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, test the soil from different areas, as it can vary enormously. If possible, create main planting areas where the soil is good, saving poorer conditions for hard landscaping, where soil quality is less important. Chalky soil is alkaline, stony and free
.FERA carries out masses of environmental research, and their York site is filled to the gunnels with people I feel very at home with, including plant pathologists and entomologists. There are spores and bugs galore.It was great to meet Phil Jennings, also known
and make sure any fruit tree you plant passes your taste test before investing money and time in growing it.
's these long evening spent leisurely flicking through seed and plant catalogues that are costing me dearly. After a first run-through, the list of 'must have' plants is far too long, so I have to go through again in more detail. This is meant to be a ruthless
that will flower next year. And so the cycle continues. All I had to do, many years ago now, was sow the poached egg plants in the first place. And I pass on this 'tried and tested' advice in the hope that others will sow and grow this cheap and cheerful annual
, the sine qua non for any plant. The award was first introduced in 1922 and it means that this particular variety has been exhaustively tested by the Royal Horticultural Society. It has been grown in various conditions under the supervision of an expert
Feeling fruityI've hand-picked a few favourites that will certainly whet the appetite - they're all tried and tested for flavour and reliability.When it comes to fruit, I'm passionate about eating and growing as much as possible in its proper season
spread aflatoxin, a fungal infection that can be lethal to birds. Check the pack before you buy to make sure the nuts have been tested for aflatoxin. Whatever you do, never put out nuts intended for human consumption, because they contain dangerous levels