Archive for the ‘Backyard Farming’ Category

This is kind of my own invention (The Design), I got the idea from the mirror strings you can buy from some garden centers which sell them as pigeon deterrents. The issue with the latter is that they are cheaply made (small mirrors glued to fishing line – that’s it!) and they don’t last many heavy wind sessions before you see them broken all over the ground (I have seen this happen probably around 20 times in the last 4 years).

So I decided to design my own – with the emphasis on lasting, and not really as a pest deterrent but more as a Garden Ornament. I also took some inspiration from a Permaculture book I read which had a reflection chart (depicting the reflection values of various objects from Aluminium foil to wood, rocks etc.).

Tools:

  • Timber Saw
  • Wood Glue (PVA) or Silicone Glue if preferred
  • Drill and Screws
  • 4x wood screw type vine eyes (screws with a closed loop on top)
  • Strong Fishing Line or Thin Cable / Wire
  • Wire Cutters and Pliers

Optional:

  • Some Colourful Outdoor Paint / or just wood varnish
  • brush / es
  • Sealant spray paint (if you use indoor paint instead of outdoor)

Materials:

  • Long-ish piece of Timber (square profile – about 4cm x 4cm x any length you like), you may need to use the same piece to cut the supports to hold the Charm
  • Small Mirrors, get mixed shapes if you like (known as Mosaic or Tile Mirrors)
  • Sea Shells (optional)
  • Glass Gems (also known as flat marbles) – (optional)
  • Pool Tiles (optional)

In the following diagram, you merely cut out a couple of wedges from two of the sides of the timber, these you will stick to the other two sides to create angled surfaces to place more mirrors ( we want many mirrors reflecting in various directions and angles, so please don’t be regimentalised when you are cutting – let go of the OCD for this project ! )

Jeff's Garden Solar Charm 1

Garden Solar Charm – Diagram 1

Now go ahead and glue your various mirrors onto the angled surfaces as well as on the flat areas, you can decorate the rest of the free space with Glass Gems, maybe a few flat sided crystals, sea shells and pool tiles (create patterns, you can get very small mini pool tiles which are about 1/4th the size of the standard small pool tile).

gard solar 2

Garden Solar Charm – Diagram 2

Once all is dry and happy, you can paint around the decorations and mirrors or varnish (I prefer to paint / varnish later, I didn’t want the mirrors etc. to be glued onto paint – this was a personal preferance) then go on to taping the mirrors with edging tape or electrical tape so you can spray it a few times with sealant spray – this helps to protect against environmental wear as well as an extra barrier to hold the objects on and reinforce them a bit more.

Now screw in one vine eye on each end (top and bottom) to attach your swivels to and then the wire / fishing line or cables. It is now up to you to decide where and how you will hang your new ornament in your garden, I attached it to a fence pole by cutting two timber pieces (+- 35cm long each with a 45 degree cut on one end), attached these to the pole and then screwed one vine eye subsequently on the end of each of these supports. The charm was first tied onto the top support with about 10cm of fishing gut between the vine eye and the swivel, the next was tied whilst the charm was hanging, this gave me a chance to decide on how taught I want it tied, I went for only slightly with a bit of give.

gard solar 3

Garden Solar Charm – Diagram 3

An that’s it! You can be as creative or simple as you like, you could even cut the timber into more than one section with an assortment of swivels so that each can rotate in different angles, at different speeds etc, the options are pretty much endless …

Please Feel Free To Share!

This article can be shared without permission (provided it links back to Growingarden and credit is given at the end of the article or social media post) but the images and text cannot be copied and used without consent.

Advertisements

Below is a list of what can be sown indoors, outdoors or in greenhouses and polytunnels during the months of March and April, this is for the UK / British Climate but can still be relevant in some other parts of the Northern Hemisphere

apr.png

 

During April 2017 we had a last minute frost which decimated at least 40% of my seedlings in the Polytunnel on the allotment, even though I got in there after work to shut the door and ventilation – my mistake was when I gave them a quick drink (this froze and killed them).

beetrot_header

Between Middle of March and April, most of your Spring sowings should have been started. Of-course it also depends on where exactly you live, but this is the average dateline for most of Britain.

Outside (depending on weather and soil conditions)

  • Root crops such as carrrots, parsnips, beetroot and turnips
  • Mangetout & podding peas & broad beans – probably better started indoors to avoid pests
  • The first sowings of summer salads including lettuces,radishes, cress, endive, & rocket,
  • Brassica crops for eating this summer & also through into the winter – kale, brussels sprouts, purple sprouting broccoli, summer and (early) winter cabbages,  calabrese and cauliflowers
  • Leaf Beets as well as swiss chard
  • Leeks
  • Radishes and spring onions
  • Some Green Manures are good to scatter sow now so they can be ‘chop n’ dropped’ in time for Summer plants such as Pumpkins, Squashes and Tomatoes when they need planting

Indoors

  • If you have slug or weed problems, then you may find all of the brassica crops, leeks and salads do better started in trays/modules and then planted out when they are better able to withstand them.
  • Similarly broad beans and peas may have to be started indoors if you have trouble with mice
  • Any companion / sacrificial plants such as Marigolds,

In trays or pots somewhere warm (germinator/warm airing cupboard etc).           Bear in mind that they will need somewhere warm & light to grow on

  • Tomatoes, peppers and aubergines, ideally by the end of March.
  • Celery/celeriac (again need heat to germinate)
  • Courgettes, squashes, cucumbers and melons (but not too early, or they will get too large before the weather is good enough for them to go outside)

In a greenhouse / polytunnel in the ground

  • Summer salads
  • French beans for an early crop
  • Herbs such as coriander, basil & parsley

Remember, to come back to this page easily you can just click on the ‘Monthly Sowing Calendar’ tab on the home screen.

 

 

Runner Beans are notorious for being water gluttons! An older method of water retention as well as feeding them is the bean Trench, I spent quite a while searching for a decent short video online but didn’t find anything that had the relevant correct method so I will be describing it as below (Many video’s online show only some newspaper or cardboard then it is topped with loads of rotting vegetables with Zero (0) browns such as mixed cardboard or rotting leaves in-between! Don’t follow that  at all), it creates a horrible pungent smell and attracts flies, you cannot ever expect good compost material if you only add in nitrogen / sugar rich matter and ignore the browns / Carbons to balance it all out … (rant over).

My advance apologies for not having photo’s as well, my bean trenches are actually not ”standard” as my soil is actually quite nutrient rich already, I have many other larger projects going on as well so I only dug a small 20cm wide by 10+ cm deep trench as a mini experiment. How is it you ask, that I can post a ”how to” on Bean Trench creation if this is my first experimental one? Because it really is a similar concept to Hugelkultur / Hugel Mounds which I have built or been involved in building quite a few over the last four years, the only main difference is the absence of Wood / Logs.

bean trench

Runner Bean Trench Layers – Organic Gardening

METHOD:

  1. Select your growing area and dig a trench about one spade blade depth and the width of a spade blade sideways (make notches at the base of the trench as air pockets – these help prevent an anaerobic environment [see image]),
  2. Lay a carpet of Brown Cardboard at the base of the trench and up the sides,
  3. If starting this in Autumn / Early Winter (it’s the ideal time), then drop grass clippings, vegetable and fruit peels, coffee and tea grounds / leaves, even composted and sieved woodchip in – follow the diagram image for the best sequencing of layers,
  4. Cover with your dug-out soil only when you finish filling, you can leave the trench open and fill in gradually over the Winter and merely add a very thin layer of soil every time if you prefer. However, this way may need a mesh net / wire net of some sort to prevent foxes etc from digging around.
  5. Stop filling / adding vegetable scraps etc. into the trench at least 6 weeks to 2 months before you plan on planting the Beans or in the case of a one day trench project, cover with soil  2 months before you intend to plant and ensure you poke a few breathing holes after every rainy day.
  6. In the case of creating a Bean Trench in Spring, you can still line the bottom with Cardboard and fresh grass clippings with some brown rotting leaves, then top this with 6 month to 1 year old compost from your bin/s.

During a mild winter, certain Runner Bean varieties may actually survive underground as a Herbaceous Perennial (The roots go dormant underground and re-sprout in Spring) – one such variety I have experience with is ‘Scarlet’. Thus, as I am expecting some of my Scarlets to re-sprout, I decided to grow Runners in the same spot as last year (partially due to lazyness).

I am likely to still grow a batch of Runner Beans at home or on another section of the Allotment and this is where I will most probably dig a deeper, more traditional trench.

If you like this post then feel free to share it via social media, I do not (I don’t have the time) to share or create multiple accounts for that purpose, this blog is also not monetised and all adverts seen go towards WordPress itself.

This past Summer (Yup it’s Autumn already) I finally got around to growing some plants which I failed in previous years to cultivate properly, namely Okra and Aubergine (Eggplant / Brinjal).

I will however, have to stop experimenting too much with germinating times! While I have had good success starting sun loving annual veg’s and fruits as early indoors as Late January, this last Spring with the very last minute April shock frost took out more than half of my pre-germinated seedling stock and severely damaged at least 30% of the remaining half! From now on, I think it’s safe to commit perhaps 20% of all planned varieties / species to early sowings which can be sacrificial in the case of more late frosts.

Lettuce and Okra (2).jpg

The Beatuiful Okra Flowers in Mid Spring

Out of 4-5 Okra plants, I managed about the same amount of fingers! I attribute this to worrying too much about cold as well as pest damage and got around to planting them far too late, But the flowers are awesome!

On another note, I promised myself that this is ‘The Year Of The Salads’ and in the below photo, you can see how easy it is to find random suitable spaces to squeeze them in around your garden or plot, please stop regimentalising yourself thinking everything has to be monocultured in rows … NATURE DOES NOT WORK LIKE THAT!        Rant over 🙂

Lettuce and Okra (1).jpg

‘Jack ice – Crisphead” Lettuce at the base of Pepper Plants

Lettuce are shallow rooted and short seasoned from germination to harvest, hence why greens (cooking, salads etc.) do outweigh heavier crops such as maize, tomatoes etc. in yield due to the amount of plants you can successionally grow in one space during the full season (There are winter Lettuces and other greens like Kale which overwinter – but no Maize, Pumpkins, Tomatoes etc etc.). Being shallow rooted, they need less nutrients compared to the heavier croppers so can be grown at the base of other plants as well (Pay attention though to Companion Planting Guides).

Soon I will post about Aubergine success and tips I got from side-shooting which seemed to increase yield! I got these tips from the awesome Charles Dowding, I do recommend to get a book or two of his if you are interested in growing your own vegetables! From a person who has around 34 years growing organically in no dig systems, you would not be making a bad move in following his tips and advice in my opinion …

 

I a finding myself unable to store any more Courgettes (Known in other countries as: Zucchini and even Baby Marrows). My fridge is FULL!
Everytime I either go into my garden or visit my allotment (every 2-3 days at this time of year), I am bringng in at least two decent sized Courgettes.

SONY DSC

Courgette (Zucchini) Cake Loaf

I am re-sharing an old recipe I added a while ago, this is the right time of the season to share this as most people are starting to wonder what else they can do with them …

Click here for an older post for the Courgette Loaf (more like a cake due to the higher sugar content). These are definitely great Healthy Alternatves in place of the everyday cakes we scoff down on a regular basis, the courgette gratings really moisten up the mix very well and make this a delicious tea time / coffee break snack.

Coming up and to look out for: Elderflower Wine Recipe, Elderberry Cordials and Syrups etc.

Today I noticed some fairly mature Elderberries around, with ofcourse, the wood pigeons hanging almost unpside down in a bat like pose, so get out soon and bet a batch, even if just to freeze for the meantime.

I am situated within the London microclimate and so, I think this is assurity thatthe Elderberries I have are ripening a few weeks earlier than in othe parts not only in England but other parts of the Northern Hemisphere …

Elderflower

Anyway, I have a few recipes coming up soon so pick, freeze etc. to keep them longer …

I just came across this interview on Alchemy Radio (An online alternative podcast / show) a couple of days ago, Dr. Wayne has good plans and future transition options for a better future for worldwide society.

alchemy

Dr. Wayne speacks about various subjects such as water retention / sustainable regeneration, aquaponics, land regeneration, Permaculture, Free courses online etc.

Find the interview Here: https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/alchemyradio/episodes/2017-04-27T10_54_41-07_00