Archive for June, 2012



The blackcurrant bushes are doing really well. It’s a shame I don’t like them, but I’m sure Helen will benefit!

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When Candy came into the greenhouse and I asked her whether she was going to help with the watering, it’s not what I meant.

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It’s a shockingly bad year for strawberries. This year we were getting kilos, but we’re lucky if we’ve had a single punnet!

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Companion planting


The beans are now getting close to the top of the frame. Though for a change, we seem to have avoided black fly and aphids.

Helen made a lot of effort to plant marigolds around pretty much everything. She also planted some sunflowers which are heaving with aphids and ants (the ants farm them, clever really, suggests more intelligence than many people I know). This is the essence of companion farming -marigolds emit a smell which some people claim keeps away the pests. Seems to be working… The sunflowers too provide a haven for pests which mean they’re being fed and the sunflower draws them away from my crops. They’re only really for looking at, so I’m not worried if the aphids and ants get a free meal.

Also, I had tiny carrots…


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Flowers, apples, peaches and greengages!


Today, I’ve been drinking beer in my hammock and planting stuff in the garden.


And eating the gooseberries, which seem to be just about ready!


The rhubarb is recovering from the “drought”


Picture of the peaches that were growing. I need the tree to get better established so I removed them


The Bramley apple is also fruiting!


As is the greengage!


And finally check out the freakishly long blackberries!

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Pizza oven running again


Whenever I fire up the pizza oven I feel I’m possibly doing it for the last time. The brick inner dome is cracked and the outside is disintegrating.


Still, this is the first time I’ve used it in anger entirely myself – I made and rolled the dough, cut up the ingredients and lit the fire.

I used charcoal to fire it this time – a break from the usual wood firings. I started the oven about 2:30pm, it was ready a smidge after 7pm. 6 hrs which is a little below normal. The benefit is that it only takes about a 5KG bag of charcoal, whereas I’d probably burn twice that of wood.

Pizza was of course, very tasty. I tried a new dough which included some whole meal flour. It didn’t crisp in the same way but still good!

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Arduino powered chicken coop pop door!

On Thursday, I saw a really cool idea on ebay, an automated chicken pop door.  £85 though was not for the faint hearted.

My friend Gary had some motors, but no knowledge how to do the timing circuits.  My friend Ben however had that sort of stuff sorted.  He’d been to a google conference and given an Arduino.

With a little technical know how and lots of electrical tape, an idea was born.

The door was 2×2 routed with a small hole for sliding.  Pulleys made light work of the weight so a small servo motor could be attached.  You do need a continuous rotation servo though.

Adding in the code and the Arduino in situ:


It works wonderfully.  Total cost, about £50.  So it’s a saving.  Not including the wood and pulleys, but the £80 door wouldn’t have included those either.

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Squash and mangetout


The mangetout are still on their quest for world domination. They’re approaching the 2.5ft mark and I’ve only ever had mangetout that get about 1ft high, produce a single pod and drop dead, so it’s a good start.


As you can see from the above under the mangetout we’ve got squash and they’re settling in nicely.



And the chard is getting a little thick stemmed.

I’ve also had to tie up the tomatoes on the outside. They’re leaps and bounds forward compared to the ones in the greenhouse which is pretty surprising.

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The buds formed a couple of weeks ago, but now they’re officially in flower! I’ll soon have tomatoes!


One of my neighbours neighbours gave me a shout the other day and asked if I wanted some Thai basil. I said yes and was the proud owner of two plugs! As you can see they’re settling nicely and survived the snail attacks

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Raised beds update


My beds are bursting at the seams now!


The three sisters bed seems to be working well – currently its still two sisters, but we’re soon adding beans I hope!

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