Smells like teen spirit? No.

We here at Weeds swear by comfrey liquid used as a plant feed. Ours is made well out of the way at the bottom of the garden in a 1980’s Boots homebrew fermenting bin. A good few handfuls of the leaves of the plant are chucked in the bin alongside a few of borage and nettle and are left to rot in a small amount of water for a good few weeks weighed down with a housebrick, talk about simplicity!

It’s a brilliant feed used well diluted but what of the pong you may ask? Comments heard the last few times we’ve used it have ranged from “that smell is blxxdy awful!” to “that’s worse than the wiff of a thousand dirty ashtrays” to “urgghhh, that reminds me of body odour off a sweaty armpit stuck in your face on a tube at rush hour times ten”. Never mind the niff, it’s brilliant stuff, it’s cheap and works wonders! #comfreyliquidforever #comfreyplantfeediswhereitsat More comfrey info here.

Don’t step on the cracks

A trip down the garden path tonight produced this trio of pics. Above: The fiver’s worth of water lily we bought from the Lewisham pet shop (whose website’s by-line is “For all your reptile needs”) a few years ago has gone mad this summer. We counted nearly 7 flowers on it the other day. The fish are using it as shade during the sunny periods and the tadpoles as mini swimming pools. The pond need a bit of thinning out this weekend as it would be nice to give the inhabitants more room. We now get our fish food via ebay, and you get double or treble of the volume of food for the price compared to what you get in those supermarket tubs.

The pink flowers shown above don’t look like much and as a plant it’s a bit on the scrappy side but disregard that and grow night scented stock for it’s evening smell!

And somewhere in the middle of the tomatoes and broad beans growing against the garage wall and the dahlias is the Thompson & Morgan trial spaghetti squash. We reckon it’ll outgrow the space in no time!

And finally a dubbed out one for the warm night we’ll be getting tonight (where it’ll be hard to sleep even with the windows are open!), it’s from Masis called Unearthed Dub  and it’s the Frenk Dublin mix. Tune!

Saturday stag night fun

A few weeks ago a couple of the Weeds team went on a bat walk around Camberwell New Cemetery which was great fun. It’s not every Friday night you can wander around in the dark in your local cemetery carrying bat detectors.

On the night we were told if we wanted to encourage more wildlife including stag beetles into our garden we’d have to keep some wood piles and have the odd rotting stump lying about. Well we heeded the expert advice and have been visited a few times by the friendly stag beetle (here’s one from tonight). When these things take off it reminds us of a heavily fortified military vehicle. Bonkers!

A fountain faux pas

There were big plans in store for the Weeds garden this weekend but due to the cold weather nothing was actually done. As reported last week, a new solar-powered pond fountain (due to the last one going for a burton after just two years or so we thought) was purchased for £49.99 but it was a small price to pay for keeping the midges away and the fish and pond skaters happy.

The whole kit and kaboodle was to be replaced Saturday afternoon combined with the pond being given a good clean-out but due to the weather all we did was plugged in the new charger unit (the model purchased was exactly the same as the last one and the old pump and fountain were still ok). As we said, we were initially fed up as the last fountain didn’t have that long a lifespan. And then we read the instructions…

Let’s just say the words “Bxggxr” and “Dxmn” came to mind. We must remember though there was a point when we moved in years ago (pic below) where we were going to fill the pond in but it was thanks to our good friends Anu and Chris who suggested we keep it going. Thank God we listened!

We’ve had problems with it but here’s to the pond and its many visitors over the years. Big shout to all of the Forest Hill pond dwellers!

Competition results

The winner of the Vertical rodent of the week goes to this squirrel seen on the side of Weeds HQ the other day. What you can’t see are the two cats on the pavement below. Gladly the squirrel made it away safely! #squirrelonaveritcaltip

And the winner of the ambient dub track of the week is Adam Prescott with his track Schism (Lion Charge Records). Lovely heavy dub with strange noises that have the touch of the Lee Perry’s about them. Can’t say fairer than that!

November spawned a monster

A few photos of the state of play in the Weeds garden at the moment. There’s fun and frolics in the pond with the goldfish and this year’s batch of tadpoles and it’s not looking too murky in there at the moment. There’s no sign of that thieving Lewisham heron either thanks to the folks at Shannon’s for telling us to put pea netting over the top of the pond (with a few escape routes dotted about for the local mini-wildlife).

The poppies are doing their thing too. Any seed heads that form we dry out and distribute around the garden so they’ll come back next summer.

The vegetable bed at the bottom of the garden has moved on since last month. The spuds are on their way, the alderman peas are starting to grow and we’re finally seeing the runner beans germinate. And about time too!

Break it on down…

Here’s 900 words from us at Weeds for “a forthcoming project”. When it comes to composting, in the words of the Desperate Bicyclesit was easy, it was cheap. GO AND DO IT! 

One of the best things you can do as a gardener – especially one on a budget – is to make your own compost and, contrary to popular belief, it’s easy to do. It’s an inexpensive way of putting goodness back into your garden, especially if you don’t regularly feed your soil.

It is one of the finest soil improvers there is; it can be forked in, left on top of the earth for the worms to work in or even made into a tea and applied as a liquid. Adding compost provides a slow-release supply of nutrients and elements, feeding plants over a long period of time. It adds structure to the soil, helps to retain its moisture and feeds the worms and micro-organisms, keeping the ground in good shape. A great exchange for recycling some home waste.

Some gardeners seem to be put off making compost, thinking it will smell to high heaven, attract all sort of vermin or fear they will be left with a pile of garden waste that will never rot. I was one of those people but have been converted to compost production after learning the hard way; I’ve opened the lid of the bin to receive a faceful of fruit flies (always open the lid away from you!), came face to face with a rather large roadent happily napping on top of the heap and have only recently disposed of my first attempt that had been sitting around for years consisting of sticks and prunings wider than the thickness of my finger.

When you compost, fungi and aerobic bacteria initially eat the waste matter in the pile – the carbon and nitrogen content a source of their energy and protein – creating carbon dioxide and heat. When the pile cools, worms – alongside varying insects – reduce it further by eating what is left and pass it through their guts. Soil organisms then break it down again and ripen the material turning it into compost.

There are lots of structures on the market for composting but many are not an option for a gardener doing it on the cheap, though local councils supply plastic Dalek-shaped bins free as part of their recycling campaigns. These keep the rotting waste in and unwanted vermin out but because of their size can be difficult to mix (something you should do regularly to add air, a component needed in the process).

A composting container can be made out of wood – the classic square-shaped enclosure with a top to shield off the rain – or although not aesthetically pleasing, the waste can be just left to rot in a pile (which will probably not please the neighbours). Whatever method you use, it should be placed somewhere easy to get to, possibly screened from view and preferably in a position where it will get some sunlight which will add heat to the pile helping it to rot. In an ideal situation you would have two (or more) bins on the go, one started the year previously now yielding compost and the other for putting recent waste in.

The ingredients used in composting are “greens” (ones containing nitrogen) and “browns” (carbon) combined with water and air. Examples of “greens” include: grass clippings (applied sparingly as they turn to a smelly mush if used too thickly), plant waste (no flowering weeds or diseased material) and kitchen waste (vegetable peelings, ripped-open teabags and over-ripe fruit). The “browns”: cardboard, ripped or scrunched-up newspaper and small twigs (nothing larger than 1/4” unless put through a shredder). Cooked foods, fats and meats should be avoided at all costs unless you want to attract vermin and be very wary of putting salad leaves from left-over meals if meat has been on the same plate too. This is possibly where I went wrong which attracted the sleeping visitor to my pile thus giving me a fright in the process so be extra careful with what you add. No matter how prudent I am though when filling the bin I still manage to find when the compost has matured some strange stuff: the odd ballpoint pen, elastic band and on one ocassion a plastic Dr Who sonic screwdriver, usually prompting me to say “How did THAT get in there?”

Most important is to get the balance of ingredients right. It does vary depending on what gardening books you read or which gardening guru you follow but a 50/50 ratio of “greens” and “browns” will suffice. You simply add layers of material – ideally alternating “greens” and “browns” – one to two inches deep, interspersed with a light layer of soil every so often. Turning the pile regularly using a garden fork makes sure that it doesn’t get compacted and that air can circulate freely. If the compost looks too wet, smells foul or attracts fruit flies this indicates there’s too much “green” material, so more “browns” should be added. If the pile has dried out – especially during the summer – more “green” material and a little water will correct it. Worms should come naturally to your heap – especially the red brandling ones – but if you want to add more, lay down some wet cardboard in your garden and in a week you should have a few on the underside to put in the pile. Don’t worry they will multiply!

Depending on how much heat is generated in the heap and how balanced the materials are, you should be the proud owner of home-made compost in around a year. If you want to speed up the process there are compost activators – basically extra nitrogen – on sale at garden centres, but this can be done for free by adding nettle, comfrey and borage leaves which will in turn add more varied nutrients to the finished product. Another activator is human urine, best applied out of a plastic bottle for obvious reasons.

You will know when your compost has fully matured when it has a crumbly texture, an earthy smell and looks as described in an old gardening book,“rich like a Christmas fruit cake”. This pile of gardening goodness is now ready to be applied to your soil.

There’ll be times when things won’t seem to go right with your compost heap but once you get it correct and see the results you get from using it, you won’t want to look back. Your garden will thank you for it in kind and you will soon be growing the healthiest looking flowers, fruit and vegetables and will never yearn for pay-through-the-nose-farmers-market-produce ever again. You will then realise why home-made compost is known in the gardening world as “black gold”.

#Composting #Blackgold #Compostheap #weedsupto  #compostingtheeasyway