Garden And Gardener

Everything for the Gardener and their Garden

Archive for September, 2011

Make your own compost

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Make your own Compost

Compost is one of nature’s secret ingredients, think of it like a super food for your garden. While we humans sit back munching on our blueberries and salmon (hopefully not all in the same mouthful) we can rest assured that we’re reaping the nutritious benefits of the food we digest. The very nutritious equivalent for the garden is some rich, wholesome compost.

Compost isn’t something you need to spend lots of money on; in fact, you don’t really need to spend any money on it… but it does speed things up if you do. Quality compost derives from some organic matter that has fully decomposed and been recycled into very tasty garden food. Organic matter such as bio degradable food waste which can consist of vegetable peelings and fruit skins make up some of the best compost but the whole decomposition period does take some time.

To make your own compost you will first need some space outside as making compost inside doesn’t work as well… it’s also smelly and rather messy. Find a spot outside and know that that is the spot dedicated to your compost pile. Now, there a few ways to go about creating a compost pile, you can literally create a pile of kitchen waste in a heap that will rot and decompose but there are a few negative points with this method. Although this method is the cheapest it doesn’t leave your compost protected or close off any rotting kitchen smells, it also looks rather unsightly to guests of the house and garden.

Another home composting method is to use a container of some sort, either an open top one or a fully contained container. My personal preference is to use a compost ‘bin’ that has a removable lid designed to make adding more waste matter as easy as possible. An open topped bin will have some of the problems I mentioned above.

Once you have decided on your bin, bucket, pile or pit you need to start adding to it. Think of anything that you don’t want from your kitchen vegetable or fruit preparation and throw it in. Items like tea bags, egg shells and fruit pips are perfectly fine too. One thing to note is that the finer the waste matter the quicker it will turn into compost – if all of your bio degradable kitchen waste were shredded it will breakdown quicker and compost easier.

The next stage is to ensure you keep topping up your compost collection. Making your own compost is magical in this way as every time you throw waste in it seems like the pile is shrinking. No matter how much you put in the next time you get back to it you’ll see it’s all vanished. Fret not, there aren’t compost waste thieves out there waiting to raid your pile when your back is turned… this illusion is simply decomposition in action. Certain insects will be attracted to your pile as it provides a fantastic source of food for worms, flies and other creepy crawlies – so keep going and you’ll soon have your own amazing compost heap.

Primrose BOGOF

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Primrose Green LaceOrder now and get this very special Primrose offer!

This mail order exclusive Primrose is now available for only £13.99 for 12 jumbo ready plants!

Thats better than buy 1 get one free! (compared to 6 plants for £15.99)

Order your BOGOF primroses now

Primrose Green Lace 12 Jumbo Ready Plants, £13.99

A unique colouring variety with beautiful green ruffled flowers with yellow centres. This Primrose is a mail order exclusive and only available on the web.

Jumbo Ready Plants are grown in individual cells and measure approximately 8-12cm in height from the root of the plant to the top of the stem. They are despatched later in the season as we have grown them to a larger size for you and are ready to be planted straight out into the garden.

Great value mixed autumn bedding plants from Jersey Plants direct

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

New product today at Jersey Plants Direct

Mixed Autumn Bedding Collection 50 plants + 20 FREE

Mixed Autumn Bedding Collection 50 plants + 20 FREE £12.99
Perfect if you are after a mix of bedding plants in smaller quantities – this is the collection for you!

These allow you to have just the right number of plants for a smaller garden or hanging baskets. Decide where you want colour. Smaller number of plants means no waste.

Varieties are:
Pansy Grande Fragrance: This beautifully scented plant has large flowers and is an excellent winter performer.
Primrose Valiant: A fully frost hardy primrose.

Pansy Cascadia (Trailing): A unique trailing variety that is ideal for hanging baskets and containers.
Each variety will bloom at different times from autumn to spring/early summer.This collection of our best selling autumn bedding plants is perfect for smaller gardens where space is limited but you still want variety.

Perfect for creating a mix of flowers for over winter colour in your garden. 70 plants in total and free delivery. Great offer – hurry to order yours

Bargain Plug plants

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

Jersey Plants Direct has these fantastic value super plug plants.
These are big enough to go straight into the garden and be planted out now. Should provide lots of colour all winter long.

Primrose Rosebud 28 Super Ready Plants

Primrose Rosebud 28 Super Ready Plants £10.99
Early flowering and great for a house plantUnderestimated how many plants needed for your summer displays? These new late spring special “Super Ready” plants are grown to a more mature size for immediate planting. They are ideal for plugging those annoying gaps in your developing displays.These bedding plants produce flowers that are like clusters of miniature roses. They also make a great houseplant

Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn is here! First mist of the season

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

We’ve had our first mist today!
So I got out the camera and took some photos!
Mist on the allotment This is the view from the gate looking across the car park at my plot. Yes I do have a pink wheelbarrow!

Free pruners offer from Urban Allotments

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Urban Allotments have kindly told us about this promotion they have on at the moment – they will be sending out their dwarf fruit tree orders in November, so now is the time to place your order to ensure you get the variety you want. Dwarf fruit trees are suitable for containers, borders, raised beds. So balconies, patios and roof gardens needn’t be fruitless next year. Just type in FREESTUFF in the discount code box at checkout to receive a free pair of Wilkinson Sword Ratchet Pruners with every order of 3 or more fruit trees or bushes. The code will be vaild until the end of November or until they run out of pruners!

Dwarf Cherry Sweetheart £22.00
Dwarf cherry tree for pots
Plum Victoria
Lovely blossom
Dwarf Pear Invincible £15.00
Dwarf pear tree for growing in pots
Dwarf Apple Bramley £15.00
Dwarf cooking apple tree. Perfect for pies.
Dwarf Apple – Fiesta A £15.00
Dwarf eating apple tree perfect for pots.
Dwarf Apple Scrumptious £15.00
Dwarf eating apple tree for pots.

River Cottage Veg Every Day!

Monday, September 26th, 2011

River Cottage Veg Every Day!
River Cottage Veg Every Day! (River Cottage Every Day)

Why don’t we eat more veg? They’re healthy, cost-effective and, above all, delicious. Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall believes that it is time to put this to rights, as he explains in this brilliant new book. He’s come up with an abundance of veg-tastic recipes, including a warm salad of grilled courgettes, lemon, garlic, mint and mozzarella, a winter giant couscous salad with herbs and walnuts, radishes with butter and salt, lemony guacamole, linguine with mint and almond pesto and cherry tomatoes, baby carrot risotto, new potato gnocchi, a summer stir-fry with green veg, ginger, garlic and sesame, a winter stir-fry with Brussels sprouts, shiitake mushrooms and five-spice, a cheesy tomato tart, a spring onion gallette, roast jacket chips with merguez spices and spiced yoghurt, curried bubble and squeak, scrambled eggs and asparagus with lemon, tomato gazpacho, pea and parsley soup, roast squash wedges, baba ganoush, beetroot houmous, spinach pasties and barbecued corn on the cob. With over 200 recipes and vibrant photography from Simon Wheeler, River Cottage Veg Every Day is a timely eulogy to the glorious green stuff.
About the Author
Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is a writer, broadcaster and campaigner. His series for Channel 4 have earned him a huge popular following, while his River Cottage books have collected multiple awards including the Glenfiddich Trophy (twice), the Andre Simon Food Book of the Year (three times), the Michael Smith Award (twice) and, in the US, the James Beard Cookbook of the Year. Hugh lives in Devon with his family.

Comfort Food and Feasts – aubergine pamigiana, pinto bean chilli
Heart Salads – spelt salad with squash and fennel, fish-free salad nicoise
Raw Assemblies – red cabbage, parsnip, orange and dates
Hefty Soups – Mexican tomato and bean soup, ribollita
Bready Things – vegiflette toastie, various rarebits
Store-cupboard Suppers – spring onion gallete, oven-roasted roots frittata
Pasta and Rice – baby carrot and pea risotto, vegeree
Mezze and Tapas – carrot hummus, Cambodian wedding day dip
Roast, Grill and BBQ – roasted aubergine boats
Side Dishes (including sweet asides) – runner beans with tomato and garlic, pumpkin and raisin tea loaf

Got an alder tree near you? This bloke is interested

Monday, September 26th, 2011

I have a project to develop alder (Alnus glutinosa) as a grain crop.
My reasons for this are:- Britain cannot feed itself because half its land is
too high and cold
for grain production. This is not because this land is infertile, the
tree-line is much higher than the crop line. It is because the main
grain crops originated in the Mediterranean and they are at the limit
of their range in Britain. To make use of this land we need to take a
plant which grows well in British upland conditions and breed it into
a suitable grain crop. There are many possible plants, and some sedges
show potential, but it would be a huge task to even evaluate them all. Instead
I have seized on the idea of alder because:-* It is a tree; it can be more productive
than a herb crop.
* Birds and small animals eat alder seeds and I know from many reports
and personal test that they are not harmful to man. Like other seed
crops, wheat, rice, oats, the taste lies in the preparation.
* It fixes nitrogen. Nitrate fertilisers are expensive and a big
source of CO2 production.
* It is a tree, once established it is insensitive to weather
* It is a tree, it does not need weeding and chemical weedkilling.
* The harvesting waste, chiefly cones, but also twigs, may be a useful
fuel, it comes in handy-sized pieces. The fallen leaves may also be
used as a fuel, they are plentiful.
* It is a tree, ground does not have to prepared for it every year
nor seed sown. This saves on the CO2 output of ploughing with heavy
* Over its commercial life (50 years?) a tree will store a lot of
* Alnus glutinosa grows in Tunisia and Algeria, the latitude of China
and Northern India. It could be useful there in holding back erosion
on steep slopes.But alder needs to be improved to become a grain crop. In particular
it needs bigger seeds. I spent the whole of last autumn going round
alders on Tyneside (You can’t do it in the rain, it is pleasant
work.), pulling cones off trees, breaking them open by rolling and
crushing them between two plates and sieving them. I found six trees
with SIGNIFICANTLY bigger seeds. They obviously weren’t the top end of
a bell-curve, they were a STEP bigger. I germinated these bigger
seeds, germination was poor, partly because of my inexperience with
this species, but partly also because many bigger seeds are
deformities or are stuffed with "cork". Nevertheless, some germinated
and produced cotyledons which were noticeably bigger than standard,
showing that they contained more food.I grafted these seedlings onto "adult"
trees on places on the branches
which should produce catkins and cones this year for fruiting next
year, but my grafting technique was poor and none of them took. I have
taken advice and I now know how to do better next year. (To hold such small stems
together I found it best to use
Hellermann sleeves, put over the stock end with a Hellermann
tool. These are normally used in electronic wiring. I came
to the belief that the usual grafting sealers contain
fungicides and alcohol which actually kill such small green
pieces. Vaseline seems to be the right stuff, we put it on
baby’s bottoms!)Grafting the products of hybridisation will shorten the breeding
from 7 years to 2 years.I went to the trees which had produced the bigger seeds,
covered their
cones with plastic bags to stop their neighbours from fertilising
them, and fertilised them from the other big-seed producers. I will
collect the results in the next few weeks.Bigger seeds are one thing I want, but
also I look at the cones and
think "They are too big. The tree wastes too much on them. I want
flimsier cones, although rolling and crushing the cones is fairly
efficient, I would like harvesting to be even easier." And so I would
like flimsier cones, something which can be seen just walking past.I would also
like trees with different growth habits. This could make
a big difference to harvesting methods. In this I have been lucky, I
have already found :-* Varieties with all-cone branches, producing very many more
* Varieties with almost all cones and no or very few catkins.
* A dwarf variety. What might be the harvesting use of this?
* A variety which has grown to 2.7 metres in 3 years.It would be asking too much
to ask people to break open cones and
sieve the seeds to find the biggest, though I would be grateful and
provide equipment and help to anybody who does want to do this.What I feel I can
ask is for people who walk past trees to look at
them with my needs in mind;-CONES – Do they look different to usual?GROWTH HABIT
– Does this tree have a different shape and branch
layout?You could tell me by phone – 0191 266 6435
You could tell me by e-mail –
You could write to me –
20 Cambridge Avenue
Forest Hall
Newcastle upon Tyne
NE12 8ARWe could meet at an agreed place and you could take me to the tree you
have found and go to a pub after.You could send the Ordnance Grid reference.Thank
you for reading all this!Michael Bell–

Beans – everything you need

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Being able to pick your own beans is amazing! You’ll eat the freshest beans ever when you grow your own. I’ve done it myself this year, taken a friend round the plot, picked the beans and then come straight in and cooked them. From plot to plate in less than 15 minutes! You can’t get better than that!

Jersey Plants Direct offers some great items

Pea & Bean Support Netting

Pea & Bean Support Netting £9.99
Protection for peas and beansIdeal support and protection for your peas and beans, allows the plants to intertwine themselves up the netting. It will also help keep your crops off the ground.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mushroom kids from Jersey Plants

Monday, September 26th, 2011

Jersey Plants Direct have some great mushroom kits. Grow your own! It’s easy to do and you’ll be able to pick and eat your own mushrooms.

White Mushroom Kit 3 Litre

White Mushroom Kit 3 Litre £9.99
Easy to grow your own Mushrooms!Full instructions includedHere is a great way to produce 100% natural, freshly grown, healthy mushrooms. From picked to table in less than 10mins, it is an excellent ingredient for a healthy diet. This White Mushroom is commonly found in supermarkets and shops. A great favourite for their mild, woodsy flavour.

Read the rest of this entry »