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?

It’s National Gardening Week! Seven days, seven challenges

This week is National Gardening Week (no, it is not every week) and I’ve decided to set myself a series of mini challenges and projects because I feel like I should add to my bulging to-do list that makes me panic just to think about it. WHY NOT.

So, here are my seven mini-challenges for the week. If you’d like to join in then please do! Add a link to your blog post in the comments and I’ll edit it into this post. That’s how these blogging events work, right? Something like that.

DAY 1: Learn from another gardener. Either talk to another gardener and get some tips, or read a blog or book written by a gardener (famous ones count). Even the most experienced gardeners still have things to learn!
DAY 2: Plan a project. Get your pencils and paper out and throw together some ideas. Or you can use one of those computery design thingies (real life technical term). This can be a plan for something you’re doing this year or just an idea you have. Think small or big, it can be a container or a Capability Brown-style epic.
DAY 3: Tidy up in the garden. A good tidy up can make a world of difference. Re-edge the lawn, sweep the patio, pull some weeds, trim back any dead growth from last year. Doesn’t that look better already?
DAY 4: Sow something new. Something you have never done before! It’s always exciting to see new seedlings, but even more so when it’s something new to you.
DAY 5: Start a photo diary of your garden. Take some photos of your garden. The whole lot, or just one specific area. Then take another in midsummer, another in autumn and one in winter. You might see a way to make improvements or add colour at different times of year. Or you could just enjoy the changes in your garden.
DAY 6: Make plans to grow something useful. This could be fruit, veg or herbs (culinary or medicinal). It’s still early to sow some veg seeds but there are a few you could do, and there are lots of soft fruit bushes and herbs already in the shops. Share your plans for a more productive garden!
DAY 7: Sow or plant something for wildlife. Something that bees or butterflies will love, a tree for the birds to hide in, a shrub with berries that will provide winter food, a pond plant to provide hiding spaces for frogs- lots of possibilities!

For each day, write a blog post sharing photos, ideas and tips. Or you could do it all in one go at the end, whichever is easiest. Ready? Go!