Well cork it Kojak cork it

Here’s how the wormery is doing that was started back in March. I check up on it a couple of times a week and pop in some chopped kitchen waste. When I lift the top off there’s usually flies a go-go and the stuff inside is not looking too healthy with mouldy old bread and the odd yellow potato shoot but when I stuck my hand in today (urgh!) I noticed there were a good few worms wriggling about. Don’t have nightmares, and do sleep well (and don’t look too closely into the bucket)!

Read it in books

The perfect plot (starting an allotment from scratch) – Kim Sayer – Simon & Schuster 2012

The other week I picked up this great book in Holborn Library. It’s a mine of information following an allotment in Devon from a germ of an idea, how it was set up (with advice on how to set one up yourself, getting grants etc) to how it is progressing now. Loads of information on the tools you need, soil cultivation, crop rotation, what to do season by season, pest control and interviews with everyone involved. A great read if you’ve just got an allotment, want to set one up or just want to grow stuff in your back garden. One of the main guys even uses the biodynamic method too, excellent!

Remember if you haven’t got the cash to spend on gardening books join your local library as it costs nowt (and don’t forget the web either) and if you work in a different town/borough join the one there too as that’ll give your more choice. I’ve library membership for three London boroughs and I don’t think you have to work or live in that borough to join one.

On Friday night I saw Goldie talking to Alan Titchmarsh on the telly at Chelsea about his love of Acers. I reckon he might be the next new breed of TV gardener with his tatt’s and gold teeth. What happened to the old percy thrower stereotype in their tweed jacket with leather patches on the elbows wearing a clean shirt and tie while demonstrating “double digging”? Times are a changing indeed!

I’ve just noticed some flower buds forming on the super early spuds (below) that were originally started off on the homemade cold frame which are now flying ahead! The ones I put in a month or so ago are starting to get going now as well. Spuds I love em!

Jobs done this week: Weeding (just knock them off with a sharp hoe and leave them to shrivel up in this hot weather), mowing the lawn (it does appreciate a weekly cut), staking up tomato plants, tying back passion flower, clematis and sweet peas and giving the garden a good old water in the evening (I do it with using a bucket, it takes me ages but I like it as it gives me some quiet time on me own). Sowed outdoors this week: Dwarf french beans (nice one Will!), climbing french beans, cut and come again lettuce, borage, lemon balm, sunflowers and night scented stock.

Music to watch the garden grow by…

Yesterday I spent most of day sitting in a dentist’s chair having work done on me teeth as I’m a case presentation (aka “case prez”) for a dental student, so still feeling a bit shell-shocked from that combined with the heatwave we’re having here at the present so feeling a bit odd to say the least. I’m not really up for doing much in the garden tonight apart from watering the plants and having a butchers at what nature does best while sipping a cold bevvy from the comfort of a chair!

Anyway, here’s a couple of tunes to blast out in the garden this weekend while ‘tipping about’ with a hoe. Enjoy the old heatwave!

Don’t free the weed(s)!

Yesterday I spent an hour or so clearing a small patch of bindweed along the side of the garden in preparation for some more raised beds. It’s the area behind the broad beans, tomatoes and the mini plum tree (below). God only knows how long it will keep bindweed free as it’s horrible stuff and I can see myself pulling it out on a daily basis.

I mean does anyone really like weeding? In Bob Flowerdew’s book on compost he thinks of the plants he pulls up as more material to go onto the compost heap which gets him through it. A good way of looking at it, I reckon.

I remember years ago on a gardening course with the council, (and boy did they like doing courses there! As a workmate once said to me “the more courses you go on, the less real work you have to do, so sign up for everything!”) the teacher’s definition of a weed was a plant growing in the wrong place. She gave an example that a rose could technically be a weed if it was growing on a football pitch for instance.

I got stuck into the area with a hand trowel while on me knees (on an Sainbury’s own range kneeling pad, well worth the couple of quid it cost). If there’s anything that self seeded like Poppies and Calendulas I always transplant them elsewhere in the garden. Nettle leaves I now save in a bucket where I will later add comfrey and borage leaves to make a top plant feed (another Flowerdew tip, as he says adding the other leaves to the comfrey makes for a better all-round feed). Any weeds with seed heads I stick in a bucket of water to rot before chucking the horrible liquid on the heap later and any sticks get put on top of the ever growing mountain of wood to burn (another job I’ll get around to one day). Everything else goes straight on the heap.

Also I took some time to “thin out” a row of lettuces in the salad bed, giving the remaining plants more space to grow and at the same time providing us with salad for tea. Waste not want not, eh?

One for Ron!

Yesterday I visited the friends of Horniman’s plant sale in Forest Hill. I got down there a quarter of an hour after it opened and I reckon I might have missed a few bargains as people were walking out with bagfuls of plants and there were a few bags stuck behind some stalls to pick up for “Ron” (later on).

Saying that, it wasn’t a bad sale, I got 4 Tomato plants (Gardener’s Delight) for £2 and 10 assorted Dahlias for £3, all very healthy looking with a little bit of root growth peeping out of the bottom of the pots. Good value or what? I also got a couple of houseplants, an Aloe vera for a pound and a medium sized Chinese Money plant (Pilea peperomioides) for a fiver.

The only down side was part of the sale was in their big glass conservatory. Not good considering the sun was beating down yesterday. I left after five minutes in there before the tempers got frayed, “What, you want three pounds for THAT?” “Plant sale rage” I can do without!

Also while buying the Tomato plants, someone told us a bonkers tip for deterring slugs. Put coffee grounds and crushed egg shells around your plants but also mix in some oat bran. The slugs go for it with gusto, go back to their lair to expand and explode. Not a very nice ending!

Oi! Get orfa me barra!

Old Bob Flowerdew was right, as soon as you produce some decent compost you can’t get enough of the blooming stuff! I’ve been helping myself to my second attempt of a compost heap for a good while now but today I filled up two barrow’s worth to mix in with some soil which I put in the second raised bed made with the scaffolding boards obtained free from our “Portuguese man with a van”. Owt for nowt for definite! If you can be bothered to collect up all your kitchen waste, turn it every now and again and wait a few months, it’s well worth doing for some top quality compost!

Great weather today so did a couple of hours, weeded around the salad bed and as it was root day, sowed some Carrots, Beetroot and Parsnip. If the weather keeps up I’ll do more tidying up and “tipping around with a hoe” tomorrow.

I’ve moved the portable cold frame (aka the old window frame I found in the street which stands on some old bricks from a skip) over a couple of Courgette and Squash seedlings to give them some protection and a bit of a head start.

I’m taking a risk with the Potatoes I moved the cold frame from as there’s still a good risk of frost, but I’ve covered them tonight with some horticultural fleece I’ve had kicking around since last year. Fingers crossed it won’t get too cold.

And I tell you what, I’m missing that “gloves in a bottle” stuff too!

This week’s post was written while listening to Friday’s Echo Beach on WLUW-FM Chicago with a great Pressure Sounds mix. http://archive.org/details/EchoBeachBroadcast05-11-12

Offshore banking business

We’ve had some mad weather over the bank holiday, it’s colder than last year and we only had the odd bit of sunshine (that I took advantage of and legged it into the garden to do the odd job before it changed it’s mind and rained!). Below is how the garden is looking at the moment after a good mow. The grass is not in brilliant shape but looks alright at a distance! I find if you spend a bit of time tidying up the edges it’s makes it look a lot better as it gives the lawn a bit of definition.

Saturday was spent at the Walworth Garden Farm for another one of their courses, this time it was for Growing Food in the City. Some great info learnt as always in a relaxed atmosphere in a small class full of nice people as per (cheers Scarlett!)

It covered loads of stuff including container gardening, growing spuds in bags (Top tip: use a potato sack from the market, the stall holder will gladly give you one as they only chuck them away and some of them can be quite decorative), crop rotation and to top it off we made a mixed edible planter. Much fun was had getting it home with a heavy bag of shopping on the busy bus back from the Walworth Rd!

As I’ve mentioned before the courses are free for the first time and then you have a to pay a supplement. As this was my third time I had to pay £25 but for a day’s course packed to the brim with info and a planter with veg plants in it, I’d say that is well worth it!

I learnt a few things to say the least and had my introduction to something called “gloves in a bottle”, a shielding cream that protects your hands and the dirt just washes off instantly. It’s gives you the added bonus of actually feeling the soil as you work. Whatever next? Spray on steel toe-capped safety boots? Another good tip learned was to put peas sticks between your rows of seeds to deter Cats. I have trouble with them wiping their behinds in my (OCD straight lined) seed drills after poo-ing, sending the seeds all over the shop! Hopefully that’ll work (below).Also at the farm, there was a plant sale that will be there until the end of May. It was full of bargains, I bought a Blackcurrant Sage Salvia microphylla for a couple of quid, well good. More information on their highly recommended courses: http://www.walworthgardenfarm.org.uk/introduction-gardening

Taking of plant sales I was told East Street Market off the Walworth Road has some bargains and also next Sunday at the The Horniman Museum gardens in Forest Hill they are having their annual plant sale which I have heard is a great place for getting some unusual plants at a good price. http://www.horniman.ac.uk/visit/events/event/friends-of-the-horniman-plant-sale-plus

Big up Bank Holidays!