Happy bank holiday weekend/Beltane/International Workers’ Day

Three very good reasons to garden and then drink too much.

This weekend I have managed to squeeze in some allotmenting between all the parenting and dog…. ownership.

My fruit cage looked like a dumping ground, basically because I was using it as a dumping ground for all the various allotment crap like extra netting and supports.


But, I need it now for the billions of strawberry plants that were in my garden. It’s not that I need the space in the garden, it’s more that I need somewhere to grow strawberries where DiggerDog won’t eat them all. Although this is a dog that spent the morning eating sheep shit but turned her nose up at the roast potato she was offered at lunch time. There’s no telling what she will or won’t eat.


The fruit cage got tidied, got some new weed suppressant fabric around the edges and got a new raised-ish bed for my strawberry plants.



Much better!

The bad news is that I had so many strawberry plants that my spare cock-up bed at the allotment is now completely filled with strawberries.

The good news is we will have shitloads of strawberries.

Also, this has happened in my front garden this weekend:





Enjoy the long weekend!

Just when you thought it was safe to go back on the internet: Zombie slugs

I could lie and say I’ve been busy since my last post, but I’ve actually just been sitting around in my pyjamas playing Candy Crush. Sometimes I need a break. So, meh.

Anyway, I thought I’d get my shit together this week and get some jobs done. I was up early, all perky and annoying and heavily caffeinated when I came across this news article about zombie slugs taking over the country.

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while then you’ll know that due to my heavy clay soil and mild climate, I am constantly up to the eyeballs in the slimy fuckers and have basically given up trying to grow many of the things they love to eat. This news article is not really news to me; we haven’t had a cold winter for a couple of years and it’s been very wet. Ideal conditions for slugs to thrive.

I have tried various things over the years; slug traps, grit, eggshells, coffee grounds, copper tape, organic slug pellets, nematodes, napalm (OK, that one is a lie); NOTHING WORKS. The only thing that you can do if you are truly overrun is to go out every night with a torch and a bucket of boiling hot soapy water and pick them all up by hand. This way you can also leave the good guys, like leopard slugs which are cannibals.

The best of British luck to you if you’re trying to grow any lupins or hostas this year. I’m not going to bother!

More cheerful update on my allotment tomorrow.

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Seven


Hoverflies and ladybirds= garden goodies, because they eat garden baddies.

Yay, I did it! Every single challenge is complete.


Labrador shown for scale. Except she is a very small labrador so probably no help.

Day Seven’s task was to plant something for wildlife. This weekend I have been continuing the brick edging around my lawn. This bed is small and was full of weeds, but I’ve dug it over and it’s all tidied up. It’s only a very small space but my plan is to fill it with plants that are both fragrant and attractive to pollinators. Mr The Digger sits nearby in the evenings by his chimenea so I thought it would be nice to plant something that smells nice so he can drown it out with the stink of whatever the feck he is burning.


Phacelia seeds.

Anyway, I’ve got a couple of Evening Primroses (Oenothera biennis) and there was already some Cerinthe in there. Later on I will add some Night-scented Stock (Matthiola longipetala) which is well easy to grow from seed. Today I sowed some Phacelia, which I was going to use as green manure up at the allotment but with the amount of weeds up there I think it would be better to cover the soil with weed suppressant fabric over the winter. So I did some inside in my propagator (which I still spell wrong EVERY TIME, you think I would know it by now) and sprinkled some direct into the new smelly/buzzy bed.



These should appear in a week or so!


Always check you have clicked ‘publish’. Sigh.

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Six

No, I did not forget my challenge, I just didn’t scan it in time.

I’ve decided to make a proper plan of what I’m going to put in the allotment this year, so that later on I can completely ignore it, do something different, panic and then cry.

If you’re expecting something cutesy and artistic then jog on- I’d rather be digging than drawing.

Here it is! Nothing is to scale because I haven’t even measured up there, but basically it’s about right.


This will be the first year that all of plot 12 is productive (unless you eat couch grass). It’s tempting to grow one of everything but I’ve decided to stick to things we actually like. Next year I will probably just do one lot of potatoes but this year I wanted to break up the ground a little bit on the new part of the plot.

Yes, we like tomatoes. A LOT.

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Five


If only Mr The Digger had bought bigger outdoor toys for the kids.

I had a quiet day at home today after a very peopley week. I didn’t have the energy to do much so I was pretty glad that all I had to do today was take a couple of photos of my garden to start my photo diary.

So here is my back garden. Oh god, it looks like shit at the moment; with a dog and two kids I am never going to have a nice lawn, and there aren’t lots of pretty flowers to attract attention away from all the bald spots. Also there is mud everywhere because I’ve been doing the brick edging. So basically at the moment what I have is mud, some brick edging and a shitty lawn.


There is no escaping the trampoline.

But in June it will look ace! Promise!

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Four

Day Four of my National Gardening Week Challenges and today’s task is to sow something that I’ve never grown before. So here’s my pick:



I’m pretty excited about these, and not just because I think they will go really well in Pimm’s.



If you don’t know about cucamelons, these little guys are from the cucurbit family. The scientific name is Melothria scabra and they have many other common names including mouse melon and Mexican sour cucumber. The plants are climbers and produce (hopefully) tons of little fruits that look like miniature watermelons. The taste is meant to be somewhere between cucumber and lime, which leaves lots of cocktail possibilities. If I’m lucky and I manage to get a decent crop then I might spend most of August drunk.


Into my propagator they go.

Job done!

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Three


Yeah. Messy.

I am actually sticking at a thing! Today is day three and my challenge was to do a bit of tidying up in the garden.

My shady corner near the pond had a lot of dead stuff hanging around- fallen leaves from the fatsia, last year’s flower stalks from the astilbes, dead fern fronds and various other crap. But in only 5 minutes I managed to make it look loads better. I also pulled out a bit of the yellow loosestrife because it was going the wrong way.


If only tidying up my house was this easy.

It’s amazing what difference you can make in just a few minutes. If you don’t feel like you have time to do a whole garden then try splitting it into 5 minutes here and there, even while you’re having a cuppa you can get stuff done.


I should probably be embarrassed about this or something, but you know what… sometimes my garden looks like shit. But that doesn’t mean I’m not a good gardener. Sometimes life gets on top of you.

I also have this tiny bed which I’ve always neglected a bit because it’s not very big, it’s lower than the lawn so grass keeps creeping into it, and I never know what to put in there. BUT I have plans for it this year, including brick edging to keep the grass in check a bit more. So I forked it over and pulled out the grass, a load of mammoth aquilegias (which I am starting to regard as WEEDS because they are all a minging colour and come up in the wrong place), and an alchemilla from Hades.


Getting there!

TADA! Looks better, dunnit. And it only took 20 mins.

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day Two


Got everything I need right here.

It’s day two of my NGW mini-challenges and today I sat down with actual real life pencil and paper and tried to figure out how to complete my herb garden. I’m not an artist (I did art GCSE but only because I didn’t want to do PE), but fuck it, I’m not going to let that stop me. At least this way I can get a few things on paper before I start digging.

It’s been a few years since I’ve done anything major to my herb garden, and with the strawberries moving up to the allotment (DiggerDog would just eat them) and the new brick edging going in, now is the perfect time to spruce it up a bit (no actual spruce involved).

The main problem is that while the raised part had been designed with herbs in mind, the lower part is solid, soggy clay- not ideal for most of the usual culinary herbs.

So I had to think differently… I decided to go with some traditional medicinal herbs that have beautiful flowers, and that are already growing in my garden. This means that there shouldn’t be any problems with plants not liking my soil and it will be CHEAP, which is my favourite kind of gardening.


I did zero measuring. If you can read my handwriting then you are doing better than my GCSE English teacher.

*drumroll* Here it is! My plan. The parts in black are what is already there. The red things are things that are going in this year. The cucamelons I am growing from seed. They will climb up the pergola leg (those square bits). The chamomile I will grow from seed again, as I did a few years ago with pretty good results. Everything else I can just move in from various parts of the garden.

It’s going to look awesome! Or maybe rubbish. Time will tell. If it doesn’t work then there’s always next year!

National Gardening Week Challenges: Day One

OK, I totally cheated on this one because I knew I was going to gardening club to hear a talk from another gardener. So it was an easy challenge.

This month we had a talk from a local woman, Pam, who ran a nursery with her husband for ‘a lot’ of years (maybe 30+?). So I learnt a bit about the industry, which was all new to me. Doing things on a huge scale takes a hell of a lot more organisation than pottering about in my own garden. It’s not something I think I’ll ever be able to do but it was pretty mindblowing hearing about it all. It’s made me appreciate a bit more all the work that goes into those bedding plants you can buy by the bucket load- not just the growing but the breeding and developing new varieties.

Today is day two of the challenge and I’m going to catch up! This afternoon I’ll be planning an extension to my herb garden. Stayed tuned for the results of my research and crappy drawings of how it might look.

How did everyone else’s day one challenge go?