Saturday night chilling

Blundetto “Warm my soul” (feat. Courtney John)
An excellent piece of chilled out reggae business. I found out about this one through a great mix on Soundcloud called “Voices of Jamaica” by Heavenly Sweetness that DJ Dick from Birmingham (Rockers Hi-Fi) stuck up on his blog. Cheers for Dick for putting us onto this one. Lovely!

On a flowerdew tip

As it was a cracking day today I spent the afternoon in the garden getting a few jobs out of the way. Earlier in the week I drew a rough plan of what is going where in the garden, and today dug a trench where the climbing french beans will be planted and added a few buckets of nearly ready compost (from bin number two) combined with some kitchen peelings and filled the top layer with soil (to keep any pests and rodents away) thus making a compost trench. By the time the beans go in, the stuff will have rotted down and enriched the soil which will help the plants as they grow. I’ve even put the canes in place which seems a bit previous, especially as it’s only February but I’ve a terrible memory sometimes…

I am always on the lookout on my travels for bits and pieces that are to be thrown out that’ll work well in the garden. A few weeks ago I saw on the way home from work on a wall a chunky window frame with a note on it with “please take me” which today was converted (with the addition of a couple of broken paving slabs) into a cold frame which will house a courgette seedling later in the spring. As with the beans I dug a compost trench below that the courgette will thrive on. The frame still needs some additional work on it to stop heat escaping but it’s a start. Keep em peeled you never know what you’ll find!

John Peel is not enough

Here’s my piece on John Peel that is published in the latest edition of the excellent US shortwave listening and D.I.Y media fanzine Paper Radio. Produced by DJ Frederick, the fanzine covers the US pirate scene, music and lots of other radio related material. For more information on the fanzine go to and also check DJ Frederick’s associated blog

Just click on the spreads below to read the article. Big thanks to DJ Frederick.

Nice and easy on a Sunday night (Version 2)

Dub Spencer & Trance Hill vs Umberto Echo –
The World Is Dub Enough

A lovely bit of tripped out wobble-esque dubwise (circa PIL’s “Radio 4” even though Keith Levene claims he played the bass on that track) from the Echo Beach stables. Heard this on Terry C’s WLUW-FM show the other week. Subtle as anything and a bit of a grower. One for examining the contents of your seed tin to. Excellent!

Keep ‘em peeled

It’s been nearly a month since I started off those seed potatoes. I’ve now moved them into a couple of cardboard egg boxes by the side of the patio doors in the back room where there’s lots of light and hopefully no chance of frost damage. They are now less red-looking and there’s some nice little tight green/reddish buds or “chits” forming where the “eyes” were. The potatoes will be ready to plant out when the shoots are around 1.5-2cm long, hopefully around mid-march/early april when the ground has started to warm up and after the risk of frost has passed.

A couple of years ago one spring afternoon I got a bit overexcited when we had a couple of hours of sunshine and decided it was the right time to plant my already chitted seed potatoes. After rubbing off all but three of the chits on each one (a good tip if you want to get larger but fewer potatoes) I planted them into a prepared bed.

Feeling chuffed about getting another gardening job out the way I made myself a cup of tea then listened to a weather forecast on the radio where they warned it was going to be the coldest night of the year. Good timing eh?

So it was back out in the garden with some black bin bags which I put over the bed and secured them with a few tent pegs and bricks to protect the potatoes from the cold night to come. Next morning I popped to the garden centre and got some horticultural fleece. A bit of forward planning like checking the weather forecast a few days before would have helped but no, impatient here knew best.

Thanks to Shirley Calgary for the top tip about cutting the seed potato into two or three pieces when sprouted (each piece has to contain a sprout) which will give you more plants for your money. How good is that?

So hurry up warmer weather I want to plant out those potatoes. I love homegrown spuds me!

Marquee Moon

A few weeks ago I was looking through a bookshop in the west end to spend a tenner’s worth of book vouchers I got for christmas and came across a very interesting book about gardening by the phases of the Moon. Now this is real bonkers but bonkers that has been used by our gardening ancestors for years and bonkers that works!

I knew nothing about the subject and as the book was over the tenner mark I bought Peter Hook’s “The Hacienda: How not to run a club” instead which was okay, full of mad stories but no suprises and certainly not a book you’d want to pick up and re-read. I now wish I added the extra few pounds and bought the other one as it seemed a bit out there but very interesting.

How mad was it when I found out the other day Scarlett Cannon from the great courses at Walworth Garden Farm wrote a piece about it in her regular I-grow section for I-D last month and has been using the method for four years.

I am now “taking steps” (no pun intended Sting) to find out more…

Book of the week

Bob’s Basic’s: Composting by Bob Flowerdew
(Kyle Cathie Limited) 2010

This a good little book about the art of composting from the great Bob Flowerdew, he of the Rob Da Bank ponytail and recycler of old fridges as mini-greenhouses fame. This was obtained from the local library but I reckon it’s well worth shelling out the nine pounds ninety nine for (probably cheaper as it’s a couple of years old now).

It’s easy to read and stuffed full of hints and tips with humour making it a great reference book. The main themes running throughout the book are that even the worst heap can be corrected and once you start making compost and use it, you won’t be able to get enough of it!

It covers the whole range of garden composting from the history of it, different designs of bin, what you can and can’t use, how to correct a bad heap and even covers wormeries, snaileries and chickens! There’s lots of things that I didn’t realise that you could do like using ditchwater to boost the heap and soaking weeds in dirty water for a few weeks to start them rotting down plus a great tip of always adding a thin layer of soil over the layer of new waste you put in to help it on it’s way.

And finally, my favourite quote in the book is “sadly, composting human dung currently puts you in the ‘too eccentric to be a nice neighbour’ camp”. And I thought adding urine from a bottle was considered a bit bonkers!

State of the nation

Here’s another pic from the ”five years on” series and as you can see it’s a garden pond with a path around it (and a new fence that needs some protection!).

Five years ago when we moved in it weren’t so clear, we couldn’t even walk down the garden because of the undergrowth so it came as a shock to find that we even had a pond. It was full of dirty water, the result of ten years of debris and as stagnant as anything, the soil surrounding it was grey and compacted with lots of ground elder, bindweed and a large pyracantha gone crazy.

Before clearing, we had to chop down a couple of very tall self-seeded conifers with help of a mate (thanks Marc!) and rather than waste the wood we used it to put around the flower beds. When I first cleared the area I just threw a lot of woody stuff on the compost heap in desperation hence the first heap full of material that hasn’t rotted down and now needs to be burnt. A lesson well learnt!

It took me a whole saturday afternoon in the late autumn to clear out the pond and a couple of baths to get rid of the stench of ten years worth of decomposing debris. When I finished, I stuck a taurpaulin over it so it would stay dry as I was going to fill it in a couple of weeks later. Weeks turned into Months and it was only when I was showing some friends of ours around in the spring (hi Chris and Anu!) they lifted up the taurpaulin and said had we put this over the pond to keep the tadpoles warm. What tadpoles? The pond had filled itself up again (god knows how as it’s a submerged metal tank!) and was teeming with wildlife. There was no way I could filled that in with all that going on, hence the decision of keeping the pond.


Herbsman shuffle

This morning I found out reggae legend King Stitt passed away the other day. He died from prostate cancer and was only in his early 70’s. Just a couple of weeks ago I was chatting to someone in Dub Vendor about the musical pioneer (he was one of the first DJs to be captured onto vinyl in Jamaica). Stitt’s attitude was classic reggae, where an artist would capitalise on whatever qualities they’ve got, no matter how unusual or obscure. He didn’t have Steve McQueen type looks but that didn’t stop him, he gave himself the nickname of “The ugly one” and the rest is history.

Stitt was a big hero of mine since the early 70’s when I saw the lyrics of his tune “Fire Corner” on the cover of my elder brother’s rough book; “No matter what the people say, these sounds lead the way, it’s the order of the day from your boss DJ, I King Stitt” Brilliant! Throughout the years I would be well chuffed if I came across any of his releases in second-hand shops and when it came to sample something for me and my mate’s first single it seemed King Stitt was a natural choice. When our track “Son of Stitt” by One Deck & Popular was released, I sent a 10” to Studio 1 in Jamaica where he worked with a note saying if he was ever in Camberwell Green and fancied recording a single to get in touch. He never did but it would be nice to think he actually read it. The last few years had seen King Stitt still in demand what with the ever growing interest in vintage reggae and at the end of last year doing gigs in France and Brazil to great acclaim.

I feel sad tonight of his passing and will drink a couple of mini-bottles of Sainsbury’s own brand lager to salute his passing. Big up the King!