The Potting Bench Diaries – 18th January 2023

This week… the weather has been quite mixed but I’m happy to report that I actually got outside for a bit, especially at the weekend. Although it was cold, the sun was shining here and that, for me, is fine gardening weather. Happy to wrap up and be outside than not be outside at all. That said, my first couple of reports are from inside the house actually.

Now, I’m not one for masses of seed sowing as soon as we hit January but I have been doing a little recently. After the sweet peas from autumn were neglected (holding my hands up there!), I’ve sown another batch this week – which I usually do anyway but these are all I have now.

I’m not too proud to say that if these get neglected too (or eaten by mice) then I’ll just buy some plugs, no shame in that!

However, the real seed news comes from the cobaea scandens, which show their very first signs of germination! I’ve sown them in to individual coir pots, with a total of about 10 sown. I wont need all those but I love giving things away, so I’ll grow them all on and pass some on later down the line.

Keeping with the indoors for a moment with some houseplant news. While I don’t talk about our houseplants all that much, we do have a healthy collection – mainly of the standards such as Monstera. We do however have a growing amount of Begonias, reasons for which I’m not too sure to be honest. They seem to like our house so I’m going with the flow by bringing in more of them into the fold.

I’d like more of the ones we’ve got so I’ve taken cuttings to root in water, all of which have suddenly rooted over the last week after sitting in water for a little while. The majority of houseplants (there are of course exceptions) will root in water if you give them long enough, so why not give it a try yourself?

Taking things back outside now and out into the afore mentioned sunshine with something very exciting… This weekend I saw a bee! Yes, a bee, flying around merrily in the cold January sun.

And thank heavens for our Hellebores, which this one was enjoying to no end! Our Hellebores are really romping away (I’ve never used the word romping so much in my life until I got into gardening!) and I’ll let some of them self seed and I’ll try to contain the others to, well….containers. I’m hoping to increase our stock of these over the years because they really have been an absolute joy to take us into, and through, winter.

I’ve mentioned on here before about the fact that I top all my bulb pots and containers with grit. One reason for this is to stop squirrels (which its only partially affective with) and the other is that it just looks nice.

Well, this week I received a nice big bag of Shell On Earth, a fantastic natural by-product of the fishing industry in Wales. These are essentially crushed whelk shells, which would otherwise be thrown away, so the folk behind these wanted to do something with the shells and along came the idea for Shell On Earth!

I’ve used this to top the remaining bulb pots, but it can also be used for indoor growing for topping houseplant pots or in terrariums. You could also use it on garden borders and beds too, to add an interesting layer to the surface. Either way, I love it and you can get your own by visiting

And finally, a look ahead to this week’s book review.

I’ve been fortunate enough to grab an advance copy of something that is bound to excite a lot of us across the growing community – Charles Dowding’s ‘No-Dig Children’s Gardening Book’. Now you can truly get all generations involved in sustainable and organic gardening.

Come back Friday to find out more about it but until then, you can preorder a copy for just £10 here.

Enjoy your week, whether you’re outside, inside or anywhere else!

See you again Friday

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