My Gardening Essentials Kit Wish List

Although we’ve been experiencing some truly uninspiring weather lately, I’ve been trying to keep up the momentum and get busy in the garden. Now May is upon us, the growing has kicked up a gear and the risk of frost is slowly decreasing. Showtime!

It’s evident everywhere – from the sudden growth in the greenhouse to the abundance of blooms and blossom in the garden.
I’ve still got a little time before I have to delve back into the world of work, so it’s a case of “now or never” when it comes to getting those essential tasks done. And the busier I get (and with a baby in tow, the more efficient I’ve had to become in getting jobs done), the more I’ve realised how severely lacking my gardening kit has become. It’s not making my life easy. Broken and blunt tools, a bag that’s literally hanging on by a thread, faulty watering cans and even a lack of gardening clothing have been holding me back a bit.

Vegetable Trug Gardening

So it’s time to start planning a revamp of my gardening kit. Although I’m having to watch the pennies whilst on maternity pay, I can still plan (and dream).

Here’s a little wish-list to update my gardening essentials kit:

A Sharp Hoe
My old hoe broke at some point over the winter (either that or it’s simply vanished into thin air), and as an advocate of no-dig gardening, a hoe is an essential gardening tool. I’ve already got a WOLF Garten rake (it’s brilliant), and as the multi-use handle accommodates a number of tools, this dutch hoe from World of Wolf will be perfect… and a space saver too. Great for small sheds stuffed to the brim with gardening tools!

A Durable Garden Bag
Right now, I’m using an old free cloth spa bag as my gardening bag… yes, really! Last year, both handles broke, and with no pockets, I often have to stir my bag for a few minutes before being able to select the right tool. I’ve been researching affordable gardening bags for a while and wanted something that was both functional and a little bit pretty. So far my search has proved a little futile (too small, too pricey, not waterproof, too frilly), but I haven’t given up yet. Any suggestions will be happily received!

Gardening Trousers – with pockets!
I don’t like losing things, but unfortunately it’s something I’m very good at. Plant labels, packets of seeds, twine, secateurs, pencils, a pocket pruning knife and phone are just a few things that I tend to carry about with me in the garden. So weatherproof trousers with pockets, as far as I’m concerned, are a must-have piece of gardening clothing, Whether I’m sowing seeds, up a ladder pruning and trimming, or battling with a knee-high nettle patch, a good pair of gardening trousers with pockets are essential. I prefer a slimmer fit, but comfort has to be my main priority. No squeezed knees or cutting in at the waist, thank you. These durable ladies gardening trousers from Englebert Strauss are just the ticket.

A Galvanised Watering Can
Simply because they’re durable and a classic piece of gardening kit! Much better than plastic, anyhow.

A Potting Shed
Yep, it’s a big one on the wish list, and maybe technically it doesn’t qualify as gardening kit, but nevertheless, here it is. I live in hope of one day being the proud owner of a potting shed. Not just because I’d like somewhere to sow, grow and pot on my homegrown delights, but because sometimes I’m really happy in my own company. Just for a while. So a quiet space to potter and ponder would be a little slice of heaven. In timber form.

Long Handled Lawn Edging Shears
My grandfather, Pappa, always said that edges make a lawn. Whilst I’m more interested in borders than lawns, it’s true that a clean-cut edge can make even the scrappiest bit of garden look smarter. In fact, it’s a trick I’ve been using to great effect this year. So far I’ve made do with painstakingly cutting my edges and veg plot borders with a half-moon and tidying up with kitchen scissors, but really I need to invest in a good pair of lawn edging shears to get the job finished quickly and efficiently.

Got any suggestions for your must-have piece of gardening kit? Let me know in the comments!

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Cherry blossom

Frost damaged strawberries

Strawberry Flower Frost Damage

All was going pretty well in the strawberry patch… until the frosts hit. A bitter easterly wind knocked around Bedfordshire throughout the week, and after one particularly chilly night, we awoke to a significant ground frost.

Ground frosts have been few and far between over the last couple of winters, and although April also had some exceptionally warm days, I should have known better than to be lulled into a false sense of security. Despite my neighbours wrapping their espalier trees in yards and yards of cost fleece, I paid little attention to the sky, the wind, and the weather forecasts, and took absolutely no action in protecting my plants.

Needless to say, we’ve lost a number of strawberry flowers with their burgeoning fruits. The black centres in the image below showcases my disastrous start to the growing season. Where the blank, black eye sits, there should be a sunny yellow centre, which will ultimately bear the jewel-like red fruits as the days lengthen into the heady heat-filled haze of summer.

I’ve had to pinch out the damaged flowers, and luckily the undamaged blooms have started appearing. Fingers crossed that we’ll have a decent harvest for my little strawberry patch this year.

Strawberry flower black frost damage

My strawberries weren’t the only victims of the snap frost. Two nasturtiums and five bean plants that I’d hastily planted out under the blazing azure skies during an earlier mini heatwave were also reduced to limp, frost-burned specimens. Thankfully, I have plenty more of each plant waiting in the wings, protected in the greenhouse. Back-ups. Lesson: always have a contingency. (And keep an eye on the weather forecast).

By some stroke of luck, only one of my recently-planted Valentina raspberry canes seem to have endured any kind of frost damage. Whether the cane recovers, we’ll have to wait and see.

There’s an adage floating around that tender plants shouldn’t be planted out until after the Chelsea Flower Show. I suppose this is generally when most gardens in the UK are safe from frosts, but after a sunny weekend, and whilst bombarded with images on social media of what everyone else has potted up and planted out, it’s all too easy to be swept up in this non-existent race to grow, grow, grow. I should know by now that slow and steady is the way to go.

Of course, it’s also worth adding that had I got my rear end in gear and got my polytunnel up in the last three years, I might have been writing about a completely different picture entirely. Slowly, slowly… 🙄

 

Full of beans

shallots in the greenhouse

Chilling winds have swept through our corner of Bedfordshire, and I find myself absolutely LONGING for the balmy skies when the thermometer was peaking in the mid 20s. The veg plots and flower borders continue to romp ahead regardless, and bit by bit, my little veg patches are starting to fill up. Much to my surprise, actually.

This year, with a little family in tow, I’ve had my work cut out and my expectations for growing were low. I wanted to keep it simple, opting for tried and tested varieties of fruit and veg and minimising the amount of sowing and potting on I’d usually do… but somehow I can’t help myself when it comes to growing fruit and veg. Already, I’ve planted in new varieties of strawberries and raspberries, and with widespread discount promotions on packets of seeds, I just cannot resist.

Whether I actually get around to sowing on time, is another matter. But I’ve got further this year than I thought I would, and that’s got to be a bonus. Rich’s time has been severely limited, as he spends the majority of his waking hours stuck to a laptop or computer, furiously programming in a bid to keep us afloat whilst I’m on maternity leave. My end of the bargain is to try and keep things running, look after E as she grows and develops at an alarming rate, beat back chaos with an invisible stick, try to keep the house from descending into chaos, and try to feed us all on a budget.

So apart from Rich helping out with the odd lawn mow, it’s all down to me this year. I’ve started off the shallots in the greenhouse, waiting for the sun to warm to the soil and the risk of frost to pass before planting in situ. Shallots are one of my all-time favourite homegrown staples. I’ve also opted for some dwarf bean plug plants, as my ability to water regularly and give seedlings the TLC they deserve is limited more than usual. I am not organised, despite all the will in the world and a very real motivation to do things right, and do things well.

I’ve started a few beans up a willow obelisk, more for decorative purposes than anything really as I love the homespun potager approach to little kitchen gardens. I’ve also planted in a few nasturtiums – partly as companion plants and partly because I love their cascading haphazardness, and the delicate but boldly coloured blooms. Next on the agenda is constructing a pea harp for edible peas and scented sweet peas. It’s a bit of an ambitious task given that E will only tolerate so much time playing in the garden alongside me as I work before she starts screeching like a mini siren…but hey ho, a girl’s got to dream!

beans and willow wigwam