Author Archives: The Intelligent Gardener

About The Intelligent Gardener

Dr Alan Rae studied Biochemistry and carried out research on plant growth at the University of Oxford. He had a small-holding in Shropshire for 10 years in the 70s and 80s but has spent most of his working life applying IT and the internet to small business growth and marketing. 6 years ago he set up Free Spirits Ltd with his wife and long term business partner Isobel. They sell plants and biological controls online and are Soil Association certified organic growers of vegetables from their Nursery, Fletching Glasshouses. Alan is currently Horticultural Workforce Champion for the South East Region.

Horticultural soft soap – a useful pest treatment.

By | December 1, 2014

Horticultural Soft soap is a highly refined soap made from natural oils which acts as a contact insecticide with no residual effects once it has dried. It comes as a concentrate and if used at dilution of 30-50 x it will reduce the population and the breeding capabilities of pest

Know your pests #1 Red Spider Mite

By | November 19, 2014

Currently causing problems for our customers is the glasshouse spider mite is known as “Red Spider Mites” they are actually better named “Two Spotted Mites”. When active they are pale greeny-brown in colour and can be recognised by the two 2 dark dots on their backs – they are only red in winter.

Visit to TableHurst farm

By | March 18, 2013

Yesterday I visited Tablehurst farm near here as part of a group organised by the Food academics group at the local universities. This is a community supported agriculture scheme run by a co-op of around 600 local people. The organiser is active on the management team but in his day job is prof of land… Read More »

Three powerful reasons to grow organic.

By | January 31, 2013

The more organic matter in the soil the better it retains moisture. Each 1% of organic matter in the soil will retain 168,000 litres per hectare. That’s of course hard to visualise. What it means is 4 cubic meters for a standard 10 pole allotment or 14 kilos per square meter. So 5% organic matter in the soil will hold 70 kilos of water per square meter. Substantially more than the body weight of a model like Kate Moss.

The great nematode famine.

By | January 9, 2013

Despite at least three or four nights when the temperature here has gone down to -5C before Christmas, the little blighters are still flourishing like the green bay tree and homing in on the Pak Choy and Tatsoi with knives and forks in hand. We are going to be under siege for months to come.