Friday, 10 June 2011

Great Article

Could it be this which is causing the EHEC outbreak here in Germany? I'm told that the Robert Koch Institute is now saying that it WAS the sprouts after all which have caused the outbreak, but what if they're saying this to deflect the attention away from the introduction of GMOs in Europe, which is of course big business and huge on the agenda of the GM lobbies in Brussels. And as Seehofer once said, the politicians are helpless in the face of the (Pharma) lobbies.


Sunday, 5 June 2011

A look at what the roe deer did to my potatoes - probably at around 4am this morning. I was awake at the time - (my husband has been burning the midnight oil for a couple of weeks for a deadline he has to meet by tonight, and I sleep lightly at the best of times, so I must have heard him) and I could have sworn that I heard something in the garden. Unless it was the wasps which have built a nest above our window - I could hear them buzzing away and chewing their grey paper. The window was open - it being very warm at the moment - and several of them came inside. At six, I finally got up and found a few on the floor in front of the window, and on the heater. So I got rid of them before my sleepless hubby trod on one getting into bed - just as well. (He finally packed it in at 6.30am - slept for 4.5 hours and got up again at 11.30. I hope he won't have to work too late again tonight. It's been a bit much for him really.

Anyway - I went out first thing - and there was the potato patch - decimated. Oh well.
I need to find out though, what happens now? Will I still get potatoes, even if the tops have all been eaten off? They hadn't flowered so I don't know what will happen now. Maybe I'll have to wait and see.

We are thinking of ringing the lady whose job it is to keep tracks on the forest deer - she hunts and culls them every now and then - she lives quite close by - the deer have only been a problem for 3 years - before that they never came into the gardens here - maybe she can dispose of a few and give us a haunch of venison or two - after all - they ate our veggies - a bit of compensation wouldn't come amiss!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Squash Summer Dreams

This is our resident red squirrel, who has been coming onto the terrace several days this week to have a good snoop around and see what he can find to eat. Not that there's anything which might be remotely interesting for him. He climbed on to our kitchen windowsill before I was able to take this picture, and peered through into the kitchen! He's sitting on the green uprights which I bought to make a 2x4 framed cage - see below. What a cutie.

Our lovely 17 year old son is on half-term holiday at the moment and apart from revising for his GCSE exams, he has been helping me build a new frame cage for a 2x4 bed which I have sitting just in front of a tall blackberry plant. This blackberry was planted years before I started SFGing and it has good fruit, so I didn't want to get rid of it, BUT, it tended to gow and grow and then flop over my SFG 2x4, which meant that growing things upwards was a problem. Mangetout (sugar peas) were just about ok, but anything like cucumbers or squashes wouldn't have worked.  Added to that, the deer have really been a problem this year - they leap over our neighbour's fence, and then come into our garden from next door.  I have been finding lots of scat around the garden. - plus I've caught the deer on video.
 We do not own this property and so we can do nothing about the fencing situation, but the cages which I made for each bed have been very effective - so far. The problem is, the chicken wire netting isn't high enough for me to grow things like beans etc, and the mangetout which I sowed a few weeks ago were growing so tall that I have to remove the wire cage, which allowed the deer to have a good nibble.

So I've been dreaming up a fun solution which will kill three birds with one stone and not cost the earth. It had to 1. solve the deer problem, 2. provide a wall for the blackberry plant so that I could still reach the fruit to pick them and 3. give me a frame/trellis to grow butternut squashes up it, and then overhead. Three summers ago I had a wonderful butternut squash - which had three or four big gorgeous squashes on it, but it grew everywhere, even after I had trained it to grow up a trellis. Here's a picture of one of them growing. The stems began to spread out over the 4x4 and on to the bark chipping areas between the beds, until they finally reached the lawn. This was the reason why I haven't grown squashes again since then, but I love butternut squash soup in the autumn, and I have some seeds left over, so I think I'll try one again this year, although I'm rather late with starting.

So I've put some seeds into water to soak them, and I'll plant them out in small pots to see which ones take - and the strongest I'll plant at the back of the 2x4, clearing some of the mangetout to make room. By the time the squash is beginning to grow and need more room, the mangetout will be finished, so I'm hoping it will work. I don't want to wait until next year to try this out!
So, I am going to buy some more uprights - they only cost 0,88 cents each, and screw them to my other beds, with crossbars at the top. I will drill 8 holes through each of the cross bars, and feed my plastic yellow washing line from 8 nails on the long, back side of the 2x4, up to the cross bar, through the holes, across the top to the next cross bar, through those holes, across to the next, until I reach the last cross bar, where I'll tie off the washing line. The squash's stems will be able to grow up the back of the 2x4, up the washing lines, and over the square foot garden, forming a wonderful arbour to walk under, so saving space. I'll hopefully be able to pick squashes from beneath! Going shopping at the DIY tomorrow. Can't wait. I'll take and post some more pictures when I'm finished. The great thing about the cage now, is that the wire netting comes up about half way, which ís high enough to prevent the deer from getting at the vegetables, as well as low enough for me to be able to harvest the blackberries from the front. The wire netting swings round the front and is caught at the side on a few nails. The 2x4 is on a slope, which explains why the wire netting isn't at the same level all the way round.
This is the solution for the deer as far as my 3x3 is concerned. I built an extra tall cage so that my bush beans have enough room to grow up underneath.

So far it's worked well, although it doesn't stop the slugs. My beer slug traps have worked quite well, but the beans have still been decimated, and this morning I spread coarse sawdust around the areas where the slugs have been at work, in the hope that they will find the barrier too much to cope with. There's a marigold in the middle, which will, God willing, keep other pests at bay. The rocket is doing brilliantly, as ever. The deer and slugs hate it. Good thing too, because we love it.