Tuesday 28 February 2023

A Good Afternoons Work

A good afternoons work on the allotment yesterday, the triangular path next to the boundary beds and the winter Raspberries was cleared levelled and then weed membraned and the dry woodchips on top of the pile skimmed off and laid. Gradually working my way into the mesh covered Greenhouse frame corner of the plot.

Wood chip off the top of the pile for the path. "Thing" was there to give me a hand!

More buckets of soil were processed and added to the Boundary beds. Lots of wood offcuts and tree cuttings were burnt. The asparagus bed has had a first level weeding, I'm left with some long dandelions to remove next visit.

Monday 27 February 2023

Exercising The Rotary Soil Sieve

Three hours on the plot Sunday morning clearing weeds from buckets of soil and then using the rotary soil sieve to remove the large stones to put a first layer of topsoil on top of the weathered woodchip in the boundary boarder beds.

25mm - 50mm or more in each section of the bed working from both ends towards the middle, on top of the woodchips.

Just a thin sprinkle on the middle boundary beds at the moment, with a stack of soil to process behind. The top flower buckets are empty with no drainage holes and there to catch any rain so the soil is dry when I sieve it at a future visit.

A stack of square flower buckets with soil that needs to be processed in front of the Plot 1 Dalek Army. These buckets have been knocking around way too long. The objective is to have the plot super tidy for kick off and direct sowing at the end of March/April. And clearing these buckets will enable me to sort out the corner and get the Greenhouse climbing frame in.

Wide angle panorama from the main path just in from the gate.

Corner shot of plot 1 looking up towards plot 1A. I did give the boundary bed a sprinkle of coffee grounds to try and put off the foxes from doing the Watusi* on it and also put off any slugs and snails from getting in there and laying eggs, plus it will also act as a fertiliser.

D.T.Brown Rhubarb Livingstone   was ordered for the plot 1 allotment in 2021. The growth during the first year was astounding although due to the weather some stalks did go to seed and had to be chopped off. 

By 2022 all three of the plants were in their own beds, when I received the plants, I only had two beds ready, and the third plant was squatting in Rhubarb Bed 1 for a while until I managed to get the third rhubarb bed ready. One does not take any stalks in the first year of growth and the goodness goes back into the plant and helps it establish.  
In 2022 I have taken about 40% of the stalks late in the season from two of the three plants and have made a number of Rhubarb crumbles, and I have to say I didn't have to add much sugar, as Rhubarb Livingstone is succulent and delicious and well worth the waiting until the second year before harvesting.  
In 2023 without the need of forcing one of the 3 plants to provide an early harvest, I will have Rhubarb between March and October.

The rub on this is that it was my wife who passed away in January who really loved Rhubarb, my fear now is that I may have way too much of it. I may have to consider making Rhubarb wine, or seeing how many friend and neighbours like Rhubarb. 

* The Watusi /wɑːtuːsi/ is a solo dance that enjoyed brief popularity during the early 1960s. It was one of the most popular dance crazes of the 1960s in the United States. "Watusi" is a former name for the Tutsi people of Africa, whose traditions include spectacular dances.

Sunday 26 February 2023

Filling The Boundary Beds

Saturday lunchtime on the plot, in the greenhouse away from the cutting wind and the little shower of rain eating a hot Cornish pasty and having a cup of coffee waiting for the rain to stop.

When it did, which was not long after consuming said pasty, I started by shovelling some of the more already decaying woodchips from the pile that have been there for some time and were turning black into the boundary beds.

Next I measured the length of the boundary beds and found the third points and marked the beds with chalk.

Then cut a square in the cardboard and then used the Ryobi Soldering Iron to burnt a hole in the weed membrane under the cardboard large enough for the Power Planter auger.

Ryobi Soldering Iron

I was on my own so could not take a photo of me actually boring the hole, so here is the next best thing a photograph of the Power Planter standing in the hole.

Here it is again, as it nears the 600mm depth, 
It didn't take long to make the 600mm deep post/ tube hole. I inserted the scaffold tubes in the holes, backfilled and tamped down the soil around them, then completed the task of half filling the beds with the woodchip.

Nice black and rotting down already as it has been in the drop off and pick up area for quite a long time, and is more ideally suited for this than paths.

Having a second cup of coffee, and sitting by the shed I was looking at the posts and thinking I'm going to have to ask Henry if I can borrow his post whacker next time I see him down here, which could be a while as his wife is expecting their second child soon.
I heard the gate go and there was Henry with his son Casper. I asked him if I could borrow it, and after a stroll to his plot and a natter I was soon back on my plot and getting the tops of the four scaffold tubes level (ish)

Midway through the leveling of the post I had just eyed up the first two posts with the whacker on the third and was working it down towards the same level.

I was quite happy with the level, just a shame about the slight lean on the third post.

And that at around 4:30 in the afternoon was when I put my tools back in the car and made my way home. Next visit saved soil and ericaceous compost to be added to the Boundary Beds

Saturday 25 February 2023

Successful Container Gardening


I was very honoured to be included in the Early Reader Team for Sophie McKay’s latest book Beginner's Guide to Successful Container Gardening. Sophie is an emerging author in the field of gardening, permaculture and sustainability.

Her work explores self-sufficiency, foraging, food forestry, and food preservation, with a view to helping readers gain independence and help repair the planet little by little. This latest offering from her is ideal if you are interested in growing your own organic vegetables and fruits but don't have much space?

This book provides an easy-to-follow comprehensive guide with techniques and smart tips to help you overcome the limitations of your space enabling you to use your available areas efficiently.

The book is divided into 10 chapters based on various important aspects of container gardening, as shown below. 

If you have trouble reading the contents on your device in this post, you can always use the Amazon Look inside feature. Computer users click on the image and it will display full screen. 

Small Space, Big Harvest - 25+ Proven tricks & DIY Methods, indexed and explained by Beautiful, Hand Drawn Illustrations + lots of additional resources!

As Sophie says in her book “The tips and tricks will help you turn your home into a plant lover’s paradise. It’s time to do away with your doubts and stretch those green fingers!”

Beginner's Guide to Successful Container Gardening also contains details of additional Free Resources that can be downloaded by the reader.  

I have to say I have really enjoyed reading this book to review. The four pages of the contents in 10 Chapters shows you from the start of the read exactly what the book is going to cover in scope and in detail. 

The Beginner's Guide to Successful Container Gardening is a really enjoyable read and in fact I have suggested to my daughter that they buy me a paperback copy of this book and Sophie's Practical Permaculture Project  for my birthday in March. 

I give the Beginner's Guide to Successful Container Gardening a 5 star rating, and highly recommend it to experienced and new gardeners. 

At a time when decisions are being made about heat or eat and supermarket shelves in the UK are currently looking like this.....

There is no better time to start thinking about 
Successful Container Gardening and growing your own vegetables in your back garden no matter what the size of it. 

#ContainerGardening #OrganicFarming #HealthyEating #BookLaunch #LimitedTimeOffer #FreeEbook #HappyGardening 

Thursday 23 February 2023

The Boundary Beds

This afternoon the Boundary Beds were cleared of weeds and put in their final resting places with a layer of cardboard in the bottom. Two scaffold poles were put in each end I have two more to install at third points.

On a future visit the filling of the beds can start and the emptying of the Daleks with the Ericaceous compost can begin .

The 6ft x 6th Greenhouse frame is to go in the corner where they yellow tarp is once that area has been cleared of the debris on the tarps and the ground has been turned over.  The greenhouse frame will be clad with the mesh panels that are leaning up against the end of the Raspberry beds.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

Celebrating 120 Years of Unwins

Unwins was founded in 1903, when the first seed of William Unwin’s immediately popular sweet pea ‘Gladys Unwin’ was sold. This year, as one of the best loved names in UK gardening, Unwins celebrates its 120th year as a seed house.

To celebrate and mark the 120th year, Unwins have launched their very own educational and inspirational website. Growing from seed is an economical way of producing your own beautiful flowers and delicious vegetables, so with more and more people looking to save money where they can, it was the perfect time to invest in www.unwins.co.uk

With articles covering a range of topics, quizzes to help find the perfect seed variety and seasonal recommendations, unwins.co.uk will provide a valuable resource for consumers starting out on their growing journey, as well as experienced growers that may be looking for new and exciting varieties.

(1) One of the best loved names in UK gardening, Unwins celebrates its 120th year as a seed house in 2023.

(2) Unwins was founded in 1903, when the first seed of William Unwin's immediately popular sweet pea 'Gladys Unwin' was sold.

(3) Unwins founder, William Unwin, was an important breeder of sweet peas in his day; working with his son Charles, the pair introduced more than 250 named selections.

(4) Frank Unwin, another of William's sons, who helped run Unwins during the first half of the 20th century, is closely associated with the development of gladioli breeding, especially smaller flowered kinds which became popular in many gardens.

(5) During the Second World War, Unwins helped to drive the 'Dig for Victory' campaign by concentrating more on vegetable seed than flower seed, key in keeping the nation supplied with home-grown food.

(6) Charles Unwin was a key player in setting up Fleuroselect, the international organisation for the ornamental plants industry, which helps identify the best plants for gardeners.

(7) Sweet peas are still very much in the blood at Unwins: the company still runs extensive annual sweet pea trials to find the best selections for gardeners.

(8) Through the global pandemic, Unwins helped support customers who turned to gardening, supplying seeds of crops suitable for indoor growing and satisfying the growing demand for wildflower seed.

(9) The core values that have long made Unwins a trusted and loved brand remain today - great, exciting new varieties perfect for today's gardeners, and the best quality seed.

(10) In his first year, William Unwin made just £25 from his seeds; today Unwins has grown to be one of the UK's leading and most trusted suppliers of seed to gardeners with a multi-million pound turnover.

For a full fascinating read about the History of Unwins visit the New web site and read Unwins Our Story 

 The first 120 sign ups, can enter their address to receive a FREE packet of Unwins Sweet Pea 120 Years Seeds!

(UK only)

Sign Up Here 

Tuesday 21 February 2023

The Garden Press Event 2023

As regular readers of manVslug.uk will know I've been attending this event annually since 2014 and I always enjoy the day and meeting up with other bloggers who are regarded as freelance gardening journalist and the occasional celebrity gardener, professional gardening journalist and authors. 

I always see The Garden Press Event as kicking off my growing season after dealing with infrastructure on the allotment over the late Autumn and Winter months. 

My wife was unwell in 2022 and I didn't manage to attend the event, following the virtual 2021 event due to covid, it was nice today to once again be able to visit the Business Design Centre in Islington London. 

The event was well attended by both exhibitors ( listed below with hyperlinks to their web sites) and members of the gardening press. I had done my desk study and had determined which of the exhibitors were regulars and just needed to be caught up with to see what's new and which were new and had not attended before, and were there to launch new products. 

There were a few exhibitors that I had planned to visit that I didn't manage too as they were busy each time I circled back around to their stalls to try and visit them again, but the 2023 Garden press event catalogue provides the press contacts for each company, so not all is lost, and I will be chasing those companies up over the next few weeks. 

I'm downloading photographs and press media material tonight and will cover some of the companies and products I've seen today over the next few weeks, in between post about what's happening on my two half plots 1 & 1A known collectively as "Avalon". 

There are companies that will be sending me products to trial and review and those will follow in due course as well. 


Johnsons Lawn Seed &

Joy Of Plants

Kamado Joe and 

Liquid Gold Leaf

Mayhem UK Ltd
Maze Ltd
Melcourt Industries Ltd

Mr Fothergill's Seeds Ltd

New Leaf Compost

Newby Hall + Gardens and the Harrogate Autumn Flower Show


Pictorial Meadows
Plant Healthy Certification
Scheme Ltd

Plant Heritage National Plant Collections


Responsible Sourcing Scheme Ltd

RocketGro Limited

SBM Life Science Ltd

Singing Friend
Sorbus International Ltd

Southern Trident Ltd

Spear and Jackson UK Ltd


Stihl Ltd

STV  International

Sustainable Plant Store

Taylors Bulbs
The Plant Clinic
Town & Country
Tropical Plants UK 


Urban Farm It

Vitavia Garden Products 

Vitax Ltd

Westland Horticulture Ltd
Wildlife World

Wolf Garten

Woodlodge Products

1Up Natural Products Ltd