Tag Archives: Gardening

Horse manure as fertiliser

We finally got our allotment after what must have been a 2 years queue. This is how the allotment area looks like (not how our plot of land looks like though 🙁 at least not yet). We would certainly like our plot to look somewhat like that, but it will almost certainly requre a lot of work. Now that the little one is coming out quite soon, I really wonder if we can keep the land at a respectable state!Anyway I went to a stable where my colleague keeps his pony and horse to collect some horse manure as fertiliser for our allotment yesterday. Apparently the horse manure is cleared out together with the horse bedding everyday. My colleague is currently changing the bedding twice everyday! Because his horse has strained one of her muscles or tendons. Really high maintenance to keep a horse is it not? Which in a way makes me a little more committed to do well on the allotment. As surely I can afford to spare some time for the allotment as well?Fortunately the bedding my colleague use for his animals is made up of straws and hays. Because if sawdust or wood shavings are used instead, the manure and bedding mixture is not going to be suitable for use as fertiliser directly. Whilst the horse manure is good to use as fertiliser, the sawdust or wood shavings are not crop friendly. Apparently when wood breaks down in the soil a nitrogen deficiency occurs, which stunts the growth of crops. There are ways to combat this, like adding nitrogen fertiliser. But we obviously are not interested in such extra activities :)Bags of “black gold” that look almost like soil were dug from the bottom of the manure and hay “mountain” yesterday. Very satisfied. Will work on the allotment in anger from next week once we get our car this coming Tuesday!

Growing sunflowers

It’s been quite a hectic month. Travelled with my family, in a group of 7, to Scandinavia and Poland. Travelling up and down London for work, and meeting up with friends as well…So am really looking forward to this weekend, to indulge myself a bit of “relaxation” 🙂 It’s spring time and I’ve just planted some sunflower seeds my colleague gave me last year to four small pots this evening. I’m determined to grow some strong, healthy sunflowers this year as last year all the sunflowers I planted all died, except one. And that sunflower wasn’t flowering that well either. Just the one flower to show for. Very disappointing.

I’m all excited this year as well as I’m finally using compost from our compost bin, for the first time, to grow stuff. Not using a lot though as a lot of the stuff I put into our compost bin have not fully composted yet. A mistake on my part for not having read up on how to start a compost bin. I was too naive to think that I can just throw in organic stuff and they will decompose quickly. I mean they will still decompose, but not at the rate I was hoping for (like a wormery). I hope I have not killed some of the native earthworms, which I put in whenever I found them in my garden :p Well because the organic stuff, mostly left over vegetables and fruits, I put into the compost bin may be a bit too acidic for the earthworms.Anyway, my sunflower seeds should be germinating as we speak now. Need to make some rooms in my little backyard to accommodate the sunflowers soon 🙂

Coffee grounds keep slugs and snails away?

Got two bags of coffee grounds for free from Starbucks to be used as organic fertiliser for my garden. But apparently they are also good for keeping slugs and snails away from plants, according to that branch of Starbucks. Brilliant, if that is true, as the bloody slugs in my garden have devoured quite a few of the Marigold plants we planted this Spring already. I have tried using beer to attract slugs into a trap with good effect a couple of weeks ago. But looks like the slugs are coming back with a vengeance once again. Really annoying. Weather has not been good already recently, has been raining for most part of the week, hence have not been able to keep a hawk eye on my plants. Looks like I’ll have to get some beers again, ho ho ho.An interesting observation when I cycled home recently. Saw quite a few snails crossing the cycle path after rain on a few occasions. Fair enough, snails prefer to crawl on wet surface. But makes me wonder why they bother to cross, to the opposite side which in my opinion is essentially the same. Furthermore, it’s a “long” way for them, and it’s dangerous! 🙂

Ladybird

These days Robin is not coming over for mealworms as frequently as before, when he has his children to feed. It’s likely that he’s not short of food now that it is summer (I think) with plenty of insects around.Talking about insects, we recently bought three berries plants, Holly, Raspberry and Blackcurrant, to help boost our garden as a “prime” destination for birds to come visit for food. In fact we have also put up an open fronted nestbox to tempt robins to come nest in our backyard. Anyway, holes are appearing on the leaves of the Blackcurrant tree. After some searching on the Internet I gather that it is aphid that is doing the damage. Remembering from watching Springwatch that ladybird can help control this pest, think I’m going to add a ladybird log tower to my backyard as well. It is indeed fascinating to know that I can grow my own ladybird. Or you can even buy adult ladybirds to put into the log tower! 25 for the price �20, anyone 🙂 And they are not guaranteed to live in the shelter you provide!

Growing herbs

Herbs growing may not appeal to many people but it’s definitely one of my favourite past-times. It is so exciting to see your plants germinate then growing inch by inch each day. The joy of being able to harvest herbs from your backyard whenever you need them for cooking is simply irresistible.With autumn approaching, rain began pouring since two weeks ago. I was rather worried about the plants at my backyard as there is no shelter from the rain. You will need a rather sophisticated green house in order to balance the sunlight and rainfall which is a luxury that I cannot afford at the moment. However, it appears that my worry may be needless after all. The plants are flourishing ever since the rainy season started and the herbs are growing faster than ever. My basil plant has doubled its size since 2 weeks ago. You can feel so much life in these plants just by looking at them each day and it gives you so much satisfaction.At the moment, I only have basil, coriander, parsley and thyme in my collection. Hopefully I will be able to add more to my collection when next summer comes. My immediate worry is to think of a way to keep my plants healthy throughout the winter. Otherwise, I might just have to sow the seeds again next spring. I still have so much to learn about growing herbs. I would love to be able to complement the herbs to my cooking in time. So much about herbs growing for now and I will keep my fingers crossed that they will continue to flourish before the winter comes.