as they are so versatile and yummy’.
Are you crazy about carrots? Or do you have a different favourite veg? Then post your comment below.
There are few plant groups that are as diverse as the fuchsia. These exotic looking beauties are firm favourites for their pendant flowers in a wonderful range of colour combinations. Fuchsias may be deciduous or evergreen depending on their variety and growing conditions. They’re versatile too, growing happily in sun or semi shade. These hard working shrubs will flower virtually all summer long, filling borders, beds, window boxes, hanging baskets and patio containers – in fact, they will bring colour to almost any position that you can think of.
How to grow Fuchsias
Pot up fuchsia plug plants using a good quality, well drained compost such as John Innes No.3, and grow them on in warm, frost-free conditions. Trailing fuchsia plug plants may be planted directly into baskets, window boxes and containers. These should also be grown on in warm, frost free conditions until they are well developed.
Pinch out the growing tips of each plant while they are still small to promote bushier growth and more flowers. When all risk of frost has passed, gradually acclimatise fuchsia plants to outdoor conditions over a 7 to 10 day period, before moving them (or planting them out) in their final positions. Watch our helpful video to learn how to pinch out Fuchsia stems.
Fuchsias are very versatile and can be grown in sun or semi shade in any fertile, moist well drained soil, although they will appreciate some shade during the hottest part of the day. Choose a position that offers shelter from cold, drying winds.
When growing hardy fuchsias in the ground they are best planted so that the base of the stem is 5cm (2″) below the soil surface. This will help to protect the crown of the plant during cold winter weather.
Feeding and watering fuchsias
Water fuchsias regularly to maintain moist, but not waterlogged conditions. Fuchsias that are grown in containers will need frequent watering depending on the size of the container and weather conditions. Hanging baskets should be watered at least once a day during hot summer weather. Fuchsias that are planted directly into borders will become more self sufficient once established.
Although many fuchsia plants are naturally floriferous, it is well worth feeding them every few weeks throughout the summer, especially those grown in hanging baskets and containers. Use a soluble fertiliser such as Chempak Fuchsia Feed. Regular feeding will encourage an endless supply of flowers and frequent deadheading will also prolong the flowering period.
Hi, my name is Michelle and I was a contestant on BBC2 big allotment challenge 2014, and also BBC1 allotment wars. I have my own allotment and have done for 5 years now, the lovelies at Thompson & Morgan have asked if I would like to write an allotment blog, so I thought we would start right back at the beginning.
When applying for an allotment you need to contact your local council offices parks and gardens department. They will inform you of your nearest allotment site and availability. You can choose whether to apply online or they will send you a form in the post. Waiting times vary from site to site, I was really lucky I only waited for 4 weeks for my allotment but unfortunately for some sites people can wait for years. Sizes of plots vary massively. The traditional method of measuring an allotment is in rods, perches and poles an old measurements dating back to Anglo-Saxon times. Ten poles is the accepted size of an allotment that’s the equivalent of 250 square meters. A rod was used to control a team of oxen when working the land and measures 5.5 yards.
This translated into more modern terms as 10×5 x 5×5 as an area required to produce enough vegetables to feed a family of 4 for a year, obviously a rough guide as every site is different. I measure my allotment in ft. it works out at 120ft long and 30ft wide all this measuring fuddles my brain! Whatever space you end up with finally you always learn to maximise. When you’re weeding and digging your allotment, it always feel like you have too much space. But when you’re planting, it feels like you don’t have enough. I still remember the over excitement of receiving my letter to say plot 4b had been allocated to me, I was to meet the site rep and he will show me round. Of course I arrived on site trying to keep excitement in check. To start with I only had half a plot which is 50ft x 30ft covered in bramble 6ft high in some spots, and couch grass (a gardeners nightmare), none of that mattered to me and I couldn’t wait to get started. After much preparation I was fully equipped with a spade, fork, rake, sheers, gloves and wellies. I was ready to go to war with my plot.
This is a very small part of my allotment now, in my next post I will tell you how I went from bramble and mess to a fully productive plot.