Win tickets to the Woburn Abbey Garden Show!

roses in a basket

We’ve got a brilliant giveaway for you! If you’d like a chance to grab one of three pairs of tickets to the Woburn Abbey Garden Show in Bedfordshire on 23-24 June – headlined by the BBC’s Adam Frost and Pippa Greenwood – simply tell me in the comments what you’d most look forward to seeing at the show. Winners picked this Saturday!

Alternatively you can head to my smallest smallholding instagram account, twitter or smallest smallholding facebook page to enter.

Garden Show highlights include:

  • Informative talks and Q&A sessions with BBC Gardeners’ World presenter Adam Frost, BBC Radio 4 Gardeners’ Question Time panellist Pippa Greenwood and Woburn Estates Gardens Manger and show organiser Martin Towsey
  • Tips and advice from Woburn gardeners and rare access to see the Private Gardens of the Duke and Duchess of Bedford (not normally open to the public)
  • Free garden tours with RHS qualified gardeners to learn more about the management and creation of Woburn’s Humphry Repton landscaped gardens
  • A fabulous line up of RHS Medal winning nurseries, offering a diverse array of plants in our Plant Village. Nurseries are tasked with creating a plant display for which awards are given over the weekend – Adam Frost is part of the assessment panel
  • New for 2018 – A field kitchen, set up in the kitchen garden with live cooking demonstration by Celebrity Chef, Rachel Green.
  • Plenty of retail therapy including a luxury gifts hall and quality stands offering a plethora of garden furniture, sculpture, tools and horticultural hardware
  • Independent and unique food and drink providers in Woburn’s Artisan Food Hall
  • Live entertainment and musical performances from the Bedford Town Band to the backdrop of stunning views over the Woburn Abbey Gardens.

To find out more about the Woburn Abbey Garden Show, visit http://www.woburnabbey.co.uk/events/gardening/wwwwoburnabbeycoukgardenshow/

Good luck!

Please provide your contact email in the relevant field in the comments. By providing your email address, you are giving us permission to contact you via this email address. We will only use winners’ email address for contact and will pass them on to the event organisers so that your tickets can be held and you can be instructed by the even organisers on how to access the garden show. Your email addresses will not be used for any other purposes. 

 

Strawberries for Summer

About three years ago I planted in four little Cambridge Favourite strawberry plants in a freshly-prepared no-dig bed (as above). 

Cambridge Favourite strawberries

The strawberry plants were tiny, and priced at something like £1.49 each. I just hoped that I’d be able enjoy tending to a mini strawberry patch and maybe a bowl or two of strawberries to enjoy at home. 

Cambridge Favourite strawberry plants

Fast forward to 2018, and my strawberry patch has gone wild! Those four little plants sent out runners, which meant the following year I had a few more plants to tend to. Within 24 months the patch has thrived, so much so that we’re mowing strawberries runners in the lawn to keep them under control. 

With no late frosts this year to kill the strawberry flowers, there are probably a couple of hundred (at the very least) strawberries growing. Some are starting to ripen, and if temperatures pick up a little more, then we could be looking at our first strawberry harvest in time for Wimbledon, the pinnacle of strawberry season here in the UK.

I’m proud of my little strawberry patch (even though they’re threatening to take over the Valentina raspberries that they share a growing space with), and I’m hoping to be able to share my strawberries between eating fresh, freezing, making jam, sharing with friends and family, and maybe even selling a few punnets from the garden gate for a little extra spare change. 

Cambridge Favourite strawberry crop

Starting with growing peas

Early pea flowers

Peas please! I’m starting my new growing season with early peas – in this instance, a variety called Onward. They’re pretty common as far as veg varieties go, but seem to be really popular. In the past I’ve gone for rondo peas, which are great as a freshly picked pea, but have fallen foul of the pea moth (probably my fault) and can go a little powdery if they’re left on the plant too long (again, probably my fault). As a busy mum and part-time worker, time is at a premium, I opted to buy some plug plants from my local independent nursery, rather than growing from seed. I also wanted to try a slightly earlier variety as I’ve yet to get anything in the ground… only the perennials are starting to wake up now.

Podding peas

I’ve found peas to be relatively fuss-free plants, that just need the occasional feed and regular watering in order to thrive – I feed only occasionally through the growing season with a diluted seaweed feed, which seems to do the trick. I’ve not quite got the hang of pinching out yet (for those not in the know, pinching out new growth every now and then promotes bushiness, and gets rid of any straggly or leggy growth), but I’m sure that with a little concentration, I can nail it. But really, for me, peas are great to grow, and a treat to eat raw or cooked when they’re ready for picking in summer.

polyculture potager

I’m also a fan of pea flowers – they seem to attract a lot of attention from pollinators, and they look really pretty in the veg patches too. This year, I’m tempted to let the nasturtiums and more marigolds mix with the peas again, as they seemed to help keep the dreaded blackfly at bay… and the mix of vibrant green foliage, white pea flowers and bright sunshine yellows was really eye-catching. 

Although it’ll probably be a good two or three weeks before I can move the peas out of the greenhouse, I’m excited to finally get going – albeit it in a very modest way – with this year’s growing season.

Rondo Peas

Rondo Peas ready for harvesting