Browsing Tag


Vegetable Garden

Help? What do I do with my strawberry patch?

May 10, 2013

“My strawberry patch is overrun with weeds and I don’t know what to do… can you help please?”

This was a question asked by a customer recently who’s strawberry beds were full of weeds, just like our own.

strawberry flowers

Strawberries are flowering in the polytunnel

Like my customer, I’d left the strawberry patch to last as it really was the most weedy, daunting job in the vegetable patch this year. It had been neglected for several months and with no weed membrane or mulch surrounding the little plants that had been transplanted there from runners last year, it was now seriously out of control.

Strawberry Patch

Strawberry patch: before, during, after

Three days later (on and off) and the strawberry patch is looking fabulous and we’re hopeful that we’ll have a good crop of fruit this year, but it took some work to get it there. On my hands and knees pulling up dandelions, dock, creeping buttercups and thistles, I was almost ready to throw in the towel but kept going as I knew from previous years that this lovely Cambridge variety of strawberries can provide a bountiful harvest.  Continue Reading…


How to Make Coconut Shell Bird Feeders

October 11, 2011

Coconut Shell Bird FeedersFeeding birds in the wintertime not only helps them find food when it’s scarce, but has other benefits too, and what better way to do it than to get down & squelchy making your own bird feeders.

According to *research undertaken by the University of Exeter and Queen’s University Belfast, birds that are provided with extra food during the winter helps to ensure a more successful breeding season the following spring.
It’s also much more economical making your own fat feeders than buying them, and great fun if you don’t mind getting your hands dirty (just wear rubber gloves if you do).
So with that in mind this morning a group of twenty of us made enough feeders to keep our local bird population full for months!
So what do you need?
Coconut Shell Bird FeedersLard (at room temperature)
Bird seed
Grated cheese
Coconut shells, yogurt pots or small disposable cups
Mixing bowl
I deliberately haven’t added quantities here as we made lots (the picture shows a 2kg bag of peanuts).  However, I would estimate that one pack of lard would be enough to fill four half shells, with the other ingredients added until the mixture ‘just looks right’.
What’s next?
A friend donated some empty coconut shells, pre-cut & holes drilled (thanks Pat!) to tie the string to.  We left the coconut inside, just scoring it with a blade to give the mixture something to stick to although I’m not sure that was necessary. Then we added all the ingredients to a bowl and squished and squelched it between our fingers until everything was combined (which caused great amusement & delight!)
Coconut Shell Bird FeedersThe mixture was then packed into the shells. Once we ran out of shells we made holes in the bottom of yogurt pots, poked & tied string through them and filled those. When they were filled we used plastic drink cups! NOTE: We have since learnt how harmful single use plastic is to the environment and are now using biodegradable bun cases.
Once the containers were full they were placed in the fridge for an hour or more which allowed the lard to set. Once set they’re ready to hang outdoors as they are.
Have you ever made your own bird feeders and do you use any other ingredients/method?
* Source: Science Daily