Independent.co.uk: Twitter in the city: The urban life of birds

January 31, 2011 § Leave a comment

Birds adapt to noisy urban life by singing louder, warbling at night or moving away – but it’s threatening their survival, says Roger Dobson

Image: Rex Features

If a nightingale sang in Berkeley Square now, it might need to change its tune. Birds are having to adapt their songs to noisy city life so their communications can be heard above the urban hubbub.

City bird songs are becoming shorter, louder, and with longer pauses. They are also sung at higher pitch to rise above the low frequency noise of traffic.

Birds are increasingly singing at night, when noise levels are lower, and there’s evidence of an ability to adjust songs by leaving out lower pitch notes which would be drowned by traffic noise.

Some researchers believe that these change are adaptions that will lead to urban and rural birds of the same species becoming reproductively isolated. It’s also been suggested that birds and species which fail to adapt will quit city life, reducing urban biodiversity.

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Starting seed indoors part 3: Vegetable varieties to start early

January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

By and large most vegetable crops can be planted when specified on seed packets, outdoors, and they will fare much better than if raised in artificial conditions.

A few varieties can be planted in winter with a bit of help from artificial lighting. There are two main reasons to plant veg under lights in winter:

1. For varieties which originate from parts of the world with longer/warmer growing seasons than in the UK;

2. To achieve two crops of varieties like tomatoes which traditionally are only grown once a year.

Aubergines, chillies, peppers and tomatoes need a long, hot summer to yield big harvests. These plants originate from more southerly latitudes countries with much longer, hotter summers than in the UK.

To achieve big harvests in the UK these plants need to be started in early spring, but these varieties really need heat and good light to germinate and grow well. These conditions occur in about April, but if you sow seed in April the plant will not be ready to fruit until about June/July. This only leaves two months of good weather for fruiting and ripening.

Ideally, come April these plants should be 8 weeks old, so when you plant them outside in May they are ready to flower; this means the plant has four months of good growing conditions to fruit.

I get two harvests of each of these varieties. The first lot are sown under lights in January, begin fruiting in May and crop by July, the second lot are sown in March, fruit in late June and yield in late August/September.

Commercial growers take this one step further and sow seed throughout the year, utilising artificial lights to manipulate the seasons, thus harvesting all year round.

If this is confusing please email!

Sunflowers

January 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

Images: Wikimedia

Now thats the kind of CV I wanna see from my government representatives!

January 27, 2011 § 1 Comment

Guardian.co.uk: Market man to stand for councillor in Riverside byelection

The man behind Cardiff’s successful market franchise Steve Garrett is to stand for councillor in the future byelection

steve garrett Steve Garrett will stand for Riverside councillor for Plaid Cymru. The man who started a successful franchise of Cardiff farmers’ markets is to stand in the next byelection. 

Steve Garrett, who started the famous Riverside Farmers’ Market and has since started three other farmers’ markets across the city, has announced he is to stand for Riverside councillor for Plaid Cymru.

riverside market Riverside Market is popular Sunday success Photograph: PaulHenryGardner

The byelection was called after Gwenllian Lansdown announced her resignation as councillor to start a family outside of Cardiff. It is expected that the byelection will be held on Thursday 3 March – the same day as the referendum on further powers for the National Assembly for Wales.

The farmers’ market franchise has expanded from Riverside to Roath, Rhiwbina and Llandaff – and Garrett has also overseen the Riverside Market Garden – which we featured on the blog here.

rhiwbina market Councillors Jayne Cowan and Adrian Robson at the Rhiwbina market

A useful list of NPK values from the chileman.org

January 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

NPK value for various organic materials, from a good chilli info database at the chileman.org

Alfalfa Hay: 2.45/05/2.1
Apple Fruit: 0.05/0.02/0.1
Apple Leaves: 1.0/0.15/0.4
Apple Pomace: 0.2/0.02/0.15
Apple skins(ash) : 0/3.0/11/74
Banana Residues (ash): 1.75/0.75/0.5
Barley (grain): 0/0/0.5
Barley (straw): 0/0/1.0
Basalt Rock: 0/0/1.5
Bat Guano: 5.0-8.0/4.0-5.0/1.0
Beans, garden(seed and hull): 0.25/0.08/03
Beet Wastes: 0.4/0.4/0.7-4.1
Blood meal: 15.0/0/0
Bone Black: 1.5/0/0
Bonemeal (raw): 3.3-4.1/21.0/0.2
Bonemeal (steamed): 1.6-2.5/21.0/0.2
Brewery Wastes (wet): 1.0/0.5/0.05
Buckwheat straw: 0/0/2.0
Cantaloupe Rinds (ash): 0/9.77/12.0
Castor pomace: 4.0-6.6/1.0-2.0/1.0-2.0
Cattail reeds and water lily stems: 2.0/0.8/3.4
Cattail Seed: 0.98/0.25/0.1
Cattle Manure (fresh): 0.29/0.25/0.1
Cherry Leaves: 0.6/0/0.7
Chicken Manure (fresh): 1.6/1.0-1.5/0.6-1.0
Clover: 2/0/0/0 (also contains calcium)
Cocoa Shell Dust: 1.0/1.5/1.7
Coffee Grounds: 2.0/0.36/0.67
Corn (grain): 1.65/0.65/0.4
Corn (green forage): 0.4/0.13/0.33
Corn cobs: 0/0/2.0
Corn Silage: 0.42/0/0
Cornstalks: 0.75/0/0.8
Cottonseed hulls (ash): 0/8.7/23.9
Cottonseed Meal: 7.0/2.0-3.0/1.8
Cotton Wastes (factory): 1.32/0.45/0.36
Cowpea Hay: 3.0/0/2.3
Cowpeas (green forage): 0.45/0.12/0.45
Cowpeas (seed): 3.1/1.0/1.2
Crabgrass (green): 0.66/0.19/0.71
Crabs (dried, ground): 10.0/0/0
Crabs (fresh): 5.0/3.6/0.2
Cucumber Skins (ash): 0/11.28/27.2
Dried Blood: 10.0-14.0/1.0-5.0/0
Duck Manure (fresh): 1.12/1.44/0.6
Eggs: 2.25/0.4/0.15
Eggshells: 1.19/0.38/0.14
Feathers: 15.3/0/0
Felt Wastes: 14.0/0/1.0
Field Beans (seed): 4.0/1.2/1.3
Feild Beans (shells): 1.7/0.3/1.3
Fish (dried, ground): 8.0/7.0/0
Fish Scraps (fresh): 6.5/3.75/0
Gluten Meal: 6.4/0/0
Granite Dust: 0/0/3.0-5.5
Grapefruit Skins (ash): 0/3.6/30.6
Grape Leaves: 0.45/0.1/0.4
Grape Pomace: 1.0/0.07/0.3
Grass (imature): 1.0/0/1.2
Greensand: 0/1.5/7.0
Hair: 14/0/0/0
Hoof and Horn Meal: 12.5/2.0/0
Horse Manure (fresh): 0.44/0.35/0.3
Incinerator Ash: 0.24/5.15/2.33
Jellyfish (dried): 4.6/0/0
Kentucky Bluegrass (green): 0.66/0.19/0.71
Kentucky Bluegrass (hay): 1.2/0.4/2.0
Leather Dust: 11.0/0/0
Lemon Culls: 0.15/0.06/0.26
Lemon Skins (ash): 06.33/1.0
Lobster Refuse: 4.5/3.5/0
Milk: 0.5/0.3/0.18
Millet Hay: 1.2/0/3.2
Molasses Residue: 0.7/0/5.32
Molasses Waste: 0/0/3.0-4.0
Mud (fresh water): 1.37/0.26/0.22
Mud (harbour): 0.99/0.77/0.05
Mussels: 1.0/0.12/0.13
Nutshells: 2.5/0/0
Oak Leaves: 0.8/0.35/0.2
Oats (grain): 2.0/0.8/0.6
Oats (green fodder): 0.49/0/0
Oat straw: 0/0/1.5
Olive Pomace: 1.15/0.78/1.3
Orange Culls: 0.2/0.13/0.21
Orange Skins: 0/3.0/27.0
Oyster Shells: 0.36/0/0
Peach Leaves: 0.9/0.15/0.6
Pea forage: 1.5-2.5/0/1.4
Peanuts (seed/kernals): 3.6/0.7/0.45
Peanut Shells: 3.6/0.15/0.5
Pea Pods (ash): 0/3.0/9.0
Pea (vines): 0.25/0/0.7
Pear Leaves: 0.7/0/0.4
Pigeon manure (fresh): 4.19/2.24/1.0
Pigweed (rough): 0.6/0.1/0
Pine Needles: 0.5/0.12/0.03
Potato Skins (ash): 0/5.18/27.5
Potaote Tubers: 0.35/0.15/2.5
Potatoe Vines (dried): 0.6/0.16/1.6
Prune Refuse: 0.18/0.07/0.31
Pumpkins (fresh): 0.16/0.07/0.26
Rabbitbrush (ash): 0/0/13.04
Rabbit Manure: 2.4/1.4/0.6
Ragweed: 0.76/0.26/0
Rapeseed meal: 0/1.0=2.0/1.0=3.0
Raspberry leaves: 1.45/0/0.6
Red clover hay: 2.1/0.6/2.1
Redrop Hay: 1.2/0.35/1.0
Rock and Mussel Deposits
From Ocean: 0.22/0.09/1.78
Roses (flowers): 0.3/0.1/0.4
Rye Straw: 0/0/1.0
Salt March Hay: 1.1/0.25/0.75
Sardine Scrap: 8.0/7.1/0
Seaweed (dried): 1.1-1.5/0.75/4.9
Seaweed (fresh): 0.2-0.4/0/0
Sheep and Goat Manure (fresh): 0.55/0.6/0.3
Shoddy and Felt: 8.0/0/0
Shrimp Heads (dried): 7.8/4.2/0
Shrimp Wastes: 2.9/10.0/0
Siftings From Oyster Shell Mounds: 0.36/10.38/0.09
Silk Mill Wastes: 8.0/1.14/1.0
Silkworm Cocoons:10.0/1.82/1.08
Sludge: 2.0/1.9/0.3
Sludge (activated): 5.0/2.5-4.0/0.6
Smokehouse/Firepit Ash:0/0/4.96
Sorghum Straw:0/0/1.0
Soybean Hay: 1.5-3.0/0/1.2-2.3
Starfish: 1.8/0.2/0.25
Sugar Wastes (raw): 2.0/8.0/0
Sweet Potatoes: 0.25/0.1/0.5
Swine Manure (fresh): 0.6/0.45/0.5
Tanbark Ash: 0/0.34/3.8
Tanbark Ash (spent): 0/1.75/2.0
Tankage: 3.0-11.0/2.0-5.0/0
Tea Grounds: 4.15/0.62/0.4
Timothy Hay: 1.2/0.55/1.4
Tobacco Leaves: 4.0/0.5/6.0
Tobacco Stems: 2.5-3.7/0.6-0.9/4.5-7.0
Tomato Fruit: 0.2/0.07/0.35
Tomatoe Leaves: 0.35/0.1/0.4
Tomatoe Stalks: 0.35/0.1/0.5
Tung Oil Pumace: 6.1/0/0
Vetch Hay: 2.8/0/2.3
Waste Silt: 9.5/0/0
Wheat Bran: 2.4/2.9/1.6
Wheat (grain): 2.0/0.85/0.5
Wheat Straw: 0.5/0.15/0.8
White Clover (Green): 0.5/0.2/0.3
Winter Rye Hay: 0/0/1.0
Wood Ash: 0/1.0-2.0/6.0-10.0
Wool Wastes: 3.5-6.0/2.0-4.0/1.0-3.5

Independent News: Brecklands, East Anglia

January 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

It contains more than 2,000 rare species but few people know Brecklands in Norfolk exists. Photo: ALAMY

Few visitors to East Anglia,on their way to the Broads or the North Norfolk coast, spare time for the ancient heaths around Thetford, on the Norfolk and Suffolk border. On the meter of national recognition, Breckland doesn’t create much of a swing. “People simply don’t know about it,” explains Tim Pankhurst, Plantlife’s regional conservation manager. “There’s no ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, or recognised designation. No one really holidays here. Botanists have known about it for ages, but from a general point of view, it’s a backwater.”

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Oh Claude, your too good

January 24, 2011 § 1 Comment

To start the week: beauty, beauty and more beauty


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