Recently in Gardening Category

The Birds and the Bees

So, as some of you will be aware by now we've had chickens for 18 months. We presently have 6 birds, 1 Black Maran, 1 Speckledy, 1 Whitestar Leghorn, 1 Cambridge Blue and two Light Sussex bantams. They all lay, some of the time. The leghorn used to be daily but recently she is moulting (bad time of year for it if you ask me).

And now for the news, I said Birds & Bees; I’m going to start having Bees. I’ve joined our local Bee club and I’ve bought a couple of hives, one ‘commercial’ (style of hive) from ebay and one ‘deep national’ from a very nice chap on a beekeeping forum. Now I just need tools and protective clothes.

I’ve got 2 mentors of a sort, both ex-BBC, who have very different ideas on Bees, and a whole host of people locally from the Bee club I can talk to for advice, so I’m REALLY not going to go short there. Only problem is where to keep them, allotment people want a certificate of competence, which I won’t be seeing for 2 years or so, and one of the neighbours is a bit notorious at not liking anything we do; They called out the environmental health last Christmas because of the chickens, they arrived and said there was no problem whatsoever and we were doing everything we should have been doing.

So I am going to start in the garden and see how things go, unless I can find another location.

So either way I thought I’d use the body of this post to keep lots of useful info I’ve been discussing with people so I don’t loose it

So recently I joined a few organic gardening, seed swaps and related groups on yahoogroups. And in response to one of my introduction mails I got a nice response from someone about how to deal with scale bugs and how to get a weed pile to compost successfully. I have 4 huge weed piles which seem to just sit there and not decompose. So without much further ado here is the advice:

Scale bugs

So here is a one two punch for you for the scales. First you can use either Isopropyl Alcohol mixed at a ratio of 7 to 1. 7parts water to 1 part Alcohol. That will kill the little buggers. Then to repel them you will need to make a journey to the produce market and pick up one Garlic bulb 1 onion, and some Cyanne Pepper. Put in in the food processor and Puree. Then put that into a quart of water and boil for 5 minutes. Strain the Elixir through some cheese cloth and allow to cool. Add a table spoon of dish soap and spray your plants. Now some may suggest the predatory beetles but after they eat all the scales they leave and then what happens when the scales come back and the beetles are gone on another tour.

Composting Weeds

Now about the weed seeds in the compost pile. HEAT is the cure. The Pile has to be generating at least a 140 degrees of heat or better. So How do you do that? If you have access to a High Nitrate animal fertilizer you are in business. Chicken, sheep, goat, have a very high nitrate levels which generates lots of heat in compost.
But if you don't have access to that kind of heat there are other ways! You can go to the nursery and find and Organic bagged fertilizer that has a very high Nitrogen level. and mix that in with the compost and then take a 1 liter bottle of coke and a large can of really cheap beer/ale/stout and let both beverages go flat. Blend them and mix them with 2 quarts of water and spray the pile. Inside and out. So that means you will turn the pile and then spray turn and spray until you run out of spray. Then cover the whole pile with Black Plastic. If you don't have one I suggest you purchase a compost thermometer. Now in the event that the Pile gets into the 220 degree plus zone you will need a length of plastic pipes with some holes drilled in the sides 3/8 inch or better so you can vent the pile so that it doesn't burst into flame. But if your pile does get really warm bring the Kettle It will make a nice pot of tea. And in short order to.
So that should put and end to the weed seed issue.

Thanks to Jeff Strong for all this advice

Greenhouse Building

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So, after many months trying to find one second hand I gave up and bought one at B&Q the other week. An 8'x6' one, that's all that would fit in the space we had (well could have had 10x6, but they didn't have one), and that only just managed.

So my Dad and I started out early Saturday morning. Deciding to start by levelling off the soil and lowering it to it would line up next to the summerhouse. All was fine and then we hit a distraction. Potatoes, and dozens of them. Many of them where starting to grow again, many fell to the slice of the azada or the shovel, but there were still a fair haul left. Then we continued, levelling, trenching, laying slabs for the base of the greenhouse. Finally we had all the slabs in place, and put the base of the greenhouse down, which was a 5" half box section piece of aluminium. It didn't look like it would take the weight of a greenhouse...

So we started assembling the pieces of the greenhouse, first wrong (argh), then a different wrong (ARGH). After a little while longer we got a side bit right and finished. Sadly rain and poor light conditions stopped play at the point.

Next morning we were at it again early, assembling the other side, the ends (wrong, wrong, right, I blame the instructions, none too clear) and the roof. I have to mention at this point it was raining, windy and bloody cold, my fingers had the feeling of sausages unless I stopped to warn them every 20 minutes. Then we carried the whole lot over and put in on the base (after a short fight with the neighbours bush), finding out only that we hadn't got one end right, and had to do a quick turnaround of the baseplate. That done, I tied the base to the upper part, then we made the door and the frame for the window in the roof.

Then we started putting the glass in. You know that part where they tell you to wear gloves when handling glass, well its best to listen to advice like that. I got a fair few shallow cuts, mostly from the evil clips, then managed to take a nice slice out the end of my right little finger. So bandaged up with some shiny children's plasters, we carried on until we had the roof glazed, all except the last bit of glass. Wouldn't you know it, it didn't fit !! I'll be having words with B&Q tomorrow, every piece of glass 610mm wide, except this one! So close of play again, having worked through the rain, coming down at 45%, and the cold, we were defeated by the loss of light to work by again, and shoddy materials.


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