Tuesday, 31 May 2011


Carp Flags for Japanese Boy’s Day
As my children are half Japanese we adopt many of the Japanese cultures such as flying carp shaped flags to celebrate ‘Boy’s Day’ or Tango no Sekku.

It is a wonderfully colourful sight to see the carp shaped flags, known as Konibori flying in front of every Japanese house hold or stung across the lake in the local park throughout the month of May, as each family celebrate their son(s). As a family who are also extremely proud of our son we relish the opportunity to fly our Koniboro each year.

The origins of Boy’s Day arise out of Chinese legend which has it that when a carp swims up stream it becomes a dragon – I guess this is because the dragon is the mightiest sign in the Chinese zodiac. Therefore, the carp shaped flag blowing in the wind imitates the movement of a swimming carp.

05 May is a national holiday in Japan and now celebrates the personality and happiness of all children as well as giving gratitude towards their mothers, and has been renamed Kodomo no hi.

The Konibori make a wonderful addition to the garden throughout May.

Buy from:
Seaforth Garden Shop:
Fish Wind Socks, Windmills

Seaforth Garden Books:


Monday, 30 May 2011


Grow your own

Strawberries can be grown in well prepared beds, containers, and under cloches, in a cold greenhouse or warm greenhouse no higher than 16oC (61oF) to encourage early cropping.
All they ask in return is a sunny, sheltered spot and a well drained, fertile soil in which to grow.  But do remember that strawberries plants must not be planted in an area recently occupied by potatoes, tomatoes or chrysanthemums if you want to avoid Verticillim Wilt.

Dig over your strawberry site well before planting and remove all the weeds, adding well rotten manure or good quality compost.
 Soak the health strawberry plants before planting in late summer 35-40cm apart. Best to crop rotate every 3 years to reduce the risk of pest and diseases.
 Water the plants regularly from planting and especially when fruits begin to swell.
Keep the soil weed free, feed with tomato feed every 7-14 days, as fruits start to swell place straw, polythene or mulch matting underneath them to keep the fruits clean.  
After fruiting cut back the old foliage and runners to encourage new growth at the base of the plant, remove the mulch to prevent a build up of pest and diseases.

Pick your strawberries when they are a bright red colour and eat as soon as possible. - Enjoy

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Seaforth Garden Books:
A wide variety of Strawberry and Fruit books


Strawberry Cake Recipe

May is the month we celebrate my beautiful daughter’s birthday. My daughter’s favourite fruit is without doubt the strawberry and as I love to bake and my daughter loves strawberries it was only fitting to bake a birthday cake decorated with that prize fruit of the summer – the strawberry.

Check out my cake recipe on my recipe page

Conventional strawberries can be bought all year round as most of Europe’s strawberries are grown in the warm climate of Southern Spain.
But if you are going to buy strawberries do try to buy the organic ones as these are much more sustainable as they help to protect one of Europe’s most important wetlands in Southern Spain, the Donana National Park.

Are better still grow your own garden strawberries with their bright red colour, juicy texture and strawberry aroma this really is the prize taste of the summer.

And by growing strawberries in the greenhouse you too can grow an early crop.

Friday, 13 May 2011

That Old Favourite - Cress

Most children first experience of growing plants from seed starts by growing that old favourite cress, which can be enjoyed on a salad or a garnish in a sandwich.
Cress is so simple to grow and can be grown in doors all year round.

The two most popular methods to grow cress are either in a jar or in a shallow tray.
Growing in a jar:
Place the seeds in a clean jar and soak, a jam jar is ideal. Cover the opening of the jar with a porous material and secure with a rubber band, I find that a piece of cloth or old tights does the job.
Drain off any excess water and if the seeds need forcing place in a dark warm cupboard such as an airing cupboard.   Once the seeds have germinated and if they require greening move the jar to a well lit spot but away from direct sun light.
Do not forget to keep the seeds moist draining off any excess water through the secured cloth.

Growing in a shallow tray:
Place several layers of kitchen towel onto the base of a shallow water proof tray and dampen thoroughly, draining off any excess water, a saucer is ideal. Scatter your seed evenly onto the damp kitchen towel.   If the seeds need forcing put the tray into a polythene bag and place in a dark warm cupboard such as an airing cupboard.  Once the seeds have germinated and if they require greening, remove the tray from the polythene bag and place the tray in a well lit spot but away from direct sun light.
Do not forget to keep the seeds moist draining off any excess water.

Other seed to enjoy
Mung Bean Chinese bean sprouts
Adzuki Bean Japanese bean sprouts
Radish, Alfalfa, and Fenugreek

Do let me know what seed sprouts you have been growing indoors this year?

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Crazy for seeds

This spring time I have just gone crazy for seeds, anything from Sun flowers to Sweet corn and Cress to Chinese cabbage.
It’s just so magical to sow these dormant seeds and within a matter of days watch the small seedlings pushing their cotyledon leaves towards the light and develop into a small plant.
Nurtured on by that one special ingredient we all need in our journey throw life...Love.

Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow -- perhaps it all will. - Albert Einstein

Why not tell me what seeds you have been sowing for the garden this year?

Monday, 2 May 2011

Pumpkins - What Giants!

Each year I like to grow something different or something I have not grown before and this year it is the turn of giant pumpkins.
I soaked the large seeds in water for a couple of days before sowing them into a medium size tray and within a week, look what germinated. They are massive!  I potted them on a couple of days ago and there is no stopping these fellas.
If they keep growing at this rate my children will have wonderful pumpkins to carve out for Halloween and I, lots of pumpkin for pumpkin pie.
The variety is Big Max

My Historic Climbing Frame

There is nothing I enjoy more than making something out of something old. How does the saying go again? “What is one man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure”.
A neighbour is having an extension built and was throwing away a wooden palette that had been delivered with building materials upon it.  Immediately I thought I could use that, as it would make a great climbing frame for this year’s Sweet Peas and climbers for future years.
And despite it being the wedding of Prince William and Katherine I began constructing the climbing frame with the occasional viewing of the TV to watch the wedding ceremony and the all important ‘Kiss’.
I will always look at my climbing frame with all its regal splender and think of that day in history.