Online meeting .

Experiments(Last edited )
Ionut Barbu
Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hello everyone .

Was nice to see you all in the meeting and also chat with Diane by texting .

Lots of good ideas and things to try , for example the cornmeal for slugs , sound good .

Thank you all for joining and excuse me for hiding now and then , always something to do in the allotments :) .

Happy gardening to all !

19 comments

Hi Ionut

Great to 'meet' you (and everyone else on the meet-up) it was brilliant to have you live from your allotment!

I will have to suggest the cornmeal to my mum, she grows hostas and finds slugs (and snails) to be a big problem, although they are all hiding from the drought at the moment.

Best wishes

Victoria

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hi Victoria .

Great to ‘meet’ you too :) and thank you .

There’s still loads to do in the experiment plots and hopefully good results until winter .

Cornmeal sounds good and yeah slugs and snails hide most of the day but they still nibble some of our plants .

Have you tried pickling anything yet ?

Best wishes .

Ionuț .

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hi Victoria .

I know the feeling , there’s always some to do “next time “ :) .

Hopefully you’ll get some harvest to try it .

Happy growing !

Ionuț

Carol Knightcoventry, United Kingdom

Hi Ionut. I wish I could have been there to see your plot. Maybe next time. Thank you also for your kind comments on the blog. Being a dumbo I have not worked out how to access the comments received by email with the wordpress stuff. Ah well. IMHO best to live a lot and learn a bit more each day.

Our good news is the lottie committee have decided to leave us alone. Google Earth did prove 2 of the 3 demerits we received were wrong. Committee sortof admitted they had mixed us up with our neighbour in the end but since said neighbour works miracles with her soil depleted plot as well as runs her own business and has young children it would have been out of order to send that to her anyway. you can see her plot in my photos.

The cornmeal reference sound interesting. Would the principle apply to all flours and grains? Has anyone tried the nemotode solution mentioned in June yet? I made a liquid atop a compost heap and note a distinct absence of slugs. It could have worked but at the present moment I have to admit I have only checked in hot, dry daylight and said compost heap is as dry has can be. Maybe that makes a differnce! LOL

Hopefully we will have the technology in place for the August meeting allbeit with a new account cos NEW always means boys toys. LOL.

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hello Carol .

You haven’t missed much , our allotments look pretty untidy but I am thankful we have them .

One of the reasons to want them was to encourage our kids ( and us ) to know and eat better fruits and vegetables .

We are very happy to see that it works , the happiness of our little ones when they see strawberries or raspberries is priceless !

It’s a good news indeed that the committee is giving you guys a break .

As you said before , the allotments should be a hobby too , not a chore that requires all your spare time .

About the slug/nematodes stuff that was mentioned I am getting close to it , without the want to sound cruel , the slugs numbers are going underwater .

What I do is to put some of them in a jar with water and weeds for a week or so and then just replace it with new slugs .

Many seedling still disappear , out of 30 mooli radish seeds one survived..

Just discovered a new visitor , a mouse under a water butt . Your website is nice , I know all things require time and often we don’t have it .

Looking forward to the next online meeting , hopefully you’ll get the ‘new toys ‘ sorted , it’s great to share our ideas .

Happy gardening to all !

Carol Knightcoventry, United Kingdom

Hi Ionut. An organic allotment is a magical place to teach youngsters the miracle of good food, happy plants and health. I am sure your lottie looks vibrant and full of life. We have far more growing in the well (over) planted plots which is buzzing with life than we do on the prairy. Behind the raspberries I collect my own seed which the buzzies adore. It desperately need more mulch but the ground cover helps.

On my plot mice are a big nuisance with my peas and beans. The resident ginger cat does well but not good enough. The mice get into the greenhouse so I have to germinate legumes in planters inside a net bag. I use the orange net onion bags from farmfoods. I do get a few direct sown legumes but the critters do not leave me many plants.

Do you direct sow your mooli? I remember entire rows of crops germinating from direct sowing in by youth and cannot decide if my lack of success doing it now is because the green lady/lady nature/ghia encourages children, the soil is less receptive or critters are making bigger demands on accessible foraging land.

In regard to radish I am wondering if it can be grown has a perennial. I once knew someone who had a "radish bush" about 3ft high and wide. It was some years ago and I did not know about eating the seed pods at the time so I did not ask the questions I should have. It was already some years old so it looked nothing like any radish I have ever seen.

It seems the new android will download Zoom so theoretically we should be online and around next time. It does not seem to pick up a signal in our garden though so I doubt we can use it on the lottie. Hope you will be on yours.

Enjoy your gardening. Happily it seems to be a good year for courgettes and tomatoes so bountiful nature is providing.

Carol Knightcoventry, United Kingdom

Oops sorry posted without mentioning the dreaded s word. I made the slug and weed tea. Diluted the mixture in a watering can and applied it to the narrow strip between a hedge and a 710mm high raised bed. So theoretically shady and damp. There does seem to be less slugs than I would expect but they would be in hiding in this weather so I am waiting and monitoring.

Unscientifically I am having greater success with the nematode solution than I am having with the beer traps

Anecdotally I think the fact that Mrs Blackbird fills her beak by following the route my watering can takes has a bearing on the total slug population.

Reply — Last edited
C OSBOURNManchester, United Kingdom

Sorry I couldn't meet you all last week. I had massive deadlines at work :(

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hello Carol .

I’ve been thinking to reply for a couple of days just couldn’t . What do you save the seeds from ?

I also try to save seeds from all the plants :) .

I’ve heard the term ‘beyond organic ‘ in the some permaculture videos and someone said organic farming can still be damaging the soil and other problems .

I’ve sown the mooli seeds direct but doesn’t look like a good move .

Might try to make a frame-kind of template with copper on top for seedlings but just project now .

There’s definitely loads happening in the garden with surprises and things that fail .

But there’s so much good results I don’t mind , we cannot be successful in every aspect of this very simple and complicated gardening .

I’ll have to try as you said with the slug plant feed/nematodes solution again around the damp areas where they hide .

So far with the radishes I know many self seeds easily but cannot say about them being perennials ( past two years ) .

My Spanish black round radishes went to 6 feet easily in the second year .

Hopefully you’ll be able to join in the next online meeting .

Best wishes Ionuț .

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hello Caroline .

Sorry that you couldn’t join last online meeting .

Did you had a good holiday ? The photos you posted look very nice .

How are yours borlotti beans ? I am still sowing some of mine , didn’t had too many plants surviving .

Hopefully you’ll join next month .

Best wishes .

Ionuț

Carol Knightcoventry, United Kingdom

Hi All. Hope you are enjoying the summer.

Sorry to hear about your work pressures Caroline. Hope you get time to relax in the garden to recover from the stresses of the day.

Hi Ionut. I received your message yesterday so I (meaning himself) took a pic of the orchard which I have just posted to the blog. As you can see it is very different growing pattern from the area illustrated in my previous posts. It is taken next to the seeding red sorrell with foxgloves, lemon sorrell, chard, parsnip and celery in the frame.

I wanted to take a picture from the gate with the seed leeks in view but never got round to asking. I will try to remember today. I too would like to take cuttings or seeds from everything but space and crops that need to be isolated limits my ambition.

I am very opinionated about not trying to take seed from certain types of plant ie F1 and I do keep to a single, heritage variety if i am taking seed. Sweetcorn is our only F1 purchase but I also get some in free giveaways. Due to cross pollination there is no point saving seed from sweetcorn on our site but it was easy to do successfully. I used to use a variety of corn from real seeds with swiss in the name. That is a great site to refer to for advice on seed saving.

I have saved cabbage and kale seeds but for me it is not worth the trouble. I am a one women soap box campaigning for the preservation of kales many of which take from cuttings.

Green manures, chard and beans must be the easiest seed to save. Because I am lucky enough to have the orchard area illustrated I have space to plant biennials for seed. Chard and some salad leaves, especially tree spinach spread everywhere but they are easy to remove and provide a lot of material for the compost heap.

I would also recommend saving leek seed. It is supposed to bolt if sown too early. and I more than half agree with that as I think the plants that did not bolt may have germinated later than the ones that did. Achocha fat baby again from real seeds. It looks spectacular when it takes off but I think I have flopped with that this year.

I am going to try growing perennial radish and have sown some mooli and black spanish from my stash of freebie seeds. I have asked a friend to interrogate the plotholder that had the radish bush if she sees him. I am certain I know a lady who will have all the answers if I ever go back to work again. Dratted arthritis. I should move somewhere less humid than the UK.

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hello Carol .

The photo with the orchard view it’s nice you can even see some apples in the right :) .

Also recognised red clover going to seed and possibly parsnips .

I try to save seeds from plants that don’t have too many of .

Even if they are F1 , my idea is to find out what exactly grows , already saved some seeds from a F1 red kale and sown them .

I like the alliums flowers and try to save seeds from them too , more recent was chives .

How would you take cutting from kale ?

I heard before of it but never tried .

I’ve seen the achocha online but never growing .

Also restricted in my ambitions by the growing space :) .

With sweet corn didn’t had much succes yet , three years that I am trying , hopefully this one will be the good one !

Sorry to hear your arthritis is playing up , does it get worse in rainy days ?

Hope you feel better .

Best wishes . Ionuț

Carol Knightcoventry, United Kingdom

you are spot on. There are several apple trees which keep us supplied through to Feb. Sometimes March. Plenty of red clover which I adore growing through brunnera for theshort time they are both in flower. For humus I grow green manure. jerusalems and chard. Maybe I should add strawberry but I use them more as a living mulch and to build depleted soil. I save the seed off green manures red clover, phacelia, field bean wizard, buckwheat (just about to start collecting that) tares and rye grass. I think the birds eat most of the rye grass and sunflower seed but I do well with the rest although I plan to reduce use of field beans in favour of aquadulce claudia.

Achocha is a great plant in a sheltered spot with poor soil. In August it suddenly goes mad and reaches for the sky. The fruits are interesting but not something I would ever miss. It shrivels to nothing at the first sign of frost so not a significant contributor to the compost heap either.

That is parsnip. One of them has got rather large but I did cut it down to the ground last year. Seed parsnip is supposed to deter codling moth so it is a good plant for the orchard. It is a small, sweet variety. I have tried a couple of modern varieties recently but prefer this one. Also celery. There is also salsify but the seed has already been collected. Two types of sorrell, both setting seed for a second time this season. A variety of herbs, chinese artichokes, oca. There are carrots in the boxes. I tried saving seed from them once but forgot to do the actual collecting! It seemed easy enough so I may try again but like brassica we do get a lot of seed for a reasonable price if we shop in the right places.

To propagate kale I just take shoots of new growth around this time of year, put it in the ground and keep it moist. The covo in my pic of the experimental plot was last July's row. We were picking it throughout winter and sheared down the previous years row in May (normally March/April). That is regrowing now so I am picking salad leaves of that.

Other than leeks I am not sure about growing alliums from seed. I save garlic cloves and shallots. I just break up clumps of chives, chinese and egyptian. I treat elephant garlic has a perennial crop but I ensure I start a new row each year - just in case! I collect the leek seed in September and sow a few straight away and make the proper sowing in March. The early sowing is supposed to bolt which for seed saving is an advantage. I just make sure I never have ornamental alliums in the crop beds because I seem to end up with onion seeds all over the place. Happily, like salsify they are extremely pretty.

I grew the heritage sweetcorn from real seeds for 5 years without trouble but I did leave the seeds on the cob until I planted them the next April. The only reason I do not do that now is corn is hubby's province so he chooses the variety and our latest plot is a much better location for them but our neighbour grows hers alongside. Check out the tips on the real seeds website you may find some advice to improve your success.

I have rubbish genetic heritage and arthritis is just one challenge. It is not nice especially when gardening. I had the first hip done in Feb and think I will have a knee done before the second hip. I understand it is less of a problem in drier climates.

Hope your harvests are bountiful. The fruit has arrived and left in the blink of an eye but salad and courgettes seem happy. My first tomato should be ready for picking next week. Fingers crossed.

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hello Carol .

It’s great that you have so many apples !

We have only 3 trees for now , 2 of them full these days but many are damaged .

I was suppose to plant some fennel around but didn’t found the moment .

We also have phacelia growing from seeds saved .

Talking of broad beans , have you ever seen beetles inside the seeds ?

I’ve found them in beans and broad beans .

So far haven’t found a cure for them ..

Thank you for the kale cutting idea :) .

The seeds saved from Redbor F1 germinated really well , we’ll see what grows ..

The corn is growing very well , is sheltered and is Golden bantam so hopefully smaller and quicker to crop .

There’s plenty of things growing , I am just thankful for all things especially in this weather .

I you to feel better after the hip replacement , cannot imagine how painful that might be .

Best wishes .

Ionuț

Carol Knightcoventry, United Kingdom

The number of trees we have is not something I would recommend for an allotment but we have not added to the number. It was an overgrown orchard when we took it on. We have an ancient pear and very old bramley, early worcester and granny smith plus several younger trees planted by our predeccessor as well as some grafted by ourselves. Our predecessor was unable to maintain the plot for the last three years so it was very overgrown and wild when we got it.

Turning the plot around taught us about step over trees, results of aged weed suppressant sandwiches, use of living mulches of herbs and the results of composting couch and ground elder. We have no step overs or weed suppressant. The compost has been very successful and the mulches have been great in crowding out the couch and elder. We chose less invasive varieties of mint and because we use a lot of mint in sauces, salad dressings and mint tea it is regularly harvested. Lemon balm and red clover are good for making country wine.

The younger trees are now summer pruned. We are working towards a columnar shapes with short branches and spurs from 18in above ground level. Still very much work in progress as the orchard always plays second to the cropping areas. I do have bronze fennel between an unidentified golden delicious type of apple and the fig. It has been regrowing for 5 years, is pretty, smells gorgeous, I save the seed and have never got around to learning more about it. I must do but it is very close to the asparagus which always gets my attention first. Then I walk past the poor underappreciated beauty and gawp at the licqourice. I shall be looking for my first harvest off that this year.

I have not had problems with legumes myself but have read a moth is hatching in broad beans this year. I have not seen any mention of a treatment but the people affected can really only use hand pickoff and soapy water. If I had a problem I would clear the crop and turn the soil letting the birds clean up at intervals during the process. Pests are known to overwinter within the top 6inches of soil so I would turning it to that depth although that is probably not possible at the moment I suspect. Do what you can and let the birds feast. I have no idea what the no dig solution would be.

Good luck with your redbor.

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hi Carol .

Sounds like you have a nice variety in there :) . Who does the grafting ? I only tried last year to graft a morello cherry scion on Stella cherry . Didn’t worked , will try again :)

Never heard of country wine before , what is it ?

We have a few lemon balm plants , I use it for tea .

I got bronze fennel plant too , it’s regrowing in the same place for the second year , haven’t got any seeds yet .

Are you growing liquorice ? I’ve seen someone on the telly growing it a couple of days ago :)

I’ve grown up close to the Danube and when going around with my dad we use to harvest wild water mint , my favourite now is chocolate black peppermint . I drink mint tea at least once a week :)

Lately the only time I dig is when planting or moving plants around .

In the autumn and winter I try to keep the soil covered but don’t have enough leaves and cardboard or green manures .

Thank you , even if it’s not going to be like Redbor I am happy it’s growing and the microgreens are tasty ( tried a few already ) :)

Best wishes Ionuț

Carol Knightcoventry, United Kingdom

I have black peppermint for tea and chocolate mint but not chocolate peppermint. That sounds interesting. I also have apple, spearmint, moroccan, eau de cologne as well as balm. They smell gorgeous and are very popular with the buzzies. What did you do with the wild water mint?

Country wine is a wine made of something other than grape. I make a very good vine pruning wine too. Lol. With the advent of Lidl and Aldi I do not see much point in taking up wine making for the drink but when we started it was a very different world and did not involve a lot of cost to get started. It moved from an activity people have done casually at home for centuries and became "complicated" with "rules" . As less people seem to make their own wine nowadays the start up cost seems quite expensive nowadays. Check out wilko. I am afraid I still use tea and lemons instead of tannin and citric acid so I am an heathen. If you can get a couple of demijohns and an airlock the ingredients for 1 gallon wine are 2litre balm leaves, 1.1 kg sugar, 450g raisins, 2 oranges, 1 lemon, 1 scant tsp yeast, 1tsp yeast nutrient, 1tsp tannin.

The licquorice is very pretty. I got the original plant from the national herb centre, just outside Banbury. I should have been able to harvest it last year but there was no way I could physically dig a radish so there was no hope for licquorice. That is also why I have that spectacular Jerusalem bed to cull.

I do not know how anyone gets enough material to cover a whole plot even though my composts are a teetering mountain of vegetation after I pruned the blackcurrants today. As I clear the ground in autumn I sow wizard field bean, tares and grazing rye. With the November planted garlic, winter leaves and spring greens that keeps the ground covered. I have never had much success with over wintered broad beans but find they regrow very well if I leave a couple of inches of stem when I clear the bed. Trouble is I do not like eating wizard (supposed to be good for falafel but I have not discovered a recipe for them yet) and I get confused as to which variety I have left where. The planting plan for the previous year is always missing at the necessary point in time.

After 8 years of increasing pain I was only diagnosed with arthritis last August by which time I was in agony and unable to walk more than a few yards. A friend took pity on me and offered me access to plenty of leaves enabling me to start no dig. The technique is very new to me but you can imagine how grateful I am to it. When I get matured leaf mould I think the results will be amazing. At the moment it is hit and miss insofar as growing is concerned but this is not the best year to rely on mulch.

We have to keep out of the way of the players when we collect our leaves so we only go collecting at certain times but if you can work around that sort of stricture you may find a local sports/golf venue grateful for some assistance in leaf clearing.

It is possible to graft family trees ie several varieties on a single trunk but I do not know how to employ the rooting stock to do that unless everything is grafted on the rooting stock. If that is the case then I do not think grafting onto Stella would work. We went to a course run at an organic nursery near Pershore. There is sure to be one closer to you. They run Feb/March. It is quite simple to do so I am sure following the instructions in a book will be successful. I have left only 2 or 3 apples on our grafts as they are only 3 years old. Next year I hope to have much more.

Glad the redbor is tasty. Have you any guesses as to what the parentage may be?

Ionut BarbuRomford, United Kingdom

Hi Carol .

The chocolate black peppermint is the quickest mint I’ve seen . In three years since I’ve got it multiplied about 100 times :) . Back home we use to have it just for tea , especially dried in the winter . Now sometimes I put some with boiling potatoes and other dishes for some extra flavour . We have a few varieties but don’t know the names of others .

Sounds like a very good idea of making wine :) . This year after making some elderflower cordial , some ‘ turned ‘ to wine by ‘mistake’ . After that I’ve tried again and also wondered what other flowers could work . Since we have loads of levander around our back garden tried that too and worked but needs more yeast ( I’ve added some home made wine from my partner’s uncle ) . My nan and my grandad use to make alcohol similar to moonshine from fruit and grapes :) .

I haven’t cooked yet dried broad beans because didn’t had enough of them hopefully next year ;) .

I know some trees accept just certain others but not all . I’ll try again with morello cherries , they are my favourite also they make a great cherry liquor .

Sorry to hear that you struggled so much with the pain and gardening , good thing you can avoid it by mulching. I started the allotment with the idea of not digging too much . As a kid I use to dig around my nan garden and didn’t liked it .

As much as I could find online Redbor has some Russian dark hardy strains for sure .

Best wishes . Ionut