Thursday, 17 September 2020

PEST XT Fox Repeller

Some time ago I blogged about
Waltons Do More Than Just Sheds and that I had treated myself to something that I happened to find on their web site, well here it is the PEST XT Battery Powered Fox Repeller.

We have always had problems on the site with foxes and cubs, they come they play they chew any gloves or shoes that they can get at, they poo on your paths and beds, they dig beds and woodchip paths for worms to eat. I've even seen cubs using the blue hoop and debris netting cloches as a trampoline.        

The PEST XT unit works by sending out sound waves when the PIR detects IR Radiation, Temperature Difference and or Movement.

Technical Information 

Power Supply 4 x AA Alkaline Batteries (Not Included)
Working current 110mA, 0.6W
Frequency: 19-45 KHZ
Coverage 8 metres, 110 degrees 

Now although it says Fox Repeller the frequency control setting go from 1 to 13 or 19KHZ to 45 KHZ and works on a number of creatures 

Cats between 3 - 5
Dogs between 3 - 4 
Foxes between 3 - 6
Squirrels between 2 - 7 
Rodents between 2 - 7 
insects between 2 - 13  

So no idea what animal 1 is for ? 

The Sensitivity Distance also has 13 settings and they are;

The first pip is off and 1 to 12 are settings, as you turn the dial off the fist indicator mark a red LED light will flash in the PIR sensor for several seconds accompanied by a low clicking sound. This indicates that the unit is working; the unit is now in stand-by mode. When the PIR detects motion, the ultrasonic speakers and LED light will activate. The ultrasonic speaker will sound for a few seconds, then the repeller will return to stand-by mode. 

Set on 2 - 3 works up to 2 metres and closer <<<< What's the difference between 2 & 3?
Set on 4 - 5 works up to 4 metres and closer <<<< Is this an error as there is no 3m range stated?
Set on 6 - 7 works up to 4 metres and closer <<<< What's the difference between 6 & 7?
Set on 8 - 9 works up to 5 metres and closer <<<< What's the difference between 8 & 9?
Set on 10 - 11 works up to 7 metres and closer <<<< What's the difference between 10 & 11?
Set on 12 works up to 8 metres and closer

So what does 13 do or is 12 actually 13 because 1 is being ignored? 

I've made enquires of the suppliers technical support and will update this post when I get an answer. 

For best results with this unit choose a location close to a wall or fence so that any animals will be encouraged to walk in front of it, once they start to walk away because of the noise , the repeller will continue to detect them in a wide sweep of 110 degrees until they are out of range. To cover larger area it would be beneficial to have 2 units positioned facing each other or at right angles to each over as shown below. 

The PEST XT can be bought singly or in pairs and currently they are being sold by Waltons at £22.99 for a pack of 2 the RRP is £29.99

This is not the PEST XT but a lidl's Parkways or Parkside brand unit on my neighbours plot. 

Now there is no point having it at a level where a plant grows in front of it and blocks the PIR range, and I guess it also has a number of setting for a fox, so either he hasn't found the right setting or the fox is old and deaf! 

I'm going to install the PEST XT next season and I have also bought two 
SQ11 HD 1080P Mini Hidden DVR Cameras IR Security Night Home Motion Detection UK off ebay at £6.29 each including P&P to see if the foxes come and check out the PSET XT once they go in, assuming these cheap camera actually work!. 

Have you tried an Ultrasonic animal Repeller? 

Did it work for you? 

Please let me know in the comments below. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

More Veg September Sowing Guide

Rachel at More Veg who are a small seed company has granted me permission to share their September grow list with you. As you can see I've just purchased some lettuce from them after finding them to be the cheapest with a sensible amount of seeds when I was Looking For Winter Lettuce to grow.   

Some vegetables in the list below will need to be sown under cover or with the protection of cloches or fleece as the temperatures dip, other varieties can still be sown in the open.  Full details can be found on every packet. 

Baby Leaf – Astra, Barese, Catalogna Cerbiatta, Deronda, Italiko Rosso, Red Wizard, Sangrai and the Bright & Spicy, Colour Crunch and Filly Leaf mixes too

Beetroot – Early Wonder

Cabbages – Wheelers Imperial

Cauliflower – All Year Round

Chicory – Brussels Witloof, Grumalo & Pain de Sucre

Chinese Broccoli – Kaibroc & Kichi

Choy Sum – Fuubi, Gunsho, Red Hon Tsai-Tai & Purple

Collards – Champion, Flash & Vates

Corn Salad – Dutch Broad Leaf, Verte de Cambrai & Vit

Cress – all 6 choices

Endive – Blond Full Heart, Catalogna Garnet Stem, Cornet de Bordeaux & Paniclieri

Kale – Scarlet

Kohl Rabi – Azure Star

Komatsuna – Malachai & Samurai

Leaf Beet – all 8 choices including Perpetual Spinach

Lettuce –Black Seeded Simpson, Cantarix, Crispino, Gilaad, Lobjoits, Marvel of Four Seasons, Rouge de Hiver, Sylvesta, Trocadero, Waldman’s Dark Green & Winter Density

Mibuna, Minutina, Mitsuba & Mizuna

Mustard Leaves – 8 choices


Onion - Hi Keeper F1, Kosma & Musona White Italian (last few packets of this)

Orach – Scarlet Emperor

Pak Choi – Golden Yellow, Hanakan, Tatsoi Rosette & Yuushou


Parsley – 6 choices available

Pea – Avola

Purslane – summer and winter (last few packets)

Radish – Diakon Red, French Breakfast, Malaga Violet, Pink Celebration, Saxa & Sparkler

Rhubarb – Champagne

Rocket – 8 choices

Spinach – Amazon, Avon, Banjo, Gazelle, Giant Winter, Harp, Matador, Medania, Renegade & Trombone

Spring Onions – Eiffel, Savel, White Lisbon & Winter Hardy White Lisbon

Strawberries – Alexandria, Mignonette & Wild Strawberry

Texel Greens

Turnips – Goldana & Snowball

Flowers –Agrostemma, Ammi Majus, Foxglove, Limnanthes, Malva and Papavers (Shirley Doubles will flower for months in any sunny space you can spare)

Herbs – British Basil (inside), Caraway, Celery Leaf, Chervil, Stridolo, Sweet Cicely & Wild Garlic

Green Manure – Field Mustard & Phacelia.



Monday, 14 September 2020

Composting & Base to Greenhouse

My eldest daughter came to spend some time with her Mum today and so I granted myself a days leave from work, bearing in mind I actually have some work again after 5 months of shielding my wife. As there was someone at home to keep an eye on my wife, I decided to take all composting materials to the allotment.

So I removed the wheelchair from the boot and filled it and the back seat of the car with 18 buckets of composting materials and spent compost.

I'm amazed each time I visit the plot at how large the Thompson & Morgan Winter Squash is growing. Only 4 plants in the corner of each bed and now they are touching in both directions, and when I look down into the foliage I see many small squash growing. 

I cleared the bed in front of the Squash of weeds and the tarps and later decanted six buckets of spent compost onto half of it.   

I stacked the 18 buckets on the Allotment side of the gate, locked it and then went to get the wheelbarrow  

It took a few trips to barrow them to the Daleks, but it beats carrying them. 

Once stacked around the Dalek Army I then proceeded to decant the contents into the appropriate Dalek or bed 

That's not weed in the bed in front of the shed that green manure sown and watered last weekend.

The six buckets of spent compost only covered half of the bed in the bottom of the picture. 

Four lengths of timbers were cut for the base of the greenhouse and a coat of red cedar paint applied to all the faces of the four members. It's an Indian Summer and 29C and co cloud cover today and I have not sweated so much for ages, but getting the base cut and the first coat of paint felt good and gets me a little closer to getting the Greenhouse erected and clad.

Garden Tidy Continues...

Washing up pots and saucers and labels ready to be packed away for next year,

Just when you think you are done, you find more...

New Potatoes from the last three flower buckets 

Flower Buckets stacked with empty ones on top to stop cats digging them up

Buckets with Lids full of apples, flowers and kitchen waste, and spent compost from the potato buckets to be used as conditioner on the new beds on the allotment.  

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Pre Blight Tomato Harvesting

I'm having a quick coffee break as I'm about 50% through harvesting all the tomatoes in the back garden as Blight is just starting to show around here. Some Tomatoes are in the fridge, The panet of tomatoes above are from a Minibel plant. 

With the fridge full and the kitchen worktops, I decided to start storing some in the Space Saver Greenhouse. Red are on one side of the greenhouse and the greens are on the other side. Note the difference in size between a Gigantomo and a Tiny Tim tomato, that's a 20p for scale  

Greens tomatoes. I still have two Micro Toms growing in the greenhouse. 

Gigantomo on the turn, having a little blush at the moment. 

Ken Muir Fruit Plant Specialist Catalogue

Another day another Catalogue, this time it's the Ken Muir Fruit Plant Specialist.

I'm really wanting to get my fruit area sorted out now which is why I specifically requested this Catalogue this year. It includes Trees, Bushes, Canes & Vines 

To visit the Ken Muir website 
Order your copy of the Catalogue Click Here  

Friday, 11 September 2020

Suttons Bulb Catalogue 2020

The Autumn Catalogues are now flowing through the mailbox, today it's the Sutton BULB Catalogue 2020 which also covers Winter bedding and vegetable plants. 

Use this Link to order your copy or to view on line  

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Hybrid Seeds Explained

What is an F1 hybrid? 

An F1 hybrid is a variety that has been produced by the carefully controlled cross breeding of two parent plants specially chosen for their different desirable qualities such as vigour, flower power, disease resistance, uniformity, crop yield, unique colour and so on. 

Bringing together these parent plants transfers these qualities to their offspring combining them to produce superior plants. This involves a complicated and expensive breeding programme by means of controlled flower pollination, often done by hand. A process which has to be repeated each year to create consistent hybrids as it is not possible to simply harvest the seed from F1 varieties. The offspring of F1 hybrids often have less stable and more varied characteristics and may or may not show any of the F1 parents’ desired attributes, these offspring are known as F2 Hybrids. 

Because of the costly production methods F1 hybrid seed can be considerably more expensive than ‘normal seed’. However it is usually the case that the extra cost is more than made up for by the significant improvement in the plants’ characteristics. Professional growers tend to use only F1 seed for this very reason. 

What is an F2 hybrid? 

An F2 hybrid is the offspring from an F1 hybrid. As mentioned above, the seed produced by an F1 hybrid can result in a much greater variety in their offspring. Although this is undesirable in some cases such as vegetables where often the selected characteristic such as uniform, high yields are all important or flowers where a precise colour or form is sought after, in other instances as with flamboyant flower mixtures this diversity can provide a real benefit. F2 hybrids allow a greater diversity and can often produce unique colour combinations that would not be possible from F1 or normal varieties and yet have a good chance of retaining some of the desirable characteristics of the parent plant. This variation can also mean differences in the rates that flowers or fruits mature which can have the added benefit of extending the flowering season or harvest period. 

What is an O/P or Open Pollinated plant? 

Those plants of the same type that grow together and then pollinate each other by natural, more random means are said to be ‘open pollinated’. Most often this job is performed by pollinating insects such as bees or by the wind. New open pollinated plant varieties are selected for the appropriate characteristics by breeders or by natural selection in the case of wildflowers. 

Selections are made as flowers of an open pollinated variety will sometimes show an appealing natural mutation, the seeds of this mutation or ‘rogue’ are collected by breeders and grown to maturity. Those offspring that show the same mutations are then selected and their seed also grown on, this process is repeated in the hope the mutation becomes stable and all offspring eventually show the same appealing mutation. The result is a new open pollinated variety that will pollinate amongst itself by natural means. In the wild these selections are made by the improved survival rates of those plants best suited to their environments and the needs of pollinating insects.

Link to Hybrid Seeds Explained Fact Sheet on Mr Fothergill's Web Site 

Wednesday, 9 September 2020


My spuds are done but still worth keeping an eye as I have many green tomatoes still waiting to go red

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

The Redwoods Are Talking

Nature Doesn't Need People

People Need Nature.

Nature is life: Every breath you take, every drop you drink, every bite you eat — it all comes from nature. 

Nature holds at least a third of the solution to climate change! 

Monday, 7 September 2020

Mr Fothergill's Autumn Catalogues

The Mr Fothergill's Autumn Seed Catalogue is due for dispatch mid September but I have just received the Autumn 2020 Plant & Bulb Catalogue. 

To request the Mr Fothergill's Autumn Catalogues use this link 

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Winter Squash Spotted

Due to Covid-19 and shielding the wife not many crops got in the ground but I did grow 6 of each of the New Varieties of Winter Squash from Thompson & Morgan 

The plants have grown really vigorously, but until this weekend I hadn't seen any significant squash and then as if by magic, and it was, these appeared when I moved the dense foliage to one side.


With the amount of flowers, and the bee activity in and out of the squash plants it's going to be interesting to see just how many squash I actually get per plant when I harvest. There is another mini heat wave on its way so more growing time before harvest time yet for more to grow. 

Anyone else out there growing these this year? 

How are you finding them, are yours more bush than wondering squash plants?

Friday, 4 September 2020

Looking For Winter Lettuce

Lettuces are always a winner in the vegetable garden and many are surprisingly hardy, making the prospect of winter salads easier than you might think. Choose a sheltered spot that will make the most of any winter sun - in warmer parts of the UK, you should get away with no protection, but the use of fleece or a cloche will improve your chances of success in colder areas. Give your lettuces a little love and attention, and you'll be eating salad all year long! 

I've been looking for some winter varieties and this is what I have found so far... any other suggestions? 

Artic King - Specially bred for autumn sowing, Lettuce 'Arctic King' is well known for its exceptional cold resistance. This large Butterhead variety produces tasty light green heads with crinkled leaves for harvesting in spring. Lettuce 'Autumn King' is suitable for growing outdoors in winter but will benefit from cloche protection during particularly cold weather. Height: 15cm (6"). Spread: 30cm (12").

Thompson & Morgan £2.99 Approx. 500 seeds  

Black Seeded Simpson (looseleaf) - This is absolutely gorgeous: the Daily Telegraph has rated this as the best flavoured lettuce in the uk Don’t just take their word for it, or ours, try this for yourself. It can be sown at any time, withstanding heat and drought as well as snow and frost down to -5 and still maintains its flavour. Fabulous, what more can we say? Price for 75 seeds

More Veg - £0.60 for 75 seeds

Cantarix (Oakleaf) - With glossy maroon red foliage cantarix provides stunning colour in the garden and on your plate. Mature heads have a lime green centre. The deeply lobed leaves pull apart easily for speedy salads and they are sweetly flavoured.  You can crop as a cut-&-come-again at any time of the year or for the richly coloured heads from spring to autumn.

More Veg - £0.75 for 75 Seeds  

Chatsworth -  British bred, a good sized crisp Cos lettuce which develops dense heads of bitter-free, crisp and succulent leaves. Bred in the UK for high quality, reliable crops in the British climate.
Winner of an RHS Award of Garden Merit for reliability and good performance.
Part of the seed range produced by Mr Fothergill’s Seeds in partnership with the RHS


Mr Fothergill's -  £2.40 for 1250 seeds 

Just Seeds (Mr Fothergill's) - £2.29 for 1250 seeds 

Gillaad (Romaine) - The very wrinkled and crinkled leaves are in dramatic shades of burgundy and maroon.  It is heat resistant for summer growing yet can be sown from early spring right through to the autumn.  It is also slow to bolt allowing you to harvest as you need them.

More Veg - £0.75 for 75 seeds 

Lobjoits (Cos) - Once you taste these crunchy textured, dark green, intensely flavoured lettuces this will become one of your favourites. An AGM winning heirloom variety, Lobjoits qualities shine through. It is suitable for close planting, from early sowings this variety remains in prime condition once the summer warms up and you can sow again in late summer/early autumn for a second season of deliciousness!

More Veg - £0.60 for 75 seeds 

Marvel of Four Seasons (looseleaf) - This stunning choice, the leaves on this French heirloom variety have dark green leaves with cranberry red tips making it both attractive and tasty. As its name suggests it is an all season variety. It's at its best when sown for harvest in the spring and autumn. 

More Veg - £0.60 for 75 Seeds 

Navara (Butterhead) - Lettuce Navara is a shiny dark red oakleaf variety which produces medium sized heads on compact lettuce plants. Navara internal lettuce leaves are a rich green, plus they are resistant to lettuce leaf aphid and Downy Mildew 1-26.

DT Brown -  £2.15 for 200 seeds

Rouge de Hiver - This Heirloom variety hails from France, its name translates as ‘red of winter’ and it is indeed happier with cooler weather when the colour intensifies. One to sow in early spring and again in late autumn. We enjoyed it into the winter with an open ended cloche.

More Veg - £0.60 for 75 seeds

Salad Mix - This is Chiltern Seeds own exclusive selection of the best winter hardy lettuces, and includes; 'Marvel of Four Seasons', 'Meraviglia d'Inverno', 'Winter Density' and 'Red Salad Bowl'.

Chiltern Seeds - £2.15 for Approx. 400 seeds (measured by weight)

Valian - A popular Little Gem type which is perfect for growing in an unheated greenhouse to provide sweet and crunchy heads from autumn to early spring. Good disease resistance.

Just Seeds (Mr Fothergills) £2.45 Approx. 250 seeds

Mr Fothergills £2.55 Approx. 250 seeds

Winter Artic - This is an ideal variety for autumn sowing as it is very hardy. Ready to harvest in spring.

Just Seeds - £1-25 for 300 Seeds

Winter Density (Cos) - Lettuce Winder Density is the classic of winter lettuces. Winter Density is larger than Little Gem and packs a pleasing flavour alongside bigger size. A splendid cos lettuce, it remains a most popular winter lettuce variety.

Mr Fothergills - £2.15 Approx 1,250 seeds per pack . 

DT Brown £1-95  Approx. 1,200 seeds per pack.

Marshalls £1.79 Approx. 1,000 seeds per pack.

Marshalls Unwins £1-49 Approx. 1,200 seeds per pack.

Sow Seeds £1-45 Approx. 1,200 seeds per pack.

Premier Seeds Direct - Out of Stock

Simpsons Seeds - £1-30 for 800 seeds per pack

More Veg - 60p for 75 Seeds 

Winter Gem (Cos) - A specially bred Cos Lettuce for sowing under cover from September to January. Although not suitable for growing outdoors, hardy Lettuce 'Winter Gem' is ideal for cropping in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame for overwinter production. The small but delicious, crunchy, sweet hearts are equal in taste to 'Little Gem' making this variety perfect for winter salads. Height: 20cm (8").
Thompson & Morgan £2.99 for £150 seeds  

Winter MarvelA traditional French variety chosen specifically for sowing in late summer and early autumn. It is quite hardy and will do very nicely in an unheated polytunnel or greenhouse, providing salads in winter and spring when they’re most appreciated.

It is remarkably cold-resistant and carried on in the polytunnel long after other varieties had given up!

Real Seeds £2.41 for 300 Seeds.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Tomatoes for Next Year

I made the zippy bag labels for the tomato seeds that I got for this year that were still in their packs. Most of these are F1. They will be grown in 2021 in the back garden, there are four varieties that were introduced in 2020 by Marshalls Arielle F1, Lizzano F1, Yellow Mimi F1 and Pink Charmer F1.

I have to say I have not really grown any other colour tomatoes than red because my kids opinion was if their not red then they are not a tomato and didn't even want to taste them. 

This year I grew some Hahms Gelbe Topftomate that are Heirloom - early determinate/ tall dwarf with rugose (wrinkled & puckered) leaves and produce a very tasty golden round cherry tomato. They do really good in containers and I'm saving seeds to grow again next year. 
Sweet Mullion F1 I have grown before and I like them but have never tried saving seeds and they always came up in the Wyevale Seed Sale, but as that's not going to happen anymore I may have to re think that one. 

I picked up two packs of Minibel in the Wilko Seed sale last year one sow by 2021 and the other so by 2022 with 35 seeds per pack so no need to save Minbel seeds this year or a few years to come, but they are on my repeat each year list as I love the size and taste of the fruit.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

Marshalls Autumn 2020 Catalogue

It arrived in my mail box this morning the Marshalls Autumn 2020 Catalogue. 

Order your FREE paper copy HERE or Download and thumb through the digital Adobe pdf version. 

The paper copy doesn't come with the Post-It's in place, that is where I have marked some of the 190 new varieties of vegetables and products that I'm interested in, and want to be able to find them again easily.

There is a Code for Free Delivery when you spend over £30 until the 30th September so Order that Free Catalogue or download, get looking and an order in before the end of the month to get the free delivery.  

Amazon On The Edge

Fires are devastating the Amazon again. But this isn’t just another year of burning. Our destruction is making the Amazon dangerously unbalanced. If we continue, the Amazon as we know it could soon come tumbling down, for good.
But thanks to your pressure, the UK Government are finally listening. Right now, they are considering new laws that could bring an end to our role in the destruction – making sure products imported to the UK aren’t fuelling the demand for deforested land.
This would be a huge step in preventing the Amazon, and other precious places, from collapsing.  But they’ll only act if enough of us speak up. We need them to hear loud and clear:
Don’t let products imported to the UK push the Amazon closer to collapse.
Use the form on the WWF Webpage to send an email to the UK Government in response to their consultation. 

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Bagging Saved Seeds

The first batch of Gigantomo Tomato seeds are now dry and ready for decanting into the zippy bags. The seeds were saved from the offcuts of the first massive tomato I used in burgers this year. 

I have a first batch of Crimson Crush seeds in soak at the moment and soon they will be on a plastic lid drying for a few weeks before getting bagged. A second batch of Gigantomo are on a plastic lid drying out. 

I have a couple of friends that also want to try growing on the F1 Gigantomo from saved seeds to see what we get.   

The Forest Is Speaking

Nature Doesn't Need People
People Need Nature.

Nature is life: Every breath you take, every drop you drink, every bite you eat — it all comes from nature. 

Nature holds at least a third of the solution to climate change! 

Monday, 31 August 2020

Tomato Seed Saving

First batch of Crimson Crush seeds being processed 

Second Batch of Gigantomo seeds laid out to dry 

The Soil Is Speaking

Nature Doesn't Need People
People Need Nature.

Nature is life: Every breath you take, every drop you drink, every bite you eat — it all comes from nature.