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Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone from The Diligent Gardener

Friday, 20 December 2013

Modern Garden Design

When planning a home make over, it is common that the garden is the last to receive any attention or changes, sometimes the garden has been a dumping ground during a home makeover or simply been neglected over a number of years. However a well designed garden can be a real asset to a home, adding value to the property as well as making it a more enjoyable place to be.  The surrounding area of a home is just as important as what’s on the inside, and can give you much more living space for adults, children and pets alike.

Flemings Australian Garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show 2012 (for more details see our post from last year)
In contemporary garden design, the focus is on simplicity and nature.  This is primarily due to the fact that many modern homes have relatively small areas of land as their gardens.  There has also been a cultural shift toward contemporary design, in which clean lines and hard landscaping materials such as hardwood garden table and chairs, stone, and rendered walls have become very popular.

It needn't be hard work to create, if you are good at DIY and are up for the challenge then most able DIYers can create a stunning garden, alternatively getting in the professionals to help can speed up the process and may even save money in the long run. Eden Landscaping in Northampton employ combine horticultural knowledge with design and landscaping expertise to ensure that your garden looks stunning all year round. 

In any contemporary garden the planting style will be bold yet simple, with repetition of just a few varieties of plants throughout the space.  Today, grasses are very popular as they are visually appealing, simple, and easy to care for.  

Lighting also plays a role in contemporary garden design, as subtle effects can be achieved with low voltage lights strategically placed throughout the garden, usually along the walls, beside paths and to highlight garden features such as statuary.

Contemporary gardens are not without classic, iconic design elements.  Form, shape, and other iconic design elements have stood the test of time and will always be part of any garden’s design.  The individual touches come from how modern gardeners choose to incorporate classic features such as sculpture, containers, and other elements into their gardens.

The Essential Indulgence (Silver Gilt) - another contemporary garden at the Hampton Court flower show that stood out for me.
Magis Puppies on our new deck
Mark and Gaz at Alternative Eden make use of quirky objects in their modern garden
Any garden – classic or contemporary – will have some sort of path or paving incorporated into the design. Choose from natural stone or the cheaper reconstituted products that can be extremely attractive.  Old railway sleepers have also become very popular over the last few years; as a result they have risen in price quite considerably.  Don’t forget shingle – very practical and still quite cheap.  

Live Outdoors Garden (Silver Gilt) - built on a budget of £13,000, if a show quality garden can be built for this amount imagine how you own garden could look.
While concrete features add a modern element to a contemporary garden design they do not suit all gardens. More natural features, such as rounded, smooth river stones are an excellent alternative to the man made, industrial materials featured so prominently in some modern gardens.  Cobbles may be used on paths as well as in accent areas throughout the space.

Traditional gardens often featured wrought iron garden furniture, which can be ornate and heavy.  Although metal is still used in contemporary garden design, it is used a little differently these days.  Some modern gardens incorporate industrial metal grids combined with wooden planks for vines and ivy, for a fresh yet rugged look.  Galvanized sheet metal is also popular in modern garden design for weatherproofing and screening solutions.  Stainless steel and chrome furniture are also contemporary and affordable choices.

Metal work used as part of the pathways in this garden we saw at Hampton Court this year - Contemporary Contemplation (Gold medal) - a stunning garden and one of my favourites! I love it for the restrained planting palette and the use of contemporary hard landscaping. Top marks from me too!
Modern gardens, with their clean lines and industrial elements, may seem uninviting if certain iconic elements are not incorporated into the overall design.  Lighting, furniture, and textures are all essential in making the contemporary garden a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere.  The secret is to keep the theme simple and clean; the garden will do the rest of the work.

DG

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Daylily Black Hornet

Stunning Day lilly for the garden next year - Daylily Black Hornet

How to Grow a Pear in a Bottle

Food photographer Ed Gowans shares a passion of his on this great You Tube video growing pears in a bottle. Each year, Gowans adds quality alcohol to his bottles containing his home grown pears, and presents them to friends as Christmas gifts.If you fancy giving it a go, here's how its done!


Tuesday, 17 December 2013

An Alternative Use for Artificial Grass


Artificial Grass is finding some alternative uses in design. No longer the itchy astro turf that used to be used on five-a-side football pitches the modern artificial grass is soft, realistic and long lasting. With the improvements in quality it can be used in all sorts of places, and gardeners and landscape designers have utilised the modern grass in all sorts of cool and inspiring ways.

Ever resourceful, creative interior designers have quickly caught on to the alternative uses of artificial grass and some of the coolest offices are using it inside. Green is also an excellent colour to help make people feel calm and confident. The use of artificial grass is being used increasingly in offices where people are required to think differently, to be creative or to work in more unusual ways.


The Skype office in California features a circular lawn to kick back and relax or hold more informal meetings. Its even been used for picnics.

Not only suitable on the floor, San Francisco-based architecture firm Design Blitz transformed the building, even adding grass to the walls to create a really cool modern space.


If you are thinking of creating your own perfect space to relax then consider the benefit of artificial NAM grass, either in the garden, home or an office.

Google are well known for their cool offices, with slides connecting floors, arcade machines and all sorts of other ways to kick back in. Its not surprising that they have a grass floored meeting room. The Rock Room in Los Angeles features not just artificial grass but even artificial rocks! How cool is that?


I love the use of  cool wooden furniture and the grass, as well as the large plastic dogs.
How about a grass covered meeting room, just makes me feel chilled.
How about the ultimate canteen? This one at Innocent Drinks
With so many options and choices, the question is what will you use artificial grass for?

DG

Tregrehan Garden Gate

The gate from the walled garden just invites you to explore

Artificial Grass is the Latest Celebrity Trend

While the phrase ‘celebrity trend’ may conjure up images of designer handbags, fast cars and expensive clothing lines, the latest A-list must have is sitting right in their back gardens.

A growing number of celebrities including Jessica Alba, actress Kristen Bell, and US actor Matt Damon are turning to synthetic turf for their landscaping needs.

32-year-old actress Jessica Alba, who has 2 daughters, installed an artificial lawn in a bid for their home to become more eco-friendly.

Celebrity designer Kari Whitman said ‘ I chose synthetic grass for Jessica Alba’s backyard doggie oasis and use it at clients homes as often as possible’

‘The eco-friendly synthetic turf looks so realistic and stands up to pet messes, wear and tear. I also love that it eliminates the need for pesticides and fertilizers, making your year healthier for you and your pets. Plus it saves water and some cities will even give you a rebate on your utility bill. It’s a win-win”

Forgetting Sarah Marshall actress Kristen Bell had synthetic turf laid when she adopted a dog. The artificial alternative was the perfect solution for Kristen who said ‘I added a 500-square-foot deck and added an area with synthetic grass and lots of comfy dog beds. My dogs love to lounge in the sun out there, or hang out when I’m entertaining.  It feels like they have a yard in the middle of the city.’

In addition to gracing the gardens of A-List homes, artificial grass can also be found at various landmarks and pop culture icons throughout the world including locations such as the Playboy Mansion, Disney World, Disneyland and the Pixie Hollow Fairy Garden at Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival.

So what are you waiting for? Isn’t it about time you followed the trend?


DG

Time to Plant your Winter Onions


Following on from our post earlier this month about how to grow onions its worth reminding ourselves that there are actually quite a number of different varieties of onions from sets that can planted in your vegetable plot or allotment now. Sets are the simplest way to grow onions yourself much easier than from seed. They have the bonus that they can be harvested earlier on in the year as well. 

Electric is a good red set, Radar a good yellow and Shakespeare is a highly reliable white. 

You can also sow some spring onions now: White Lisbon Winter Hardy is a good one that we like to use. Check your local garden centre as quite a lot of them will have shallots available now for planting. Jermor is already available in my local garden centre. These are good to be planted about now or though until just into the New Year.

DG 

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Winter Cherries (Solanum capsicastrum)

These 'Winter Cherries' (Solanum capsicastrum) are everywhere in garden centres at the moment. They add a lot of seasonal cheer to the house at this dark time of the year, and providing the plant is kept cool and in a brightly lit area these fruits will stay on for weeks and weeks. Native to Peru and Ecuador, they can survive frosts and cold weather. They generally live up to 10 years, producing fruit usually in their second or third year, and every year after that. They are congeners of tomatoes and the fruit is extremely similar to cherry tomatoes in taste and texture, and are therefore easily confused with them. Despite the common name this plant is a type of Nightshade and in common with much of that genus is very poisonous, so keep it away from young children or inquisitive pets this Christmas!

Friday, 6 December 2013

Perfect Brussels for Christmas

Brussel Sprouts are often ready for harvesting now, but to many people they bring back memories of childhood, being forced to stay at the table until you have eaten (or hidden) the last brussels on your dinner plate. Heres several options to make the perfect Brussel Sprouts

Brussels with Bacon and Chestnuts
First fry your bacon in a hot pan without any oil for about 10 minutes until it is crisp. Then add chestnuts and fry until they are beginning to colour and coated in the bacon fat. Drain off the excess fat, then place the fried bacon  with the chestnuts into a bowl and allow them to cool. Beat some butter with a spatula to soften, then mix in the bacon and chestnuts. Season the mix with black pepper, and store in fridge. This will keep fresh for about 3 days in the fridge or could be frozen.

To serve, place your sprouts in a microwaveable bowl, and pour in approximately 100ml of water, cover with cling film and pierce a few holes in the top. Microwave your sprouts on High (850W) for about 16 to18 minutes, stirring at least twice during cooking, or alternatively cook in a pan of boiling water for 5 mins. Drain  off the water and place into a warm serving dish, then add the butter over to melt.

Brussels with pancetta 
Blanch the Brussels sprouts in a pan of boiling salted water for 3 mins. Drain the water away and place into a bowl of iced water to quickly cool them. Drain off any water again and set aside until nearly ready to serve. Sauté the pancetta in hot goose fat until crisp, add in the sprouts and stir-fry everything for a further 2 to 3 minutes, before placing in a bowl to serve.

Brussels with hazelnuts 
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the sprouts and cook them for about 5 minutes until just done. Drain well and place the sprouts into a warmed serving dish. Meanwhile, melt some butter in a small frying pan and add your hazelnuts. Cook the hazelnuts until they just start to brown, and the butter is turning a lovely deep golden brown. It should smell delightful, a lovely nutty smell. Tip this mixture over your sprouts, and add pepper to your taste.

Hopefully there will be no more hiding the sprouts round the back of the plates or feeding to the dog!

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

How to Keep Your Christmas Tree Alive

Inspect the Needles
Before you even select your tree make sure that you inspect the needles, they should feel flexible, not dry and brittle.

Cut the bottom of Your Tree

Before you put your tree in its stand, cut off the bottom inch or so of the trunk to provide a fresh surface for water uptake.

Water the Tree

As soon as possible, get the tree in water. The base of the tree should never dry out, so make sure your water bowl doesn't become empty! Generally a typical tree will absorb about a litre water each day for every inch of trunk diameter. That's probably a lot more than you would think!

Block the Sun

Keep your tree away from direct sunlight, heaters and fans because these things will speed up the drying-out process.


Keep It Humid
If you have a humidifier in your house, put it in the tree-room. It will help keep the needles fresher long, as well as reduce the risk of fire.

If all of this seems like too much work, opt for a potted tree instead and as an added bonus you can plant it in the garden afterwards!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Badger cull called off in Gloucestershire

Great news that the Badger Cull Pilot is to end earlier than planned after Natural England revokes the licence over failure to meet greatly reduced targets


The Guardian has reported that
The controversial badger cull in Gloucestershire is being abandoned after marksmen failed to kill enough animals to meet even drastically reduced targets, the Guardian can reveal.

The collapse of the culling trial represents a humiliation for the government's policy as it means every target set has now been missed.

Natural England (NE) will revoke the culling licence and the cull will end at noon on Saturday, three weeks earlier than planned. The cull, intended to help curb tuberculosis in cattle, was initially tasked with killing 70% of all badgers in the area in a maximum of six weeks.

But just 30% were killed in that time, leading to an eight-week extension that was granted against the advice of the lead scientist on NE's board. A revised target of 58% was set but shooters have failed to kill enough badgers on any night and several night saw no kills at all. The extended cull was due to end on 18 December.

The environment secretary, Owen Paterson, said previously he wanted to roll out the culls across the country, but will have to wait for the verdict of an independent panel of experts. The panel – which will judge whether the culls have been effective, safe and humane – said it would only consider the initial six-week periods of shooting in Gloucestershire and the other pilot cull in Somerset. Both areas failed to meet the target of killing 70% of badgers in the six weeks.

The pilot culls were testing whether shooting free-running badgers at night could kill sufficient numbers of the animal to reduce TB in cattle herds. An earlier, decade-long trial found that culling could after four years curb TB infections by about 16%, but it used the more expensive method of trapping the badgers in cages before shooting them. Those culls were also carried out quickly – within eight to 11 days – and experts have warned repeatedly that the much longer and less effective current pilots risk actually increasing TB, as fleeing badgers spread the disease more widely.
Fantastic news that this crazy attempt to control the badgers has finally been stopped.
DG

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden

Located close to Gatwick Airport is the fantastic Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden. The  stunning selection of sculptures chosen by owner-curator, Hannah Peschar, is extremely wide and varied with styles varying from figurative to highly abstract. The various sculptures use an  innovative selection of contemporary materials ranging from metals, wire, glass, ceramics and plastics as well as the more traditional stone, wood and bronze.

The grounds are simply fantastic, we visited in the Spring, I would imagine the autumn colours would also compliment the sculptures beautifully as well.
A large giant head lies amongst the undergrowth.
See through fungi on an old tree stump

Another large head, this one resembles part of an old giant statue. Fabulous colour in the woods.




Each sculpture is placed in the landscape with a carefully considered and meaningful relationship with the other featured works within the garden, which was created by the award-winning landscape designer  Anthony Paul. The overall result is an beautifully inspired combination of peaceful, enclosed harmony and dramatic, surprise vistas in an ever-changing environment.Whether you are fan of sculpture of just beautiful landscapes there is something for everyone.

If you are staying over then the Holiday Inn at Gatwick is conveniently located.


For more information and opening details check out their website

DG

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Planting Fruit Trees in Winter

If you’ve never experienced the sheer unbounded joy of casually picking some apples or plums from your own fruit tree and then sharing them with friends and family then you’re missing out on an unique experience.
Apple, pear and Victoria plum trees are all ideal fruit trees to plant in your garden. Not only will they enhance its natural beauty but they will also provide you with the most organic and natural fruit money can’t buy. The fruit is delicious in itself and can also be used to make delicious ciders, wines, moonshine, chutneys, preserves and jams. But it’s important to note that to ensure a healthy tree and productive harvest, it’s always best to plant certain fruit trees in Winter.

What Type of Fruit Trees are Suitable for Planting in Winter? 
Deciduous fruit trees such as apple, pear trees and Victoria plum tree should always be planted in Winter, as opposed to evergreen fruit trees such as Olive and Loquat which are hardy but best planted in the spring or more tender trees such as lemons which should be overwintered in a cool conservatory. Deciduous fruit trees have evolved in a temperate climate and require exposure to the cold of Winter in order to produce fruit and flowers. This is known as the minimum chill requirement. The growth buds of these particular trees do not blossom properly until they experience a full winter.

How to Plant a Fruit Tree in Winter 
Fruit trees are in their dormant stage in late Autumn and early winters, so this is the best time for planting. Always soak the roots thoroughly and avoid placing in the ground if there’s a frost because the soil needs to be moist. Place your fruit tree in a position in you garden which benefits from both sun and shelter. When it comes to digging a hole ensure it is a third wider than the tree’s roots and the same depth. Insert a stake to support the tree and fill the hole with soil. Water the ground well, but only well enough to keep it moist. You do not want to drown the tree’s roots.

Things to be Weary of When planting fruit trees in winter 
To maximise the amount of fruit they yield almost all deciduous fruit trees require careful and regular pruning. It’s also a good idea to apply a grease band to the trunk of your tree at least 18 inches above soil level to protect it from moths and other insects who will eat its leaves and fruit. The application of fertilizer, organic or chemical, is a personal preference but it can give the fruit tree just the boost it needs to start bearing the sort of fruit that will make you the talk of the town.



This article was first published last year.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Win £50 National Garden Voucher

This month we have been offered a £50 National Garden Voucher for one lucky reader to win. With access to over 2,000 leading garden centres, make sure your kitted out this Autumn! Choose from over 90,000 garden and leisure products – this is the perfect give away for any garden lover. You don’t need to be an experts to appreciate this offer – Enter now for your chance to win!
To enter simply tell us what you would spend your voucher on.
Extra entries can be made by sharing this competition on Twitter (include #DiligentGardener) or by liking our page and sharing the competition on Facebook.

An additional entry can be made by "following" this blog via Google Friend Connect

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 30 November 2013. Any entries received after this time will not be counted. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older to enter. By entering this competition you agree and consent to your name being published and by taking part in the competition, entrants are deemed to have read, understood and accepted all of the Terms and Conditions and agreed to be bound by them. The winner will be selected at random from the valid entries and will be announced here on the blog. Please make sure we are able to contact you if you do win.Entries can be made as "anonymous" on the blog but if you don't leave a Twitter name or other way to contact you then those will not be counted.

Japanese Week at RHS Wisley

RHS Wisley are running a special Japanese themed week this week, with exhibits of local childrens art as well as displays of woodblock printing and also displays of Chrysanthemum and Acer in the Glasshouse. Tomorrow and Friday also includes bonsai experts from the Sutton Bonsai society.

For more information see the RHS website.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Save Money and The Environment


At the moment the cost of energy is very much in people’s minds with lots of news coverage as to prices increasing from the major energy companies. However have you looked at what you personally are spending and what steps you can do to reduce your own energy use. After all saving energy saves you money and helps the environment at the same time.


When you look into what you use there is a surprisingly large amount of the energy that you are paying for that is going completely to waste. Instead of heating your home, keeping you clean, charging your mobile phone or washing your clothes, huge amounts of gas, electricity and water are being lost and are of no benefit to you or your family.

There is a risk that by wasting energy that you are paying for that for many in this county they have to cut back elsewhere, and with the general cost of living increasing as well this can be difficult for many, which leads invariably to making sacrifices.

Fortunately if you have never looked at your energy use before it is actually surprisingly easy to make changes and therefore you won’t need to make many of those sacrifices any more. Identifying energy waste puts money back in your pocket without compromising on your home comforts and general quality of life, as well as giving you some peace of mind in knowing that you are doing your bit for the planet.

Luckily, energy providers E.ON are here to help you save energy with their Saving Energy Toolkit.  This targets energy waste in the home by identifying particular faults in your property.

There are many features of the toolkit – from charts and graphs that track your energy expenditure over a given period or analyse what areas you use the most energy on to a comparison tool that allows E.ON customers to see how their performance rates in relation to similar households in their local area – so you’re sure to find ways to cut energy usage.

The whole purpose is to encourage households to only use as much energy as they need and that’s why these great features are combined with plenty of hints and tips on how to reduce energy consumption.

How will it do that?

Many customers may well be entitled to have an expert visit them at home – someone with the knowledge and understanding of how your home should be performing in terms of its energy use. This is important as not every home is the same, for instance a house with solid walls will have different options available to a home with cavity walls.

They will be able to spot ways in which you can cut back on your consumption and subsequently your costs.

You could also be eligible for a range of discounts and special deals, or perhaps a smart meter, which provide more accurate readings and ensure that you do not overpay on your bills.

If not, you can gain access to a multitude of helpful tips to help you to target ways in which you can improve energy efficiency. These aren't complicated things – just easy to follow, simple and practical bits of advice that will help you to run a happier home.

By following the advice on reducing your wasted energy you can actually reduce how much you use without having to cut down on comfort levels, there is no need to be cold this winter to save money. Cutting waste is also not just a one off thing, by making your home more efficient you will save year after year!

Friday, 1 November 2013

What to grow in November


Although the weather is still reasonably mild, and lots of trees are still hanging on to their leaves, there are plenty of signs that winter is on its way now. The days are getting shorter and after the clock went back last weekend its dark in the evening too. Frosts will soon be a regular visitor... so it is easy to relax and imagine that there is little to grow at this time of year. Think again! There's actually lots of preparation and plants to get started in November. So what vegetables can be grown in November in the UK? 

Garlic
Of course it is possible to start your garlic in the the Spring with some varieties being perfectly happy being planted in early spring, November is by far the best time. Garlic really does need a good dose of frost as this cold will encourage the bulbs to split into cloves. And whilst planting them you can think back to the sunnier times in June and July when you were harvesting them. 

For a guide to growing garlic, check out our handy guide on how to grow garlic. 

Onions & shallots
By now we are just about as late as we can go for planting onions or shallot sets in before Winter really gets going. Personally my favourites are the Japanese Sensyhu onions as these are nice and hardy as well as being pretty easy to raise (a perfect combination). 

Broad Beans 
Usually the advice is to sow your broad beans late Winter to Spring between February and May, so why would we be advising growing them in November? The reason is to extend the growing and therefore the cropping season. If one just relies on your Spring sowings then you would expect to be harvesting your produce between July and August. However by having an Autumn sowing as well you'll then be able to have an additional crop in June as well.

Peas
Exactly the same idea as with your broad beans, start some early and crop earlier as well potentially up to 6 weeks earlier.

Whatever you choose to grow enjoy it and keep warm!

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Bayer Suing EU over pesticide ban

Bayer has sued the European Commission to overturn a ban on the pesticides that are killing millions of bees around the world. A huge public push won this landmark ban only months ago -- and we can't sit back and let Big Pesticide overturn it while the bees vanish.
Bayer and Syngenta, two of the world's largest chemical corporations, claim that the ban is "unjustified" and "disproportionate." But clear scientific evidence shows their products are behind the massive bee die-off that puts our entire food chain in peril. 
This past summer, 37 million bees were discovered dead on a single Canadian farm. And unless we act now, the bees will keep dying. We have to show Bayer now that we won't tolerate it putting its profits ahead of our planet's health. If this giant corporation manages to bully Europe into submission, it would spell disaster for the bees.
The dangerous chemical Bayer makes is a neonicotinoid, or neonic. Neonics are soaked into seeds, spreading through the plant and killing insects stopping by for a snack. These pesticides can easily be replaced by other chemicals which don’t have such a devastating effect on the food chain. But companies like Bayer and Syngenta make a fortune from selling neonics -- so they’ll do everything they can to protect their profits. 
The EU banned these bee-killers this past May, after a massive public campaign anda clear scientific finding from the European Food Safety Authority that neonics pose huge risks to bee populations. Bayer fought against the ban every step of the way, using tactics taken from Big Tobacco -- pouring millions into lobbying and fake science to stop decision-makers from taking action. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

British forests under new threat from pests


British forests under new threat from pests reports the BBC:
A year after the first case of ash dieback in wild trees in Britain, the disease has now spread across much of England, Wales and Scotland. The public is being asked to be the "eyes and ears" of the countryside amid concern about new global threats that could spell disaster for forests.
It is quite worrying just how many threats the nations forests are currently under. The OPAL Tree Health Survey reveals the key threats.

Oak processionary moth: first detected in Ealing and Richmond in 2006, then outbreaks in south London, west London and Berkshire - it defoliates and weakens trees, making them susceptible to pests and diseases

Asian longhorn beetle: wood-boring insect that can cause damage to a range of trees - a major 2012 outbreak in Kent was traced to wood packaging imported from the Far East

Asian longhorn beetle
Citrus longhorn beetle: a few have arrived on trees imported from China, Japan and South Korea, but have so far been intercepted

Chalara dieback of ash: fungal disease of ash trees, now established in the UK, which causes crown death and wilting and dieback of branches

Pine processionary moth: insect moving north through France and now breeding near Paris - 1995 outbreak in Scotland was contained

Emerald Ash borer: beetle that damages ash trees - a native of Asia, it's arrived in the US in imported wooden packing material

The risk to the forests is huge and this once wooded island could see large patches badly damaged.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Win A Rod and Bens Hamper


Its competition time again and this time we have a fantastic seasonal produce hamper from Rod and Ben's to give away.

Rod and Ben’s, an award-winning organic food producer in Devon, produces vegetable boxes, a range of sumptuous seasonal soups and wholesome new organic food pots, all of which will be included in the hamper along with other local Devon goodies. Rod Hall runs his farm with the knowledge that the best-tasting, most nutritious and honest food is picked and eaten in season without endangering the environment. 

The veggies from the farm either land in boxes or find themselves in Rod & Ben’s soup kitchen within a matter of hours, where they are blended together using simple recipes so the ingredient’s integrity – colour, flavour and texture – is preserved.

To be in with a chance simply tell us what your favourite home cooked meal is and why? Perhaps you have a particular memory attached, was it something a relative used to make or is it something that reminds you of your childhood?


Extra entries can be made by sharing this competition on Twitter (include #DiligentGardener) or by liking our page and sharing the competition on Facebook.

An additional entry can be made by "following" this blog via Google Friend Connect

Terms and conditions: This competition closes at 23.59 on 29 October 2013. Any entries received after this time will not be counted. Entrants must be UK residents aged 18 years or older to enter. By entering this competition you agree and consent to your name being published and by taking part in the competition, entrants are deemed to have read, understood and accepted all of the Terms and Conditions and agreed to be bound by them. The winner will be selected at random from the valid entries and will be announced here on the blog. Please make sure we are able to contact you if you do win.Entries can be made as "anonymous" on the blog but if you don't leave a Twitter name or other way to contact you then those will not be counted.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Giant Mushrooms at Kew Gardens


Giant woven willow sculptures of some of the UK's edible mushroom varieties have sprung up on the lawns at Kew Gardens. Created by artist Tom Hare. Kew's experts look after the largest collection of dried fungi in the world - which also includes more sinister, inedible varieties. Kew's fungarium is opened to the public on 13 October to mark National Fungus Day. See Kew Gardens Website for more info

New Report Paints a Grim Picture of Pain

A grim portrait of pain has been revealed by a new study for Deep Relief,  a topical, clinically proven analgesic gel which uses both analgesic ibuprofen and counter-irritant levomenthol to deliver a dual attack on pain to provide, effective pain relief.
In this survey of 1000 adults, almost half (43%) said they were blighted by pain on a daily basis. A similar proportion (45%) reported living with pain for more than five years.
Commenting on this latest pain data, Dr Sarah Brewer a media GP notes: “Worryingly, this new Deep Relief research revealed that three out of five (60%) who suffer regular aches and pains put their health at risk because they rely on oral pain-relief pills. Long term use of oral painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen has been linked with a corrosive effect on the digestive system and long term use of ibuprofen and diclofenac at high doses have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack.  It is estimated that this family of medicines, known as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs, is responsible for 2,600 deaths a year and 12,000 hospital admissions out of 25 million prescriptions not to mention the number of people that buy NSAIDs Over The Counter. ”

A staggering one in two people (48%)also  simply ‘grin and bear pain’. Standing for long periods (41%), household chores (40%) and sitting at a desk for long periods (33%) all aggravate discomfort and a third (32%) report that cold weather makes their pain worse.
However, there are innovative products that can help us with our pain and manage it. Using an effective topical pain relief product such as Deep Relief gel can help maintain mobility and prevent pain from undermining the ability to enjoy daily life.
Deep Relief, for example, is a topical analgesic gel which uses two weapons to help fight pain - analgesic ibuprofen and counter-irritant levomenthol — to deliver a dual attack on pain which has been clinically proven to provide, effective relief. The ibuprofen reduces pain by damping down inflammation and swelling while the levomenthol provides a counter-irritant effect which delivers cooling pain relief.
The synergistic action of these two key ingredients enhances penetration of the ibuprofen suggesting that Deep Relief may deliver more ibuprofen than products containing ibuprofen alone.

Deep Relief has been subjected to a randomised, double-blind placebo controlled trial — the toughest scientific test there is — and is proven to reduce pain in walking, standing and at rest. 
So if you suffer from muscular mild to moderate pain niggles opt for a topical pain relieving gel like Deep Relief gel. However, if the pain becomes severe or worsens, always seek GP advice immediately.
Deep Relief retails at £5.65 for a 50g pack - Always read the label
Find out more – visit: www.deep-relief.co.uk
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