Saturday, February 23, 2013

Hi all,
         AHH March in  the garden,Cold & Wet.What to do in the garden at this time of the year,well there is alway work to do.
Come March in the Community Garden

Harvest  Any leeks left standing should come up now – you can freeze them for use in soups and stews. Parsnips too should come up in early March before they try and re-grow. You may have spinach beet and chards available, the last of the late Brussels sprouts, winter cauliflowers, kale, swedes, salsify and scorzonera. Don't forget to keep checking the purple sprouting!
General Jobs in the Plot  Have a good tidy up and finish those odd construction jobs because you are going to be busier still later in the year. If you have any horticultural fleece, you can peg that onto the ground a week or so before you plant. The small rise in temperature of the soil can make a big difference
Sowing, Planting and Cultivating  If the weather permits you can plant your onion and shallot sets. March is usually the right time to establish an asparagus bed if you are starting from crowns.  Mid-March should let you start planting those early potatoes you've had chitting and talking of root crops, you can plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers now.
Vegetables to Sow Ø  Beetroot    Ø  Broad Beans  Ø  Early peas (but they may do best started in a gutter in the greenhouse then slipped into a trench)  Ø  Brussels sprouts – early varieties like Peer Gynt will be ready in September Ø  Kohlrabi  Ø  Leeks   Ø  Lettuce    Ø  Radish     Ø  Parsnips     Ø  Spinach Beet   Ø  Early turnips
Sow in Heat Your windowsill or a propagator in the greenhouse will come into use now to start off your tomatoes, peppers, aubergines and cucumbers.
Under Cloche  Summer cabbages and early cauliflowers, early carrots will get away best under a cloche. If you set your cloche up a week or two beforehand, it will warm up the soil so you will get even better results.Many of the crops you can sow directly will also benefit from cloching, especially if you grow in the north of the country, or start off seeds in modules in a cool greenhouse or coldframe and then plant out later.
Fruit :Planting and Pruning There is still time to finish planting bare root fruit trees and bushes, especially raspberries and other cane fruits. Early this month you can still prune apple and pear trees while they are still dormant. It's also time to prune gooseberries and currants. With currants shorten the side shoots to just one bud and remove old stems from the centre of the bushes.
They'll benefit from some compost spread around the base as well.
Scutch Grass in the Community Garden/Couch Grass
Botanical name; Elymus repens
Scutch grass is one of the most common garden weeds. It is a persistent perennial grass that spreads quickly by means of underground stolon’s or stems. From buds spread along these stems, new shoots push up to the surface, spread their leaves and begin to grow. The underground shoot is sharply pointed and can exert enough force to drive through a potato tuber.
If left uncheck, an area of scutch grass expands and at the same time, becomes more dense within a clump. The roots emits a chemical that reduces growth by other plants and makes scotch grass formidable competitor for shrubs, trees, perennial flowers, fruit trees and roses. Scutch is generally found in any garden soil that is not very wet, it thrives in poor soil but is most vigorous in good fertile soil.
Control of isolated plants, is quite easy by easing out the entire root system with a digging fork. Any piece left behind soon roots again. Continuous hoeing of the green tops gives control but persistence is essential.
On bigger areas, the best approach is to cover the ground with black plastic or carpet to exclude all light, there must be no clinks of light. Depending on the level of infection and the time of year, this can take several months to clear. 
Saturday, 23 February 2013         Making home-made Bird fat blocks
 Here is all you need to make bird fat blocks:
A much needed foodstuff for foraging birds at this time of the year.
Lard (500g)
Mixed seed, Sunflower seed & Peanuts (600g),Add Mealworms if you want.

Various yoghurt, pasta sauce, cream pots etc. String or Twine.
Some twigs.Large sauce pan (preferably an old one).
Large mixing bowl
Make a small hole in the base of each pot, cut twigs into lengths slightly wider than pot, diagonal measurement is ideal. Tie twig to end of string/twine and thread through hole.    
Melt Lard over heat in old sauce pan, once in  liquid form, leave to cool a little. Whilst waiting it's an ideal time to prepare the pots. When Lard is cooler but still liquid, poor into seed mix in mixing bowl, stir occasionally until the mixture starts to stiffen, takes about 20-30mins. It's best not to fill pots when lard is still liquid as it will leak out of hole in pot base.
  A good tip is to put your finger over the hole whilst you fill the pots up with the seed & lard mixture, then the liquid can’t leak out as you fill. I have also refilled some square containers that contained bird cake that fit in those wire feeders. Leave for a few hours (preferably overnight) in a cool place, then carefully press them out. If your mixture is firm enough they should slide out easily, if not sliding a knife around sides will help to release it.                             
Hang up anywhere suitable, a tree branch is ideal, but I have used old shelf brackets on an archway & on the corners of my fruit cage. No sooner are they in place and the birds home in on them, a Robin had a nibble of this one but flew off before I could take a pic.
The twigs act as a stopper so the seed ball cannot slide of the string/twine and makes a handy perch for small birds.
Have a good day.

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South Circular Road Community Food Garden Project

The South Circular Road Community Food Garden Project started in April 2007. We have a derelict site on loan from ST Salvage Company that we have converted into a community food garden. This is a continuation of the initial successful Dolphins Barn Community squatted food garden that was on the canal from 2005 -2007.