Archive for February, 2015

In these two videos (pt1 &2) a young lady (From The Healthy Footprint youtube channel?) has a walk around with the land owner Ian Graham on a tour of his farm 15km’s from Ontario in Canada where he explains Permaculture and it’s goals, a bit of the history & his own future goals. They also go into discussion about Sectors and Zoning in pt 2. for anyone new to Permaculture to get an idea of some of the principles that are imperative to the design of a landscape, this is a good watch …

Part 1: 5 Min’s +

Part 2: 7 Min’s +

If you love permaculture and want it to spread to the masses, watch this video!! Now this is pro-activeness …

This is a quick ”Part #2” in the Beer Trap Article, I am writing this merely to give info. on the recent ”body count” …

” Slugnatomy ” anatomy of the vegetable loving slug

So, In the main article of ” Slug Control and Prevention: The Beer Trap ” I may have mentioned that I initially put out four traps and a couple days later increased this to 7, then 9 once more plastic bottles became available. At around the 7 mark I emptied the beer and conducted a body count, with 20 results and zero other organisms.
Just last night after work, I decided to go ahead again and replenish the bait and conduct another count, it has been warming up recently here in southern England so I was half expecting to find a few more smaller ones, from the 9 traps came  …

WOW!, 61 Slugs, 1 Snail and 5 other organisms namely; 4 Wood Lice and 1 Red Wiggler Worm.

It’s Working!!

Slugs Trapped in Slug Pub

Slugs Trapped in Slug Pub

New Observations:

After twice emptying the traps, I feel that smaller bottles with smaller holes seem to have a bigger bounty (little kids yogurt bottles are excellent!)

  • I wonder if the fermentation takes longer to spoil and so the traps remain viable for a little longer? or
  • Did I just place them in locations that happened to have a bigger population nearby?,
  • Is it because they are smaller and closer to the ground level that slugs find them easier (Smell)?

Either way, they have outperformed all of the bigger bottles by far!

In conclusion: 2x cans of beer which cost me £1.08 have bagged 82 pests (Slugs and one Snail) with zero spent on materials as everything is re-purposed plastic bottles which, in the end will be Recycled once they have worn out their use.

eco art (1) eco art (2) eco art (3) eco art (4) eco art (5) eco art (6)

In this series of posts I will be bringing you information on edible plants which are found in public or in rural areas, Today’s highlight is on the Yew Tree and it’s delicious Red Berries.

Most people with some knowledge of plants and trees will say you are Mad for attempting to eat Yew, saying it is highly poisonous / toxic. True, but everything else on the tree is definitely toxic Including the seed however, the flesh surrounding the seed is edible and quite sweet but a bit slimy and that’s why some people don’t like it!

Thick Yew Tree Berries (Flesh is edible but seed stone is Toxic!)

As with All foraging and trying any wild food’s you may be new to, it is Always Recommended that you first try very little amounts to Distinguish Your Tolerance to the food.
What I did the first time was just squeese the flesh until the transparent liquid came out, I sucked it (one berry), then the next day did the same with Two berries. Finally,you just follow the same method on day three, eat one then the next day eat two … if by day four you are still okay, then you can eat whatever you like, proceed with caution though, too much could cause problems (as it always is with too much of one thing).

Yew Foliage and Fruits

Yew Foliage and Fruits

A little bit of facts and history about the Yew Tree (Taxus baccata):

  • Yew is extraordinarily long-lived and slow-growing, with some trees estimated to be over 3,000 years old.
  • The Romans believed yew grew in hell, the Norse and Celt peoples thought it protected against bewitchment and death and it’s often seen in churchyards as Christians believed its poison protected the dead.
  • Yew is native to area stretching from central Europe to the Caucasus. It can grow in a wide range of conditions: it is extremely tolerant of temperature, humidity and extremes of acid or alkaline soil; however, it does not grow well in soil that has been compacted by vehicles.
  • One of the world’s oldest wooden artifacts is made from yew: a spearhead found in Essex, UK, dated at 450,000 years old. Yew wood is extremely hard-wearing and was used in the Middle Ages to make the traditional English longbow: a weapon that helped the English win famous battles against the French, such as Agincourt in 1415. More recently a chemical found in yew, called taxol, has been found to have anti-cancer effects. They have since been synthesised and are now being used in the treatment of breast, ovarian and lung cancers.

    English yew (Taxus baccata) is reasonably common in the UK and other countries in Western Europe, but the North American Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) is now rated ‘near threatened’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. Its high taxol content has led to over-harvesting for use in anti-cancer treatments.

    The seeds are dispersed by birds, which are attracted by the bright red, sweet and juicy aril. The seed has a tough coat, which needs the digestive system of birds to weaken it to enable the seed to sprout.

    The majority of this tree is highly poisonous, even the dead and dried leaves, so farmers need to ensure that their livestock does not graze too close to yews.

    Source: edenproject.com

Hi everybody! In a few days it will ALREADY BE MARCH!! It’s amazing how the seasons creep up on us so quickly ! … ?

After my first year growing Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes in 2014) and with a very good success, I have decided to try out some other tubers due to my ever increasing interest in Perennials and my overall plan on growing a large percentage of my food crops as perennial with a ever decreasing percentage of Annuals.

After a reasonable amount of research and the fact that I hold quite an interest in South American Ancient History, Two of the new tubers on my list for 2015 are Ulloco and Oca (originally grown by the Incas), the third being Chinese Artichoke (Crosney).

Just a couple of days back I received my order from the crew at Incredible Vegetables, their site caught my attention as they specialise in Perennial and also unusual / non-common vegetable crops for the average back garden grower or allotment holder … I recommend to take a look at the site and see if there is anything you fancy, they run an ebay shop too if that suits your convenience better!

Various Perennial Tubers: Oca, Ulloco, Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) & Crosney (Chinese Artichoke).

Various Perennial Tubers: Oca, Ulloco, Sunchoke (Jerusalem Artichoke) & Crosney (Chinese Artichoke).

The package contained Oca and Ulloco tubers, they sell various tubers etc. & also packaged kits containing many tuber varieties, I ordered a kit but had to email them to make a deal as I already have Artichokes from my previous year and also Chinese Artichokes bought a couple weeks ago from another seller before I discovered Incredible Veg’s, in short I bought only a kit of Oca and Ulloco’s – Click Here for the package opening post from when I received them (Photo’s / explanation).

These are all going to be interesting to grow and experiment with around my garden, they all grow to various sizes and it will be quite fun experimenting where and what they can be mixed with? For example, Jerusalem Artichokes grow exceptionally tall and leave the ground below open for ground cover crops (lets face it, the sun doesn’t sit all day at the 12 o’clock position) so the shade won’t be an all day event for what you add in to your stacking plan! Oca seem to grow into medium sized bushes and Ulloco seem to be low / ground cover, this is all based on image searches …
I highly recommend Tubers in general but also to get these four varieties as you have tall, medium and lower / ground cover sizes to mix into your vegetable beds.
The one positive charachteristc of Jerusalem Artichokes that ”stands out” for me is that they are shade tolerant, so, due to their height they can be sown in a place where in the beginning they won’t really get much sun, then in the end once they grow taller, they will find enough sunlight to be able to grow well and produce tubers. (behind a garden shed or along a shady wall are great examples – using up places in your garden which are useless for other crops)

Tip for buying tubers that will only be planted in March onwards:

Many sellers tell you to keep the tubers in moist compost medium in a cool place until planting out time (some tubers cannot go into the ground yet), I tried this with my Chinese Artichokes and unfortunately, they sprouted inside the ”cool” cupboard!
The tip is: If you are not sure of this new variety you are growing, then split up your seed tubers into 2-3 trays, keep one tray in a outdoor shed / garage (covered and not in sunlight etc), one in a cupboard and maybe some in the fridge (moisten the compost or keep them wrapped in kitchen towel (tissue) then in a plastic bag on a shelf you don’t use as much & check regularly.
If you are interested to try these out, it is definitely Not Too Late you still have tons of time to prepare a bed/s for them and order

After a successive year growing other tubers (Other than potatoes) and enjoying leaving the crop underground until I wanted to make use of them (Great storage advantage), I decided to order more varieties and happily stumbled on a site specialising in exactly that! well they sell other things, not only tubers.

After a few videos online and reading a blog post here and there, I placed my order at Incredible Vegetables (I originally intended to order one of their Tuber Seed Kits) but realised that I already have Jerusalem Artichokes and Chinese Artichokes so had to order only the Oca and Ulluco (South American Tuber Vegetables) separately.

Check them out if you are interested in Unusual / Rare varieties of vegetables, they also have Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook pages for those who prefer connecting via social media.

Package of Oca and Ulluco just arrived and opened

They supply Plant information on the Oca and Ulluco regarding growing, history and even how to cook & eat!

Good plant information was supplied on all varieties ordered, this included how to grow and cooking / eating options…

12x Oca & 5x Ulluco Tubers from incredible vegetables

Keep an eye out throughout the year! I will be posting various updates as the season goes on, not only on these plants but also the Jerusalem & Chinese Artichokes, I will definitely do some stacking between them so looking forward to the experimenting as well!

Here we have Ben Gable (Geneticist) on Hybrid Plant breeding and it’s drawbacks when compared with Traditional seed varieties, Click Here if you want to also read his opinion regarding Genetically Modified (Manipulated) Organisms.

I am a perpetual anti GM (Genetic Manipulation) Activist, so just check the site’s history of articles that I have written or compiled with GMO Information and facts, this is a quick post as I noted on the website of Real Seed Catalogue, the following information, which was written by Ben Gable, one of the founders at Real Seeds:

I was talking to someone at DEFRA, and they happened to mention in passing:
‘you know, we had a big presentation from the industry, and really,
GM crops will have to be allowed in if we’re to feed everyone,
its the only way to solve the food crisis’

Now, this is complete and utter rubbish.

It is a line that has been put forward by the GM public relations people in the newspapers as well.
The reality is that these faceless corporations have sunk billions and billions of borrowed dollars developing these things, and whether they work or not, they are desperate to get some profit from them any way they can.

So they are lobbying the government to allow them to sell GM seed in the UK, using whatever the latest worry is. (Last year it was the need for higher vitamins in rice, then cheap drugs from corn, now the ‘food crisis’. )
Once we plant GM crops there’s no going back – the genes will escape into wild plants and other food crops.

We must all resist this cynical sales push.

Interestingly, Genetically modified crops are the agricultural equivalent of what has been going on with the banks.
The parallels are striking:

  • developed to create a profitable ‘new market’ where none existed before
  • massively hyped as a ‘new way of doing things’
  • hard to understand, even by the regulators
  • so regulators accept industry assurances at face value
  • and not investigated or tested for safety before use.
  • potentially very dangerous to the public
  • designed to be costly to large numbers of ‘little people’ worldwide
  • designed to be profitable to just a handful of corporations in USA
  • very difficult to contain once the effects get out of control (a “systemic” risk)

And this briefing to the government is simply not true.
Forgetting all the arguments about toxicity and genetic pollution for the moment, concentrate on this simple fact:

GM crops will have LOWER yields than natural plants.

Why GM Crops will have Lower Yields

It’s pretty obvious, looking at this diagram:

Here’s a plant , making food from sunlight, as it ought to. It sits there, soaking up sunlight all summer, making grain or corn or whatever.

Now take that plant, and put in a poison gene from a bacteria. It is locked ‘on’, so that every bit of the plant has to use some of its energy making a toxic compound.

You can see that you are putting the same energy in, but of course some of that is diverted into making the toxin. Leaving LESS food for us to eat.

So there you are. Don’t believe it, GM crops won’t solve any crisis – they just want our money.

And they don’t care if they poison us & destroy the eco-system (all that toxin might not be so great, you know) in the process.

GM crops pose a huge risk to the food chain.

GM foods have not been safety-tested, and should be resisted at all costs.

note : Ben studied genetic engineering at the Department of Plant Sciences in Cambridge.

The security of the worlds food supply is at stake here,
at risk to the same sort of short-term, ignorant, greedy fools who wrecked the banking system.

Postscript: I (Ben) wrote this in 2008. In 2009 a scientific study by the UCS looking at two dozen different crop trials came to the same conclusion – GM Seeds do not increase yields.

Source: http://www.realseeds.co.uk/ (scroll down to ”Information” section)

As much as I would prefer to have Slug Control work by merely trapping them and deporting them away from your property, there are other methods which may be needed to really turn the tables in your favour if you really have a slug problem whereby removing them doesn’t seem to work…

'' Slugnatomy '' anatomy of the vegetable loving slug :)

” Slugnatomy ” anatomy of the vegetable loving slug 🙂

Slugs can and do come back soon enough if only shifted 20 or so feet away!

I am currently experimenting with a Beer Cull, I have used beer traps before over the years but read recently that an effective way to manage a beer trap system is to set the traps regularly over a period of time in order to Cull the population back to a lower, maintainable level.

As I would prefer to spend as little money as possible, I decided to go shopping around for cheap beer … Morrisons sent a nice little ”Deals” advert through my letterbox offering a case of 10 beers for £7! this was it, until I realised that a quick pop over to Aldi or Lidl would be beneficial before going for the morrisons deal … I was right!
Lidl sell a case of Carling Lager containing 12 x 440ml cans for ONLY £6.50, at this moment I am able to set 6 small traps and 2 large ones based on the below design with One can’s worth of beer (440ml):

Diagram of a DIY Wildlife Friendly Beer Trap

Preferred Method:

If your beer is 4% Alcohol >, then dilute it with 50% water to help the fermentation, Don’t fill the bottle just go based on the above diagram. If your beer is 2%, then dilution is not needed, Guinness and Ales are highly recommended above beer if you can / are willing to get some.
Dig a hole and place the bottle deep, make sure the entry holes are well above ground level, enough so that beneficial insects and bugs don’t go in (It’s harder for them to climb the plastic), but place a stick in there just in case as an exit ladder (The other bugs don’t like the beer and will want to get out).
At this point, and if you have the time – I recommend that each trap is emptied and fresh beer bait placed inside twice a week (2 cans for me). I am going to stagger the trapping so, for one week I will trap and then give a break for another week and so on, this will allow my 6 week’s supply of beer to spread over 12 weeks thereby making sure I am still trapping in the first week of May (Provided I don’t get tempted to drink some of the beer!)

Slug Control Wildlife Friendly Beer Trap in situ

Note: In the above photo, The beer trap should be another inch or so deeper into the soil, it is not a major issue but helps with attracting more slugs, my other smaller traps (in smaller bottles) tend to have many more slugs compared to these two 1ltr juice bottles.

Slug Beer Trap SUCCESS ! ! 20 in first week

Initial conclusion: There was a good success of 20 Slugs in the first week!, given I have been seriously too busy at work and didn’t manage the energy to go outside in the evening one night to empty and replenish the traps, a count of 20 was really welcome! Tonight the fresh traps went out and about half were put into a different area than last week.

Week #2: Excellent score of 61 Slugs and 1 Snail, again it is observed that the smaller traps worked better

Read the Full Update on Week #2 Here.