About Helen Fowler

Born in Middlesbrough. Moved to live in rural North Yorkshire in late teens. Moved back to the town in my 30's to live near Stockton on Tees. Then after a divorce and a serious accident I moved back to rural North Yorkshire near Thirsk, where I live now. I am a passionate gardener, a keen amateur photograper, I love travel, music, anything artistic and I have a great love of nature and the natural world. I have gardened since my teens and I lived and worked on a farm for years. I have owned or have experience with most pets and domestic animals. I hope by sharing my own experiences and the personal knowledge I have gained over the years, to help and encourage others to gain the most from their gardening efforts.
Helen Fowler

February Fun Time.

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender February 4, 2013 Posted Tags: , Comment No Comments
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I dont know where January went to, but February is here already! This for me is the real start of the gardening year ' February Fun Time' is when I start to sow in earnest. I get so excited with the promise of the new growing season, that even the bad memories of 2012 are fading fast. I like to get a start on the year by sowing indoors and in modules. Broad bean Aquadulce Claudia have been sown in modules and new for me this year, the pink seeded 'Karmazan'. I have sown early peas Douce Provence in modules too and my early potatoes are chitting nicely. I have Kelsae onion and Mammoth leek seedlings coming on nicely, with lettuce and herbs seedling coming through. The house windowsills are fast filling up with chilli and early tomato plants, oh! I do love this time of year.  Check out

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Budget Pots and Modules.

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender January 29, 2013 Posted Tags: , , , Comment 2 Comments
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Continuing on from my blog on budget propagation and protection. I am moving on to budget pots and modules. As money is tight for many folks, dont cut back on seeds, good seed is always worth the money. The best way to save money in the garden is to recycle. So much of what is thought of as 'rubbish' can be put to good use in growing plants. Some of the things we can use will be bio-degradeable, others not so much and many can be used more than once. Yogurt  and Cream Pots. These are a classic seed and growing pot, as are any other small plastic tubs and containers. Large plastic tubs and pots can be use to grow mature plants. Water bottles, fruit juice cartons, tubs from ice cream, there are so many. All these plastic containers will need drainage holes, these can easily be mad

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Budget Propagation and Protection.

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender January 24, 2013 Posted Tags: , , , Comment 2 Comments
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Dispite the weather, at this time of the year our thoughts turn to starting seeds. There are lots of fancy kit available for early propagation and plant growing, but this kit doesnt come cheap. If you want to start some seeds early and grow on your seedlings without breaking the bank, I have a few Idea's for you. Plastic Bags. If your like me I always have a range of clear plastic bags stuffed in a drawer in the kitchen. Plastic bags come in all sizes, and can be new or second hand. They are so useful for the budget gardener. A clear bag can be used to protect a single plant like a seedling or a chilli plant that is been overwintered. Just place the pot in a bag and zip up or tie the top. For chillies, I either leave the top open, or place another bag loosely over the top. Plastic b

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Container Potatoes.

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender January 20, 2013 Posted Tags: , , , , , , Comment 1 Comment
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There is nothing much better from the veg garden, than the first new potatoes. Served with butter and fresh mint, to me that is heaven. I dont have an allotment and I have only a moderate sized garden, so I grow potatoes in containers. I concentrate on growing first and second earlies only, but you can grow maincrops too. Containers. You can grow your potatoes in any container but the bigger the better. You can use pots, tubs, buckets, old compost sacks or specialist potato growing bags. You can even use old dustbins and stacked tyres. I have used the large sized reuseable bags bought from supermarkets for about 40p. They even have handles on for easy moving. Whatever container you use, you will need to make some drainage holes. I find drainage holes work best if made along the s

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The Freezing Weather.

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender January 18, 2013 Posted Tags: , , , , , , Comment No Comments
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I know that it's January and it's winter, but bimey it's cold. At least there's no more mud, the ground has frozen solid and is as hard as iron. I have 5 outdoor cats, a stray that adopted me a couple of years ago, who then gave me a present of 4 kittens. Thankfully they are all neutered, so no more.  They have two nice warm 'cat houses' and I keep them well fed. When feeding them the last two mornings, their food was freezing before they could eat it all. I had to bring their bowls indoors, warm it up then let them finish breakfast. Thats cold. I was putting out water both for them and also some for the birds, that froze within minutes! Lots of birds are coming to the feeders. I have put out peanuts, fatballs, fruit and sunflower hearts. The birds that visit are, sparrows, blue tits,

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Growing Celery and Celeriac.

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender January 5, 2013 Posted Tags: , , , Comment 1 Comment
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  Celery and Celeriac [ Apium graveolens ] were bred from the same wild plant. Celeriac grown for it's swollen stem base or root, is much hardier than stem celery when mature. The availability of self blanching varieties of celery have made the growing of this vegetable much easier for the home gardener. You can still grow 'trench celery' from seed, but as it requires a lot more work and attention and takes up more room on the plot, I have concentrated on the 'self blanching' types. Soil Preparation. Celery and celeriac likes a moisture retentive but well drained soil in a sunny spot in the garden. The addition of well rotted manure or garden compost in the Autum/Winter will help retain the moisture and adding sharp sand will aid drainage of heavy soil. Some of the compac

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Growing Kale.

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender January 4, 2013 Posted Tags: , , , , Comment No Comments
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Kale or borcole [ Brassica oleracea ] is a versatile member of the cabbage family. It comes in a wide range of leaf shapes and colours, it is a very attractive and hardy vegetable that looks just as good in the flower border as on the vegetable plot. Although kale is usually thought of as a cold weather or winter vegetable, which it is, it can be grown almost all year round. Though in summer it is best grown in partial shade out of direct warm sun. Soil Preparation. Like all brassicas, kale grows best in free draining fertile soil. Well rotted manure or garden compost is best added to the bed in the autumn. Brassicas dont like very acidic soil so add lime before planting or do a soil check. A pH of 6.5 - 7.5 is ideal. They also like a firm soil. Sowing Outside. Seed can be

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Growing Brussels Sprouts

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender December 8, 2012 Posted Tags: , , , Comment No Comments
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Brussels Sprouts [ Brassica oleracea ] you either love them or hate them, I love them! What Christmas dinner table would be complete without them! They appeared as a sport from a cabbage plant and are a very hardy winter vegetable that can stand our coldest winters here in the UK. By choosing early and late varieties, you can have fresh sprouts from late summer right through the winter. Soil Preparation. Sprouts like a rich firm soil so add lots of well rotted manure or garden compost in the winter and let the soil settle before planting. Choose a sunny, sheltered site protected from strong winds. As all brassicas like a slightly alkaline soil, add a dressing of lime before planting. If in doubt you can do a soil test. Sowing. Traditionally sprouts are sown into a nurse

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Growing Fennel.

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender December 2, 2012 Posted Tags: , , Comment 1 Comment
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Fennel is an very old plant that has it's origins along the shores of the Mediterranean but it is now found around the world. It is often seen along roadsides and riverbanks from Australia to the USA. It has been naturalized in Britain since Roman times. Herb fennel is very aromatic with a strong aniseed like flavour. It is grown for it's ferny leaves and seeds and has many culinary and medicinal uses. It is a main flavouring ingredient in the liqueur Absinthe. The bulb type of fennel, often called Florence fennel or Finocchio is grown for it's swollen base and is used cooked as a vegetable or used raw in salads. Herb Fennel [ Foeniculum vulgare ] Soil Preparation.  Growing herb fennel is very easy, it is a hardy perennial plant that is not fussy about soil type, so long as

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Growing Parsnips

Person Author: Helen Fowler Calender November 18, 2012 Posted Tags: , , Comment No Comments
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The parsnip [ Pastinaca sativa ] is related to the carrot and was brought to Britain by the Romans. It is a very hardy root vegetable and is wonderful when roasted. It also makes a great addition to casserole, soups and stews and is a must for the Christmas dinner table. Parnips are quite easy to grow and require little maintenence. They can be left in the garden, even in the coldest weather. Parsnips are usually sown in early spring, and if successive sowings are made, parsnips can be harvested from autumn right through the winter. Soil Preparation. Dont add fresh manure to the area you are going to sow your parsnips as this can cause to growing roots to fork or split. Parsnips can grow quite long and large, so a good deep, stone free soil is best. Like carrots, they prefer a well d

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