Tuesday, 18 July 2017

My allotment.

'Uchiki Kuri’
The Japanese red onion squash, round and orange with an excellent flavour.

This year I grow a lot of flowers - always a fresh bouquet in the home!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

My new Plants.

Erigeron Karvinskianus AGM:
- Hayloft Plants:
"A long-flowering, ever-changing carpet of colour.
Such a long flowering period, from May to October it is surely a must-have for every garden.
Happy in borders and containers, as an edging plant for tumbling over a wall.
Great ground cover and loved by bees.
Prefers well-drained soil in sun or part-shade.
Height 25cm (10”). Spread 30cm (12”).
Fully hardy perennial.
Cut back to ground level in the autumn to retain neat growth.
Dead-head to encourage further flowering.
Divide every 2-3 years to maintain vigour.
Propagate by division in spring.
Gently Self-sows into all the nooks and crannies."

Monarda Balmy™ Rose:
Prefer damp soil in sun or part shade. Height & spread 45cm (18”).
Fully hardy perennials.
Excellent early-flowering, compact monarda.
Dwarf variety is deer and rabbit resistant, as well as mildew resistant.
Vibrant, shaggy rose-colored blooms in abundance top this compact plant with very dark green, fragrant minty-basil-scented foliage.

Trifolium repans 'Purpurascens Quadrifolium':
Common Name: Clover, Shamrock 'Purpurascens Quadrifolium'
This is an ornamental variety of the common wild flower, White clover.
The leaves are divided into four leaflets rather than the usual three so if you are superstitious and value four leaf clovers this is the plant for you.
Each leaf is dark maroon purple and nicely edged and speckled with green.
It is a low growing hardy perennial that eventually spreads over a wide area with its stems rooting as they go.
The flowers are the usual clover heads of tiny flowers clustered into a rounded head.
They detract considerably from the effect of the plant and should be removed.
It may pay to let a certain number of flowers to stay for a week or two to satisfy the plants need to flower then cut them off.
Removing them as they appear tends to encourage the plant to produce more.

Geranium, Grandeur Odorata Orange:
Kept frost free, one plant can come back year after year, looking bigger and better each time.
Tender Perennial - can be brought back outside after Ice-Saints in mid-May.
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Thursday, 15 June 2017

Raspberry Fallgold (Autumn Fruiting).

Primocane varieties produce flowers and fruit on stems grown in the same year.
Most Autumn fruiting varieties are primocanes producing fruit in their first year of growth.

The 'Fall Gold' is a self-fertilizing, double cropping raspberry bush.
The first crop arrives in August and the second in October.
After the first harvest, cut the stems back to ground level.
After winter, prune only the dry part of the stems (those which bore fruit in the autumn).
It is from these stems that the first crop will arrive the following summer.
'Fall Gold 'raspberries are firm, medium sized, scented and very tasty.
You can train your raspberry bush along a fence or against a pergola.

A rare, exciting self-fertile gold raspberry with the same delicious sweet taste of red varieties, and with the ability to produce two crops each season.
After a late summer to fall harvest, a second crop arrives the following spring on the same canes.

Each cane produces for two years, a late crop from the first year’s new green growth and an early crop the following year from the same cane, now woody.
Even if you cut ever-bearing raspberries to the ground in winter or spring, you will still get one crop of berries in late summer from new growth.
Ever-Bearing Raspberries:
TWO CROP option: For two small crops, one in July and one in September, remove the weakest, thinnest canes with dead flowering or fruiting bracts.
ONE CROP option: For one large late summer crop, remove all canes, and the crop will come entirely from the new summer’s growth and produce berries in September through October.

Another advantage of autumn-fruiting raspberries is that they don't need supporting and you just hack the lot down in February.
Autumn Bliss aren't necessarily the tastiest of raspbs, but I started picking on June 22nd this year and they'll go on until November, weather permitting.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Natural Pesticides.

Alcohol Spray:
This spray really is great for houseplants. This especially works on mealy bugs.
1/2 cup of alcohol
2-3 tablespoons of dry laundry soap
1 quart of warm water
Mix all ingredients and spray immediately.
This solution must be made fresh for each use

Ammonia Spray:
Mix one-part household ammonia with seven parts water.

Basic Sprays:
Basic Pepper Spray - Blend 1/2 cup of hot peppers with 2 cups of water.
Strain and spray.
Basic Soap Spray - Mix 1 to 2 tablespoons liquid soap with 1 gallon of water and spray.

Bug Juice:
1/2 cup of specific species
Mash 1/2 cup of bugs then add two cups of water and strain.
Mix 1/4 cup of this "bug juice" with 2 cups of water and a few drops of soap and spray.
*Beware: Do NOT use flies, ticks, fleas, or mosquitoes in this solution!
These insects carry many communicable human diseases!

Garlic Spray:
This spray is effective against aphids, cabbage loopers, grasshoppers, June bugs, leafhoppers, mites, squash bugs, slugs and whiteflies.
3 oz. minced garlic
1 oz. mineral oil
1 tsp. fish emulsion
16 oz. water
1 Tbsp. castile soap
Combine garlic and oil.
Let soak for 24 hours; strain.
Next, mix fish emulsion with water and castile soap.
Slowly combine the garlic mixture with the fish emulsion mixture.
Keep in a sealed glass container.
This mixture will keep for several months.
To use, mix 2 Tbsp. garlic oil mixture to 1 pint water and spray.

Horseradish Repellant:
This spray is effective on aphids, blister beetles, caterpillars, Colorado beetles, whiteflies and soft-bodied insects.
3 quarts boiling water
2 cups cayenne peppers
1 inch piece horseradish root, chopped
2 cups packed scented geranium leaves, any type, optional
Combine ingredients and let set for 1 hour, cool, strain, and spray.
Note: this can be made without the scented geranium leaves if you don't have them to spare.

Lime Spray:
This spray is effective on cucumber beetles, mites and general purpose.
1 ounce of hydrated lime
32 ounces of water
1 teaspoon of castile soap
Mix hydrated lime with water.
Add soap to act as a sticking agent and insecticide.
This creates an effective spray agains many insects, especially spidermites.
Use up to twice a week.
Note: Lime can cause serious harm to plants if you use too much, so always spray a test plant first and watch it for a few days, to
check for any adverse effects on plants.

Oil Spray:
This spray works well on Aphids, mealy bugs, mites, scales, and thrips.
1 Tbsp. liquid dish soap
1 cup vegetable oil (peanut, canola, safflower, corn, soybean, or sunflower)
Mix oil and soap.
To use mixture, add 1-2 tsp. of the oil and soap mixture to one cup water, and apply to plants.

Orange Peel Spray:
This spray works well on soft bodied pests such as aphids, fungus gnats, mealy bugs and as an ant repellant.
2 cups boiling water
Peelings of on orange
A few drops castile soap
Pour boiling water over orange peels.
Allow to set for 24 hours.
Strain into a glass jar.
Add soap and spray.

Peppermint Soap Spray:
Gnats sometimes swarm on plants, usually indoor varieties.
Try this natural solution, but if the problem persists change the soil in the container.
To 1 quart of boiling water add:
1/2 Tablespoon of Dr. Bronner's Peppermint soap
Now fill a spray bottle with the mixture.
While the mixture is still hot, spray it on the plant, soil and gnats!

Red Hot Pepper Spray:
This spray works well on many different types of pests.
2 handfuls fresh red cayenne peppers
1/2 gallon water
2 Tbsp. olive oil
Dash of liquid soap
Combine ingredients, and let soak for 2 days.
Apply to plants.

Pepper-Garlic Spray:
This will repel many insects including whiteflies, apids, spidermites and caterpillars.
1 teaspoon of hot pepper or tobasco sauce
4 cloves of garlic
Quart of water
Combine one teaspoon of hot pepper or tobasco sauce, 4 cloves of garlic and a quart of water. Blend well in a blender and strain,
with cheesecloth or nylon mesh before placing in your sprayer.

Salt Spray:
This solution is used for cabbageworms and spider mites.
2 tablespoons of salt
1 gallon of water
Mix and spray.

Soap Spray:
This solution is used for aphids, mealy bugs, mites, scales, and
3 Tbsp. liquid soap
1 gallon water
Mix ingredients and spray on plants weekly.
Note: Buy a liquid soap and not a detergent. Health food stores
have liquid soaps, such as Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soaps.

Spearmint-Hot Pepper-Horseradish Spray:
This works on many different kinds of bugs- too many to list!
1/2 cup of red peppers (hot)
water (read below)
1/2 cup of fresh spearmint
1/2 cup horseradish (root and leaves)
2 tablespoons of liquid detergent
1/2 cup green onion tops
Mix all of the spearmint leaves, horseradish, onion tops and peppers together with enough water to cover everything.
Strain the solution.
After mixing all of these, add a half-gallon of water and add the detergent also.
To use this solution, mix 1/2 gallon of this solution with 1/2 gallon of water.
You can use this to spray almost any plant safely.
Store this mixture for a few days in a cool environment.

Tobacco or Nicotine Spray:
This mixture is great for combating many different types of bugs; especially caterpillars, aphids, and many types of worms.
1 cup of tobacco
1 gallon of water
3 tablespoons of liquid dish soap
Mix tobacco and water in container.
Allow mixture to set for approximately 24 hours, then check the color.
It should be the color of weak tea.
If it is too light, allow to sit longer, if it is too dark, dilute with more water.
Add the liquid soap to the mixture, and spray on plants.

Warning: Don't use this solution on peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, or any other member of the solanaceous family.
Tobacco chemicals can kill these types of plants!

- DIY Natural Insecticides | Permaculture magazine:

- Get Rid of Pests with Garlic | Permaculture magazine:

How to Make Rhubarb Spray Pesticide.

How to Make Rhubarb Spray Pesticide - gardenswag:

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Saturday, 10 June 2017

Plant Doctor

- Plant Doctor: "Garlic spray "
Garlic Spray

Garlic spray is generally an effective repellent and will kill some soft-bodied insects. Spray regularly for maximum effect.

3 large cloves of crushed garlic
1 teaspoon of liquid soap
1 tablespoon of vegetable oil
1 litre of water

Combine the garlic and vegetable oil and leave overnight to soak.
Strain the mixture and add to the water and the liquid soap.
Spray regularly.
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Sunday, 4 June 2017

I’m 35 and I love gardening. Deal with it.

I’m 35 and I love gardening. Deal with it | Life and style | The Guardian:
"Gardening is many things: beautiful, meditative, healthy, exciting, rewarding and creative.
However, I often feel as if gardening is not particularly popular among my peers.
It seems to come down to one thing: age.
I’m 35 years old and I’m passionate about gardening.
Unfortunately, whenever I bring up gardening in a social situation – at the pub or in a room of colleagues, for example – there can be a few wry smiles.
I sometimes begin to feel as if I’ve admitted to some unusual obsession, like collecting my own toenail clippings or keeping a pet rock.
At Christmas, a family member slapped me on the back and informed anyone listening that I was “a sixty year old trapped in the body of a thirty-five year old”."
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Wednesday, 31 May 2017


I use plastic bottles with top and bottom cut off then the top end trimmed with pinky shears to give an edge slugs won't want to cross.
Then organic pellets inside for any of the bugger's that come up that way.
Other than that nightly patrols which isn't really practical for you.
I agree the plant sounds like creeping buttercup, I am infested with it, though slowly getting on top of it by constant pulling up and soil improvement.
Hope that helps

How To Make Potting Soil For Container Gardening.

- How To Make Potting Soil For Container Gardening (with recipe!):
Container Mix Potting Soil Ingredients
Peat moss or coco coir *
This is your base ingredient.
Peat moss and coco coir are both great for water retention, aeration, and adding nutrients to the soil as they decompose.
The only difference is that coco coir is more sustainable than peat moss, and coir a very renewable resource (it’s the bi-product of coconut processing), and peat moss is more acidic than coir.
Buy peat moss here, or coir here.
Compost or well composted manure
Container garden plants (especially vegetables, fruits and herbs) need tons of nutrients to get them through the growing season, and compost is an easy and natural way to add tons of nutrients to the soil. You can buy compost here.
Like I mentioned above, potting soil for container gardening needs to be light and porous. Perlite is a natural ingredient that prevents soil compaction, and is a key ingredient for a well draining potting mix. Buy perlite here.
Another natural ingredient, vermiculite helps the soil retain moisture longer, and also works to keep the soil light and fluffy. Buy vermiculite here.
* if you prefer, you can use a general purpose potting soil instead of peat moss or coco coir as your base ingredient. Any type of all purpose potting soil will do, but I recommend buying an organic potting mix that doesn’t contain any added chemical fertilizers, and avoiding any type of moisture control potting mix.
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Monday, 29 May 2017

Saskatoons (Juneberries)

BUY at: www.kenmuir.co.uk
Saskatoon (Juneberry)'Smoky' -£15.95
Pick: Early-season
Smoky is the sweetest-flavoured Saskatoon or Juneberry, and one of the main commercial varieties. It is very heavy-cropping.
The fruits ripen unevenly - regarded as inconvenient by commercial growers, but a useful for the gardener who wants to be able to pick fresh Saskatoons over a longer period.

Saskatoon (Juneberry) 'Northline' - £15.95
Pick: Mid-season
Uses: Eat fresh | Cookery
Northline is a popular Saskatoon or Juneberry, with a fruity sweet flavour, and one of the most productive.
The fruits ripen evenly at the same time, so the whole tree can usually be harvested in one go.

- Saskatoon bushes for sale | Buy fruit trees online | Free advice: Orange Pippin Ltd is a company based in England.
Orange Pippin Limited
33 Algarth Rise
York YO42 2HX
United Kingdom
Please note that unfortunately we cannot allow personal visitors to our nurseries.
Email: trees@orangepippin.com
Telephone - UK: 01759 392007 (callers from Europe please dial +44 1759 392007).

'Thiessen' saskatoon bushes - £15.95
Botanical name: Amelanchier alnifolia 'Thiessen'
Pick: Early-season
Thiessen is one of the most popular Saskatoon or Juneberry varieties, with a particularly good sharp tangy flavour.
The tree is vigorous and the berry-like fruits are amongst the largest of their kind, and ripen early in the summer.
The fruits ripen over a period.

- Saskatoons (Juneberries):
Higher in antioxidants than blueberries and known to have superior nutritional properties, being high in fibre, rich in vitamin C and E and an excellent source of protein, iron, calcium, magnesium and potassium, Saskatoons (Amelanchier alnifolia) are regarded as a superfruit.

Also known as Serviceberries, or Juneberries, the fruits look like blueberries in respect of their size and colour, but they have a flavour more like that of a blueberry crossed with a cherry, with a hint of almond. They are delicious eaten fresh, but can also be cooked, dried or frozen and are perfect for making into jams, pies, muffins, syrups, salad dressings and even wine.

Unlike the acid-loving blueberry, Saskatoons will thrive in any good, well-drained, moisture retentive soil and will tolerate alkaline conditions up to a pH of 7.5. They are bushy deciduous plants that can be grown as a large shrub or a small tree, reaching a maximum height and spread of approximately 3-4m (9-13ft), although this can be kept down if required. They can also be used to form a dense, but productive hedging.

Saskatoons prefer to be planted in a position in full sun to part shade and are very hardy, so are suitable for growing nationwide, but as they flower early it is best to avoid planting them in a frost pocket. They are also self-fertile, so do not require a pollinator, although fruiting may be improved when two or more plants are grown together. First crops are normally seen within two years of planting and once established they can produce up to 4.5kg (over 9lb) of fruit per year.

As well as their nutritional benefits, Saskatoons are also known and grown for their ornamental value and will add interest to your garden through the seasons. In spring, plants are covered in a mass of attractive white flowers shortly followed by berries that turn from pink to deep purple as they ripen during late June/July. Finally their foliage become a blaze of orange and reds as autumn approaches.

- BUY at Suffolk: APPLE SERVICEBERRY OR JUNEBERRY (Amelanchier lamarckii):
APPLE SERVICEBERRY OR JUNEBERRY (Amelanchier lamarckii) - £12.99
All orders placed between November and March will usually be despatched within 14 working days, these will be barerooted and the prices stated on the website reflect this.

BUY at: - Juneberry Amelanchier alnifolia Obelisk - £8.00
Saskatoon. One of the best of the juneberries for its larger fine edible fruits.
This variety is narrow and upright, growing to 4m (13 ft) high.
Please email to reserve for winter 2017/18 - https://www.agroforestry.co.uk/product/juneberry-amelanchier-alnifolia-obelisk/
Agroforestry Research Trust Dartington
46 Hunters Moon,
Dartington, Totnes,
Fax: +44 (0)1803 840776
mail (at) agroforestry.co.uk

- Anyone for a bowl of bubbleberries? This summer's craziest fruits - Telegraph: "Bubbleberries"
Sweet and juicy with a dark purple skin, juneberries resemble large blueberries but taste like a cross between blueberries and plums. Juneberries will be available at farmers markets around the UK from late June to early July.

The scientific name for a Juneberrry is Amelanchier alnifolia. It is a deciduous shrub, native to the Canadian Prairies, where it is known as a Saskatoon Berry and has grown wild for centuries. The city of Saskatoon in Saskatchewan, Canada is named after this berry which was originally called ' misâskwatômina' by Cree peoples.

The berry looks very similar to a blueberry, however as part of the Rosaceae family, a Juneberry's closest fruit relative is the Apple. Commercial production of Juneberries began in Canada during the early 1980s and is now the second largest fruit crop from the Canadian Prairies, second only to Strawberries. Commercial production in the UK started in 2013 - becoming Pershore Juneberries.
Pershore is a market town in Worcestershire, England. - www.juneberries.co.uk

- Juneberry, the blossom with benefits | Life and style | The Guardian:

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Sunday, 28 May 2017


LAVENDER: Choosing,Planting,Growing,Pruning,Harvesting and Using lavender plants:

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Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for June

Fruit & Vegetable Growing Guide for June:

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My honeyberry.

- Why honeyberries could be the next soft fruit to conquer the produce aisle:
The “honeyberry guru of the world” Lidia Delafield, of US-based Berries Unlimited, has developed many new honeyberry varieties, including the cultivars:
Happy Giant, Blue Moose, Blue Palm and Strawberry Sensation, which has a hint of strawberry flavour.

Stewart Arbuckle, one of the first British growers to plant honeyberry trees in the UK:
Happily, honeyberries grow best in temperate climates like the UK, which is why Arbuckle is keen for other domestic growers to invest in the variety - a new 'superberry' from Siberia and Japan.
Honeyberries are harvested around 10 to 14 days earlier than local native (outdoor-grown) strawberries.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

French Tarragon and the Russian Impostor.

French Tarragon and the Russian Impostor – Laidback Gardener:
There are, in fact, two tarragons on the market: French tarragon (Artemisia dracunculus sativa) and Russian tarragon (A. dracunculus dracunculoides, sometimes simply written A. dracunculoides).
The two were derived from the same wild plant, but are definitely not equivalent, especially when it comes to cooking.
French tarragon is the aromatic herb made famous by French cuisine.
It is one of the four official “fines herbes” recommended by French chef Auguste Escoffier in the early 20th century for use in egg, fish, and chicken dishes, the other three being parsley (Petroselinum crispum), chives (Allium schoenoprasum) and chervil (Anthriscus cerfefolium), a quartet still promoted by chefs of the French persuasion worldwide.

French tarragon has a distinctive taste: a very intense mixture of anise and camphor with its own special touch.
It’s strong enough that you only need a pinch when cooking.
Its lanceolate leaves are medium green and borne on a shrubby-looking plant about 24 to 30 inches (60 to 80 cm) high.
You have to propagate French tarragon vegetatively, by stem cuttings, layering or division.
Over all, it’s a fairly short-lived plant: even under ideal conditions, you need to take cuttings every few years to keep it going.

Russian tarragon is an impostor.
It has little taste and is not considered of much use in cooking.

You’ll find seed packets of tarragon, for example, but they necessarily contain seeds of Russian tarragon, since French tarragon doesn’t produce viable seed.
Nursery shelves are sometimes filled with pots of Russian tarragon, because they can grow it inexpensively from seed, which makes it much more profitable than cutting-grown French tarragon.
Abundant flowers usually indicate Russian tarragon.
Pull off two or three small leaves and munch on them. If the taste is intense, in fact, out and out bitter, it’s French tarragon.
If they have little to no taste, it’s Russian tarragon.
And be forewarned: Russian tarragon can become invasive.
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Seeds to sow indoors in Early May.

Seeds to sow indoors in Early May – Laidback Gardener:
African Marigold (Tagetes erecta)
Ageratum (Ageratum houstonianum)
Annual Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila elegans)
Annual Flax (Linum grandiflorum, L. usitatissimum and others)
Annual Gaillardia (Gaillardia pulchella)
Baby Blue Eyes (Nemophila spp.)
Balsamine (Impatiens balsamina)
Basil (Ocimum basilicum)
Batchelor’s Button (Centaurea cyanus and others)
Brussel Sprouts (Brassica oleracea gemmifera)
Castor Bean Plant (Ricinus communis)
Celosia (Celosia argentea and others)
Chives (Allium schoenoprasum)
Cleome or Spider Flower (Cleome hasslerana)
Cockscomb (Celosia argentea cristata)
Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus and C. sulphureus)
Felicia (Felicia bergeriana, F. heterophylla)
Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Flowering Cabbage (Brassica olearcea acephala)
French Marigold (Tagetes patula, T. patula x erecta)
Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)
Joseph’s Coat Amaranthus (Amaranthus tricolor)
Kingfisher Daisy (Felicia bergeriana, F. heterophylla)
Kiss-Me-Over-The-Garden-Gate (Persicaria orientalis, syn. Polygonum orientale)
Kohlrabi (Brassica olearcea gongylode)
Lettuce (Lactuca sativus)
Love-Lies-Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus)
Melon (Cucumis melo)
Morning Glory (Ipomoea spp.)
Mullein (Verbascum bombyciferum, V. olympicum, etc.)
Nolana (Nolana paradoxa, N. humifusa)
Perennial Flax (Linum perenne, L. flavum, etc.)
Phacelia (Phacelia campanularia, P. tanacetifolia and others)
Policeman’s Helmet (Impatiens glandulifera)
Pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo)
Rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia and others)
Spinach (Spinacia oleracea)
Squash (Cucurbita pepo)
Statice (Limonium sinuatum and others)
Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis)
Sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
Swan River Daisy (Brachyscome iberidifolia)
Sweet Alyssum (Lobularia maritima)
Sweet Pea (Lathyrus odoratus)
Watermelon (Citruillus lanatus)
Zinnia (Zinnia spp.)
Zucchini (Cucurbita pepo)
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How Many Vegetables per Person?

How Many Vegetables per Person? – Laidback Gardener:
Asparagus 5–10 plants
Bush bean 10–15 plants
Pole bean 10–15 plants
Beets 10–25 plants
Bok Choy 3–5 plants
Broccoli 3–5 plants
Brussels sprouts 2–5 plants
Cabbage 3–5 plants
Carrot 15 plants
Cauliflower 2–5 plants
Celery 2–8 plants
Corn 10–20 plants
Cucumber 1–2 plants
Eggplant 1–3 plants
Garlic 3–5 plants
Kale 2-7 plants
Leek 5–15 plants
Romaine lettuce 2–5 plants
Leaf lettuce 20–30 plants
Melon 1-3 plants
Mesclun 2-7 plants
Onion 10–25 plants
Peas 15–20 plants
Bell pepper 3–5 plants
Chili pepper 1–3 plants
Potato 5–10 plants
Radish 10–25 plants
Rhubarb 2 plants
Spinach 5–10 plants
Swiss chard 5–10 plants
Summer squash 1–3 plants
Winter squash 1–2 plants
Tomatoes 1–4 plants
Turnip 3–4 plants
Zucchini 1–3 plants
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The honeyberry.

Laidback Gardener – Welcome to Larry Hodgson’s world:
"The honeyberry mature very early: in May in warmer climates, June in colder ones.
That’s still well before any other northern fruit.
The plant flowers very early in the season too: in April or May, again depending on the climate.
Since early blooming is associated with a risk of frost, you’d normally be concerned about cold damage, but remember that this plant comes from a boreal climate and can cope with cold.
As a result, the flowers can handle temperatures down to 19°F (-7°C) even when in full bloom and thus readily resist spring frosts.

The plant begins to produce fruit starting in its second year and can continue to produce for 30 years and more.

Unlike blueberries, which have an absolute need for acid soils, haskaps are tolerant of both acid soils and alkaline ones (pH 4.5 to 8).
You need two different varieties to ensure pollination.
The haskap also prefers a relatively cool summer. "

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Saturday, 13 May 2017

Harvest season has begun.

Rhubarb, pea shoots, onions, asparagus, chard, radishes.
Supermarket salads are washed with chemicals to prolong the shelf life of the leaves.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Comfrey best!

- Russian comfrey (Symphytum uplandicum)

Square inch gardening with Charles Dowding.

- Square inch gardening with Charles Dowding | Sarah Raven:
Charles Dowding achieves this high level of productivity by choosing varieties that can be cropped, not just once (as with brassicas such as cabbages and cauliflowers and roots such as parsnips and celeriac), but more like 10 or 20 times.
Their roots can be left in the ground to produce a long, light, drip-drip of delicious harvest.

His number-one recommendation – for a plot of any size – are pea sprouts.
Charles recommends growing the pea tips as a separate crop to allow a substantial harvest once a week.
He uses any quick-growing, vigorous, tall variety such as Pea 'Alderman’ or any mangetout or sugar-snap pea forms.
These produce tips quickly, or you could sow the special pea tip variety Pea 'Serge’.
Three seeds are sown into one medium-sized module or small pot – into any old potting compost – and left on a bed in the greenhouse for two weeks.
Once they’re up about an inch/2.54cm, Charles plants them 8-10in/25cm apart in the garden.
They are left to grow on for about three weeks until they reach a foot/30cm and are well established, and then the top one or two inches/2.5-5cm of every tip is harvested from the clump.
After the first pick, he advises leaving them for two weeks to stabilise.
Shoots then break from the base and the leaf axils like sweet peas, and you can start to crop once a week.
Charles says you don’t have to have a garden to grow pea tips, but can plant them in a deep pot, spacing them slightly closer and they’ll still produce well.
You’ll get six to eight weeks of weekly pickings from one sowing.
Resow every six to eight weeks to ensure a regular harvest, rather than feast or famine.

Charles also grows beetroot and spring onions in much the same way, packing lots of plants very efficiently into a small space.
He sows three to five seeds in a clump (straight into the ground or into their own individual module).
His favourite spring onion for sowing now is Spring Onion 'White Lisbon’, the fat-bottomed, bulging form.
His favourite purple beetroot for now is Beetroot 'Boltardy’, which has excellent flavour and is much less likely to bolt if we suddenly get some cold nights than most beetroot forms.
He also loves the golden varieties, such as Beetroot 'Burpees Golden’ and the stripy pink and white Beetroot 'Chioggia’, now often named 'Candystripe’.
Both the beetroot and spring onion clumps are planted about 12in/30cm apart.
The key to their long, steady production is the method of harvest.
Rather than hoicking out the bunch altogether, Charles carefully twists one plant out from the rest, the first at the size of a golf ball, leaving the others to grow on.
You don’t need to thin as you have given the remaining plants more space and can go back and take the next in a couple of weeks, then the next later and so on.
This gives you beetroot right through the summer and autumn, when you can dig up the odd plant, pot it up, bring it under cover and harvest its light cropping of delicious beetroot leaves until the following spring.

The second early potato 'Charlotte’ - tasty, very heavy-cropping and reliable.
It stores well, too.
They do not bother to chit 'Charlotte’ but plant them straight into the ground at 15 - 18in/45cm spacings (two rows in a 4ft/500cm bed) in a raised bed with plenty of compost added.
Charles earths them up with friable compost (Friable soil is soil that has the crumbly texture ideal for the underground activity that is the foundation of success with most plants), six weeks after planting.
Then he can easily harvest the top tubers by just rummaging around with his hands, with no spade or strenuous digging needed.
He lifts them in early August, when the haulms are just beginning to yellow but with luck before blight strikes.

'Sweet Genovese’ basil, the citrusy lemon basils and one of the spicier, cinnamon forms.
The basil is all sown in the greenhouse – or on a sunny window ledge – one seed to a module full of freely drained compost, such as John Innes No 1.
They are then planted in a sunny spot, or in a polytunnel and kept well-watered, always watering the soil and keeping the leaves as dry as possible.
They need a good squirt of water every day.
Flat-leafed parsley, 'Giant of Napoli’ is better for cooler areas.
Sow this in the same way, but plant it outside anywhere — in sun or part shade.

Lettuces: For a bright green, crinkly leafed, repeat cropping form he loves 'Fristina’ and then two reds with different leaf shapes, 'Rosemore’, a red cos, and 'Rubane’, with frilly edges.
He also loves the cos lettuce 'Freckles’ for its long, slow cropping pattern and elegant crimson splodged leaves.
These four will all give you a few leaves harvestable from every plant every week from about a month after sowing for an eight to 10-week season.
The lettuces are all individually sown into their own cells in the greenhouse or in a cosy corner outside for planting out within a month, 9in/22cm apart.
How they are harvested is crucial to how much you’ll get from your row.
Charles never cuts the whole plant to within an inch or two of the ground — as is traditional with these Continental loose leaf forms — but picks only a few leaves from the outside of every plant.
He can then go back and do the same only a few days later.

Take Charles’s advice and get sowing.
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Saturday, 22 April 2017

This Weekend…

Radish seed can be sown outdoors into finely crumbed soil.
Only takes 4 weeks to harvest or they get woody

Start half hardy herbs like Basil in pots on windowsill, by the time it’s germinated you can move it outside.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Living willow.

Living willow/RHS Gardening:
How to plant
Make holes first with an old screwdriver or similar, then push the rods or whips (willow stems) 30cm (12in) or more into the ground
Consider including four rods woven loosely together every 2m (6½ft) for solidity
Plant half the rods at an angle of 45° at a distance of about 25cm (10in) apart
Plant the remaining rods at a similar angle in between the first rods but in the opposite direction
The stems may naturally graft together where the stems cross together. Encourage this by tying joins together with string or thin pieces of willow
Shoots will sprout from the rods inserted into the ground. If cut back these new stems should help thicken the structure; useful if thin, one-year-old shoots were originally used to construct your feature
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Monday, 17 April 2017

Puntarelle: The Italian Chicory.

- Puntarelle: The Italian Chicory You Definitely Want to Try:

- Puntarelle – recipes and how to grow » Carl Legge:

Ideal temperature is around 15°C, Blumen say they will grow down to 5°C. We found they didn’t really like temperatures below freezing as the shoots were damaged.
These are an autumn/winter crop so I see no reason to sow them earlier in the year as there should be plenty of other good veg available.

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Myrrhis odorata (Sweet Cicely)

Myrrhis odorata (Sweet Cicely):
A wonderful spring and early summer herb for planting with tulips and harvesting – the flowers, young leaves and seedpods – to add aniseedy flavours to salads.
It also makes a delicious herb tea.
Leaves can be picked in late winter and again in late summer.
Dig up roots for drying in the autumn when the plant has died down.
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Saturday, 15 April 2017

I planted seeds in the allotment.

Lemongrass - Seeds should germinate in 5 to 21 days.
Marketmore cucumbers - are the only outdoor variety of cucumber which does does not need support.
For this reason they are far more popular and easily found compared to other outdoor varieties.
The cucumbers are best picked when about 20cm.
RHS Award of Garden Merit winner.

Red kuri squash - (Onion Squash - Climbing) -
Harvesting - August - October, 4 months from sowing. Harvest when the skin is hard, leaving out in the sun for 10 days to ripen further.

Three Sisters: Corn, Beans and Squash.

Celebrate the Three Sisters: Corn, Beans and Squash | Renee's Garden Seeds:
Corn provides a natural pole for bean vines to climb.
Beans fix nitrogen on their roots, improving the overall fertility of the plot by providing nitrogen to the following years corn.
Bean vines also help stabilize the corn plants, making them less vulnerable to blowing over in the wind.
Shallow-rooted squash vines become a living mulch, shading emerging weeds and preventing soil moisture from evaporating, thereby improving the overall crops chances of survival in dry years.
Spiny squash plants also help discourage predators from approaching the corn and beans.
The large amount of crop residue from this planting combination can be incorporated back into the soil at the end of the season, to build up the organic matter and improve its structure.

Corn, beans and squash also complement each other nutritionally.
Corn provides carbohydrates, the dried beans are rich in protein, balancing the lack of necessary amino acids found in corn.
Finally, squash yields both vitamins from the fruit and healthful, delicious oil from the seeds.

Instructions for Planting Your Own Three Sisters Garden in a 10 x 10 square
When to plant: Sow seeds any time after spring night temperatures are in the 50F/10C degree range, up through June.
What to plant: Corn must be planted in several rows rather than one long row to ensure adequate pollination.
Choose pole beans or runner beans and a squash or pumpkin variety with trailing vines, rather than a compact bush.
At Renee's Garden, we have created our Three Sisters Garden Bonus Pack, which contains three inner packets of multi-colored Indian Corn, Rattlesnake Beans to twine up the corn stalks and Sugar Pie Pumpkins to cover the ground.

Note: A 10 x 10 foot (3mx3m) square of space for your Three Sisters garden is the minimum area needed to ensure good corn pollination.
If you have a small garden, you can plant fewer mounds, but be aware that you may not get good full corn ears as a result.

How to plant: Please refer to the diagrams below and to individual seed packets for additional growing information.

Choose a site in full sun (minimum 6-8 hours/day of direct sunlight throughout the growing season).
Amend the soil with plenty of compost or aged manure, since corn is a heavy feeder and the nitrogen from your beans will not be available to the corn during the first year. With string, mark off three ten-foot rows, five feet apart.

In each row, make your corn/bean mounds.
The center of each mound should be 5 feet apart from the center of the next.
Each mound should be 18 across with flattened tops.
The mounds should be staggered in adjacent rows.
See Diagram #1
Note: The Iroquois and others planted the three sisters in raised mounds about 4 inches high, in order to improve drainage and soil warmth; to help conserve water, you can make a small crater at the top of your mounds so the water doesn’t drain off the plants quickly.
Raised mounds were not built in dry, sandy areas where soil moisture conservation was a priority, for example in parts of the southwest.
There, the three sisters were planted in beds with soil raised around the edges, so that water would collect in the beds (See reference 2 below for more information).
In other words, adjust the design of your bed according to your climate and soil type.

Plant 4 corn seeds in each mound in a 6 in square. See Diagram #2

When the corn is 4 inches/10cm tall, its time to plant the beans and squash.
First, weed the entire patch.
Then plant 4 bean seeds in each corn mound.
They should be 3 in apart from the corn plants, completing the square as shown in Diagram #3.

Build your squash mounds in each row between each corn/bean mound.
Make them the same size as the corn/bean mounds.
Plant 3 squash seeds, 4 in. apart in a triangle in the middle of each mound as shown in Diagram #4.

When the squash seedlings emerge, thin them to 2 plants per mound.
You may have to weed the area several times until the squash take over and shade new weeds.

To try them in your garden, in spring, prepare the soil by adding fish scraps or wood ash to increase fertility, if desired.
Make a mound of soil about a foot high and four feet wide.
When the danger of frost has passed, plant the corn in the mound. Sow six kernels of corn an inch deep and about ten inches apart in a circle of about 2 feet in diameter.
When the corn is about 5 inches tall, plant four bean seeds, evenly spaced, around each stalk.
About a week later, plant six squash seeds, evenly spaced, around the perimeter of the mound.
Plant the cucumber seeds seven to 14 days after planting the corn seeds.
Mound up 4-inch tall and wide piles of soil, spacing each mound 36 inches apart, along the eastern side of each row of corn.
Space the mounds 12 inches away from the corn rows.
Pat the top of each soil mound to flatten it.
Place four cucumber seeds in the depression.
Watch for cucumber seedlings to germinate seven to 10 days after planting.
Thin the cucumber plants a week after germinating.
Pull up one or two of the weakest seedlings, leaving two or three plants per hill.

Three sisters planting | Life and style | The Guardian:

My 'two sisters' planting.
The sweetcorn and squash are rubbing along together marvellously, squash swelling and cobs very close to harvest, all happy and healthy with barely a weed in sight.
When the squash vines get too long, I just hook them back over the entire bed and they hang from the limbs of the sweetcorn, squashes dangling just above the ground, so avoiding any rotten patches.
One of those neat, perfect little solutions after all.
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Friday, 14 April 2017


Lots of people of course will have already sown their squares and pumpkins but I think that setting the date at 12th April means that probably the whole of the UK is safe to sow their squash seeds, albeit indoors on a sunny windowsill or under frost free glass, knowing that they will be ready to plant out in early June when late frosts although possible are not really that likely.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

April in the allotment.

April in the garden | Sarah Raven:
Try direct sowing some new salad leaves, carrots, peas, beetroot, spinach and chard.
Sow some quick growing half-hardy annuals, like pumpkins, squash, sweetcorn, basil and French beans.
Plant Maincrop potatoes.
Plant tomatoes and cucumbers (under cover).
Keep on top of thinning seedlings.
Rotavate the vegetable garden.
Get ready for a mass sowing of hardy annual veg, such as spinach, carrots, beetroot, lettuce and radish.
On heavy soil, integrate plenty of grit and organic matter. On freely drained soil, only muck and/or compost need to go in.
Plant out onions, shallots and garlic.
Pot on tomatoes. It’s tempting to move tomatoes from a module or seed tray straight into their final, large planting pot, but this slows growth. Tomatoes like to feel contained and cosy; their roots can’t cope with a large volume of compost and tend to rot. Pot them only one size up and add a cane at their side to support them as they grow.
Plant asparagus crowns.

Salad and herbs
If you want to get going with some salad, sow now undercover or in gutters in your greenhouse or conservatory.
Eg corn salad, rainbow chard, mizuna, rocket, winter purslane, mustard and plenty of lettuces.
Direct sow chervil, chives and coriander or sow dill, fennel and French sorrel under cover.

All soft fruits, eg strawberries, raspberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants, and gooseberries, will benefit from a mulch. Garden compost, leaf mould, organic manure, straw, hay and spent mushroom compost can all be used.

Direct sow a pack of zinnias.
Sow a wild flower meadow to encourage pollinators.

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Sunday, 9 April 2017

How To Make A Teepee Trellis For Veggies.

Teepee Plant Support – How To Make A Teepee Trellis For Veggies:
A teepee plant support should be 6-8 feet/2m tall (although, a short 4-footer will work for some plants) and can be constructed out of branch creating anywhere from five to 10 poles.
Water loving trees that grow near ponds, swamps, or rivers tend to have great flexibility.
Take your three to 10 supports and tie them together at the top, spacing the bottoms of the supports at ground level and pushing them in a good couple of inches.
You can tie the poles with garden twine or something sturdier such as copper wire, again depending upon how permanent the structure will be and how heavy the vine is likely to get.
You can cover the copper or iron wire with a rope of grapevines or willow to camouflage it.
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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Sow seed under cloches outside.

(Except: - The best time to do this is in the second week of April 2017.)
...added plenty of well-rotted manure.
The cucumber seedling shown above is exactly two weeks after sowing.
- ridge cucumber - from Lidl.
Vert Petit de Paris.
Sowing period April - May. Harvest July - August. Germination 6 - 15 days.
- Cucumber Restina seeds, F1 hybrid ( Cucumis sativus).
Harvest July - August. Germination 6 - 15 days.
Most robust and earliest outdoor cucumber.
- Gherkins Hokus
For outdoors crops.
Has good resistance to Cucumber Mosaic Virus.
Green gherkin to 10cm, hardy plant with long fruiting period, mosaic resistant.
Sow March to June.
Harvest July to October.
Best grown in fertile soil or growing bags.