Inkwell’s Guide to Gardening #4

It has been two weeks since our last post and the gardens have filled immensely. All the leaves on surrounding trees have flourished and more flowers have appeared, brightening up the garden. If your spring flowers are looking a little tired now, then you can cut the heads off. Bluebells and snowdrops can be divided and spread throughout the garden. It is possible to collect seed from some of your plants to grow more for next year, although some plants will have naturally reseeded themselves. In my garden the aquilegia, Jacobs ladder and forget-me-nots are very good at this. Any large poppies that you have will need to be dead headed and the cut back to encourage further growth. Likewise, with pulmonaria. Roses are in bloom now and the deadheads can be cut off to encourage more flowers. Sweet peas also benefit from being picked; they have a beautiful smell if you like bringing cut flowers into the home. With occasional watering you should have been able to keep on top of the warm weather and lack of rain.

A good way to get hold of plants is by swapping them with a neighbour. A neighbour and I often swap information about our growing habits and experiments, these conversations usually lead to us offering each other plant swaps as we usually have slightly different plants growing. I have acquired some runner beans, marigolds and some succulents for inside the house, which were swapped for kale plants and the promise of some homemade soap when it is ready. It is a lovely way to connect with your neighbours and share some hints and tips.

Vegetable Patch

Every vegetable that was started in the greenhouse for the vegetable patch is now planted outside. With regular watering and fertilising your plants should really be kicking off and looking lush. Continuing with succession planting, more peas and beans are planted this week, you could also plant more beetroot and carrots. So, you find that some of your vegetables have not settled in then there is still time to plant more seeds straight into the patch or container. I have a couple of broccoli plants that did not survive the move so I will be doing this with them. The lettuce we planted is ready to be cut as required and we have been enjoying the leaves in fresh salads. If you are growing potatoes, then you’ve probably already started to harvest those.

We had some substantial wind recently and the A-frame to house the beans and peas had taken a hit. The wood I had used was old and somewhat brittle and so it snapped easily under the pressure. Luckily, we had some lengths of wood laying around from another project we had been working on and so were able to use this to build a new frame. To further secure the frame some fencing mesh has been used which will also provide good, firm support for the plants. I feel much happier with this structure and can see it being a favourite in the vegetable patch for years to come.

I have not bothered laying straw down this year for the strawberries. It has been dry enough not to, but this decision may change if the weather turns wet. You may find that your strawberry plants have sent out runners. It is very easy to create more strawberry plants for the following year by planting these in more pots or other places in the garden. You may find that next years growth is much better on these new shoots than it is on the old plants. Any other plants that produce berries and fruit in your garden should mostly be visible now. They like lots of water, so continue to help them out during dry spells.

Plants in the greenhouse are ready to be planted into their future pots/growbag. My set up means I can have pots on the floor and on shelves. Cucumbers can climb so if you have a small trellis or something like chicken wire then a simple frame can be set up for them. Courgette plants usually get quite big, so I have opted to keep them on the floor. The pepper seeds I planted have by some miracle, grown. I think it may be a little late, but I will nurture them and see what happens.


As I sit writing this the robin, who frequents the garden, has brought its young to feed. It is a wonderful thing to see when the chicks are grown enough to leave their nests. I feed the wild birds throughout the year and year after year I see birds bring their young to feed in the garden. Bird feeders are best placed in the shelter of trees. This way the birds feel security and can pop in and out of the foliage for their feed. I find suet cakes and sunflower hearts go down well in the garden and bring a diverse range of birds. Bird baths are also a good addition especially when it is as warm and dry as it has been lately. Over the years I have noted the following bird sightings in the garden:

Blue, great, coal and long tail tits, robins, tree and hedge sparrows, wrens, gold and bull finches, mistle thrush, black birds, crows, magpies, wood pigeons, collared doves and starlings.

The RSPB have a handy guide to help you identify birds you might see whether they be in your garden or when you are out walking.

Not only is it helpful to the birds to provide water but bees and butterflies also like hydration along their way. Did you ever find a bee stuck in your house? They try their hardest to fly through the glass window or door and really tire themselves out. Not only can you help them by opening the window but if they really are exhausted and a small amount of water is given to help them to help them rehydrate, they really will be thankful. Speaking of bees, apparently there are a species of Asian hornets that have been spotted in the UK. We have hornets native to the UK, but the Asian hornet can be detrimental to the UK bee population and so the NNSS have been requesting that any sightings be registered with them. You can find further information by clicking the link below.


The compost heap has begun in our garden. We had an old dustbin that I have been fortunate enough to have and use. I toyed with different locations in my garden. I wanted somewhere accessible but discreet. A place where it would get some sun to help with the breakdown. I settled on a spot behind the chickens coop. That way it’s close for when their coop is cleaned and is somewhere, we would have easy, convenient access to throughout the year. I only have one bin currently as I need to locate another vessel. Hopefully, next year there will be some lovely compost to use for planting.


Along with the gardens growing, the chickens have grown massively. Not only are they living in their coop fulltime now, but they have also been free ranging in the garden. The ladies have supervised runs in the garden and they love it! Supervising them allows us to keep an eye on any feline activity as we still think that the chickens are too small to defend themselves sufficiently. Mavis, Chicky and Belle have successfully ransacked some of the garden plants. I fully expected this as they love to search for bugs using their dinosaur like feet as an aid. I am fast to learn what they don’t like, so that I can fill my borders up with more of their undesirables as I am keen to try and retain a garden that they can forage in but also looks pretty.

For the first time this year I have started growing my own perennial flowers. I am hoping this can save me money as perennial plants can be quite costly and it would be disheartening to plant, only to have them eaten by the chickens. As well as plants to make the garden visually exciting I have been looking at plants that can benefit the chickens. To name a few, mint planted near the coop is good for deterring vermin, marigold flowers are a natural antioxidant and nasturtiums are believed to be a mild antibiotic and a natural warmer.