Saturday, 18 May 2013

Box gardening

I had a double bed in the back garden over Christmas and not being one to just chuck stuff out I new I'd find a use for it eventually. 

Added a Hessian cover

The hanging strawberry bed.

I am going to use the two boxes on the left for baby gem lettuce, spring onions, Italian salad leafs, garlic chives

Friday, 17 May 2013

lucking good!

I am sure I am having more than my fair share of beginners luck with my allotment and with all the reading and research I had done before this season I am more than pleased with the way things are going.  Luckily for me I am sharing a greenhouse with someone, so have grown everything from seed and this seems to be paying off when compared to people's shop bought plants.  I would like to know what  B&Q and Homebase are putting  in their soil and feed as they appear (to me) not to like the transition from shop to allotment.
Romensco broc doing well, my kids love this veg.  Looks unique  and tastes a little bit  like  cauliflower.

Early savoy  growing fast.

cauliflower (hate it when the mrs puts cheese on it! dont tell her)

Swede. Got told it was to early for this to go in but here it is!

Peas. reaching for the sky. My kids eat these raw  popping them out watching TV.   Better than popcorn.

Parsnips.  I really hope these grow OK.  My favourite.

Sprouts.  Not just for Christmas.

Aubergine. Didn't think this would grow outside this early.  But  here it is!

Sweetcorn. I Thought id killed these off by putting them out so early, but they seem to have come  to life  again.

Friday, 10 May 2013

.. You've seen a what?..

Managed to get on the plot today and it was no surprise that everything is looking like a tornado has passed through.
 I had a little tidy up and weeded between all the bits I've planted so far.  I have only been doing this a little while but clearing things and seeing uniform rows of veg plants you've grown from seed fills me with more joy   than it should and more than I expected.  But joy is short lived and fear sets in.
 Not having enough time to do all that I wanted due to my kids simultaneously needing No.2's! Why they can't go at school before I pick them up I shall never know. So packing things up quickly I had to leave everything uncovered. I wasn't worried until leaving....

"Dad I've just seen a rabbit!"
"You've seen a What?"
"...a rabbit!"
"You're joking....are you sure, you didn't just hear something in the bushes?"
"No I saw a rabbit!"
"**!!" ( I don't swear in front of my kids but I did then)

......"Dad I need the toilet"

And that was that. It's my turn to cook as my partner works late on Fridays, so by the time everyone is fed and watered (including said rabbit) it will be to late.
  The only good to come out of this and I know its early, but still no sign of slugs and with the amount of seedlings I put in I'm taking it as a good result that the Nematodes worked.  Do Nematodes work on rabbits... I think not!

Parsnips doing well.

Pumpkin storming ahead
Parsnips, Romensco Brock, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Red onion,  Swede.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Introducing wildlife to your plot.

Any one that has read my piece on slugs and my use of nematodes to combat them will know, although this is my first plot I am determined to garden as green as possible.  This has lead me to explore the encouragement of wildlife to my plot.  My first stage in this process was to sow flowers (edible ones at that) to encourage bees for fertilization and friendly bugs like ladybirds to keep populations of gardeners enemy bugs at bay.  My second was the introduction of a water feature complete with around about sixty tadpoles all growing up quickly into an army of slug killers. If this and the little bug house built on the side of my shed were not enough I joked the other day about building an army of hedgehogs to destroy the invading slimy crop eaters, well guess what?  Living at home and having two cats we leave bowls of cat food in our out house out at night for them.  Hearing some bizarre noise one evening last week I was amazed to see two hedgehogs making there home in said out house.  Being so close to a source of food makes a lot of sense but sharing with my two cats and living in my washing...not such a good idea.  Life maybe full of coincidences, that's not for me to say, but it seems it in this instance it was and I knew just where to re-home them.
  After stuffing enough dried straw, dried grass and enough leaf material to make the underneath of my shed a fire hazard we decided to release them yesterday just as the sun was coming down.  Because of the cats we had a cat box so transporting them was easy enough.  Watch the video its quite cool and I am assured by my partner and my kids that they are very cute, I don't know about that either I just know If any of my crops get eaten by slugs after all of this prevention....War!

Friday, 3 May 2013


If you haven't read the reasons why I am using natural slug prevention rather than the easy choice of using slug pellets, please read my post titled The slugs are coming! before you read this.

  I ordered the product from E bay and it was here within two days, which is very important as this is a live product and it is to be put straight into the fridge until you are ready to use it as the shelf life is only two weeks.  Choosing the right time and day for the application is a must, dawn or dusk preferable or otherwise just make sure its not in direct sunlight due to evaporation.  Luckily for me but not other gardeners Tuesday morning was a cloudy start to the day so conditions were perfect.
You will need at least an 8 litre watering can, spoon type of instrument and a stirring stick.  While I am confident that no wildlife (apart from the slugs) will be harmed using these nematodes. I am using a tea spoon that an adjacent plot holder stirs his tea with every day so any adverse effects on humans I will let you know.  
Apply the same as the video underneath an that should give you a coverage of 10 metres sq so a full coverage of 40 metres sq which should do most plots and any bigger there are other sizes for sale. This gives    you control for up to 6 weeks and you can reapply any time up to October while slugs are active.

Any one who is reading my blog and with out getting on my soap box I really think that this is the best slug prevention there is.  Used along side a few other tricks and maybe sowing a few more seeds knowing you may lose a few to pests, in general is far better than reaching for the slug pellet.  It is fact that 95% of slugs actually live underground so attacking them from the top makes no sense.  The over use of slug pellets by gardeners is harming our natural predators of the slug which also makes no sense.  Surely being a gardener is to be green, to get away from mass produced produce that has been over fertilized and sprayed with so many chemicals  to do the same on your plot, small holding or back garden is madness.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Come on Kermit! (update)

After sending in the Lego builders and the family, the frog pond has been finished.

Planted a sage plant on the left and sown basil, coriander, thyme and rosemary all along the ridge at the back.  Behind that I have put about 15 sweetcorn plants and 15 sweetcorn seeds so as to provide shade to the pond and give us lots of sweetcorn.  Funny what a difference a day makes as all jobs are now done.  Peas are in and by the end of the day were already reaching and curling round the netting.  I found an old avery cage that someone threw out and is going to be perfect at housing my brassicas.  

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Come on Kermit.

 I am so determined not to use any chemicals on my plot and that includes the slug pellet.  As some who have read my blog I am using Nematodes to combat slugs underground but am relying on the slugs natural predators on the ground.  With a lot of slow worms and common lizards to do the job I thought i'd give them an extra hand as there seems to be an abundance of frog spawn and tadpoles around the place.
  Why there were so many baths behind the main allotment shed I don't know but I was determined to recycle one of them.

Drag to plot.

Dig hole and place.

Fill with water and add a bush

And learn to take decent pictures.

Chuck in some tadpoles.

And two hours later look who came to visit.

Now we have an instant slug catcher and some still to be born.  Slugs?...Not on my plot!

Friday, 26 April 2013

Common Lizards

Hey guys. I am writing a piece on the health of peoples allotments and wondered if you may be able to help me out. In the winter I found these guys hibernating in my shed and while they are common lizards their numbers along with the slow worm are dwindling.  So I was wondering are people seeing these on their plots and for any long term plot holders have they seen a difference in there numbers?  Also, I know a lot of councils have banned allotments from using carpets and I am not asking you to grass any one up (get it!) are people still using them?  Any replies will be appreciated. Thanks.