LL's Gardening Diary

Members adventures in the Vegetable Patch all year round
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lancashire lass
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The Algae Project

Post by lancashire lass »

Another idea is to set up algae farms - there's surprisingly very little on this idea when googling. Yes, I've seen several youtube videos of setting up diy algae farms to produce food (not something I'd be interested in) using 2L plastic pop bottles or on an industrial scale, but I was actually thinking of growing algae (high in nitrogen) to feed the compost bin. I still need to give this more thought of how to set it up but I think it has potential. Still some ways to go ....


Well it's all happening now. I ordered some live Chlorella (algae) off ebay which wasn't expensive at all - Chlorella is edible if you want to grow it to eat (supposed to be good for you but you do need to filter and mash it up to break cell walls otherwise it can give you the trots instead ...) and is routinely used to feed fry on fish farms hence not that difficult to get hold of (I know it's easy to grow algae when you don't want it like in the pond, but this is a pure culture of a species I have read up about in science papers on carbon capture projects) It's a 75ml (10x concentrated) pack so will be plenty. For now I am going to start it off indoors in a small tank by the window and then use it to seed the "algae farm" and plumb the air lines from the pond aerator (the compost bin idea might have to go on hold for now until I have a working prototype)


EDIT: correction, algae is used to feed small aquatic invertebrates which the fish fry then eat.


The tank idea had to take a step back - there was a small tank at work which was originally destined to be disposed of as no longer required but the researcher has decided to start some new projects and wanted to keep it. Meanwhile I decided to use the 2L plastic bottle idea and set up some experiments. The Chlorella arrived in this little container (it was full when it came, 75ml of 10x concentrate):

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I seeded 4 bottles of water (photo below left to right: deionized/reverse osmosis water I had acquired from work, same water with a bit of sodium bicarbonate, pond water and fish tank water)

I didn't expect much from the deionized water as it shouldn't contain anything to encourage growth but this does not seem to be the case.

The sodium bicarbonate releases carbon dioxide in acidic water so provides the gas for the algae to use during photosynthesis. Growth was slow at first but appears to be similar to that of the water alone. It could be the sodium bicarbonate had raised the pH in the water as it may not have been acidic (to be fair, I didn't check the pH so not an exact science here)

Pond and fish tank water already contain algae but also bacteria so growth was expected and waste from fish/plant decay so would be an ideal media to grow algae. Growth after about a week was good across all 4 bottles (the water appears turgid rather than green but that's okay) but rather concerning that the fish tank water had the most (I think I need to change the water more often ....)

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Over the weekend I set up an experiment using both tap and boiled water supplemented with small amounts of different media including (left to right: water filtered through compost, Growmore fertilizer, ammonium sulphate fertilizer, iron sulphate, fresh urine, and the one on the right just plain water as control) After just 2 days, results already:

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All but the iron sulphate show growth - it's possible I needed to dilute it further as it may have made the water too acidic. Iron is being suggested as a means to seed oceans to encourage algae to grow in order to take up more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere so I was hoping the addition of iron would promote growth in my algae farming.

The best growth media was ... urine, followed by compost water, then the control. Urine contains all the right ingredients for growth - we excrete urea (a nitrogen source), phosphorous and potassium. I have read up on a trial project in some developing countries where everyone contributes urine which is used to grow algae (thereby taking up carbon) which is then added to their fields as fertilizer and is proving to be a cheap and sustainable way of growing crops. This little experiment proves urine is quite good and along with adding to my compost bin, is becoming a valuable resource that normally just gets flushed down the toilet and wasted.

I expected more from the ammonia sulphate but the Growmore seems to have attracted the algae to the granule surface and grown over it. Surprisingly the (cooled) boiled water was more productive than tap water but the results for all the different media were the same. I'll leave the experiment running to see if there are any changes over time.

The next step is to bulk up and grow the algae in the 2L bottles using dilute urine. I tried to glue 3 bottles together to make tall tubes that I could fasten to the pallet by the glass greenhouse/compost bin but I suspect they will leak despite my best efforts so it is back to just using 2L bottle sizes for now. I'm getting quite excited by this new project - my initial idea was to put the algae water into the compost bin as part of my "green" material but the article on the community urine/fertilizer farming method has given me an idea - to fit watering spikes to the bottles and let the contents empty into the soil. Soil bacteria/moulds will break down the algae and increase soil carbon which fits in with my carbon capture/garden carbon sequestration project as well as act as fertilizer for any crops I grow.
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

Post by Freeranger »

algae is used to feed small aquatic invertebrates which the fish fry then eat.


I had to read this twice. Clever fishies, I thought at first. Can they do chips as well? Then I read it again properly.
What is the idea behind iron seeding algae? Not sure I follow that mechanism as well as the urea-based ones. Presumably for the chlorophyl.
I'm impressed at how quickly you have it all up and running. I'd thought it would take longer to produce useable quantities.
It will be interesting to see how this works in practice. Are you going to do any control group comparators or will you just feed all the plants?
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lancashire lass
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Algae, watercress, vertical garden & the rest ...

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Freeranger wrote:What is the idea behind iron seeding algae? Not sure I follow that mechanism as well as the urea-based ones. Presumably for the chlorophyl.


yes - chlorophyll contains iron (like in haemoglobin in red blood cells) which has multiple functions. Algae growth in oceans are limited by lack of iron - when seeded with iron, algae grow rapidly. Hence my little experiment only I think I need to dilute it down a lot. I have been keeping the experiment running and still no signs of growth in the container with iron - as iron sulphate is used to acidify soil (when growing acid loving plants like blueberries and heather in soil that has higher pH), it has probably been too acidic for the algae that prefer pH 7 - 8.5

Freeranger wrote:It will be interesting to see how this works in practice. Are you going to do any control group comparators or will you just feed all the plants?


Perhaps I should but currently I just want everything to grow and be productive at the moment so I'm a bit reluctant to select anything as a control. I might try it with some winter squashes I'm about to plant out in the garden (not today - it's getting a tad warm outside at the moment ....)

I had hoped to have done more in the garden after taking a week's annual leave but earlier in the week it was raining and now we have dry weather, today there was talk of up to 30oC with high uv levels ... When it was raining I was making plans, so much of what you see in the photos below have taken place over the past couple of days.

Well my 2L bottle idea for the algae farm has taken a back seat as I needed the bottles for another project which I'll reveal in a moment. I have been saving small coffee jars for an idea I had (I was going to paint the inside of the bottom of the jar with left over yellow gloss paint and then turn upside down and use the jars for a foot path in the garden ... a sort of "yellow brick road" theme) but it is taking a while to get enough together. So instead I decided to use them for my algae farm ... I used the netted wall of the chicken run no longer in use (except to store my garden clutter) and each jar has a bit of garden wire wrapped round the neck and the ends of the wire hooked through the net. I decided to put some scaffold net over the top as I didn't fancy them becoming mosquito breeders. Then I filled each jar with a little tinkle tincture (diluted urine - some home algae enthusiasts suggest a 10% dilution but I found that this to be too much and suppressed growth - plus started to smell - and think about 2% works best) After just a couple of days (okay, we've had sunny days and temperatures have been on the rise), already showing good growth:

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I've got another little project on the go - growing watercress. The pond forum I visit have some good diy ideas and one is watercress - it grows so quickly and a hungry feeder, it takes up nutrients out of the pond and deprives algae from growing (in this case we don't want algae in the pond water because it alters the water chemistry and can cause problems for the fish as well as make the water go green) Apparently it is so easy to grow, it readily forms roots from cuttings (which can then make it more like a nuisance weed especially if it manages to root itself into the pond gravel because it is a prolific grower) and all you need to do is buy some from the supermarket (I know Tesco sell it bagged up in the salad section) and throw it into some water ....

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and after just 5 days ....

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Now I'm not ready to implement it but if I was ever able to save and store grey water (that is, water from the house such as from the kitchen or bathroom), then growing watercress would be ideal to clean it up. As for the pond, I was thinking of netting it somehow so that it is contained but the roots still filter the water.

The weather earlier in the week has been wet and damp and I've been reluctant to go into the garden except to do some essential stuff. I had hoped to get on with the wildlife pond but as I mentioned before, the bottom fence will need to be painted. I've just left it as I found it:

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Meanwhile, the rain has encouraged lots of things to grow. The Borlotti bean seeds were very old so I had scattered loads on the beds in the hope one or two would germinate so I could save the seed for growing for my own use next year ... but it looks as though they ALL germinated. I'm impressed that so many were still viable despite the age (over 5 years old)

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So to the new project using the 2L plastic bottles - here I got a pallet from work

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painted it and erected it with prepared bottles ready for planting to make a vertical garden:

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It's based on this idea of botttle tower gardening except I decided to use the bottom of the bottle for the base but stacked the others as in the description.

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I just used a pair of pointed scissors to pierce some drainage holes on the bottom bottle and through the caps of the other bottles. Now all I need to do is fill with compost and plant - I thought I'd plant the Busy Lizzies but also have some herbs (mint & thyme) I can use to plant as well. Again, just fresh herbs from the supermarket which are a fraction of the price you would normally pay for in a garden centre ...

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My old rosemary died in spring for some unknown reason so this one is to replace it. I then split the basil (and I was quite brutal trying to tease the plants apart) and planted them in the growbags with the tomatoes yesterday (pest control - one of Monty's favourite on Gardener's World) I was amazed to find they were all fine this morning:

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I had quite a white fly infestation on the aubergine and chilli plants in the same polytunnel - thankfully the tomato plants were unaffected. They got sprayed with soapy water which seems to have done trick, and I finally planted the French Marigolds in those growbags. Hopefully growing the basil and French marigolds will deter future infestations.

As for the tomato plants .... I needed to get some canes from the allotment shop to support the plants but I was a little short on cash and in a very short time the plants flopped over and became a mess. I finally put my thinking hat on and used bits and pieces to construct a scaffold of sorts but by then the damage was done. So I cut a lot of growth off and it became a rescue plan but I'm hopeful they will grow on and still produce a crop.

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The long awaited Bocking 14 comfrey roots are coming through - next on my job will be to pot up the individual plants and grow on until I find them a permanent home:

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and anticipation and excitement .... signs of my first courgettes about to make an appearance (they haven't flowered yet so it could still go wrong but I'm hopeful)

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And potatoes ... they seem to have escaped their raised beds and turned into triffids! The onion bed to the right is being swamped.

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But at least they have started to flower so despite their leggy growth I'm hopeful of a crop this year:

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As for the sweetcorn and wildflower bed .... the wildflowers seemed to thrive in the wet weather and have swamped the few sweetcorn growing there. I'm convinced even more that a lot of the wildflowers are weeds - I can definitely identify sow thistle which may or may not have been present in the bed when I sowed the seeds, I even saw a prickly thistle growing (not native in my garden so must have come from the seed packet) There are a couple of blue flowers out at the moment (unfortunately didn't photograph very well) which I have yet to identify.

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And finally the sweetpeas are just starting to flower

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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

Post by Freeranger »

Sorry to post again so soon, but I thought you might be interested in the following. Headline is rubbish, it's more like up-market algae farming:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment ... olar-foods
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lancashire lass
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Sunday 30th June 2019

Post by lancashire lass »

Freeranger wrote:Sorry to post again so soon, but I thought you might be interested in the following. Headline is rubbish, it's more like up-market algae farming:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jun/29/plan-to-sell-50m-meals-electricity-water-air-solar-foods


Apparently it is some bacteria based food (though microbe could describe different species) I suppose it'll be like Quorn (which is a mould but in that case needs oxygen)

It's back to work tomorrow {cry} , and after a week's leave, I am far from rested ... with only about 4 days of dry weather (and Saturday was way too hot for me to venture outside), I tried to pack in as much as I could but I'm not as young or fit as I used to be when I had the allotment plot (before it got too much for me - I thought gardening at home was supposed to be less stressful!) so had to have lots of mini breaks. Still, this past week I have managed to sort out the polytunnel with the tomatoes (scaffold), dealt with the white fly infestation on the aubergines and chillies and planted the French marigolds and basil in the growbags to hopefully repel future pests, I set up the algae pots (I should have taken a photo today - after yesterday's warm sunny day, a lot of the jars are bright green with growth - look really pretty actually), got my vertical / plastic bottle set up (though still needs planting up) and started off some watercress.

Yesterday (Saturday) was the day of the mini-heatwave as hot air was dragged through Spain and France from the Sahara (I just can't imagine what it would be like to endure temperatures into the mid-40s oC) and it was headed towards us. I woke up at the unimaginable hour of 3.00 am and decided to start cooling the house down by flinging all the bedroom windows, bathroom and landing windows wide open, got one fan in the front bedroom on full blast facing the window so that air was pushed out of the house. Downstairs I had the back door wide open, and with another fan at the bottom of the stairs pointing up so the 2 fans worked in tandem dragging cool air from the back and through the house and out the front bedroom window. By 4.30 am, I was outside feeding the fish and chicken and then set up filling the black dustbin in the garden with water using the hose from the kitchen sink and got on with giving everything a thorough drenching, especially in the polytunnel (the potatoes in particular but also the tomatoes, aubergines & chillies) and greenhouse. Even the bird bath at the bottom of the garden was cleaned and topped up to the brim. I set up a deep tray (about 8 inch deep) in the "rose" bed and filled it with water should any frogs decide they needed a bathe (not that I've seen any this year) and for good measure tossed a couple of pieces of the rooted watercress in there. Then I also watered the plants in the garden - the courgettes, squashes still in their pots, peas and beans, the sweetcorn bed/wildflowers. I also cleaned out the filter box for the pond and set it running while I cleaned the biofilter pump - the water from the filter box was used to give the raspberries a thorough drenching. Then I went round watering the dahlias (still in pots waiting to be potted on), sweetpeas and anything else on the patio and the 2 planters outside the front door.

I really pushed myself to make sure everything would be fine and luckily the temperature in the early morning was cool and very pleasant but by 8.30 am, I could feel a change and it was starting to warm up. At this point I went indoors and switched off the bedroom fan, shut all the windows and drew the curtains, closed the bedroom, bathroom and back doors and spent most of Saturday on the computer with the fan at the bottom of the stairs directing air into the living room. I confess I actually felt chilled but I'm glad I did have the foresight to cool the house down. By late afternoon I had to go outside and feed the fish and of course, Scary the chicken has become accustomed to a little afternoon feed so she got the tops from the strawberries I had prepared for myself and a bit of cucumber. The heat that hit me was unbelievable - I put a thermometer outside in the shade and it read 30oC but when I stepped indoors it felt like I had air conditioning on. The thermometer indoors read 21oC.

Today's task was to plant out the winter squashes. In the past they would have been planted by the 3rd week of June but I think the rather cool spring weather after Easter has slowed them down but after a couple of days of warm sunshine, I could see they were all rearing to grow and had started to spread out. The variety Anna Swartz even had little flower buds forming so it was becoming a matter of urgency. But, before I could plant I still needed to clear some of the trimmings I had dumped along the footpath by the beds earmarked for the squash plants (when I had cleared the trimmings off the proposed sweetcorn bed but didn't have time to deal with them ...) and more importantly, to sweep all the small apples that had dropped off the trees - it was like walking on marbles and very uncomfortable.

The big trimmings pile has settled by about 2 feet from when I last put trimmings on (just before Easter) and I think the heavy rain we had along with warming temperatures have kick started the decomposition of the bottom layer. So I was able to put most of the trimmings off the path directly on top. Then I had to clear the weeds from the proposed squash beds between the fruit trees - mainly goosegrass but also bramble, horsetail and self seeded hazels and a couple of holly seedlings. When I used a spade to dig a hole, I was pleasantly surprised to find the soil was very loamy to a good depth and I think the years of leaving the autumn leaves/fallen apples and emptying compost out of plant pots as well as the soiled chicken bedding had improved the once heavy clay soil. In each hole I filled with fresh compost and added some dried blood and bonemeal before planting. Out of a total of 24 squash plants, I managed to plant 17 between the fruit trees and 3 ended up in the "rose" bed (it was originally a rose bed but there are now only 2 rose bushes that survived) leaving just 4 trailing vine type and 3 bush type still to do. As the roots of the plants were just reaching the stage where they would soon become pot bound, I decided to repot the remaining 7 into slightly bigger pots with fresh compost and will try to finish off next weekend.

So that is my sum total efforts this past week while off work. Like the allotment plot, I'm quietly wishing I could spend more time in the garden so I can finish off all the outstanding jobs. At the moment the last of the trimmings at the bottom of the garden still need to be dealt with, the pergola roof (with the long trimmings) is only partly done, the wildlife pond is just a hole and with the new fence at the bottom of the garden, that now needs to be painted, the dahlias are about to burst into flower and need to be planted into bigger pots/planters and I have yet to get the hanging baskets and plastic bottle vertical garden planted up with the Busy Lizzies. At least it keeps me busy ....
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

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At least it keeps me busy ....
lancashire lass

Yes, you could say that!
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

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I haven't got time to post piccies today but a quick update of garden progress.

The dahlias are just starting to flower - they look nothing like the image on the seed packet but are still pretty all the same. They do need to be put them into bigger pots but most of those are occupied by the garlic. Light bulb idea - most garlic had now died off so seemed a good idea to empty them and then pot up the dahlias. I made a start emptying the pots with the Cristo garlic first - these were part of an experiment to see if adding mycorrhizal fungi made any difference. Well, I'll tell you the results and conclusions when I post the piccies ...

As for the soil/compost/soiled chicken bedding/sand mix that was in the garlic pots, it was a lovely texture so I decided to tip it on to the fruit tree beds especially the front gap between the old (rotting) log roll boundary and the edge of the weed suppressant material. Hopefully this will encourage the worms to that barren bit of soil (I didn't bother putting mulch down in the past, concentrating on the bed itself) and should make it easier to dig - next month/September, I want to plant the daffodil bulbs I had lifted out of the trough planters along there so they will flower under the trees and encourage bees to the garden in time for the fruit tree blossom. I also want to get some crocus bulbs as well for an earlier display for the same reason.

After emptying 10 pots, I set myself up on the patio and started to pot on the dahlias that were flowering first. Bigger pots also means using up a lot of compost, and I still had the vertical garden (made out of the empty 2L pop plastic bottles) so after I'd emptied one bag of compost, I thought I ought to get on with that next.

Each "tower" was made up from 3 bottles stacked on top of each other. Originally I had pierced holes in the caps for water to drain out from the upside down bottle above the bottom bottle, but after rereading the instructions, the holes were supposed to be made in the bottle itself, so that the capped part acts like a reservoir. I had plenty of caps so not an issue. However, anyone else wanting to try this out, please do remember to pierce holes so that water drains actually into the bottle below ... my first attempt and the holes were above the joint so excess water actually drained out altogether, doh! A pair of sharp scissors worked a lot easier to cut holes to put the plant plugs through whereas a Stanley knife could be a bit haphazard and very "amateurish". Some of the plants were in pots of diameter 3 inches across so the holes in the bottles needed to be bigger than I'd like - if I was to repeat this again, I would try to plant earlier when the plants are in smaller plugs. Finally, another trick if the hole is slightly smaller than the root ball is to cut 2 lines above the hole so that the plastic gives way as you push it in, but can pull the "flap" back to close the hole.

I decided to plant all the Busy Lizzies in the vertical garden bottles, one pot per bottle, 6 rows with 3 bottles each, a total of 18 bottles filled with compost. It was like an instant garden and I'm very pleased with it - I would really recommend doing something similar to anyone, and it doesn't look as half as naff as it sounds. Certainly one way of using up plastic bottles instead of throwing them away/recycling. This photo taken soon after planting but you can see it has potential to fill up any gaps once the plants settle in and grow a bit more:

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Meanwhile in the rest of the garden, all the squashes that were planted out the other weekend have started to grow and some are flowering. They don't get as much sunlight as I'd like but by mid-afternoon the sun has moved round and they get a good amount - the vine type also have the advantage of growing towards the light. Still no sign of fruit but any day now - the male flowers have started to make an appearance. This morning while doing my early morning inspection / watering, a lot of flowers were being visited by hoverflies and bees so all good.

The wildflower garden is starting to burst into flower too - apart from the Love in the Mist (I recognised the foliage even though it isn't flowering yet), some of the others are a mystery. Despite looking at the seed content on the information, some don't look anything like what it says. But, bees are visiting .... I saw an unusual bumble bee this morning (must look it up) so obviously doing what it says on the packet. And of course, lots of hoverflies in particular have been visiting the sweetpeas. The flowers are not big and blousey as I had imagined but generally I'm pleased with them all.
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

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I think the school where our dance club meets has some sort of bottle garden along a fence. Very bright.
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Piccies - mainly "wildflowers"

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A selection of photos taken from the wildflower / sweetcorn bed (including weeds - in the end I decided the sow thistle was a weed, and the presence of white fly after just dealing with an infestation on the aubergine + peppers was a good excuse to pull up whatever I could reach) Last photo is ... moss and liverwort so a "mini" garden amongst the plants in the pond planter.

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Last edited by lancashire lass on 19 Jul 2019, 10:29, edited 1 time in total.
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More piccies - dahlias (photo heavy)

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And there's more .... sweetpeas (photo heavy)

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And the last photos taken in the garden ....

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In case you just clicked on the most recent post (this one), please note that I have posted 3 earlier posts this morning (wildflowers, dahlias and sweetpeas) which are all photo heavy.

My planter on the drive - Fuschia flowering in overdrive (probably making up for lack of flowers last year!)

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Chilli flower:

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Sugar Snap:

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First veg harvest!

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The shallots are starting to flower - I've nipped the flower buds off the rest and am leaving one to fully open:

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Even the watercress is flowering (tiny):

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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

Post by Freeranger »

All looking lovely, LL. The wildflowers look as gorgeous as the cultivated ones, I think. A friend has sow-wort in her garden and was told it was quite rare - obviously not where you are.
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Re: LL's Gardening Diary

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Freeranger wrote:All looking lovely, LL. The wildflowers look as gorgeous as the cultivated ones


)t' thank you, yes they are coming along nicely. I found another flower which I only saw when looking at photos of the poppies (go back to the post of the wildflower photos last week and it is in the 2nd photo with the red poppy) and after yesterday's rain which had knocked over some of the taller plants over a bit did I manage to get a good view of one of them. Naturally I took a photo and a friend on FB identified it as "Elegant Clarkia". The flowers appear along the stem rather than on top of the plant which is a bit unusual:

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Freeranger wrote:A friend has sow-wort in her garden and was told it was quite rare - obviously not where you are.


I'm not sure what sow-wort is, but sow thistle is a very common weed not just where I am - it is part of the dandelion family - see wikipedia

My (not so new now) car is due for service and repair (there's a horrible screeching sound) on Friday so I have to confess I did very little in the way of gardening this weekend as I wanted to clean the car inside and out (just something I do after being insulted by one garage that wrote down in a service report many years ago that the car was filthy when it was only the carpet in the drivers footwell that had got dirty) The car got a thorough wash and polish and cleaned inside yesterday. But I did manage to do some early morning tasks done like cleaning the filter box on the pond, emptied the algae jars and used the water round the courgette/winter squashes (even though they didn't need watering after Saturday's wet weather but part of the biofertilizer/carbon capture project) before topping up with fresh water for a new batch of algae, and visit the greenhouse/polytunnel to ensure the chilli and tomato flowers were pollinated. I also took a few photos of what's happening in the garden.

First, I've had a good year for raspberries and there's still more to come:

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I haven't been down to the pergola since early June - mainly because the weather had turned wet and then trying to get as much planted out as possible took time. As I went down to clean and fill the bird bath in preparation for the coming forecast heatwave, I noticed the jasmine had not only recovered, but it had grown rapidly and spread everywhere and burst into flower. The fragrance at the bottom of the garden was divine (I do love the smell of jasmine):

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Update of the vertical garden - remember when I planted it up 2 weeks ago?

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The plants made a remarkable recovery after just 5 days:

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and yesterday I noticed the flowers were just starting to open:

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The vertical garden made from "rubbish" (pallet + plastic 2L bottles) has turned out a lot better than I could have expected and I'm really pleased with it. Too late now (I don't have any plants nor not enough compost) but next year I have got plans to expand on it. A close up of one of the flowers:

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Update ....

Post by lancashire lass »

There have been a couple of disasters this week as a result of the heatwave. After Tuesday's peak at about 32oC, at 2.30 am on Wednesday we had quite a lightning show and squally heavy rain for about an hour and half. There were flashes of lightning every 2 seconds and rumbles of thunder both in the north and in the south but only the occasional were close by possibly 10 miles. The rain was something else - I had woken up to the sound of the thunder and decided to have a look out the window to find all hell had broken loose. The rain was driving in at an angle on a strong wind blowing in from the west. And when the storm passed, it went very still and very muggy. On first inspection the next morning, the pond water level was slightly up and a bucket filled with water from the chicken run roof. And then I found disaster no. 1 - my vertical garden (with the 2L pop bottles) with the Busy Lizzies had fallen over and landed flat down on top of all the plants.

It wasn't a straight forward lift back up because all the bottles in each stack had come apart. And I realised why it had happened - as the rain hit the vertical garden face on, all the water on the plants shifted the weight and pulled the pallet frame forward. And the reason it got front heavy is that despite watering twice a day, only the top bottle was adequately watered and the bottom bottle was bone dry and had no weight. So I had to heavily water each bottle and re-stack but the damage was done - Busy Lizzies are easily damaged and although all the plants have survived, their lush growth was quite bruised. Unfortunately the uneven watering issue still poses a problem and will most likely happen again so I will have to hone the design for better watering.

Wednesday's weather was a little cooler but the humidity was very high and made for a very uncomfortable day at work, but yesterday's temperature broke UK records. Although Nottingham didn't come anywhere close, our temperature forecast was fairly accurate:

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And yes, night temperatures remained very high until near dawn - I placed a thermometer outside the back door and at 10 pm, it was still 34oC outdoors. This morning, the breeze of about 23oC was surprisingly refreshing and cool. Although I had done a heavy watering especially the potted plants and greenhouse/polytunnel crops early yesterday morning, this morning I went round to top up. And there was disaster no. 2 - my poor grape vine was scorched to a crisp and looked like someone had used a blow torch on it with not a single green leaf left. I definitely watered it but suspect that where it was located, the combination of sun and rising temperatures had probably created a hot spot and cooked it. What a shame - maybe it will recover? I bought that vine from Wilkos over 10 years ago and despite lots of neglect, it had managed to survive. Last year I repotted it into the big planter and now I managed to kill it ....

The other casualty is Scary the chicken - she seemed fine and her normal noisy self but for the past couple of days and despite giving her melon, cucumber and green leaves to peck at, she has lost her appetite. Not even meal worms to tempt her to eat although she did take a bit of salad green from my hand last night. This morning I found her nestled on the balcony waiting for me to come out the back door - it did seem to be cooler there than on the ground level with the breeze blowing through the run but it was the fact that she wasn't standing that I thought was odd. And still she made no attempt to eat anything and her comb is flopped over and pale. I suspect she is also not drinking even though the drinker is full so this morning I filled I bowl with water and left it on the balcony so she has easy access if she decides to stay on the balcony. Fingers crossed it was just the heat got too much and not a downward trend .... unfortunately, the last White Star keeled over last year after a surge in temperatures and had showed the same symptoms so I'm a little worried for Scary.
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