How To Manure Your Plot For Winter

One essential job over winter is to prepare your vegetable garden for the following year. A part of this is to add compost, often in the form of manure, to the ground so that it will be full of nutrition the following year. Another advantage of adding manure is it helps to break up the soil, which is vital if you have a heavy clay soil.

picture of manureYou can get hold of manure for free from most farmers or horse owners, let’s face it … most of them have so much that they don’t know what to do with it all and are usually overjoyed when someone asks to take it away. You may need to bring your own bags or trailer, but you can often get lots of manure for free. We are fortunate in that our allotment committee has made an arrangement with a local farmer to deliver manure regularly to the plot. The picture here shows you a fresh delivery … in fact it is so fresh it is steaming!

You should not add fresh manure to any plot that has seedlings, bulbs or plants in as it can burn your plants. As it rots so it heats up and this heat can damage delicate plants. If you want to add manure to a bed that already contains plants then you need to rot the manure for 6 to 12 months. You can either do this in a compost heap or you can leave the manure in plastic bags and it will rot down. Once it has stopped generating heat then you can add it to your plot.

How much you add will depend upon the condition of the soil. For me I wanted to lift the soil level in the raised beds so I added enough to get it above the required level … why above? Because the manure will rot down and the soil level will sink a bit.

manured raised beds You can just put the manure on the top of the soil and leave it, which will work. I prefer to dig it in to the soil because I find it breaks down quicker and the benefit of the manure is spread throughout the soil. It also stops lumps forming. If you are not going to cover the area you have manured then you need to dig it in otherwise the manure will clump together and take longer to break down.

Once you have dug the manure in then, if you aren’t using your beds until spring, you can cover them over. This is going to help keep the bed warm plus it will stop weeds from growing. It will save you a lot of time in the spring and you will be very pleased you did. It is a huge time saver and you have more than enough to do in the spring without having to dig over all your beds.

DSC_0014You can buy tarps to cover your beds, which a lot of people do or you can use bin (garbage) bags, which is what I used on my raised beds. I simply split them along the seams and then weighed them down with stones. I will staple them to the raised beds later in the year but I want to remove them in a couple of weeks to dig over the beds and ensure the manure is well incorporated into the soil.

Adding manure is something you can be doing right now to your vegetable garden to prepare it for the spring. Cover the bed and then when spring comes you have less work to do and can enjoy getting your vegetable garden ready without back breaking digging!

Deal With Birds Attacking Your Cherry Tree

Bird Problems On Cherry TreesIf you are lucky enough to have a cherry tree in your yard, I am sure I don’t need to tell you how much enjoyment can come from them. Just eating the delicious cherries that spawned from your tree is a rewarding experience in itself. Looking out your back window and seeing a magnificent, glorious cherry tree is also rewarding. Most people are impressed just by the fact that you have a cherry tree, because they are usually thought of by non-gardeners as some sort of exotic plant.

But along with the joys that a cherry tree can bring, there are many annoyances. They seem to attract more unwanted creatures than any other plant in the world. Almost every day it seems like there is a new type of pestilence swarming the tree, trying to get a nibble of its delicious fruits. I can’t say I blame them, but if they want to eat delicious fruits then they should grow their own trees.

One of the main and most constant problems that most people deal with is birds eating the fruit off the tree. It can seem almost impossible to get rid of this pest. After all, they can come in from any angle and make a quick getaway with the cherries. Or they can sit undetected in the branches and munch away all day. A bird certainly has its versatility on its side. Those little guys can be a real hassle to catch or repel. However, there are several different ways you can deter the birds from your house.

The most used way of repelling birds is to place a plastic owl within the vicinity of the house. If you find any animal that usually eats birds and purchase a plastic version, usually real birds will be instinctual enough to avoid it. These can include snakes, owls hawks, or scarecrows (OK, maybe they don’t eat birds normally. But they sure scare the birds for some reason). Most of the time you can purchase these at your local gardening store. If you want a different version or a more lifelike representation, if you look online then you’re sure to find something that will work.

If you get a plastic animal of some sort, usually it will cure the bird problem for a while. However, some birds are just really brave (or really stupid) and will continue to eat from your tree. Almost any reflective surface or noisy object will prevent the birds from coming too close. I personally like to use reflective tape designed for scaring birds. You can purchase this at any gardening store. I usually use this in combination with a large assortment of wind chimes for maximum scaring. Once you have a plastic animal along with reflective items and noisy items, almost all birds will be too terrified to even go close.

While airborne creatures might take a little more than their share of fruit, you should still consider leaving one tree exclusively for them. While they might seem like a pest sometimes, birds can be the one thing that livens up your garden. If you’re used to having birds and then all of a sudden you’ve scared them all away, you’ll feel like there is something missing from your yard. Something that, on the inside, you truly loved all along.

Of course, birds don’t just like cherry trees, but they will attack many soft fruits, including raspberries and strawberries and even attack newly planted vegetables such as onions and peas. These can be netted or you can use some sort of bird scarer to keep them off. I have found that hanging audio CD’s around the seedlings will help keep them off, these shine as they turn in the wind and scare the birds off. At the end of the day you may lose some of your crops to birds but if you take precautions then you can minimize your loss.