Archive for the ‘Bargains/Free stuff’ Category

This involves trying to scare away our feathered friends with the use of a plastic owl. I’m sure I’ve seen these amongst other wildlife merchandise in my local pound shop, but if you get stuck Gullstop can flog you one. . .

Alternatives are plastic snakes or a good old fashioned Scarecrow. I never thought I would be an advocate for arts and crafts sessions but all in a good cause…

If you combine these visual scarers with reflective items, such as old CDs hanging on string and sticks, and with something noisy, like a wind chime, you may have some luck. Well at least for a while, I guess it depends on how gullible the birds are in your area and whether your fellow allotmenteers can tolerate the clanging of those damned wind chimes!


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Quite simply erect some kinda bird bath.

Whilst flicking through a gardening book I found this interesting tip from Bob Flowerdew, a regular on Radio 4’s Gardeners Question Time and described as Britain’s leading organic gardener. He says that birds aren’t eating your fruit for the food, as they are low in calories. The poor little things are gobbling your fruit for the moisture – they’re thirsty. Therefore put up bird baths, they’ll drink from these and your fruit hopefully won’t get touched, or at least not everything totally stripped.

Sounds crazy I know, actively encouraging birds onto your plot, but maybe worth a shot… Also who am I to argue with Bob Flowerdew!

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The Soil Association’s Organic Fortnight is currently running until September 16th 2007.

Amongst other things, they are running a campaign called ‘Wake up Gordan!’. Via a cheeky interactive cartoon you can feed Gordan a delicious organic breakfast and see him burp with satisfaction. The Soil Association will use the number of breakfasts Gordon eats to put pressure on the government to encourage increased consumption of organic produce.. Click here to take part.

Also if you join the Soil Association this month they will give you extra stuff for free!

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I stumbled across this article in the Independent newspaper and it made me smile – Grow-your-own Viagra craze hits Britain’s garden centres.

The discovery was made by an allotmenteer who enjoys experimenting making his own drinks from his plants and produce.. For more details click here

Now who said allotmenteering was boring!

Here’s the ‘article’ in full 

A chance discovery by a Berkshire allotment-holder that a plant widely available in garden centres has the same effect on men as Viagra has been confirmed by experts at one of the world’s leading botanical institutions.

The plant is winter-flowering heather, and botanists at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, many of them heather experts who have recognised the source of its active ingredient, now expect it to be the next must-have plant in British gardens. Demand is already high. Nurseries and garden centres in some areas are having trouble finding sufficient supplies as word spreads of the plant’s unexpected properties.

A spokesman for Wyevale Garden Centres, which has 106 UK branches, said: “At first, it was just a trickle of inquiries, but now stores are virtually being besieged each weekend. We have had men buying dozens of the plants and, at one store in Croydon, there were men old enough to know better fighting over the last remaining trays.”

The latest gardening craze was triggered by a discovery by a 55-year-old furniture restorer, Michael Ford, on his allotment. He was always experimenting with drinks made from different plants and one day he tried an infusion from his winter-flowering heather. He said: “The effect was almost immediate. I had to stay in my potting shed for an hour or so before I could decently walk down the street.”

He then contacted the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, famous for their work with the heather family, to see if they could offer an explanation. They could. Botanist Alan Bennell said: “This first surfaced when East European chemists reported finding a Viagra-type chemical in the floral tissues of winter-flowering heaths. They were able to isolate measurable amounts of material that is an analogue of the active principle in Viagra.”

Winter-flowering heather, he explained, belongs to the genus Erica, a close relative of our own native heather. He said: “As yet, the active ingredient has not been found in these British forms, but it is proving to be most concentrated in many of the widely available hybrids sold as winter-flowering heather in garden centres. Particularly potent are forms of Erica carnea, the Alpine heather, whose range extends into the Balkans.

“The work of these biochemists and physiologists – much of it disrupted and lost during the ravages of war – is now coming to light.”

From the limited amount of information available, it is suggested the Viagra-analogue is best extracted by steeping the detached small flowers in neat alcohol. An infusion of about 20g of flowers in 100ml of fluid liberates the active principle. A quality full-strength vodka (at least 40 per cent) is also effective. Mr Bennell added: “There is some confusion whether oral consumption or topical application is more effective.”

But not everyone is happy about this new discovery. One woman shopping at a Wyvales in Dorking yesterday said: “It’s amazing. My husband has never shown any interest in gardening before, but now he’s out there night and day fussing over his heathers. Frankly, I preferred it when he left the garden to me and wasn’t so frisky.”


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Wilko’s has an excellent sale on seeds, 75% off!

We went yesterday, it must be a popular place with allotment folk.  We saw 3 other plot holders hanging about in wilkos whilst we were there.

They also have 75% off of seed trays.  One of the other plot holders said soon they knock all the gardening stuff down to 75% off.

We bought :  Sweet Pea Blue Velvet  44p was 1.79

                        Sweetcorn miracle  37p was 1.49

                        Exhibition onions  81p was 3.25

                        Echinecea 54p was 2.19

                        Calendula   39p was 1.59

                        Courgette   62p was 2.49

We are off up  there again today as we didnt know until we got to the till that there was 75% off.       

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So another break in the drought that is Spring 2007… It has been a very exciting night in the South West… we got soaked…

And the best thing is that we managed to remember to have our water butt lid off this time – an essential part of any water collection system – we didn’t last time …. woops!

The wet spell is predicted to continue for a few days, so perhaps we will be able to complete some other jobs on the plot that don’t involve power walking with a watering can..

I say predicted and not forecasted because I am of the opinion that weather forecaster people are more similar to psychics purporting to predict the future than ‘proper’ scientists. They have promised rain on several occassions recently – nothing…

But today is wet and the plants are happy….

I am quite keen on buying a soil tester which can measure the moisture content of soil… Thereby enabling me to know whether I have watered deeply enough – so that roots are encouraged to grow down into the soil… Then again perhaps I shouldn’t be encouraging my watering and rain obsession/pontifications… Besides sticking your finger down into the dirt is a way of analysing moisture and thats positive for mental health and for the bank balance…

Anyways in between manic watering last week we managed to get a few more plants sunk into the ground –

Spinach around and between the broadbeans. This will help prop up the broadbeans and the spinach will benefit from the shade.

Stock and sunflowers – the ornamental beds are gonna get crammed with plants…

Marigolds – dotted around in clumps – a stalwart of the companion planting approach.

Everything we have planted so far is doing ok – although sometimes it feels like we have been keeping things alive (did I mention there’s been not much rain about!) rather than nurturing them to flourish…

Watering takes up so much time… so I am off to a local church plant sale soon to pick up some bargains to fill in some gaps hopefully. We have quite a few gaps on our massive plot (114ftx18ft6) – and the expanse of brown is starting to jar me – we need more plants!!!!

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BTCV are running a scheme for people called a ‘green gym‘.
They give people the chance to ‘work out’ in nature with conservation or gardening work.

So an opportunity for those who haven’t got a garden or don’t feel up to tending a whole plot on their own. Also seems an alternative to attending projects that are solely aimed at ‘mental health’ people. Although of course specialist projects are needed and are a life saver for many, sometimes it is refreshing for someone to be part of a group where membership is based on something other than ‘craziness’ – just people who wanna get fit and love a bit of nature…

Social workers and other professionals involved in drawing up Community Care Plans/support plans should be encouraged to think outside the box. I, personally have trained mine to realise that ‘care in the community’ does not mean re-creating institutions in the community.


Green gyms are held once a week, you will receive teaching and support from a trained leader and groups are open to all. It don’t cost a penny neither!

A Green Gym group is taken through warm-up and cool-down exercises. Helping to avoid aches and strains and minimising the chances of developing gardener’s hunch back..

Green Gyms have also been proven to work – increasing physical, mental and social well-being. Research has been carried out at Oxford Brookes University and details about the positive outcomes for green gymers can be found here. There is also a graph proving that gardening is much better than rubbish aerobics!! Or as they put it – working out in a green gym burns a third more calories than a step aerobics session.

There is a list of available groups to attend on the BTCV website…

What a great idea!

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