Wednesday, 19 April 2017

How to make a bottle cloche

 We were told, here in Oxford, that there would be a -4 frost. So I went down to my plot to protect my crops form this frost.

I was mainly concerned about my apple blossom. So I covered the trees with netting. They are all small trees, so I could do that.

I have tomatoes growing in my polly tunnel, so I put plastic bottles over them.

Large large plastic bottles are very good to use to protect seedlings and young plants from   early spring frost, as well as damage from pest.

To make a bottle cloche carefully cut off the bottom of the bottle, then place the plastic tube over the plant, pushing it gently in the soil. Put a short cane in the top and push it into the ground to help hold the bottle in place and stop it blowing away.

What I am doing on my plot

Not a lot really, keeping the weeds down, trapping rats. I caught three this week and watering.

I have also spend a lot of my time up at the local hospital. A family member has been ill and we have sat up there for hours.

As far as I am concerned, the NHS is the best. The staff are so caring, day or night.
The UK government, to their shame, treat the NHS staff, as less then human.
There are two doctors who have an allotment near mine and as they have so little time, I try to help them when I can. I feel that is the least that I can do, as a sort of pay back..

Thoughts while working


I am disgusted at people who are moaning about another UK election. People died for the right to vote. 
Lets get on with it.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Salads

It is time to turn your mind to salads. There is so much more to salads then just lettuce leaves. You can add flavor and crunch with colorful extras and now is the right time to make a start.Get Sowing




I do not know if you have been to the city Granada where you will find  the Alhambra. It dates back to time when the Moors controlled Spain and inside this palace is a mosque whose walls are so ornately carved that if you were to try absorb them in a single glance, you will inevitably fail. You have no choice but to study the details instead.

And so it is with God. You try to see God all at once and you will not succeed.

The only way to see God is to focus on details knowing that you cannot see God as a whole.You cannot grasp the vast complexity of those thousands of fragments of God. 


Monday, 3 April 2017

How to grow potatoes in a bag:

To my mind, to day is a very sad day. Wednesday 29th of March; The day the UK starts to leave the EU.
How we can say we will be better off outside the biggest market in the world, is beyond me.
We must just wait and see.


I do not know if you have every tried to grow potatoes in bags or bins. It is a fun way to grow them.

I do it every year, the reason is that my plot is on the banks of the Thames and we some times get floods. So by growing potatoes in big pots I can put them on my bench which is four feet above the ground and well away from any flood water.

  1. I find that early varieties work best. It is best to chit your potatoes, you do this by standing the tubers upright in a tray somewhere war and light. After a couple of weeks you should have small shoots on them.
  2. I then third fill a potato planter bag or bin with compost. Put in 4-5 chitted potatoes and cover them with compost to a depth of three ore four inches. The place the pot in a warm bright spot.
  3. When the plants start to grow, cover the plants until the bag is full.
  4. This is the important bit; keep watering the bag/pot and harvest when the flowers have died back.

What I am doing in my garden:

Early Spring, to my mind is always so full of promise. Get busy planting, growing and caring for your crop.
It does not matter what other people are growing, only grow what you are going to eat.

I have Tomatoes, rhubarb, potatoes,beans,cabbage,salads,mint,basil,parsley, on the go at the moment. I am cutting my grass and weeding my beds

What I am thinking about while digging 

And note that some who despised now will be greatly honored then; and some who are greatly honored now will be despised then Luke 30.13
Does this mean that the people on the edge of society might well be the center and the people in houses will be on the circumference?




Wednesday, 29 March 2017

How to care for your lawn:

There is story that goes around Oxford about some visiter from the USA who looked at the wonderful lawns in St Johns College here in Oxford and asked the grounds man how he got his lawns so fine.

The reply was: Well, cut it and roll for about 500 hundred years and they turn out looking like this.

Well, how do you get a great looking lawn?
There are four steps and they start right now.

Mow the lawn: Make sure that you set the blades high for the first few cuts, slowly lowing the blades gradually through March and April.

Scarify and Rake: Lawns can look tired this time of the year, so rejuvenate with a thorough raking, using a lawn rake. Doing so will help get rid of dead plant matter and moss. If you lawn has a lot of moss it is a good idea to treat it with some organic mosskiller and then rake out the moss when it has died. 

Weed and Feed: This is a very important step and best done at this time of the year. Spread lawn feed by hand unless you have a big lawn in which case  use a wheeled applicator.Spend some time removing dandelions.

Seed bare patches:You might have some worn ares on your lawn, well do not worry. Loosen the soil surface and sprinkling on grass seed and then spread some compost post on it. 



What I am doing on my plot:

Still repairing my raised beds. After six years they need a bit of maintenance.

Looking after the seedlings.

Planting more potatoes.

Cutting my grass.

What I am thinking about when digging:

A wall-eyed pike is put in a aquarium. He is fed for days with little minnows. Then in the middle of the experiment, a glass partition is placed down the middle of the aquarium so that the pike is now confined to one side.

Then the researches drop the minnows, on the other side of the glass. Straight away the pike goes for the minnows, but he hits himself against the glass. He circles and hits again. He tries for a third time, but now he is hitting the glass a little less hard..

After a few more times, he just sort of nosing up against the glass. He is feeling that he is not going to get those minnows. Petty soon, he just swims around in circles and ignores the minnows on the other side of the glass.

At this point those doing the experiment take out the glass. The minnows come right up against the gills of the pike and he does not even try to eat them.

Th experiment ends when the pike starves to death. He is sure that he is not going to get those minnows, so there is no point in wasting this time or hurting his nose. again.

To my mind that is the human story, people spiritually starving in the midst of plenty. We would rather have wars and droughts then learn how to eat.  



Sunday, 26 March 2017

This sign was seen on the London Underground this week; I think it sums things up nicely.



This sign was seen on the London Underground this week; I think it sums things up nicely.



The following was seen on the London Underground this week; I think it sums things up nicely.

Service Notice:

Date:22/03/17

TIME: 14 45

All Terrorists are politely reminded This is LONDON and what ever you do to us:

We will drink tea and jolly well carry on.


Friday, 24 March 2017

March is the time to dig at the allotment

March is the time to dig at the allotment.

A days work on your plot will pay dividends  later. If you weed and prepare your site now, you will get much better results for the rest of the year.

Start by  going over the soil little by litter, going down to about two spades depth and make sure you take out any weed roots that you come across. Dandelions and docks are the ones to watch out for.

Then rake the soil over to give it a fine tilth and you are all ready to go. Little weeds will come up after a few days and it is the easiest thing in the world to hoe them down.

I am always amazed how few people turn up in march to do do this. The allotment site that I am on in Oxford has 250 plots and over the last few weekends I have only seen about twenty people working on their plots.

As to what you grow...Grow what you are likely to eat.

What I am doing on my plot  

I am putting supports in on plants that may need it later.

Dead heading my daffodils

Helping my neighbor repair their shed that got some gale damage

Hoeing round my spring cabbage.

Repotted my mints; which are not doing very well at the moment.
Digging out nettles which seem to double in size overnight.

What I am thinking about while working:

What is my core and how can I heal it...if indeed it needs healing. To what do I belong?
I am part of every problem.


Monday, 20 March 2017

Equinox

We are half way through March and your garden has endured long dark winter days, frost,rain and maybe snow as well. and then suddenly nature decides to time for a change and it is spring.

So you will see your plot, after lying semi-dormant and glum through the winter, wake up and ‘spring‘ into action.

Its like being a young child waiting for your birthday counting the days until the frost has disappeared.....However caution is advisable. As I write this snow, has return to New York and a cold snap has returned.

Get your sowing wrong and you will lose your plants to a late frost. Get it right and your plants  will crop earlier, extending the growing season.

Be in touch with your garden and learn how to listen to nature. Your instinct will dictate when the time has come to plant.

For myself, I watch the grass and the hedge rows...When I see growth there; I go for it because I know that  Nature has got going, the birds nest, the soil warms, sap rises and life springs forth all around you .

21st of March is an important milestone because it is the equinox which means ‘equal night‘ a time when day and night are of equal length. It is a significant turing point
in nature.Get your willies on and get out there.       
  You will find that being outside puts life’s niggles into proportion...even if you are grumpy, you will find it hard to remain so under the blue sky.

What I am doing on my plot:
Cutting my grass because it has started to grow.

Making my first move on weeds that are coming up. I notice that nettles seem to double in size  overnight this time of year. So I spent half an hour digging them up.
I once made some nettle soup...it was awful, so I will not try that again.

I have a small glasshouse full of seedlings which need looking after.

Pulled  my first rhubarb this week...it was lovely. I reckon that rhubarb and my soft fruit pay for my plot. My wife Jean and I have a bowl every morning for breakfast and if you reckon that is worth 50 pence bowl, that is one pound a day which is well over 300 pounds year. My two plots cost 84 pounds rent year. ( they are 11 pole plots ) So I am quids in really.   

And as always tiding up and watching. 

I have also resigned from the allotment committee this week. I have done my five years, it is time for somebody else to have a go.

What I am thinking about when digging:

Another famine in Africa....how and why have we come to this again. It just makes me so anger and sad. I spent much of my life in Africa and understand a little of what goes on.

We in the West have so much. If you just think of water on tap any time of the day or night...Am I thankful or just take it for granted?