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.

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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.

- 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.






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."
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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 

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