Home Grown Tomatoes


One of the main reasons for the increase in gardening activity at our house was to grow our own fruit and vegetables.  As mentioned previously, we have 4 raised beds that have been neglected for a few years now and so it makes sense to restore and use them.  They are in an ideal spot in the garden where the ground is relatively level.


Jack’s Top Ten Beginners’ Tools for Gardening

  1. Watering Can – there is something satisfying about watering  plants from a watering can. My favourite is an old fashioned aluminium one with a long spout. Ideally the water should be sourced from a water butt in order to recycle the rain, but obviously that’s not always possible. As far as I know new plants should always be well watered when first planted
  2. Secateurs – the tool I use most in the garden. Cutting back, dead-heading, opening bags of compost. I’ve got a cheap plastic handled one which is fine for now. Don’t leave them out in the rain though…..
  3. Gloves – brambles hurt whether you have gloves on or not, but they’ll save you from the smaller scratches and scrapes. I also find them invaluable when digging as they stop the blisters which can be a real pain. I tend to buy cheap ones regularly as I either rip them or lose them – for some reason I have several singles of the right hand which aren’t much use. In my limited experience the more expensive gloves don’t wear any better.
  4. Fork – me and forks generally don’t get on. I must have broken 3 so far – 2 on the shaft and one now has 2 prongs (the pointy bit) rather than 4. I now have a stainless steel and timber one which was a bit more expensive that the plastic ones and is still in one piece
  5. Spade – again stainless is best as it won’t rust. In an ideal world spades and forks should be washed and dried after each days use. However, its not an ideal world.
  6. Trowel – this is a garden trowel rather than a builders trowel which is completely different. To be fair I have planted using a builders trowel but I was desperate. I have a cheap plastic handled item which is ok.  You don’t put much force through them so they’ll rust before they break. Unless you clean and dry them of course.
  7. Trowel Fork – its the size of the trowel but has prongs like a fork. Really useful if you need to break up some soil before digging a hole with the trowel. Same rules apply
  8. Trug – very useful for filling with cuttings / weeds. Different sizes are available and the first thing to go will be the handle – eventually the sunshine turns the plastic brittle so they snap. They’re a bit more structured than a bag so you can just throw weeds into them without missing and clearing up the ensuing mess.
  9. Hoe – these are good for light weeding if the weed roots are at the surface of the soil.  And using them is a lot less back breaking then pulling them up by hand. Simply work over the surface of the soil, pile up the weeds and then throw them in the trugg.
  10. Wheelbarrow – now I have one of those romantic notions about using a wooden wheelbarrow to cart the new plants around in, but it’s never going to happen. My advice would be to have a plastic container bit and metal chassis, which now seem so be all the rage. It will rot after about ten years unless you keep it indoors, and few of us have enough space for that !

Health and Safety – recently I have become more aware of the importance of H&S when working in the outdoors so please assess the area that you are going to be working in and the tools that you are using. Then imagine with worst thing that could happen and try and mitigate that risk. At the end of the day its not worth doing something that is going to cause injury or worse that means that you won’t be back in the garden for a while

Gardening for Beginners

Five years ago our lives were very different.  My wife and I were both commuting for at least 2 hours a day whilst using a childminder to look after our young family. We were on a treadmill of long days and early mornings without a great quality of life.  Something had to break and unfortunately that was me.  From that point we decided to work our way to a different kind of life and now here we are on the Isle of Wight. We have opted to try and simplify our lifestyle.


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