Jan 21st

Polytunnels: Essential Kit for the Serious Grower

By Mary B

The uglier relation of the greenhouse, polytunnels are proving increasingly popular with gardeners, as a way of extending the growing season. One advantage over a glasshouse is the cost. Whatever your budget, you will get a larger growing area for your money if you opt for a polytunnel.

What to Grow

With a polytunnel, spring arrives six weeks early to your plot, when early crops of lettuce, carrots and herbs can be sewn. In summer, include heat-loving plants such as aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, basil and coriander. Brassicas, oriental greens and winter salads are great for autumn, while in winter you can enjoy perpetual chard and spinach. And if you love your soft fruits, over 90% of British strawberries are grown in polytunnels, so you may wish to include those. It’s even possible to grow several red and green grape varieties. Any delicate plants can be overwintered in the tunnel as well.

What to Look For

Not all polytunnels are equal, so it’s important to know what to look for. The polythene should be thick and have good insulation properties. If possible, the cover should be 180 microns thick and made up of several layers. The plastic should have anti-drip properties, so that condensation won’t cause a problem. If the cover is opaque, the light will pass through and bounce around inside, benefiting the plants. It’s essential that the tunnel has doors both ends for maximum ventilation, otherwise you’ll end up all sorts of pests and mildew.

Word of Warning

It’s important to choose the right site, as although it may look like a large tent, a polytunnel is a permanent structure. You don’t want anywhere that’s too windy or somewhere that’s going to annoy the neighbours. Depending on the height you opt for (usually over two metres) you may need permission from the council. If you’re not keen on how it looks (and no one could blame you) you could build a screen of attractive flowers or shrubs. If you place it east-west, it will get maximum sun but could suffer from more pests than if it’s north-south. Don’t be fooled into thinking that erecting one is simple and quick. You will need some DIY skills and someone on hand to help with the covering, but the time and effort will be worthwhile.

Decent greenhouses can be expensive per cubic metre and if you ever want to upgrade, it means demolishing the old one and laying new foundations. A polytunnel, on the other hand, requires less outlay and will extend relatively easily, if you find the growing bug takes hold.

This is a guest blog provided on behalf of  Premier Polytunnels.  


Jan 19th

Five Quick and Easy Improvements for the Garden

By Mary B

Five Quick and Easy Improvements for the Garden

As we near the end of January, spring begins to poke its head around the corner and before we know it, it will be time to get the garden organised for the warmer season. If you have reached the golden retirement age time will be on your side. So it’s time to get the garden in shape with some quick and easy improvements.

If you need inspiration, here are five quick improvement ideas that can be done in a flash.


  1. Repaint Your Decking

Tired and dirty decking can make a garden look grim and drab. A simple paint or polish job could transform your garden instantly and create a welcoming atmosphere just in time for the spring bloom. When you repaint your decking, it could be a good idea to also consider adding a special coating such as ‘anti-slip’ or ‘anti-carbonation’.


  1. Add Some Garden Lighting

There are fewer things as inviting or welcoming as garden lighting. Make your home a guest friendly environment and prepare for the summer parties ahead. If you have family over for barbeques or dinner parties, outdoor lighting can make your garden safer in the evening and it also lights up your home beautifully. Find an extensive range of beautiful garden lighting including wall lights, ground lighting and post lights. 


  1. Buy Some Garden Furniture

A beautiful patio isn’t complete without some stylish and inviting seating. Whether you choose a simple garden bench or a large table and chair set, the right furniture can really help to transform your outdoor space. When buying furniture for your garden, it’s important to consider the different materials such as wood, plastic, metal, wicker or rattan. Each will have a different cleaning / repainting / polishing method so always ask the retailer for care instructions.


  1. Hanging Plants

Prettify your front or back garden with some lovely hanging baskets. Get these in time for spring and watch the colourful flowers blossom just in time for the sunny season. Hanging baskets are available pre-arranged from your garden centre or you can create your own.


  1. Add a Bird Feeder to Your Garden

Attract birds to your garden by adding a bird feeder. Birds are great if you love waking up to the sound of gentle chirping or if you want your garden to feel more friendly and ‘alive’. Bird feeders are available from most garden centres or online garden shops. But if you want to make your own, you can create one from various recycled or unused materials in the home.



This is a guest blog provided on behalf of Scotlight Direct.

Jul 10th

Sounds of Summer.

By phillip J W

I have just been out to lay out the hose for watering the garden early tomorrow morning. 
I thought there were swarms of midgis in the air around my head -
Went on with laying out the hose - then looked up & discovered they weren't midgis at all.
They were clusters of Larks, very high in the clear evening sky, swerling round & round.
They were so high I could only JUST hear their screeches.
                                     ...Fasinating sight as the light began to turn pink. 

May 23rd

Squirrels (2)

By Chrystie M
Well they managed to get in last night, and ate about 4 inches down the tube. The lid had been forced open.  So off I went to the ironmonger and was going to buy another padlock to go out on the other side, but the man there, who was very helpful, suggested a piece of chain might be better, and thinking that two padlocks might look a bit silly (indeed).  So I have just been out and wrapped a piece of light chain catching any parts that might be raised.  The tits are still coming back and forward so they are not put off with chain and padlock!
Apr 8th

Great Mounds of Compost - No 1

By Geoff J
Eartlings and I have been involved in creating earth for as long as I can rememeber. Millions and millions and millions of little tiny Eartlings have me workng at supplying them with food. Yes, I am always feeding these lovely millions with food and they do the rest. Once in awhile I remove freshly made earth from the bin where they procreate and create the new earth. They are wonderous but I have n'ere seen one of them.

They are not finicky about what I put on their plates but they would take their time to digest bones and the like. They love meat but it gets stolen from the darlings by rats and foxes and other baddies.

They would demonstrate a love of paper and cardboard but take their time to digest. In fact slugs love card and would be in the compost recycling it more quickly. Composteers like me  dislike slugs because they use the new earth as a storage and transportation hub.

The store is for laying and keeping eggs; the transportation hub is to let the dormant eggs and newly hatched Eartling babies and slugs travel to the wilds of other places in the allotment plot and garden! Ughrrr!  

Once in these places the baby slugs gorge themselves on ............need I go on?

I only compost white paper - tissues and kitchen sheet - the latter with kitchen vegetable oil from wiped frying pans etc. Other papers are more than not covered in priters inks and other tackies which may contain heavy metals - so that stuff goes to recycling facilities: not the compost bin. 
Dec 29th

Swanley and the World Garlic Society

By Geoff J
What a great year 2012 has been. For example, this year has seen the creation of "Swanley and the World Garlic Society".  It is merely that a group of friends agreed this venture in October.

It has no constitution, rules, newsletter, etc! It has no aim, objectives, strategies or plans. There is no business plan. It has no president, chair, officers or committee members. How can the English members (there is at least one member from the USA)  expect such a society to flourish???? Garlic with truly English food - a misrepresentation surely? 

 Each member has it in their heart and makes of it what they will. Some will be active: some will be dormant!  For example, I noted that Swanley had a no-rain slot of about two hours this morning. So....I took the growing garlic bulbs from the potting shed and planted a "garlic-dozen" (11 plants to be). The 12th bulb had been dropped outside of the shed (not potting shed) about six weeks' ago. It was noticed again this morning and seen to be  just sprouting despite frost, rain and a migin of snow in that period;  it was planted with the 11 cousins who are more mature.  

With luck the garlic-dozen plus one will grow to full maturity and be consumed as ingredientd of attempted world dishes


In fact nothing has happened since it was formed...except??? 
Nov 25th

Wind and the Garden: Trees and Bushes

By Geoff J
Trees are wonderful but they also attract diseases so beware!

After the high recent winds weakened branches or cracked branches may need attention - assuming they have not already come to the ground. A quick remedy may be to take a stoll and look up.

You may see something unusual, such as:
  • a sight of "raw" wood - say, in a crack, might be best to get expert opinion;
  • a broken, hanging branch;
  • a leaning trunk;
  • lifted soil beneath the canoply; or
  • a newly exposed root or root system.

If property damage is apparent or might arise (some of above may be serious), it may be as well to get on to your insurer as soon as possible, and perhaps an  expert adviser in due (The insurer will probablyimediately advise as to your cover.)  

However, where the tree is near a road, footpath or a canal tow path or other property with public access, etc you might be best to call the emergency services as well as your insurer and perhaps a professional adviser (if the insurer is involved they are likely to adise you) .  


Sep 7th

The Kent High Weald Partnership would like to help you Eat Yourself Fit!

By Mary B

The Kent High Weald Partnership would like to help you Eat Yourself Fit!

We will be transforming community and private gardens over a course of 8 practical taster sessions for the over 50s.

Taking place in and around Tunbridge Wells, all tools and training will be provided by our team of wildlife gardening experts.

Participants can learn about;

·         Wildlife gardening

·         Growing your own food

·         Countryside volunteering

·         Urban Gardening Club

·         Local food growing schemes

For more information on how you can join in this lottery funded project, please contact Sarah Tree on 01580 212972.

It would be appreciated if you could forward this information to any interested parties.

Many thanks

Sarah Tree

Partnership Officer (Assistant)

Kent High Weald Countryside Partnership
Conservation Centre
Bedgebury Pinetum
Bedgebury Road
Kent TN17 2SJ

Tel: 01580 212972


'Linking community & countryside'


Aug 20th

Early Crops

By ron d
My allotment has been croping at least a month early

The blackberries are just about finished, I have just picked the last of the apples.

I have already picked enough tomatoes to make soup and tomatoe sauce.

Unfortunately it has also been a good year for weeds, I have never had so many
© DropBy 2010-2014