On balmy summer evenings, there’s nothing better than a night-scented plant to perfume the warm, still air. The flowers are usually pale so they remain visible at dusk, making them particularly valuable for those who are away from their gardens during the day.
The colour and fragrance of evening-scented flowers attract nocturnal pollinators which, in turn, attract bats. Wonderful for wildlife, and diverse in size and form, evening-scented plants suit a range of gardening styles and budgets. They can be grown in a small pot to sit on an outdoor table or doorstep, or used to fragrance the grandest of terraces.
Home-made compost is a winner on so many levels; little wonder few serious gardeners would be without a heap. The perfect way to get the best out of your plants by improving the soil, compost makes use of otherwise waste material and it’s cheap to get started. The best news? It’s really easy to make – here’s how…
As the summer fades into autumn and the weather gets colder, it’s tempting to pack up the vegetable garden and retreat indoors. But this means missing out on a range of crops that you can harvest over winter, or that give you a great head start on next season.
Some vegetable plants need a spell of cold to be at their best, while others can be tricked into thinking that temperatures are higher by putting them into a greenhouse or cold frame.
There’s so much to do by the time spring arrives that it makes sense get ahead at a quieter time of year. And there’s nothing better than the sight of some full veg beds to lift the gloom of midwinter. Here are just some of the vegetables I’ll be growing this autumn…
Harvesting crops is a double-edged endeavour. While we have the wonderful sense of satisfaction that comes with growing our own fruit and vegetables, the very act of harvesting it can leave us with a gaping hole in our planting. This is when catch cropping comes into its own, because we can turn that gap into an opportunity to grow something else delicious to eat.
The best catch crops are either fast-maturing or winter hardy. Crops that mature quickly, such as kohlrabi, radish and salad leaves, provide us with a harvest within weeks. Winter hardy crops stay in the ground and help to bridge the hungry gap in spring before the next main crop in our rotation needs the space. Catch crops maximise yields while covering the soil and helping to suppress weeds.
It can be hard to leave your garden to go on a summer holiday when watering, deadheading and veg harvesting are daily jobs. There’s the worry that hanging basket plants will die, courgettes will turn into marrows and you’ll return to flower borders full of seed heads.
Finding a friend or neighbour – preferably another gardener – to take care of your plot is the ideal answer, but it’s not always possible. Here are some practical ideas for holiday-proofing your garden to make sure you both survive the separation!