Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

We’re starting to gear down a bit now as we start seeing Summer receding day-by-day, Hopefully you got some of your late Summer sowings in and as we move closer to Autumn, you can still and do still have quite a large selection of greens to grow over Autumn and over-wintering to spring! This year I will try my best to grow as much as what’s manageable.

SeptSo getĀ  connected to your local Streetbank / freecycle or similar site to see if anyone has some fleece / cloche that they could give away or go to your Garden center if you need to fix some dinks in your polytunnels or greenhouses – and get your seeds ordered! …

 

 

mini polytunnels for vegetables

Mini-Tunnels for Vegetable Growing In Colder Weather

 

Remember, some Skip-Raiding (foraging in Industrial Waste bins and dumpsters for salvageable and recyclable materials) couldĀ  get you some used Free window panes which you could use to build a cold-frame.

Outdoors

  • Spring cabbage (early September, warmer areas only)

  • Winter salads and greens including winter lettuce, endives and oriental vegetables

  • Bunching onions (early September)

  • Broad beans and hardy (round seeded) peas to overwinter (from mid September)

  • Kale for small leaves in salads

Greenhouse / Polytunnel

  • The hardier oriental greens such as; choy sum, komatsuna, mustard greens, mizuna, Tsoi Sim and chinese cabbage.

Notes:

  • I find Broad Beans started the previous year tend to get far less black fly than Spring-sown beans, they may take about a month to sprout if sown later than September but they always come up in the end, if direct-sown, I recommend laying chicken mesh on top until you see them germinating – once they are large enough, you can carefully lift the chicken mesh up until they have all popped through, they will likely need some support structure like a bamboo cane
  • Spring Cabbage should be far less affected by Cabbage Butterfly so it’s always good to try if you have trouble growing Brassicas in Summer.
  • This year (2018) is the first year that I grew Garlic in Spring instead of the previous November (’17), this was purely because I forgot to – what I did notice is not only smaller bulbs but also quite a lot of disease / pest activity, so in conclusion, get your growing bulbs ready maybe in October

 

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July and August Vegetable Sowing calendar

I know I have been late this year posting some of these sowing calendars, there is still plenty of time to keep your vegetable plot productive over the upcoming Winter well into the Spring, this time of the year albeit cold, is a great time to be growing as you are not as suffocated with jobs once you have cleared away all of the dead summer crops and finished the basic after summer jobs, there is less watering that needs doing and not as many pests around – plus I love being outdoors when it’s cold! There’s nothing like fire-boiling a pot to make yourself some fresh brew even perhaps a nice Hot Chocolate!

Outdoors

  • Final sowings of root crops including carrots, beetroot, turnips (until mid-July)

  • Winter radishes and swedes

  • Dwarf french beans (up to early July) in warmer areas only

  • Oriental greens (mizuna, mibuna, komatsuna, etc) and turnip greens

  • Lettuce, moving over to winter varieties by late August, rocket, cress, endive and salad radishes

  • Swiss chard & leaf beet such as perpetual spinach

  • Chive and Chicory

  • Fennel

  • Spring & Chinese cabbage (from late July)

  • Bunching and spring onions

Polytunnel / greenhouse border:

  • Chervil & Coriander

  • Salads, particularly in later summer as other crops finish.

Under Cover outdoors:

  • True Spinach (Winter Spinach)

Over the weekend I was blessed with quite a few Butterflies (I installed a Buddleia early this year) and saw a Lacewing which so far, I don’t recall seeing one in the last few years in either my garden or allotment …

I also got out and secured a second batch of Nettle Seeds (I started using these and foraging for them last year), they are great added in practically anything from smoothies to porridge, salads, soups etc etc! This year has been a little weird with the weather and so, they are ripening far too quickly and soon won’t be available so get out soon and get snipping! I’ve now got 3 seed tray bottoms full of Nettle seed stalks drying out on windowsills, I estimate that if you find good decent nettle seed, that a half shopping carrier bag to a full one will supply a small family with enough till next season.

Elderberries are already ripening everywhere I go, again, since it has been such a dry summer, I’ve observed that many of them have already rejected much of their fruit as a survival tactic, so only take what you need and don’t overdo it. I have a couple recipes for Elderberry so as usual, I would recommend you immediately freeze them when you get home as you may not have gotten enough on your first session to make something – also, they are far easier to remove from their flower stalks when frozen.

Elderberries do wonders for our immune systems, hence why nature gives them to us just at the end of summer towards the cold / hibernation / dormancy months …

I know that this summer has been bad in terms of the ‘drought’ we are experiencing in England / Britain and this may be part of the cause of the issue discussed further but, it is human stubbornness that is the main culprit when it comes to environmental issues.

People insist on Buxus (Box hedge /tree) in their gardens but now the Box tree Caterpillar is a serious pest in the UK and other parts of Europe, as usual people turn to the RHS for advice and they themselves don’t even tell us that our chemical treatments Will kill other beneficial insects such as Ladybirds, Bees, Lacewigs etc etc.

The solution is simple, Stop Trying To Fight what may become a permanent problem!! Simply get rid of the Buxus and replace it with similar shrubs ie: ‘Ilex crenata‘ being one I would say is the go-to replacement.

Also, write to and pressure the RHS to take more time out and inform their members about the environmental damages which the chemicals they seem to promote – actually cause.

One great way to control Aphid in your garden or vegetable patch is to encourage Ladybirds, there are a couple methods and probably the best guaranteed one is to find trees / plants which aphid go for in serious numbers, Linden ‘Tilia cordata’ or Lime tree as it is wrongly known as is a great example, they get covered in Aphid every yea and subsequently attract ladybirds, you can collect ladybirds and their pupae into small bottles to spread around your garden or you could order them online! Another method is to research which umbellifer wild flowers are native locally and plant a mixture of them, umbellifers are plants which have flat clusters of small flowers which are often umbrella shaped, these usually attract aphid and result in Ladybird and hoverflies coming in to look for food! Often ants fight off the ladybirds, one method to distract the ants is to have a sugar water source nearby …

ladies.jpg

Organic Pest Control by Encouraging Nature – Permaculture Allotment

Keep in mind, only release ladybirds in the evening and it helps to spray your plants with water as this will dissuade them from leaving right away however, if you place them in the day by hand directly onto a plant covered in Aphid, they usually start chomping immediately.

Store them in their bottle (with breathing holes and some leaves / twigs inside) inside the fridge if you cannot get them in place the same day …

The above photo is of two newly ‘hatched’ ladybirds hence why they are only orange at this stage, going back to my allotment the next day I saw the plant already had at least 50% less aphid just within 24 hours!

Today I had a short watering and planting session and can confirm that companion planting potatoes around a french bean tipi delivers good foliage and healthy plant results! If I remember, I will do my best to weigh the resulting potato harvest – Beans are natural Nitrogen Fixers and they help feed nearby plants in a symbiotic relationship (The potatoes will deliver a ground cover and reduce moisture loss).

Further, small frogs are leaving the pond and again I harvested 1 large and 3 smaller Courgettes (Zucchini) from only two dwarf bushes! I am on a mission this year to be sure to keep harvesting them when small to see how much yield I can get from those two plants, I have germinated two others to be able to possibly pickle their yield for winter use. The dry weather is actually a welcome! I have had far less slug and snail damage this year when compared to previous years …

Strawberries do need some frost protection during Winter and the harsh weather sometimes felt in Late Autumn and Early Spring, the mulch will gradually break down so an Acid producing material is needed due to Strawberry plant requirements.

strawberries.jpg

Pine Tree needles are great for Strawberries in that they are acidic, and take a longer than broad leaf acid leaves to decompose, one much needed benefit from the mulch is also for it to ”puff” around the plant maintaining a stronger structure which keeps the frost and snow off of the crown. Another benefit is keeping the actual berries off of the ground when they are growing / forming.

Some pine trees produce short needles which are 2.5 Inches / 5cm long which are perfect yet a little harder to rake up and collect sometimes (they are able to pierce through the gaps in your garden gloves and prick your skin, it doesn’t hurt but can be quite annoying).

The rest are much longer at about 12 inches / 30cm, these are much easier to rake and collect but they will need cutting into smaller pieces to fit around the crown and base of each plant – this is easily do-able with secateurs or even scissors.
These shorter pieces will be the base cover which will also be the first to rot due to the direct ground contact, the further topping layers can be longer pieces if you have the patience to work them around the plants nicely … Or just collect branches of Yew (Taxus baccata) and other similar coniferous trees, let sit in a dry area and merely bash the branches over a tarp once the needles are brown and dry.

straw pine mulch.jpg

Pine Needle Mulched Strawberries

You should also Collect Oak tree leaves and leave them in a bag with some other composting materials for a couple months (longer in colder months) such as some grass clippings, brown cardboard and other fresh leaf clippings – will create an acidic compost which can be used as a feeding mulch before applying the pine needles (ensure the bag gets sunshine and shade, with holes poked in the bottom so worms can enter).

 

Many people use straw but forget to ensure an acidic (PH) environment, if straw is your preferred choice, then follow the step above with Oak tree leaves, then simply mulch with the leaf mold before adding the straw as a top layer, used tea bags (cut open and leaves poured out) either in your acidic compost pile / bag or directly around the plants will help too.

The Mulching options above are also useful for Blueberries and Cranberry. I highly recommend creating a acidic soil raised bed in which you could plant 2- 5 Blueberry Bushes, 4 – 6 Cranberries and the rest of the space covered with Strawberries as a general ground cover / living mulch. This bed would need a re-application every year of some kind of acidic organic matter as in the above paragraphs, other than that, the only maintenance is harvesting and perhaps some bird netting / slug & Snail control methods

Nevermind mechanical tractors, the Chicken Tractor is not really a machanical machine at all, it’s just a quirky nickname for something far better than a Petrol Guzzling Monoculture Farmageddon contraption…

Simply put, a Chicken Tractor is a Chicken Coop on wheels, without a floor so that the Chickens can forage on the ground beneath the Tractor for a day then the Tractor will be moved the length of the coop the next morning in a rotation around a pre-designed (And pre-seeded) Plot of Land. This provides natural food (vegetation as well as insects) and a more natural almost free range style environment for them!
The benefits are good, The birds rely on less imports (feed) so it is a cost saver, they are healthier, the land gets ‘scratched over’ with pests becoming Chook food, the ground also gets manured so that the perennial greens have sufficient nutrients to sprout back before the Tractor is back in the same spot after sometime.

In the below Video, Joel Slatin (aka the Nutcase Farmer) explains the concept on his industrial sized enterprise:

Some more designs:

Article on Wikipedia:

Chicken tractors allow free ranging along with shelter, allowing chickens fresh forage such as grass, weeds and bugs (although these will quickly be stripped away if the tractor remains in the same place for too long), which widens their diet and lowers their feed needs. Unlike fixed coops, chicken tractors do not have floors so there is no need to clean them out. They echo a natural, symbiotic cycle of foraging through which the birds eat down vegetation, deposit fertilizing manure, then go on to a new area.

The term chicken tractor comes from the chickens performing many functions normally performed using a modern farm tractor: functions like digging and weeding the soil in preparation for planting trees or crops or fertilizing and weeding to enhance the growth of crops and trees already planted.

With chicken tractors flock owners can raise poultry in an extensive environment wherein the birds have access to fresh air, sunlight, forage and exercise, which caged birds in commercial coops do not have. With the coop on only a small area at any given time, the field has time to wholly regrow and more birds can be fed than if they were allowed to freely roam. A chicken tractor also gives some shelter from predators and weather. Moreover, hens lay eggs in nest boxes rather than hiding them in foliage.

In the below videos (Both less than 2 / 3 min’s each) the Guy explains the setup on day one of the tractor and birds being put into place, then day two (2nd Video) you see the area after the Tractor is relocated and the effects / benefits of Chicken Tractoring.
These two videos are what first made me understand the full reasoning and intent / benefits behind this practice a couple years ago when I first came across the concept.

Video 1; Chicken Tractor on first location:
https://youtu.be/3Er7R-AKQGg

Video 2; Result day after adn explanation of findings:
https://youtu.be/GQE0WyxgTT4