Showing posts from August, 2023

Testing Times: Tomatoes

  I've run a couple of tomato trials this year. The first is a revisit of the biochar trial with Oxford University I attempted some years ago (with a different organisation this time), and the second is a trial of a water gadget called Plantsurge which I was given to try at Malvern Spring Show earlier this year. Most of you have probably heard of biochar already and the claim that this inert, carbon-rich material can help soil fertility and plant health. The RHS information in the above link says results can be mixed, with reduced effects found in alkaline soils. This may help to explain the lack of difference I found in my previous trial as VP Gardens is on a lime-rich soil. Plantsurge is a different beast altogether. It's a strong magnet which is attached to a hosepipe as shown in the photo above. It's claimed that it softens water, with the result more like watering with rainwater. The higher nitrogen found in rainwater is thought to be beneficial to plants. Gardener

Big Butterfly Count 2023: The results are in

The Big Butterfly Count is one of my favourite 15 minutes of the year. Being in the garden without a thought of all the jobs lying wait, just admiring the natural world is time well spent in my view. I don't always document my count on here, but it's time to do so again this year as I have some new observations to make. Earlier in the year there was plenty of speculation on social media on the lack of insect life and what might be the cause - last year's dry summer, and/or cold winter, and/or climate change were often cited as potential causes. I often wondered myself especially during June when I was gardening without the usual accompanying thwing of various bees and other insects around me. I also thought our dreary July might affect the results. It was reassuring to find on my count yesterday that nature has restored itself over the past couple of months, in my garden at least. As well as more plentiful butterflies than usual - in numbers and species - there were plent