Only a week or so ago I mentioned how my kitchen was looking something like the Eden Project with my stab at gardening and my grow your own starting to take over the whole window sill and the lovely people at Crown Garden Products pricked their ears up, jumped in and saved the day. Well at least have given me an option to save the day and allow my other half to find a clean tea cup in the morning amongst all the vegetation.

I have been sent a Grow Bag Frame and I’m really impressed by it as it is quite simply an ingenious idea and if you too are growing your own this year then please have a look because you’re going to love it!

The frame itself comes flat packed with instructions to assemble the few bits together which are very straight forward and easy to follow. It’s made out of recycled steel in the UK (massive nod to ‘made in the UK’ bit! – let’s start making more items here and get people back into work and our economy on the up!) and it works on the utter brilliant knowledge that by turning your grow bag on its side you get the best possible growing conditions for crops and flowers. How come nobody thought of it earlier?

The frame slots through the corners of the grow bag to give improved soil depth for root development and a good watering void that reduces spills and mess. The frame also includes strong vertical straps for vertical plant support. The whole contraption is also portable, even when planted and it all packs away flat for ideal storage.

So not only a practical product but the perfect gift for any novice or experienced gardener retailing at £19.95 plus delivery charges (UK only)

Now I haven’t assembled mine yet as temperatures are about to drop here in the south east and I don’t want my babies plants to suffer from any cold but once frost-fear has passed, probably end of April, I shall be planting my tomatoes or my runner beans in it, I’ve yet to decide and YOU will get to see the improvement throughout the course of the summer…oh the joys of being a Mari’s World reader eh? :)

The frame has been widely put to the test in 2010 with very encouraging results and now several primary schools have shown interest and RHS Wisley will have them on show and in use in their trial vegetable and fruit allotments.

Not a company to sit back on its laurels Crown Garden Products have a Grow Bag Net launched this year and the Grow Bag Skirt to cover any unsightly plastic from your bag and to keep themselves busy they are working on a mini watering system (I like the sound of that!) and mini greenhouse cover too!

Now tell me you’re not impressed with that and I won’t believe you! And I’ll leave you with the graphic for their campaign which I think is really striking…

It was only a month or so ago that we planted our first seeds curious as to what we would be able to grow and now our kitchen window sill is a mass of greenery. So much it’s beginning to get on my nerves to tell the truth. It’s looking cluttered and a bit too much but until the fear of frost has passed I have to keep them indoors or risk losing the lot which would be a shame as I’m looking forward to reaping my summer produce.

We started with tomatoes as having successfully grown them in the past and boasted about them to anyone who would listen. Since replanting the seedlings I have given 10 plants away to my brother (which probably didn’t make it this far) and to my niece Rosie and nephew Billy (which stand more of  a chance of survival) I am still left with around 30 tomato plants that are coming on stronger day by day. I added some sunflower seeds for the girls to enter into the Gravesham sunflower contest, we have to grow the tallest by 31st July 2011 and to top off My First Allotment I have courgette, dwarf runner bean and pumpkin (for Halloween) plants all looking healthy and ready to go. I have also bought two strawberry plants which are starting to flower.

So when should I move them outside? I asked my neighbours, both retired and season veg growers but they shook their heads at me, sucked in breath between their lips and tutted their reactions basically telling me they didn’t want to let on the magical moment. Cloches, one mentioned and I must admit to free up kitchen surface I am tempted but I don’t have any cloches and need to investigate this option further.

So I am torn between moving the whole lot outside to fare for themselves and regain my kitchen surfaces or keeping them in for another fortnight and not being able to see out of the kitchen window. Maybe it’s time to consult Alan Titchmarsh to see what he would do.

What would you do? All advice greatly accepted and have a lovely week

Lavendar, out of shot, is not playing ball

I’ve been watching around the blogosphere and seeing everyone start planning their gardens and I was particularly inspired on reading Thinly Spread. Chris has a ‘Something for the Weekend’ theme every Friday and if you have a weekend ahead with no specific plans, have a look as there are plenty of ideas for all weathers and all tastes. In fact I wanted to include this Monster idea but was late on arriving, nothing new there then eh?

So it was the half term post that caught my eye as it is something I have been meaning to start up for a while, an allotment, but can I do it? Well having read her article which made it sound so easy peasy I thought we’d give it a go. I found some pots in Morrisons which looked fairly easy and in a rush of green fingered courage I popped them in my trolley, confident. My plan is to start small and grow from there (did you like my pun?) Being the back to front person I am I set too, ripping off the plastic and planting my seeds and then I decided to read the instructions on the back of the pot to discover I should have removed some of the soil to later cover my seeds with instead of pushing them into the compost, ‘Oh well’ fingers crossed this time. Our first seeds were tomatoes (I’ve had a few years of tomato growing now so I feel comfortable) Wild flower (and if they take over the garden I shall regret it but I couldn’t resist the pretty colours) and lavendar, I was picturing the purple rolling fields of Provence….

My little helpers

Can you imagine my delight when tiny green tomato shoots started to peek through the soil? Yoohoo! I can feed the family this summer, tomato salads, tomato sauce  and tomatoes, tomatoes, tomatoes. The wild flowers followed thorough quickly enough – they would wouldn’t they? They’re wild! But my lavendar refuses to take. Maybe I overwatered it? Maybe it’s just being temperamental? I’m giving it another week, after that my purple dream will be over for this year at least.

Hugely encouraged by my gardening skills and the hidden talent I so obviously possess that needs unleashing. I took our mini allotment to the next giddy level. We bought a propagator and some seeds from Wilko’s!  Carrots, courgettes, more tomatoes, the big beefy kind, sunflowers, Dwarf runner beans and pumpkins, yes wouldn’t that be creative to grow our own for Halloween?

Planted 2nd March - come on!

The girls were very full on helping although I don’t know how much they understand of the planting and growing process yet. We have also planted 6 sunflowers for the Gravesham’s Growing Greener competition where first prize is £100 to spend in Millbrook Garden Centre should we produce the tallest sunflower by 31st July. Just imagine the allotment we could produce with that! We could probably set up an organic farm shop or act as local suppliers to the national supermarkets, the list is endless!

So please if you have any tips on gaining the ebst sunflower height then do please leave me a comment, we’re very serious about winning here. Oh and if you need tomatoes this summer you know where to call as if they all take we’ll have masses.

Have a good day!

Mari