Saturday, 28 April 2018

How to Dry Your Herbs.

How to Dry Your Herbs.

One of the best things about growing herbs is that you can grow and dry your herbs for later use. This is quite an easy thing to do, but like every thing else; it must be done right to have a product that can be used.
You should cut your leaf herbs, wash and tie in loose bunches and allow them to drip dry. Once all the moisture has been dried off put the herbs in a large brown paper bag. Make sure that you put a label on it and that the herbs are not touching the sides of the brown paper bag..Tie the mouth of the bag about the stems so that the herbs are hanging free within the bag.
Next, hang the bag with the herbs in it where it will have good air circulation. Drying your herbs this way ensures that none of the oils get absorbed by contact with the paper, as they would if you dried them in a cardboard box.

Monday, 23 April 2018

How to control insects that attack your plants with herbs:

How to control insects that attack your plants with herbs:

It is well know to growers that legumes that are planted in a rotation with wheat and other grain crops will protect those crops from corn root worm.

Goats that suffer from worms can be helped by feeding them carrots and worms in horses can be controlled by feeding them mulberry leaves; however it is to herbs that we can look to give us the greatest protection for our crops:

I do not like list as such because they can take up too much space on the lens however I will list a few of the useful one here:

Use Basil to protect against flies and mosquitoes.

Use Borage to protect your tomato plants against tomato worm.

Use Garlic to protect against Japanese beetle, aphis,weevils,sider mites and many more. In fact if you plant garlic all over your garden you will be amazed how pest free your crops will be.

The herb marigold ( yes it a herb ) is great to protecter against many pest. I grow them in pots and move them about my garden all summer long. Its the smell of them, I think that keeps bugs away.

Peppermint in pots and placed among your cabbage will keep the dreaded white cabbage butterflies away. Once again I grow them in pots and move them about. Indeed, last summer I sat on my plot and watched the white butterflies hoover over my cabbage plants and then fly off to my neighbors plot. The could not stand the smell.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

A few thoughts on container grown herbs

A few thoughts on container grown herbs

Almost all herbs are hardy plants, however the savoriness and flavour of the herb will depend on sunshine.If you do not have a big plot you can grow most types of herbs in pots that are placed on a outside window-sill. A window-box is better however because you can fit more plants in along the ledge.
If you are going to go for growing your herbs in containers you will need a growing a better class of soil mixture then your normal run of the mill potting mixtures that you buy in the local store.
The best mixture is John Innes Seed mixtures which is sandier and much more suitable for herbs. Before you put it into your container water it and mix the water right through so that no part of it is dry and dusty.
For drainage, I always put a two inch layer of small gravel type stones at the bottom of the pot/trough.
Lemon balm,sage,marjoram,and thyme will all spread out to six-to-eight square of window box space.Chives and mint are much more powerful growing plants and do not like other herbs near them. On no account put mint straight into the ground because over time it will spread and take over every thing and you will find it a very hard plant to get rid off.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Useful Herbs to Grow

Use Your Herbs

I know that you can buy plenty of fresh herbs down at your local store, but it is really wonderful feeling just stepping out of your kitchen into your garden and picking your own herbs.
The flavour is best just before the herbs flower and try to pick the young leaves from the plant in the morning when the dew has evaporated.
Flavouring your food with herbs means that you will use less salt, which can only be a good thing!
Chop lots of fresh lemon thyme and mix with a little butter lemon zest and garlic and smear it under the skin of a roast chicken or halfway through cooking of your Bolognese sauce, add lots of finely chopped fresh rosemary and garlic instead of salt.
Using herbs does give your food a fresh taste and they are not beyond the reach of most people to grow.
A few easy herbs I grow are:
Mint; This is a plant that likes a lot of sun and water, according to the books but I find that mint will grow just as well in the shade and can be forgotten about in a pot and still thrive. In fact, it is one of those plants that are very hard to kill. For this reason it is not a good idea just to plant it in your garden because it can be very aversive and take over. I grow mine in pot and have no trouble with it.
There are many types of mint; spearmint and peppermint are problem what spring to mind when you think of mint both of these have a very refreshing flavour, but why not pop down to your local garden store and see what else you can pick up in the Mint line. That is what I did and now have over ten different tasting mints to use.
Mint likes a thin coat of rotted manure or compost for the winter, however a spring dressing is better late the never.
You may find that old mint plants have orange patches of mint rust on their leaves, you can cure this by digging up the plant and washing the roots in water that is 110 f and leave the roots in the water for ten minutes before replanting. But remember that well-fed mint rarely rust, so new beds or old that are dug, split and remade every fourth spring, need compost or manure. If you have neither you could use 4 oz a square yard of fish meal.
Parsley is another very useful herb that can be grown in a pot near your kitchen. This herb is wonderful for garnishes and flavouring as well as being a tasty supplement to green salads. It is not very easy to germinate, so it is best to buy a few plants from your local store. Parsley is a biennial, and so should last you for a few seasons.
Chives are another of my favorites. These can be grown in your garden or you could use them to grow along your path edges. All you have to do then is go out with your scissors and snip away as much as you want for they will soon grow back.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Your Allotment: Is It worth It?

Your Allotment: Is It worth It?

I was reading a gardening book the other day and I was astounded to see that The Royal Horticultural society do not think that it is worth having an allotment to grow your own food.
I beg to differ and there is one crop that pays my rent with very little work. And that is Rhubarb. I have a patch of about 30 Rhubarb plants that keep me going from April right up to the middle of august. That is nearly 150 days of a bowl of Rhubarb a day. If you reckon that each bowl is worth 50 pence then that is a money value of £70 odd and my rent for the allotment is £28/year.
Growing Rhubarb is very easy and takes little work once the plants are established.
1.Grow a variety of early and late season crops.
2. Mulch the crop summer and winter
3. Water and feed on a regular bases. (I use Comfrey tea to feed mine)
4. Harvest when the crop is ripe. This stops the plant going to seed.
5. Bottle your surplice so as not to waste any.
When I am not eating Rhubarb; I am eating stewed apple. Now I do not own any apple trees but I collect other peoples apples that would other wise be wasted.
In Oxford, where I live, people will put apples outside their houses for the public to pick up. I am sure that his happens in most towns. I have taken this one step further by talking to the people who do this and offered to keep their windfalls cleared and rake up leaves under the apple trees. By doing this I get free fruit right through the non-rhubarb time and also make sure my storage, bottles are in use all the year round.
But to get back to the allotment: Of course it pays to have an allotment but only if you use it with a bit of common sense and to do so there are a few thing that your must take into consideration.
1. Plan your crops. Only grow what you like to eat and try to grow as much winter stuff as you can. I believe that it is the sign of a good grower if there is crops ready fro eating in the lean time of the year. There are loads of roots/brassicas/leeks that will do for this job. Using a cold frame during this period will also give you some of the softer crops like lettuce and beans.
2. To run an allotment you must be committed. It is no good going down there once a month and doing a bit. With that sort of commitment all you will be doing is trying to keep on top of the weeds. I reckon on a well-run plot you need two/three hours per week, once you have everything all set up. That time should not be in one visit either but spread over the week. You will need to be harvesting/nurtering/cultervatomg your plot every 48 hours in the main summer season. If you cannot give, this sort of commitment then do not start; you will only stress yourself out by non-achieving.
There are a few reasons for not going for an allotment plot.
1.It will cost you money to set up. You will need to pay your rent. In addition, you will need to buy tools/seeds/plants/shed at the very least. It cost me £800 to set up my allotment. It was that much because I bought a new shed (6feet/8feet) and a small Polly tunnel (10foot/15foot). I also had to buy a second hand lawn mower.
2. If you do not have the time, do not start. If you are really keen to start and do not have the time it might be worth seeing if you could share somebody’s else’s plot.
3. Not everything will come up roses. There will be troubles and things will go wrong. Pest/diseases/weather sometimes seem to be always against you. You must be prepared for that.
4. It will take work however I never find it hard work. I use a raised bed system and never dig. My method of growing involves making compost and spreading the material on my beds. Moreover, if it is hard work, so what! Many people pay a lot of money to go to gyms and the like. By having an allotment you will be getting fresh air and excises.
The reasons for having an allotment far out way the reasons not too.
1.You will be out in the fresh air. This is worth its weight in gold. Most of us spend far too much time inside either working or living. Far better to be out breathing clear air in a semi-rural area. It will bring clam to your soul in an ever-stressful life of our modern world.
2. Allotments are great places to meet and make new friends. These will be people who are not related to your every day work or family.
3. Growing you own food and knowing how it is grown. This is very important. If you go to the supermarket: God knows where and how it was grown and more importantly, what has been sprayed on it! At least if you grow a lettuce you will know that it is clean and wholesome.
4. Learning a new skill. You might well think that growing you own food and learning and overcoming all the problems related with it are not worth the trouble when you can go down to the local store and buy what you want. Well, it might not always be so. I have lived through two wars where the only food we had was the food that we could produce ourselves. This could well happen to you wherever you live.
So the question of: does it pay to have an allotment can only be answered by yourself, all I can say is: It pays me time over.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

How To Grow Broad Beans

How to Grow Delicious Broad Beans All Summer Long

Broad beans are the first to appear in your garden, for in milder parts of the world they can be sown in the Fall.
They are a particularly delicious vegetable when garden fresh. Just cook until tender and serve with butter for a true " taste surprises"
When the bean is no more the three inches long it has very tender pods and can be eaten whole. Older beans will need to be shelled
For most people Broad Beans are a “no goer”. In other words, they will not touch them in any shape or form. I have researched the reason for this by asking as many people as I can why they do not like Broad Beans. 99% of the time the answer comes back: “ I had them at school and hated them”
School beans are not good for many reasons; they are not fresh, they are grossly over cooked and they are covered with some foul smelling sauce. In my case the sauce used, was white and full of bits of green; upon reflection, it must have been some sort of parsley sauce. What ever it was, it put me off broad beans for at least 50 years.
My interest in Broad Beans was rekindled when I got an allotment and saw that the vast majority of my neighbours grew them with great success. I am always one to grow what every body else is growing, practically if they are doing it successfully. It means to me that the soil good for that plant and that the crop suits the local climate.
One of the attractions of growing Bread Beans, to my mind was that you can sow them in late fall and mid winter. I do like winter crops because I think that it is the test of a true gardener as to how many crops you have on offer in the winter. Broads Beans fell right into that category.
So off I set and brought some broad beans in November prepared my land and sowed them with great excitement. True to form, some ten days later on a bright November day, I have the first showing of green shots. What joy, what a disaster for the temperature dropped right down to -17c and stayed well below -10c for the next ten weeks. The broad beans were wiped out.
Since that time I have never again grown winter broad beans. However, what I have done is grown Broad Beans as early as I can in late winter( end of January) and then every two weeks till the end of July and it works a treat. You know what? I love them. They are fresh and I steam them for about a minuet; much better then the school ones.
Almost any soil will do and the only preparation necessary will be forking in composted vegetable refuse. In addition, fish manure should be added at 3 ounces to the square yard. If you do not have enough compost, you could use sedge peat instead.
When I sow, I space the rows 2 feet 6 inches apart with the bean black eye up, 3 inches deep and about 6 inches between each bean. I find that the best way to keep the black fly down is to hoe regularly. I also pinch out the tops when the bottom beans are forming. Doing this encourages early production. I pick regularly, when the pods are about 4 inches long. They are then delicious.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

How To Use Your Compost:

How To Use Your Compost:

How to use Compost in your garden:
There are two ways of using compost in your raised beds; you can either dig it into the soil or spread as a surface mulch, which will slowly be taken down into the soil by worms and other soil-living creatures. Both of these methods have their disadvantages and advantages. The choice dependens on what is being applied and in what circumstances.
Digging the Compost in:
If you go with digging the compost into the raised bed, you should mix it with the top 20 cm of soil only. The reason is that this is where most of the biological activity goes on. 
This means that you should try not to dig too deep, remember that compost is not manure.
Your compost should be in such a state that it is ready to use by your plants right away; unlike animal manure which still needs to be broken down before your crops can use it.
The advantages of digging the compost in are:
  1. Digging mixes materials in with the soil; this gives a quicker overall improvement.
  2. Digging the compost into the soil puts any weed seeds that may be in your compost, below the level of germination. This helps if you sow your seeds into your soild bed.
  3. When you dig your bed, often this will increase the speed at which the organic materials decomposes. But remember that this can be counterproductive if you have light soil where this operation is fast enough already
The disadvantages of digging the compost in 
  1. When you choose this method, you must wait until the soil conditions are suitable. This is not a good option in a wet winter or on heavy land.
  2. Digging can be hard work
  3. Digging is not suitable for materials that can causes nitrogen robbery.
The alternative to digging the compost in is to spread the materials in a layer over the surface. This is sometimes known as mulching. Mulch can have a very good insulating effect on your raised bed and with this in mind, it should be applied to your raised bed when it is warm and thoroughly wet. In other words late summer and give it a good soaking.
If you mulch a cold raised bed it will tend to stay that way. That being said, I find that you have to do what you do when you can.
I put compost onto my raised beds whenever they are empty whatever the time of year. However, I do make sure that the compost that I use is very fine and almost like soil. In the main, this is compost that is two or three years in the making.
I have been doing this for years and never had any trouble of any kind.
The advantages of laying the compost on top of the soil:
  1. A mulch of compost will keep the soil moist.
  2. Mulch will protect the soil surface structure from damage by rain and prevents it drying out.
  3. Mulch is really the only way to apply soil-building and feeding materials to your fruit and shrubs after you have planted them.
  4. Mulching is a very good method of applying materials that might otherwise cause nitrogen robbery of you soil.
  5. Mulching is also very helpful in control weeds.
The disadvantages of applying mulches are:
1. Compost that is full of weed seeds can be a nuisance where you sow your crop seeds. The way round this is to sow you crops in pots/blocks and let the weeds in the compost germinate. Then you hoe them before they get too big and plant you growing crop from the pots. This way you will be ahead of your weeds all the time.
2. Material applied as mulch will take a lot longer to mix through the soil, so its effects will be slower. The way round this is to apply the compost mulch every year; thus, last years compost will be feeding this year’s crop.