Wednesday 29 May 2024

10 Best & Cheap Ways to Get Rid of Slugs in Your Garden


The war on Gastropods is real, and takes more than a bottle of beer to win. Huw Richards has tried every counter you can imagine and has come up with his list of the 10 best and cheapest methods to get rid of slugs and keep your garden slug free.

Filling The Extended Raised Bed


A quick slideshow using all the photos I took of the process showing how I filled up the Square Foot Garden Bed nearest my potting shed after we placed another ring of 200mm x 50mm timbers on top of the original frame.

I've done this because I have developed arthritis in most of my joints, during finding out and having cancer treatment last year and I can't get down on my knees at the moment to work low level beds. Thus I'm in the process of making the beds higher off the ground or deeper from the top of the bed, depending how your mind views what I've done.

We took all the Mel's Mix out of the single height bed, added another layer of repurposed roof joist and laid new "Magic Cardboard" on the bottom, then added felled trees, hedge and grass clippings, spent compost and coir (Hügelkultur) and then finally put the excavated Mel's Mix back on top.

The blue MDPE water pipes and debris netting is to keep the foxes off and hopefully weed seeds away until I can get some plants in the bed. I am considering a ring of copper wire around the top and a 9V square battery to hold back the snails and slugs

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Greenhouse Shade


To give your plants and seedlings the best chance, you think you need to  set your greenhouse up somewhere that gets lots of sunshine, plenty of natural daylight and that is protected from harsh winds and frost pockets.

While the purpose of greenhouses is to keep plants warm, overheating can bring about an array of problems. Increased susceptibility to insects, higher risk of disease, reduced yields and lower crop quality are just a few of the issues extreme temperatures can cause.

Ventilation and cooling the greenhouse which really ramps up those summer temperatures becomes a necessity very quickly as we go from late spring into summer, so our options are:

Opening roof vents either manually or mechanically, On my greenhouse when the wind took an opening vent for a fly during a named storm, I replaced it with a Loft Conversion and solar powered fans to provide ventilation.

Leave the door open, but I put in a mesh panel to keep the cats and squirrels etc. out of the greenhouse.  

Use shading compounds are materials that are brushed, rolled or sprayed onto the glazing. Shade paints are a quick and cost-effective way of filtering out some of the sunlight's strength.

Employ external shading or internal shading such as Debris Netting. Black nylon shade cloth hung on the exterior of the greenhouse is another shade cloth option

External Blinds give shade and also provide the maximum cooling effect by preventing the sun's rays from passing through the glass. In periods of dull weather they can be easily drawn up again to allow maximum light on to plants.

I’ve also seen bamboo beach mats used externally to provide shading.

Paving slabs on the floor of the greenhouse, retain heat during cold weather which is beneficial, however in warmer weather it’s a good idea to cool these heat retaining elements down with cold water and reduce their capacity to absorb and retain heat.

Monday 27 May 2024

Bank Holiday Monday Visit

Todays visit to the allotment between 10:15am - 3:00pm involved putting the hoop and debris netting on the new raised Square Foot Garden Bed next to the potting shed, to keep the foxes off and hopefully weed seeds as well.

I need to think about what to sow in the new higher bed and get some seeds sown.

The planks on the floor around the bed are for the bed behind which needs to be done next.

I filled the module with peat based compost, (I know I'm norty but I did stock up on it before they stopped letting us allotmenteers het hold of it) ready for sowing the Swift F1 Sweetcorn

Then consolidated the compost using another tray.

Then formed a depression in the middle of each module cell and sowed 15 Swift F1 sweetcorn's, one in the middle of each cell then filled to the top. 

Repeated sowing another two tray worth of Swift sweetcorn, plus one additional seed that was in the pack from Premier Seeds Direct. Placed two of the the modules in a gravel tray, and a single module in a bottom watering tray then watered the module cells until I saw the water coming out of the bottom. 

The Potting shed staging's after sowing the 46 Swift F1 Sweetcorn.

Swift F1 Sweetcorn on the left and Lazy Housewife French climbing beans on the right, which I why I ended working on the Climbing Frame Greenhouse, because those French beans and cucumbers need to go out into the world and grow. 

Blueberry Draper potted up into the 30Litre Square Flower Bucket full of Ericaceous compost which provides the perfect growing conditions for Blueberries.

Goji Berry No.1 Lifeberry potted up into a 30Litre Square Flower Bucket, this little plant has been in the potting shed for way too long waiting to be moved up to a larger pot.  

1st and 2nd Early potatoes in buckets have been growing well for some time. 

Main Crop Java Potatoes in Buckets now showing foliage above the top of the soil in the buckets. There was no foliage in the photos I took only on the 19th of May when I planted the last three buckets of potatoes. 

All Gold Raspberries, I was going to pick and bring them home then decided to eat them straight off the plant. They are so nice !

Finally getting the lower bed in this photo back filled and the kerb stone set.

I still have soil to backfill but the weather was on the change and I was hungry so I called it a day, and made my way home for a late lunch. I managed to get half way home before the heavens opened up and the rain fell.

Sunday 26 May 2024

T&M Tomato Vivacious


Thompson & Morgan have sent me a 9cm pot Tomato Vivacious which is a cordon (Indeterminate) variety, and new to their catalogue to trial this year. I've already potted it into its square flower bucket, in the back garden and given it a dressing of Atlantic Gardens compost.
Tomato 'Vivacious'!  Each tomato contains up to 40% of your recommended daily amount of Vitamin A! These luminous, orange-scarlet tomatoes are not only visually stunning but also bursting with flavour and health benefits. 

These oval-shaped fruits boast a perfectly balanced taste, combining meatiness with juiciness, and a delightful blend of sweetness and acidity. What sets them apart is their high beta-carotene content, providing a whopping 40% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A in just one tomato. 

With its exceptional nutritional profile, including eye health and skin benefits, this variety is a delicious and nutritious addition to your garden. Enjoy a bountiful harvest of 70 vibrant fruits per plant, perfect for both fresh enjoyment and culinary creations. Plus, you'll appreciate its notable resistance to blight, ensuring a thriving and disease-resistant garden. 

Height: 150cm (60in). Spread: 75cm (30in). 

Saturday 25 May 2024

Hedge Trimmings & Potting Up Cucumbers


It was a short visit to the allotment this afternoon to do some watering and potting up of four varieties of cucumbers that have germinated this year.

The cucumbers had grown nicely in the self watering pop bottle propagators, but its time to move them on into vending machine cups with two drainage holes melted in the bottom. The Lazy Susan French beans were watered and I need to get the bed for those in the climbing frame greenhouse ready to receive the bean and the cucumbers. 

Emma did some weeding of the paths in between and around the raspberry bed and we had a black sack worth to bring home and go into the rubbish bin. 

Having just emptied the hedge cuttings from last year, we brought down the hedge cuttings that Emma created this morning. It saves her taking the bags to the dump and gives me material to go in the bottom of the next Square Foot Garden bed that needs to be extended higher. 

Friday 24 May 2024

Hedgehog Highway

Did you know that Hedgehogs are now on the list of species in threat of becoming extinct in the UK, their numbers have declined rapidly in the last 50 years and it is largely to do with the inability for them to access peoples gardens to forage for food.

If people could cut a hole at the bottom of their fence 4 inches by 4 inches and neighbouring gardens do the same to create a ‘hedgehog highway’ we could all help to save a species.

If anyone would like more information please google ‘hedgehog highway’ or join the Facebook group ‘hedgehog highways’

Hedgehogs are an iconic part of British wildlife let’s all help them recover and thrive.

There are a number of companies that produce Hedgehog framing items for the access gateways in doors and fences, just google "hedgehog highways"

Thursday 23 May 2024

Raised SFG Bed 2

The plot visit today was all about trying to get more done with the filling of the first Square Foot Garden bed that I have extended the height off because of my mobility issues to make it easier for me to work and weed. The photo above is the state of play this morning before I added the wheel barrow load of branches from the plum tree. 

Branches of the plum tree added and then hedge trimmings from my daughters property that have been in a sack for a year, and were supposed to be for the Hügelkultur beds in the climbing frame that are not raised but will have to become raised if I'm going to be able to use them in the future. 

I rounded up all the bags of last years hedge trimmings and spread them over the branches and this brought me up to the level of the top of the first level of timbers that form the raised bed. 

Next was compost and coir from last years potatoes in buckets that didn't get re used this year as I have cut back on the amount of potatoes I've grown this year. This nicely capped the hedge clippings and brought the level up to where the Mels Mix I removed from the single height raised bed could be reintroduced.

So I started emptying the sacks I could grab and lift and emptied them into the raised bed.

And finally a plot neighbour helped me with the last three sacks that were too heavy for me to manage with my now arthritic hands and wrists and the bed was topped up nearly to the brim, I had judged the volume just about right. Yes the level of the bed will sink as the materials get rained on and consolidate and the lower levels rot down, but for the moment it's ideal. 

By the time I capped this bed off it was 2pm and thus time to go home and have some late lunch.

Next visit the blue hoops will be re installed and the netting will go over and some sowing can take place, then it's onto clearing the Asparagus Bed and Square Foot Garden Bed 1 and doing this all over again.  

Wednesday 22 May 2024

#nakedgardening Facebook Group

You may be excused for thinking that this might have something to do with the annual Naked Gardening Day normally held on the first Saturday of May, however it's a facebook group set up by Guy Grieve

Those of you that are regular readers of my recall that name because I wrote an article about Guy and introduced him and his awesome compost and new company Atlantic Garden back in April.

Guy is a former scallop-diver launched the UK’s first ever peat-free, organic seaweed compost that is sold in 100% compostable or ‘naked’ packaging in later 2023. His mission is to eradicate the 100 million single-use compost bags that are sold to UK gardeners each year.

#NakedGardening movement

The term ‘naked gardening’ was first used by Atlantic Garden’s founder, Guy Grieve, during a meeting with his fellow allotment owners at his plot in Edinburgh. He comments:

“Introducing seaweed to the soil was a big step, but as soon as I presented my fellow gardeners with a fully ‘naked compost’ - no plastic bag - the naked gardening movement truly took off.

“We want to get the #nakedgardening movement trending throughout UK gardens. By sharing and innovating the ‘naked’ no-nasties products and solutions, we can help gardeners do their bit and strip the bad stuff out while letting the good stuff grow.”

As can be seen from the areal view of my plots "Avalon" and the amount of different types of compost bins, I'm very much into making as much as my own compost as possible.

Guy and Atlantic Garden’s commendable ethos is to promote and encourage home composting first and foremost and invite people to purchase its sustainable seaweed-enriched compost to top-up or give that extra special treat to a prize vegetable patch or flourishing flower bed 

Atlantic Garden is working closely with partners on the West coast of Scotland to grow seaweed. They have already established a 3km sugar kelp farm on the Isle of Mull from which they hope to harvest 30 tonnes of gorgeous kelp this summer.  

They also bring in sustainably hand gathered seaweed and seaweed from other farmers in Scotland.

By buying a bag of beautiful seaweed enriched compost from Atlantic Garden you are helping them to play a small part in repaying our great debt to the sea.

Without the sea, Atlantic Garden is nothing. So they decided that every bag they sell will lead to a contribution to The Scottish Coastal Clean-Up which is an incredible charity which is profoundly dedicated to clearing marine plastic waste from beaches in Scotland.

 Atlantic Garden hope that you will be proud to know that you help them, to help this great charity with every purchase you make.

Atlantic Garden Organic Peat Free Seaweed Enriched Compost (40 Litres) Cost £13.99 and that price includes the shipping costs. If you order two of more boxes then there is a 10% Discount applied to your order.

Your order for each 40 litres will be packed into two bags of 20 litres each, and placed in a single box.  The bags, box, tape and label are all 100% home compostable.  thus Zero waste.  Atlantic Garden are not interested in flashy packaging or shiny plastic.  It’s what is in the bag that counts.

In fact Atlantic Garden are one of the only compost suppliers who has taken the time to ensure that you can compost your bags.  

However you need to help them too.  When your beautiful Atlantic Garden compost arrives you have one week to keep it in the bag…  Any longer and it will actually start to compost I had one of the first batches of their compost to trial and didn't know about how environmentally friendly the bags were as can be seen in the photo above !!  

If you don’t plan to use it straight away just pour the contents into a holding bag or container and cover it.  Atlantic Gardens compost packaging will home compost in 180 days.  Please do tell them how it goes as they are somewhat obsessed by the subject!

To get your feedback Guy has created a #nakedgardening Facebook Group to help gardeners and home composting heroes ‘start stripping’ and sharing their naked gardening experiences here:

If you are already sold on buying some of Atlantic Garden’s compost Click Here

I love to see an ethical, newly formed UK based companies launch and thrive and as someone who formed his own company ten years before I retired, I’m always happy to assist in promoting new UK companies that have a great service or product, and I wish Guy and Atlantic Garden every success.

Tuesday 21 May 2024

Dig For Victory


Only an Englishman would build a vegetable plot in a bomb crater in the grounds of Westminster Cathedral

For more of the same see HERE

Monday 20 May 2024

Follow Up Appointment With Hematologist


Another visit to St Georges Hospital today to get the result of the PET scan. 

The scan shows that there is still inflammation in the cancer & radiation zone of my jaw, however  this could also be from when the jaw was mending and the needles of new bone was coming through my gum and digging into my tongue as that would show as inflammation

At the moment no additional treatment for the cancer, but another PET scan at the Royal Marsden will be taken in 3 months time, so next PET Scan will be late August and the appointment will hematology will be early September. 

They will also requests bloods about the time I have the PET Scan so they will have all the information they need for that early September appointment. 

The hot spot might never get cold but they will keep testing and as long as it doesn't get hotter again then they are happy... Just need it to stay the same, or get colder.

Hopefully after a few 3 monthly checks it will turn into annual checks.

If the Rheumatologist department wants me to go on steroids for the arthritis the Haematology department don't have a problem with that. But before they make any sweeping changes to my medication all departments talk about it anyway.

As off the 16th May my Kidney function stable so the naproxen isn't doing any damage at the moment.  

As they took 9 little bottles of blood on Friday for the Rheumatologist they only took one bottle of blood today and yet another water sample. 

Sunday 19 May 2024

Last of the Java Spuds in Buckets

As the sky was so clear of clouds and it was so sunny I went to the allotment between 4pm and 7pm today as Plot 1 and the potting shed would be in the shade.

I completed mixing up the compost Coir and fertiliser with the 600mm Power Planter and the Ryobi Drill and placed 4 Main Crop Java seed potatoes in each bucket.

Two Java main crop spuds at a 1/3 depth

Then two more added at 90 degrees to the first two at 2/3 depth finally topped up and then taken to bed 1 which is where I'm placing them this year. As the potatoes are harvested the contents of the buckets will be placed on Bed 1.

Bed 1 with the main crop java spuds in buckets, I really need my sister to cut her grass next weekend and donate the grass to me for mulch on top of the spuds in buckets.

I emptied some compost and course coir into the Square Foot Garden Bed 2 and watered it in and watered in the spuds in buckets and the four Red Baron onion beds and parsnip bed.

Red Baron Onion Bed 3

3 Red Baron Onion Beds on the right, Parsnip bed in the middle on the left and Asparagus bed at the back left.

Red Baron Onion Bed

Way too much invasive Bindweed growing in the onion beds. I may need to ask a plot neighbour or two for a little help next time I see them.

Red Baron Onion Bed

Parsnip bed with so many seedlings that have been eaten, its quite gutting after going to all that trouble to germinate and start off so many in loo rolls. But I have never seen so many slugs and snails on the allotment as we have this year. 

The Asparagus bed really needs attention, there could be asparagus in there but it's too full of weeds to see. I'm going to have to hit and clear this bed, but that's not going to be easy with my current mobility issues. 

Caught up with some plot neighbours that I have not seen since before starting my treatment for cancer last year, which was nice, lots of people over on the plot once the sun was going down and shaded areas were creeping across the plots, but a reduction in water pressure as everyone was watering.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Saturday Afternoon Visit


Square Foot Garden Bed 2 with the last of the weathered woodchip donated by Wally added. I round the large weed killer I bought a couple of weeks ago and went around the plot spraying the bindweed where its not in amongst anything eatable. 

Re sown Brassica on the top of the benches, and I have filled more self watering pop bottles with compost to sow more seeds on future visit.

Re sown Brassica Cabbage Marquis F1, Cabbage Romanov F1 & Brussels Sprouts Marle F1, I lmpw they are now a month late but I might as well try. 

Re sown Broccoli Broccoltto and Purple Rain

Lazy Housewife French Climbing Beans turned 180 degrees I have no idea why the row that was nearest the window and light has not germinated apart from one bean.

Four varieties of Cucumbers need to be potted on shortly

The Potting shed has been erected just over a year and the loss of colour between the inside and outside due to the bleaching effect of the sun is quite evident

Mels Mix in sacks around the potting shed to go back into Square Foot Garden Bed 2 once the levels are higher. As can be seen the amount of bleaching of the timber on the front of the potting shed is quite a lot, and I really need to find something that will treat the timber and last. 

Idverde have been and have cut the main path, but did not trim all around the carpark. It's just pure laziness on their part 

Idverde did not trim all around the carpark or the ski[ and we are still waiting for a woodchip delivery.

Idverde did not trim all along the Main pathway next to the composting WC

This is a major trip hazard and is a problem for idverde's lawn mower which is why normally the grass behind the tree root gets left when they cut the grass. The tree root needs attention and removing, of soil needs to be added to the path to bury the tree root.