Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Autmun 'October' Half Term Holidays

Things to do over the half term holiday

Kew Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens Kew TW9 3AB
Wed 29 October  to Sun 2 November
Deadly and disgusing plants and fungi

Get a taste – not literally – of the natural world's most sneaky and dangerous flora with this collection of special tours, displays and workshops at Kew Gardens.
Young visitors can follow clues and puzzles on a trail through the gardens to help save London from the evil Smedly Deadly and his poisonous plants, meeting some interesting characters along the way.

A Deadly Poisons Trail will introduce you to terrifying plants, including the tree favoured by serial killers and the beans with the world's highest toxicity.

Magical Mushroom workshops will take place on The Secluded Lawn each morning (11am-1pm) to help you find out more about fungi, and daily tours of the gardens revealing the darker side of plants will take place at noon (limited capacity – register with the guide 15 minutes beforehand). All this life-saving information is free with admission, so there'll be no excuses for plant-based risk-taking in future.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Stump removal using Epsom salts

interesting read courtesy of

Epsom salt is the best substance to remove a tree stump if it is in your garden or lawn, since it enhances the quality of your soil.

  • Drill holes in the top of the stump with a one inch spade bit. The number of holes you will drill is dependent upon how large the stump top is--start your holes three inches from the perimeter of the stump and keep them three to four inches apart until you run out of room. Bore the holes as deeply as you can--at least eight inches into the base of the stump. Pour 100 percent Epsom salt into the holes and add enough water to moisten the salt. This moisture will carry the salts into the cells of the tree, drying them out. Then use a mattock or grub hoe to uncover as much as the root structure as you can. Pour a thick layer of Epsom salt on all exposed roots to prevent to roots from carrying moisture and nutrients to the base of the tree.
    Larger stumps may take a month or two to die, so plan to reapply the Epsom salt every three weeks. Brittle, dark wood is dead; while soft, light wood will require another application of Epsom salt. A dead stump will decompose naturally, though you can speed the process by adding a high nitrogen fertilizer to the bore holes and around the base of the stump.

Read more :

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Keeping your tools clean

Getting Started

The following steps will work on any type of shears such as pruning or garden shears, hedge shears, or edging shears, etc.

You will need the following:
  • Dirty pruning shears
  • A small bucket of water
  • A small wire brush (about the size of a toothbrush)
  • A sharpening file
  • Some bleach
  • Some oil, like WD-40
  • Put some water in your bucket
  • Take your small wire brush and start scrubbing
  • No soap is needed, just water, and scrub vigorously over all the metal areas
  • Stop when the metal is clean as shown on the right
  • Place your sharpening file, available at any hardware or home improvement center, on the existing bevel so that it is sitting level and flush
  • With short, firm strokes push the file away from you making sure the file is still flush with the existing bevel
  • Work your way from the base of the shear all the way to the very tip
  • This may take a few minutes if your shears are really dull and haven't been sharpened in a while
  • Using your finger, VERY CAREFULLY, check to feel how sharp the blade is. DON'T CUT YOURSELF!
  • Notice that when sharpened, the bevel is the same width as when you started
  • When satisfied with the sharpness, take the file and smooth off the other side of the blade if any filings are hanging over
  • Fill your bucket again, but this time with a 1 part to 10 parts water and bleach solution. 1 part bleach to 10 parts water
  • This will give you a mild disinfectant. Simply wash the cleaned and sharpened shears in the solution for a few seconds and then allow to dry
  • As a note, every time you are done using your pruning shears, you should disinfect them so you don't pass any plant diseases around next time you prune something
Coat With Oil
  • Apply a very liberal coat of oil (I use WD-40 because it is so versatile) to your newly cleaned and sharpened pruning shears
  • This will help prevent future rust from building up
  • Oil also helps your pruners open and close smoothly without catching or sticking
  • Use a rag or paper towel and wipe off any oil residue, leaving a thin coat of oil

Courtesy of