Why terrarium plants like a nice cup of tea | James Wong

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Suspended in their glass bowls, terrariums are a delight but they are susceptible to mould. Here’s how to tackle it

It’s one of the most frequent gardening questions I’m asked: “How do you tackle mould growth in terrariums?” On Instagram I have been asked at least half a dozen times today – and it’s only lunchtime. I guess that’s what happens when you share your tiny flat with 30 or so tanks and terrariums, in all shapes and sizes. So, as you asked, here are my tips for keeping your ecosystem under glass healthy and mould free.

Terrariums are an ingenious piece of technology first invented in the 19th century by amateur naturalist Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward. He discovered that delicate, moisture-loving plants, like ferns and mosses, that were next to impossible to grow in the dry, drafty air of Victorian parlours suddenly thrived when the humidity and warmth were sealed around them in closed glass cases. Unfortunately, the same sky-high humidity levels that keep these plants alive can also be perfect for the growth of mould, which can strike without warning and soon overtake a terrarium. However, there are three simple steps you can take to keep the balance in check.

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Self-seeding leads to happy garden accidents | Allan Jenkins

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Allowing unexpected guests to make themselves at home in the plot results in some unplanned developments

A piece in praise of accidental planting. Or at least, allowing some self-seeding. Every year, now, we have red orach, though it was last sown here 10 years ago. The purple seedlings start sprouting early, signalling when our soil is warm enough to germinate. A trigger to sow our own rows. Some I eat young as salad. Others I cook later, like a crimson spinach. But I always leave a few plants to grow tall and punctuate through the chard and beetroot leaves.

It’s the same, of course, with the nasturtium and calendula that pop up in what might at first feel like an inappropriate place, but with some small management work well and is easy to work around. Others I will move or perhaps not want this year, but being open to some randomness in my growing increasingly appeals.

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How to grow foxgloves | Alys Fowler

Gardening Advice - the Guardian -

Digitalis sown now will bulk up before autumn and be ready to plant out next spring

One of the many joys of foxgloves is that they appear just as spring’s flurry of blooms has disappeared and the garden is waiting for summer to take off. It can be a surprisingly dull moment in the garden, with all the yellowing leaves of tulips among the tired aquilegias. But the spires of foxgloves unfurl to raise your eye away from the dying back below. Combined with ferns, astrantias, dusky cranesbills and cultivated cow parsley, Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’, they make the most of dappled shade and please the bees with it.

This moment is long gone. In fact, many will now be setting seed. If you don’t have your own plants, this is the moment to start sowing. Digitalis sown in the next month or so will bulk up before autumn and be ready to plant out next spring.

Related: How to weed in a wildlife-friendly way | Alys Fowler

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