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.
'via Blog this'

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.

'via Blog this'

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.
'via Blog this'

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.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Thursday, 23 March 2017

The war on slugs starts at home.

The war on slugs starts at home - Telegraph:
The mail-order sachets of nematodes infected with deadly mollusc-killing bacteria temporarily raise the proportion of nematodes and brings down the slug population. I’ve been an advocate for years.
However, there is also an allotment-owner’s trick for making your own slug-killing nematode potion, using nothing more than
a bucket,
some weeds,
tap water and
the slugs from your own garden.
If you are already used to killing slugs by drowning them in a bucket, you’ll find this method right up your street.
How to make your own slug killer
In any average garden some slugs will be carrying bacterial diseases or be infected by nematodes, but their low density means that they won’t devastate the rest of the population.
But, catch and confine the slugs and, if the disease or nematodes are present, you can concentrate these micro-predators and harness their natural slug-killing power.
Collect as many slugs as you can find in a jar that has a few small air holes punched in the lid with a hammer and nail – and a few weed leaves for them to eat.
The best time to hunt for slugs is after dark.
In the gloom, slugs become quite brazen and eat on top of leaves as opposed to holing up in cool, dark and damp places as by day.
If stumbling around with a torch is a bridge too far, look for slugs during the day in the drainage holes of pots, beneath stones and hunkered in long grass.
If they evade your efforts, set traps.
A classic that works brilliantly for hard-to-find small ground-dwelling slugs is to place the scooped out half-shells of grapefruits near the crowns of vulnerable plants.
Come dawn, the slugs make for the damp yellow domes, as they love to chew the pith inside.
Slugs also make a beeline for cardboard.
Lay a sheet on the ground among long grass.
Check your traps daily and gather your slimy harvest into a jar.
Once you have caught around 10 to 20 slugs – the more you have the better it works – decant them into a bucket with an inch or so of water in the bottom for humidity and a few more handfuls of leaves to make an edible floating island for your catch.
With the slugs safely inside, place a concrete slab (or any firm cover) over the top to seal them in.
The bucket is the perfect environment for the nematodes and bacteria to breed.
Nematodes spread in water, so check regularly, giving the slugs a stir with a stick.
The idea isn’t to drown them but to keep them moist so the nematodes can hunt them out.
Top tip: This is cheating a bit, but you can use a bought pack of nematodes to “seed” the brew.
Tap about a teaspoon of powder into the bucket to help it along.
After a fortnight a high level of nematodes will have built up inside the bucket and the slugs will have died from infection.
Now, you can dilute the brew: fill the bucket to the top from the tap and decant into a watering can fitted with a rose.
Prevent the weed and slug mixture from falling into the can with a filter of chicken wire folded over the can so it stays put while you pour.
Water the sieved brew around vulnerable plants – the raised nematode population will seek out resident ground-dwelling slugs and see them off.
Like the shop-bought version, this slug killer gives up to six weeks of protection.
Save the contents of the chicken wire sieve (uurrgh!) to start off your next nematode brew.

'via Blog this'

How To Make Hot Compost.

Use for compost accelerants like seaweed, urine, woodchips, juice pulp or hay.
Start with a 30cm layer of twigs,
followed by a layer of grass clippings
and finally a layer of manure,
then you can continue adding carbon rich and nitrogen.

As a rule, add 2 parts kitchen scraps to 1 part garden waste.
You need much more carbon based scraps than nitrogen waste.
If you are struggling to find nitrogen and don’t want to add animal waste, urine is a great source of nitrogen.
You might have to balance out the moisture content with something like sawdust or shredded paper.
Keep the ratio of carbon and nitrogen around 25 parts carbon and 1 part nitrogen.
Too much nitrogen and your compost will stink.
Too little and it will be very slow.

The Berkeley method of hot composting was developed by the University of California, Berkley.
Here is the procedure:

Build compost cake, layering a third each of browns (straw, dried grass, dry bracken, wood chip, sawdust, cardboard), greens (fresh grass clippings, fresh weeds, green cuttings, green leaves, seaweed) and poo.

Cover and leave for 4 days.

Turn every other day until day 18.
Anything that was once living can be hot composted, there is not so much need to be precious about what goes in the pile.
The heat breaks everything down and there is no trace of the original ingredients when the composting process is complete.
As in your planting, biodiversity is better for the compost because diversity of ingredients means a wider range of nutrients in the soil.

- http://www.thisweekinthegarden.co.uk/uncategorized/how-to-make-hot-compost-18-day-compost-in-the-uk/
- How to Make Fast Compost, how to make compost in 14 days:

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

My allotment.

The weather was absolutely glorious whole week, so I got a lots done at the allotment!
I am loving every minute of getting down there and getting it ready for planting my first crops.
My back and legs all ache like anything!
It’s all worth it though as all beds in nearly finished now!

Angelica. (Health Benefits Of Angelica Essential Oil).

Raspberry and rhubarb.

Flowers and herbs.

Honeyberry - a fruit which has been grown and enjoyed for centuries in its native Siberia.

Black currant.

Spring onions.


Monday, 13 March 2017

What to do monthly.

- http://www.nsalg.org.uk/growing-advice/monthly-advice/march/

- https://www.allotment-garden.org/garden-advice-month/

- http://www.paddocks-allotments.org.uk/month-by-month/march/sow-or-plant.htm

- http://www.trapgroundallotments.org.uk/calendar.html

- http://www.gardenfocused.co.uk/vegetable/asparagus-grow.php

Sunday, 12 March 2017

What to do monthly.

We use five date zones for gardeners, your town is in zone 2 - Bournemouth, Dorset.
Celery - sow seeds indoors
Peas / mangetout - sow early types under cloches
start sowing parsnip seed, but it may be too cold to germinate
Start successional sowing of radishes
Sow your first peas in pots in the cold frame or under fleece direct into the ground
Cover your strawberry patch with fleece or a cloche to warm up the ground
Prune blackcurrant bushes

Peas / mangetout - start to sow seeds of early types outdoors
Squash / pumpkins - prepare soil
Asparagus - apply spring fertiliser
Beetroot - sow seeds under cloches
Potatoes - plant out sprouted sets
Radish - sow seed under cloches
Beetroot - sow seed in pots indoors
Squash / pumpkins - sow seed indoors
Swiss Chard - sow outdoors with cloche protection
Turnip - start to sow seed outdoors
It should be safe to plant parsnip seeds
Start successional sowing of chard, beetroot and spinach
Cover rhubarb crowns to "force" them
Cut back autumn raspberries to the ground
Sow cauliflower, summer cabbage and sprouts for summer transplanting

Jan - Mar Gooseberries - prune
Jan - Mar Red / whitecurrant - prune

My crop rotation.

Peas / mangetout

Broccoli Sprouting - Sprouting
Swiss Chard



Cucumbers - ridge
Squashes and pumpkins

A year on the plot.

It should be safe to plant parsnip seeds
Start successional sowing of chard, beetroot and spinach
Plant strawberries and raspberries
If you've sown early lettuce, they probably need thinning now
Lift all remaining leeks from last year to give you time to dig over the land for new planting
Plant sunflower seeds in pots in your cold frame
Cover rhubarb crowns to "force" them
Cut back autumn raspberries to the ground
Plant out onion sets
Sow cauliflower, summer cabbage and sprouts for summer transplanting
If warm enough, sow leeks in a seed bed or in pots
Dig, dig, dig to get your plot ready for spring planting

Growing Quinces.

Growing Quinces | How To Grow | Grow Your Own:
"As well as the annual winter prune, quinces need a little attention early on in the year.
Give them a top-dressing of general-purpose fertilizer each February (using Growmore or Bonemeal), just before the tree bursts into leaf.
Sprinkle this evenly on the ground under the canopy.
It should be given in March of each year and raked lightly into the soil beneath the canopy of the tree.
A month or two latergive your tree its annual cloak of mulch, setting down a few inches of leafmould, garden compost or similar organic material.
The magnificent quince blossom arrives much later than other fruit trees (usually around May) but even at this time of year frosts are still a threat.
If the mercury plummets then cover the blossom as best as you can with a couple of layers of horticultural fleece.
If you plant in an area free from frost-pockets you should avoid this problem."
'via Blog this'

Growing cucumbers.

Outdoor cucumbers can be sown directly into the soil in late May and early June – or you can buy small plants from the garden centre.
Growing outdoors
Either sow seeds or plant out young plants in early June, ideally under fleece or cloches. Any fertile garden soil in full sun is satisfactory.
Dig in up to two bucketfuls of rotted organic matter, such as garden compost, and rake in 100g per square metre (3½oz per square yard) of general purpose fertiliser.
Pinch out the growing tip when the plants have developed seven leaves. The developing sideshoots can be left to trail over the ground or trained up stout netting. Pinch out the tips of flowerless sideshoots after seven leaves.
Don't remove the male flowers, and keep the soil constantly moist by watering around the plants – not over them.

When planting out cucumber seedlings or seeds, choose a sunny, sheltered spot.
Turn the soil over about 6in deep, adding compost or well-rotted manure as you go.
Leave 15in between each seedling, or put three seeds in each hole and thin to the strongest.
They can grow to 6ft so allow space between rows.
A layer of mulch minimises weeds and helps the soil retain water: cucumbers hate standing in water but the more moisture they absorb the sweeter they will be.
Weed them often but lightly, so as not to damage the roots.
Water weekly.

As far as crop rotation is concerned, ridge cucumbers can be grown anywhere in the garden or allotment. It's best not to grow them in the same position every year but they really don't encourage soil pests or diseases.

Except in very warm parts of the UK the best method for sowing ridge cucumber seed is in pots, indoors.
The best time to do this is in the second week of April 2017.
If you really want to sow seed directly outside:
Sow seed outside in open ground - The third week of May 2017.
Expert advice on growing ridge cucumbers outside:
Sow seeds indoors - The second week of April 2017
Sow seed under cloches outside - The last week of April 2017
Sow seed outside in open ground - The third week of May 2017
Harden off indoor grown seedlings - The second week of May 2017
Transplant plants to open ground - The last week of May 2017
Prune main stem - The second week of June 2017

Harvest ridge cucumbers from - The second week of July 2017 

'via Blog this'

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

February in your garden and greenhouse.

Cut down deciduous ornamental grasses left standing over winter, before fresh shoots appear.
Divide large clumps of snowdrops and winter aconites after flowering and replant to start new colonies.
Prune late summer-flowering clematis, cutting stems back to healthy buds about 30cm from the base.
Divide congested clumps of herbaceous perennials and grasses to make vigorous new plants for free.
Transplant deciduous shrubs growing in the wrong place, while they are dormant.
Pot up containers with hardy spring bedding, such as primroses, wallflowers and forget-me-nots.
Prune winter-blooming shrubs, such as mahonia, winter jasmine and heathers, once they've finished flowering.
Cut back wisteria sideshoots to three buds from the base, to encourage abundant flowers in spring.
Give winter heathers a light trim after flowering, removing shoot tips but not cutting back into old wood.
Prune buddleia and elder to the base to keep these vigorous shrubs to a reasonable size.
Trim back ivy, Virginia creeper and other climbers if they have outgrown their space, before birds start nesting.
Cut away all the old foliage from epimediums with shears, before the spring flowers start to develop.
Sprinkle slow-release fertiliser around the base of roses and other flowering shrubs.

Fruit and veg:
Finish winter pruning fruit trees and soft fruits, including apples, autumn raspberries and blackcurrants.
Chit first-early potato tubers, such as 'Foremost', by standing them in trays in a light, frost-free place.
Prepare veg beds for sowing by weeding thoroughly, then cover with a thick layer of garden compost.
Feed fruit trees and bushes by sprinkling sulphate of potash fertiliser around the base to encourage fruiting.
Sow mustard and cress in a small seed tray on a warm windowsill for pickings in just a few weeks.
Put cloches or fleece over strawberry plants to start them into growth and encourage an early crop.
Hunt out overwintering snails huddled in empty pots and hidden corners, to reduce populations.
Plant rhubarb into enriched soil or lift and divide established clumps.
Check if old seed packets are worth keeping by sowing a few seeds on damp kitchen paper to see if they germinate.
Protect the blossom of outdoor peaches, nectarines and apricots with fleece if frost is forecast.
Plant bare-root fruit bushes, trees and canes, as long as the ground isn't frozen.
Inspect Mediterranean herbs for metallic-green rosemary beetles if they start to look nibbled and tatty.

Sow sweet peas in deep pots and keep them frost free in a greenhouse or on a sunny windowsill.
Sow summer bedding and tender annuals, including cosmos, lobelia, dahlias, nasturtiums and snapdragons.
Pot on and pinch out autumn-sown sweet peas to encourage sideshoots to form.
Sow tender crops such as tomatoes and chillies in a heated propagator or on a warm sunny windowsill.
Plant dahlia tubers in trays to encourage shoots to develop, which you can then use as cuttings.
Monitor greenhouse temperatures with a max-min thermometer to ensure heaters are working efficiently.
Start planting summer bulbs in pots indoors, including liatris, begonias, gloxinias, lilies, eucomis and agapanthus.
Cut off hippeastrum (amaryllis) flowerheads once they fade, but leave the stalk to die down naturally.
Hand-pollinate the blossom of peaches and nectarines in the greenhouse using a soft paintbrush.
Cut back overwintered fuchsias and increase the frequency of watering to spur them into growth.
Remove any faded or yellowing leaves from overwintering plants to prevent fungal diseases.
Wash greenhouse glazing inside and out to let in as much light as possible.

Garden maintenance:
Install a nest box with a camera, so you can watch birds raising their broods this spring.
If snow falls, knock it off evergreen shrubs, hedges and conifers to prevent branches snapping under the weight.
Make or buy a cold frame to use when hardening off young plants this spring.
Check fleece or other insulation is still in place around pots and borderline-tender plants.
Firm back down any plants that have been lifted by frost or loosened by wind-rock.
Make fat-ball feeders and hang them among roses to attract blue tits, which will also forage for overwintering pests.
Improve the soil by spreading garden compost or well-rotted manure over beds and forking in.
Sort out and clean up canes, plant supports and cloches, ready for use in spring.
Prune hybrid tea and floribunda roses, before growth restarts.
Clear away old plant debris from pond margins and scoop out any leaves that have fallen into the water.
Clean and service mowers and garden power tools, so they're in good order for spring.
Coppice hazel, cutting to the base, to encourage a flush of new stems that you can use for plant supports in a few years.
Spread a layer of well-rotted manure around roses and shrubs.
Remove netting placed over ponds to prevent autumn leaves falling in the water.
From: http://www.gardenersworld.com/what-to-do-now/checklist/february/

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Sowing timeline.

Undercover, sow
broad beans,
peas for shoots,
salad onion,
early brassicas (cabbage, calabrese, kohlrabi, cauliflower),

Giving some warmth helps germination, such as heating mats: this is the most worthwhile time of plants’ lives to invest in heat, to germinate their seeds.

Assemble a heap (hotbed) of fresh horse manure, to provide heat for new sowings.
In 25C warmth sow aubergine, pepper, chilli – they must have warmth or it’s a waste of time.
Outside, the only sowings now are broad beans, and garlic if you have not already.
You can sow parsnips but seedlings may be stronger from March sowings, even April.

If you have no way of warming seeds, seeds still germinate but more slowly and sometimes unevenly.
Undercover without heat its fine to germinate lettuce, brassicas, peas, broad beans, onions, spinach.
Sowing timeline for vegetables: