Saturday, 26 July 2014

Self Sufficient - lots of humping today soil that is

Having set my self the challenge of being able to provide at least one piece of food for the table everyday in 2015. Whether that be from the garden, store or foraged from the wild although i have a big veg garden i have never had any raised bed.
Raised bed constructed.
I have always been one for rummaging through a skip or two and scavenging anything i feel may come in hand. I put it to one side and eventually find a use for it so i have had these boards kicking about for a few years. I don't know why i haven't got them out the shed and knocked up some raised beds before I'm glad i have started now. Why i started today when it was 24oC i don't know but i did stupidity may have something to do with it. The beds are about 1m x 2m why this size the width means i can get to the middle of the bed from both side's and the length well that was the size of the planks. The stakes that are holding them in the ground where 60cm long so we had 30cm in the ground and i just simply nailed the planks onto them simple. The hard work came from humping 10 wheel barrows of soil into them and some garden compost to add a bit of organic matter to it i will add some blood, fish and bone as well.
Finished raised bed 

But the hard work is not over as i still have another two to build that is tomorrows job so as it is going to be just as hot tomorrow i will make an early start. So ill be up before 8 which dose not happen very often on a Sunday but the job must be done. I'll also be sowing a few seed in the raised beds mainly salads Rocket, Lettuce, Mizuna, Mustard and Raddish but i will also sow some Spinach, Beetroot and Carrots.
 these should extend the carrot harvest well into the autumn.

Friday, 25 July 2014

The Start of Going Selfsufficient

I have always wanted to grow as much food as i can for my family and have always managed to be able to provide something for the table everyday through the summer months. 
Our recent addition to the garden is four re-homed chickens from an egg farm i have always wanted a few chicken but have never got round to getting any. Until i was driving down the road on day and spotted a sign on the side of the road offering chickens for sale i turned round the car went back to the farm and arranged to collect them the next day. They have settled in nicely now the girls love feeding them they even don't mind clearing up the poo we are getting between 3-4 eggs a day from them which is more than enough for our needs. Chickens are also one of the best animals for some one wanting to be self sufficient not just from the point of view of the eggs. They are great at eating insects and grubs from the soil which helps reduce pests in the garden they clear up any garden waste you have and it all comes out the other end in the form of poo which fertilizers the land. keep moving them around your garden and they will clean and fertilize the soil as they go what could be better and you get eggs too. When you clear out all the bedding out of the nesting boxes put it straight on to the compost heap which will add loads of nutients as it rots down to the compost. Which in turn we will dig back in to the garden to help improve the soil even more since getting the chickens it has got me thinking could i produce most of the produce that my family needs from my small plot all year round.
 We already produce enough Jam to last all year round and some to give away our potatoes usually last till March when we plant the new ones and all summer there is always something to eat. So that is my challenge for 2015 to be able to have at least one thing to eat every day of the year be it fresh from the garden out of the store foraged from the wild or simply bartered for. Now I'm not going to produce everything and suddenly abandon using shops i just have not got the space or time to do it but it should free up a bit of money to be able to shop more locally and try to abandon the big supermarkets.  
I'm also going to do this for as little money as possible and where able too use recycled materials to build anything we need. What space do we have available we currently have 182m2 vegetable plot and a further 356m2 of garden that we could grow stuff in. Although a large area of this is taken up with lawn for the children there is also a drive and garage taking up another lump of the garden. But there should be still more than enough space to grow everything we need whether it be Fruit, Vegetable, Herbs and Animal feed.
So the challenge has been set and work will begin this weekend with the construction of the first of three raised beds.
Dose anyone else try to be self-sufficient do comment and tell us how you get on. I am going to produce regular updates every week to keep you up to date with how we are getting on with the challenge so do pop back and have a read. 

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Hozelock Pico Reel Review

While the sun has been shining and the ground is dry i have been out in the garden testing out the new Hozelock Pico Reel. This is one of the lightest hose pipes i have ever used it weighs less than two bags of sugar so it would be great for the elderly as there is no dragging big clumsy hoses round the garden not now there is the Pico Reel.
Pico Reel
The Pico Reel has been built to very high standards as you would expect from a Hozelock product everything is lovely and smooth. It is also British made this is not something you see much these days which makes it an even better reason to buy.
The Pico Reel comes ready assembled so there is nothing to put together you just need to attach it to your tap and water away. The Pico Reel comes with 10m of hose which should be enough for the average garden it is also very compact so will store away easily. As the hose is so light it dose not seem to cause damage to plants so much when you pull the hose to hard and pull in over your plants which conventional hose's seem to do. The spray gun has five settings from a shower to a full blast of water so is ideal for most garden uses or just washing the car. The Pico Reel is also really easy to wind up with a very easy smooth winder the Pico Reel also comes with a two year guarantee so there is no need to worry about it breaking. 

We would defiantly recommend the New Hozelock Pico Reel to anyone with a small garden it would also be great for a greenhouse or polytunnel as well.

It is available to buy from most good garden retailers prices range from £25.00 - £29.99 so look around to get the best price.

Visit Hozelocks website for more details

Wordless Wednesday

Lovely sunflowers have got to be the most cheerful flower.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

A New Type of Grow Bag

Grow Bags have been around for years they where rectangle in shape and had three holes for you to cut out to plant your toms in. It was always filled with lumpy peat based compost usually sold for 99p but now there is a new Grow Bag on the block. See it Grow have launched a new Coir grow bag that is Eco friendly and packed in 100% recyclable plastic.
See it Grow Coir grow bag
The bags them selves come with a dried and compressed block of Coir compost which also makes the delivery cheaper compared to standard Grow Bags. Pull up the sides of the bag and add 2.5lt of luke warm water and just watch the bag grow the whole bag will have expanded in 15min. Eleanor my daughter was very keen to clam the bags for herself  the bright colours and small size (compared to standard grow bags) will make them attractive to children.
Eleanor adding water to the Coir
When the bag is full it's time to get your hands in and fluff up the compost now where ready to plant i have opted to try them with the Grow Bag staple Tomatoes. But having said this they are no longer planted with toms as mr frost put a stop to them growing they have now been planted up with something a bit more colorful. Fushia's is what we have gone for as it's all we had left in the greenhouse got to be honest and they are doing well in them.
Bag ready to Plant
Now i must admit that have never been a fan of Coir i tried it back in the 90's when it first become all the rage mostly due to Geoff Hamilton. But just never got as good a results as peat but i am surprised at the results this year one point i will make is that Coir dose need a lot more feeding than Peat and the same goes with watering. But i would suggest adding a slow release fertilizer to the compost prior to planting will reduce the amount of extra feeding needed the same would be true for swell gel to help cut down on the watering.
Toms Pre Frosting 
I would say that these are a great idea and will become popular with new and old gardeners they are defiantly worth looking out for in your local garden centre.
They will be great to get the Kids interested in growing due to the bright colours of the bag and the compact nature of the bag. I will let you know how they perform through the growing season later on in the year has anyone else used they grow bags do let us know comment below.
For more details why not visit there website

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Flora fest 2014

Last week i visited Florafest 2014 which is a trade only event organized by Young Plants Ltd at there offices in Warwickshire.
Confetti Garden
This is where Nursery's, Garden Centre's and Councils come to see all the latest variety's on offer that they may want to stock or grow next year. One of the high lights of this years show was the confetti garden which is a great new concept where 2-3 cuttings in one plug plant. They will be in flower in six weeks from potting up all are colour coordinated so all the hard work is done for you. They are ideal for pots, hanging baskets or planted out in the borders well worth looking out for in your local nursery.
Calibrachoa Aloha Kona
Verbena Garden Express Royal Flush
There where lots of other new variety's on show some of the best ones to look out for our.
Verbena Wicked Blue
Petunia Sweetunia Black Satin
A Lovely black petunia with flowers that are like silk the picture dose not do it Justis well worth growing
Lobularia YOLO French Vanilla

Great plant masses of flowers good for pots, hanging baskets or just in the border.
Petunia Potunia Purple Halo
Lovely compact petunia with dark purple centre fading to very pale purple on the edge of the petal.

There where lots of new petunias on show so many great new colours and markings i will mention some in a separate post.
There was also a display area showing Garden centers and Nursery's the best way to display all these new variety's. All in matching and complimentary colours so the hard work is done for you just plant them out or pot them up. It was a great show well worth the visit and i will definitely be back next year to see what is new for 2016.