Alan Titchmarsh’s brilliant hack for people with small gardens exposed

The gardening legend advised people to get out in their gardens, regardless of size, and try their hand at planting – regardless of whether it is plants, vegetables or fruit. The 70-year-old is renowned across screens for getting the British public into their gardens and reinvigorating the industry throughout the Nineties. And when speaking on ITV’s ‘This Morning’ in 2018, Mr Titchmarsh explained exactly what people should plant if they have a smaller garden.

Initially, host Eamon Holmes said: “There will be people out there who have worked up an appetite and want to go into the garden. And you have a few ideas.”

To which Mr Titchmarsh responded: “Just simple little things, I hear people say they haven’t got a big garden but you can get a little trough, you can get multi-purpose compost in it and you can get herbs.

“You buy them in pots, such as mint, which is very invasive but in troughs who cares. They’re glorious.

“The key with this is to put it outside your back door. We’ve got mint, we’ve got thyme, sage, parsley, chives and basil in a sunny spot right near your kitchen window.

“And even if you don’t end up using them the smell is amazing.”

Throughout his career, Mr Titchmarsh has won over audiences with his charming demeanour and clever gardening tips.

Previously, the ‘Ground Force’ star revealed what his favourite plant was which sparked his love of gardening and how you can grow them in your own garden.

In an article for Country Life last year, Mr Titchmarsh explained he loves aubrietas – which are named after French botanical article Claude Aubriet.

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The plant itself originates from southern Europe east to central Asia but has now become a mainstay in British and European gardens.

It is renowned for its small violet, pink or white flowers, and grows around rocks and banks.

In his article, the star wrote: “Oh, how I love it.

“I love its ability to grow in the most inhospitable-looking terrain — tumbling banks of boulders or spoil heaps studded with lumps of concrete that someone thought to disguise with a few rock plants.

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“Over a couple of years, aubrieta turns itself into flower-studded pillows that cannot fail to raise a smile.”

He then described the best way to ensure they keep growing in your garden.

Mr Titchmarsh added: “As the plants age, their thick rugs can die out in places and turn the plants into shaggy mats rather than plump cushions.

“Don’t try to divide them, the operation will drive you nuts and you will end up with loose hanks of straggling stems.

“Instead, take shoot-tip cuttings after flowering, or even later in the summer, and root them in sandy compost.

“The resulting young plants will have far more vigour than their aged relatives, which can be pulled up and consigned to the compost heap.”

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Monty Don confession: How gardener fulfilled life ambition after near-death experience

Monty Don, 64, has become Britain’s best known green-fingered extraordinaire during his time as a TV gardener. Last week, he celebrated the 52nd birthday of his beloved BBC flagship show, Gardeners’ World.

Having presented it since 2003, it has become one of the things Monty is most proud of.

This was made all the more so when, in 2011, viewers around the country were invited into Monty’s Herefordshire home where he has presented from ever since.

A few weeks ago, Monty found himself in our living rooms yet again, this time presenting the Chelsea Flower Show.

It wasn’t, however, anything like the show’s usual running.

With the coronavirus outbreak and current lockdown, participants were forced to present their flamboyant displays from their own homes.

Competitors were left despondent at the news, many having prepared in excess of a year for the big date.

In 2008, Monty suffered an intense health scare.

It led to a hiatus from presenting Gardeners’ World, and a revaluation of the strenuous work he was putting himself through.

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At the time, he told the Daily Mail how he woke one morning with his body’s entire left side numb.

Feeling nauseous and dizzy, he explained: “I turned to Sarah in a panic and said ‘I think I’m having a stroke.

“I’d been feeling pretty rotten since Christmas, which I’d put down to exhaustion because I’d been working so hard, but this was completely different.

“It felt like there was a kind of chasm in my head, as if there was a section that wasn’t working. It was the feeling that I wouldn’t be able to speak if I tried, but then when I did try I found I could.

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“My rational mind was saying ‘You can do this’, but my first reaction to anything, such as moving my arm, was ‘I can’t do this’.”

He later added: “I said to my wife Sarah ‘Hold me because I think I’m dying and, if I am, I want to die in your arms’.”

The episode was later identified as a minor stroke, also known as a transient ischaemic attack.

Coming within death’s grasp led to a period of reflection.

One such meditation was revealed during a Radio Times interview in 2016, when Monty revealed how he relished the thought of becoming a grandfather.

Although, at the time, he conceded that the prospect seemed far away.

Talking about his beloved golden retriever, Nellie, he revealed his heartbreaking wish for grandchildren.

He said: “My children tell me I’m much too indulgent with Nellie, so perhaps when the time comes I shall treat grandchildren the same way, like very favoured dogs.

“There is no immediate prospect of grandfatherhood that I’m aware of, but I’d really like to have small children around again.

“I’d know what to do. I’d be less cross about things that there’s no need to be cross about. And I can always hand them back.

“Most problems in parenthood are to do with exhaustion, trying to do six things at once.”

Monty has since been gifted a single grandchild, a boy, George Jack Don.

The little Don was born on May 28, 2019.

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Hosepipe ban: Water usage warning as record-breaking spring sees reservoir levels decline

Spring has been a record-breaking season this year, with a staggering provisional sunshine total of 613.2 hours across the UK. Each of the home nations has broken their spring sunshine records according to the Met Office, making for the driest spring since records began.

Hot weather is continuing into June, and some rivers which flooded earlier this year are now running at exceptionally low levels.

The Rivers Lune and Kent in north-west England are at a similar level to those seen in the droughts of 1984 and 2011.

The low level of rain May has broken records in England with parts of the north-west, central and south-east England seeing their driest May.

Only four millimetres of rain fell in south-east England; central England recorded five millimetres and north-west England 13mm.

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Some are wondering whether this dry spring will trigger summer hosepipe bans, with some water customers urged to lessen their usage.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “We work closely with all water companies throughout the year to ensure their drought plans are up to date and activated as needed.

“At this time, most companies across the country have appropriate water reserves for this time of year.

“While dry weather since late March has led to a decline in some reservoirs, this is not unusual during a hot and dry spell, and they can recover quickly when the rain returns.”

Some across the UK have been experiencing lower water pressure due to the recent hot weather, and more Brits spending time at home during the lockdown.

Residents across areas of Nottinghamshire have faced water shortages or low pressure and were given an emergency supply from Severn Trent.

The water company, which supplies the entire Midlands, on Saturday set up stations in two Ashfield supermarkets, where residents could arrive and collect emergency bottles of water.

This came as Severn Trent reported a sudden increase in the amount of water being used across the region.

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The firm estimated the area’s usage in May 2020 has been 300 million litres greater than usual.

In Ashfield alone, the water usage has been 40 percent higher than normal for this time of year, which in turn has lead to a more widely-affected shortage.

Elsewhere, in texts and emails sent to customers, Affinity Water urged Britons to use less water to bring water pressure back to normal levels.

Affinity supplies more than 3.6 million people in parts of Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, the London Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon and parts of the London Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Enfield.

The company also supply water to the Tendring peninsula in Essex and the Folkestone and Dover areas of Kent.

Affinity wrote to customers and said: “Summer is here, and a lot of us are spending more time at home, which means many of us are using more water.

“This means you are highly likely to notice lower pressure at certain times of day.

“We wanted to let you know that we’re on it and our teams are working around the clock to make sure we get enough water to you & your community.”

However, Affinity reassured customers there “is enough water to go around” and the company said they “are treating and pumping water as quickly as we can.”

The firm asked customers to: “help bring pressure back to normal by working together with your community, using only what you need and avoiding any non-essential activities like filling up paddling pools, watering gardens and extra showers.”

Giving tips on how best to save water, advice from Affinity Water is

  • Shorten your shower – showers use between five to 15 litres per minute depending on your shower.
  • To lessen your water usage, aim for a four-minute shower.
  • Wash your car with a bucket and sponge, which uses much less water than a hosepipe.
  • Hang up your hose – this uses as much water in an hour as the average family of four uses in a day and a half.

Bookmakers Coral now makes it as short as 1/3 (from 1/2) for there to be a hosepipe ban in the UK this summer.

The firm is offering 4/9 that this summer is the hottest since records began in the UK, while this month is 1/2 to be the hottest June ever.

Coral spokesman John Hill said: “With a dry summer on the cards, a hosepipe ban is now looking inevitable according to our betting.

“This month is getting off to a fine start and as a result, we have slashed the odds on June being a record hot month.”

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UK hosepipe ban: How much will YOUR water bill cost if you use hosepipe during heatwave?

Temperatures are soaring across the UK, with highs of 27C forecast to hit the south of England on Wednesday. The heat will continue towards the end of the week and into June, with the Met Office warning parts of the UK will reach the “heatwave threshold”.

According to the Met Office, a UK heatwave threshold is met when a location records a period of at least three consecutive days with daily maximum temperatures meeting or exceeding the heatwave temperature threshold.

With many of us at home for most of the day due to the lockdown conditions – using water more often is unavoidable.

During periods of warm weather, often the temptation is to use the hosepipe to water the plants, fill a paddling pool or just to cool off.

However, this can be costly – with running water through a hosepipe an expensive way to access H20.

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It’s not all bad news however, as according to Water UK, the average water bill for a UK household from April will drop from £413.33 to £396.60.

For some, water bills are measured either by a meter on a monthly or quarterly basis.

However, others pay a certain amount each year to their water company and then can use an unlimited amount.

To water a garden using a hosepipe on average it costs around £1.50 worth of water, per hour.

A Thames Water spokesman told Express.co.uk running a hosepipe for an hour would use, on average, the same amount of water used by a family of four in an entire day.

In stark contrast, opting to use a watering can is a whole £1 cheaper, costing around 50p per hour to use.

If a hosepipe ban comes into place, those who breach the restrictions could be fined up to £1,000.

In May so far, much of the South-East has had less than two millimetres of rain this and some parts of the UK drier than the Sahara Desert.

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Laghouat, a camel oasis in the Algerian Sahara, on average sees 36mm of rain between the middle of March and late May.

With the hot weather and lack of rain in recent weeks, some water companies are urging their customers to save water and think before they use.

Affinity Water in the South of England sent a text message to customers on Friday asking them to only use what they need.

Affinity Water supplies Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, the London Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon and parts of the London Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Enfield.

The message read: “With hot weather and more people at home, demand for water has significantly increased, so you may experience lower pressure than usual.

“Let’s work together and only use what we need so pressures can return to normal.”

As well as linking to its website for tips on saving water at home, Affinity also added: “Remember to keep hydrated during the warm weather and continue to follow Government guidelines on hand-washing to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

Tips for saving water

1. Use a bowl in the sink when washing fruit, vegetables of dishes. You can then use the waste water to water your plants.

2. Fill a jug of water and put it in the fridge for when you want a cool drink.

3. Turn off the tap when you clean your teeth. A running tap uses up to nine litres of water a minute.

4. Wait until you have a full load before using your washing machine or your dishwasher. Some new washing machines use less than seven litres of water for each kilogramme of clothes, while modern dishwashers can use as little as 10 to 15 litres of water a cycle.

5. If possible, take a shower instead of a bath. A five-minute shower uses about 40 litres of water. This is about half the volume of a standard bath.

6. Use a water-saving device in your toilet cistern. Depending on the size of your cistern, you could save between one and three litres each time you flush the toilet.

7. Using a watering can in the garden instead of a sprinkler or a hosepipe. Garden sprinklers and hosepipes left running can use between 500 and 1,000 litres of water an hour.

8. Think about fitting a water butt to collect rainwater off your roof. Water butts usually store about 200 litres of water. As well as being better for watering your plants, using rainwater in the garden reduces the amount of treated water you use.

9. Check your property regularly for leaks on your internal plumbing.

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Hosepipe ban warning: UK to see driest May for 124 YEARS

Scorching temperatures have graced the UK this month, with Britons flocking to beaches and parks to soak up the sun now lockdown conditions have relaxed slightly. While many are revelling in the hot weather, the lack of rain in May could have knock-on effects later in the year.

Britain’s driest place – Boulmer, Northumberland – saw just 15mm of rainfall since mid-March according to the latest Met Office data.

In May so far, much of the South-East has had less than two millimetres of rain this and some parts of the UK drier than the Sahara Desert.

Laghouat, a camel oasis in the Algerian Sahara, on average sees 36mm of rain between the middle of March and late May.

Met Office forecaster Nicola Maxey told The Sun of May’s weather: “Chances are we are going to see the all-time record broken – making this month England’s driest May since 1896.”

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For the UK, data shows 31.5mm of rain has fallen so far, with the 1896 record being 19.1mm.

Water provider United Utilities weeks away from its reservoirs falling to levels which triggered the 2018 hosepipe ban for seven million customers in north-west England. Its reservoirs in West Cumbria are just 45 percent full.

The firm said: “We encourage people to save water, especially as coronavirus is seeing more home water use.”

Affinity Water in the South of England sent a text message to customers on Friday asking them to only use what they need.

Affinity Water supplies Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey, the London Boroughs of Harrow and Hillingdon and parts of the London Boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Ealing and Enfield.

The message read: “With hot weather and more people at home, demand for water has significantly increased, so you may experience lower pressure than usual.

“Let’s work together and only use what we need so pressures can return to normal.”

As well as linking to its website for tips on saving water at home, Affinity also added: “Remember to keep hydrated during the warm weather and continue to follow Government guidelines on handwashing to stop the spread of coronavirus.”

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Tips for saving water from Affinity include:

  • Shorten your shower – showers use between five to 15 litres per minute depending on your shower. Aim for a four-minute shower.
  • Don’t overfill the bath – a full bath uses around 80 litres of water why not see if you can even reduce this by an inch
  • Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth, and save over 6,500 litres of water a year and encourage others in your household to do the same
  • Save water and electricity by only boiling enough water for your immediate use
  • Use a bowl to wash dishes or vegetables
  • Fix dripping taps. You could save over 5,500 litres of water a year.
  • Hang up your hose – this uses as much water in an hour as the average family of four uses in a day and a half. Or use a trigger hose so you can control when water is released.
  • Water your plants using a watering can, either early in the morning or during the evening when it is cooler and there is less chance of water evaporating
  • A water butt is a great way to collect rainwater, you can use it to water your garden or wash the car
  • Wash your car with a bucket and sponge, which uses much less water than a hosepipe.

Temperatures are on the increase this week – with the Met Office forecasting heatwave thresholds will be exceeded in some parts of the UK.

On Wednesday, the mercury is again forecast to soar to the high 20C, with the South of England to see 27C, before the hot weather heads northwards.

The Met Office tweeted on Tuesday: “Over the next few days, it looks set to be very warm in many places.

“Today and tomorrow the highest temperatures will be in the South East, but as the week goes on the peak of the warmth will transfer north and west #StayHomeSaveLives # StayAlert”.

While Britons are allowed to attend parks and beaches – social distancing guidelines must be upheld out of doors.

This means keeping a two-metre distance between any other household where possible.

Bookmaker Coral is now odds-on at 1/2 for there to be a hosepipe ban in the UK this year.

The firm is offering 4/9 this summer is the hottest since records began in the UK, while next month is 5/4 (from 6/4) to be the hottest June ever.

Coral spokesman John Hill said: “With a prolonged dry spell on the way, it would be no surprise if a hosepipe ban was enforced for many parts of the UK this summer.

“There is a strong chance we could be set for a record-breaking hot summer, and it may well come early, as the odds on a record warm June have also been slashed.”

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Cress: How to grow cress- a quick and easy guide

Keeping the kids occupied is tricky enough during the summer holidays, let alone during lockdown. If you fancy getting your children into gardening but don’t know where to start, cress is cheap and easy to grow, and will give you almost immediate results. Evergreen Garden Care told Express.co.uk how to grow cress.

Equipment needed

  • Plant pot, or empty yoghurt pot with holes punched in the bottom
  • Damp compost, such as Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Fruit & Veg Compost
  • Spoon/small trowel
  • Cress seeds

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Method

Step one

If using a yoghurt pot, punch a few holes into the bottom of the pot.

If you are using a regular plant pot, simply place the pot onto a tray to avoid any compost spillages.

Step two

Fill the pot three-quarters of the way with moist compost. You need to allow space for the cress to grow.

Step three

Sprinkle seeds onto the compost, and cover the pot with clingfilm to retain moisture.

Step four

Keep the compost damp and leave the pots in a shady area. If cress becomes too hot and dry, it won’t grow.

Step five

Germination takes place within a couple of days, and you will see seedlings sprouting.

Step six

Cress is ready to harvest when it’s around one and a half to two inches high. It should reach this stage at around five to seven days.

Step seven

Snip off the stalks and enjoy in an egg and cress sandwich or salad!

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What is the quickest fruit and veg to grow at home?

If cress isn’t your style, there are plenty of other healthy treats to grow indoors. Here are 20 options:

  • Radishes: Sow fortnightly from March to June for a continuous crop. Harvest from 3-4 weeks after sowing.
  • Cut-and-come-again salad leaves: Trim the plants by cutting what is needed for the kitchen, then allow to grow before cutting again. Harvest from 6-8 weeks after sowing.
  • French beans: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June. Harvest 8-12 weeks from sowing.
  • Spinach: Grow big and strong spinach plants (and kids!) in just 8-12 weeks. They grow best with sunlight and should be kept well-watered at all times.
  • Spring onions: Perfect for salads, pastas and more, spring onions can be grown in pots or the ground and they’ll self-seed! Ready in just 8 weeks.
  • Carrots: Sow the seeds indoors in a pot or outdoors in the ground. If your kids can’t wait the full 12 weeks when they are fully developed, you can eat the baby carrots!
  • Tomatoes: These can be grown in a growbag, such as the Levington Tomorite Giant Planter, pot or ground, as long as it is a sunny spot. These can be planted after the last frost and will be ready to eat in 12 weeks.
  • Peas: These can be sown anytime from March to June and can be harvested in 8-12 weeks. A fun activity with kids is to create the structures to hold up the stalks using canes, string or chicken wire.
  • Lettuce: Small lettuces, such as Tom Thumb or Little Gem, take up less room and there is less wastage. Harvest from 8-14 weeks after sowing.
  • Bell Peppers: Start your bell peppers early by growing them indoors initially until after the last frost. They need sunlight, so make sure they go in a sunny spot. Ready to harvest in 8-16 weeks.
  • Beetroot: Sow at intervals from mid-March. Harvest from 11 weeks after sowing.

  • Courgettes and Marrows: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June. Compact, bushy varieties are better for small areas and containers. Harvest from 10-14 weeks from sowing.
  • Potatoes: Early varieties are the best and give that new potato taste. Plant seed potatoes from mid- to late March for first earlies, early to mid-April for second earlies. Harvest in 12-14 weeks.
  • Cucumbers: Deliciously refreshing and a favourite with many kids, cucumbers are best planted outdoors from April into deep pots. Ready in 12-16 weeks.
  • Broad beans: Best sown in spring. Dwarf varieties need less space and no staking. Harvest around 14 weeks from sowing.
  • Strawberries: Plant your strawberries in early spring (now!) to harvest in June and July, approximately 12-18 weeks from planting. Strawberries are a delicious treat and can be grown in hanging baskets, containers or in the ground.
  • Raspberries: Similar to strawberries, these need to be planted soon but the rewards will be reaped come summer. Best growing in raised beds but will also grow in containers. Ready in 12-18 weeks but will regrow year on year!
  • Runner beans: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June. Harvest 12-14 weeks from sowing.
  • Shallots: Plant shallot sets in February or March. Sets are quick to mature, producing a further 8 to 12 shallots each. Ready to harvest in 18 weeks.
  • Onions: Onions are a slow burner, but also a store cupboard essential for most families, so worth getting the kids involved in this one. They are best grown in the open ground and will be ready in 18-21 weeks, if planted in early Spring.

Source: Read Full Article

Monty Don heartbreak: How gardener ‘lost it all’ before breaking into broadcasting

Monty Don has become something of a gardening legend. He has presented the BBC’s Gardeners’ World since 2003 – then moving it exclusively to his Herefordshire home in 2011 where he still hosts the show.

In 2014, he was appointed as one of the main hosts of the famous Chelsea Flower Show.

With this year’s show cancelled, participants instead showed-off their displays from their own homes.

Monty presented a slew of shows last week, adding in gardening tips and tricks along the way.

He did not, however, ever intend to enter a career of TV gardening.

In the Eighties, he and his wife Sarah set up a costume jewellery business.

Disillusioned with London living and the weight of a business, Monty and Sarah jumped ship and bought a house in Herefordshire with land.

This was the beginning of their troubles.

Their previous London home had not sold, and there was still a business to be run.

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The business fell apart and Monty, almost ignoring the world around him, gardened their New Hereford home so relentlessly Sarah described him as having been “married” to it.

A loan to buy a farm and subsequent crash of the business left Monty and his family in severe debt and near-bankruptcy.

For two years their unemployment was deep rooted.

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At the end of a jobless season, Monty struck gold and managed a slot on a TV gardening segment in the early Nineties.

During a 2016 Radio Times interview, Monty reflected on how close he had come to losing it all.

He said: “I still think about when we lost everything.

“Once you’ve had that experience, you know that what seems like an impregnable position can disappear overnight.

“Mine is a big operation to keep running, and it’s fuelled by me.

“That said, my mental health has been great the last few years.

“I am very well and happy. I have an incredibly good marriage and lovely children.

“I do a job that is jolly tiring and I work very hard, but I really enjoy it and I think I’m quite good at it.”

Although enduring a momentary fall to the bottom, Monty has since rebuilt himself, his family, and his career.

Source: Read Full Article

Aldi special buys: The six Aldi best buys you need for your garden as heatwave hits

Aldi is known for its low prices, but Specialbuys are items that are sold even less. With new ranges up for grabs each week, what’s not to like? New affordable garden items have been released in bursts since April. Here’s how to get your hands the best items.

Aldi’s Specialbuys garden range is in high demand. Nearly 340 items went on sale on Sunday, May 17 on top of the existing items.

Customers were pre-ordering the garden furniture for days, meaning most of the range is out of stock and very few items are still available to order online.

Don’t worry, though, you can ring up your local Aldi branch to find out if they are selling the item you want to take home in-store.

There are 827 Aldi supermarkets in the UK. Find your nearest store using the locator tool here.

Read on to find out the six best buys from the collection.

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Ferrex Cordless Law Mower, £85, Aldi, buy here

Your average lawnmower costs at least £100, making this a total bargain.

If you have neglected your garden for the majority of lockdown, now is the time to deal with it.

The lawnmower is battery operated, making it mobile and hassle-free. Gone are the days of tangled extension leads.

Order this handy tool online or check if it is available from your local Aldi.

Wooden Balcony Set, £129.99, Aldi, buy here

Looking for a new table and chairs to kit out your garden with? Look no further.

Aldi’s Wooden Balcony Set makes dining al fresco feel more luxury than ever.

Showcase your garden, patio, balcony, or yard with this foldable table and chairs.

It is an online exclusive, so it is not available in store. You will need to act fast if you want to secure this deal.

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Light Basket Hanging Basket 14”, £4.99, Aldi, find here

Head to your local Aldi to try and purchase this one.

This delicate little hanging basket is perfect to fill with your bright and colourful flowers.

Buy a few of them to add life to your dull-looking garden.

The baskets are made with rot-proof plastic liner, so they will last you a while.

Cream Tiltable Aluminium Parasol, £24.99, Aldi, find here

Protect yourself from the harmful UV rays in the summer sun with this cheap but high-quality parasol.

Simply pop it up in the garden to remove the heat from your skin and take the glare out of your eyes.

The parasol is extremely versatile, allowing you to adjust it in three different positions.

It is sold out online, so you will have to check if it is available in your local store.

Gardenline Artificial Grass 1 x 4m, £27.99 each, find here

Everyone wants to transform their garden into their own personal paradise during lockdown, considering that’s the safest place to relax.

What if you don’t have a lush green lawn at home? This is the solution.

Add a splash of green to your outdoor area with this artificial grass.

Check if it’s available in your local store since it is sold out online.

Garden line Beige Pop-Up Gazebo, £59.99, Aldi, find here

You might not be having a social gathering any time soon, but you can still create a summer party ambience with this gazebo.

It offers a roof with UV protection of more than 80, ensuring you are completely protected from the sun.

Easy and quick to set up, this foldable gazebo won’t cause you any stress.

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Monty Don’s surprising job before broadcasting fame revealed

Monty Don has presented the BBC’s Gardeners’ World since 2003 – becoming a mainstay in living rooms across the country for 17 years. In 2011, Monty began to host the show from the comfort of his Herefordshire home’s garden, in hindsight a fitting place for a lockdown job.

Monty has elsewhere become something of an authority on gardening in the UK.

In 2014, he became one of the main presenters of the famous Chelsea Flower Show.

The show was intended to take place this past week, but, with the coronavirus outbreak, was forced to cancel.

Many of the show’s participants were at a loss after having prepared their elegant and dazzling displays for over a year.

However, a few weeks ago, Monty was quick to assure the nation that “[the show is] happening, just not quite as we know it.”

Participants have throughout the week presented their displays from their homes.

And, Monty was even able to remain as host, presenting the show on various days.

It’s hard to remember Monty for anything other than his expertise in horticulture.

JUST INAlan Titchmarsh: How star dubbed garden ‘safety valve for alcoholism’

However, before making a career out of his gardening, Monty revealed during a 2016 interview with Radio Times how he and his wife Sarah ran a costume jewellery business in the 1980s.

The pair owned the shop in Knightsbridge, selling all kinds of flamboyant and impressive pieces.

Being in such a prestigious area of London, Monty regularly served notable customers.

He admitted two were, in fact, Michael Jackson and Princess Diana.

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[ANALYSIS] 

Earlier on during the interview, Monty explained that getting older – he is now 64 – comes with its aches and pains, and none more so than for a gardener.

Monty explained how he felt at one moment young, the next old.

He said: “One minute you’re 32, and then you’re 60,” he muses, on one of those gorgeous days of basking May warmth which is the occasional signature of the early English summer.

“I like being 60, though. My generation is the first that can grow old with a sense that we’re not sliding down the plughole in a big hurry.

“I don’t want to be 20 again.

“I live in the present, looking neither forward nor back.

“I’m fairly fit – dodgy knees, but that’s ok.

“I’m told I need a new knee but I’m ignoring it.

“I don’t have time to get new knees, and you should only go under the knife when it’s the last option.

“Yoga has made a huge difference. The older you get, the more exercise you should do, not less.

“I have pain a lot of the time, but it’s entirely bearable.

“Listen – when you get to 60 you ache. Just take it.”

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Grow your own: How to grow fruit and veg – the 20 quickest fruit and veg to grow

With many of us having more spare time on our hands now, we are turning to new hobbies and reinventing the way that we live collectively and individually. Green fingered folks have been turning to their gardens for comfort and inspiration – and there’s no reason why you can’t make this your pantry too.

Evergreen Garden Care, a leading garden care company, has shared the best vegetables to get growing in your garden – and here’s hoping the lockdown will be over by the time they are ready to be eaten:

All you need to get growing are the following items:

  • Basic gardening equipment: trowels, gardening gloves, watering can
  • Something to help them grow: Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Fruit & Veg Compost, Miracle-Gro Performance Organics Fruit & Veg Planter or Levington Tomorite Giant Planter with Seaweed
  • Somewhere to plant your fruit & vegetables: pots of various sizes and/or raised beds and/or a vegetable patch
  • And the seeds or seedlings!

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Radishes: Sow fortnightly from March to June for a continuous crop. Harvest from 3-4 weeks after sowing.
Cut-and-come-again salad leaves: Trim the plants by cutting what is needed for the kitchen, then allow to grow before cutting again. Harvest from 6-8 weeks after sowing.

French beans: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June. Harvest 8-12 weeks from sowing.

Spinach: Grow big and strong spinach plants (and kids!) in just 8-12 weeks. They grow best with sunlight and should be kept well-watered at all times.

Spring onions: Perfect for salads, pastas and more, spring onions can be grown in pots or the ground and they’ll self-seed! Ready in just 8 weeks.

Carrots: Sow the seeds indoors in a pot or outdoors in the ground. If your kids can’t wait the full 12 weeks when they are fully developed, you can eat the baby carrots!

Tomatoes: These can be grown in a growbag, such as the Levington Tomorite Giant Planter, pot or ground, as long as it is a sunny spot. These can be planted after the last frost and will be ready to eat in 12 weeks.

Peas: These can be sown anytime from March to June and can be harvested in 8-12 weeks. A fun activity with kids is to create the structures to hold up the stalks using canes, string or chicken wire.

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Lettuce: Small lettuces, such as Tom Thumb or Little Gem, take up less room and there is less wastage. Harvest from 8-14 weeks after sowing.

Bell Peppers: Start your bell peppers early by growing them indoors initially until after the last frost. They need sunlight, so make sure they go in a sunny spot. Ready to harvest in 8-16 weeks.
Beetroot: Sow at intervals from mid-March. Harvest from 11 weeks after sowing.

Courgettes and Marrows: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June. Compact, bushy varieties are better for small areas and containers. Harvest from 10-14 weeks from sowing.

Potatoes: Early varieties are the best and give that new potato taste. Plant seed potatoes from mid- to late March for first earlies, early to mid-April for second earlies. Harvest in 12-14 weeks.

Cucumbers: Deliciously refreshing and a favourite with many kids, cucumbers are best planted outdoors from April into deep pots. Ready in 12-16 weeks.

Broad beans: Best sown in spring. Dwarf varieties need less space and no staking. Harvest around 14 weeks from sowing.

Strawberries: Plant your strawberries in early spring (now!) to harvest in June and July, approximately 12-18 weeks from planting. Strawberries are a delicious treat and can be grown in hanging baskets, containers or in the ground.

Raspberries: Similar to strawberries, these need to be planted soon but the rewards will be reaped come summer. Best growing in raised beds but will also grow in containers. Ready in 12-18 weeks but will regrow year on year!

Runner beans: Sow outdoors once the soil has warmed up from May to the end of June. Harvest 12-14 weeks from sowing.

Shallots: Plant shallot sets in February or March. Sets are quick to mature, producing a further 8 to 12 shallots each. Ready to harvest in 18 weeks.

Onions: Onions are a slow burner, but also a store cupboard essential for most families, so worth getting the kids involved in this one. They are best grown in the open ground and will be ready in 18-21 weeks, if planted in early Spring.

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