"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

The Chelsea Chop, bird scarers and companion planting

It's the Chelsea Flower Show again in the UK and so I have finished my "Chelsea Chop" on all my sedums. So named because it should be done around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show in May, it entails cutting off each flower head, and whilst it delays flowering for a few weeks, it prevents that horrible splaying out of the plants later in the year, that leaves an ugly gap in the middle. It also improves the quantity of the floral display. The photos show a plant before and after this "chop."

I cannot believe a whole year has gone by. We now know who has won the medals and we have marveled at the originality of the show gardens and the immense beauty and extravagance of the floral exhibits. But what really excites me is the increasing attention being paid to the healing power of gardening and of plants. One gentleman on the radio recently told of how getting involved in this way had healed him from drug addiction and a perpetual cycle of crime. At Chelsea The Places of Change was the largest plot the show has ever seen, at 590 square metres. It was the result of a collaboration between the Eden Project, Homeless Link, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Communities and Local Government department and full details can be found at  http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/news/care-and-support/homelessness-garden-wins-chelsea-silver-medal/6509943.article 

At our allotments we have dreadful trouble with pigeons stripping brassica plants and young beans. We prevent this damage by variously using netting, (the most foolproof), CDs strung across the plot, highly coloured childrens windmills, scarecrows and mock birds of prey strung up on poles! I use a tape that can be bought commercially in garden centres but is akin to the black tape in old music cassettes.When stretched taut across the plot or down from the top of bean poles, the wind makes a noise through them which seems to keep the birds away. But someone has warned me that he has seen these tapes trap and kill owls that have swooped down into them presumably to catch mice and small birds. Has any one else experienced this? I have also found a dead sparrow hawk that was caught up in netting, so tape is not the only culprit.

The photo shows my runner bean poles with tape strung from the top and secured by tent pegs in the ground.

Note the flowers on the plot. I just like to have a pretty plot but companion planting is a well known organic technique to control pests without recourse to nasty chemicals. For example lavender planted close to roses is said to control greenfly. It can also be of  benefit for an increased crop - sweet peas trained up bean poles can encourage more bees to pollinate the bean flowers, essential for a good crop of beans.  

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