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Do not try this recipe at home unless you’re desperate! Which is how we feel. Far from a purveyor of “pasteis de nata,” how else can we satiate our craving for these divine custard tarts? We opened with trepidation “Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa” (Portuguese Traditional Cooking), the imposing tome of vernacular recipes compiled by the legendary Maria […]

Making pasteis de nata — Salt of Portugal

Colonial Lake Just Before Dawn on a Summer Day. Kellen Goodell photo.Plantsman and author, Jenks Farmer, in his first Guest Rant, tells a story of a dream come true. How do I describe that sensation of not feeling the effects of the atmosphere? When for a moment, there’s skin and air and self and the…

Shaking Up the Center of Classic Charleston with a Wild Heart — GardenRant

Hattie’s Tatties!

My next door neighbour popped round to show me her first earlies…from seed potatoes I gave her in a pot a couple of months ago. Hattie’s Garden progresses!

Carrot harvest via vegetables matter blogspotAs the heat (hopefully) builds, July’s the time to ease off and work smarter, not harder in the garden, and actually take time to enjoy it!

1. Food, glorious food…

  • Get a bumper vegetable harvest – now’s the time to reap a lot of what you’ve sown, but there’s still time to plant extra crops – like carrots
  • Pick courgettes before they become marrows
  • Sow chard for a winter crop
  • Summer prune redcurrants and gooseberries once the crop has been picked (or do it at the same time)
  • Keep an eye on the watering and try to do this early or late in the day to avoid evaporation during hot spells
  • Keep on top of the weeding in your food crops

2. Extend your flowering season

Now we’re in July your garden maybe just past its peak, so take some action to prolong the flowering value of some plants:

  • Cut back early-flowering perennials to the ground and they will send up fresh leaves and maybe even the bonus of some extra late-summer flowers (e.g Geraniums, Nepeta)
  • Give them a boost after pruning with a good soak of water and some tomato feed
  • Exploit plants’ desperate need to set seed by removing blooms as they fade. This will encourage them to produce more flowers to replace them
  • Remember that plants in containers are dependent on you for their water as they’ll get little benefit from any rain. Give them a good soak at least once a day in sunny weather

    Early flowerign perennila slike Oriental poppies can be cut back hard to encourage new foliage and some will also flower again

    Early flowering perennials like Oriental poppies can be cut back hard to encourage new foliage – and some will also flower again.

3.   Look after your pond

  • Look out for any yellowing leaves on water lilies and other water plants and remove them promptly- allowing them to fall off and rot in the water will decrease water quality and encourage algal ‘blooms’
  • Remove blanket weed with a net or rake to let oxygen into your pond. Remember to give aquatic life a chance to get back to the water by piling the weed next to the pond for a day. Add a football-sized net of straw to your pond (you can use old tights or stockings) to reduce the nitrogen levels if  blanket weed is a continuous problem
  • Top up water levels. Water can evaporate rapidly from water features and ponds in the height of summer, so top them up if the water level drops significantly. Fresh rainwater from a water butt is best – chemicals in tap water can affect the nutrient balance in the pond

    Water the greenhouse early or late in the day

    Water the greenhouse early or late in the day

4. Stay watchful in the greenhouse

  • Check plants daily, and once again, water first thing in the morning or in the evening to reduce water loss through evaporation
  • Harden off and plant out any plug plants that you have been growing on
  • Damp down your greenhouse on hot days to increase humidity and deter red spider mites; placing a bucket or watering can of water inside can help to maintain humidity
  • Open vents and doors daily to provide adequate ventilation
  • Use blinds or apply shade paint to prevent the greenhouse from over-heating in sunny weather

    Relax (note the old pallet turned into a stylish lounger) and plan ahead...

    Relax (note the old pallet turned into a stylish lounger) and plan ahead…

5. Relax in your Deck/armchair and…

  • Order catalogues for next year’s spring-flowering bulbs
  • Order perennial plants online now ready for autumn delivery
  • Think about which bulbs you would like for next spring – now is the time to order ready for autumn planting
  • Make a note of your garden’s pros and cons at this time of year to remind you of any changes that you need to make for next year – and take photos so that you can accurately see what it looks like once things have died down
  • Have a leisurely walk around the garden and use string of different colours tied to the stems of plants you are marking out for removal, division etc.

Encourage pest predators like hoverflies by attractive plantings and think about creating winter habitats now

Encourage pest predators like hoverflies by attractive plantings and think about creating winter homes for them now

6. Strengthen your alliance with nature for pest and disease control…

  • Look after your aphid eaters – ladybirds, hoverflies and lacewings feast on greenfly and blackfly so it is worth protecting them by avoiding pesticides which will kill them as well as the pests. And why not take steps now to prepare suitable winter habitats for these and other ‘gardeners’ friends’ – e.g. bug hotels, timber piles, areas of long or rough grass or nettles etc.
  • Look for aphids on the underside of leaves – rub them off by hand or spray with an organic insecticide to prevent them multiplying
  • Keep an eye out for scarlet lily beetles on your lilies – remove and crush any you see. Also check for the sticky brown larvae on the underside of leaves
  • If your plants are wilting for no obvious reason then check for vine weevils by tipping your plants out of their pots and looking for ‘C’ shaped creamy maggots amongst the roots – treat with nematodes if vine weevils are spotted
  • Tidy up fallen leaves, flowers and compost – this will prevent potential pest and disease problems

7. Stop plants drying out

  • For recently planted large shrubs or trees, leave a hose trickling around the base for an hour. The same goes for established plants in very dry periods – pay particular attention to camellias, rhododendrons, azaleas and hydrangeas which will abort next season’s flowers if they get too dry. Mulch around the roots when moist to help avoid this.
  • Recently planted hedges are best watered with a trickle hose (a length of old hose punctured with little holes) left running for an hour or so

8. Give houseplants a summer holiday

  • Many indoor plants benefit from being placed outside for the summer. Moving many plants out of the conservatory will save them from baking under glass, and lessen some pest and disease problems, such as red spider mite
  • Ventilate and shade sunrooms and conservatories to prevent scorch damage to remaining plants
  • Water houseplants freely when in growth, and feed as necessary (often weekly or fortnightly)

9. Paint your wagon…

  • Give woodwork like sheds, fences, pergolas etc. a lick of paint or preserver, while the weather is dry

Give your shed and other garden woodwork a fresh new look when the weather's dry.

Give your shed and other garden woodwork a fresh new look when the weather’s dry

10. Gimme shelter

  • Slow down and give yourself and your plants a rest from the heat; fix temporary awnings to provide shade in the hottest part of the day – for you and your tenderest plants!

Old School Gardener

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Marigolds are great fun. They are easy to grow from seed, colourful and free flowering. A perfect introduction to gardening for children and garden novices, marigolds ask a little and give a lot. There are lots of different types of marigolds available but the key distinction is between pot marigolds (Calendula officinalis) and French and…

Plant Spotlight – Marigolds — Winterbourne House and Garden

Hello from sizzling southern Finland! Decided it was just too hot midday to continue doing yard chores. Taking a break to bring you up to speed with all that’s happening at Vanha Talo Suomi. A delightful spring was followed pretty closely with ever-increasing temperatures which are presently topping the +30c mark on the thermometer. Records […]

Sultry Southern Finland; +30c and rising! — Vanha Talo Suomi

A guest post by Carrie Spencer

A garden is a truly wonderful addition to any home. Not only will it improve your property aesthetically, but it also offers some truly amazing health benefits for you and your family. And of course, let’s not forget how much good a productive and sustainable garden can do for nature, which can be your contribution to making the world a better place to live in.

No doubt, you’re already compelled to create the best and most fruitful garden possible, but before that, get to know the essentials of this truly worthwhile pursuit.

Essential Gardening Techniques

Whether you’re just starting a garden or looking to keep one thriving and productive, you need to be well-versed in the various gardening methods.

  • When you pay attention to home gardening tips from the experts, you’ll pick up more efficient ways to do things like composting, growing herbs, planting trees, etc.
  • Mulching is definitely one technique you should familiarize yourself with as it’s arguably one the best things you can do for your garden.
  • Not all soils are created equal, so improving your garden soil is a must.
  • Timing is also crucial in gardening, so know that some gardening tasks are best done in certain months (e.g., trimming in June).

Hello, Healthy Harvests

The benefits of gardening are varied and plenty, but arguably, none are more precious than the opportunity to boost your and your family’s well-being with fresh, clean, and healthy produce straight from your toils and onto your table.

  • Growing a healthy and productive vegetable garden starts with the soil.
  • Your choice of food and vegetables to grow in your garden matters, too.
  • You also have to know the ins and outs of harvesting, such as when and how to harvest certain vegetables and fruits.
  • Finally, learn how to store your garden-fresh vegetables, so you can enjoy healthy produce all year long.

Giving Back to Mother Nature

Gardening is undoubtedly a way to be closer to the earth, but you also have to be mindful of the fact that some gardening practices do more harm than good, so you can effectively avoid them and make your gardening journey a truly sustainable one.

  • You may find that eco-friendly gardening is actually quite easy to do, as long as you know the principles of it.
  • Water conservation is quite central to sustainable gardening, and making use of organic mulching is a huge part of it.
  • It’s definitely a good idea to make use of water-saving gardening products, as well, to keep your irrigation practices in check.
  • Also explore no-dig gardening for peak sustainability, minus the back-breaking work.

Indeed, the rewards of growing your own food in your own garden are plenty and truly compelling, so you cannot be blamed at all if you’re already raring to get started.

Know that while a garden is started with sufficient research and careful planning, it’s ultimately grown with love. And when you have that in spades, you just can’t go wrong.

Photo via

Splendid Salle

We weren’t able to see the wonderful interior but the outside of this church, near us, was the starting point for a lovely Father’s Day walk.

On this date in 2017, during our second visit to New Zealand, the day began in Wanaka, where we looked out from our apartment and saw this morning mountain clad with a cloud: Later that day we reached what ended up being one of my favorite places in New Zealand: Lake Wakatipu. The shore between […]

New Zealand: February 21, 2017

National Collections are vital. Without them untold numbers of cultivars, and the skills required to grow them, would disappear every year as different trends fall in and out of favour with the gardening public and commercial growers cease production of certain plants. Here at Winterbourne, supported by Plant Heritage, we hope to save some of…

Plant spotlight – Anthemis

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