This page provides convenient links to some of the posts I have written specifically to give advice to novice gardeners.

If you do not find here what you are looking for, why not try using the "Search this blog" facility in the blog side-bar?

My gardening philosophy

Gardening advice for beginners - Part 1

Gardening advice for beginners - Part 2

Gardening advice for beginners - Part 3

Caring for plants in snowy conditions

Crop protection - cloches etc - Part 1

Crop-protection - cloches etc - Part 2

Protecting crops with nets

Value for Space Rating (VSR)

Volume versus Diversity

Sowing seeds indoors

Chitting seed potatoes

Composting on a balcony

Dividing and re-potting Mint

Weedkiller-contaminated compost - Part 1

Weedkiller-contaminated compost - Part 2

Coping with dry conditions - watering strategies

The ideal container for growing tomatoes

Cane-supports for tomato plants

More on cane-supports for tomatoes


  1. Hello there
    This is a message for Mark. I am a very keen gardener and grow all our own vegetables, and also enjoy painting. When I saw your image of the borlotto beans titled 'halfway house' I instantly wanted to make a drawing from it. I thought it would be poilte to ask first
    Hope to hear from you

  2. Hi Beth; I would be delighted if you used one of my photos as the basis for a painting - and I would love to see your finished painting too! Borlotti are very photogenic, so I reckon they will probably make a good painting too. Good luck!

  3. Hi Mark,
    I left a message on an older blog then saw this more up to date advice blog. My father in law gave my little one a Carters Marketmore cucumber plant. We were told to pinch off the male flowers to stop pollination. I know some varieties do need pollinating. Do these or not? I saw that you have used this variety. Can you give me some advice please.

    1. Hi Julie; When I grew "Marketmore" I never used to remove the male flowers and I still got good cucumbers. I notice that Marshalls, from whom I got the seeds, state specifically "Do not remove male flowers" - so there is your answer.

  4. Hi Mark,

    Love your blog! My hubby and I purchased our first house and I'm so eagerly wanting to start up my veggie garden now that I'll have a small backyard. I love your raised bed set up and was wondering if you would mind sharing how you did your initial set up and the size of your raised vegetable bed, the soil mix you used. What would be some good veggies you'd recommend a beginner to start out with?

    This year will be too late to plant anything but I want to start the layout and build the beds and prep soil so I'm ready for next year.

    Thank you so much in advance for sharing your knowledge.

    Angelique from Ontario, Canada

  5. Hi Angelique; Having your first veggie garden must be a very exciting prospect! If you use the Search facility in the side-bar of my blog, you will see lots of posts about the raised beds, but this one from 12th Feb 2015 will probably be the most informative one for you: My advice it to use a high proportion of organic matter in the beds (compost, manure etc) as well as soil. There are plenty of things you can still sow this year - why not start with some salads, like radishes, lettuce, Rocket etc, or plant some ready-raised brassicas like Cabbage and Leeks? I'd also say "don't be in too much of a hurry", because it is best to understand which bits of your garden get most sun and when, so that you can plan it effectively for the future - so don't plant any perennials in the first year!


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