Tag Archive | A DIY fruitcage

Hidden Leicester, Cabbage Root Flies And More…

This week I nipped into town for a few bits and bobs.  On the way to the shops I took a detour and walked past Leicester Cathedral, as there have been a lot of changes to this area due to Richard III.

I pleasently surprised at how lovely this area now looks:

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I also passed through an area behind the Mary De Castro church where I walked through the ‘Turret Gateway’ which dates back to approximately 1423.

Years ago I took the same walk but didn’t know anything about it, so I was pleasently surprised to see that there is now an interesting information board next to it.

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I then walked past Castle Gardens and it was lovely and neat and the flower beds looked beautiful:

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I do wonder how many other beautiful areas there are in Leicester that I have forgotten about or that have been renovated…..perhaps it’s time I started to pay more attention to the city I was born in.

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This week we have had lots of rain and I have been dodging the showers outside.  Amazingly the ‘makeshift’ water butt that I set up next to my greenhouse (which I will sort properly when I get around to it), is full already.  This area obviously collects more water than I realised and I may need to set up another waterbutt there as well, so I can collect as much water as possible for my garden.

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Between the showers I have been sorting my cabbages.  Two weeks ago I planted my red and whilte cabbages and put plastic bottles over them to act as a mini cloche to each of them.  This was to protect them from the cold nights and the slugs while they were small.  However, they have grown so well that they were beginning to become squashed in the bottles, so it was time I did something about it.

I first built a D-I-Y cage using bottles and canes:

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I then removed the bottles and made homemade (and free) cabbage collars out of old cardboard, which I then placed around the cabbages to protect the plants from the cabbage root fly.

“Cabbage collars can cost between £3 or £4 for 30, but you can make them easily by using a square piece of cardboard which you cut a cross in the middle and place around the stem.  The cross in the middle allows the stem to grow.

  By using cabbage collars, you can avoid the cabbage root fly from laying eggs at the base of your plants.  The Larvae are white, headless and legless maggots and they feed on the roots of brassicas.  This will cause your brassica’s to either grow weakly or just wilt and die.

The following year, cabbage root fly will emerge from the pupae which overwintered in the soil.  This is a good reason to rotate your crops each year”.

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 I then put a net over the top of my bottle and cane structure, to stop cabbage white butterflies from laying there eggs on the leaves of my plants.

“Cabbage white butterflies lay eggs on brassicas (usually underneath the leaves) between May and October and it is the resulting caterpillars that do the damage to your plants by eating the leaves.

  The easiest way to stop them is by covering your plants with a net, but make sure the net has small enough holes and the sides are firmly attached to the ground to stop the butterflies from entering.

If you do find the tell tale yellow eggs on your brassicas, then you can squash them between your fingers and the caterpillars can be picked off using your fingers and destroyed”.

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I will soon be planting kale next to my cabbages, so I have made sure my cage was tall enough and the net was long enough to cover the kale as well.

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By the way, you can use this D-I-Y cage on a much larger scale if you want to.  In fact at my old allotment I used the same bottle and cane structure to make a cheap fruit cage:

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And also, don’t forget you can store your bottle cloches ready to use again easily, by using a cane pushed into the ground and sliding the bottles over them:

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This week in my garden I thinned the khol rabi I sowed a few weeks ago.  I find it easier to use a pair of scissors to thin my seedlings out, as this stops any root disturbance to the remaining seedlings (a tip that Angus Scott gave on my blog – so thank you Angus).

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Also, the area where I sowed my wild flowers a few weeks ago had a visit from a squirrel.  Unfortuantely one of my neighbours feed the squirrels money nuts and they dig the garden to hide them.

So I covered the area with wire that I brought home from my allotment, hopefully this will deter the squirrel while my plants are young.

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I ‘earthed up’ the potatoes I put in my old dustbin, by putting a few inches of compost over the shoots.  I will continue doing this until the shoots have grown over the top of the bin as this will stop the potatoes from turning green from the light.

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I transplanted my greenhouse tomatoes this week into their final pots.  I use old Blood, fish and bone pots to grow them in, with holes drilled in the bottom.  The lids make great saucers to catch the water underneath the pots in the greenhouse too:

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I also gave my greenhouse a sort out this week and removed some staging that I haven’t use this year, as I’m growing so many seeds.  This staging had become a bit of a ‘dumping’ place which wasn’t good:

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Unfortunately one of the two cucumber plants I grew from seed died this week.  Unfortunately cucumbers are suseptable to ‘root rot’ when the soil is too wet….I do know this and I obviously wasn’t careful enough, so it serves me right for not paying enough attention.  Luckily the other cucumber plant is doing well:

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Over the past few weeks I have been wondering where to plant my outdoor tomato plants at the end of May and this week I decided on a place outside my greenhouse.

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I dug up the grass (and the forget-me-not that had self seeded) and realised that the soil was dreadful…. there was only about an inch of top soil, which was full of stones.  So I dug some of the subsoil out and replaced it with a mix of compost and manure, ready for my tomatoes.  I then edged it with some of the stones I found when I was first clearing my new kitchen garden area:

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It looks much neater now and the forget-me-not is now sitting in a pot until it dies:

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In The Home This Week….

Back in the home this week I have decided to get a bit more organised and I bought a ‘things to do’ book to help me.  I borrowed some ‘post it notes’ from my daughter to create sections in the book:

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I am hoping that I will actually remember to write in it, so I don’t forget the jobs that I need to do.  I always had a book at my allotment for this reason where I would walk around my plot on a Monday morning and look at what needed to be done….I can’t see any reason why this won’t work in the home too….I’ll let you know in a few weeks.

I wonder if anyone reading this blog keeps a ‘things to do book’ too.  If you do, let me know if it’s successful.

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‘Leftovers’

Finally this week, I found myself in a situation where I had three sausages and a small amount of cooked chicken leftover in my fridge…..so I cooked the sausages, chopped them up and put them in a ‘use it up’ curry together with the cooked chicken and left over vegetables that I had in my freezer (I always freeze left over cooked veg to use in pies and curries etc).

I have never thought of using sausages in a curry before and I actually wondered if they would taste horrible, but I’ve got to say, they were really nice!

The recipe for the ‘Use it up curry’ can be found here if anyone is interested.

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Well that’s it for today, but I will be back next Friday as usual.

I hope you have a good weekend and thank you for reading my blog.

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A Cheap Fruitcage, Potatoes And A Flower Patch

This week, I have noticed that it has been slightly warmer in the afternoons and the weather forecasters are promising that it is going to warm up over the weekend.  I really hope it does, as up to now it feels like ‘Spring’ has been on hold.

The only positive thing about the colder weather, is the weeds haven’t started to grow vigorously yet, so I’m not using my hoe every week, as I did this time last year.

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The daffodils are flowering beautifully now.  This inspired me to do a bit of work on my flower patch.  Up until a few weeks ago, there was a swing next to my flower patch.  As my daughters don’t use the swing anymore, I moved it.  This week, I dug the grass up where it stood, so my flowers patch is now an ‘L’ shape and will look much better when I have finished planting it up.  I will be looking out for some cheap plants to buy now.

My flower patch, winter 2012

My flower patch, winter 2012

My flower patch today.

My flower patch today.

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This week I put my two fruit cages up, over my fruit bushes.  I love my ‘cheap’ fruit cages, as this is the third year I have used them and they work a treat.  They are made out of canes and old hand wash bottles.  I find hand wash bottles are ideal to use, as they are made out of a softer plastic that doesn’t become brittle over time.  I bought the nets from ebay three years ago, for approximately £40 for both cages, but this is far cheaper than buying a ready made fruit cage and I can easily take my cages down when the plants have stopped fruiting.  You can see my fruit cage below:

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This week I have also planted my second early potatoes.  The variety I like is ‘Marfona’, which produce a high yield of large potatoes, suitable for boiling, mashing and baking.  I love the first potatoes of the year, boiled and dressed with lots of butter.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it now.

I struggle to dig trenches and line it with manure, before I plant my potatoes, as it’s such hard work.  I have tried different ways to plant my potatoes, but the best way for me is to fork manure into the ground over the autumn / winter and then plant the potatoes with a bulb planter, dropping them in the hole and then covering them up with soil again.  I then earth them up as normal when they are about 10cm high:

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Afterwards I used my bulb planter again to plant some galdioli’s that I had bought form Wilkinson’s:

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In my polytunnel, the weeds are starting to grow now and so I gave it a good hoe.  I then planted out some lettuce that I had grown from seed in March.  The variety is ‘Webbs wonderful’ which my family really like.  I also sowed two rows of carrots and a row of radish.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be warm enough at night, for the seeds to germinate.

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Another job I managed to do was dig over my wildflower patch ready to sow my wildflower seeds next month.  Just in case you haven’t seen the photo’s from my wildflower patch last year, you can see them here.

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Finally, I planted my shallots (over a month later than I normally plant them out due to the cold weather).  My shallots were growing in newspaper pots and they had all rooted well.  I planted the shallots together with the newspaper pots, making sure that none of the newspaper pots were showing above the ground.  If a newspaper pot is above the soil level, it acts like a wick and the plant dries out.

I am really pleased they are finally in the ground now.

My shallots finally planted

My shallots finally planted at my allotment

It has been another busy week at the allotment and I still have loads to do, but that’s what’s so wonderful about gardening, your work is never finished.

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

I’ll be back on Monday at 4pm.  Have a good weekend.