Vegetable Garden

Reflecting – Top 14 Gardening Articles For 2014

December 30, 2014

Reflecting - 14 Gardening Articles for 2014

Sometimes we have to look back to help us move forward. As the year draws to a close it seems like a good time to share with you the gardening articles from the blog that most caught your (or search engines) attention. I’d also like to ask you a question or two.

Re-Designed Website

cheeky hen2014 saw a slight shift in the information I’ve posted. A major website overhaul took place during the late summer which resulted in the scaling down of the thirty or so categories I’d managed to drift into, to just six.

This has given the blog more of a magazine feel to it and allows me to alternate my writing between Food & Drink, Green, Travel, Lifestyle, Community Gardens and Vegetable Gardening. This couldn’t have happened without the expertise of Ken McGuire of Event Media, who spent a lot of out of hours time working with me on the website so that the switch over could take place as pain-free and swiftly as possible.

During the year, 82 new posts were published, bringing the total archive to 429. I’m still plodding away, adjusting styles and fonts that didn’t make the transition, so please bear with me if you open an article that shouts words at you.

Beach - Clear Lakes and Guiness Cake by

A major website overhaul meant a lot of time spent indoors in front of a screen and not outside in our own garden, as did setting up the Green and Vibrant venture with my friend Susan and working with the various community garden and voluntary projects that have kept me busy during the last 12 months. This resulted in our own garden looking quite neglected, something we plan to put right over the coming months.

That brings me swiftly to the special word that “chose me” for 2015… BALANCE, something that I’ve struggled with but am hoping to remedy and focus more on over the coming months. Balancing family and home life with work, blogging and voluntary time is essential, particularly when I look at our children and see how quickly they’re growing up.

Feedback Please

At the beginning I mentioned asking you a couple of questions. Although an ‘experienced’ blogger, I still wonder at times if I’m regularly sharing the kind of information you enjoy reading. I’d be grateful therefore, if you would leave a comment at the end mentioning which style of article you like the most. In other words, am I doing it right?

Are you here for the ‘How to’ gardening tips or do you find the recipes helpful? Do you enjoy reading about our family life or the work I’m doing with community gardens, or perhaps the articles that cut straight to the facts, or the new travel section that I’ve explored over the past few months? Are you enjoying the new format where I try to alternate a bit of everything? All constructive criticism welcome, your opinion will help me write content over the coming months 🙂

That’s enough of my rambling for the time being. Here’s the promised list of the most popular gardening articles since the blog began back in 2009 – the 14 most popular posts for 2014, beginning with number 14.

No. 14 – How to Make Mini Scarecrows

A post I wrote back in 2012 but still a popular one. This is fun activity for all age groups and a handy one for wet weather.

How to make mini scarecrows - lady scarecrow

No. 13 – Harvesting Broad Fava Beans

Love them or hate them, there are several ways we can eat broad fava beans that might even make the nay sayers try them out.

Broad (Fava) beans growing

No. 12 – How to Make Comfrey & Nettle Fertiliser

Comfrey is a wonderful plant to have in your garden – bees love it, our skin enjoys it in baths, and our soil and compost heaps will thank you for it too as it nourishes the earth as a natural fertiliser. It can be a bit invasive but I’m delighted to see that so many of you are looking at ways of fertilising your soil without the use of artificial chemicals. This post will show you how.


No. 11 – How to Dry Herbs

Freeze, bake or air dry, here’s some tips on drying your own herbs. Herbs were the first plants I grew in containers and are ideal for newbies to get started with. There’s a post on the blog written this year that gives tips on how to grow your own herbs if you’re not already doing so.

How to dry herbs ~ air, oven & freeze

No. 10 – Gardening Under Cover – Where to Begin

This post was written for a twitter friend who asked for some advice. If you have a gardening question that you can’t find the answer to, let me know and I’ll do my best to help.

Nasturtium cookie recipe

No. 9 – Polytunnels & Organic Growing During the Winter Months

Number nine on the most read posts is a Guest Post that addresses many questions we all have about winter growing in polytunnels. The why, what, how of polytunnel growing during the colder months.

Growing vegetables in a polytunnel during the winter

No. 8 – How to Plant Garlic in the Autumn

Autumn planted garlic seems to grow so much better than spring planted, probably because the bulb is more likely to swell after a good frost. This post was picked up by a popular American blog this year and although written in 2010, after a re-vamp shot up the popularity charts, making it the eighth most read post on the website.

How to Grow Your Own Garlic - Step by Step Guide

No. 7 – Strawberry Cordial or Alien Aspartame

When trying to cut down on the additives in our children’s cordials by making our own juices, we discovered how much sugar is added to them. We also found that only one popular variety of cordial is available here in Ireland that doesn’t contain aspartame, added by soft drink companies as an alternative to sugar. Here’s a recipe for strawberry cordial as well as some information on aspartame and why we’re trying to avoid it.

strawberry cordial

No. 6 – Five Ways to Help Bees

Thankfully the plight of the bees is beginning to sink in as more and more of us become aware at how endangered they’ve become and how much we rely on them for our day-to-day food. This post gives five tips on helping the bees, as well as an inspirational video clip sharing how even the smallest steps we take, can make a difference to their survival.

Blooming Flowers at Mount Congreve during Late September

No. 5 – How to Make Blackcurrant Juice

It’s great to see that so many of you are experimenting with making your own juices and cordials from fruit you’ve grown or bought. This post gives a very simple and tasty recipe for blackcurrant juice. Well worth a go if you want to try the real thing.

Refreshing Blackcurrent Cordial

 No. 4 – Green Tomato & Chilli Chutney Recipe

I’ve received some great feedback on this recipe as many of you have a go at making your own chutney and not throwing fruit and vegetables away that are under or over ripe. It was also used by community gardeners for the last two years to make a chutney that we sold at Savour Kilkenny Food Festival.

5 Ideas for Green Tomatoes

No. 3 – Courgette Cake with Lemon & Lime Curd and Pistachio – Recipe

This recipe inspired by Nigella Lawson was written in the summer of 2010 and revamped this year. It’s been in the top 3 posts on the blog since then and I’m pleased to hear so many of you have tried courgette cake as a result.

Courgette Cake with Lemon & Lime Curd & Pistachio

No. 2 – Slugs. 15 Ways to Deal With Them Organically

This article started out as ten, then quickly grow to 11 and now 15 ways of getting rid of this annoying pest without resorting to the slug pellets. Beer traps still remain the most effective way in our garden. This post is full of more solutions that might help you.

14 posts for 2014

No. 1 – 14 Vegetables to Grow in a Small Garden

I was thrilled to find that the most popular gardening article is one that might help more of you to grow your own vegetables. The suggestions made in the post are based on tried and tested vegetables that we’ve grown in many of the community gardens I’ve been involved with, most of the plots with limited space. It’s also appropriate that the article has 14 vegetables for the 14 top posts of 2014!

Grow Your Own Kale

Grow Your Own Kale – one of 14 vegetables suggested for small gardens


That’s all from me for this year. Thanks so much for reading, supporting and interacting, either here in the comments, online through the various Greenside Up social media channels or by email or text. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you.

Wishing you a very Happy New Year and here’s to a long and productive growing season in 2015.

Bhliain Nua Sásta




  • Reply Lorna December 31, 2014 at 10:22 am

    The website looks great Dee – making me conscious that mine needs a tidy up. I always enjoy your posts but your question make me try to work out what posts I like best and I know I really really enjoy your posts that include stories – be it the creating of community gardens,or growing veg in the garden at home with the kids or visiting somewhere with Susan. I think people enjoy glimpses into other people’s lives – not in a nosy way but the feel good factor you share is infectious.

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 6, 2015 at 11:19 am

      Thanks for thinking about my question Lorna, appreciate the feedback. I must try to remember to add a bit of a story into my “how to’s” if it helps with their readability. Redesigning the website was one of my favourite things to do last year, even though it took some time and effort. Happy New Year 🙂

  • Reply AllotmentinmyGarden December 31, 2014 at 11:31 am

    My favourite posts are the ‘how to’ gardening ones as I’m learning by trial & error so all help welcome! I also really appreciate the recipes to use up over supply of crops as that’s another area I’m learning about. Can’t wait to get back out on the allotment now, thanks for the inspiration!

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 6, 2015 at 11:16 am

      Hi there and thanks for the feedback, glad the post has helped inspire! Will have to look through and see what posts I’ve written that might be of help to beginners. Happy Gardening 🙂

  • Reply Marie Ennis-O'Connor (@JBBC) December 31, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    I love this end of year pieces, and even though I am not a gardener, it was wonderful to read this. Your tips on drying herbs is one I’ll be using and I must try your courgette cake recipe again soon. Happy New Year Dee

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 6, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Hi Marie, thanks for that and glad you enjoy the posts too. The courgette cake is scrummy! Happy New Year to you 🙂

  • Reply Amanda Webb January 5, 2015 at 9:45 am

    It’s always interesting to see which posts have been working for bloggers. Great selection here and interesting to note that so many have ‘how to’ in the blog title.

    • Reply Dee Sewell January 6, 2015 at 11:14 am

      Yes, I thought so too! Have been trying not to make all my post titles “How to’s” but it seems to be what the search engines or people browsing like.


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