66 orders sent today – 158 this week – we are on fire!

April 20, 2011 § Leave a comment

Well, my arm muscles are at least …

66 boxes in one day is a new vegplugs.co.uk record. Thank you SO MUCH to our customers for ordering with us this year. I think my staff might be getting some free ice-creams this afternoon, thanks Itz and Joy- without you guys i’d be packing ’til midnight 🙂

Biological controls – An introduction

April 13, 2011 § 1 Comment

Biological controls are organisms (insects, nematodes, micro-organisms) introduced to a growing space to feed on pests. Most of these are very small and not interested in humans. Their application is often temperatures specific (so seasonal) and a few can only survive in heated greenhouses.

In the UK we have many species of parasitic wasps, ladybirds, lacewing and hoverflies whose larvae eat butterfly and moth eggs, thrips, leaf hoppers and aphids.

4d39a58768450aphid-attack.jpg

Beneficial predators can be encouraged into your garden by planting members of the apiaceae  family- flowering parsley, fennel, dill and coriander, and also lemon balm, lupins, sunflowers, borage, chamomile, statice, tansies, marigolds, shasta daisies, amaranthus and Queen Anne’s lace.

It is helpful to encourage natural predators to populate your garden by planting crops which will attract them. If local beneficial predator numbers are low, they will benefit from both habitat provision and the introduction of purchased insects to re-populate the locale.

 

Coming soon to a garden near you ….

April 13, 2011 § 2 Comments

I noticed the first cluster of butterfly eggs on a brassica this morning.

Let the battle begin!

Caterpillars are the larvae of moths and butterflies. They mostly eat anything in the brassica family.

There are three species of caterpillars in the UK- imported caterpillars (green caterpillars with fuzzy skin), cabbage loopers (green with white stripes, arches its back as it walks) and diamond backed moth worms (smooth and green, leaf miner in early larval stage).

Caterpillars do not particularly like red cabbage. A traditional remedy for killing caterpillars is to sprinkle flour on brassica leaves which they ingest and this glues up their insides, or try cayenne pepper, which they dislike. Spraying with neem and insecticidal soap or dusting with pyrethrum is effective. Products containing bacillus thuringiensis will kill caterpillars. Biological controls include the parasitic wasp trichogamma brassicae which targets eggs.

Many gardeners do daily rounds picking off eggs, caterpillars and other pests and killing them, which will usually reduce populations to manageable numbers within a week or two. Physical barriers are the only sure way to keep caterpillars and moths off your veg. Covering with netting or fleece prevents most pest damage to crops.

 

Independent.co.uk: News Superbugs may have found their match in manuka

April 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

By Jeremy Lawrence

Manuka honey, the premium product found on fashionable breakfast tables, could play a role in the battle against antibiotic-resistant superbugs, scientists reported yesterday.

Honey is known to have antiseptic properties but the antibacterial potency of manuka honey, from New Zealand, is 10 to 50 times more powerful. It has been shown to stop the growth of antibiotic-resistant Staphylococcus aureus – the superbug that causes MRSA.

Manuka honey is derived from nectar collected by honey bees foraging on the manuka tree in New Zealand and is included in modern wound-care products such as dressings and ointments available on NHS prescription. However, its antimicrobial properties have not been fully exploited, according to researchers.

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The Welsh Vegetable Project from Dyfi Valley Seedsavers

April 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Welsh Vegetable Project from Dyfi Valley Seedsavers is a summary of Wales’ heirloom cultivars, published January – December 2010.

 

The Welsh Vegetable Project

Introduction

The aims of the project were to seek to find and trial Welsh Heritage Vegetable varieties within Wales that are not available on the National List and to trial them amongst a variety of growers in Powys.

The project aimed to seek out varieties that may be on the verge of disappearing, or new varieties bred in Wales and to raise awareness of the importance of vegetable diversity by encouraging seed saving. The project was further motivated by a need to reduce food miles, and to encourage food growing using varieties that are suitable for the growing conditions of the local area in the light of climate change and the growing need for food security.

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March bestsellers at vegplugs.co.uk

April 7, 2011 § 2 Comments

Below is a list of the 15 most popular purchases in March at vegplugs.co.uk. 

February was the month of the Brassica- loads of orders for Pentland Brig, Sicilia Violetta, Nautilus and Rouge tet Noire. Early April we are seeing lots of orders for peas, companion flowers and sweet peppers, and loads of seed orders too.

1. Sweetcorn ‘LARK IMPROVED’ 6 Plug Plants Lark is an exceptional cultivar, this recently improved strain is going to be great for early planting. At vegplugs.co.uk our plugs are grown in individual coco fibre pellets. The growing medium means we can let them get quite big without them getting spiral rootmass or running out of soil nutrients. Sweetcorn plugs can thus be planted up until end june, unlike seed which has to be in the ground soon.

A quick digression on planting sweetcorn from seed … there is a short window when outdoor conditions are right for planting sweetcorn seed. Sweetcorn seed is sensitive to both temperature (likes heat) and moisture (no waterlogging or seeds may rot). In the UK end April is usually a good time to direct sow. you want to get that second or third week when the soil has properly begun to retain the suns heat.

To avoid sweetcorn seed drying out and germinating poorly I plant quite deep- at least 1.5″. This is probably deeper than seed packets suggest, but it also means a slightly deeper rooting profile for this already very shallow rooting crop (so more anchorage, and stronger plants).

 

2. Herb Collection- 10 Plants – Dispatch March until October Seriously, we can’t grow enough herbs. No matter how many we plant there is never enough.
3. Heirloom Tomato Seeds ‘OPALKA’ Opalka kicks ass.
4. Heirloom Tomato Plant ‘ORANGE BANANA’ This is a really robust cultivar with thick stems, large leaves and big bunches of very large tomatoes. Support it well!
5. Broccoli (sprouting) ‘RED ARROW’ 6 Plants Old faithful, and not as massive as Early Sprouting Rudolph.
6. Lettuce ‘FLAME’ 6 Multisown Plug Plants Flame is one of the prettiest lttuces around, ad it grows nice and tall so makes a nice feature in the garden whilst taking up little space.
7. Pumpkin Plant ‘ROUGE VIF D’ETAMPES’ I thought Galeux D’Eysine or Zapallo Plomo would be number 1!!
8. Cucumber Plant ‘SPACEMASTER’ An attractive, compact cutivar which responds well to light pruning. Vines are short with short leaf spacings.
9. Cucumber Plant ‘BUSHY’ Good quality fat fruits. If given enough space and fertile soil this cultivar can be extremely productive.
10. Chive Seeds ‘Extra Fine’ The best chive for cutting all summer.
11. Fennel ‘BRONZE’ Large Plug PlantDecorative, good for herbal teas.
12. Summer Purslane Seeds A brilliant summer leaf, can be planted March til August. Leaves are really succulent with a bright, gentle flavour. Successional sow. good one to sow in the shade of maturing rows of crops like brassica or chard.
13. Chilli Pepper Plant ‘AOC PIMENTE D’ESPELETTE’ March’s most popular chilli is the only one in our whole selection with no Scoville’s! How British 😉
14. Heirloom Tomato Seeds ‘ISIS CANDY’ A heat loving indeterminate. Slim vines need careful training and staking.
15. Large Collection- 84 Plants – Dispatched May/June Our bestselling collection is the biggest one! 

This year we have quite a few orders for the Large collection from community allotment projects, city farms and small business enterprises, so we will keep in contact with them and try get some good photos!

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