Wayne’s Blog on Living Food Banks
30 July The 30-day challenge
Obviously, the summer crops are being harvested so we are naturally thinking of winter. So, the winter seeds are being set- obviously, lettuce, cabbage, fennel and thinking about Christmas potatoes. Before that though a small drum roll for the results of several experiments are showing how we might use food waste. Where ginger is concerned it deinfitely likes it deep not wide. The ginger in the deep pot has grown well, the wide pot plant has given up. The sweet potato needs a lot of space though – it is a ground covering vine. I have been spiralling the vines around a large pot for weeks and it is thriving in the greenhouse. The onions from food waste work well – but make sure you divide them when they start sprouting with a sharp knife. The results have been great, as have the spring onions rooted in shallow soil. Parsnip and radish tops less of a success. Although I am now seeing if the flowers will give me the seed pods to cook with. We are harvesting cabbages grown from the base of food waste cabbages. They looked ropey to start with and I have had to keep pinching the flowering stems off and then we had hearting cabbages on the stem, four to a stem for the white cabbage. Ideal for coleslaw or a Sunday roast veg. The red cabbage less of success but I am noticing some hearting on the one plant that did not go spindly and produce nothing but flowers. Finally, mushrooms are showing signs of growing on the coffee grounds in the recycled polystyrene package pots filled and sealed in plastic bags. An advantage has been the pressed cardboard packaging for this – wrapped in a plastic bag from a loaf of bread – seems to be make shitake mushrooms mycelium incredibly happy.
The raspberries are coming into fruit and the last of the gooseberries seem to be feeding the dogs. This means we are looking at preservation apart from using the freezer. Gluts of rhubarb can be frozen or used for a nice ice cream. The mint leaves are drying for a supply of mint tea (on a sheet of kitchen towel, on a try in the airing cupboard seems to dry things best). The windfall apples are going for their traditional use as fodder and placed in the chicken’s run. As there are so many there is a larger number going into the compost bin, prompting thoughts about how many we will be left with for the real harvest. One final thought on gluts remember your rhubarb roots need to build up a supply of energy – so do not denude but leave the leaves so the roots can build up their reserves.
In terms of plants I am now looking at 30 day to harvest type plants. This means still planting radish in short spurts along the same row. It helps with succession and stops the radish glut. Lettuce would be an obvious one and possibly a sneaky courgette, but we have lettuce all over the place, including cut and come again so not really needed. If you do not have them worth a go. I have also added a couple more celery plants for the winter. Those I have left to flower are producing seed, so I am hoping to be making celery salt soon.
With all the summer harvesting obviously, I am thinking about winter. What else is a garden for food other than a time to think of the future. Not the times when the unripening tomatoes finally ripen (I am thinking of resorting to the banana trick with some plants. Apparently, you can get more fruit if you harvest the tomatoes that are about to turn and leaving those with a banana. This means the plant then starts producing more fruit rather than its physiology focussing on ripening existing seed sacks.
My focus now is to dig over and compost the potato cleared areas and make sure the succession for winter veg is right. Where the potatoes have been removed leek, seedlings are taking over for wintering. The carrots, turnips and beetroot are still being planted out. I am still planting garlic in tubs to act as a deterrent in the green house. The final lot of broccoli seedlings are going our shortly. I have stopped at two spinach plants- so much spinach for so few people.
23 July Getting my butts in order
The advantage of having empty butts means you can rework the rainwater harvesting system. Remembering to get them level and high enough for the new watering can to fit under the taps. It also has given me a chance to turn some plastic containers into water butts. Simple enough as I added a tap near the bottom and have now simply to deal with the enemy of all rainwater harvesters. Not drought but evaporation. You are harvesting to reduce water waste and deal with drought. The real enemy is evaporation, closely followed by stagnation. So, I am now in the process of trying different covering for the plastic containers I am recycling. First, making sure they create a cascade with one leading to the next to the next. Each one should be higher than the last so rain will fill and pour into the next. That old hose pipe has proven useful in making simple connectors from one butt to another. Then the covering for each to deal with evaporation. I am going to try reusing the old compost bags and weighting down with a wooden cover made from scrap wood. The only purchase were some taps to put on the bottom of my butts.
Watering is critical and I am finding it that the constant watering means that I had no problem with stagnation. Last year I did add a little bit of crushed charcoal to one of the butts which made a difference to water stagnating. However, a little tip if you have an empty butt. Clean out the bottom. The lesson learned was that over the year a sludge can form a thin layer at the bottom of the butt, and it is anaerobic – a polite way of implying it smells. This went stagnant mud went straight into the compost heap (although not that thin as I had not bothered with water maintenance for a few years). The smell was less than aromatic when it was emptied but it will make great compost.
On the plant front I have had a strange experience with the succession planting, that only affects the turnips. I have no explanation but despite the watering of the seedlings, careful monitoring in hot weather they have bleached. Fortunately, there are more seedlings growing in the greenhouse (and thriving) so there are replacements to try out again. The greenhouse itself is starting to go into full tomato production with beefsteak tomatoes ripening ready for the barbeque later in the week. An unexpected crop is the prickly pears that have been harvested and tried. First tip – try to use a claw – or the gardening gloves. They have the most devious set of spines possible that find their way into parts of you that do not even touch the fruit. However, cut and then eaten with a teaspoon they have an acidity akin to black currants. I am told they will keep getting sweeter so monitoring that one. One extra for the greenhouse are the axillary shoots from the tomato plants. Its always good practise to pinch out the stems growing as side shoots from tomato plants. No matter how often I do this there always seems to be a few that grow rapidly. I cut those off and this year tried a little trick out. I planted them in a pot of compost. They have rooted and I now have small trusses of tomatoes forming. So, from one plant I have got an extra three fruiting vines.
15 July Seeds and grazing
We have been grazing a lot this week as the berries are taking over from the strawberries (I’m carefully putting pots with soil under the runners to get new plants growing, then planting them in neat rows later when they have rooted). There can be a lot of fruit of one bush. Currently we have five pounds of redcurrants from one bush despite the birds best attempts to remove them. We have one other bush to go but it takes a long time to de-berry a bush unless you are a small bird who seem to do it in seconds. In the time it took me to weed the garden on Saturday morning, ensure the succession planting was done and pot on some more anjion seeds (looking forward to using them in a spice mix later in the year), sort out my mango seed and feed and water everything my partner had only just finished forking the berries. The technique is a simple one – just fork the berries off. So, no stems and a nice red bowl of berries. As with all gluts the question is what to do – we went for red currant jelly.
That is when we found that having spent all that time carefully harvesting the recipe states you do not need to do that. Glossing quickly over that – the good news is that you can use ordinary sugar for this and no pectin as the currants contain so much. Simply boil them with a little water. Not a lot so you get a nice red liquid – then strain but do not squeeze. Squeezing your freshly boiled berries means you get a cloudy jelly. So, leave overnight in a suitable bag or cloth dripping into a bowl before boiling with half the amount of sugar to the liquid. Remember to descum your syrup –if your syrup is scummy your jelly is cloudy. When the liquid is thickening after you have simmered then place in sterilised jars and leave to set. We used the test of seeing if the jelly sets on the back of a spoon.
I have left chives and everlasting onions to seed and collected the seed heads and went for a thorough weed on the perennial bed they grow in. This means some seeds have fallen into the cracks in the soil and are growing. The seed heads with the little black seeds are now in my dry, wind free shed and falling out into my white containers. I will let them dry and place in paper envelopes ready for seed swapping and planting later in the year. I have done the same with the chives – so all my perennial alliums have lost their heads. I have cut back the plants and there are new shoots sprouting. The everlasting onion are a great alternative to spring onions, and a magnet for bind weed so weeding takes a while. I also made sure the bed was top dressed using partially composted grass clippings gently forked between the plants. I have also planted out everlasting onion plants grown from last years seed to fill the gaps from losses to drought last year.
The toilet roll tubes are working a treat for succession planting of carrots, turnip, and beetroot. It limits the numbers and I am careful to make sure there are more carrots than turnips. The beetroot is the same. I am amazed at how the beetroot are starting to swell. They are sneaky- keep an eye on your beets. Currently I have a row in the garden that is gently swelling. I know they are smug little plants. I am checking regularly as we want baby golden beet for pickling and beetroot pakoras. I also like to use them to make pasta. They need to be young and sweet and slightly more swelled. They wait and I check. It’s a cat and mouse game that goes on and on. The trick is to catch your beetroot before it swells too far – too much swelling can be a bad thing in a beet. Larger ones are okay for roasting, but the small ones are better for pickling. We also are looking at our chilli harvest and thinking about some salting of the larger ones.
Off to do some essential herb grazing. It is important to mimic grazing if you want to maintain a crop of shoots and leaves rather than the plants bolting and flowering in dry weather. I am regularly cutting down the coriander, basil, and thyme. I tend to have at least two pots of these so one can flower for the bees and other insects. As always, the rosemary goes rampant left in the ground as did the sage. The bushes took over and I have finally chopped it back and used the stems on the barbecue. Nice smell and woody parts are now an ash additive to the soil. Talking of smells having herbs in pots means you can move them around the garden – they can deter some insects such as aphid.
8 July Got a little shoddy
I have gone a little shoddy this week. I needed compost for potting on into larger containers and decided to go for one that is peat free and made from bracken and sheep’s wool (shoddy, parts from the fleece not used in wool making that have a long tradition of being added to soil). I needed a small amount of compost and decided to go with a farmer’s solution to convert bracken and fleeces into compost. The compost should be high in potash, it has good water retention (useful now as there has been so little rain) and provided the container courgettes and the exotics with some new growing medium.
Our recycling of food waste is not on the same scale as recycling bracken from the Lakeland hillsides but effective. I haves sprouting spring onions from the root bases cut about 1 cm from the end and planted in my trusty drainpipe troughs. In less than a week there are green shoots. As we have so many of the heritage lettuce growing around the garden green salads are a thing for us. Simply cutting the lettuce, leaving the roots in the ground, and seeing them grow again is satisfying (by the way try lettuce soup if you have an excess, well worth a sip and slurp). The leeks are also doing well after cutting the roots off about 2 cm from the base. They are growing well and more rapidly than the seedlings. We are also getting growth from onion bases in the green house, which, combined with the seedlings that now moving into plant like teenagers we have a succession that should last until Christmas. The harvest of potatoes grown from those that chitted in the fridge is tasty and prolific. Okay, they took a little while to start growing but I’m now starting to think we might plant a few ready for Christmas – although the potatoes surrounded by grass clipping are thriving and may still be harvested in the autumn or winter. The grass clipping seems to be living up to the promise of mulching and fertilising. Talking of harvesting the succession planting to replace the first crop of onions is ready to go. The toilet roll tube root vegetables carrots, beetroot and turnip are ready to be planted out, this time in squares after finding a reference to it in an old gardening book as improving crops and allowing plants to be planted more densely. Needs to be tried.
The one hack that is finally working is the mushroom growing on coffee grounds. The spore prints are growing, and I have transferred then to a small recycled polystyrene packaging box filled with more coffee ground collected over the past few weeks. I have then sealed it all in a reused plastic bag. The one hack that surprised is chopping up oyster mushrooms- that has started growing in less than two weeks. Again, I have put them in a recycled polystyrene packaging ‘pot’ with coffee grounds and sealed in a bag. Waiting to see what happens next as I have moved them outside into the shed – the grounds were getting a little smelly for the airing cupboard.
I am also mildly optimistic about the food hack for the germinating mango seeds. I had wrapped them in kitchen towel and dampened the paper. Left them in a bag in the airing cupboard (I now have my own self in there and strict instructions about not taking more space). After one week one seed has a root and possible the start of a shoot. It is now planted on its side in a pot and I wait to see what happens. Also, I have two sickly looking citrus plants from lemon seeds – being nurtured but not holding out a lot of hope. The pomegranates are thriving and the piece de resistance for fruits this year are the prickly pears. This cactus has been vying for control of one corner of my green house for years. The flowers are amazing and attract pollinators. I now have red inverted pear-shaped fruits almost ripe on some of the pads. I am giving them one more week and then its harvest time, I will also have some rootable cactus pads in about a month’s time if anyone wants to try and grow some for themselves.
There is a point where the planting is done, the succession seeds set, and the potting on done – which leaves weeding; best thing I have found for keeping on top of things is 10 minutes every day as I walk round before watering before a good go at the weekend. Off for 10 minutes of culling weeds.
1 July Seasonal Food Waste
The food waste experiments are yielding results. My cabbage leaves on stalks are showing signs of hearting up. It taken weeks of constantly picking the flowering stems off. My radish tops are now growing stalks and flowering but not bulging at the bottom. The same thing is being tried – picking off the flowering stems. Unfortunately, the parsnips ran away with me, so I got flowers almost overnight – back to the drawing board with that one. There are better results from the carrot tops- they are growing better along with the first crop in the garden. I am wondering if there is a seasonality here with cabbages hearting and carrots growing only at certain times. I have also noticed there has been a difficulty in getting the onion roots from the kitchen to grow but now there is another spurt. It leaves me wondering if food waste growing reflects the seasons even though it’s the equivalent of taking cuttings which you would think could be done all year round (by the way pinching out the side shots on the tomatoes has created more plants. I let the shoots grow, pinched them out and then planted them as cuttings. So, less waste and the one plants has turned into several)
Garlic growing has been easy. The first crop has been taken out and a new set of bulbils from a corm planted in the greenhouse to maintain the insect deterrent. Some of the harvested corms are being left in a dry place and used just like the ones from the supermarket. The others have been preserved, simply blanched, paper skin removed and then put in a sterile jar and covered in oil before sealing. This is one way to keep garlic over the winter, the oil is infused, and garlic is ready skinned. We have also been harvesting blackcurrants, not as quickly as the birds but we still have some. Obviously freezing is the option for the topped and tailed fruit but we also went for blackcurrant in vodka with sugar. A version of crème de cassis for the winter. The advantage is that the infused fruit can also be used for puddings or even for jams later in the year. We also have taken the last of the rose petals and turned them into an infusion for winter- made the same way as the crème de cassis, about an inch of sugar, half the bottle has petals (or fruit) and then fill bottle with vodka. Went with vodka for the rose petals as there are no other flavourings like there is in gin. We also had a lot of gooseberries – a simple thing to top, tail and wash before sticking in the freezer. I like the bags of these that are the same as buying from the supermarket – open take what you need and put back in the freezer. Another way to preserve is to make a puree and sieve to get the seeds and skins out. Let is cool add to cream and sugar before putting into the freezer to make ice cream. Bit of a faff going back every 40 minutes to mix again to prevent large ice crystals – but worth it.
In terms of planting – the leeks and celery are being planted out and will hopefully have a good growth spurt ready for winter. What I have found though is that the seedlings can be left in a pot and can grow to make micro veg. Apparently what I thought of as thinning are expensive veg in the supermarkets. Using them is great though – quite sweet. Talking of which the sweet potato has done some strange things. The stems for the vine started losing their leaves. I gave it a feed and trailed the stems around the pot. I now have several new stems growing upward so hopefully some fully flavoured tubers will start soon. The peanuts are also flowering – and seem to respond to deep pots. They have a bright yellow vetch (pea) flower so not a nut but a pea that forms underground. I was also given some mango – I have tried a different tack to get them growing – break the inner seed out its casing without damaging it. I have now placed them in damp kitchen paper and moved them into the airing cupboard. Apparently, they will germinate before next week – I wait to see.
The one hack that is finally working is the mushroom growing on coffee grounds. The spore prints are growing, and I have transferred then to a polystyrene packaging box (recycled) filled with ground collected over the past few weeks. As the growth does not start that long it given me time to collect grounds. I have then sealed it all in a reused plastic bag. The one hack that surprised is chopping up oyster mushrooms- that has started growing in less than two weeks. So, in a recycled polystyrene packaging ‘pot’ with more coffee grounds and sealed in a bag. Waiting to see what happens next.
24 June Spicing up the garden
I’ve been spurred on after the success of garlic supressing aphid and trying another little trick – cinnamon powder. Apparently, that is another way to deter pesky pests off your plants. Currently cinnamon powder is being sprinkled on soil and pots to see what happens. As always greenhouse is better than outdoors for these things and one to add to the list of things to monitor. I also keep being told that the way to control pests is chillies – so I took some of last year’s crop, dried them, ground them up and soaked the powder water. Apparently, the bugs in the green house will not like it when I spray it on the plants. I’ve tried to use an old spray bottle out of the cupboard (suitably cleaned) and found they do not always keep working when you reuse them.
I’m also pleased with the cardoons, a Victorian perennial vegetable. Each year it grows and I have great expectations of finding the time to prepare the big leaves in the winter. Having said that five years later and I’m still trying to work up the energy. The stalks might have been much loved by the Victorian and I’m told worth the effort but it isn’t as easy as peeling a spud (although enjoying the early potato crop from the garden, where the potatoes are flowering and coming along nicely). The pleasure is the cardoon flowers are just starting to break open, and they do attract pollinators for the courgettes and other summer veg. There is also another advantage – the blackfly on the flower stakes. It may seem strange but for ladybirds and other predators’ gardeners like there needs to be some infestation of their prey. Working in the garden over the weekend I noticed an upsurge in ladybirds of varying spottiness (love the fact that there are so many variations of two spot ladybirds, some of which don’t have spots). That and sitting eating our evening meal in the sun seeing all the hoverflies and finding ladybird larvae stalking the aphid was satisfying.
I’m also enjoying the different teas from the garden – mint and lemon balm I’ve mentioned before. The brewing of ash and grass into so called teas is helping fertilise the garden. I’m now contemplating a new type of compost tea using an old aquarium pump, a bucket and fruit peel. As the apples are swelling, blackcurrants ripening and gooseberries ready for harvest obviously thinking ice cream, jam and crumbles. I did not expect to think skins, compost and tea in the same sentence. The fruits leave you with cores and skins after processing them. So, the skins in a bucket, filled with water and then aerated via the Pump is supposed to make a great foliar feed. Have visions of blackcurrant stained everything but must give it a try over the next few weeks.
It is also time to get the rainwater harvesting sorted. My butts empty too quickly so I’m looking at how to store water (plastic barrels from a building site next door are about to be converted into big blue butts for water). Conserving water measures over the hot drier period in summer are also helpful. Obviously mulching – using grass clippings at the base of raspberry canes seems to be working with the added advantage of extra organics in the soils. Intercropping as an idea – so rapid growing salad stuff is being put between rows of slower growing veg – is said to make the garden more water efficient. I’m also intrigued by the suggestion that worn out shirts can act as a mulch and weed suppressant. This got me wondering how to prevent the veg patch looking like a badly patched tie die convention. This led to me thinking of cutting circles for the base of plants and seeing if several layers lead to dampness- always a good thing at the bottom of a plant in dry weather.
The exotics are still going although the ginger needs to be kept moist and the experiment with wider or deeper pot is favouring deeper being better. The sweet potato needs some TLC- a lot of feeding. The cardamom is now four leaves big- and strange asymmetric leaves. No luck with the cumin yet. Off to brew some ‘tea’……
17 June Seeing red with the vicar
I collected the paper shreddings and toilet roll tubes from the vicarage. I’ve been using the vicar’s shreddings, mixing with fresh chicken manure and grass clipping in the compost heap. (The results are looking promising. I’ve also decided it’s a great way to dispose of shredded documents. In a matter of days everything is starting to rot down and covered in manure and grass clipping gunk). In the process we were discussing the red leaves of the Russian Kale that we plant swapped. Both of us noticed that the birds stripped the leaves preferentially going for the red leaves. We also commented that chickens seem to like red things like tomato scraps and strawberries. I’m wondering if birds see red but not in the way I did after the pigeons had finished with the kale. One thing is worth noting – do not assume the plant is gone, the denuded plants are growing back under cover in my net casing.
Talking of denuded plants, the small border lettuces are slug rasped and eaten on the ground but those in the vertical garden are not. I did not sand the wood on the pallets and the brick work is rough. It may be deterring slugs. There is one type of lettuce that is thriving despite slugs -the cos lettuce from the heritage seed people. We planted some a couple of years ago and let them go to seed. The daisy type flower looks great, insects love them, and you get the same seed dispersal as dandelions. This means cos lettuces are now a weed in the garden. We find them sprouting up all over the place and simply leave them. These self-seeders grow in slug unfriendly places. For more careful planting we are collecting the seed heads as they open. Timing is everything and you always miss a few so weedy lettuce can still grow. Also, the heritage leeks. deliberately left for a second year, are getting ready to flower. So, the seeds will be forming shortly – although like chilli plants- be aware that varieties cross. You need to either be happy to experiment or make sure there are no other leek varieties nearby. Finally, the onions from food waste is working – some of the stems are falling over indicating the onions are nearly ready to be lifted to let the skin set (dry) and are ready for use. I had a little furtle around the base of the stems and the bulbs are swelled up nicely. The next lot of onions are starting to grow in the greenhouse – although I’ve also planted seed and have onion sets growing on from those.
The garlic in the greenhouse seems to have grown decent sized corms. As with all home-grown garlic this is very garlicy. Judging by the rapid rise in aphid numbers over the last week outside but not in in the greenhouse it seems garlic might deter them.
I am using any garlic from the fridge that is looking like sprouting or those small ones you get and putting them in containers to see if I can get a good continuation of the crop. The carrot, radish and parsnip tops are growing. In terms of the radish top – they just bolt, the carrots are only just starting to grow, and the parsnip are all tops no bottoms now. I’m letting the celery go to seed –I want the seeds for the winter cooking store and to try making celery salt.
Over the weekend the cardamom seeds germinated. Out of three pods worth of seeds in the airing cupboard in a reused plastic bag, moist, warm, and sealed (checked every day) I now have two seedlings. Waiting to see how that goes. The fenugreek is looking a yellow – nitrogen deficiency but I’m told not to disturb the roots, but it needs a new pot. It’s now in a new pot and fed – we wait to see if I was gentle enough.
I’m enjoying Lemon balm tea (just pour boiling water over the leaves and leave) has been added to the drinks list and I am looking at lemon balm mead recipes.
9 June Hill forts do not stop pigeons, portcullises do
I’m enjoying harvesting the salad stuff, and even enjoying the rain as I weed. My construction of slug repelling ash forts is obviously not as good as the iron age builders. The problem is the ash gets washed away by the rain. So, I have reintroduced my piles of ash. I’ve also taken to slug hunting and snail snatching off leaves and just about every container that I’m growing anything in. (A tip by the way, even when it rains water your containers, helps with bulking up of potatoes and strawberries, containers soon dry out). The chickens appear to like slugs although I always thought they did not eat them. I’m resisting the use of slug pellets though – a complete soft spot for prickly hedgehogs means I don’t want them eating chemical laden slugs. Anyway, slugs turn out not to be the worst of the herbivorous predators that want to do me out of a dinner. Pigeons- I forgot to cover the brassicas so the leaves have been pecked clean. Fortunately, I have some seedlings I held back for emergencies. The plants are now covered in wire cages a sort of portcullis defence against marauding pigeons.
I’m experimenting with companion planting. The garlic in the greenhouse has definitely influenced aphid populations. I’m finding greenfly in the garden (at squashable population levels) but nothing in the greenhouse. So, I’ve moved on to companion planting basil by the tomatoes which is supposed to benefit the tomatoes. Basil has been grown in two ways- one thanks to plant swapping courtesy of Kate; the ones she grew from seeds are wonderful. It is a mix of basils that I have carefully planted in different pots. The other is from a manky looking basil plant from the supermarket. Not so good – I’ve tried over several years, and they do not like growing. Limited success came from separating the very closely grown plants into small clumps. Then cutting back the stalks so only a few leaves remained, then kept warm and moist and humid. Some plants grew but the success rate is not large. Some grow and some simply rot off. I’ve had more success the coriander growing from both bought seeds and those found in the spice cupboard. I’ve planted seed at two week intervals and have several pots. The trick is to keep cutting the plants back to stop them forming seeds. I’ve either used the trimmings to make a coriander pesto, chopped into olive oil or as a dip made from yoghurt with parsley (same tip for parsley – keep cutting it down) with a pinch of salt and lemon juice. The glut of mint is going either into potatoes or peas for cooking and the occasional mojito in hot weather. Preserving the mint is likely to be mint jelly, although I’m still looking at a mint cordial for cocktails. The excess of any herbs is either going into the compost or the chickens.
The vertical planting the experiment with pallets and making a terraced planter for a small space appears to be working. I’m amazed at how much can be planted in a garden bed that is 6 foot by one foot. I’ve put two vertical planters at each end and then planted cut and come again veg including spinach, leeks, kales, lettuce, everlasting and ordinary onions. Tomatoes and melons for a little variety. Although not what I had not thought about until doing this is planting melons at the bottom of the planters and trailing them up the side (melons from discarded melon seeds from a melon, where else?).. Now back to slug hunting.
2 June Ash Forts and watering
I’ve tried the potash forts around my broccoli and I’m not sure about the effect on slugs in the dry weather but there is a bonus. No marauding slug or snail is knowingly getting in and also less water is getting out. Obviously, a dousing with a hose or sprinkler means the ash has washed away into the soil – part of the reason for sprinkling it here is for potash to enrich the soil. Trying to conserve water I have used a watering can and noticed the ash fort pools the water, keeps it there and more is going into the soil. Hopefully with a little bit of fertiliser as well. I’m taking that as a win and wondering if with barbecue weather around about doing this for other plants as a water conservation thing.
What I did not expect was to regret not being able to cut the lawn – the worst job in the garden. I prefer a lawn with flowers and leave the lawn for as long as possible. Mother in laws and wives do not approve preferring a short cut desert of green grass. So, we compromise, and I cut when told. As I’m using the clipping to mound up around potatoes (which is also helping with water conservation as it holds water) I’m getting frustrated as I do not have enough clippings. The potatoes are growing faster than the grass. According to most it is usually the other way round. It’s almost as though the grass is laughing at me. Although the mulching effect of grass is helping to stop plants wilting.
I’ve also started on my toilet roll tube succession planting. As I’ve got limited space I’m stuck with carrots and beetroot starting to grow and nowhere else to put the next crop. So, I’ve put a tray of toilet roll tubes aside, filed with compost and then planted two or three seeds in each. I’ve worked out that this is self-regulating. I have to wait until I have enough tubes before then next succession planting. So short of a stomach upset this could work nicely. I’ll keep you updated – on the succession planting obviously.
Moving on, my scepticism about pasteurised coffee grounds and growing mushrooms might have been misplaced. I have mushroom mycelium growing in the airing cupboard (in plastic bags, reused and on coffee grounds). The results are:
- papers spore mould nothing,
- plate spore moulds growing,
- stems of mushrooms with soil on growing well,
- stems of mushrooms no soil forget it.
Now to move onto the next phase. Thanks to the need to order through the post I’ve ended up with polystyrene packing. Not happy that I can’t recycle but if I cut to size and turn upside down, I end up with containers that I’m filling with a mixture of coffee grounds and leaf tea. When a compartment is full, I’m taking mycelium and inoculating (not sure if you plant or inoculate) the substrate. Making sure it is moist and sealing over with reused plastic (which means putting in a plastic bag). Then in a dark warm place -which fortunately at this time of year is outside in the shed. It is slow and have a feeling it’s easy to get this next stage wrong.
As the ginger is still growing and budding, the sweet potato is still invading I’m moving onto the other strange spices and also citrus. Anyone else noticed how lemons and limes have so few seeds these days? The fruit in the garden is reviving and figs, grapes and currants are coming along nicely. For the first time in years the quince has not suffered from the late frost. I’ve also germinated melons and have planted them out to see what happens – along with plants from the porch; thanks to everyone who is putting spare seedlings there. Managed to replace my slug eaten squash plant. The lychees by the way are a little inscrutable. I currently have four with green leaves. Two have a growing tip, two do not. I’ve been looking at growing cumin to go with the coriander. Went with the simple viable seed test using seeds from the spice pot. Sprinkled some into water and left for 15 minutes. Those that float are not viable. Those that sank I left to hydrate for a couple of hours and have planted – next to the fenugreek plant as encouragement. Watching them closely
Finally, a little glut recipe – we have been collecting rose petals and drying on paper towel and tray in the airing cupboard. They dry to nothing but do provide an interesting recipe ingredient for cakes later in the year. I’m also consideirng petals with a teaspoon of sugar in a vodka bottle (with the vodka) for rose petal vodka later in the year.
27 May Hill forts as a slug deterrent?
Potash means combining me a fire and all that woody stuff that is no good for compost. Now we did look on the barbeque, a sort of surrogate heater for the evenings where we burned the sticky bits for heat. Tried it and it works but we don’t need that to happen very often. The resulting problem is we had too much stuff -so a brazier came out so I could get things done quickly. Burning the wood and sticks and leaves to get the ash was fun in a strong wind. Needless to say, it did not start out in a high wind it just happened as the flames got higher. The result is a fine ash full of woody charcoal bits – that float. I took some of the potash and filled a bucket one fifth full – seems to be the rule of thumb for making liquid feed in a bucket, who knew? Then added water and stirred to break up the ash. All the bits of charcoal floated to the top. A quick skim and I ended up with small pieces of charcoal for starting the barbecue. A sort of win-win. I’m now leaving the potash water for a week so that the ash settles, and I’m supposed to have a liquid feed. We have the clippings tea (which seems to be giving the tomatoes a good boost), ground up banana skins and the liquid feed adding to the arsenal. Problem is so far nothing has helped the test plot with strawberries in it. Still yellow. Had an inkling the grass tea has helped but now adding the full range over the next week to see what happens. Including the potash soaked in water for a week. See if that helps.
I keep seeing blogs saying the potash spread on the garden its supposed to deter slugs and snails. It doesn’t – a remarkably dry spell and dry soil deters slugs and snails. Until you water. Found a few slugs appearing as the peas were planted out. (Also have the peanuts growing away in pots. Great little hardy pea plants and watching how they grow. The pea (nuts) form in the soil so the plants grow flower and drop over). Anyway – slugs and snails deterred by spreading potash – no. So, I’m trying the next lot by creating a mini iron age fort thing. Thought about school history lessons and the mounds of earth for making a circular fort. It didn’t keep the Romans out, but I’ll see how well it does against slugs.
In terms of the food waste I’m cutting lettuce, leaving the roots intact and watching them keep growing. I’ve found radish and parsnip tops sprout and grow but still unsure how it will work out. I’ve got seedlings growing from the centre of a bell pepper and have been sharing tomato stories with Mary as we are both getting good results with planting over ripe cherry tomatoes slices. The cut and come again onions are working really well. Currently the chives, parsley, mints, lemon balm and fennel are doing well. Rosemary and thyme are growing manically. This week an Eco-Challenge to the young people in the village will be to see if they can get cuttings growing. This is part of their support for the project as an allotment is available for them to sow and grow – we will be inviting you all to be involved at some point. I’m also leaving the perpetual onions as the bees and hoverflies are loving the flowers. The seed I saved is growing well and have had requests for plants. By the way, the seedling swap as part of the food box in St Andrew’s is there for people to swap seedlings!
Finally, I’m working on a glut finish – a thought for all that rhubarb after stewing it and freezing it, Rhubarb and Ginger cordial – sugar, water, rhubarb, and root ginger. Boil, strain to make a syrup. Great in cocktails, ice cream and drinking on its own.
19th May Frosty Tops
So, the week is not working well – my figs are frosted, my grapes shoots have shrivelled. Not in the good raisin making way but, in the frost, hit hard and shrivelled everything sense. Luckily, this deep rooted denizens of the garden are likely to recover. The big disappointment is the potatoes getting all drab and dishevelled. So rather than play with wood ash this weekend (although that is going to happen) I decided to go Victorian and get mulching. Luckily, I had a lot of grass clipping that were starting to rot down and felt really warm. (By the way, the grass clipping tea is a bit mouldy. I found that after a week the water is a nice greener colour, but you have to sieve the clippings out. Also, the banana skin juice and dressing does seem to have an impact – two weeks on the yellowing leaves on a couple of tomato test plants are green). So enough of my banana juice. The main thing I wanted to do was mulch the potatoes and make sure there is some protection – so adapted an old idea. Simply make a warm grass mulch around the affected potatoes. Did this over the weekend and already the plants are looking less sorry for themselves – tucked up in a warm bed of mulch. Not content with that I also used some scrap timber to make a frame around the potatoes two planks high. I’m now slowly filling the frames as the potatoes grow taller. The aim is to get a bumper harvest from each plant. Lots of people talk about growing in tyres the same way – but no tyres but I did have some scrap wood.
In terms of a colder area the ginger plant has gone very white looking, lychees are still stalled not growing and then the sweet potato has developed a little mottling. All are recovering and thankfully I’d delayed transplanting from the greenhouse – based on the one thing I noticed about living where I do. I’m living in a frost pocket where cold air pools and mid-May is when a frost will sneak up and laugh at me as it shrivels my growing tips. So, leave it until the last minute to plant things out. It seems to be working but I’m having to plant everything out next week.
One thing I am surprised about is the unrusty garlic in our garden. This year I took the sprouting garlic from the fridge and planted them in containers in a greenhouse. Instead of rusty garlic I’ve got healthy plants. It’s also a deterrent. The smell is keeping whitefly and aphid away (compared to previous years). Although I’ve not put any garlic near the asparagus – it doesn’t like it. I have managed one fenugreek plant after I threw a handful of seeds in a pot after raiding the spices in the house. The problem is you are not supposed to move them. Wish I’d thought to research before I’d planted and maybe I would have gone for an eco-pot. They are a useful way to use toilet roll centres, or kitchen roll. Simply make 4 cuts at one end, as long as the diameter of the tube. Then fold them over to make a base. Fill with compost and away you go.
Finally, here is a suggestion from the PCC. The food box in the church porch – still very much open there could also be a place where spare seedling can be swapped – but please keep them labelled (by the way using plastic strip cut from cartons for this at the moment). So back to making planters and wood ash this week.
11th May Interesting things to do with a banana skin
Okay first an exotic update – sweet potatoes need a load of room; the sweet potato is giving me a little shop of horrors moment as it is going to be huge. Its in a corner slowly growing bigger day by day. Also, peanuts need a lot of time to grow and the ginger likes it moist and warm.
I have also found that the container grown potatoes are growing well and seem to enjoy the grass clippings added a little layer at a time around the potato’s stems. Based on that a new potato growing experiment has been started. I have got a wooden frame around some of the plants. I am filling this as the potatoes grow. Aiming to have two frames to see if the number of potatoes harvested does increase. Going vertical is a thing I am playing with around the garden. First – the vertical garden stuff is just window boxes on a wall – even if they are made from pallets. It looks fancy and clever but it’s just pallets and window boxes. More container gardening but this time recycling materials. I have simply done that on the side of a wall by attaching a piece of wood across the bottom of a pallet’s strips, filled with compost and will now try and grow shallow rooted lettuce in them – the seedlings are coming along. Also, we have the lettuce weed problem after the heritage seed youth project a few year ago. Lettuces are daisies, we let them flower and seed – the result are lettuces popping up like weeds around the garden. I’ve started to place my onion bottoms in my vertical beds. Keeping them moist and seeing what I can get growing. Also a few garlic corms – anything that might be shallow rooted.
I have also done the same for my son’s postage stamp garden – but this time I have created a small set of terraces as a planter. He has a compost bin and is filling the planter using this. He has a small lawn at the front for his lawn tea (that appears to be working) and is planting out seedlings.
Seedling feeding is where the strange things to do with a banana comes in. I have been playing the the constant references to the skins being great sources of potassium for plants. I am trying three things.
First planting out seedlings I am digging a shallow trench – and putting a strip of banana skin in it. Apparently, this will give my seedling a needed boost. I have also dried some skins slowly in the oven – very slowly, then when no one was looking placed them in the blender and ground them into a powder, the stalk bit at the top goes string but that easily picked out. I have then used the powder as a dressing on tomatoes. Finally – and less easy to explain away is the banana skin in a jar in the fridge. Boiled water and a banana skin in a sealed jar left for a week makes a liquid feed – which I am mixing with the nitrogen rich grass tea. Of course, not a complete feed but wait to see what I am doing with wood ash and compost mixes next week. I am also trying to work out how to get the lychees moving on and up and give an update on my spores.
5th May Mushrooms and prog rock.
It’s obviously the small things in life. I’m being remarkably pleased with the two piece of ginger I’ve got to grow, not something I’m sure I should be admitting in public. I chose a piece of fresh ginger that had the little growing bud just starting to peek out. I simply placed it on top of a pot of compost (using the last parts of my bag to avoid infections). Then placed the whole thing inside a plastic bag – finding a reuse for the ones I’m still getting in the shopping. Then kept warm and moist – and it repsonded. I now have a stem on the larger piece of ginger (5 cm root piece in a 4 inch pot). The bud grew out and had a ring of root buds on it. I’ve covered those in soil still keeping it warm and moist which seems to be the right state for many things. This included sweet potatoes.
Not so easy a sweet potato. It’s difficult to get going. A great big tuber took forever but now I’m seeing something with leaves of a plant from the illustration of a prog rock album. I now know it’s a vine. Again, it was the same as the ginger – it responded to being warm and moist and placed on a pot of compost. Reused a plastic bag and left in a warm place. It took forever, small shoots appeared in ‘eyes’ on the side of the tuber. Now I’m growing something that that looks like it belongs on a prog rock album cover. So next stop potting on and see if I can move onto the second difficult album cover after the first flush of success- getting the shoots and roots to thrive and survive.
Anyway, flushed with success of a prog rock album I moved onto mushrooms. I made a spore print. Again, the primary science has a use – who knew? I tried making spore prints from the large (not button mushrooms) we found in the supermarket. The spore print is made by placing the cup of the mushroom on paper for one, or on a plate for another, gill side down. Then wait – you get a black pattern over 3 days as the spores rain down. The paper one is pants – the spores on the baking parchment were difficult to get off. The plate one worked best – by putting the coffee grounds on the plate and wiping off into a recycled Ziplock bag (thoroughly cleaned to avoid contamination). Apparently coffee grounds are sterile and a good growing medium. So now sealed and in the airing cupboard. I am convincing myself there are little white growth – but it could be ordinary mould. I’m waiting and seeing.
Finally, I’m working with my son who has something resembling a pocket handkerchief for a garden in the house he and his partner rent. Just to add to the challenge, loads of shade and its covered in AstroTurf. So, his WhatsApp call saying – Dad – what do you reckon is a bit of a challenge. Already he has got two pallets and, courtesy of his sister moving to a new house, an old plastic container he has cut down to a pot and two growing rings. The herbs are planted and so are tomatoes – although these are in a sorry state ordered over the internet. I’m providing seedlings in a socially distant manner. Containers are a good way forward and have taken up little space – placing them on pallets has helped drainage and avoided soil and compost getting mixed up in the astro turf (so he will not have to hoover his lawn when they move). I’m going to see how to take him vertical gardening – more next week, along with some tips on potatoes in containers.
30th April Primary school food? Must try harder
It seems to me that a lot of this food hack stuff is just another primary school science lesson. Take a bean, soak it, put it in a jam jar, keep it moist and look at the roots grow. For the people who like an avocado – take the stone and balance it on top of the jam jar using cocktail ticks and leave to see the roots grow. Try growing parsnips, carrots or radish from the tops you cut off.
I’ve been trying all of these with some success – a couple of tips though (found using an old fashioned book) is to cover the jam jar or glass for the beans or avocado to sprout with a card sleeve so the bit you want to root into is dark – like the soil. I like these old gardening books, that also tell me avocados are rarely sold in supermarkets. Oh – and by the way the parsnip tops are going well, radish a close second but the carrots have not played ball. Just like those science lessons at primary school – I can see the ‘has potential’ and ‘must try harder’ appearing on the report again. Although I’m giving myself an A for the peanuts – I got two to germinate. I soaked 6 unsalted peanuts from a packet for 6 hours and planted into a pot; making sure the skin was undamaged. That’s the exotic for this week – and one I remember being asked to grow on wool in a plastic tray at school – limited success as the things never germinated, but I guess I wasn’t gentle enough with my nuts to stop the skin breaking. (Yes before someone points it out. We all know peanuts are peas not nuts- clues in the name?)
I am planning to use my own compost and have found that mixing grass clippings and coffee grounds is creating an interesting compost to play with later. I’m reading that the coffee grounds from cafetiere or coffee machines are pasteurised so relatively sterile. The grass isn’t but the compost is feeling warm. So, I’m hoping it will be a good potting on compost soon. As always its taking time! Also, not much grass in with the coffee grounds – I found collecting grounds for a week and then adding a small handful is enough. One final thought – lot of mould on this so not sure how sterile it really was.
I’ve also got a wonderful smell in the shed – I filled a bucket with a lid to one fifth with loose grass clippings poured in water until it was full and put the lid on. It smells fantastic and I’ve got a grass tea brewing that will make plant food for the potted on seedlings. Have to say this is one of the successful gardening recipes. More success than trying to get the mango seed to germinate – a little rot set in so back to the drawing board. The sweet potato vine is progressing and I’m hoping the ginger plant will carry on. Getting ginger and sweet potatoes growing – one for next week and starting on limited space gardening.
22nd April Hacking food and cabbagey bottoms
I’m amazed any of us need to buy food – the number of hacks for growing it from nothing more than a couple of leaves, a glass of water and self-generating compost seem to be everywhere. So many ways to turn waste into food and time lapse photography proves that we are just a slice of tomato or carrot top away from perpetual veg. This looks so good I had to give it a go. After all it only means a slice of tomato planted and in the time it takes to make a cup of tea you have fruit! I could just cut the end of a bell pepper off fill it with compost and have succulent crops in minutes. Would time lapse lie to me? It also suggests that there is a lot of ways to grow from cuttings. I’m still trying to get my cabbage leaves to root but they appear not to have seen the video. I’m carefully placing them in water and instead of roots it’s rancid cabbage water for me. There have been some successes though.
Let’s start with my onions. Now admittedly they did start by withering until I realised that I needed to cut them a good centimetre from the base. Then cutting so only a plug with root and the central circle of onion remained. I then planted them in a drainpipe section filled with old compost. Within days I’d got the start of a stem. Important to keep it watered. I’ve been doing this over winter and planted out my onion bed on the produce (by the way shallots are best). Unlike the video I did not get wonderful single onions. The centre of the onion can sprout two or three new plants. So, I waited, cut them into separate plants each with part of the root stock and now I have onions. Not swelling bulbous things (although I have a season to go) but I do have strong flavoured plants that I’m using in most soups, salads, stews, curries, and it is working.
The other bit of success in fridge based propagation has been bottom based. The celery which continues to thrive – makes a great soup. The other base is from cabbage (more successful than leaves). Again, it’s simple, I cut the base of the cabbage and pushed it into a plant pot, watered and waited. In the video hearty cabbage sprout from the bases. I got loads of small cabbage leaves growing. Reminding me of my Grandad’s cutting across on the stalk left in the ground after harvesting cabbages. He always got a couple of extras from the plant that way. Anyway, unlike the hack videos I got leaves (which are tasty and easy to use) but in no time the flowering stalk appeared. So, I harvest the leaves from the stalk and cut off the flower stem to get more leaves sprouting. Small leaves but definitely cabbage.
Finally, there is my leek bottoms. Just like the onions (they are related) I cut and planted. The result is that I have leeks growing. In fact, those left in garden are successfully being cut and are coming again. Well worth a try. My final one is chilli seeds – they are doing amazingly well, even the whole chilies I’ve had in the fridge. Simply scrapped the seeds out and planted them. Now I’m transplanting seedlings – but into what?
I’m looking at grass clipping and coffee granules to make a compost – it’s supposed to be quick and easy. Coffee granules coming ready pasteurised. Trying to mix them up. Another hack that suggested great results. Too early to report. So, I’m deferring this to my tea based blog for next week.
17th April Social Distancing and Celery
How far should we take social distancing – is a couple of thousand miles too much? As I’m researching and getting ready for our Living Food bank (known as Co-op gardening, community gardening, Victory Gardens in the US of A) I’m getting a lot of invitations to join networks and conversations (safely). The wonders of algorithms in this age of social distancing and lock down is that these ‘safe’ invitations are mainly from the US of A. I know I’m supposed to keep a good distance, communicate safely, and respect the lock down but 2000 miles plus seems excessive.
The distance extremes aside it is interesting to note that around the western world there is a shared phenomenon. All of a sudden seed shelves are empty and, compost bags are in short supply. There is also a desire to emulate the Dig for Victory campaign vibrating around us. An instinct to make sure that our communities are less reliant on long supply chains and increase our food security. As people are saying around the world – a load of veg or soup in the freezer makes you free. Interesting idea and perhaps a little overstated for my British palate, but there is some truth in this.
So socially distancing can flatten the pandemic curve, but it is the resilience from community action, local food that can take root here. I am aware of those problems for food supplies and isolation are not going away with the pandemic – they remain. With the shortages being imposed from empty seed shelves and no compost to buy I have decided to go back to basics:
- Toilet paper – wrap a dried bean in toilet paper and get it to root in a carton or glass. You can even use the centre of the toilet roll. It also gives you something to do with the centre of toilet roll and perhaps if you find a large amount in the bathroom perhaps share or use it up for food production.
- Look at that celery head in the fridge. They always look at little larger in the fridge than in the supermarket. Cut the stalks off but make sure you leave a good inch to two inches from the base. Put the flaccid looking stalks in a glass of water to perk up and use for cooking. Then simply plant the root – I put it in an old tub of compost (okay a plant pot full of compost with a dead plant removed). Stalks do start growing from the base. The stalks might not be as lush and fulsome in true supermarket fashion, but they will cut and come again. I’ve found chopping finely into soups or pasta sauces or using leaves in stock well worth a try
- So, mango – given the 2000 mile distancing this was a good one to keep the international flavour going. Simply take the seed out of the shell and find a zip lock bag (reusing them in the garden for seeds is helpful). Soak the seed for 24 hours. Then place it in the bag (using some of the compost from that dead plant) before placing in the airing cupboard. Check daily to ensure moist but do not seal the bag entirely.
I’m working on creating my own onion sets and cabbages for next week. There is also the compost dilemma – might see what I can do after a cup of coffee.
10th April Good Friday Potatoes
It Maundy Thursday as I write this. The day before I am going to plant my potatoes. The same every year based on something I was bought up with and it makes no sense. Makes no sense from the climate reason my Grandad gave me – plant them at Easter to avoid the frosts. I have had my potatoes frosted off after Easter – not a pleasant experience at all but I do the same thing every year. My Nan gave me a slightly more theological reason for planting parsley on Good Friday– apparently it had to go to the Devil and back before it can germinate. (I am thinking it might just be it takes an age to germinate).
Still the beds are mucked over (potatoes need a lot of feeding and moisture) ready for me to at a modern myth about not using supermarket potatoes as your ‘seed’. There is a chance they are not as sterile as seed potatoes. There are stories that you do not get such a big yield and there are problems getting these potatoes to chit due to inhibitors allegedly used on them. Lots of stories and but I am figuring this – reduce waste, plant the potatoes, and see what happens. If I suffer from small spuds so what.
I am also aware that people have limited space, so I have got an old dustbin with holes in the base and have filled the bottom with compost from the heap. I am planting in this as well. Container grown potatoes are a thing and should work. Its also a place for those extra grass clippings to go. I am planting in the base and slowly filling the bin with grass clippings as the potatoes grow. Apparently, the heat and moisture help the potatoes grow, plus the clippings provide nutrients. Again, another lot of stories to see if they work.
It is not the only type of ‘potato’ I am trying. On the more exotic front I got a sweet potato to sprout. Again, something from food waste we were given. One went mouldy and I’ve no idea why. The other did not. I found that keeping it warm (in a bag) started the delicate roots growing. Then I placed it on a pot filed with compost. Left in the warm and light I have got the start of leafy stems, covered by a bag to keep the humidity high I am hoping to move into a bigger pot over the weekend.
So, my Easter is one for testing these stories and myths. Is the frost going to take the potatoes, can you get store potatoes to crop readily, and can containers and grass clippings really work? Either way it is giving me something to try and reduce potato waste and convert it into food, create a compost (in the dustbin) and see what happens. Can I grow a sweet potato? In all cases food waste is reduced and there will be something to try eating in a few weeks’ time. Now what to do with that flaccid carrot and parsnip plus the mango seed from the last mango in the shop. That is for next week.
3rd April Food banks for the future?
Okay – in a time of lock down I’ve taken a plunge and decided to ‘blog start’ our Benefice based project – to create living food banks in each of our Parishes.
I thought, we can’t start the food bank project in lock down, or can we? Maybe this is the ideal time to start in our own home – and see what interesting things we can do with that celery stick. Maybe now is the time to see how that flaccid parsnip or carrot can create more food and not be wasted. I’m inviting you to virtually share the experience with me and share your own ideas.
The project is a response to the fact that many of us have been concerned about the increased use of food banks and the amount of food waste (although, strangely one has been feeding the other until recently). The current crisis has added to these concerns as people are finding that food can all too easily disappear off shelves. Our answer is to look at food production from seed to preservation in our homes and communities.
So, before we start exploring how we might turn hedges into food foraging places for all, community gardening to transform places into vegetable patches helping bees and other insects, or how church grounds can help provide food for the community I’m putting myself on display. Through this blog I’m about to share ideas for you to comment on. It will be a place where we can reduce waste and share our ideas and practical steps for food production at home. There will be things to try including:
- Interesting things to do with a celery base
- Creating new cabbage leaves from old ones
- Making more onions
- How to grow a lychee
We may not be successful at our first attempt. Innovation is like that; it calls for faith. So here is the invite – join me and see:
- What success I’m having in lock down growing food
- Add your ideas
- Make a community of food waste deniers
- Help create the resources for when we move from our homes to our community
With enough encouragement I might even Facebook as well – but first one action one blog at a time. ‘See’ you next week.