No Plot? No Problem

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Grow your own salads, fruit and vegetables, even if you don't have a garden

I know that I am in danger of repeating myself again with this article but it would appear that still far too many people seem to think that in order to grow fruit and vegetables they need a large garden plot or an allotment or two.

You do not have to have acres of land for a garden where to grow at least some food for yourself and your family, not even a ¼ of an acre. If you have it that is great but if you don't you can still grow some fresh food. There are many who grow an abundance of food in containers and in other ways. Lack of land should not be an obstacle.

As I have mentioned with regards to container gardening before there are even some market gardens in existence, in the USA, where the operator grows absolutely everything in plastic buckets. OK, yes, he does have some land where to put those buckets but that is neither here nor there.

A great way, when plot is missing, is vertical gardening and Mark Ridsdill Smith of Vertical Veg and his knowledge on this subject is second to none. If you can't grow horizontally grow vertically. You are only limited by your imagination.

When it comes to containers in which to grow your plants upcycling is the order of the day. There is no need to buy special containers and all that. Make friends with your local groundspeople in the local councils who often get trees in what I refer to as tree tubs or tree buckets and more-often-than-not those they then have to dispose off as waste. Many of those buckets make great planters, as that is what they are.

Catering establishments also are good to make friends with as they get oil, mayonnaise and such, in plastic buckets often, quite often of between one and five gallon in size. All that is needed is to drill some drainage hole into the bottom and you have planters (that's what those market gardens I mentioned use).

Container gardening has been a trend for some years already and is still gaining traction and many gardening equipment suppliers are catering more and more for this. Vertical gardening, especially for growing food, has not advanced that far as yet but it too is slowly gaining some traction.

So, if you haven't got a big garden, a big enough one, or almost none, you still can join the “grow your own” movement and grow at least some food for yourself and your family. If you can't go horizontal thing about vertical.

© 2019


– Press Release –
There will soon be exciting new options for gardeners, as Corona Tools, America’s leading tool innovator, launches its premium gardening tools in the UK. Already a by-word for quality in North America, professionals and gardeners alike rely on Corona cutting tools, hand tools and long-handled tools for their long lasting durability and performance - and now they’ll be available to British gardeners.

These superb tools combine outstanding performance with the highest quality materials and advanced technical design, to ensure that Corona tools are more than up to the job, however tough it gets.
From its beginnings in the Southern California orange groves back in 1928, when the invention of a small shear for harvesting oranges revolutionized the citrus industry, Corona Tools this year celebrates 90 years of growth, innovation, and engineering expertise.

Since its inception, the manufacturer has excelled at combining the best of American engineering with a can-do approach to solving real problems, and today Corona’s reputation for innovation is recognised throughout North America. These premium tools offer not just superior strength, but also exceptional durability, and have been created to give lasting performance, season after season.
Corona Tools is launching selected ranges in the UK as a result of its relationship to British garden tool manufacturer Burgon & Ball. In 2018, the Sheffield-based company joined the Venanpri global family of the finest hand tool brands, already home to Corona Tools.

This natural fit between the UK’s oldest manufacturer of garden tools and accessories, founded in 1730, and an American innovator with a solid heritage of excellence, bring new choices to professional gardeners, landscapers and demanding users in 2019.

Founded in Sheffield in 1730, Burgon & Ball is the UK’s oldest manufacturer of garden tools and accessories, with hundreds of years of expertise in steel manufacturing. A manufacturer of the world’s finest sheep shears since its earliest years, today Burgon & Ball is respected as a leading name in garden tools and enjoys an enviable reputation for quality and innovation. Notable product ranges are its Royal Horticultural Society-endorsed garden tools, and the popular range of hand tools and giftware developed in collaboration with designer Sophie Conran.

In 2018 Burgon & Ball joined the Venanpri Group, a global collective of the finest hand tool brands for agriculturists, horticulturists, gardeners, landscape and construction professionals. The cumulative experience of the Bellota, Burgon & Ball and Corona brands represents nearly 500 years of advancement in developing superior hand tools. With a global footprint spanning more than 125 countries across 6 continents, these brands have been the leading choice for generations of professionals who rely on quality and lasting performance.

Source: Burgon & Ball

Recyclables vs. Secondary Raw Materials

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

I believe that the term “Secondary Raw Materials” far better would get the message of how important recycling and recyclables are but hand in hand with it needs to go a change in strategy, namely that recycling and the use of those secondary raw materials, has to happen “at home” and the stuff not to be sent abroad to Third World countries or China. Well, then again China, and now India, have banned all imports of such materials into their respective countries.

Recyclables does not have the same weight, I believe, as does the terms “secondary raw materials”, a term that was used, probably coined even, in the German Democratic Republic, referred to, unfortunately, as East Germany.

Instead of penalties for not putting the recyclables out what should be done it to incentivize it so that the people learn the value of those secondary raw materials though not, necessarily, putting a deposit on the items, but by paying those bringing the secondary raw materials in to local (very local please, so that everyone, including children, can get to them without the need for a car) collecting centers. It is not rocket science and if it worked in the GDR it can work anywhere and everywhere. However, the reuse of these materials has to happen “at home”, so to speak, and industry to pay the collectors for the materials brought in. Alcan did just that for aluminium cans not all that long ago.

When the debate was hot about China having banned all imports of plastic waste into the country a recycling specialist in the UK stated that he was at a total loss that we would send such valuable resource as waste plastic abroad for recycling instead of actually doing it “at home”. Well, I am with him on that, and not only with regards to plastic.

But, instead of creating ways to do this in our countries, we rather send the stuff to countries where the environmental standards are lower or non existent to those in our own countries. Cheaper that way, you see. The problem is simple, it is called capitalism. Creating jobs in this sector “at home” and doing the work under our stricter conditions for the capitalists is simply too expensive.

We really must look at recyclables in a different light and see the them for what they are, namely secondary raw materials, and trest them as such, and we must rework them “at home” to, one, make the operations cleaner and, two, to create jobs in this branch, and many jobs can be created in this. It would be a win-win situation for our respective countries and for the Planet. And it is not just plastic, but glass, steel, aluminium, wood, paper and card, and whatever else.

True, many of the items that end up needing to be recycled should not be made in the first place. Do we really need those plastic bottles, those single-use cups, those plastic straws and those plastic carrier bags? And then there is the amount of packaging, plastic and other, which more often that not is totally unnecessary. Also, if they are made then should be made in such a way that they are not fused materials which are almost impossible to get apart for recycling. Cardboard packaging also needs to stop being laminated with, albeit a thin layer of, plastic, which makes it again almost impossible to deal with.

Those items, however, that still, after proper changes, would end up as what are called recyclables today should be treated as secondary raw materials rather and be collected and reprocessed right there in the country where they have been collected and used.

Considering that today open source technology is even available, albeit still at a price, even if it is DIY, creating machines that are capable, in a private garage even, to turn waste plastic into new products, it simply cannot be that difficult for a country to get to grips with hings such as this. What is preventing it, I am well aware, is capitalism as it stands, where profits account for more than the Planet and people.

© 2019

ARS-300L Needle Nose Fruit Snip – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The 300L is a Japanese manufactured fruit pruner which has become an instant industry favorite due to its lightweight design and extremely impressive cutting power.

I received this sample as a press gift from Sorbus, who are the representative of ARZ tools in the UK, at the Garden Press Event 2019 on February 27, 2019 at the Business Design Center in Islington (London, UK) and really like it. And I am not saying it because it was a gift/free sample; I really do mean it.

It comes out of the box extremely sharp, but then, for some reason, I would have expected that from Japanese-made tools, the tips wrapped in oiled wax paper, for protection of the blades and one's fingers. In fact the blades are so sharp and precise that they cut paper, for instance, better than many a pair of scissors (at least in this household/office).

The blades are made from high quality carbon steel (stainless steel version appears to be available at extra cost) and the entire construction is drop-forged steel with just a “rubber” coating on the handles and a broad silicone(?) band that is used as a lock for the handles.

The needle nose design especially, combined with the sharpness of the blades allows for precise cuts, be it for trimming plants or for harvesting leaves or fruit, or for floristry. More precision than with any pair of secateurs and more strength, when needed, than a pair of (garden or florist) scissors. All that at a price that will not break the bank either for a high-quality Japanese tool.

Price: £8.09 … £9.71 incl. Tax.

© 2019

Burgon & Ball container weeder – Product Review

Review by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

This container weeder, with a compact head and inwards-facing blade to protect plant stems from accidental damage, is ideal for scraping off moss, weeding and turning over the soil.

Though, as far as most moss in containers, and even raised beds, is concerned using gloved hands is much more efficient and you can actually get the stuff properly removed.

In fact this is a hand-held draw hoe though of a design that is rather new, as far as they head itself is concerned. The blade is rather sharp, from the factory, which is quite unusual in may respects today. The handle is of FSC-certified wood and the tool comes with a ten-year guarantee.

The blade and other metal parts are forged and made from high-quality high-carbon steel and while that means that they are not stainless are will rust easier than stainless steel carbon steel is much more durable in that it often is harder than stainless.

It is a well-balanced little hoe that should be an extremely useful addition to the armory of the container gardener or the one who grows produce in raised beds, also in the square-foot method. Raised beds also present the same problems as do pots and other containers of working with tight spaces and the requirement to weed, remove moss, and separate out individual plants.

The draw hoe design is also much better suited for containers and raised beds than is the so-called Dutch hoe design, which works with a pushing motion rather than drawing across, and in that case it can happen that, rather unintended, a plant will bite the dust.

This little hoe is from the new RHS-endorsed collection of specialist container gardening tools from Burgon & Ball. The other tools are listed in the article “Passionate about Pots” and, hopefully, in due course, we shall be able to have a closer look at those as well by means of a review and test.

The review sample was received as media gift at the Burgon & Ball stand at the Garden Press Event 2019 at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London (UK).

© 2019


Jim Moseley, CEO, Red Tractor Assurance, said: “Categorically, the UK’s food standards are now under threat from the commercial appetites of the United States food lobby. We urge the government not to sacrifice legislation which prevents these sort of products from being sold in the UK.”

“British people deserve better than having their world-leading food standards sold out from underneath them.”

“Our research shows that shoppers look for food that has been produced to the highest standards of food safety, animal welfare and traceability. A deal that allows illegal products to be brought into the UK, lets down the British public and undermines all the investment and efforts of British farmers. This cannot be the right thing to do.”

Source: Green Row Communications

Is your garden buzzing?

Hozelock’s bee friendly Plant A Pot campaign is set to take you by ‘swarm’!

With more than 18,000 pledges to plant bee-friendly plants in 2018 Hozelock’s Plant A Pot campaign has been a huge success so far and wants to help keep gardens buzzing this year!

Recognizing that having no bees would mean virtually no flowers, no gardens and very little food, Hozelock’s mission is to help to save Britain’s bees and to make it easy for you to play your part. By planting a container with bee-friendly plants, bulbs or seeds, and keeping it watered and healthy throughout the foraging season, you can have a huge impact on the availability of bee food throughout the year. The plight of bees is something that anyone with a garden, patio or even a window box can identify with and the Plant A Pot campaign is a rewarding and affordable way to help.

What’s more, from March 20, 2019 if you visit and pledge to #plantapot you’ll be in with a chance of winning over £5,000 worth of great gardening and bee-related prizes in Hozelock’s free prize draw – including a cottage holiday in Devon. Plus, there are dozens of £10 Horticultural Trade Association National Garden Gift Vouchers (which can be spent at most garden centers) to be won every month!

Driven by the knowledge that bees are disappearing at an alarming rate and a third of all the food we eat depends on them – Hozelock’s campaign is a call to action for gardeners nationwide to play their part.

With everything from automatic watering systems and a wide range of hoses to the Green Power Thermal Weeder and the Pure Range – which make natural gardening easy – Hozelock has everything you’ll need to look after your garden and help nurture the bees and other wildlife who visit it.

Hozelock’s top 5 watering tips for your plant pots:

1. Start off right. Water your plants even before you pot them to ensure they get off to a good start. Make sure your pots can drain easily – a hole in the base of the pot is essential!
2. Water consistently and carefully. Avoid a ‘feast or famine’ approach to watering which can affect plants’ health and result in less pollen and poor nectar quality for bees.
3. Set up an automatic watering system. An area planted with lavender and other bee-friendly plants which enjoy a dry spell, can be watered sparingly. Automatic watering systems make it really easy to tailor the right amount of water to each zone of your garden and allow you to go away on worry-free holidays!
4. Water accurately – at the base and roots of a plant. Overhead sprays can result in water being wasted as it drips off leaves beyond the roots. Good spray guns allow you to direct water more accurately.
5. Be prepared. Keep a neat hose handy so you can water as soon as you see the pot drying out.

Hozelock’s top 3 tips for planting for bees:

1. Plant a diverse garden. The more diverse your choice, the more wildlife you’re likely to attract. If you have a wildlife pond be sure to add bee friendly aquatic plants too.
2. Check the structure. Choose plants with flower structures that allow their nectar to be easily accessed by bees including Foxgloves, Lavender and Comfrey – your local garden-center can help you discover many more.
3. Plant your five a day. From a pot of strawberries, peas and beans to rosemary or thyme – there are loads of fruit, veg and herbs that are pollinated by bees so you can provide a nutritious treat for yourself whilst helping bees.

Source: Hozelock