When passing a builder’s skip do “keep ’em peeled” (as Shaw Taylor used to say) as you never know what you may find. We at Weeds have bagged all sorts over the years including a collection of terracotta pots complete with a bag of multipurpose compost, a nearly new IKEA table and even a carrier bag full of Happy Hardcore singles (also this lot in the bottom of the picture below). Some things will come in handy in the garden but if not, they can be stuck on ebay and any profit made can be put towards buying plants/seeds etc. A win win situation!
Be clever when looking through a skip though, don’t jump up and down in it like an excited child, a sly glance when walking past then a quick swiping movement (in and out) with the hand will suffice. Alys Fowler in The Thrifty Gardener mentions if she sees something of interest she will always ask the owner of the skip first out of politeness before actually taking it. She may have a point.
Once while driving past a skip with our good friend “The Portuguese man with a van” (number on request) we noticed some lovely pieces of timber suitable for making a raised bed. We got out and inspected the wood which was ideal width-wise but far too long to get into the van. Our man then disappeared into the back of his vehicle and procured a saw, problem solved! Whilst he was perched on the top of the skip just about to make the first cut, a very irate man came out of the house opposite shouting at the top of his voice “WHAT THE XXXX ARE YOU DOING?” with his wife in tow trying to calm him down. It turns out the wood had just been delivered and was going to be used the next day for his loft conversion. Thank god we found out just in time or that would’ve been an expensive raised bed! Ask first if unsure.
As well as skips, do have a lookout for stuff left out for the binmen and items left outside houses attached with a note saying “take me” on it. Remember rifling through other peoples dustbins is illegal and if caught you will end up on some sort of register and certainly be given an ASBO.
A nice flower off one of the cacti/succulents in a tub on top of a belfast sink near the house. There was a flowerbud developing for a day or two, then one morning it appeared only to be gone in the evening. It was well worth it though!
Comfrey is a plant that the bees love and a very useful one for the gardener. Get a root of it and you’re made for life but watch out as the plant can spread and easily get out of control. A thin layer of comfrey leaves can be used as a compost activator – alongside human urine applied from a bottle of course! – and a couple of leaves put in the hole before you put your seed spuds in will get them off to a good start.
We also use a big handful of the leaves to make a wonderful plant feed (that needs to be diluted) adding someborage and nettle leaves to give it extra goodness. Leave everything to steep for a few weeks in a bucket with a small amount of water and wait until it all turns to a horrible looking dark mush.
Public health warning: The liquid smells to high heaven, like a intense case of body odour or the smell of a dustcart in hot summer climates times fifty! We’ve had family members retching after spilling a bit in the kitchen when filling up our watering can the other month. Do not, we repeat DO NOT get any of the neat (or diluted for that matter) liquid on your clothes or gardening gloves as the smell don’t half linger. If you want an exclusion zone when walking through a crowd or a row of seats to yourself on the train in the morning then this is the perfect aroma for you!
Aside from the downside of the pong of the liquid feed, it’s a great plant to have in the garden and if Witchipedia is to be believed: “Wrap your money in a comfrey leaf for several days before going to a casino, poker game or bookies. It will help keep your bets coming back to you.” #keepitcomfrey!
The other month we were asked by the good folks at the Thompson and Morgan blogto impart one favourite piece of gardening advice. Just one?
Over the years we’ve picked up loads of horticultural information through gardening books, learning by our own mistakes and chatting to fellow enthusiasts (a great tip in itself) and it got us thinking, what are our all-time favourite gardening tips? Over the next few weeks we’ll feature a few of our favourites, starting with:
The compost bin is probably the most valuable addition to any garden. The secret is getting the balance of materials in the heap correct plus regular turning with a garden fork and adding more moisture if necessary. You ideally want a 50/50 mix of materials containing nitrogen (“greens”) and carbon (“browns”). The greens are: grass clippings (applied sparingly as they can turn to a smelly mush), plants (no flowering weeds or diseased leaves) and kitchen waste (vegetable peelings, ripped-open teabags and over-ripe fruit). The “browns”: cardboard, ripped or scrunched-up newspaper and egg boxes. Don’t bother with thick stems or anything woody as they tend to take ages to break down and no meat or dairy should be put in either.
Don’t make the mistake we did by adding salad leaves from a dinner plate that had been contaminated with some meat juice. It didn’t dawn on us that we did wrong until one Saturday while despositing some vegetable peelings we were faced with the back end of an enormous rat – the size of a large guinea pig – escaping down the compost heap. The large rodent took off into the neighbour’s garden with our cat gingerly following it down their path. A minute or two later hysterical screams were heard from next door but one’s back yard where a family barbecue was in progress. We kept our head down for the rest of the day and vowed never to put any meat in that bin again! #Compostingiseasy!
Walking to work this morning just around the corner from Clink Street we saw this great plant holder idea. Hats off to all the ingenious hanging basketeers! Seen any other mad hanging basket ideas? Your photographs on a email please…