I’ll have an pee please Bob

Bob Flowerdew’s Organic Gardening Bible (Successful growing the natural way) Kyle Books £8.99

Picked up in Shoe Lane library on the hottest day of the year last Thursday whilst making full use of their air conditioning this book is what it says it is, a “gardening bible”. It’s an ideal reference for across the board organic gardening (vegetables, fruit, flowers and livestock) with tons of top tips. There’s a great section on harvesting and storing harvests and some interesting alternative pest and disease control methods.

In a typical Bob Flowerdew style there’s some corkers in here when it comes to unconventional gardening, take this one for a start: “Human liquid waste is not a health hazard in temperate climates and it is wasteful to flush away such a rich source of fertility. Saved in a bucket, it can get whiffy…the whiffiness is much reduced if you add some sugar”. We’re ones for pouring the odd bit of urine from a bottle on the compost heap from time to time but not when the neighbours are watching. Bob Flowerdew we salute you, we urge all gardeners to buy or borrow this book!

On a beefsteak tip, perhaps?

The other day we spied what we think are possibly fruits of the beefsteak variety on the Thompson & Morgan trial seeds tomato and (a possible further clue it may be a beefsteak) looking at the sheet accompanying the seeds it does mention that the “plants need side-shooting and support”. We love a beefsteak tomato here, please be one.

Talking of tomatoes, we always side-shoot the plants but the other week we watched Bob Flowerdew on youtube where he was advocating not to pinch out all your tomato side-shoots as growing on two/three cordons ain’t a bad thing. Have at the link look below as he’s very funny, educational and we do love his barnet!

Also we’re now getting flowers (and the start of fruit) on the spaghetti squash. We got what we thought was another spaghetti squash at the bottom of the garden (lower of the two pics) but now comparing leaves we wonder if it’s something else like a courgette (zuchinni) that we may have sown earlier? Only time will tell!

Also another spinach experiment is on the go (we’ve had the seeds sown between the earthed up spuds and inside a circle of broad beans which both sadly didn’t work), we sowed a row at the bed at the bottom of the garden that gets limited sunlight, let’s see how they do. The sticks are to keep the cats off (going back to Bob Flowerdew, on another youtube in that series above he says he welcomes cats into his garden and encouraged them to do there “doing’s” in a dedicated toilet space complete with straw and catnip! We do like his unconventional style!) Updates on the trial seeds to follow.

Candid Camera

honour oak garden

A photo of the great front garden up the road from us clandestinely taken on the way home from work. It’s not your normal boring front garden as it’s laden with all sorts of fruit and veg if you look hard enough. There’s even some Bob Flowerdew endorsed upside-down wire refrigerator trays to stop the birds and some beer traps for the slugs. Big up non-conformist front gardening!

Bob Flowerdew meets the rockers uptown

Bob Flowerdew in king tubby vest

Bob Flowerdew (pictured in his King Tubby type vest) said a great thing on a recent Gardeners Question Time. The quote was along the lines of “Hoe when there are no weeds and there won’t be any weeds”. Bonkers, sound like what they’d say in Taiji but what he is saying is very true. Big up Bob (and his King Tubby’s vest)!

Free seeds with Kitchen Garden magazine!

Free seeds kitchen gardenPopped into our local Co-Op on Friday evening and saw a gardening magazine with free seeds on the front so I had to get it, anything free me! The July 2013 issue of Kitchen Garden costs £3.99 but it’s got two packs of seeds on the front (Beetroot-Bolthardy and Beet, Leaf – Bright Lights) and there’s some good articles in it (Bob Flowerdew has a spread in it, tips on how to grow Basil, perfect Peas and growing Oca, the New Zealand yam) so, it’s a bargain!

I’m going to wash that tarp right out of my hair

For the past week there’s been a tarpaulin covering the six feet high (and rising) mound of woody materials collected over the year at the bottom of our garden. It looked like there was an old car rusting away down there much to the disgust of the neighbours. Earlier in the week I treated myself to a dustbin incinerator (£32 at Wickes) and last night as part of the bonfire night celebrations burnt a whole heap of waste. That bin will be a boon as they say, what with all the un-compostable stuff that stacks up and if you use the funnel lid it can create some decent heat inside. I also treated myself to a mushroom growing kit  (£3.99 from Robert Dyas). It’s now festering under the stairs and there will be a ‘shroom update next week if everything goes to plan.

Yesterday I did a little bit in the garden (little and often is my motto), preparing for winter including some weeding, cutting back and pulling out any old annuals, tomato plants etc and either stuck them on the compost heap or the pile for the bonfire. I also put a cover over the wormery (a council supplied hessian gardening bag) as it’s starting to get cold now and I might have to move it to the garage or near the house later on. Bubblewrap over the compost heap/wormery is also  good to keep the heat in and I know Bob Flowerdew uses old carpet but the heap would have to be well out of view from the house as that method don’t look too attractive.

I’ll be netting the cabbages soon for protection against pigeons but at the moment the net’s being used to keep falling autumn leaves (and this weekend stray rockets and air bombs too) off the pond. The lady down the road who has the mad veg plot in her front garden (spinach, cabbages, lettuces, a grape vine and more) uses old supermarket shopping baskets and what looks like wire trays from an old fridge to keep the pests off her plants. Bob Flowerdew would be proud of her! He’d be proud of me too, as I used last year’s plastic sweet tub from halloween upside down as winter protection for the parsley plant near the kitchen door.

Finally, I heard a good tip this week on “gardening with tim and joe” about putting any pots that will be overwintering outside, up on bricks, stones or purpose built “feet” you can buy at garden centres to help with drainage over the cold spell. Lift up those pots! http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/gwtj

Ta to Amanda for wicker man pumpkin pic idea and Paul W for the inspiration to start this blog. It’s been well over a year now!

Can you handle it?

Pound shops, don’t you just love ’em! Those plastic builder’s buckets with handles on they sell cheap have come up in conversation a couple of times this week funnily enough. My mate Will used one to scoop out the water from his kid’s bath to put on the garden thus foiling the hosepipe ban during last week’s mini heatwave. It’s funny, as today it was freezing cold and was tipping it down like there’s no tomorrow. Where’s that heatwave gone when you need it over the bank holiday weekend? Yesterday afternoon I was “tipping around with a hoe” with hot sun burning the back of me neck but today was soaked to the skin just walking down to the compost bin. What’s all that about?

A big ta to Edward for telling us his top tip last wednesday of drilling some drainage holes in the bottom of the plastic buckets and using them to grow spuds in. Using seed potatoes he has left over from the main plot he puts in one per bucket and then puts them in the greenhouse. If you’re lucky enough to have a greenhouse you could put spuds in at varying times of the year thus elongating the cropping season. Bob Flowerdew mentioned he loves keeping some seed potatoes over so he can sow them indoors just after xmas so he’ll have new potatoes for Easter. Good idea eh? I haven’t got a greenhouse but the old window frame I found in the street that doubled as a cold frame has turned up trumps as the potato plant started early on in the year under it is flowering now so it won’t be long now till we have some new potatoes for dinner!

A few weeks ago I transferred the tumbling tomato plant that I got on the growing food in the city course at walworth garden farm to a hanging basket (alongside a lettuce and a nasturtium) on the wall which is doing great (see above). It gets lots of sun from early on and I give it a good water as and when it needs it (usually on a nightly basis!)

I found the hanging basket in a skip a year or so ago and it was in a right state but after bit of a wash and brush up and some wire wool on the chain, it’s looking good! It’s a bit overcrowded at the moment and as it’s only early in the season I’m sure I will be thinning out the thing but lets see what happens. I’ll be giving it a good feed weekly during the summer and lots of water so fingers crossed.

It’s two days of bank holidays now, what’s the odds of getting some good weather?

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!