Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

Egg boxes

by Diane - April 17th, 2024

I use old egg boxes for my own hens’s eggs, because I don’t sell them.

However as my new chickens start to lay I suspect we’re going to have too many eggs to eat so I’ve looked at Amazon and they have these egg boxes for sale

The pricing varies (Accurate as of 17th April 2024)  from 37p to 14p if you buy loads! Storage might be an issue for the large amount.

If you have 6 eggs a day you would need 365 boxes a year! 

30 Cartons £10.99  37p a carton

50 Cartons £15.49

100 Cartons £23.95

140 cartons £27.99

280 Cartons £47.99

560 Cartons £78.99  14p a carton




Need a new shed?

by Diane - April 15th, 2024

It’s often at this point in the year that you realise your shed isn’t going to last another year.  Felt can be replaced and walls patched, but there comes a time when you know a new shed is the best option.

BillyOh sell a massive range of sheds suitable for all gardens and allotments.


Your first thought has to be how big a shed do you want? If you’re on an allotment you might be restricted by the lease or tenancy in terms of what size you can have. A 6ft by 8ft shed is perfect for an allotment.
Then you need to decide if you want to have a window, and what sort of door you want. Then you can look at the options of having a pent roof,


Choosing between overlap and tongue and groove for a shed largely depends on your preferences, budget, and the desired aesthetic. Here’s a breakdown:

1. **Overlap Cladding**:
– **Pros**: Generally more affordable compared to tongue and groove. Offers good weather protection when installed correctly. It has a traditional rustic look, which some people prefer for sheds.
– **Cons**: Can be less durable and secure compared to tongue and groove. Over time, the overlapping boards may warp or allow water ingress if not maintained properly.

2. **Tongue and Groove Cladding**:
– **Pros**: Provides a tighter seal against the elements compared to overlap, making it more weather-resistant. Offers better structural integrity and durability. Often considered more visually appealing due to its smoother, seamless finish.
– **Cons**: Typically more expensive than overlap cladding. Requires more precise installation to ensure the tongue and groove joints fit snugly together.

Consider factors such as your budget, climate, desired aesthetic, and how much maintenance you’re willing to do. If you’re in an area with harsh weather conditions, or if you prioritize durability and a more finished appearance, tongue and groove might be worth the investment. However, if cost is a significant factor or you prefer a more rustic look, overlap cladding could be the better option.


There are several types of roofs commonly used for garden sheds, each with its own advantages and considerations:

**Pent Roof**:
– This is a single-sloped roof that slopes downwards from one side to the other. It’s straightforward to build and is often used for modern or minimalist-style sheds. It’s also relatively easy to maintain.

**Gable Roof (or A-Frame)**:
– This is a classic triangular roof with two sloping sides that meet at a ridge in the middle. Gable roofs provide good water runoff and can offer more headroom inside the shed. They also provide extra storage space if you opt for a loft.

**Hip Roof**:
– A hip roof has slopes on all four sides, meeting at a ridge at the top. It’s more complex to construct but provides better stability in windy conditions and can be more aesthetically pleasing. It’s also a good option if you want to collect rainwater as it offers multiple drainage points.

**Gambrel Roof (or Barn-style Roof)**:
– This type of roof has two slopes on each side, with the lower slope being steeper and the upper slope less steep. Gambrel roofs provide extra headroom and storage space, resembling the roof of a barn.

**Mansard Roof**:
– Similar to the gambrel roof but with a shallower lower slope. Mansard roofs provide even more headroom and storage space compared to gambrel roofs but are more complex to build.


BillyOh for sheds

NHM Resources for Schools

by Diane - April 11th, 2024

Based at South Kensington, London or Tring Hertfordshire.

Open daily 10.00-17.50
(last entry 17.30)
Closed 24-26 December

Lots of online resources for your class before they visit!

Key Stage 1 (ages 5-7)
Animal and human bodies
Dinosaurs and fossils
Habitats and food chains
Famous people

Key Stage 2 (ages 7-11)
Build the Change: Human Impact
Evolution and inheritance
Volcanoes and earthquakes
Life cycles, habitats and classification
Animals including humans
Science and scientists
Rocks, fossils and dinosaurs

Key stage 3 (ages 11-14)
Urban habitats
Climate change and biodiversity
Tools for outdoor enquiry
Working scientifically
Actions for urban nature


Honey bee Biology

by Diane - April 10th, 2024

Honey Bee Biology 

by Brian R. Johnson (Author), Thomas D. Seeley (Foreword)

The most comprehensive and up-to-date general reference book on honey bee biology

Honey bees are marvelously charismatic organisms with a long history of interaction with humans. They are vital to agriculture and serve as a model system for many basic questions in biology. This authoritative book provides an essential overview of honey bee biology, bringing established topics up to date while incorporating emerging areas of inquiry.

Honey Bee Biology covers everything from molecular genetics, development, and physiology to neurobiology, behavior, and pollination biology. Placing special attention on the important role of bees as pollinators in agricultural ecosystems, it incorporates the latest findings on pesticides, parasites, and pathogens. This incisive and wide-ranging book also sheds vital light on the possible causes of colony collapse disorder and the devastating honey bee losses we are witnessing today.

The study of honey bees has greatly expanded in recent years and there is more interest in these marvelous creatures than ever before. Honey Bee Biology is the first up-to-date general reference of its kind published in decades. It is a must-have resource for social insect biologists, scientifically savvy beekeepers, and any scientist interested in bees as a model system.

  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 512 pages

This book looks really interesting, it’s a hefty book too!
On my wish list!

Which wheelbarrow to buy?

by Diane - April 8th, 2024

You might inherit a wheelbarrow that’s rusty or falling to bits, or has a flat tyre!

Want to buy a new wheelbarrow?


Choosing the Right Wheelbarrow

Capacity: Consider the volume of the wheelbarrow to suit your material transportation needs without overloading it.

Material: Steel is durable but may rust, plastic/polyethylene is lightweight and easy to clean but less sturdy.

Wheel Type: Single wheels are maneuverable, dual wheels offer stability for heavier loads. Solid wheels won’t pop or rot!

Wheel Size: Larger wheels for rough terrain, smaller for flat surfaces. Pneumatic tires absorb shocks.

Handles: Look for ergonomic handles for comfort and ease of use.

Additional Features: Consider features like folding handles, tray supports, or tool holders for added convenience.

Budget: Determine your budget based on size, material, and features. Prioritize your needs.

Reviews and Recommendations: Research brands, read reviews for insights on durability and performance.

Warranty: Check the manufacturer’s warranty for confidence in quality and durability.

Evaluate your requirements to choose a wheelbarrow that best suits your gardening or construction projects.

How to weed

by Diane - April 7th, 2024

Gather Your Tools: Before you start, gather the necessary tools for weeding. Common tools include a garden hoe, hand trowel or fork, gloves, and a bucket or wheelbarrow for collecting weeds.

Choose the Right Time: It’s best to weed when the soil is slightly moist but not overly wet. Weeding after rainfall or watering can make it easier to remove weeds, as the soil will be softer and less compacted.

Identify Weeds: Take some time to identify the weeds growing in your bed. Some weeds may have shallow roots and can be easily pulled by hand, while others may have deeper roots and require more effort to remove.

Start Weeding: Begin by removing weeds from the edges of the bed and work your way inward. Use a hand trowel or fork to loosen the soil around the base of the weeds, making it easier to pull them out without disturbing nearby plants.

Pull Weeds: Grasp the base of each weed firmly and pull it out from the soil, ensuring you remove the entire root system. Be careful not to damage nearby plants or seedlings while weeding.

Use a Hoe: For larger areas or densely populated weed patches, use a garden hoe to cut weeds at the soil surface. Push the hoe back and forth just below the soil surface to sever weed roots from their base. This method is particularly effective for annual weeds.

Dispose of Weeds: Collect pulled weeds in a bucket, wheelbarrow, or compost bin for disposal. Avoid leaving weeds on the soil surface, as they can re-root and continue growing.

Monitor Regularly: Keep an eye on your allotment beds and monitor for new weed growth regularly. It’s easier to remove weeds when they are small and before they have a chance to become established.

Mulch Beds: After weeding, consider applying a layer of organic mulch, such as straw, wood chips, or compost, to the bed. Mulch helps suppress weed growth, retain soil moisture, and improve soil structure over time.

Preventive Measures: To minimize future weed growth, practice good garden hygiene by keeping pathways clear, rotating crops, and avoiding soil compaction. Consider using landscape fabric or cardboard mulch to smother weeds in areas where you don’t plan to plant.

By following these steps and staying proactive with weed management, you can maintain healthy and productive allotment beds throughout the growing season.

Cleaning a greenhouse

by Diane - April 6th, 2024

Cleaning a greenhouse is an essential task to maintain a healthy growing environment for plants. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean a greenhouse effectively:

1. **Remove Plants and Debris**: Start by removing all plants, pots, tools, and any other items from the greenhouse. This allows you to clean every surface thoroughly without obstruction.

2. **Sweep or Vacuum**: Use a broom or vacuum cleaner to remove loose dirt, debris, and cobwebs from the floors, benches, and walls. Pay attention to corners and crevices where dirt tends to accumulate.

3. **Wash Surfaces**: Mix a solution of mild soap or detergent with water in a bucket. Use a sponge or cloth soaked in the soapy water to wash all surfaces, including glass, plastic, metal, and wood. Pay particular attention to areas with visible dirt, algae, or mold.

4. **Disinfect**: After washing, disinfect surfaces to kill any remaining pathogens, pests, or fungal spores. You can use a commercial greenhouse disinfectant or make your own using a solution of diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 9 parts water). Apply the disinfectant with a spray bottle or sponge, ensuring thorough coverage. Allow the disinfectant to sit for the recommended contact time before rinsing with clean water.

5. **Clean Windows and Glazing**: Clean the greenhouse windows and glazing both inside and outside to allow maximum sunlight penetration. Use a glass cleaner or a solution of vinegar and water for a streak-free finish. For hard-to-reach areas, consider using a long-handled squeegee or a pressure washer (if appropriate for your greenhouse structure).

6. **Inspect and Repair**: While cleaning, inspect the greenhouse structure for any damage or wear and tear. Check for broken glass panes, damaged seals, leaks, or loose hardware. Repair or replace any damaged parts to ensure the greenhouse remains structurally sound and weather-tight.

7. **Clean Equipment and Tools**: Clean and disinfect all gardening tools, pots, trays, and other equipment before returning them to the greenhouse. This helps prevent the spread of pests and diseases between plants.

8. **Ventilation and Air Circulation**: Ensure that ventilation systems, louvers, and fans are clean and in good working order. Clean air vents and ensure they open and close properly to maintain proper airflow and prevent overheating.

9. **Replace Growing Medium**: If necessary, replace or top up the growing medium in planting beds or containers to refresh nutrients and improve soil structure.

10. **Preventive Maintenance**: Develop a regular cleaning schedule to keep the greenhouse clean and well-maintained throughout the growing season. Regularly remove weeds, monitor for pests and diseases, and address any issues promptly to prevent problems from escalating.

By following these steps and maintaining a clean greenhouse environment, you can create an optimal growing space for your plants and promote healthy growth and productivity.

Growing Carrots

by Diane - April 5th, 2024

Carrots can sometimes be challenging to grow due to several reasons:

1. **Soil Conditions**: Carrots prefer loose, well-drained soil. Heavy or compacted soil can cause the roots to become stunted or forked.

2. **Thinning**: Proper spacing is crucial for carrot growth. If carrots are not thinned out appropriately after germination, they may become overcrowded, resulting in smaller or misshapen roots.

3. **Pests and Diseases**: Carrots can be susceptible to pests like carrot rust fly larvae and diseases such as carrot root rot. These can damage the roots and reduce yield.

4. **Weed Competition**: Weeds compete with carrots for nutrients, water, and sunlight. If weeds are not adequately controlled, they can inhibit carrot growth.

5. **Inconsistent Watering**: Carrots require consistent moisture to develop properly. Irregular watering can lead to issues like cracked or split roots.

To improve carrot growth, gardeners can take several steps:

1. **Prepare the Soil**: Before planting, ensure the soil is loose, well-drained, and free of rocks and debris. Adding compost or well-rotted manure can improve soil structure and fertility.

2. **Thinning**: Thin out carrot seedlings to the recommended spacing once they’ve reached a few inches in height. This allows each carrot to have enough space to develop properly.

3. **Pest and Disease Management**: Monitor for pests and diseases regularly. Use organic pest control methods when possible, such as row covers to protect against carrot rust flies. Practice crop rotation to reduce the buildup of diseases in the soil.

4. **Weed Control**: Keep the area around carrot plants weed-free through mulching or hand weeding. This reduces competition for resources and promotes healthier carrot growth.

5. **Watering**: Water carrots consistently, aiming to keep the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Use drip irrigation or soaker hoses to water deeply and avoid wetting the foliage, which can increase the risk of diseases.

6. **Variety Selection**: Choose carrot varieties that are well-suited to your growing conditions and desired characteristics. Some varieties are more tolerant of specific soil types or environmental conditions.

7. **Succession Planting**: Plant carrots in successive batches every few weeks to ensure a continuous harvest and reduce the risk of pest and disease pressure affecting the entire crop at once.

By addressing these factors and providing proper care, gardeners can improve their chances of successfully growing carrots.

Soil preparation is probably the most important point!

The Great Allotment Waiting List Conudrum

by Diane - April 4th, 2024

The Great Allotment Waiting List Conundrum


I get contacted as the allotment site secretary about allotments. People ask in all sorts of different ways for an allotment plot. Some of them have an idea there might be a long wait, or a list and some expect – or even demand – to be allocated a plot instantly.


I ask them where they live and then share with them a map of the allotments in our borough, pointing out ones they will literally drive past to get to our site. I always suggest they apply to those closest to where they live but make it clear they are welcome to visit our site and go on our waiting list.

The visit to our allotment is a great tool to help weed out the allotment-unready. People who don’t want to pop down and have a look are not keen. I can’t imagine turning down a visit to an allotment site and have been known to spend holidays peering through fences and over walls at allotment sites to see what happens in other parts of the country.

I keep the details in a spreadsheet so I can contact them when they reach the top of the list. Sadly, getting to the top of the list takes time and often by the time I contact them their circumstances have changed or the desire for an allotment has gone off. Sometimes I wonder if that’s because it’s a rainy day and if I waited until the sun was shining, they’d be full of enthusiasm for the great outdoors again.


We get contacts from all over the borough. Some people live 6 or 7 miles away and still think it’s feasible to put their name on our list.

The reality is that driving 7 miles here and 7 miles home to water your tomatoes is actually both time consuming and expensive in terms of fuel costs.  Google Directions tells me exactly how long it’ll take and where the traffic jams are.

One of the problems where we live is we’re at the low end of the county and many people higher up will experience different weather and not bother coming to our allotment site even though the sun will be out and it’ll be a couple of degrees warmer down here.

I try to discourage people from committing to long journeys not just because of the weather differences but because of traffic. I have had one lady bring the key back on her second visit after the traffic jam took her 40 minutes to get here. Another person visited once in two months and didn’t get past their probationary period. It’s not always the distance. Sometimes it’s just not the right time for people to take on an allotment. I’m always happy to skip over someone if the time isn’t right – and come back to them when another plot comes up. But I need to know.


I refresh this data list annually to check I have people’s correct details still, that they’ve not moved and that they’re still interested in an allotment here. This is the interesting bit.

I phrase the words carefully to elicit a reply. Those people who reply quickly are eager and desperate for an allotment. I know they’ll respond quickly when I actually have a plot for them to come and view.
Sometimes people will have found an alternative site. Sometimes people don’t reply to my email to tell me – and I’m forced into a position where I’m almost harassing people to get a response from them.
I once had someone come back to me 20 weeks after I’d sent him messages asking if he was interested in an allotment. He was keen but again failed to respond to any messages when it was his turn for a plot.

And then there’s the stickiest conundrum of just how persistent should I be in chasing people when they’re at the top of the list? A phone call, email and a text over a couple of days should be sufficient. Very few people go completely off grid for any length of time these days.
I once left it ten days and several messages – only getting an answer service, so I assumed they were on holiday and had left the phones at home. But no, it turned out they just didn’t want an allotment any more and responding to a text with a simple no thanks for just too much.
I get that most people don’t answer the phone to unknown callers and my number will show up in most people’s phones as just a number. But it’s just plain rude and frustrating when people don’t respond to emails, texts or calls.


And yes, you could probably guess from my rant, I have a plot to let and have made contact three times with someone and they’ve not responded. The next person on the list has also had their data check email and hasn’t responded to that.
Spring has sprung and the weeds are growing every day – let me let this plot soon. I know it’s not an emergency to get someone on the plot but every day that does past is a day someone isn’t starting to sow seeds for spring.








Compost hints

by Diane - April 4th, 2024

Composting: The process of turning organic waste, such as food scraps and yard trimmings, into nutrient-rich soil through decomposition.

Recycling: The practice of processing used materials into new products to prevent waste of potentially useful resources.

Organic materials: Substances that are derived from living organisms and are biodegradable, such as leaves, fruit and vegetable peels, and coffee grounds.


How can you get good compost?

1. **Start with the Right Ingredients**: Begin your compost heap with a balanced mix of green (nitrogen-rich) and brown (carbon-rich) materials. Green materials include fruit and vegetable scraps, grass clippings, and coffee grounds, while brown materials include dry leaves, straw, and shredded cardboard.

Some people stockpile materials separately until they have enough to make a good pile. A well built pile will generate heat more quickly, but if you’re going to be waiting a long time to get lots of materials then just pile things in as you go. In the middle of summer you can add grass cuttings regularly along with other materials from the browns pile. Too much grass at a time goes slimey!

2. **Layering Technique**: Alternate layers of green and brown materials to create a well-balanced compost pile. Aim for a ratio of roughly 3 parts brown to 1 part green.

3. **Aeration is Key**: Ensure good airflow within the compost heap by turning it regularly. This aerates the pile and helps accelerate the decomposition process. Use a pitchfork or compost aerator to turn the pile every couple of weeks.

4. **Moisture Control**: Keep the compost heap moist, like a wrung-out sponge. If it’s too dry, decomposition slows down, and if it’s too wet, it can become anaerobic and smelly. Water the pile occasionally, especially during dry spells, but avoid overwatering.

5. **Size Matters**: Aim for a compost heap that’s at least 3 feet tall and wide. A larger pile retains heat better, which speeds up decomposition. However, make sure it’s manageable and doesn’t become too large to turn.

6. **Addition of Activators**: Consider adding compost activators like manure, compost starter, or finished compost from a previous batch. These introduce beneficial microorganisms that speed up decomposition.

Geoff Hamilton used to swear by homemade compost accelerator delivered directly to the heap.

7. **Patience is a Virtue**: Composting is a natural process that takes time. Depending on various factors such as temperature, moisture, and the mix of materials, it can take anywhere from a few months to a year for compost to mature. Be patient and consistent with maintenance.

8. **Covering the Pile**: Covering the compost heap with a tarp or a layer of straw helps retain moisture and heat, especially during colder months. This encourages microbial activity and speeds up decomposition.

9. **Avoid Certain Materials**: Avoid adding meat, dairy, or oily foods to your compost heap, as they can attract pests and create unpleasant odors. Similarly, avoid adding diseased plants or weeds that have gone to seed to prevent spreading pests and diseases.

10. **Use Compost Wisely**: Once your compost is ready, use it to enrich the soil in your allotment. Mix it into planting beds or use it as mulch around plants to improve soil structure, fertility, and moisture retention.
If your compost is not really fine then it will still make a wonderful mulch! The worms will thank you for it!


Find out more about composting here