Homemade Bug Spray

Green Lizard's Blog

Officially it’s not allowed to make your own treatments for bugs and problems on your allotment.

(So I’m not advocating that anyone tries this on their plants.)

Black Fly on the Broad Beans

We’ve had a problem with our beautiful broad beans.

They’ve got black fly!

Oh no!

Now insecticide is out of the question. We keep bees. Insecticide is terrible.

So from our bee keeping we’ve learned that bugs don’t like thyme. We took some home grown dried thyme and ground it into a fine powder.

Then we put it a pan with hot water to make a ‘tea’. We added a squirt of washing up liquid.

Now we also know that ants don’t like cinnamon. The ants farm the black fly. They carry them onto the plant. So we added cinnamon oil to the cooled liquid.

Then we filtered it through kitchen paper in a sieve.

The washing…

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What to do in November – 2

Timely reminders ?


November seems to have snuck up on me without me looking.  You wouldn’t be able to tell by the weather that we are in November as it has, so far, been relatively mild for the end of Autumn. I just hope that the mild weather continues for as long as possible.

November for me always signifies the big tidy up and prepare for the upcoming Spring months that are just around the corner.  The dark nights prevent much evening work so my weekends are always busy and fully booked.  I do like a tidy plot though and without all of the annual weeds growing back quickly as soon as I have removed them, I have a fighting chance! There are still lots that can be done and the list below will hopefully give you an idea of some of the jobs that you can be doing this month to stay…

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Jobs for October

The Garden Smallholder

Clocks have gone back, days are drawing in quick and the threat of the first frost looms. Cold biting winds, falling leaves and dreary weather are signalling the end of the gardening year, take a moment to look around you and marvel at October’s autumn colour palette. It sure is beautiful, especially when the sun shines. There are still jobs to be getting on with in the vegetable garden, so don’t put your tools away just yet!

Some jobs for October:

  • Keep picking those courgettes and beans before the first frost arrives
  • Sow green manures
  • Tidy the strawberry bed, pot up stray runners and overwinter in a greenhouse or well-lit shed
  • Make a leaf bin and start collecting fallen leaves to make leaf mould
  • Start planting garlic at the end of the month
  • Harvest and carve pumpkins for Halloween/Samhain celebrations
  • Autumn sow hardy broad beans (Aquaduce Claudia) and peas (Meteor) for an early crop late spring

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Plotting in the Rain …

Picture the scene: three thirty on a Friday afternoon, members of the “events committee” meeting at a sodden allotment site. The weather forecast is full of gloom; rain getting heavier, if not wetter. It hadn’t seemed so tricky, back in November when this Open Day was being planned (part of the itinerary prepared in advance to go out with fee payment agreements in February, so plot holders and cottage gardeners know what is planned and when it ‘ll  happen). Open Day? August?Beginning of National Allotments Week? Be brilliant weather!

But, determined as ever (perhaps dogged – or slightly crazy are words that also fit the bill), we decide: “It’s on!”

The marquee, on loan from Cheslyn Hay Scouts (thanks for that)  skilfully erected, means we are also now prepared. Scarecrows are counted, paperwork sorted, floats counted, details gone over just one more time. We defer making a decision on how many burgers to buy for the “free-to-plot holders” barbecue. That may prove to be a step too far and we can think about it tomorrow. Necessary because once we buy the stuff nobody has room in a freezer to keep it for another time (that’s what allotments’ll do for you at times).

Up again the next morning; setting up from 9 a.m.

Still raining!

But the book stall is set up, the “pick an egg” (some things you just have to be there to understand, know what I mean?) stall too, so does bunting. Somebody staggers in carrying anther scarecrow … stalls get set out for the refreshments, produce appears and gets displayed on the “barrow”. It’ll be sold and money donated to West Midlands Air Ambulance (the charity chosen by plot holders at the A.G.M. in October)

Cheslyn Hay Historical Society have sent their apologies; Staffs Wildlife Trust told us they wouldn’t send anyone if it was raining … where are the beekeepers?

HCPT arrive. They are cheerful, ready to set up their tombola. Soon get stuck in and the site starts to liven up.

Followed fairly swiftly by the beekeepers. Stalwarts! We have a couple of hives on the site and are delighted to promote bees and bee keeping.

Before anybody can say pumpkin it’s noon: official opening time.

Joan, from Hedgehog Rescue and a “special guest” are also on site, spreading the word. Allotments can be such key sites for hedgehogs – and hedgehogs such useful “friends” to growers.

New to the area PCSO Adam arrives and introduces himself. The PCSO has keys to the site and, although a little surprised at how large the place actually is (a not uncommon reaction) he promises to look over the area on his patrols.

It’s warm rain now at any rate (and warmer still under the tea ‘n’ cake tent. Big thanks to those who did the baking – delicious.

Caroline, from the Eat Well campaign, drops in and has a chat; one of the first visitors. Then there is a steady stream of people: families on the “Scarecrow Parade Trail” – diligently filling in their voting slips.

Plot holders keen to support the event, local people just curious (one of whom buys most of the produce from the barrow. So we have to re-stock it (blimey, there’s a lot of people handing us courgettes-cum-marrows today!)


One visitor, from Cannock wants rhubarb, for his daughter, so I nip off to my plot and pull some for him. He pays us a marvellous compliment; mentioning “what a friendly bunch” we are.

It’s great to hear things like that – especially as the rain begins to lift.

We decide to get stocks in for the barbecue while the sky is blue and spirits soar.

Rain sets in again and a couple of ladies who “Just nipped in to see if D… was here ”  so they could shelter in his shed for ten mins end up being fed  and given a cup of tea. They turn down the red currant wine that Eddie has brought along. (in fact he won’t drink it himself, but it’s been a long day and somebody has to try it eh?).

A big thanks to everyone who contributed in any way, especially to those who were visiting our allotments for the first time (hope to see you again maybe?)

Winding down at the end of the event, planned to be at the start of NSALG’s National  Allotments Week (http://www.nsalg.org.uk/news-events-campaigns/national-allotments-week/), we are pleased that we showed true grit in going ahead with it, wished, inevitably that a few more people had visited, but all agreed that these marquees are the bee’s knees.

Time to start planning for next year yet ?

What To Do In The Kitchen Garden In August

not just greenfingers

I have been nominated as one of the top ten allotment blogs, which is such a compliment.  If you enjoy my blog, would please consider voting for me here.

Thank you for your time.


When I first started to grow vegetables I needed help to work out what I should be doing each month at my allotment.   I found that there was lots of bits of information scattered between internet sites and books and it used to take me a long time to find the information I actually needed.  I really needed it all to be in one place, so I could look it up easily, to establish what to do each month.

I therefore thought it would be useful to have this information altogether in one place. So for the benefit of UK gardeners, at the beginning of each month, I write a list of things…

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Summer Solstice/Support Staffordshire Event

The longest day dawned: the start of a long weekend.

The debut of the “market barrow” I bodged up out of an old gas barbecue and some timbers. It’s collapsible and we wedged it into the car and set off for Perton. Sun hot and high in the sky. Outside position … and the pieces went together reasonably smoothly (though some bolts needed the gentle encouragement of a cobbler’s hammer). The idea to create this barrow came to me while we were at the Co-op A.G.M. I had been making plans to use scavenged bike wheels on a wooden frame, but about to put the barbecue on Freecycle I saw the opportunity. Et voila:


 This event was to celebrate the work of Support Staffordshire, formerly SSCVA, and bring together community organisations. As such it worked; although perhaps a little short on genuine Joe Public visitors. Both S.SC.V.A. and Support Staffordshire have been superb in supporting our efforts: fund raising and the community voice forums, so we were delighted to be invited and happy to play a part.

The event was opened by local M.P. Gavin Williamson, with a witty self-deprecating speech and a fanfare from another group represented.

We handed out free seeds, business cards, ur A4 calendar of events and chatted to other stall holders and visitors. There was  skittles game set up next to us and on the other side a young woman representing Age Concern. While across form us were the “Perton Wildlife Group”. Spectacularly both of their volunteers missed the amazing sight of a hedgehog carrying a young one (what are baby hedgehogs called? hoglets?) across the gateway from shrubbery to shrubbery.

The M.P came by and spent quite some time talking to us on the stand; having his photo taken – a true public christening for the barrow! (Thanks to William Hanford/Gavin Williamson for the following picture.)


During the day we collected contact details, advice and began to prepare for the Cheslyn Hay Open Gardens on the next day.

Later certificates were awarded to volunteers without whom – as Mr Williamson put it – “so much good work would go undone”. This speech of his was first class: respectful, humble and giving the feeling that he was very much aware of the locality and the characteristics of the many organisations represented.

And, taking the barrow to pieces we left: tired but satisfied. With the good feedback and appreciation shown.



What to do in June – 2


Reading back on last years’ post about what to do in June, you would have thought that I would have learned from my mistakes of not planting too many seeds due to running out of space.  No such luck!  If anything, I have even more trouble with space now as I have transplants for my sister’s new plot too!  

Any way, now that the weather is warming up, most plants can be placed outside but keep the fleece handy for a few more weeks yet just incase.  Us UK gardeners know only too well that frost can rear its’ head in late June!

Jobs to do………in June

  • Keep the hoe busy to get on top of the weeds.  Hoeing on a sunny day makes it easy as the weeds will die in the heat of the sun.
  • Continue to save water where you can.  The warmer weather will mean that…

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Vintage Tea Party

Cheslyn Hay Community Allotments
Vintage Tea Party
Saturday, 7th June, 2014
3 – 5 p.m.
Every good gardener knows that work on the plot is never finished, but that there is a time to down tools, sit, drink a cup of tea and eat.


Come and join us down by the Wolverhampton Rd. gates in the Community Area.
Meet other plotholders, take a look at what we have planned, meet your friends, bring the family.

For a very reasonable fee we will provide a “vintage tea” with sandwiches, cakes, biscuits and a drink.
All welcome. See you there.

What to do in May – 2


Wow! Where did April go in such a hurry. I can’t believe that we are in May already. The months just seem to be flying by. With the warmer weather approaching and the seedlings and plants growing at an alarming rate, it is important to appreciate that these plants will need some extra tlc.  They will require constant watering and in some cases protection from the elements, so it is worthwhile bearing this in mind if you are unable to tend to your plants for a long period of time.This could be an ideal time to get to know your allotment neighbour and ask them to help you out!

Most of the plants that can be planted this month are virtually the same as April.  Many tender crops can now be planted out in the ground but it is still worthwhile remembering that we can still have late frosts up…

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