Latest posts by Farmergeddun

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Talkback: How to make a comfrey feed

Posted: 24/07/2013 at 12:08

I have around 90 comfrey seedlings growing in my polytunnel at home that will soon be planted out onto my plot.  I have a strip of stoney ground down the side that is against a fence with trees behind so is in shade for a large part of the afternoon.

Before I switched plots two years ago (moved to a plot three times the size) I used to have one waterbutt solely for making comfrey tea.  Nothing scientific - I would simply rip the leaves up and leave them in the water with no lid.  I'd add some to a watering can - depending on its colour.  It did smell a tad but the taste of tomatoes, peppers and beans made up for it!  In the summer I cut them down almost to the ground for the compost heap.  I noticed the other week that they are still on the plot and about 4 feet tall!

Without comfrey and nettles this year I've been using Tomorite and it's not as good.  Last year was a washout so I can't really compare.  Next year I will be back to being wholly organic as I bought a comfrey plant from the local garden centre - I couldn't wait 

Student needing feedback for class project! Please help! :D

Posted: 24/07/2013 at 01:05
waterbutts wrote (see)

Crikey, Farmergeddun, there's a website for everything, isn't there? Incredible!

I don't think there's anything you can't find on t'internet if you look hard enough 

If you asked the Mrs she would say that rainwater collection and irrigation systems are my latest favourite fad.  

We have had many, many issues surrounding water on our allotment site and I'm trying to become self-sufficient.  My plan is to have a drip feed system on the plot by next year so that if we ever have a weather spell like this one again (fingers and toes crossed) I can be sure that I won't run out of water.  Otherwise I have to be at the plot at stupid o'clock to fill one plastic drum every two hours due to the lack of water pressure.  Not to mention the availability of a tap and that people steal hozelock tap adapters.

Potateo advice

Posted: 24/07/2013 at 00:46

Can't really tell from the picture, but if it's a magnesium defficiency the leaf starts to turn yellow (with the veins staying green).  Magnesium is really important for chlorophyl production hence the yellowing.

Blight usually has a yellow "halo" around the black/brown spots and the leaves start to wilt.

Kestrel were the first 2nd early variety I grew.  As Netherfield pointed out they make wonderful jackets if you leave them in for a long time.

Can someone help identify what this "bee" / bug this is?

Posted: 24/07/2013 at 00:30

MDW It looks like the European wool carder bee Anthidium manicatum to me.

Student needing feedback for class project! Please help! :D

Posted: 23/07/2013 at 19:58

Did you know that a hosepipe uses around 1,000 litres per hour – as much as a family of four for two days!

Here are a couple of links:

Carbon footprint of manufacturing waterbutts


Good luck!



Posted: 23/07/2013 at 18:33

Has the tree got a blackfly infestation?  Once the blackfly (tiny black aphids) have sucked enough sap from the leaves, the leaves turn brown, shrivel up and fall off.  You can usually find blackfly under the leaf, along the leaf veins and on the stems of the fruit.  

Have you fed the tree?  A well fed and watered tree will usually fight off/survive most diseases and pest attacks.

Student needing feedback for class project! Please help! :D

Posted: 23/07/2013 at 18:27

I use 2x 250 gallon IBCs on my allotment plot (it's basically a rented garden).  


  • When full they weigh a tonne each. They need substantial supports.
  • They let light in so algae grows.  I am going to box them in this year to prevent this.
  • They are perfect for mosquitoes to lay their eggs in.  Some people keep goldfish in their waterbutts to prevent this.


  • As above they are ph nuetral so better for plants
  • The temperature is closer to the ambient temperature as opposed to mains water - less likely to shock young/tender plants
  • No chlorine or flourides in the water - truly organic
  • Rain is abundant in Britian (although you wouldn't have realised over the past few weeks) and purifying water for plant use is a waste of energy.
  • I have recycled the IBCs so less waste.


Do ants damage??

Posted: 23/07/2013 at 18:11

They don't eat the blackfly - they farm them!! Ants will move aphids to plants that are not affected as they feed on the sticky honeydew that aphids produce when they eat the plant sap.  Ants will actively hunt down and kill ladybirds and the like that feed on aphids in the same way human famers do with livestock predators such as wolves and foxes.

I would try to find the ant nest and destroy it as well as tackling your blackfly problem.  If you are not into using chemicals you could find the nest and either dig it out - it could be huge, use boiling water (not very effective) or set up some system to keep the nest damp (ants like to have their nests in dry, sandy areas).

Is this??????? (Potatoes)

Posted: 23/07/2013 at 18:03

The first year I grew potatoes I had this and was terrified it was blight.  It turned out to be a magnesium defficiency.  The area of the leaf between the veins was turning yellow with some black spots.  Magnesium is essential in the production of chlorophyl hence the loss of green colour if there is a defficiency.

The quick solution was to add 4 tbspn of epsom salts to a litre of water and spray onto the leaves once per week (don't do this during the heat of the day or you'll scorch the leaves).  If the leaves start to return to their usual green colour then you have a magnesium defficiency and need to treat the soil too.

The soil could be too acidic to allow the potatoes to uptake the magnesium already in your soil or you could just not have enough.  You would need to do a soil test to be absolutely sure.  

With blight the spots usually have a yellowing "halo" around them and the leaves tend to curl and wilt.  If it is blight you need to cut all of the foliage off and burn or bin it.  Leave the potatoes in the ground for few days so that any spores on the ground will die off.  Lift them and do not store them.  Blight fungus only lives on living plant material - potatoes, tomatoes, deadly night shade etc.  

Blight usually overwinters on those tiny potatoes people often leave in the ground.  This is why I now grow all of my potatoes in pots.  It's much easier to remove all of them from the soil.

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