Thursday, 21 August 2014

Umbrella Fair - Northampton

Saturday saw the start of the umbrella fair which is a free weekend music festival. The umbrella fair is a community co-operative of local people promoting sustainable living and community cohesion.
The Umbrella Fair is one of the biggest free festivals in the country with over 20,000 visitor and it is all run completely by volunteers. Which is fantastic that so many people will give up there time so that other people can enjoy a free music festival. It is held on the Racecourse which is a large park in the centre of Northampton i wrote about this park earlier in the year ( I was quite critical about the park a lot of the problems still remain but the organizers of The Umbrella Fair managed to bring the park alive. But there is more to this festival than just the music there where many stalls promoting sustainable living, the environment and ethical products. I must admit i was more interested in the stalls than the music and it was the main reason i went. 
The high light for me was the series of talks given in the Green Village Hall this was organized by Shena Cooper from the Secret Seed Society. There was a range of talks from seed security by Kevin Mccully to
 Permaculture Cuppa by Mar Yo But the one my girls liked the most was cup cake decorating.
Northampton Council where also there with there recycling road show encouraging every one to recycle that bit more and also to produce less waste. They also had a display of bikes and they where all available to try out there where some weird and wonderful bikes. 
We had a great day out and the biggest expense was a bag of doughnuts will defiantly be back next year.

Taking on the Big Boys at Malvern Part 2

Back in June i announced that i was going to have a go at growing giant veg and Taking On The Big Boys at Malvern in September. Well we where off to a good start the onions, pumpkins and leeks where all romping away better than could be expected. But unfortunately just as the onions where starting to swell they got hit by downy mildew. So unfortunately they had to be lifted which was a real shame as they where doing so well. 
But they had to come out to stop the downy mildew spreading to all my other onions they are drying nicly in the greenhouse now good for the kitchen if not for Malvern.
But the great surprise this year has been the pot leeks they are doing really well and are the biggest i have ever grown. They are growing outside just in a bed that was manured in the winter and have no protection so will not be as big as anyone who has grown them in a tunnel or greenhouse. But they are the biggest i have ever grown so I'm really chuffed to bits with them just hopping that they are still as good in September.
And now for the pumpkins well they have taken over one corner of the garden and we have three lovely pumpkins that are fairly big. Which is great but they do seem to have stopped growing in the last couple of weeks and although they are a decent size. They will be no where near the size needed to get any where close to the other competitors at Malvern we will have to wait and see if they end up at Malvern.
What ever happens i will have a leek at Malvern and may be a pumpkin but we have had great fun growing these giant veg which is what it is all about.
Has any body else had a go at growing some giant veg this year for the first time or going to Malvern with some other entry do let us know.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Self Sufficient - Lots of Sowing

It's been another busy week trying to get the garden ready for the self sufficient challenge there has been lots of sowing taking place. We have also put in a fourth raised bed made out of recycled materials i am hopping to have enough recycled wood left to be able to build another 3-4 raised beds. Of course it is also dependent on how much soil and compost available to fill them up with. 
Seed packets laid out
We have sowed a mixture of crops salads for late summer and autumn, Brassicas to crop from autumn to spring and over wintering onions.

Veg we have sown in raised beds

Spinach America - Franchi Seeds
Lettuce Mix - T&M seeds
Mizuna - Mr Fothergills seeds
Red Mustard - Own saved seed
Raddish French Breakfast 3 - Aldi
Rocket Cultivated - Moles seeds
Rocket Wild Fire - T&M seeds
Land Cress American - Suttons seeds
Lambs Lettuce verte de cambrai - Franchi seeds
Parsley gigante de napoli - Franchi seeds
Kale dwarf green curled - Mr Fothergills seeds
Cauliflower all year round -  Mr Fothergills seeds
Cabbage savoy January king 3 - T&M seeds
Cabbage April spring -  T&M seeds
Broccoli autumn spear - Suttons seeds
Cauliflower romanesco precoce - Franchi seeds
Chard Rhubarb -  Franchi seeds
Leek Pennine F1- T&M seeds
Leek gigante d inverno 2 - Franchi seeds
Onion Japanese senshyu -  Suttons seeds
Raddish Seedlings 5 days old 

 Thanks to the good warm weather lots of the salad seeds where poking there heads through the soil within a matter of days. So fingers crossed we will be picking some salads from the new beds soon.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Product - Review Hozelock Wonder Weeder

Individual Perennial weeds in paths and flower borders have always been a problem to try and get rid of with standard weed killer sprayers. Using a sprayer spreads weed killer further than needed killing the plants you want to keep and painting weedkiller on by hand takes so long. So i was keen to try out the New Hozelock Wonder Weeder which is a new product to spot weed your garden.
The Wonder Weeder is 1m tall so there is no need to bend town to spray the weeds it is simple to fill just unscrew the top and mix up your weed killer at the appropriate rate. The tube holds 300ml of fluid just screw the top back on and you are ready to spray. Unlock the safety catch at the base place the Wonder Weeder over the weed and just press down and a dose of weed killer will be applied to the weed. No drift so you get precise weed killing every time. 
 I tried out the new Wonder Weeder on our brick path which has always had weeds growing in the gaps but difficult to spray due to plants growing on to the path. But with the Wonder Weeder it is easy to push the foliage out of the way and spray the weeds with out getting any weed killer onto the plants you want to keep.
This is another great product from Hozelock that has made spot weeding easy and clean to do with out wasting weed killer.

Watch a short video on how the Hozelock Wonder Weeder works

If you have a weedy patio or difficut to spray area then you need a Wonder Weeder

The weed wonder is available from all good garden centers and hardware stores