Got a couple of new ideas to pursue, and a shed to perfect, so my inputting is down, but here are a few notes to keep the blog moving.

For The Filofacts


With the taxi replacement app Uber in the news, The Week of 14.6.14 commented on the explosion of web services which are giving trad businesses a nervous twitch by matching wants with needs for free, or at cheap rates. Airbnb, the accommodation website, was first, according to The Week, but has since been followed by …

Lyft and Uber for ride-sharing in many cities

EatWith for guest places at chefs’ tables

Spinlister for bikes

ParkingPanda for parking spaces

TaskRabbit for skill swapping

BorrowMyDoggy.com for walkies volunteering

Sidecar for borrowing wheels

and many many more …

For The Filofacts


Offbeat gardening tips compiled by Gwyneth Rees, Mail, 28.4.14, summarised below …

* Start seeds with a cuppa

To encourage seeds to germinate, soak them in cold tea. Its tannins will soften the casing. Camomile tea is particularly effective as it contains anti-fungal properties.

Some species, such a sweet peas, will struggle to get started unless soaked overnight.

* Save cooking water

Water from boiled eggs, potatoes, pasta, vegetables etc., contains valuable nutrients.

Before you use it to water your plants, make sure the liquid is cool. Don’t use salted water, which can be harmful to soil, or any that contains cooking oil, which will attract pests.

* Ant control

To avoid an ant invasion, grow a lavender bush. Ants hate the distinctive aroma given off during flowering. Similarly, many insects don’t like curry plants.

In fact, they avoid most spices and will never cross a line of curry powder or cayenne pepper should you sprinkle it around your flower-beds.

If you’ve already got ants, place a squeezed orange half on the ground. As they congregate to devour the citrus fruit, put it on a bird table, where the birds will happily eat the ants.

* Rootsy brews

Iron-loving plants, such as rhododendrons, camellias, blueberries or cranberries, will thrive if you water them with a solution that has had nails sitting in it for while.

For roses or sweet peas, or any other plant that requires potassium, bury a banana peel among the roots.

* Tomato tactics

Hang Christmas baubles on tomato plants, early in the season, to scare off birds.

* Mint control

Plants that spread rapidly, such as mint, can be contained by planting them in a long hollow pipe, buried vertically.

The roots then have to go a long way down before they can spread out.

* Pampas renewal

If you have unruly pampas grass with dead stalks that are tricky to remove, burn it down. The root will remain and the plant re-grow.

Pampas is very flammable, so don’t do this if it’s close to your house.

* Hot tip

Peppers and chillies demand lots of sulphur, so place two or three unused matches a few inches below the roots.

As the plant grows, the roots will extend down towards the matches and feed off the sulphur, producing a bountiful crop.

* Tool care

Rub car wax into the hinge of sticking shears.

Keep non-electrical tools clean and dry by storing them in a bucket of sand.

* Floss your vines

Due to its resilience, dental floss is ideal for securing vines, such as cucumbers, tomatoes or roses, onto a trellis.

* Stop up your nails

Your nails can be kept clean during gardening by scraping your fingers along a bar of soap before starting work.

* See off slugs

To keep slugs off your plants without using pesticides, cover your soil with crushed sea-shells or pistachio nut-shells.

Set traps by pouring a small amount of stale beer into an empty bottle and laying it on its side. Slugs will climb in and drown. You can also lay a corn-meal or polenta trap. They love the smell but eating it will cause them to dehydrate and die.

* Eggstra from eggs

A nifty way to sow seeds is to put them in an empty half eggshell, filled with compost, and then placed back in the cardboard egg-box.

Once the seedlings appear, place the carton in the ground.

The eggshell and box will disintegrate and help to nourish the soil.

* Mole defence

Put a child’s windmill on a mole-hill – the vibrations of the turning plastic blades are a deterrent.

Moles hate the smell of orange peel, so a few bits scattered on the grass should help.

* Weeding cracks

Try a grapefruit knife — the small, curved blade is perfect for tight spaces.

* Milk your plants

Diluted with water, milk is a great fertiliser and anti-fungal agent, but don’t use too much or it will produce bacteria resulting in a foul odour and wilting leaves.

* Propagating roses

When taking cuttings of roses, choose a stem about the thickness of a pencil. Before planting, push the bottom end into a small potato and bury the whole lot.

This will keep the cutting moist while roots develop.

* Ward off cats

To prevent cats using your borders as a toilet, buy lion manure pellets.

Alternatively, put down orange peel or ground pepper.

*A dose of salts

Encourage green growth on your house-plants by feeding them water mixed with Epsom salts. Add two tablespoons of Epsom salts to one gallon of water and feed once a month.

The magnesium sulfate helps seeds germinate, makes plants leafier, produces more flowers, increases chlorophyll production and deters pests.

* Pee tactically

Urine contains nitrogen, which is used by plants to produce proteins and nucleic acids, both necessary for healthy growth.

It can also be helpful to your compost heap. The uric accelerates decomposition.

Original at



Alan Titchmarsh mentions that professional nursery staff will use a pot hammer – such as a cotton reel on bamboo – to check a lot of pots for watering. If you get a ringing sound as opposed to a dull one, it needs some.

For The Filofacts


add the following from Car Clinic in the Sunday Times, 8.6.14 …

Replace or get parts for electronic car keys at



Vivienne Westwood’s salad dressing:

Garlic, oil, lemon, a bit of sugar and bouillon powder.


Vodafone now offering roaming, in Europe, for £2 a day – and you only pay on the days you use it. Ad (June 2014) says: “Text ADD to 40506 to opt in.”


Jarvis Cocker’s Top 10 music books, Gdn 14.6.14 …

Awopbopaloobop Alopbamboom by by Nik Cohn – “pop from the beginning”.

Tales from Moominvalley by Tove Jansson – “Specifically the story called ‘The Spring Tune’ – the best description I’ve read about the elusive nature of the tunes that we carry around in our heads and how we must be careful as to how and when we try to ‘harvest’ them. All songwriters need to read this story.”

The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers – “The description of Mick Kelly hearing Beethoven’s Third symphony for the first time, while hiding beneath a neighbour’s window and eavesdropping on their radio, is still the only piece of writing I’ve found that comes close to describing the effect that a great piece of music has on the human organism.”

Liverpool Explodes! by Mark Cooper – “affectionate and hilarious account of the early-1980s music scene in Liverpool and specifically the careers of the Teardrop Explodes and Echo & the Bunnymen”.

The Beatles: Illustrated Lyrics edited by Alan Aldridge – “I spent hours of my childhood poring over the illustrations.”

Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey – “There’s a section when Hank and Leland Stamper have an argument about jazz and Leland tells Hank that the reason he can’t handle John Coltrane is cos it’s too ‘black’ for him.”

The Favourite Game by Leonard Cohen – “A section where he describes driving through the Canadian night, listening to Pat Boone singing “I Almost Lost My Mind”, totally captures the essence of teenage years and their infatuation with all things Rock.”

Mingering Mike by Dori Hadar – “One day a DJ was ‘crate-digging’ when he discovered a cache of handmade covers with cardboard ‘records’ inside. Mingering Mike had finally been discovered! He was thealter-ego of Mike Stevens, and this book tells his story and reproduces the handmade artwork of the albums that comprised his imaginary career as a soul superstar.”

Enjoy the Experience edited by Johan Kugelberg – “Another outsider experience: a collection of sleeves from ‘private-press’ albums dating from the 50s to the 90s. For a price, anyone could have their album pressed on vinyl and housed in a sleeve of their own design. In conjunction with the download links, you will be introduced to a raw, unfiltered mode of expression often missing from commercial releases.”

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah by Bob Stanley – “Valiantly attempts to encompass all developments and movements in pop as captured during the age of the 7″ 45rpm single.”

For full article, plus reader suggestions, see


For this site’s review of Yeah Yeah Yeah, see



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