7 wonderful ways to sow wildflowers

Wildflower meadow surrounding old bench

Wildflowers deliver colour, scent, texture and interest to gardens large and small
Image: shutterstock

Wildflowers are a colourful, low-maintenance and cost-effective way to make your garden buzz with life. Particularly attractive to pollinators, they provide important food and shelter for a wide range of bees, butterflies and insects. What’s more, perennial wildflowers usually prefer poor soil, and often perform well in tricky areas where other plants fail to thrive.

But how do you incorporate wildflowers into a modern manicured garden? What if you don’t have space for a lawn, let alone a meadow? We sent boxes of ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ wildflower mix to a dozen garden bloggers to try out. Here are 7 different ways to sow wildflower seeds in your garden, including what some of our favourite bloggers did with theirs…

1: Replace your lawn with a wildflower meadow

Wildflower meadow with a cut through path

Don’t use your lawn? Let it grow!
Image: jax10289/shutterstock

Maintaining a perfect lawn all year round can be a thankless task, so if you find that you don’t use it, why not simply let your lawn grow – adding some wildflowers into the mix for a constantly changing carpet of colour as well as a healthy ecosystem. Wildflower meadow lawns look fantastic with curving paths mowed through them. They draw your eye through the space and can be moved whenever you feel like a change.

Alexandra of The Middle Sized Garden wasn’t able to sow her T&M wildflowers this year due to adverse weather conditions, but next year she’s planning to replace the grass in her front garden with a pollinator-friendly mini meadow. Keep an eye on her blog to see how it turns out.

2: Create a wildflower border

Photo of wildflowers from The Chatty Gardener

The Chatty Gardener used her wildflower seeds to fill this empty border
Image: The Chatty Gardener

Wildflowers provide important food for insects, as well as a place to shelter and breed. But you don’t need an entire meadow to make a difference – just a small corner of a regular sized garden will have an impact. The Chatty Gardener used her box of ‘Perfect for Pollinators’ wildflower seeds to quickly fill a bare border with colour. She says:

It’s become one of my favourite areas with a mix of annuals and perennials in various shades. They provide the sort of semi-transparent planting that I like and look really good against the reclaimed brickwork… I’m seriously considering recreating it next year.

Over at Agents of Field, Sophie and Ade also used their seeds to fill a border:

They took a while to get going, but when they came good they looked great! It was a hive of activity, not only bees and bugs, but birds feeding on both the seeds and the bugs. Due to the recent hot weather, they’re now past their best but we’re very happy with the results.

3: Contain your wildflowers in a raised bed

Raised beds, hanging baskets or patio containers make a great home for wildflowers
Image: Carrot Tops Allotment

Modern gardens don’t always lend themselves to the slightly nostalgic feel of naturalised wildflowers. But if you want to contribute to your suburb’s superhighway for pollinators, don’t rule them out just yet.

Try using some geometrical raised beds, planters or containers to contrast with the frothy colour of your wildflowers. Sharp angular planters are perfect – think about painting the wooden railway sleepers of a raised bed with black paint for a contemporary and striking statement.

Over on Carrot Tops Allotment, Adam used his seeds to fill an assortment of hanging baskets and containers, which he says ‘gave a lovely show.’ Check out his blog to learn more.

4: Scatter wildflower seeds around your pond

Pete's pond with newly planted plants

Pete’s pond will soon be surrounded by scented wildflowers
Image: Weeds up to me knees

Over at Weeds Up To Me Knees, Pete spent the summer working on his pond area – an important part of any wildlife-friendly garden. Having recycled broken paving slabs to create a rockery feel, he scattered his wildflower seeds in the cracks. Pete says:


Where I’ve planted them isn’t the sunniest place in the garden, but I’m down there with a watering can daily! I have faith in them. Even though I’m not getting that much out of them at the moment, I think when we get a spot of rain in the next few days they’ll come into their own.

5: Mix them into existing schemes

Wildlflowers planted underneath a sweetpea tower

Alison underplanted her sweetpea towers to fill the space
Image: The Blackberry Garden

Any spare patches of ground, particularly under wigwam towers or around the edge of vegetable plots make great places to sprinkle a handful of wildflower seeds. A lack of rain has held back some people’s wildflowers this year – they do like a bit of water to get them going. Luckily Alison at The Blackberry Garden sowed her seeds in three different areas to find out where they’d feel most at home:

The dry May didn’t help them but they’re doing well where I’ve used them to underplant my sweetpeas. They’re still developing as they’ve been held back a bit, but now we’ve had rain I’m hopeful they’ll romp away!

6: Plant a wildflower orchard

Wildflower orchard with trees in blossom

Traditional orchards were often carpeted with wildflowers to help pollination
Image: Nicola Pulham/shutterstock

Whether you actually have fruit trees or you just want to capture the romance of an old English orchard using the regular trees in your garden, sowing drifts of wildflowers around their trunks will look gorgeous and save scrabbling around them with the lawn mower. Over at The Veg Grower Podcast, this is exactly what Richard plans to do:

My plan is to create a mini orchard in my garden with the wildflower seeds sown under the trees to create the old fashioned orchard feel. Unfortunately Covid meant I was unable to get my fruit trees in the Spring and so I’ve spent the last few months concentrating on clearing the ground and ensuring it’s weed free before planting all my trees and wildflower seeds in the autumn.

We can’t wait to see the photos of Richard’s new orchard when he gets it all planted!

7: Go rogue!

Guerilla gardening with poppies and various other wildflowers

A bit of guerilla wildflower hedgerow planting
Image: Brian Maudsley/shutterstock

Some pollinators can’t travel very far, so it’s really important that there are plenty of places for them to rest and recharge. This is even more important in towns and cities where there are fewer flowers to sustain them. One of our favourite bloggers, who shall remain anonymous, said that his garden is too small to lend itself to ‘drifts’ of wildflowers. He does, however, have another plan:

My intention is to do a bit of ‘guerilla gardening’ and sow them in a publicly-owned space near to my house…My local council often sows wildflowers in ‘spare’ bits of ground, so I don’t think they would object, though they didn’t do it this year, due to other priorities. It would be quite satisfying if I could drive past an otherwise drab area and think ‘I sowed those flowers’!

While we admire the concept of spreading the love, we obviously can’t condone spreading the actual wildflowers themselves!

Thank you to all the bloggers who kindly let us know how their wildflower seeds fared this summer and gave us a number of interesting ideas for ways to use them. If you want more information, read How to sow wildflower seeds. And if you have any wildflower success stories to share, please get in touch via Facebook or Twitter. We always love to hear from you.

8 Exotic fruits to grow in the UK

Figs in a bowl

Exotic fruit look as great as they taste!
Image source: Ekaterina Kondratova / Shutterstock

Think you can’t grow exotic fruit in the UK? Think again! Many people assume you need a heated greenhouse – but there are plenty of exotic fruit trees that will grow outdoors in our temperate climate. Bring a taste of the tropics to your garden with these easy-to-grow fruit trees. They’re self-fertile, hardy – and produce delicious fruits that can be harvested from September.

1: Pomegranate

Red pomegranates growing on a tree

Pomegranates are surprisingly hardy
Image source: grafnata / Shutterstock

Often associated with much warmer climates, pomegranates are surprisingly hardy in the UK, with some varieties able to tolerate temperatures down to -15C (5F) when grown in a sunny, sheltered position. The vibrant orange flowers last all summer, and the fruits ripen through mild autumns – ready for harvest by October and November. Enjoy the sweet-sharp fleshy fruits in desserts and savoury dishes or use the pomegranate seeds to make a fragrant juice. They’re also delicious sprinkled over a salad.

2: Fig

Fig 'Little Miss Figgy' from Thompson & Morgan

Figs can be grown on patios or courtyards
Image source: Fig ‘Little Miss Figgy’ from Thompson & Morgan

With their attractive lobed foliage, figs make a dramatic feature when fan trained against a sunny wall or grown in a container on the patio. Fig ‘Brown Turkey’ is perfect for the UK climate and produces large crops of sweet, juicy figs. Fruits develop in spring and ripen from August to September. A second crop often develops in late summer and, if protected, these fruits will ripen during the following summer.

Small garden? Why not try ‘Little Miss Figgy’ – a dwarf variety that’s perfect for growing as a specimen plant in a patio container. Restricting the root growth of fig trees encourages them to fruit, making them ideal for container growing.

3: Sharon Fruit

Sharon fruit covered in snow

Sharon fruits continue to ripen well into December
Image source: Atabek Akhmadaliev / Shutterstock

The Sharon Fruit is also known as Kaki or Persimmon. Originating from China, and totally hardy in the UK, the summer flowers give way to round, orange-yellow fruits with a unique, sugary flavour and make a lovely addition to fresh fruit salads. They continue to ripen on the branches even after the leaves have fallen! This small tree makes an attractive feature in a sheltered border, or trained against a sunny wall.

4: Orange

Small orange tree

Dwarf ‘Clamondin’ orange trees are perfect for patios.
Image source: nnattalli / Shutterstock 

Bring a taste of the Mediterranean to your patio with an orange tree! Citrus trees thrive outdoors in summer and enjoy a heated greenhouse or conservatory in winter. The small, juicy fruits of orange ‘Calamondin’ have a sharp taste at first before leaving a delicious sweet flavour in your mouth. This decorative, scented and productive plant is perfect for your patio or conservatory.

5: Lemon

Lemon tree from Thompson & Morgan

Imagine being able to pick a lemon to slice into a gin and tonic!
Image source: T&M

Lemon and lime trees can survive brief periods below zero degrees Celsius, but are best grown in large containers and moved indoors to a bright frost free position from autumn to spring. Lemon ‘Eureka’ is an excellent variety to grow in the UK, producing large, thick skinned lemons as good as those bought from a supermarket. Lemons can be harvested as they ripen and, once picked, will keep for up to two weeks.

6: Lime

Tahiti Lime from Thompson & Morgan

The Tahiti Lime produces bright green, zesty fruits throughout the year
Image source: T&M

Prefer lime in your drink? The Tahiti lime makes a stunning patio feature. Set against glossy, dark foliage, the delicate clusters of white flowers fill the air with their delicious fragrance from April to June. The fruits that follow may take up to a year to ripen but are well worth the wait. This productive tree produces seedless limes which, if left on the tree, will eventually turn yellow.

7: Apricot

Apricots growing on a tree

Home grown apricots are delicious, packed with juice and flavour.
Image source: Rostislav_Sedlacek / Shutterstock

Your own apricots taste better than anything bought in a shop. They can be grown as fans, bushes or pyramid trees – there are even dwarf varieties for a pot on the patio. Apricot ‘Flavourcot’® is a variety specially bred for the cooler UK climate, to produce huge crops of large egg sized, delicious orange-red fruits. Being late flowering, it’s also frost resistant, so you’ll always get a crop. This variety is ideal for cooking, and sweet and juicy when eaten fresh from the tree in August.

8: Banana (Musa Basjoo)

Musa basjoo by Thompson & Morgan

Small, edible fruits develop behind the flowers of this banana palm.
Image source: T&M

Musa basjoo, also known as Japanese banana palm, is the perfect addition to a tropical planting scheme – and grows to 5m (16’) tall! Once mature, it produces a display of white flowers. During hot summers, these may develop into small, edible green fruits. This is a tender palm, suitable for growing in borders in milder parts of the UK – though it will need to be protected in winter.

As with most fruit trees, you may have to have to wait a year or so before your first harvest – so the sooner you get started the better! But it’s well worth the wait. Save on the food miles, host an unforgettable dinner party – or just enjoy a home-grown slice in your G&T. 

What exotic fruit trees have you grown? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

Plan your garden for a stunning display

Swathes of bluebells, tulips and daffodils in a garden

Naturalised swathes of bluebells, tulips and daffodils herald the arrival of spring
Image: Lois GoBe

Would you love to bring your garden back to life with a joyful burst of scent and colour next spring? With a little organisation – a well-planned combination of spring bulbs, flowering shrubs, colourful perennials and instant-impact plug plants will help you replace your winter blues with some fantastic early colour.

Small garden? No problem. Here are some top tips to help you plan a spring display with real wow factor, even in the tiniest of outdoor spaces.

Planning your spring display

Spring flowering Azalea ‘Japanese Red’ from T&M

Don’t have acid soil? Plant the things you like in large containers instead.
Image: Spring flowering Azalea ‘Japanese Red’ from T&M 

The best way to start planning for the coming growing season is to begin with the plants you like. If they’ll grow in your soil – plant them. Other sources of inspiration include flower shows, gardens which are open to the public, and the parks and gardens you pass as you walk the dog or pick the kids up from school.

Think about plant colour, height, structure and density. And do remember that foliage plants, shrubs and small trees should also feature in your design, depending on how much space you have at your disposal. Consider your garden’s aspect, and the soil type you have at home.

Start with some spring architecture

Yellow forsythia plant in the winter

A bright splash of yellow forsythia is a welcome sight at the end of winter
Image: Vlad_art

Ornamental trees are architectural centrepieces for your garden – and they needn’t be big. In fact there’s a wealth of dwarf trees from which to choose, some of which are great to grow in large containers – the perfect solution for people with small gardens, patios, or even balconies.

An ornamental cherry, for example, produces a radiant display of blossom in April, followed by foliage all summer and, come the autumn, fiery red, gold, or orange leaves. Or what about a crab apple? You’ll get copious amounts of blossom from early spring plus golden fruits during the autumn which the birds will love to feast on.

Providing a welcome backdrop of evergreen foliage, Clematis urophylla ‘Winter Beauty’ flowers through the bleakest months of December, January and February to help launch your early spring display. A favourite for fences and trellises, an all season clematis collection will provide height and interest, all year round.

Shrubs are an important way to provide structure in your garden and provide shelter for tender and shade-loving plants. Choose varieties that flower during the winter and into the spring – like forsythia which produces golden blooms from February or March, followed by attractive green foliage. Alternatively, try a dense shrub like Camellia, a popular plant border mainstay offering a striking display and long-lasting flowers.

Add some spring foliage

Pieris japonica 'Debutante' from T&M

Pieris japonica ‘Debutante’ flowers from March to May
Image: Pieris japonica ‘Debutante’ from T&M

Evergreen foliage is a must for any garden because it gives you something to look at, even on the gloomiest of January days. But as the grey of winter gives way to bright and breezy spring, foliage plants really come into their own, giving your spring flowers a vibrant canvas to bloom against. Large, silvery leaves of plants like brunnera brighten up shady corners and make excellent ground cover when planted with striking architectural bulbs like spring alliums.

Try growing shrubs like Pieris japonica ‘Debutante’ in containers or borders – this hardy evergreen features pretty, ivory-white flowers from March until May. Alternatively, if you live in a milder area of the country, with its dramatic foliage, pittosporum is a great choice.

Choose a succession of spring bulbs

Crocus 'Yellow Mammoth' from T&M

Plant bulbs on masse for a striking show
Image: Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ from T&M

Spring wouldn’t be quite the same without a plentiful show of brilliant spring bulbs, but we suggest that you think about successional planting so that when one bulb finishes blooming, another is ready to take its place. Snowdrops and crocuses are among the first to flower, followed, depending on the climate where you are, by daffodils, tulips, anemones and plenty more.

Stick to a colour scheme, or mix it up – either can work well, but typically around half a dozen complementary colours creates a dazzling display for a small garden, without overdoing it. Plant your bulbs in drifts of seven to twenty bulbs so that each variety has a strong presence. Do also bear in mind the plant height – generally, it makes sense to put taller stemmed bulbs behind lower growing ones – for example tulips behind crocuses and irises.

Most spring bulbs should be planted during September and October to bloom the following spring. For a quick recap on exactly when to plant and at what depth, see how to grow bulbs, corms and tubers. When your bulbs have finished blooming, allow the flowerhead to die off completely before deadheading as this gives the plant time to reabsorb all that goodness, ready for next year.

Finish with some spring flowers

Nurseryman's Choice Pansy 'Coolwave Collection' from T&M

Pansies are perfect for hanging baskets
Image: Nurseryman’s Choice Pansy ‘Coolwave Collection’ from T&M

Finally, complete your spring display with colourful flowers like violas, pansies and primroses, all of which offer that bright seasonal spectacle you’re looking for. They’re easy to grow in pots or in the front of your borders and are a wonderful way to add instant interest.

Pansies and violas are a popular way to bring early colour to your beds, borders, pots and hanging baskets. Buy them as plug plants for quick and easy results.

Coming in pale yellows through to riotous colour, primroses are a hard working perennial that bloom for months at a time, providing continuity as your late spring and early flowers begin to show through. Sow cheerful pansy seeds during the autumn to flower next spring, or buy garden-ready plants to put straight into the soil.

A spring garden is fun to plan and plant in autumn, gives you plenty to look forward to during the depths of winter and, when the new season finally arrives, you’ll be rewarded with a kaleidoscope of spring colours and scents that will prove well worth the wait.

Advice for the new allotment holder

Allotment with full beds and plenty of veg to harvest

Make your new allotment a success
Image: T.W. van Urk

If you’re a new allotment plot holder, you may be feeling completely daunted by the large slab of ground you’ve just taken charge of. Where do you start? What should you do first? 

Here are 8 helpful tips from some of the internet’s best allotment growers…

1: Make a detailed plan 

Do you have a clear picture of how you want your allotment to look and what you want to grow? Any time you spend planning before you begin will save time later on. Over at Pumpkins and Bunting, Karen advises sketching your allotment on paper to make it feel more manageable:

Think about what you’d like to grow, watch to see how much sun the plot receives and if there are any shady areas, make a note of fixed features such as a shed, water butts, compost bins etc. I used VegPlotter to plan out my allotment, it’s free and easy to navigate using a simple drag and drop interface…

2: Create access paths

Gardener with compost in a wheelbarrow

Clear paths provide easy access to both sides of these beds
Image: ajlatan

What is the best way to divide up your plot to make growing easier? Catharine Howard suggests that you start with the paths. You’ll need to be able to reach all your produce without standing on it, and you’ll want to move easily between the beds (perhaps with a wheelbarrow) to harvest, weed and feed your crops. Catharine’s tip:

Arm yourself with the following: tape measure, twine and short canes… Visit the plot and divide it into strips 1.2m wide. Peg each strip out with twine and leave [at least] 30cm gap between each one. These gaps will become your pathways. You’ll be able to tramp up and down these to hoe and sow without treading on your vegetable beds – and 1.2m is a perfect width [for a bed so you can] reach in from either side.

3: Talk to the old boys 

If you’re drawn to allotment growing for the community aspect as much as the extra space, making friends with your fellow growers is a great way to learn. In the early days of Real Men Sow, Jono’s new neighbours were happy to share their local knowledge:

There’s every chance that the same people have been working your neighbouring plots for years. They’ll be the ones who can tell you what grows well on the site, what to avoid, and all the other tricks that will get you on your way. From my experience, allotmenteerists are a lovely bunch, and they’ll only be too happy to help. Mind you, they did let me grow my sweetcorn and not tell me about the badgers!

4: Save money by starting small

Kale growing in an allotment

Concentrate on crops that are cheap to grow and expensive to buy, like Kale
Image: Alison Hancock

Starting an allotment from scratch can require a fairly hefty initial outlay, but each year it gets cheaper to grow your own fruit and veg as you learn to become more efficient, make your own compost and save seeds. In his excellent YouTube video, How to grow vegetables cheaply, Huw Richards suggests easy ways to keep the cost down:

Choose just three of your favourite vegetables to grow in your first year. By starting slowly you wont get overwhelmed. And opt for herbs and vegetables that are expensive to buy in the shops but cheap to grow. Leafy greens like Kale, swiss Chard and perpetual spinach are a good place to start.

5: Clear your plot

If your new plot is a bit overgrown, take a few days to clear away any rubbish and tackle the weeds before you start. Over at Allotment Lifestyle, Ian uses the ‘no-dig’ system which involves adding a thick layer of compost to the surface of the ground and planting into it. Ian says:

The tool I use most is a strimmer. If your allotment is overgrown when you take it over, strim it hard to get down to the soil level. Remove the debris and lay out compost on the ground to form beds. You’ll need enough space between the beds to strim the weeds away as they emerge over the season. Two to three inches of compost is enough to get things going…

6: At one with the earth

Gardener digging compost with a spade

Improve your soil with good quality compost
Image: Isha50

Whether you decide to dig over your beds or try the no-dig method, improving your soil is one of the most important things to get right. To keep things simple for fellow newbies, Jack from Jack Wallington Garden Design has four simple tips:

  • “Don’t tread on soil you’re growing on as it will squash the air pockets out and block root growth 
  • Replenish its nutrients annually with a thick layer of peat free compost or well rotted manure
  • Watch it carefully through the year to understand how it holds water
  • Rotate crops every year, never growing the same crops (except perennials) in the same place to prevent pest and disease build up.”

7: Weed little and often

Weeding isn’t much fun, but if you start each visit to the allotment with a quick 30-minute stint, you’ll prevent weeds from getting out of control and stealing vital nutrients from your crops. Over at Pumpkins and Bunting, Karen has a polite request:

Please try to avoid using weed killer, it’s usually unnecessary and it’s harmful to bees – I’d imagine human health too! Use a hoe to weaken small weed seedlings and lift larger weeds from the soil by hand. Try to get all of the root out, doing this regularly really will pay off in the long run.

8: Keep an eye on the harvest windows

Beetroot ‘Wodan’ F1 hybrid from T&M

Crops like beetroot have a more forgiving harvest window
Image: Beetroot ‘Wodan’ F1 hybrid from T&M

Having spent time and effort getting your allotment ready to produce healthy homegrown food, it’s a real shame if your crops spoil while waiting to be harvested. Over at Jack Wallington Garden Design, Jack admits that he was so focussed on growing that he hadn’t given enough thought to harvesting, storing and cooking:

I hadn’t appreciated that many vegetables and fruit have a limited 1 – 2 day window when they are perfect for eating – very difficult when I was down there only once or twice a week. In particular raspberries, courgettes, broccoli and beans. On one Saturday they wouldn’t be ready, then the following Saturday they’d gone past their best. I’ll be hotter this year on predicting the picking days.

Best low maintenance crops for beginners

If you’re keen to start allotment growing but can’t make it to your plot every day, don’t worry, there are plenty of fruits and vegetables that can cope with less frequent attention. With just a little weeding and watering, here are some of the best low-maintenance crops to get you started:

Squash and pumpkin

Chillies

Maincrop potatoes

Rhubarb

Beetroot and Swiss chard

Carrots

Kale

Onions and garlic

Perpetual spinach 

We hope you’ve found some of these tips useful and we wish you every success with your new allotment. Don’t forget to tag us on your photos so we can follow your progress!

10 awesome allotment blogs

Check out these awesome allotmenteers
Image: shutterstock

There’s an allotment revival going on at the moment. And it’s no wonder. Growing your own helps you eat better and cheaper, get fit, and spend quality time outdoors with friends and family.

If you fancy grabbing a piece of the ‘good life’ for yourself, then have a nose through these awesome allotment blogs. With practical how-tos, delicious homegrown recipes and inspirational pictures, they’ll make an allotmenteer of you yet.

Veg Plotting

veg plotting's home grown figs

Homegrown figs queuing up to feature in Michelle’s figgy cheese tart
Image: Veg Plotting

Ever wondered if you should break the rules when it comes to bulbs or asked yourself how to deal with ‘June drop’? Michelle, the green fingers behind Veg Plotting, has all the answers. This allotmenteer and ‘subversive soprano’ from Wiltshire has been tending her plot since 2003, when her husband’s illness inspired her to grow good, honest fayre for her family.

Fifteen years on, Michelle grows pretty much everything. Veg Plotting is a wonderful mix of advice, inspiration and humour. You’ll find a wealth of tutorials and some magnificent recipes including allotment soup and figgy cheese tart.

Our Plot at Green Lane Allotments

The berries are in at Green Lane allotments!
Image: Green Lane Allotments

It all started in the ‘80s with a single plot on a West Yorkshire allotment. As growing went out of fashion and neighbouring plots became vacant and overgrown, Sue and her husband took another plot, then another, and so on, until they ended up with five!

Sue is now the oracle on all things allotment-based. She generously shares growing techniques and top tips with her readership; such as why you should always leave slug-nibbled berries on the plant. Plus there are garden sudokus for rainy days and ‘young seedlings’ ideas to get the children hooked on growing.

Flighty’s plot

Flighty is pleased as Punch with his Polka Dot cornflowers
Image: Flighty’s Plot

Flighty’s Plot is tended by Mike: ‘allotmenteer, armchair gardener, blogger and sofa flyer’. Mike took over his allotment in 2007 and instantly fell in love with growing, getting to know the local wildlife and regular chat with fellow plot holders. Indeed, reading Flighty’s Plot feels a lot like chatting to an old friend.

Let Mike keep you up to date with the progress of this season’s crops and his close encounters with Foxy. When he’s not tending his allotment, Mike can be found on the sofa with a good book and a nice cup of tea. Our kind of chap.

Living on one acre or less

Photo of Udo from Living on one acre or less

Sally’s blog is the place to go for unusual produce
Image: Living on one acre or less

You don’t see udo very often in the UK,” says Sally Morgan. This huge Asian ‘vegetable’ is strikingly ornamental and has medicinal properties. If you’re fascinated by unusual produce or dream of living the good life on a modestly-sized smallholding, Sally Morgan’s blog, Living on one acre or less, is a brilliant resource.

Looking for organic crops to sow and harvest in 60 days? Sally has the ideal way to get your plot off to a flying start. Whether it’s “no-dig”, peat-free or “deep mulching,” she generously shares her own successes and failures along with plenty of tips. Sally writes about what she’s growing, the animals she keeps and different techniques to try. And with a Natural Sciences degree from Cambridge, it’s no surprise that Sally likes to experiment with different methods.

Agents of Field

agents of field's jam

Follow these beauties as they journey from allotment to breakfast table
Image: Agents of Field

Sophie and Ade are the Agents of Field and their mission is to save the Earth ‘one forkful at a time’. Their superpowers are sustainability, thriftiness and some very green fingers. And with twenty years of film and TV production between them, their blog is bursting with beautiful images and witty words.

So dive in and let horticulturalist Ade show you how to battle aphid invasions and upcycle just about any old rubbish into vital equipment for the allotment. Then settle down and discover how chef Sophie transforms both crops and weeds into mouthwatering meals. Nettle pesto, anyone?

Sharpen Your Spades

peas from sharpen your spades

Richard’s Blauwschokker peas are thriving in his no-dig allotment 
Image: Sharpen Your Spades

Richard Chivers is the man behind Sharpen Your Spades. His early growing career was a tempestuous one as he hurtled from one short-lived allotment fling to the next. But in 2015 he settled down with the plot of his life and hasn’t looked back since.

In his blog you’ll find a wealth of goodies from an allotment diary – a record of the frustrations and successes of organic growing – to comprehensive growing guides. Having sharpened his spade in the past, Richard has recently hung it up in favour of the no-dig gardening technique. Intriguing, huh?

The Event Gardener

Freshly harvested asparagus

Sandra enjoys growing tasty & more unusual varieties in her garden
Image: The Event Gardener

Every gardener nurtures their crops, but The Event Gardener’s Sandra Lawrence takes this to another level. Less concerned with high yield than taste and quality, Sandra delights in cultivating varieties that are expensive or hard to find in shops. Each crop’s arrival is celebrated with special meals, parties with friends, and new recipes.

How many packets of seeds do you have that you meant to sow but just didn’t get around to? Sandra’s top tip for finding out if they’re viable is to test on a dinner plate with some kitchen roll, clingfilm, moisture and a little patience. And if fruit trees hold more interest than veg seeds for you, Sandra has some top advice on how to transform the humble apple into the main event.

Sally Nex

Sally’s blog is full of tried-and-tested advice for gardeners
Image: Sally Nex

With over 20-years experience of vegetable growing, Sally Nex is a garden writer and the green fingers behind this recently restarted blog. Her own 250 square metre plot feeds her family all year round, and she loves experimenting with new crops as well as heritage varieties.

Sally’s simple vegetable plot tips for complete beginners will set you up for success. She’s also a keen advocate of gardening without plastic, and shares some great ideas about different alternatives, such as the pros and cons of wooden seed trays. Of course, you’ll need compost, too – ‘how to make a compost bin‘ is a fantastic guide to making the only system you’ll ever need – from scratch!

Horticultural ‘obbit

gooseberries from the horticultural hobbit

These gooseberries will soon be simmering with ginger, turmeric and spices
Image: Horticultural Hobbit

‘You won’t find romance here,’ warns Punam Farmah, psychology teacher, adventurous allotmenteer and writer of the Horticultural ‘obbit. This honest blog documents the natural experiments – some successful, others not – conducted on Punam’s allotment in Birmingham.

Discover how she transformed the jungle that was Plot 2a into a treasure-trove of taste (it took two weeks and 48 full green waste bags) and follow her delicious tutorials to create delights such as gooseberry pickle.

Grow Like Grandad

eggshells don't deter snails

It’s official: eggshells do NOT deter snails
Image: Grow Like Grandad

The granddads Matt Peskett wants to emulate are his very own – Grandad Jack and Great-Grandad George, both head gardeners in their time. And it’s thanks to Grandad Jack that our blogger got his first taste for growing.

Grow Like Grandad is full of expert information on allotmenteering, from how to grow giant pumpkins to a comprehensive guide to tackling your first allotment. It’s beautifully written and there’s always something to make you smile. The Snail Barrier Performance Trial (time-lapse video) is not to be missed.

We hope these wonderful blogs have inspired you to get growing or even to start your own allotment blog. And if you write about growing we’d love to hear from you. Visit our Facebook page and share a link to your gardening adventures.

 

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