Tag Archive | Equisetum arvense

Tackling A Problem Area on Plot Four (Part Two)

Don’t forget I will be back on Monday 24th February.

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Happy Valentines Day!

I did my romantic bit today and gave Mr Thrift some homemade shortbread hearts.  Shortbread is Mr Thrift’s favourite biscuit and they are so easy to make and taste really good too.  The recipe I used is here.  I just ‘poshed’ them up by using a heart cutter and sandwiched them together with buttter icing and jam to make them a bit more special.

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Well it’s been another wet and windy week, but I am grateful to say that we haven’t been suffering from floods as some parts of the country have been.  I really feel for the people affected.

In between the rain this week, I did manage to get down to my allotment a few times and finish off the area outside my polytunnel.  This is the area I began to write about on Monday, that I have been working on for the last few months between other jobs.

Just in case you haven’t seen my blog post on Monday, I took on plot number four in January 2012:

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  The area outside of my polytunnel had bugged me since I took on the plot, but I had concentrated on other areas of plot number four first.

The area was made up of a mixture of crazy paving, mowed couch grass, slabs (of different shapes and sizes) and little round pebbles which I have slipped on at various times, nearly injuring myself.  This area was also plagued with ‘horsetail’ (Equisetum arvense), which is really hard to eradicate.

January 2012 after strimming the weeds and grass.

January 2012 after strimming the weeds and grass.

At first I put my cold frame in this area, as I didn’t know what else to do here, but I found that this made it even harder to weed between the slabs, as my seed trays were in the way.

So after two years of weeding between the slabs and crazy paving and weekly sessions of strimming the couch grass, I decided enough was enough and it was time to do something about this area.

I started in Autumn by lifting the slabs and crazy paving (which is when I strained a ligament).  Most of the slabs were normal sized slabs, but one of them was enormous.  You can see it in the photograph below in front of the two blue waterbutts on the top right hand side.  I haven’t got a clue how it got there.  My brother-in-law managed to move this slab for me as I would never of managed it on my own.  He also re-laid the row of slabs directly outside my polytunnel afterwards too, which I was very grateful for.

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I used some of the slabs to widen the path near to my blackberries:

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And Mr Thrift helped me to lay another row of slabs outside of my polytunnel, so it would be easier to get my wheelbarrow into it.

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I also dug up all the couch grass.

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I then cut back my blackberries as they were becoming overgrown.

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You can see from the photo above that I had a piece of weed suppressant underneath the blackberries, which was held down with some old bits of wood.  I decided I needed to neaten around my blackberries too, so I did this with wood that I had sitting around my plot.

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The area next to my blackberries used to be an old ‘dyke’ that dried up many years ago.  Occaisionally when we have excessive amounts of rain in one go, then the ‘dyke’ runs again as you can see in the photo below, taken in November 2012:

I decided to lift all the old carpet that was in the dyke and replaced it with weed suppressant.  The carpet shouldn’t really have been there as it is banned from our allotment site due to the chemicals it can contain.

I am now planning to grow some plants through the weeds suppressant, when I get around to it, to pretty the area up.

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I had spent many hours wondering what to do with the area outside my polytunnel, now that it was cleared.  I have quite enough growing space on my other three plots for all the vegetables I want to grow, so I didn’t really want to use this space for that and after all, as I said previously, this area was plagued with weeds, especially ‘horsetail’.  I also thought about planting a tree here, but I didn’t want to shade my polytunnel either….

I mentioned on Monday that plot number four was turning into my ‘pleasure plot’, as here I have my wildflower area, my woodland area, my dad’s area, my polytunnel and my fruit tree area.  So after lots of thought I decided to have a ‘peaceful’ area, where I can have my lunch or just sit and relax when I am tired.

So I bought some weed suppressant from my allotment site shop  (it’s really cheap from there) and laid it over the area

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I used prunings again to edge the two fruit bushes that I planted here last year and made three more small beds too

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Then I laid wood chippings over the area

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I split and transplanted grasses from my other plot and added some stepping stones.  I also made a low fence all around the area made with prunings from my apple trees:

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Finally I moved my old bench from behind my polytunnel to finish it all off and I am really pleased with the result:

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I am really looking forward to sitting in this area.

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Next week is half term for my daughters, so I will be taking a week off blogging to spend some quality time with them.

So I will be back on Monday 24th February

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Parsnips, celeriac, cabbage and swede from my allotment this week.

Parsnips, celeriac, cabbage and swede from my allotment this week.

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Just before I go, I thought I would share something with you.  It was my eldest daughters 16th birthday this week.  I can’t quite believe that I’ve a sixteen year old daughter…the years have flown by.  She has turned into a beautiful, caring young lady who I love spending time with.

My daughter loves the pop group ‘One Direction’ and again asked for a ‘One Direction’ cake.  I cheated a bit and bought the pop group figures made of icing, but the rest of the cake I made and she was really pleased with it.

Just in case you are wondering, the hearts all say ‘1D’ which is short for ‘One Direction’:

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Thank you for reading my blog today.

Don’t forget I will be back on Monday 24th February.

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Half-Term Kids Activities and Weed Week – ‘Horsetail’

As it’s half term for the children here in Leicestershire this week, I thought I’d do something a little bit different. Each day I will be looking at a different activity to do with children. The activity will be fun and obviously cheap.

 

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Firstly though, I will continue with ‘Weed week – know your enemy’. The more you know about a weed, the more likely you are to stop it from taking hold in your garden.

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Today’s weed is Equisetum arvense (Horsetail) – A perennial weed

The Latin name for Horsetail is ‘Equisetum arvense’. It is derived from the Latin words ‘equus’, meaning horse, and ‘seta’, meaning bristle.

Equisetum arvense (Horsetail) is often confused with ‘Mare’s-tail’ which is a similar shaped weed. ‘Mare’s-tail’ (Hippuris vulgaris) is actually an aquatic weed that is commonly found in ponds or slow flowing streams.

Equisetum arvense or Horsetail is a perrenial weed, (a plant that lives for more than two years)

The stems of Horsetails contain significant quantities of silica granules and silica based compounds that give the plant mildly abrasive qualities, which were utilised by early settlements for cleaning pots and polishing wood. Medical records dating back to ancient Roman, Greek and Chinese civilisations show that Horsetail has been used as a herbal medicine with multiple uses.

I think Horsetail is a fascinating weed as it has been around for approximately thirty million years. Its descendants, a group of ancient tree like plants, thrived 300 million years ago. Fossil evidence has been found that show some of these ancestors reached over thirty metres in height.

Horsetail is really hard to eradicate as the rhizomes go very deep into the soil, in fact several meters down. They like moist clay soil and thrive in these conditions, but it will grow in most soils.

Weed killers are not usually effective in killing this weed, as it has a hard waxy cuticle. You can use glyphosate to try and kill Horsetail, but you need to ‘bruise’ parts of each plant to allow the weed killer to penetrate it.

A better choice is to hoe it really frequently, as this will eventually ‘starve’ the plant as it won’t be able to photosynthesize effectively.

When you are next ‘cursing’ this weed, remember it has been around far longer than we have.

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Today’s Half-Term Activity – A Rain Catcher and Weather Chart

As it’s autumn here in the UK and the weather isn’t always good, I thought it would be good to include a Rain Catcher, so kids can record the amount of rain that actually falls and a Weather Chart.

You can tailor this activity to the age of the children.  Older children can do this in far more detail.

All you need is an old bottle and a wooden spoon, and a few drops of food colouring (if you have some).  The colouring just helps the kids see the water better but it isn’t necessary.

Cut the bottle into two pieces.

Put the top half of the bottle upside down, inside the other half of the bottle so it fits snugly.

Add a few drops of food colouring (if you have it) so you can see the rain water easily.

Mark a wooden spoon with lines, one centimetre apart from the bottom of the spoon.

Have fun decorating the wooden spoon, however you want to and then place it inside the bottle.

Put it outside to catch the rain.  I put rocks around mine to stop it blowing away.

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To carry on the weather theme, children may find it fun to fill in a weather chart each day as well. The picture below shows a chart that is more suitable to smaller children.  Older children could do a chart in far more detail and even take this one step further and look at cloud shapes and names or past and current temperatures.

It’s all educational but fun and if they take it into school after half-term, I’m sure it will impress their teachers:

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today