Green Fingers I Wish

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Serotonin link to locust swarming

The ability of locusts to make the transformation from solitude to swarms capable of stripping a field in seconds has been traced to a potent mood-altering chemical, serotonin.

The discovery of serotonin's role in the swarming process, announced yesterday in Science magazine by researchers from the UK and Australia, opens new possibilities for controlling the pest, which has blighted lives since time immemorial.

Today, the livelihoods of 10 per cent of people worldwide are thought to be affected by the insects' swarming.

In humans and other mammals, serotonin creates moods of optimism and excitement. In locusts, it promotes gregariousness and physical changes so great that biologists at one time believed that solitary and swarming locusts constituted separate species.

Physically, swarming is initiated by the stress caused by overcrowding and competition for dwindling food resources.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Carbon Emissions and Water

Watering the garden might sometimes be necessary. But, are you aware of the CO22 emissions that come from keeping your garden watered?

The figures are startling to say the least.

One litre of mains water emits about 0.75g of CO2 according to Waterwise

Installing a rainwater butt can save 0.6kg of CO2 per year - equivalent to a three mile drive in your car - and up to £200 off your water bills, according to The Low Carbon Diet

Watering with a sprinkler uses 138 times more water than watering with an old-fashioned watering can, while a garden hose can use almost as much water in an hour as an average family of four uses in a day

Digging in a low volume irrigation system with a timer in a large garden can cut water use by half according to The Low Carbon Diet - and the time you spend watering the garden by about 90%

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Big Garden Birdwatch

More than half a million people are expected to take part in the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch by watching for birds for an hour over the weekend.

The biggest mass participation environmental survey in the world has been providing data on the state of the UK's bird population since 1979

In the last decade the survey has shown a sharp decline in garden birds. Today the song thrush is seldom seen while even the most common birds like sparrows and starlings have dropped in numbers.

However because of the cold weather this winter, the charity are expecting more species including bramblings, siskins, redpolls and yellowhammers that would usually only be seen in the countryside to head to built-up areas in search of food. The cold winter in northern Europe also means birds rarely seen in this country are appearing in gardens looking for food further south.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Time To Service the Mower

This is a good time to clean your lawnmower ready for spring.

Unplug the lawnmower before starting any cleaning and remove any caked-on earth and grass from the undersides with a stiff brush. Stubborn debris can be loosened with a little water and some gentle encouragement with a scraper. While you are cleaning, check for cracks and damage on the plastic covers.

Blunt blades may be sharpened with a fine metal file, but replace badly worn or damaged blades. If you have any doubts about how to carry out the repairs, consult your local servicer.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Looking Forward to Going Camping

I`m looking forward to the warmer weather. Too much of the frost and snow for my liking. I`m definitely not a `cold` lover, though I do like being able to look out of the window at the snow.

I always think of January as the worst of the months weatherwise, and once this and next month`s out we can hopefully look forward to a nice spring and warmer weather.

I haven`t been camping for a long time, so I`ve been looking around for tents, sleeping bags, and other accessories I`ll need to purchase. I came across Camping Equipment UK which offers a really wide range of camping products at nice prices - so important in these days of having to tighten our belts, financially.

Camping Equipment UK is a main supplier of Igloo coolers, cool boxes and Bubbakegs in the UK, and what I look for when buying on the Internet is how much carriage charges are going to add to the cost of the item(s). With the amount I`m looking to spend I`ll be getting free delivery, which all helps.

Their range of sleeping bags includes manufacturers like Coleman and Hi-Gear, as well as mummy bags by Gelert. They also stock a good range of accessories such as sleeping bag liners & pillows. Camping`s come on a long way since I last did it, so it`s going to be rather a new experience for me.

Ah well, it`s currently just above freezing outside. Roll on the days of summer, and planning for my camping breaks.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

First plants in ground at Thanet Earth

The tomatoes and peppers were planted in just four days in December

The ground-breaking UK greenhouse complex, Thanet Earth, has had its very low carbon status confirmed just weeks after half a million tomato and pepper plants settled in its greenhouses.

The independent assessment, carried out by consultants Bidwells Agribusiness, reports that the site near Birchington, East Kent qualified for the very low carbon status as set out by the British Standards Institute and the Carbon Trust in 2008.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Winter Effects on the Garden

Cold weather and particularly frost, causes the water in plant cells to freeze, damaging the cell wall. Frost-damaged plants are easy to spot, their growth becomes limp, blackened and distorted. Evergreen plants often turn brown and the leaves of tender plants take on a translucent appearance. Frost problems are often made worse where plants face the morning sun, as this causes them to defrost quickly, rupturing their cell walls.

Prevention is far better than cure, so try to minimise the damaging effects of cold on your plants:

1. Avoid golden or variegated plant varieties that are often more tender.
2. Choose plants that are reliably hardy in the area where you live.
3. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilisers as they encourage plants to make lots of sappy leafy growth that is particularly susceptible to damage, especially early and late in the year.
4. Make sure tender specimens are planted in a sheltered spot, under large trees and shrubs or against walls, give them some heat and protection during the winter.
5. Ensure that plants with tender flower buds or shoots are not planted in east-facing sites.
6. Leave the old growth of tender plants unpruned over the winter months. This will help to protect the central crown of the plant and take the brunt of any frost damage. If plants are cut back hard in autumn new growth could be damaged by frost.
7. Cold air and frost always descend to the lowest point in a garden so avoid planting tender plants in obvious frost pockets.