Love is: gardening with a big bucket

Stop the pigeon - one of the Waterlooville birds after Brian's cherries.
Stop the pigeon - one of the Waterlooville birds after Brian's cherries.

SOUTHSEA GREENHOUSE: Enjoying an early harvest

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It’s difficult keeping up with all the jobs that need doing and in particular those on the allotment.

Trouble is, I plan to do one job then find something more urgent to be done like netting a cherry tree because every pigeon in Waterlooville has devoured the fruit.

The same applies to the strawberries. This time it was 42 plants in a raised bed attacked by crows who pulled off the fruits. The darn critters jump on the nets until they can peck off the fruits.

I have had problems with carrots growing underneath micromesh netting supported by plastic water piping with the netting secured by push pins into the wooden edges of the raised bed. Wonderful carrots, no carrot fly at all, but last night I weeded the bed and found the weeds were so high they were pushing off the net. Never mind, half the bed has been weeded then watered. Hopefully, because the weeding was done in the evening, the carrot fly didn’t get to the carrots.

Everyone is concerned about blackfly on broad and runner beans. It’s been a bad year which shows that bitterly cold winters don’t kill those pests.

Derris has been withdrawn. It was one of the safest products to use on edible crops. But there is an alternative – pyrethrum is safe if used properly, late in the evening and is listed as organic.

I’ve been told I may be breaking the law if I recommend 4oz of soap flakes with 2oz of washing soda, mixed with hot water and then made up to two gallons of spray and applied to the blackfly during the late evening. If this mixture is used to wash a path it’s OK. What a strange country.

The garden is looking wonderful because Pam is out there every day and I am doing more to help her.

We take a big bucket with us whenever we go into the garden because as we walk around we find weeds or a plant needing deadheading.

All the detritus goes into a huge compost bin which I emptied last year but it’s now half-full and by the end of summer will be full again.

Remember: one part urine to seven parts water, sprinkled not poured, encourages hundreds of tiny red worms to break down the rubbish into wonderful compost ensuring everything taken out of the garden is returned as well-rotted compost. However, don’t put weeds which have seeds in the bin. That’s asking for more weeds.

When I was an apprentice, my head gardener, Ernie Flowers (yes, that really was his name), who was in charge of Southsea rock gardens, always said: ‘Make sure the grass edges look smart and visitors will forgive you if they see a few weeds.’

It’s advice I’ve never forgotten.

A well-maintained lawn with smart edges is like having a beautiful carpet, so after the lawn is cut make sure you cut the edges too.

TIP OF THE WEEK

When the weather is hot don’t use tomato fertiliser on greenhouse tomatoes but a general purpose feed such as Maxicrop Complete liquid fertiliser. This contains less potassium. If too much of this is used in hot weather the fruits will only partially ripen leaving hard green areas. This is greenback, but follow this tip and it can be prevented.