Gardening Resolutions

It’s that time of year where we start to make commitments to join the gym, stop smoking, or to tick something else off our bucket list. But, what we want to know are your gardening New Year resolutions 2016. Is there anything you did wrong last year that you will not repeat this year? Do you want to try growing something in particular or do you want to become more self-sufficient and grow your own produce?

We asked the Thompson & Morgan staff theirs;

gardening new years resolution ‘I want to grow some rainbow vegetables, and check out some new flavours and maybe even devise some new recipes.. Imagine purple carrot cake!!’ – Michael Perry


gardening new years resolution ‘My new year’s resolution is to grow more vegetables! Last year I only grew tomatoes, but next year I want to grow cucumbers, salad leaves, and maybe even some chilli peppers in containers on my balcony.’ – Andrew Morley – Online Merchandising Manager



gardening new years resolution ‘I really must revamp my pond in 2016. The frogs love it but the Water Iris (Iris pseudoacorus) has taken over and now you can barely see the pond! I just need to time it right in order to minimise the disturbance to my frogs – late summer might be best. I’m also planning to lift and divide the tired perennials in my borders and give them a really good mulch in the spring’ – Sue Sanderson, Horticulturist


gardening new years resolution ‘My resolution is to add some wildlife friendly plants in my garden. I love seeing bees and butterflies, so adding some bee and butterfly friendly plants into my garden such as Buddleja ‘Buzz’™, lavender and verbena would be perfect’ – Holly, Online Development Manager.



‘Trying not to kill anything this year… I would love to be more self-sufficient and be able to cook a whole meal from all things grown by myself. Maybe a Vegetable Ragu with home-made dough bread’ – Natalie, Customer Care

Do you have any?

Sowing and growing in December

Some may think that as the months get cooler there really isn’t much that can be done in the garden. The ground becomes frozen and unworkable, so nothing can be sown, and without Arctic clothing you really don’t want to spend too much time in the garden. You’d be surprised as to how much you can actually do in the winter months, even from the comfort of your chair. So here is my round up;

What to plant in December

Our seasonal list of flowers, fruit, vegetables and seeds can be ordered now for sowing, growing and harvesting over the coming months!


Laurentia ‘Avant-Garde Blue’ F1 Hybrid

Firstly, if you have a cool greenhouse, I am envious! It is actually quite difficult to over winter and get started on spring sowings when you don’t have a greenhouse, so make the most of it. Start sowing Antirrhinums (also known as snapdragons) and Laurentia now for early flowering in the summer. They will look stunning in borders and containers. You can also sow winter hardy salad leaves such as lettuce ‘Winter Gem’ under cover. If you are growing in the greenhouse keep your eyes peeled for aphids over-wintering on your plants, if you spot any simply remove them by hand.

December is also the ideal time to plant your bare root fruit trees. Raspberry canes and Blackberries can be planted any time between now and the spring, but for a delicious strawberry crop in summer, strawberry plants need to be planted now

Broad bean 'Aquadulce Claudia'

Broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’

For an early harvest next spring, direct sow Broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’, as long as the ground is not frozen. This RHS Award of Garden Merit, customer favourite variety is the best broad bean for autumn sowing and overwintering on the plot outside.

For winter interest plant winter flowering shrubs such as Sarcoccoca confusa to add both colour and fragrance to your garden at this time of year.


December garden maintenance


There is always something to do throughout the year to keep your garden in great shape. From pruning to tidying, every little helps to keep your displays look wonderful all year round. Start pruning wisteria, climbing roses and Acers if needed, and remove and diseased or damaged growth to encourage new shoots. Don’t be tempted to prune your hydrangeas just yet as they will provide frost protection for new buds further down, prune in spring.

Perfect for staying warm, there are plenty of tasks to do from the comfort of your chair such as preparing your vegetable garden for next year. This will ensure a good crop rotation and avoid any gluts. Begin thinking about this year’s garden and what worked well for you. You can start preparing an order list for next year, and these might also provide Christmas gift ideas.

Finally, order your apple trees now for planting in early spring. If space is limited in your garden try growing dwarf fruit trees.

Veg in the Park

We ran an allotment completion this year so that we could see what you make of your allotments and why they mean so much to you. Our winning entry was from Caroline Lawson from Veg in the Park, who told us all about their community growing up;

veg in the park

V.I.P ( Veg In the Park ) is a community growing hub for all residents across East Oldham, we don’t say allotments as this indicates it’s their own, and everything we grow we share, sell and all money will be reinvested back into V.I.P

veg in the park

We are a very new growing hub as we only opened in July of this year, our age range is from 3 to 95, and we all benefit from each other.

veg in the park

The growing hub was an idea that me and a friend came up with as we realised not all kids knew where veg came from and had never even touched or tasted some vegetables. The hub site was funded by public health and our local councillors, but we opened with no money in the bank and limited tool. With friends, we grew some of the veg in our own gardens throughout the year so when the hub was opened we could transplant what we had grown. We have 3 local primary schools wanting to have their garden clubs with us now, and we have given each school a flat bed that they can grow and produce whatever they want , they will be taking over their beds soon.

veg in the park

We also want to help the older folk as well as most are in bad health and even though they have gardening skills, they can no longer manage their allotments, but can come and help us. We have 18 raised beds of various heights so no bending down to ground levels, and we get expert advice from people who have gardening skills.

veg in the park

We also have a 50 foot polytunnel, so we are not lacking in space! Our site is all about growing from seed to plate, and we tell everyone the one rule we have is to have fun, It also helps with health & well being.

A very worthy winner!

Garden furniture for winter interest

What would our gardens be without garden furniture? Now, I can already pre-empt your response and it would still be a truly stunning place to admire. Winter pansies flourishing in window boxes, hardy shrubs such as Viburnum ‘Winter Beauty’ will be adding winter interest to your garden borders and not forgetting rummaging hedgehogs looking for a warm and dry place to rest. Delightful!

But, (there is always a but) garden furniture adds a real focal point in any garden, big or small. And whilst you are right in thinking of summer bbqs, water feature, gazebos and lawnmowers, there are many alternative pieces that you can use in your garden to enjoy over winter too.

Garden furniture

Chimeneas – Garden chimeneas come in handy when entertaining friends and family in the cold and crisp evenings. Our online range are also easy on the eye, no one wants an eye-sore in their garden!

Garden furniture

Patio heaters – It really would be a shame if you could only enjoy your gardens in the summer months. After months of planting, sowing and pruning you should be able to enjoy your garden all year round. For when the evenings are a little cooler and frosty, a patio heater will help take the chill off so you can enjoy those evenings in your garden a little longer.

Garden furniture

Fire pits – Fire pits and braziers are not only modern and idyllic focal points, they will take the chill off winter evenings so you are able to enjoy your gardens at anytime!

Garden furniture

Bird tables – Attract birds and wildlife to your garden with one of our beautiful bird baths and bird feeder. Make sure you position your bird bath in a safe location and in sight so it can easily be found.

Garden furniture

Garden arbour seats – A stunning piece of garden furniture for withstanding the elements of British weather. Arbour seats create an idyllic place to rest in evenings, or daytime, with a good book in hand and perfectly brewed cup of tea (Now, where do I buy one!)

Garden furniture

Benches – Garden benches are a convenient and stylish way to add seating to your garden or patio. The Royal Garden Stacking Bench will be just what you need for whiling away the hours in outdoor comfort. Made from Steel, this bench will also resist the affects of winter weather.

Garden furniture

Awnings – Garden awnings are a great way to extend your home into the garden, whatever the weather. Easy to assemble and fit, they are perfect for providing shade or cover for the odd summer shower.

Growing Mushrooms

growing mushrooms

Mushroom ‘Oyster’

Mushroom growing may seem complicated but our mushroom dowels, mushroom spawn and complete mushroom growing kits all provide full instructions and everything you will need to grow your own mushrooms at home. Mushrooms are virtually fat and calorie-free and packed full of vitamins and minerals to keep you feeling on top form – an 80g serving even counts towards your 5-a-day vegetable target. They are a very rich source of protein and therefore perfect for vegetarians.

Remember – it’s better to grow your own, than to risk picking wild mushrooms!

What is a mushroom dowel?

We supply our Oyster mushrooms, Shiitake mushrooms and Lion’s mane mushrooms as dowels. The wooden dowels are impregnated with mushroom mycelium (mushroom spawn) ready to ‘plant’ into a hardwood log. They should be stored in the fridge or a cool, dark, well ventilated place until ready to use.

growing mushrooms

Full Mushroom ‘Oyster’ straw kit

When do you plant mushroom dowels?

Dowels are available all year, however the logs needed to grow the mushrooms should be cut during the tree’s dormant season, between leaf fall in autumn and early spring. It is recommended that the dowels are planted in the log no longer than 6 weeks after the log has been cut to prevent contamination from unwanted fungi.

How do you plant mushroom dowels?

Drill holes about 15cm (6 inches) apart down the length of the log. Rows only need to be spaced 7.5cm (3 inches) apart around the diameter of the log. Insert the dowels and tap them so they are flush with the log surface. Seal the inoculation holes, any damaged bark and any cut branch-ends with a layer of wax but do not wax the log-ends as some moisture must be allowed in. Position the logs in a shady wooded area or wrap them in black polythene and bury them under ground. You could also place them under evergreen shrubs. Keep an eye on your logs and if there are signs of significant cracking soak the logs in water for 2 days to thoroughly wet the bark. Mushroom mycelium may take between 6 and 18 months to colonise a log. You may see the mycelium appear as a ‘V’ shape at the end of the log. Once logs are fully colonised they can be moved to a warm, sheltered, moist area in dappled shade where they will begin to fruit. Growing mushrooms in woodland is ideal to meet these requirements. Lean the logs with one end on a brick, rock or another log – do not place logs flat on the ground.

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