White House gardening starts in earnest

Michelle Obama has started growing vegetables in the garden of the White House. She was seen starting the organic kitchen garden this week. Michelle wants to put healthy eating top of the agenda in America and the Obama’s hope to become locavores – eating food that comes only from their local area. Local freshly picked food eaten straight from the garden is much better for you.

Carol Klein defends organics in Guardian article

Carol Klein has spoken out against those who do down organics in order to promote chemicals. Her comments appeared in her regular column in the guardian which you can view on-line at http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/jan/10/carol-klein-gardens-organics-lifestyle and come as the back lash against organics gathers pace in the gardening media. The attacks on organics seem to have got worse since the European Union announced that they wanted to ban many commonly used chemical garden remedies. As I’ve mentioned before on this blog most gardening magazines rely on the advertising revenues provided by chemical companies but it seems that the editors of some magazines have decided to take a hard line editorial stance against organics to support the chemical companies in their time of ‘crisis’. Don’t they know that the chemical companies will simply switch the attention of their sales teams to developing world nations, where safety regimes are less demanding. I think its time Europe insisted that all the food it imports is grown with the same rigorous safety standards and worker rights standards it sets for its own people. There should be a universal right to be free from poison.

Take a look at the new Guardian blog

Jane Perrone has set up a new blog on the Guardian website. Check it out. She already has a regular blog of her own but this one will be bringing lots of new material from authors associated with the Guardian and some old material from writers such as Christopher Lloyd, which would otherwise be locked away in an archive somewhere. I think it will be another great on-line gardening resource. As you can see through this link the blog already has plenty of users http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/gardening-blog/2008/dec/03/1.

New survey reports increase in curious incidents in the garden at night-time

A new survey commissioned by Grant’s Blended Whiskey has found that garden centres in the south east of England are reporting a 20 per cent growth in the sales of night-blooming plants. Seventy per cent of the 3000 people questioned said they liked to socialise in the garden after dark. The report also found that one in twenty gardeners work stark naked. There must be about twenty gardens in my street. I’m trying to work out who the one person is who gardens naked. I can let you know that it isn’t me. I don’t even like waring shorts when gardening. Trousers and long sleeves for me! Anyway Grants, who presumably want us all to start drinking its product whilst roaming our gardens naked at night has commissioned Chris Beardshaw to create three blue prints for the perfect ‘After Hours Garden’. As we’ve now got 24 hour drinking I’m not sure if there is an ‘After Hours’ any more but you can see the gardens for yourself at www.grantswhisky.com/gardenafterhours. I wrote a book three years ago called Curious Incidents in the Garden at Night-time, which you can see in the books section above so I’m really pleased there is renewed interest in the garden at night. As far as I know its still the only UK book that shows you how to select plants for the night-time. Let me know if there are any others. It’s also a story book and probably the book I am most proud to have written. www.allanshepherd.com/curious-incidents-in-the-garden-at-night-time/ Much as I hate to do myself out of much needed royalties you can get hold of a second hand copy for one penny plus £2.75 postage on Amazon at the moment. I have to tell myself that much more famous writers than I get sold for a penny too! http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/1902175255/ref=sr_1_olp_1?ie=UTF8&s=gateway&qid=1212164804&sr=8-1. Alternatively if you don’t want to shop with a big corporation, you can get the book from www.cat.org.uk/shopping.

Knit your own slug pellets: New slug deterrent made from recycled wool

It almost seems like one of the stereotypical greenie knit your own yoghurt pots moments but you can now get slug pellets made out of wool. Recycled wool no less. Strange but true. Made by Kindtoo there perhaps somewhat miss titled Slug Buggers expands when wet into a wough wooly carpet with small needle-like fibres slugs wont cross. I guess its the same sort of theory that persuades countless gardeners to mount barriers of egg and nut shells, pine needles and other rough surfaces around their plants. I haven’t seen any positive or negative comments about the product as its only just out but if anyone buggers their slugs this year please let us know! Kindtoo managing director Eric Graham says they’re “easy to use and extremely effective at deterring slugs” so lets put him to the test. A 3.5 litre bucket costs £9.95. To order telephone 0845 8623888. www.kindtoo.com.

Actually I’ve hardly seen a slug this year. Its very dry so they’re all hiding away from the veg patch which I’ve kept totally weed free. Slugs love to hide when its hot and dry and will make the most of any clumps of weeds you’ve neglected to pull out. First rule of slug control is to keep your beds free of weeds and keep hoeing regularly to disturb any eggs and break up the slug trails they use to go back to their targets. However if we get any rains at all they’ll make the most of it and will be out looking for something young and tender. Traditionally many barriers fail when they get wet. Some will wash away. Some are easier to cross when wet. So if the expanding slug buggers work when wet it could make a lot of sense to use them just when you think they’re might be a damp patch coming up. You’ll have to go out in the evening or at night with a torch to see how effective they are. Slugs love coming out in moist conditions at the end of the day. 


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