Training Feedback – 2016

A Practical Training session was held on 18 June.
The morning course, titled “Looking after your plants“, was led by Jon Darby and Mahesh Pant, who explained Successional sowing, Intercropping, Catch-crops, Watering, Mulching, Feeding, Thinning, Plant support, Earthing up, Protecting from birds, animals and frost.
Click here to read about it in full.
In addition, there is a useful guide to some of the many weeds we find on our plots.

Various common weeds

Various common weeds


Training at Marlpit – 21st May 2016

A very informative morning with Jon Darby who had lots of hints and tips for growing vegetables from seed.
The main topWP_20160521_12_24_09_Proics covered were

Types of seed
Seed sowing
Pricking out
Hardening off
Final destination for plants
Sowing seed directly into the ground
Modular sowing

Other topics covered were,

F1 Hybrid seeds,
Where to obtain good seeds.
Types of pre-prepared seeds, i.e. cells, strips, foil packets.
Soil temperature.

WP_20160521_12_24_18_ProThe group then worked on a roughly dug strip – digging-over, treading-down and raking. Then we prepared drills for carrots spinach and wide drills for peas.
Mahesh gave a demonstration planting courgettes – he also reiterated the importance of after-care of plants, watering and checking at least every two days.
A discussion regarding SLUGS and pest control in an organic environment ensued, a new nematode called Nemaslug is available. Other ideas were discussed with most of the group agreeing that quite a few don’t work!! Jon did warn that because of the mild winters there are lots of slugs about and said if you look in the ground lots of eggs can be found. They look like white opaque little balls and should be squished (a popular word during the slug discussion).
After we had finished we had a very nice lunch provided by Amy.
Thank you to Jon and Mahesh for organizing the morning.


A Timely Intervention

A delivery of Chainsaw Chipping’s, tree ‘limbs’ and assorted material were being tipped on GO2 Bluebell’s disability parking area. It was lucky I was on site with Christine to stop the tip. The driver surprised by my intervention said it was a requested delivery by a GO2 member. He was unable to give a name nor a description. Returning to the shed we noted an entry in the day book re the delivery.

Bye the bye…..

Allotmenteers of Bluebell who wish to use wood chipping need to resource from known sources clean from pests and diseases. Be available to take delivery and transport to their strip/s
Keep the good practice of noting deliveries in the day book. Identify firm or company delivering.
And please be there to take delivery. What was being delivered looked like a garden clear.

Section 11 of NNC Allotment Rules specify what is not to be brought onto allotments.
Wood chip is not as yet included.

Mark Newman
Land and Water

Grounds for

I’ve been wanting to experiment with coffee grounds to grow vegetables and now Waitrose in Eaton is offering customers free coffee grounds.
The consensus is that coffee grounds provide phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and copper. You can find out more about physical properties and carbon/nitrogen ratio on websites, but the overall verdict is: coffee grounds provide short- and long-term soil improvement. They act as a slow-release fertiliser by either blending as ‘green’ compost on your heap and left to ripen there with everything else, or made into ‘tea’ by putting two cups of grounds into 20 litres of water, leaving overnight and then using around your veges on in containers. You can also dig them into the soil to a depth of 15-20 cm.
slug-sips-coffeeSome say they’re slightly acidic at a range of 6.2 on the pH scale, or 6.9 depending which website you look at.
They can also create a slug and snail barrier – and don’t we all want an effective deterrent to those? Coffee grounds are both abrasive as well as acidic, so a barrier of grounds placed near slug-prone plants may just save them from these garden pests.
If you want to get some from Waitrose, they’re in a galvanised dustbin near the ‘horticultural area’. Take your own bags and a scoop or take a box from near the drinks department. It’s probably best to use them when they’re still slightly fresh.


P1280320-strawberryP1280322-waitrose-starbucksLast Sunday I spread 2 Kg of used coffee grounds (from a motorway Starbucks) on Moira’s strawberry bed at Bluebell South. I have tried them as a slug deterrent to little effect, but we’ll see if it improves the strawberries (or the snails!)


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