When I read that Blackpool Zoo is creating a sustainable wildlife garden that will be fertilised by elephant poo, it reminded me of a story my mother used to tell me about my grandfather. As a child, if the circus came to town, she and my uncle would be sent out to follow the elephants with a bucket and spade to pick up any droppings. Grandpa was convinced that it was the very best of all manures for the garden and would reward their efforts with tickets to the circus. It will be interesting to see how the zoos plants respond to the manure – with the three elephants pooing up to 18 times a day there will be no shortage in home produced organic fertiliser. Blackpool Zoo’s garden is being created as an educational project for the zoo’s visitors.
Not so long ago my leaf heap was a neat and orderly affair, but as I’ve tidied beds and paths it has got a bit out of hand and every time I add more leaves a mini-avalanche ensues. I’m not too worried though, there isn’t much to add now and as it settles I can gradually get it back behind the barricades. By the time next autumn comes it will have rotted down and I will be able to use it on the garden. Just in time for the whole process to start again.
Keen gardeners (aren’t you all?) will understand how thrilled I was when my winning raffle ticket resulted in a promise of a trailer load of manure. I haven’t established whether it is fresh (in which case it will be mixed into the compost heap) or well-rotted (I’ll spread it on the border I’m about to replant) but either way it is the best raffle prize I’ve ever won!
Saturday 23rd October – Sunday 31st October is Autumn Festival Week at Nunnington Hall near York. Join organic garden tours with tips and advice on everything from water harvesting, to organic pest and disease control to making compost teas to use as a fungicide and plant tonic. Find out about wormeries and and Bokashi (the word means fermentation in Japanese) bins, which allow you to turn all your kitchen waste into nutrient rich compost. There will be tours of the orchard and apple juicing and tasting too. Further information on: 01439 748283; www.nationaltrust.org.uk
You know when you decide to do something quickly and it goes wrong and escalates into a laborious and time-consuming exercise? I’ve managed this twice this week while waiting for the kettle to boil. The first time I decided to water my several hippeastrum plants with dilute liquid feed, forgetting that they were standing on decorative but very shallow saucers. Result: streams of water cascading over the top and front of the cupboard on which they were standing. The second time, earlier today, while checking plants in my propagator on the kitchen window sill I managed to dislodge it and send my carefully nurtured tomato plants tumbling
to the floor. Miraculously they have all survived and with the compost back in their pots they look (nearly) as good as before.
The half hour spent clearing up the mess and repotting has persuaded me that horticultural tasks are best not undertaken while waiting for a kettle to boil.