Growing Our Own

This time last year we were in a bit of a tizzy as we had just had Lulu and every minute was taken up with our new bundle. We just about managed to throw a few seed potatoes and onion sets into our veg patch and not a lot else. Whilst family life is still our central focus we have managed to spend a bit more time in the garden already this year and started to get Lulu used to horticultural life. This weekend we managed to get all of our veg sown, and miracle of miracles it happened the same weekend as Monty sowed his on Gardeners’ World. (1). So here’s what we are looking forward to from our modest veg patch this year as we are growing our own…

Lulu shows she's willing to muck in and help

Lulu shows she’s willing to muck in and help

 

  1. Potatoes: Last year we grew “Maris Peer” potatoes for the first time and we really loved their waxy texture and nutty taste. Perfect for boiling. So this year we stuck with what we love and gone with that again.
  2. Onions: Nothing out of the ordinary here. “Sturon” as our white onion, Red Barons for our erm, red onion (!) and “Golden Gourmet” shallots.
  3. Salad Leaves. Just a general packet of “Cut n Come Again”. We have left space for sowing another row in a few weeks too for some extra summer salads.
  4. Wild Rocket. A lovely addition to the above in our salads, over pizzas, stirred into pastas etc.
  5. Radish “French Breakfast”. Think we’ll leave the French to have these for breakfast but we will certainly enjoy them in salads. And they grow so quick! We have left space for succession planting on these too.
  6. Spinach “Bordeaux”. We’ll use this in both salads and cooked.
  7. Sweetcorn “Sweet F1”. We have never successfully grown sweetcorn before so this will be an interesting experiment for us.
  8. Squash “Sunburst F1”. Another first for us so watch this space.
  9. Turnip “Purple Top Milan”. We lovely the sweetness of baby turnips.
  10. Beetroot “Boltardy”. A staple in the Burt household. Great for both cooking and pickling (2)
  11. Leek “Musselburgh”. We love leeks for both soups and general cooking.
  12. Spring Onion “White Lisbon”. Another great addition to salads.
  13. Parsnip “Palace F1”. Another newbie for us. We we were running out of space so we have planted a few seeds in a pot to see what will come of it.
  14. Pea “Ambassador”. A firm favourite and although we will get limited crops as they have just been planted into a couple of troughs we will enjoy what we do get.
Our newly sown veg beds

Our newly sown veg beds

In addition to this weekend’s work, we have cherry tomato seedlings on our kitchen counter, gooseberry (3.) and raspberry plants (4.) already in place in the raised beds and some courgette and black kale plants being nurtured for us at a friend’s house. There’s also goodies tucked into the borders such as chives, fennel and rhubarb. So, hopefully in a few months our garden will be heaving with the weight of tasty fruit and veg. Wonderful! Just need to go sort out our herbs now. (5.)

Thanks for reading.

All at Vialii 

If you need advice on planting veg or are interested in incorporating a “Grow Your Own” area into your garden please get in touch.

1. Only really because Monty, like the rest of country, was delayed by the awful Spring weather rather than us being organised but we will take it anyway! It will NEVER happen again!

2. Add a few of the shallots into the jar and a few peppercorns when pickling.

3. The gooseberry bush was a gift from our lovely neighbour who was getting rid of it.

4. We are hoping to get a decent crop of raspberries as Lulu LOVES them and is eating us out of house and home!

5.Our existing herbs are looking old and tired, a bit like the pots they live in. So our plan is to build some new pots from old pallets we have at our yard. Watch this space for a future blog on this subject…

Do You Do Room Service?

Everyone likes a nice, comfy home and bugs are no different from the rest of us. Many are happy to set up home under a pile of leaves or logs. But why not go a step further and create your own bug version of Gleneagles in your very own back garden with a 5 Star Bug Hotel? Here’s how to make a bug hotel…

A stunning bug hotel from the Chelsea Flower Show

A stunning bug hotel from the Chelsea Flower Show

Many of us like to have a neat and tidy garden and by doing so we often eradicate the natural habitats bugs can call home. Or in a new garden with lots of hard landscaping and container planting there may be limited places for invertebrates to set up home. Bug hotels are purpose built structures which can be as simple or grand as you like.

A bug hotel on Seil Island with a green roof

A bug hotel on Seil Island with a green roof

Designing A Bug Hotel

The first rule of creating a bug hotel is to incorporate a variety of materials and different shapes and sizes of nooks and crannies. Different bugs have different requirements so in order to be diverse and encourage as much wildlife as possible into your garden make sure you use a wide array of materials.  Offer everything from single rooms up to penthouse suites with a spa thrown in for good measure!

[[image:blog/blog-roomservice-3.jpg=A stunning bug hotel from the Chelsea Flower Show using lots of different materials]]

If you can, do a rough design of what you want your bug hotel to look like. Most bug hotels are made from reclaimed material thus making them cheap and easy to build as well as good for the environment. You could use some old pallets which are easy to get hold of to create the different layers of your bug hotel. Or if you are feeling adventurous you could create a real focal point in your garden by building a tower similar to the fantastic work of art at the Chelsea Flower Show a few years ago.

Building A Bug Hotel

Building a bug hotel is a wonderful project to build with children and you can encourage them to collect the materials you are going to use. Many of these you will have lying around the house and you can ask friends and family to donate to your hotel. Ideal materials include:

Pack the various materials into different sections of your “hotel” and soon you will have created a home which looks interesting and will have wide appeal.

A pallet incorporating a bug hotel at RHS Cardiff Show

A pallet incorporating a bug hotel at RHS Cardiff Show

Bug Central

So what sort of bugs might pack their bags and move into their new home? Well , common sights include mason bees, woodlice, ladybirds, spiders, beetles and centipedes. By encouraging these bugs into your garden they will help you combat the pests which eat your plants and ruin your grass. Great guests to have and ones which always be welcome back! Wonder if you get Trip Advisor for beetles…

Lots of bamboo canes make an ideal home

Lots of bamboo canes make an ideal home

If you want advice on building a bug hotel or other ways of turning your garden into a haven for wildlife please get in touch.

For more information on making your own bug hotel please visit our blogs Make Your Own Bug Hotel and How To Make A Bug Hotel.

All at Vialii

Transformers – Gardens in Disguise! Part 1

We love pretty much all aspects of running our own gardening business. Even doing the admin is enjoyable as it can give us an excuse to hide indoors with a cuppa and a cat on our knee on a rainy day! But one of our favourite things about being both garden designers and landscapers is that we get to see the transformations through from beginning to end and we LOVE seeing the end result and how much the garden has changed from the sad space we first visited. So here is the first in our series of blogs on some of our favourite garden transformations…

A Garden for Entertaining, Bridge of Allan

Before: an ugly garage wall needed to be disguised as well as the rest of the garden being overhauled.

Before: an ugly garage wall and monoblocked patio

Before: an ugly garage wall and monoblocked patio

After: we used square-profile timbers to clad the back of this garage and instantly create a modern, stylish screen. A new patio as well as a deck with bespoke seating created different areas for entertaining.

After: a stylish screen provides a lovely backdrop to the new patio

After: a stylish screen provides a lovely backdrop to the new patio

A Japanese Garden, Bannockburn

Before: the garden had poor access and few redeemable features.

Before: the garden desperately needed a makeover

Before: the garden desperately needed a makeover

After: we transformed the garden into an oriental paradise complete with water feature and bespoke pergola.

After: a tranquil Japanese garden packed with interest

After: a tranquil Japanese garden packed with interest

A Low Maintenance Garden, Stirling

Before: a waterlogged lawn and no seating areas meant this garden was rarely used.

Before: the garden was boggy and lacked interest

Before: the garden was boggy and lacked interest

After: beautiful sandstone was used in both the patio and the troughs which incorporate extra seating and soft planting. The lawn was raised and a gravel finish keeps the garden low maintenance.

After: a large sandstone patio for entertaining is a key part of the new garden

After: a large sandstone patio for entertaining is a key part of the new garden

A Contemporary Terraced Garden, Stirling

Before: this inaccessible sloping garden was unmanageable for our clients.

Before: the garden was inaccessible and overgrown

Before: the garden was inaccessible and overgrown

After: we used chunky sleepers to create terraces at interesting angles and shapes with wildlife planting to soften.

Before: the garden was inaccessible and overgrown

Before: the garden was inaccessible and overgrown

If you are interested in discussing how we could transform your own garden, please get in touch for a free design consultation. To see more of our garden transformations click below:

Garden Transformations, Part 2

Garden Transformations, Part 3

All at Vialii