Easy veg: Beans

Beans are well worth growing and are generally quite easy. There are three main types of bean that we can grow at home: broad beans, runner beans and French beans. These are completely different species and need different treatment but all grow best in moist, rich soil, ideally that is slightly alkaline and not too…

Easy veg: Lettuce

It is May and summer is coming! Think of summer meals and we think of salads. And salads mean lettuce. Although a wide variety of leaves are used in other countries, and we are getting more adventurous, lettuce is still the mainstay of the average salad. And lettuce is not difficult to grow. The great…

The wonder of rhodos

Now is the season for rhododendrons. There may have been a few in bloom earlier in the season but they are now at their peak, perhaps a little later than usual because of the cool spring. When I lived in Oxted, at the foot of the Downs, I could only dream of growing rhododendrons, even…

Bees and butterflies

The cold spring, now wet and windy, has been tough for bees and butterflies. I am sure I have seen far fewer bees than usual and, despite the apple trees being covered in flowers, I have not seen a single bee on them. A few plants have been attracting bumblebees, especially the pulmonarias which have…

Sow some veg

We have endured a cold, dry April that was terrible for sowing seeds outside and now we are in May we have the sort of softer days and showers we would have expected last month. The good news is that, with less cold nights and plenty of moisture in the soil, it is perfect for…

Summer bedding

It has been a long, cool spring and we are still not out of the woods yet, with cold nights still a possibility. Spring flowers have lasted well but it is time to think about pulling up spring bedding and replacing it with summer flowers. Most summer bedding plants, including petunias, pelargoniums, fuchsias and busy…

Squeeze in some squash

Maybe I am still a child at heart but I find winter squash the most exciting of all vegetables, to grow and harvest. Squash can be a bit confusing but summer squash and winter squash are treated the same way but summer squash are eaten in summer, when the fruits are immature and winter squash…

June means box and fruit

Here in Ireland, restricted movement means travelling no further than 5km though the UK has looser restrictions. Fortunately, despite my isolated location, the nearest business is a strawberry farm, 1km away, and Wexford is known throughout the country for its strawberries. The recent hot weather has been perfect for early fruit in tunnels to ripen…

The trouble with hostas

Hostas should be in their freshest, finest livery right now. Nothing is quite as beautiful as a mature clump of beautiful hosta foliage. Of course there is a problem and I deliberately didn’t show it in the photo above. It is a shame that I can never write about hostas for long without having to…

Roses need a little TLC

I can’t imagine a garden without roses. Whenever I say or write that I find I have to spend the next five minutes or 300 words justifying myself. People have such strong views on them. I know all about the problems with diseases, the aphids, the prickles. But I counter that with the fact that…