Busy Gardening

Welcome to Busy Gardening

If you are looking for a gardener in Didcot, Abingdon & Wallingford (or anywhere in between) to help with those small jobs that others are not keen on then I can help. My name is Steven Bradley and I provide a small gardening service in and around where I live. Here you can find out a bit more about me, what I do and other (hopefully) useful and interesting information including how to get in touch!

Snowdrops - January 2019

Things to do in January

As January is the mid-Winter month this means it is likely to be the coldest month of the year so in theory there isn’t a lot to do… or is there?

Sloe Gin really is Christmas in a bottle

Now there are many drinks that are associated with Christmas but when all the hullaballoo of bright colours and bubbles have been and gone and you are sitting there just wanting to enjoy a quite moment then you just cannot beat Sloe Gin because… it is Christmas in a bottle. We “foraged” some Sloes last year and now, at long last, we got to enjoy the harvest as Christmas.

Finding gold in the compost bin

There I was digging out a compost bin and the spade hit something rather solid which was a bit unexpected but not necessarily unusual. When emptying a compost bin – you never know what you will find but it seems on this occasion it was going to be a pair of very rough secateurs but what was even better – they were not mine for a change!  Anyway, question is can we rescue and restore this gardening artefact to its former glory?

My leaf sweeper makes its mark

Heaven is a leaf sweeper

Autumn, I love autumn but sorry, not so keen on the leaves. No sir.  However this year, having waited in the hope the price would come down (it didn’t), I invested in a leaf sweeper (which one of my clients described to their other half as looking like a pram). Ignore that – if you have lots of leaves then a leaf sweeper may well be the answer to your prayers because it was to mine.

Things to do in December

It might be cold and dark and wet and grey and damp and really not a lot of fun but there are still plenty of things you can be doing in your garden. Others have more detailed suggestions (see end of article) but I have a few to offer.

Leafmould Cage (Leaf mould cage)

Harvesting last years leafmould

If you spend a lot of November sweeping up leaves and putting them in your garden waste bin then you are missing out on the best soil conditioner you can get your hands on and what’s more it is free.  So last year I made a leafmould cage at a client’s garden and this year it was time to see what the harvest was looking like and I wasn’t disappointed.

Malus - Red Sentinel

Things to do in November

Are you looking out of the window at the gloomy sky and the cold, wet weather and wondering what to do? Really? This is no time for lounging around there is work to be done people! OK, things do start to become a bit challenging but November is a really great time (when dodging the showers) to invest a bit of your time that will pay dividends next year.

Nigella's Mexican Inspired Lasagne

Making a Mexican Lasagne with the last of the sweetcorn

Well it was back from the allotment with the last of the sweetcorn which to be honest wasn’t looking its best so what to do with it?  After getting out the recipe books and flicking through we hit on Nigella’s Mexican inspired lasagne and wow it is really good and so easy.

October - Lovely!

Things to do in October

Right it is Autumn and that means… lots of superb colour, long walks, wet grass and knowing that as nature starts to shut up shop for the year, there are still so many joys to find and that the wonders of winter are just around the corner before that new year starts again.

Potato on pizza is a match made in heaven

We were looking for something different to do with the last of the new potatoes when a recipe that used potatoes as pizza topping floated into vision. Potatoes… on top of pizza… really who on earth would come up with that?  Ah, of course those wonderful people who invented pizza!  So if you like pizza then you really must try Pizza con Patate.

Postcard from Broughton Grange

Every garden should be re-visited to see how it changes but the gardens at Broughton Grange in North Oxfordshire should be visited again and again and again.  It has that feeling that no matter whenever you turn up, you just know there is going to be something really quite different to see and that is what makes it special. It was our first visit but it definitely won’t be our last… this is my postcard from Broughton Grange…

Things to do in September

September is my favourite month – the summer still lingers but clearly Autumn is on its way. The leaves are starting to fall and the sun rises later but after your month off in August now is a good time plan any Autumn work (paths, edges, new borders). In other words… plenty to be doing and plenty to be enjoying.

Things to do in August

With the heat of mid-summer hopefully behind us, August is a time to enjoy those longer warmer evenings in your garden or at the allotment. Whether it is a session tackling those pesky weeds or just sitting down with a glass of wine and watching nature go by whilst the sun goes down, the only thing you really need to do is enjoy this time.

Coffee Beans - Juan Pablo Serrano Arenas

Three reasons why are used coffee grounds bad for your plants

I kept coming across patches of fine brown stuff around the base of plants in some of the gardens and the owners told me they are coffee grounds – they help to “improve” their plants. Now I had heard about the wonders of coffee grounds before but I had also come across a few notes of caution so I wanted to find out whether or not used coffee grounds were good or bad for your plants. And the answer is, they are bad. So why are used coffee grounds bad for your plants?

Charred cauliflower, lemon & caper orzo

What on earth can you do with a Cauliflower in the height of summer?

It was going to be a seriously hot day and a quick spin around the allotment to sort the watering resulted in a neighbour offering us a lovely cauliflower because… they had lots spare… as you do… in July. Ask most people what they would do with a cauli at anytime and I am sure it is going to involve cheese or being boiled to within an inch of its life as a side veg. So in the height summer this might be a challenge, fortunately there is a wonderful charred cauliflower, lemon, caper and orzo recipe that might make you think differently.


Things to do in July

In the blink of an eye, June has given way to July which means summer is in full swing. Whilst it is important to take the time to enjoy your garden, there are plenty of small things to do to keep it looking great over the next few months.

I have gone all Poldark and decided to swap the strimmer for a scythe

It is too easy to reach for a power tool (in this case the strimmer) and attempt to blast your way through a job when in reality a much better tool that is cheaper, easier and far more effective may be just around the corner. So when faced with keeping some overgrown field margins tidy I decided to put the strimmer to one side and try my hand at using a scythe (whilst keeping my top on).

Postcard from the East Hagbourne’s National Garden Scheme Open Gardens

Some things you rightly have to wait for and every 3 years a wonderful group of people open up their gardens in East Hagbourne as part of the National Garden Scheme Open Gardens and today was that day!  So we enjoyed a lovely few hours wandering around their gardens big and small and all offered a very warm welcome and so here is my postcard from East Hagbourne’s National Garden Scheme Open Gardens day.

Mrs B

Postcard from Wytham Woods

Wytham Woods is an ancient semi-natural woodland, which has been owned and maintained by the University of Oxford since 1942 and we spent a lovely few hours wandering around the woods.  You will need to apply for the free permit should you want to visit but a visit is well worth it as there are plenty of long trails through the woods to enjoy.  You can also do your bit to help document how the woods are changing by taking photos at designated “Chronolog” points.

MrB's Alliums (2019)

Things to do in June

Summer has arrived at last and with it comes the prospect (in theory of course) of warmer drier weather which gives you the chance to get out there and do a bit of work but also take a moment or two (but no more!) to enjoy the fruits of your labours from earlier in the year. Keep an eye on the watering and the weeds both of which will need plenty of attention at this month.