The Blog

 RSS Feed

  1. Bamboo is a popular, but you need to be sure what you buy and plant is not invasive.

    Some varieties of bamboo, called runners, are highly invasive, difficult to contain and almost impossible to kill. The other type of bamboo, called clumpers, are not invasive and much more compact.

    You cannot tell by looking at them, and not all retailers make the position clear. Check out non invasive bamboos for growing tips, ideas about which bamboos to plant  and which to avoid, and a complete list of invasive bamboos. 

    non invasive bamboo making a shady seat



  2. It may be early in the year, but already gardening thoughts are turning to seed sowing. Some seeds, noteably Chillies, need a long growing season and are often start early in the year. The problem is leggy seedlings a common problem when germinating from seed, especially early on in the year.

    Leggy seedlings are caused by uneven light. Perfect plants purchased from garden centres are germinated and grown in ideal conditions, just the right amount of heat and humidity, and critically, all round light, that is 360°. As the plant grows it gets all round light and develops a straight study stem.

    Most gardeners have less than perfect conditions and germinate seeds on window sills and warm spots in the house where the light is predominately from one side which causes the seedling to pull to the light. Combined with low light levels, as is often the case early in the year, and the seedling stretches to the light and looks "leggy", or weedy. The image below left are my tomato seedlings with just that problem.

    You can reduce the chances of the seedling becoming leggy by germinating in the bes light conditions. Also, turn the pot every couple of days so the light is not constantly  on one side of the seedling.

    But what if you have done this and still got a weedy seedling?

    The solution lies in how you pot on the seedling.  To pot on, ease the plug out of the pot from the base, and pull the seedlings apart gently (as in image two.) Avoid touching the stems which are very delicate and if damaged the plant may not recover; handle carefully and hold by the leaves.

    Select a suitable pot but not to large. It's tempting to put the seedling into a larger pot to save time. When potting on it is important to pot up only a slightly larger container. If  you put a small seedling (or any small plant ) into a large pot it will not thrive.

    When you put the seedling into the pot sink it well below soil level, you are in effect burying part of the leggy stem under the soil. Instead of potting on at soil level, reduce the amount of leggy seedling above soil, and you will find it grows on as a much better seedling it's leggy past forgotten. Images  centre and right show the same tomato seedling  after it  has been potted on with several cms of (leggy) stem below soil level. As you can see from the image the seedling looks good and this  tip works well to compensate for the problem with all types of leggy seedlings.

    More about leggy seedlings 

    The sunday gardener has over 200 pages of gardening information which you can search.

    leggy tomato seedlings leggy seedling potted up by the sunday gardener side view of leggy seedling potted up by the sunday gardener


  3. orange and dark purple tulips in flower similar-sizes-310

    It maybe mid November, but the good news is that it is not too late to plant tulips. In fact it is the ideal time as Tulips are best planted in November, even into December. 

    Tulips are best planted before the first frosts whilst the soil is still workable. One of the reason to plant tulips late is so that they enjoy a period of cold weather which helps to reduce the chance of tulip fire disease.

    Tulips are best planted in areas of the garden which are not too wet which can cause the bulbs to rot. Tulips did not originate in Netherlands, as maybe thought, but in Central Asia and Caucasus region, also Afganistan, Jordon and Kurdistan which enjoyed, broadly speaking, hot dry summers and very cold, but dry winters. 

    Lots of information about planting and growing Tulips.

    The Sunday Gardener has over 200 pages of gardening advice.

  4. honeybee on sedum 310

    We could learn from the honeybee. Researchers at UCL have evidence that honeybees increase social distancing when the hive is under threat from parasites.

    They reduce the amount of foraging dancing and grooming increases, along with distancing . Clever bees, and very interesting research from UCL. 

    It is a fascinating bit of research which involved studying the behaviour of two colonies of bees one with, and one without, the parasite threat to consider how their behaviour differed.


    Co-author Dr Alessandro Cini (UCL Centre for Biodiversity & Environment Research, UCL Biosciences) said: “Here we have provided the first evidence that honeybees modify their social interactions and how they move around their hive in response to a common parasite.

    “Honeybees are a social animal, as they benefit from dividing up responsibilities and interactions such as mutual grooming, but when those social activities can increase the risk of infection, the bees appear to have evolved to balance the risks and benefits by adopting social distancing.”

    Read more about the study.