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In our previous newsletter – Summer Solstice edition – we shared a host’s concerns over the use of plastic mulch membrane, asking if any of you used alternative methods of mulching. We received the following advice from Fuggo King a host in northeast Scotland on a 2 acre croft:
“Reading about problems with plastic membrane. This is something I first came across many years ago in a garden I worked at. On seeing how the edges fray very easily I decided never to use it. Cost has always been an issue as well. So here are my suggestions. Old carpet, natural fibres of course, otherwise the same problems ensue. This can be gained from skips, freecycle, Facebook marketplace etc etc.
Then there is the well-tried method suggested by No Dig aficionados. Cardboard and thick mulch. This works incredibly well and the plastic tape can easily be removed first by letting the boxes get wet.
So steer clear of the plastic membrane and happy gardening.”
Wasps been eating your strawberries?
Hosts Llama Croft in Herefordshire have grown some lovely strawberries which have proven very popular with the local wasps.
“We’ve got a few raspberries and the blackcurrants are doing well, but it seems wasps have eaten all our strawberries! Has anyone else had this problem? We’ve got netting over them to keep out the birds, but not the bugs…
A happy wasp caught in the act of chomping away at our strawberries!
We thought we’d done a good job protecting them.. raising them above the ground in a trough to keep away slugs, painting stones red to trick the birds, and even netting over them just to be sure. But we didn’t think about wasps.
Is it better to let the birds in to eat the wasps?”
Eco-friendly banking, investing and pensions
We may not like talking about money but there is some staggering research that shows by moving your money into an eco investment / pension pot / ethical bank etc. it is twenty one times better at reducing carbon than going veggie is for the environment! https://makemymoneymatter.co.uk/21x/
Illustration copyright: Make My Money Matter 2023
Even if you don’t have as much control over your pension fund, you can bank with the banks and building societies that don’t fund fossil fuels and other unethical practises.
Here are some useful links –
Boots: the welly good the bad and the ugly
Do you have a favourite waterproof work boot? There are now so many products on the market and we know for sure that most of you have owned at least one pair of welly boots.
But how easy is it to get it right when we want a comfortable and functional work boot without spending a fortune? Even when you do splash out on a posh pair of wellies it doesn’t necessarily equate to a better, more long lasting boot.
We’d love to hear your tips to share with the hive mind.
A double header from Alice
I’ve just started making my Summer fruit gins – I never put sugar in them (because I don’t like them sweet), blackcurrants in one, raspberries in another, and a mixed one with some blackberries too.
I buy the ‘cheap’ gin from Sainsbury’s or Waitrose – Sainsbury’s do a 1.5L bottle which I decant into different bottles for different flavours.
I simply 1/3 to 1/2 fill the bottles with fruit and then pour gin over the top. Add sugar at this stage if you want to (around 150g for a 1 litre bottle). After a week or so the colours and flavours develop, up end the bottles gently every day to mix them. It’s best to leave it at least 3 weeks before drinking.
I enjoy having my gin in the sun with some tonic, occasionally on it’s own but most would probably prefer it to have sugar in, it will also be nice next Summer if it’s lasts that long! I generally make another batch in Autumn from Autumn raspberries which I keep until the following Summer.
I add new fruit to it over the Summer sometimes to intensify the flavours. Save the ginny fruit and put on ice cream, desserts, boozy black forest gateaux cake, in chocolates (if you can be bothered!) etc!
Thanks to Alice for these photos of the wonderful concoctions and the book recommendation
A good read
I’m currently reading ‘The wild silence’ second instalment from Raynor Winn after ‘The Salt Path’ – wonderful biographical books about nature, walking, homelessness and overcoming illness.
Do you have a question for the ‘hive mind’? Do you have any answers to these questions? Do you have any top tips you want to share? A poem, ‘WWOOFy’ film or book? Feel free to email the editor – firstname.lastname@example.org