Wednesday 30 September 2020

Green Manure Autumn/Winter Mix Seeds

After hitting the Mr Fothergill's catalogue and thumbing through I got to pages 128 - 129 which are full of Green Manures. 

As you will be aware if you are a regular visitor to I've got three new beds growing green manure at the moment, and I have plans to get many more growing it.
Green Manure is an ancient practice, it revitalises poor soils naturally discourages spreading weeds, disrupt pest and disease life cycles, protects and improves soil fertility by preventing nutrients leaching away over winter and adds valuable organic material.  

I have two types of Green Manure on order from Mr Fothergills one is The Green Manure Autumn/ Winter Mix Seeds which is made up of: 

15% Crimson Clover (Trifolium incarnatum)
20% Broad Leaf Clover (Trifolium pratense)
30% Westerwolths Rye Grass (Lolium multiflorum)
35% White Tilney Mustard (Sinapsis alba)

Clovers fix nitrogen in the soil. Rye grass and white mustard improve soil structure. The other Green Manure I have on order is Mustard Caliente which does not get dispatched until after the 6th October 2020, and I will blog about it once it arrives. 

The back of the packet of seeds suggest that the green manure will grown to a height of 300mm - 600mm.

The web site states that the pack covers approximately 20 sq. metres, however the back of the pack says 15 square metres.  I have written to Mr Fothergills and brought this anomaly between web site and back of pack to their attention and I will update this post once I get an answer as to which value is correct. 

My beds are 1.2m x 2.4m on plan, so each bed is 1.2m x 2.4m = 2.88 sq. metres. 


20/2.88 sq. metres = 6.94 enough in a pack for say 7 beds if applied as directed
15/2.88 sq. metres = 5.20 enough in a pack for say 5 beds if applied as directed

Now this does make me wonder should I be weighing the pack and making 7 or 5 equal amounts just enough for my bed size? 

Sowing instructions on the pack says

"Sow outdoors September to November or through to February if the soil is not too cold and wet. Broadcast the seed over finely prepared soil which has already been watered." 

It will be ready to dig in after 2-3 months after sowing but anytime before flowering and 4-5 weeks before the ground is required.  Cut the plants back and allow foliage to wilt before digging the crop into a depth of 150 - 200mm (6"-8"). Chop up the foliage with the spade as you dig.

In the past I have cut and then worked into the top of the bed with a spade, then covered with weed membrane and let the worms do the job of taking it into the soil whilst feeding off it.  

There is a warning on the pack to ensure the plants are cut back or dug in before they set seed. 

A Hint & Tip on the pack suggests 

"Green Manure can be mowed before flowering to extend the cover period. Leave plants in the ground until soil is required for use, but do not let them set seeds."

Now I like that idea especially as I now have a battery operated lawn mower that I can take to the Allotment and it has a mulch plate.  When I have some growing I will blog some photos of it in the beds. 

Update 01-10-2020 

I received a very swift reply from Mr Fothergills Marketing Manager thanking me for pointing out the anomaly and that he would investigate and come back to me and an hour or so later I received this reply. 

Hi Alan,

We have done some digging and checked the seed fills and the mix against the various coverages and come to the conclusion that the packet is incorrect.

The calculations are somewhat odd which, I believe, is where the confusion has arisen but we are going to change the packet to show 20sqm coverage – though it will take some time for that to appear in store!

Once again, I appreciate you taking the time to let me know.  

Now that is what I call customer service! 

And now I know I have enough green manure for 7 beds as long as I'm not heavy handed. 

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Mentioned in Dispatches by Thompson & Morgan

Thompson & Morgan


Hi Alan

Having passed the autumn equinox there’s a definite nip in the air, but your September stories have filled our screens with warmth, colour and flavour. Here’s a quick round-up of the content that particularly caught our eye this month…

Drop us a line via if you spot something that deserves a mention in our October email. And please share these featured posts.


Ear nibbling!

Was your sweetcorn nibbled like Sue’s? Luckily Green Lane Allotment's pears, potatoes and ‘All Gold’ raspberries were fantastic. Check out their Sept haul!

Read more »

Winter colour

Wintersweet bursts into life in the coldest months bringing exquisite perfume and elegant colour. See T&M's blog post for more winter garden inspiration.

Read more »

Damson ketchup

Over at The Diary of a Country Girl, Kate loves a homemade sauce full of deep, dark flavours that unravel on your tongue. What a clever use of foraged fruit.

Read more »

Malvern plant fair

Seasonal door displays aren’t just for Xmas! Michelle at Veg Plotting unexpectedly enjoyed flower arranging talks at Malvern Fair and treated herself to a new sculpture.

Read more »

Smells as sweet

Ronnie’s renamed her blog! Discover how Hurtled to 60 refreshed her brand at the same time that she freshened up her autumn pots.

Read more »

Squash success

At, Alan’s T&M squash plants have sprung into life. No ordinary gourd - these varieties can be eaten in place of potato. We look forward to an update...

Read more »

Autumn Magic

The Chatty Gardener found time to visit Trench Hill this month. Mandy’s photos will transport you to a beautiful Cotswolds garden that’s constantly evolving.

Read more »

Space food

Science writer Emma loves hydroponic food and seeks high tech ways to feed people. Will The Unconventional Gardener find the best salad to grow in space?

Read more »


We're writing to you because we enjoy the content you create. We hope you like the stories we're sharing, but if you'd prefer not to get these emails, just reply letting us know.

Please do feel free to share anything in this email. If you've created any content you'd like to see featured in these emails, or have seen something you feel is worthwhile sharing, please let us know at - we'd love to read them.

All the very best,

Thompson & Morgan blog team

Monday 28 September 2020

Another Temporary Roof Covering

I popped down to the allotment this afternoon to cover the roof with a large sheet of plastic I had been saving in the Ketta Store at home from something we had delivered and I was in squirrel mode and thought "Umm that could be useful" and squirreled it away. 

I love the staple gun so quick for a job like this, especially when you don't want to be directly behind that wall for very long.    

We are moving into the rainy season and I know the contractor is supposed to start work next week on the wall but I also know how bloody slow the council and their contractors are in getting anything done. 

I also took the opportunity to remove some of the items I would be really annoyed to loose should the wall fall down on the shed and flatten it. There is not a lot in the shed that is really expensive and worth anything, but I do have a some of my old Dads gardening tools and bits and pieces that have sentimental value. 

But where to store them until the danger is over?

A quick weed of one of the beds, and some remedial works to the longitudinal bracing to the hoops, plus two pallets to keep things off the ground and the temporary shelter was ready to rock'n'roll. two beds behind the hoops you can see the side extension to the shed laid down on the bed ready to be re installed once the work is complete. 

Another saved item from the Ketta Store was the tarp garden furniture cover that I used to use when we had the teak garden set. It turned out to be big enough to cover the bed over the hoop framework and ideal for the job in hand. It also has the benefit of just looks like another hoop covered bed.

I have the new roof covering material and once the wall is down and the new fence erected I will give the old shed a new roof, assuming she survives what I keep referring too when talking to the man form the council as "the careful deconstruction of the wall", as demolition conjures up a whole different mental image on how they may go about the job at hand. 

Sunday 27 September 2020

Square Foot Gardening

The three crossed bays are going to be 4ft x 4ft or 1.22m x 1.22m and are intended to be square foot gardening beds for a little trial of the process next year and to compare with growing through weed membrane or planting membrane sheets.

Mel Bartholomew; was the founder and inventor of the Square Foot Gardening method; and the author of; All New Square Foot Gardening, the best-selling gardening book in America for a generation. The guide has sold 2.5 million copies since Bartholomew wrote the book in 1981. 

He hosted a PBS TV show for five years, and then was telecast for three more years on the Learning Channel and Discovery Network. Bartholomew presided over the nonprofit 160 Square Foot Gardening Foundation, which encourages every household around the world to have a small garden and eat fresh, healthy vegetables that are uncontaminated. He passed away in May, 2016.

Now I bought Mel's original book on the subject from a charity shop the one pictured left is the 3rd Edition. 

The original method created by Mel has not changed in any significant way with this new 3rd edition of All New Square Foot Gardening. It remains: build a box; fill it with Mel's Mix; add a grid. But along with the classic steps, you will find some interesting and compelling new information, such as Adding trellises and archways Substituting with new materials Adding automatic watering systems "Thinking Outside the Box" with creative configurations and shapes Square Foot Gardening in dense urban areas with little or no yard Square Foot Gardening with kids Crop protection 

Each of these 4 by 4 square foot beds was then divided into sixteen one-foot squares, the grid. Each square is planted with a different crop species based on a formulation of either one, four, nine or sixteen plants per square depending on the plant's overall size. Once a “square foot” is harvested, a different crop can be planted for a continual harvest. To encourage a variety of different crops in succession, and to discourage pests, each square is used for a different kind of plant (crop rotation) within the growing season. The number of plants per square depends on an individual plant's size. For example, a single tomato plant takes a full square, as might herbs such as oregano, basil or mint, while lettuce plants would be planted four per square, and up to sixteen per square of plants such as radish or carrots. Tall plants are trellised on the north side of the bed to avoid shading smaller plants and prevent sprawling on the ground.

One advantage of densely planted crops is that they can form a living mulch and can also prevent weeds from establishing or even germinating. Also, natural insect repellent methods such as companion planting (e.g. planting marigolds or other naturally pest-repelling plants) become more efficient in a close space, which may reduce the need to use pesticides. The large variety of crops in a small space also prevents plant diseases from spreading easily

Since the beds are typically small, making covers or cages to protect plants from pests, cold, wind or too much sun is more practical than with larger gardens. To extend the growing season of a square foot garden, a cold/hot frame may be built around it, and by facing the cold/hot frame south, the SFG captures more light and heat during the colder months of spring and winter.

In 2006 Mel Bartholemew updated the concept with the book "All New Square Foot Gardening", which advocates using “Mel’s Mix” created by Bartholomew. After much experimentation, Bartholomew concluded that his formulation of 1/3 peat moss or coconut coir, 1/3 vermiculite and 1/3 blended compost yielded superior results in only a 6 inches (15 cm) depth. The benefits of the mix included keeping soil friable and virtually weed free with all the necessary nutrients. This mix eliminated the need for artificial fertilizer as compost is added each time you re-plant a square which provides enough nutrients naturally.

Saturday 26 September 2020

Clearing Around The Shed

My daughter's and sister-in-law are having a girly lunch session today with my Wife before we have to start shielding her again which we have decided starts from Monday. it was suggested that I take the opportunity to go to the allotment and get on clearing the area for the contractor to work on the wall, and perhaps take some lunch with me so I don't have to come home and can get on.

You don't have to tell me twice, in fact Kelly made me a large packed lunch as I would be working and may want to have a couple of energy breaks during the day  

I hit the comfrey bed and the photo above is at about 60% harvested. many grateful Dalek were fed today in fact all the active Daleks had a very good layer in. 

The bindweed had tied the old blow-away frame to the heras fencing creating the drop zone in front of the wall along plot 2 that was due to collapse in 2013 when I took over the plot and reported it the Council. I do hope they bought and have not hired those fencing panels, that's not so silly an idea. I know Sutton Council housing department did that in the past, they paid for the fencing about 20 times over on hire charges and no one ever saw the bigger picture and just purchased them. 

I've covered the now stripped comfrey bed with some Correx Floor Protection but will trim it fit on my next visit so that no debris pollutes the bed when they undertake the works.

The path between Plots 1A and Plot 2 was swept up. The weeds around the base of Dalek Army 1 need weeding and topping up with woodchip again, but that's a job for another time. 

The plum tree has been trimmed back so it's not overhanging the path, and the contractors have un obstructed access.  

The windmill was moved but I bent the propeller in transit so I need to straighten that or replace it. Cheeky the Gnome, Bill & Little weed are now down with the two Agapanthus on Plot 1 that I repotted, but unfortunately Ben didn't make the trip in the wheelbarrow from Plot 1A.  

RIP Ben gone but not forgotten!

Friday 25 September 2020

Council Going Through The Motions

Above are some photos of the Dangerous Structure (Wall) behind my shed following the removal of the trees and branches that the contractor working on the development in the background dropped and then after much fuss finally removed off my roof. 

View from the other side of the wall 

I was told by the council not to use my shed as the wall behind it is dangerous (no shit Sherlock!) 

After repeated attempts to get the council to do something, and a meeting on site with the Neighbourhood Manger for the Council over a five weeks ago, they were still waiting for quotes from builder they requested some eight weeks ago. 

it's no surprise that despite 7 years of notification that the wall was having to be rebuilt and time to budget for the remedial works, they don't have enough money to rebuild the wall with masonry so we are looking at a 1.8m (6 ft) timber fence with a 150mm 6" gravel board as a replacement . 

I've asked about trellises to take it as high as the wall, but apparently despite there being a double story bike rack/ climbing frame that little buggers will be able to climb to get over the lower timber fence, they have not got the money for that either. 

So the question is, if they don't have money for trellis how the blazes did they think they would have money to re-build in masonry!. 

And the answer is, it was an excuse to remain sitting on the hands with their thumbs up their backside when these works could and should have been done weeks if not months or years ago before the ties they fitted 7 years ago when I reported the wall on the left was dangerous and it has now damaged the wall behind my shed by dragging it along its damp proof course and has effectively doubling the area that needs to be fixed.    

The trees that the contractor removed were a likely major contributing factor to the walls demise but they had also grown over the top of the wall and were actually assisting in holding the wall up. 

Did the council make an insurance claim against the land owner? NO, have they missed the boat on that one, YES! by seven years.

After the tree was cut and everything that created my natural cave of tree and ivy collapsed on my shed behind and beside over the racking timber store. I removed everything from behind the shed and beside it 

That area corner was a right mess with debris built up over the years on the polycarbonate sheeting I had covering the area below the branches and ivy.   

What I didn't remove was the racking between the shed and the wall or the water butt in front of the fence panel. 

It now appears the councils contract needs the area cleared to take the wall down. Such a shame they could not have done that from the other side when it was effectively a building site. So the man from the council came to look at it with me today. 

I had arrived about an hour earlier than out appointment and I had removed all the composting material in the side extension to the shed and had unscrewed the side extension. I had also removed the water butt from the corner before her arrived.  

He assisted me in relocating the side extension on one of the beds, and he pulled out the fence panel and racking that I was informed to leave alone. We moved the bench off the patio and made the entrance wider by moving some large planters, so if the contractor wants to use a mini dumper to take the wall to a skip in the drop off and pick up area they can. 

He took some photographs to send to the contractor to see if this was sufficient to undertake the works or if I was also going to have to clear and move the shed!

Ramona on Maternity Leave

Just as the invoices were sent out, and we discovered that the computer company that had written the new database had failed miserably to produce an invoice with all the necessary information on it, Ramona Boboc has gone on Maternity leave. We wish Ramona and her growing family all our best wishes for the future.    

Wednesday 23 September 2020

What Can I Sow And Grow In October?

It's October soon and It's still possible to over Winter crops under cover, that is to say in a Greenhouse, Cloche, Polytunnel or Cold Frame.  

If you are lucky enough to have a Greenhouse, Cloche, Polytunnel or Cold Frame on your plot, then here are a few examples of what to grow. 

Hyperlinks to more information on the variety, and to order seeds from various suppliers. 

Beetroot - Chioggia - D.T.Brown - Mr.Fothergill's
Broad Beans -
Aquadulce Claudia - Marshalls - Thompson & Morgan Calabrese - Marathon - D.T.Brown - Marshalls Carrots - Amsterdam Forcing 3 - D.T.Brown - Mr.Fothergill's
Cauliflower - All The Year Round - D.T.Brown - Mr.Fothergill's Corn Salad (lamb's lettuce) - D.T.Brown - Mr.Fothergill's
Field Beans - Green Manure
Garlic - Provence Wight - The Garlic Farm
Kale - Red Russian - D.T.Brown - JustSeed
Lettuce - Winter Density - Mr.Fothergill's - MoreVeg
Lettuce - Winter Gem - D.T.Brown - Mr.Fothergill's
Lettuce - Winter Purslane - D.T.Brown - Mr.Fothergill's
Onion Sets - Senshyu Yellow - D.T.Brown - Mr.Fothergill's
Salad Leaves - Mustard Oriental Ruby Streaks - Mr.Fothergill's - JustSeed
Salad Leaves - Oriental Greens Mizuna - D.T.Brown - JustSeed
Spinach - Giant Winter - Crocus - JustSeeds
Spring Cabbage - April - Kings Seeds - Thompson & Morgan
Spring Onions - Performer - Dobbies - Thompson & Morgan Peas - Meteor - D.T.Brown - Mr.Fothergill's

Small Print, I'm not on any form of commission or any form of payment by you using these links to order seeds. Just Grow and be happy!