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Composting, Slugs, Snails, Aphids & Ants

Tuesday last week started cloudy but comfortably warm but then the sun burnt off the clouds and, boy, did it get hot! I was a little slow in getting up to the polytunnel which was like an oven. Never mind wilting, plants were ready to burst into flame!

Watered everything on the spray setting – not just to provide water but to cool them down. 5 minutes later the courgette that was looking dead had sprung back into life and the tomatoes were looking much perkier too. The heatwave didn’t last long though, which seems to be the pattern this year. Not very good weather with sudden bursts of scorching temperatures for a few days.


Soilfixer Super Compost Bin

Soilfixer Super Compost Bin

Took the extension cable and shredder up to the new compost bin along with a large post-hole auger. Removed the top layer and used the auger to drill in and mix. Then got down to the field bean stalks. These mainly went through the shredder OK but it did get clogged once even with it’s new blade. It never fails to impress me how a large pile of sticks or stalks shreds down to such a small pile of concentrated goodness.

I re-built the heap, adding about 30 litres of part-composted bark to keep it open and add carbon along with more of the Soilfixer compost activator and humification agent I mentioned in my blog here.

Then, just to really push things along, I added some Envii compost accelerator which is a tablet you dissolve in water containing microbes and nutrients to help the heap heat.

Well that all failed! I don’t know why but the bin didn’t re-heat. Theories are great until they let you down.  Anyway, I’d cleared the broad beans and weeded an overgrown bed which gave me near two barrow loads of weeds (mainly grass) and one of broad bean stalks.

These all went through the shredder so I ended up with one large barrowload of shredded green materials. Added composted bark mulch and Soilfixer Compost Activator before loading into the new super-compost bin and topping off my Hotbin.

I’ll give it a week and if the large bin still doesn’t heat up as I’d like, I may just have to empty it and rebuild.

Slugs, Snails, Aphids & Ants

Flying Ants

Flying Ants in the corner of the polytunnel

Flying Ants

Flying Ants at the base of the polytunnel

There’s a ridiculous number of slugs and snails about. Just walking up to the hens at night to check they’ll all safe, is accompanied by the crunch of snail shells under foot and the squish of slugs. With luck we’ll have a cold winter which will knock back their numbers.

There’s a lot of aphids about this year too. Happily there seems to be a lot of ladybirds around too. I’ve not needed to worry as nature seems to be in balance.

In the greenhouse and polytunnel I’ve had an ongoing problem with ants. In the greenhouse the first sign is fine sandy soil appearing on the slabs as they expel the waste from their city building underground. In the polytunnel I’ve a big nest in one of the raised beds.

Luckily they’re black ants not red but even so they give a nip if disturbed. Pulling some weeds at the back of the border to see my supporting hand swarming with them is not pleasant.

As if that wasn’t enough, the flying ants were released to mate. Millions of them, so evacuate the tunnel for the day. At least the spiders will be well fed!

Squash – Uchiki Kuri

Uchiki Kuri Squash

Uchiki Kuri Squash

Before escaping the plague of ants, snapped this photo of my Uchiki Kuri squash. I’ve at least three as large as these and more developing. Rather pleased with them.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
2 comments on “Composting, Slugs, Snails, Aphids & Ants
  1. Anna Scamans says:

    My Uchiki Kuri are doing well this year, too! They’ve only done so-so the two previous years I’ve tried them, so I’m pleased.

  2. Ellen S. says:

    Hello John, I am a hot bin fan. I have had mine for three years. I have an old council house garden and small chook pen that keep the hotbin well fed. I chop of the green waste and mix with the chicken bedding. If I do a whole bin clear out, sometimes the temperature is a bit slow to increase. I am too frugal to purchase activators etc. I use the advice from Bob Flowerdew: just wee on it! Well not directly, the fairer sex doesn’t have as good aim. A discrete bucket in the shed does the job. One or two ‘applications’ in an afternoon and the temperature is right up to the 50-60C mark within 12hours. Maybe your new bin could use an old fashioned ‘application’ 😉
    Thank you for an inspiring website, Ellen

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