Book (bargain) of the week

“The new complete book of self-sufficiency”
John Seymour (Dorling Kindersley)

On Friday lunchtime I popped into Holborn Library to get my weekly fix of gardening books. I regularly flick through “The new complete book of self-sufficiency” from the late John Seymour and was well suprised to see it in the library’s book sale for a quid. What a bargain, so I got it there and then!

I’m not ready for “the good life” just yet (it covers everything from keeping livestock and poultry, weaving your own wooly jumper to making your own bricks) but it’s the gardening related pages I laid out all the readies for (and it’s all from the view of being resourceful and doing it on the cheap!). It has informative sections on how to grow food from your garden, a comprehensive guide to vegetables, fruit and herbs, composting and soil preparation and even has sections on home brewing & wine-making to getting food from the wild all explained in lay person’s terms and straight to the point. My favourite illustration from the book is above from the “pests and diseases” section. It could easily be retitled “every gardener’s nightmare” or “the last thing I saw before I turned…” and (below) a great worm composting idea from the book.

A book to get from your local library and keep on renewing until you can renew no more!

Thursday on my mind…

A couple of things to pass on tonight, one is Scarlett’s “i-Grow” piece this month, about annuals and perennials.

And the other is this week’s Ross Allen’s show on Strongroom Alive in interview with the great Tom Moulton. There’s some great tunes played on the show including Harold Melvin & The Bluenotes “The love I lost”, M.F.S.B’s “T.S.O.P” and Lou Rawls “You’ll never find another love like mine” amongst many others.

Two good things for a Thursday night!

Radio Dada and it goes something like this…

A big cheers to Will for telling us about the programme last night on BBC 6 Music with Terry Farley talking and selecting records with Andrew Weatherall as well as giving a potted history of London’s clubland. Some great tunes and some great stories and it’s up on the web for six more days if you fancy it.

All the talk about youth cults and fanzines on the show brought me back to the time I produced my first fanzine many many moons ago. Here’s an excerpt from it; a letter I wrote to the local paper complaining about the latest youth cult at that time. I was appalled!

What a difference a day makes

How mad has the weather been this week? I’ve tried to make the most of it and popped out when I could to do the odd bit of weeding and have sowed the odd bit indoors. The combination of the sun and the rain is sending the garden crazy!

I tell you what else was crazy, last Sunday morning as I went downstairs to make a cup of tea I looked out of the back window to see a massive Heron standing motionless by our pond. It looked bonkers, I swear it was three foot high and it looked like it was made out of plastic and boy, the size of its beak! I legged it to get the camera and when I got back, you know it had gone. He must have been right disappointed, as all there is in our pond are thousands of tadpoles and the odd newt!

It was root day last Sunday too so put in the last of the chitted seed potatoes in the bed next to the pond which is mainly going to be just spuds with two rows of onions and a couple of bean poles in a tripod formation style.

As frost is still on the cards for a few weeks I planted them (chitted end up) about 4 inches deep and earthed up the soil around them which will help protect them from any cold snap. The super extra earlies I planted a few weeks ago in the cold frame are steaming on, I swear I am raising the thing with row of extra bricks each week. There’s a log wedged at the back of it now to raise it up even higher. They are doing brilliantly and it’s not even the end of April yet!

Lazy wednesday afternoon

I’m off work this week as it’s the kid’s half term and spending a bit of time doing some DIY on the house. I started early on the painting this morning so I could treat myself to a bit of gardening if the weather perked up in the afternoon, which it did!

Between the April showers I “tipped about” with the hoe, cut the grass and sowed some courgettes and french climbing beans “under cover” aka a jam jar and having ran out of plastic seed labels improvised with a bit of wooden moulding (found in the street last week) and a saw!

I even had to raise the glass on the cold frame made out of the old window as the super early spuds are tearing away. It’s not ideal so I’ll be wrapping them up in fleece while the threat of frost is about and move the frame elsewhere. It’s certainly working well for the spuds and the biodynamic malarky seems to be helping too!

Everything is starting to take off now what with the combination of the sunshine and the showers. The raised bed made out of the scaffolding boards has been filled with plants and in front of that is the salad bed and the seeds sown there are starting to germinate. I ran out of fence protector so need to purchase another couple of tins and the second raised bed needs filling too. This gardening lark, it’s never ending!

Holidays in the sun

I had a dream on Easter Sunday morning involving a presenter from a 1970’s TV gardening show (whose name escapes me, if he ever really existed!) whose last words to me before waking were “indoor lawns really thrive”. I don’t know about indoor lawns thriving this bank holiday but indoor activities have, what with the dreadful weather here!

Most of the weekend was spent painting the hall but I did find the time to sow and pot on some seedlings indoors but nothing much outdoors apart from chucking some veg peelings into the compost heap and feeding the worms in the wormery.

I found another couple of pics of our back garden a couple of weeks after we first moved in on an older computer this weekend while I was looping some shortwave stuff for some new Madtone tunage. I had forgotten how bad it really was. And sometimes I’m a bit hard on myself and think I’ve let the back garden get a bit untidy…

Don’t let the weeds (and the weather) get you down!

Tales from the zerox machine

Last week I got a copy of the fanzine “Gardeners Delight” after seeing the review for it on the site produced by DJ Frederick from the US fanzine Paper Radio called One Minute Zine Reviews I originally thought they from the States too but turns out they are from S.W. London!

Issue 1, produced last year is an excellent introduction to the world of gardening, has great tips and information for those who are interested in the hobby and want to get started. Issue 2 will feature how to set up a community garden amongst other things which is well up our street. Great stuff and all for the cheap price of £2 including p+p! More information from

They are associated with a community garden which has a nice site at
Inspiring stuff!
It was easy, it was cheap. Go and do it!