Helping garden wildlife is fun – and it couldn’t be easier. Over the weekend of 24-25 January 2015, the RSPB would love you, your friends and family, to get involved in Big Garden Birdwatch – the world’s largest wildlife survey!
As an activity that started life as something for their youth membership to do in winter, Big Garden Birdwatch has grown into fun for all the family. All you need to do is count the birds in your garden or a local park for one hour then tell us what you see.
If you love wildlife and want to do something to help, this is your chance to get involved in something that really counts. After all, where would we be without snail eating thrushes and all the other birds that munch on so many pests?
You can register online by clicking here and entries can be submitted either on the website or by post.
Did you see the recent article (November 2014) in the Saturday Telegraph about relief for Box Blight? The microbes and bacteria in Actiferm are active in suppressing the fungi that cause Box Blight and regular treatment of the affected Box is really beneficial. However as we understand it, Actiferm alone will not be very effective as, being water based, it will slide off the shiny leaves of the box and fall to earth losing its benefit. To get the maximum benefit from Actiferm, used to combat Box blight, it is essential to mix it with a sticker.
We are led to believe that this point about the horticultural sticker was not made in the article in the Telegraph so are adding it here on the blog.
Our research has identified two possible stickers that we should be able to obtain and have on sale within the next 10 days. A sticker mixed together with Actiferm will undoubtedly give you a solution that will deter Box Blight and regular treatment will be beneficial.
However there is a downside to the stickers. They are overtly chemical. They are not environmentally friendly. If used judiciously and stored very carefully there should be no harm done but it is strongly against our best principles of not using or selling chemicals.
Having weighed up the pros and cons and if we do get the stickers we will sell them purely for mixing with Actiferm, this with a view to attacking Box Blight. This means that we will only sell stickers to customers who are purchasing or have purchased Actiferm from us in the past. I am sorry but chemical creep is not for us.
On the positive side Actiferm is a wonderful product in its own rite. It helps to clean the soil from bad bacteria and microbes. Actiferm can be used both the garden and the home. 100% organic
In the Garden use Actiferm
- As a soil improver
- Promotes healthy roots and plants
- Increases soil fertility
- Suppresses soil pathogens
- Will fix atmospheric nitrogen, reducing the need for fertilisers
- Bigger crop yields
- Will treat up to 150 sq M
- Use as a compost accelerator
- Great for spraying topiaries. It produces good bacteria to fight the fungus, and also feeds the plant and improves the soil.
- Gardening – This bio-active product is diluted with water up to 1:100 before spraying.
In the Home
- Use Actiferm as a chemical free cleaner
- Suppress harmful bacteria
- Eliminates odours
The Hogitat – An Alternative Place for Hedgehogs To Shelter
At this time of year, many animals want to go into hibernation particularly Hedgehogs and bonfires can provide what appears at first sight to a Hedgehog to be a perfect place. Sheltered from the wind and the rain, they crawl into warm and dry piles of wood. The unlit bonfire may seem an oasis for many animals in the winter but when the fires get lit, tragedy occurs.
Many people start building bonfires weeks in advance but if possible, it would be great if you could pile them up the bonfire at the last minute as this way you’ll be able to see if any animals have taken refuge underneath it.
Another thing that you could also consider doing is if a bonfire has erected in the same place for a few days,you could ask for volunteers and move all the wood to a different spot. It wouldn’t take long and could save the life of a sheltering animal.
Please, please, please be alert and help make a difference!
Regularly I still eat freshly picked raspberries and cream for breakfast.This morning I also picked about 1lb of home grown (red) tomatoes and 8lbs of fresh grapes all grown outside in northern Lancashire – hardly the hot belt of UK. It has been a remarkable summer.
As I write I am lazily resorting to making Grape Jelly, but I may do a bottle or two of grape cordial. The sugars in the grapes did not mature fully. The abundant bunches of grapes reminded me of a painting of Bacchus by Caravaggio in the Uffizi, a picture always included in even a short visit to the Uffizi, though nowadays the trail through the gallery is as much like a trail through Ikea. They make sure that you queue till you are tired and fed up then you shuffle past everything in the gallery on your visit before you get to the exit. A killer if you only want to visit a few pictures at a time. The tomatoes you could hardly call voluptuous, but will be the basis of a soup tomorrow as most of the herbs are still flourishing too.
And I thought it was only about our spring!
We had a visit from a lady farmer this week who instantly riveted our attention with her story about Fracking. Tell me, I said why should I be against fracking? She went on to describe how her son, working for a fracking company in the states has contacted her and told her that they were having so many problems in his company because the chemicals they use to do the fracking are seeping into the water courses and poisoning the water. He told his Mum to be informed as the family in UK depend entirely on their water from springs and wells on the family farm in Chipping, very close to a proposed fracking area here. The lady, in common with many other country farmers close to here, uses natural water for all her cattle and animals and also for themselves. Her case was very strong and I was horrified that the chemicals used in fracking could contaminate the water course. I was of the mistaken opinion that fracking was a purely physical operation. The powers that be do not tell us about all the chemicals used in the process. Omission of information in this case can be as dishonest as an outright lie. Clean water is the very heart of life, yours and mine. Think about it.
Then what happened?
We had a visiting supplier with a particular interest in water. I engaged him in the fracking matter and he was very clear. The actual fracking is carried out so very deep into the earth one to two kilometres down, I think he said, that it cannot possibly interfere with surface water. The cause of the troubles referred to was not because of fracking. It just was not possible.
Conclusion – confusion
At The Recycle Works we know many wonderful Master Composters but for those of you that might be wondering where to start, we thought these tips might help!
First create a space in which to do your outdoor composting. This should be an open space preferably direct on the ground, otherwise on hard standing. Compost can be made in a heap or a suitable container can be used such as a compost bin , which we have a huge variety of available at The Recycle Works.
Gather together as much organic waste as possible and make a loose pile. These organic materials soon begin to heat up as the composting process starts. The volume then quickly shrinks. At this stage it is important to dig over the compost using a pitchfork, to introduce more air into the middle of the pile. This should be done a few times at the early stages of composting as natural compacting occurs.
The heat naturally generated quickly builds up again as microbes resume composting in the improved conditions. The temperature will quickly reach 130-I60F in a large well-mixed pile. This will help destroy weeds, seeds and disease and the materials will decompose much faster.
Turning also subjects insect larvae and spores to lethal temperatures inside the pile, which later cools as the microbial activity is succeeded by that of worms and beetles. Add more materials at any time until the pile is as big as the space will allow or the bin is full. Check regularly. Compost should be moist to give the best results. If it is dry add a bucket of water. If it is too wet mix in some brown or dry materials and cover to prevent more rain getting in. A well-balanced mixture of green and brown materials produces good compost. Compost will mature at less than half the original volume.
Once the composter is full and the contents have stopped shrinking quickly, the compost is left to mature. At this point you can start a new compost pile. In time the contents will become unrecognisable and the mixture is then ready for use. A big well-managed mixed pile can be ready for use in a few months. An unattended pile may take about a year. It is traditional to use 3 separate units, one mature and being used on the garden, another maturing and one currently being filled.
So we hope this helps you get started and here’s to lots and lots of lovely compost!