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Updated: Tuesday 31 December 2013
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It is with much sadness that I have not blogged since the middle of November. Christmas has passed us by leaving some wonderful presents on the way. Amy and I noticed an increase in 'joint' presents this year, of which the majority of them were very thoughtful and gardening related. Thankyou everybody. Santa also brought me a new iPad so there is no excuse not to blog more frequently now.
You will probably remember the unfortunate news I posted about last time where our shed had been tipped over and our contents ruined, moved or stolen. Well due to the awful recent weather and localised flooding which affects the bottom part of the allotment site near to the river we still do not have a shed standing. Instead, each time we visit we are greeted with this rather depressing sight.
By the looks of things it will probably be February now before it is upstanding once again. There is no sign of the weather letting off and January is going to be a very busy month anyway.
At least the new year will give us chance to have another go on this plot. Some things didn't work so well this year from things like onions to even getting around the plot. We've reevaluated our plans and we are all set to go. It may even be worth thinking about sowing some seeds next month, chillies, peppers, tomatoes and the like. How exciting!! It is also a great relief that I dug over 2/3 of the plot at the end of November. This should give us a really useful head start next year and will save a lot of back ache in early March. I hope this early start will also give the couch grass a bit of a battering. As you can see in the next picture the paths surrounding the plot are all grass and that makes it easy for it to quickly spread through the plot.
I'm hoping to sort the rest of the plot out before I go back to work on the 8th of January. But of course that is going to be weather dependant. Any more rain and the plot could quickly turn into a lake.
Well, I sincerely hope the new year brings you bucket loads of joy and happiness even if it comes in the form of a trailer full of manure. Happy New Year, and a toast to happy gardening!!
Martin and Amy
First of all, welcome to my new followers, Joshua Heaton, Jille and Rose :-) Hope you are enjoying yourselves.
Today we had very very changeable weather but I managed to dry some washing and do some planting out in the veg patch while it was sunny.
I am planting up one of the raised beds with my Rocket Gardens Constant Gardens selection of veg plants - they have grown well in their pots and it is now time to put them outside in their final places. But because of the naughty hens and cats, as well as the ever present wild life, I need to protect the bed.
I am rather proud of what we (mainly Compostman) came up with.
Some blue water pipe ( free, from the Scrapstore) and some bits of metal pipe ( free - have been hanging around in the Barn waiting for a use by Compostman) But I then found that my horticultural fleece and mesh fabric lengths were all too long but not wide enough - so to cover the bed I had to use two sheets and have a lot of spare fabric at one end AND work out a way to fix the sheets together. Hmm will have to think about this!
After working outside on the raised bed, the heavens opened, the rain fell and I got soaked, so retreated to the shelter of the polytunnel. Still at least the raised bed plants got a good watering!
Compostman very kindly tied the tomato plant canes to the roof for me, so they stay upright :-)
Growing well :-)
I did a lot of potting on of my veg plants, and re arranged the peppers into their final position.
I do wonder why, when I plant out plants, I still seem to have more on the bench?
This is my version of a Salad bar :-) I can go out with my basket and cut some salad and it grows some more :-)
Later on this afternoon we are going into Hereford. I am a member of the B and Q club and this weekend I have a 15% off voucher and as we need to think about paints for the bedroom decoration ( yes it is now at the "what colour paint shall we have" stage!) we are going to have a look at what they have to offer.
Update later this evening. We went into Hereford to B and Q and bought all sorts of stuff we needed, including solid wooden flooring for the bedroom (gulp). The 15% off voucher saved us a lot of money on the floor and paint for the bedroom. Hopefully we will be moving back in soon and I can't wait!
We also popped into Sainsbury and got items on the shopping list and then I spotted some garden netting which was the perfect size to cover the supports we had put up this morning for the raised bed. On offer and reduced to £3.50! I bought four packs, one for each raised bed, for a total cost at full price of one pack :-) And so when we got home, before it got dark and in the pouring rain, I did this
Exactly what I needed to cover the raised bed we had been working on and I used tri pegs ( bought many years ago and used for all sorts of jobs since) to fix it all down. This had been worrying me and now it is sorted
and has made the bed secure from cats, hens, etc . getting in there and digging up or eating the plants. Should stop the Cabbage White butterflies laying eggs on the brassicas as well.
Later, later still, well actually at silly o'clock when we should have gone up to bed, Compostman and I watched the first two episodes of The Black Adder from the Blackadder Complete DVD set, which I found in a charity shop ridiculously reduced in price :-)
It is 30 years since we first watched it, and time has not dimmed the laughs for us and we can still sing the theme tune! And we raised a glass in honour of Sir Baldrick and Blackadder, CBE
So all in all, a good day, if a long one but my bed is calling me, now.
Well done FoE for exposing this outrageous situation.70% of the UK samples contained glyphosate weed killer!
My view? It is absolutely appalling.
Weed killer found in human urine across EuropePeople in 18 countries across Europe have been found to have traces of the weed killer glyphosate in their urine, show the results of tests commissioned by Friends of the Earth Europe and released today .
The findings raise concerns about increasing levels of exposure to glyphosate-based weed killers, commonly used by farmers, public authorities and gardeners across Europe. The use of glyphosate is predicted to rise further if more genetically modified (GM) crops are grown in Europe .
Despite its widespread use, there is currently little monitoring of glyphosate in food, water or the wider environment. This is the first time monitoring has been carried out across Europe for the presence of the weed killer in human bodies.
As you know I recently was sent some Seedballs to review. I thought they were so lovely, I got some more. Lots more! I was very kindly sent another BIG packet of Seedballs, by Project Maya to scatter around Compost Mansions, so I went out seed bombing tonight
This mixture contains yet more bee attracting flowers, which is good as bees ( and other insects) need all the help they can get.
So I wandered around the garden, seed bombing wherever there was a patch of bare soil which I wanted to become a patch of wild flowers. We already have LOTS of patches of wildflowers, but in my opinion you can never have too many :-)
As always, Cassi Cat ( my amber eyed familiar) came with me and watched in some bemusement as I scattered little round balls of clay. I think she hoped they would be something to eat! She did try to nibble on one but I think the chilli put her off :-)
While seed bombing by the garage I noticed a lot of Bumblebees coming and going from a nest box,
which normally contains Blue Tits
not this year - it is full of Bumblebees nesting, instead!
Can you see her bottom? just going in through the hole?
I am in the process of filling up the compost bins again - its a bit like painting the Forth Bridge - never finished!
I have a load of "greens" waiting - the pile is getting very hot and was steaming.
An experiment - I have never tried transplanting carrot seedlings before, but as I was asked about it on a Composting stand I decided to try it - we shall see what happens to the carrots. I used a big pot and filled it up with my favourite peat free fertile Fibre growing medium and then carefully transplanted the seedlings without damaging the roots. I suspect they will grow forked, but who knows, it may work?
Compostman was outside scything while I was doing all this. He presented me with yet more green stuff to add to the compost pile ;-) He knows what makes me happy :-)
The Garden Festival at Hellens was totally terrific and absolutely excellent!
Luckily for me I had several fellow Master Composter volunteers with me on our stall over the weekend, which was a good thing as the place was absolutely heaving with people having fun in the glorious sunshine. On Saturday I had the company of Paul all day and Christine E in the afternoon. It was lovely to see them both, as it is some time since we last met up and in the lulls I was able to catch up with all their news :-)
Here is the stall, set up and ready to go on Saturday morning. We were in a corner, between the Hereford Waldorf School children's activity tent (the white tent, above) and another big marquee full of interesting stalls selling lovely stuff and various "green" themed charities. I must thank the organising team of Gail, Michael and Maggie for putting us there and sorting out the splendid tent for us :-)
Our main stall table has lots of leaflets on how to make compost; the discount compost bins available; information about Garden Organic; samples of coir based growing medium (peat free alternative); free seeds and pencils to hand out; and examples of what can be composted.
This tray contains grass, herbs, flowers and the (compostable) bags contain straw, crumpled newspaper, egg boxes, wool, cotton waste, paper sheets, toilet roll tubes, hay and shredded paper. This is to show people what can be composted...
and what it turns into!
Here are some samples dug from my compost bins at 5 am on Sat morning (!) to show people what finished compost should look like. It will have bits in - if you want it to look fine you need to sieve or riddle it.
More display boards, compost bins, a "can o worms" wormery and our seed planting activity table completed our set up.
We spoke to more than 150 people on Sat which was a terrific result :-) At the end of the day we were invited to a Pimms reception on the beautiful terraces, but the reception had to move to another location due to a swarm of honey bees! Still, it was good to chat to the organisers and the family who own Hellens, as well as other stallholders.
Sadly I didn't get to listen to Brigit Strawbridge talk about bees :-( (check out her amazing blog here) but I did manage to catch up with her later and have a chat :-) If you are reading this it was lovely to see you again Brigit :-) and good luck with your new venture at Bumblebee Farm.
I got home at 7 pm very hot and tired but a shower and some dinner and a sit in the garden with my cats and hens soon perked me up again. I sorted out new leaflet supplies and my laptop and projector and put them in the car, then went to bed early, ready for another early start on Sunday.
Sunday was another glorious day, a few less people at the Festival but still very busy! I was helped on Sunday by fellow Master Composters Christine J, Janice and Nina which meant there were enough of us so we all got to leave the stall and have a look around the Festival. I bought some lovely organically grown plants from The Cottage Herbery. They are based locally and grow their plants in Fertile Fibre coir based compost, indeed they originally founded Fertile Fibre before handing it on to Matthew at Withington Court. I always enjoy talking to Kim & Rob about plants and they are very knowledgeable :-)
Then after lunch (pork roll from The Squeaky Pig Company and Noggin Farm - yum) it was time to get ready for my talk. I got everything set up in the Cider Barn - cool and dark with a stone flagged floor which was a lovely contrast after the now scorching heat outside. I was a little surprised, but very pleased, to see that all the seats were filled plus there were a couple of people standing so that was 25 people in total waiting to listen to "Lets talk Compost!"
My talk is illustrated with lots of slides with photos from my garden - you would probably recognise many of them from this blog - as well as samples of compost to look at and a "can it be composted" card on each of the seats - I ask people to decide what they think about the item on their card at the start of the talk and then ask them at the end if they have changed their mind - people often do after hearing the talk!
The audience seemed to enjoy what I had to say about composting and growing, which is always a relief! I had a 45 minute slot to complete my talk and answer questions, but then I was asked to carry on and answer more questions. As there was no one else due to use the room, I did so and we carried on for another 15 minutes :-)
Then it was 4 pm and time to pack up the stall and somehow fit it all back into my car ( which I still have not yet unloaded!)
In total over the weekend we spoke to 250 people (maybe more, I wasn't there all the time). Lots of people who were all wanting to know more about composting - how to get started, how to do it better, what to do with the compost they make. Hopefully they feel more informed, now.
I have had a really excellent weekend of volunteering, with a group of friends, at a fabulous venue with excellent organisation, to promote a subject we are all passionate about.
Can't really get much better than that, I think :-)
Welcome back to Hen Corner! As featured in Country Living Magazine This post is all about the bees. Andy (Mr Hen Corner) asked me to name this post ‘Does anyone want a spare colony?’ but I am assuring him that all is well with our extra couple of hives… This week we’ve been running courses, […]
Friday 7th June We are having such lovely weather at the moment, it is great to get out into the garden, and pootle around a bit, with the chickens at my feet, making happy noises. It is only in the past few days I have noticed everything trying to catch...
Fellow Master Composter Martin, just before the event started. We were joined by Gerry later on and it was good to catch up with them both and have a chat over the lunc break.
My display board, with lots of information on composting and the composting creatures which make it all happen
Me! Waiting to show the children some of the creatures which live in the compost. I have bug viewing pots and samples on the table in front of me. We also did seed planting with the children and played a " what can we compost" game.
Sorry, no photos of school children in action, for obvious reasons!
We had an excellent day and spoke to 130 children and their teachers over the course of the event. All the people who had put on events were thanked and applauded at the end which was a nice touch, and we were supplied throughout the day with unlimited offers of cups of tea, coffee and cake :-)
I do love doing these events :-)
...is a very lovely Edinburgh Woollen Mill, semi fitted, lined jacket! At £2 I could not resist. The label says dry clean only but I took a chance and washed it on the wool wash, it came out just fine, and dried super quick on the line this afternoon.
I tend to do a lot of batch cooking, it sort of goes with finding bargains in the supermarket. Whilst defrosting the freezer the other week, I unearthed some quality mince which I had squirrelled away previously. Bearing in mind I bought mushrooms last weekend to make risotto, I decided...
31st May 2013 We love Coughton Court! (pronounced coat-on, geddit!!) So we packed a picnic and headed on over for a moochy around. It was a lovely day, and when we got there the car park was spilling over into the adjoining field, there were already lots of visitors. Entrance...
Its been a busy week for my alter ego, Compostwoman.
On Wednesday I spent all day at with 13 Herefordshire Primary Schools at an event to celebrate World Environment Day and Eco Schools, along with representatives from Water, Cycling, Waste minimisation, Healthy Living, Global Perspectives and other good stuff. I, and several other Master Composters , were there as "Others" which covered Green Woodworkers, Recycled crafts, h Energy, Nigel Hand ( again) with assorted wonderful reptiles and us with planting, bug hunts in the compost and the compost food chain.
It was a terrific day and the children seemed to really, really enjoy themselves :-)
I have also been preparing for a very busy weekend - I am at The Garden Festival, Hellens this weekend, along with a team of Master Composters - yet again I am the organiser for the MC's, so have a lot of preparation and planning to do to make sure our stall is really good and everyone is happy with what they are doing :-)
I am also setting up the stall and taking it down again on Sunday.
And giving a talk on Sunday afternoon.
So my mind is FULL of compost at the moment :-)
But I hope to have time to look around the wonderful stalls there, and especially to go and listen to Brigit Strawbridge talk about Bees :-)
Off to take some of the stall to Hellens - it is a beautiful June summer evening here
Hope you have a lovely week end, whatever you do.
I know I haven't blogged for a while, but what better way to get back in to it than a live post from my Grandparent's house whilst collecting a swarm.
I was down the allotment just about to put my sweetcorn in and my mobile started ringing. It was my Grandad
'Martin, your grandma wants you'
'Ok. Hi Grandma.'
'Martin there's a swarm of bees outside the back door do you want them.'
'Yes please. l'll be there in 5 minutes!!'
So, I put the sweetcorn in the she ready for planting tomorrow morning. Dashed home, got my veil and off I went. This is the 3rd year in a row that a swarm has congregated by/at my Grandma's house!! However this is the only year that I've had an empty hive to house them in!!
They were congregated on a wall so I scooped as many as I could in to the bucket before turning it over and waiting for the rest to follow on in. I'm just waiting for the last few stragglers whilst having a coffee indoors. Here's a few pictures, I'll let you know how it goes and maybe I'll even make an allotment blog tomorrow!!
Thanks for reading,
Tuesday 28th May Him indoors and I are massive Whitesnake fans and have been waiting a while for the latest tour. Off we went, to this long awaited gig at the LG Arena, (formerly NEC Arena). Not my favourite venue, but you get a good large crowd, and since it's...
Most of the planting in now done with the exceptions of a few bits here and there. This year I am having a go at growing some cauliflower some say this is a tricky crop to grow so I will have to keep an eye on it I know I need to keep the head covered over to stop it going yellow and I have read that most people use the leaves and tie them over.
I am also growing Purple sprouting Broccoli again (a favourite of mine see previous posts)and also having another go at some Brussels sprouts, I found them quite hard to grow first time round but I know where I went wrong last time and won’t make the same mistakes again.
With my brassicas I also add a little crushed egg shells to the potting mix I do this with all brassicas as it gives them a little calcium boost as they grow it helps in develop strong roots. I have also put an egg shell mulch round them to stop the slugs and snails (I don’t get to many on the plot but don’t want to tempt fate!)
It’s looking “ship shape” now on the plot and can’t wait for things to start cropping.
The next job it to get the cover sorted for the raspberry’s as they are starting to flower and won’t be long before fruit is developing. The raspberry’s look especially healthy this year, with the autumn variety’s putting up lots of canes and even cropping up in the pathways the mulch and feed I gave them last year is starting to pay off I suspect.