Latest posts by Boater

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Yellow potato leaves

Posted: 21/07/2016 at 17:33

Sounds like they are dying back because they are ready - how many weeks for your King Edwards - 12? They must have had 15 or 16....

My Epicure have taken forever, presumably due to the variable and often cool weather here in Scotland - supposed to be a really early variety, the last bag I harvested weren't quite ready and I notice that 1 of the 3 plants in the next bag is still not dying back so I'm tempted to wait a bit longer.

I think you can store spuds in the ground for a bit (someone here will tell me off if that's wrong!), so probably if you pull off any properly dead bits you can wait for the whole bag to be ready before harvesting - I don't think I can be accurate enough to harvest part of a bag!

Bl*#dy Tomatoes!

Posted: 21/07/2016 at 17:22

In the conservatory (I don't have a greenhouse) I use growbags on plastic trays, with ring pots to increase the depth of soil around the plants for the roots. I tie rot resistant twine in a big loop under the tray and up the sides of the ring pot knotting it about 6" above the top of the ring pot, and then running it straight up to a wooden frame I constructed for the purpose. As the plants grow, gently wind them around the twine and they seem to stay in place just fine.

I did try pegging the twine into the soil, but like you I found it rotted, the big loop around the bottom of the trays (or pots) is working fine so far though (and worked a couple of years ago before I tried pegging)

I have far too many this year and have transferred loads of spare plants in pots (which B&Q sell as tomato pots but I suspect are a bit small) to the garden where I have built up cane based supports as described by others already. The row between the garage and the clothes line post is fully exposed to wind, I screwed a spare 2x1" (oversized) arris rail left over from a fencing project to the garage and square lashed it to the post - it forms a sturdy ridge to tie the tops of the canes to - so far none of those have fallen over in the strong winds I will remember this summer for!

Don't try to wind the plants around the canes (maybe if they are very spindly), it seems much safer to use soft ties (or similar) to support the plants against canes.

Potatoes - Earlies and Main Crop

Posted: 22/01/2016 at 17:58

If you have space you could perhaps plant earlies in bags/pots and use the beds for maincrop in oreder to extend the cropping season. Or plant different varieties in the same bed.

How much bird food do burds eat a day?

Posted: 08/01/2016 at 16:02

Apart from the hungriness of the birds, I have noticed lots of other factors:

Some feeders seem to be able to feed at a faster rate than others - take the regular plastic seed feeders with a couple of openings at the bottom for example - the mid price ones I had could be emptied about twice as fast as the really cheap ones I got after I suffered some vandalism.

Sunflower hearts in a plastic seed feeder go down much more quickly than in a wire mesh seed feeder, even though many more birds can feed simultaneously on the mesh feeder - presumably it is harder for them to get each seed out?

In high winds some feeders will accidentally drop seed when swinging more than others - the squirrel buster is particularly bad for losing seed quickly in high winds because it essentially dispenses seeds into an open tray, with a squirrel proof shroud around. The shroud is spring loaded to the weight of a squrirrel, so if a squirrel (or big bird like pigeon or jackdaw) climbs on it slides down and covers the tray, but when the feeder is swinging in the wind, the tray is open....

A squirrel will make short work of emptying most feeders. Plastic ones they just chew around the openings to get seed faster - if you stop them doing that they soon work out how to tip them and empty them from the lids, or knock them off the hanger to do the same. I use some soft plant tie wire to secure the lids of my feeders now to combat the squirrels.

Jackdaws are another issue for me - corvids are smart so maybe not limited to jackdaws. Mine have worked out that if they can't get to seed they can swing the feeders until the seed spills out - even the squirrel buster if they can get it swinging without putting weight on the shroud!

Everything goes for fatballs, I have seen as many as 6 jackdaws or maybe 12 starlings on a small fat ball feeder ripping the balls to pieces in no time (other birds pick up the scraps off the ground) - but if there are only sparrows and tits about the balls can last for days!

Weather makes a big difference - I have seen large numbers of birds trying to get onto the feeders in windy and/or wet conditions, but they don't stick around for as long and presumably head off for shelter once they have taken on enough calories to get through another day/night?

Time of day is also a factor - here in Scotland we have short days in winter especially when it is overcast, so the birds stop feeding and head off to roost quite early and the seed lasts longer than in the spring and autumn. If I fill a feeder after about 3pm it likely won't get touched until the following morning, so if I am filling in the morning and get up late, that can greatly reduce the number of feeding hours the birds have (if the weather is good I try to fill them at night to maximise feeding hours).

I have given up with plastic feeders, too expensive if there is just one squirrel about! I have wire feeders for fat balls and peanuts (go down slowly as long as the lid is squirrel proofed), wire mesh feeder for sunflower hearts (can take other seed), and I use the squirrel buster for mixed seed, which has the mesh shroud completely protecting the inner plastic container.

I get: house sparrows, chaffinches, blue tits, great tits, goldfinches, robins, blackbirds, starlings, jackdaws, wood pigeons, collared doves, siskins (some of those just collect spillage from the ground).

And yes, in the right conditions, it is not unusual for a feeder or sunflower hearts to go in less than a day!

Carrots - what's the secret?!

Posted: 08/01/2016 at 15:22

A question for the experts - when watering my carrots by watering can, the leaves get wet and fall to the ground, any tips for avoiding that?

Carrots - what's the secret?!

Posted: 08/01/2016 at 15:20

Carrots are my favourite.

Still perfecting, but one tip I have picked up latterly is not to fertilise the soil richly or the carrots can be stunted with lots of hairy side shoots - keep the soil relativley low in nutrients and the tap root will go deeper looking for them and you should end up with longer smoother carrots.

As already mentioned a fine tilth prevents them forking around lumps and stones.

I like Autumn King which are obviously a late cropper, but not had much luck with Nantes so will be looking for a different early carrot this year. People tell me Nantes are nice and sweet, mine always seem to be tough and bland.

Keep your eye on the weather to make sure they don't dry out - working in a metal building with no windows I can easily lose track of how hot/dry/wet/cold the weather is so have started experimenting with drip waterers connected to a hose timer - last summer was so wet and windy that I really have no idea if it helped on not.

Shrubs for birds' nests/cover

Posted: 12/10/2015 at 16:43

I'm not a fan of Rhododendrons, but the birds seem to find it adequate cover when I have feeders out - Sparrows mainly, but also Chaffinches, Blackbirds, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins - I think the Goldfinches though fly straight to the feeders without stopping in the Rhody. I don't think it offers much protection from cats though

I'm going to read this thread over a few times for ideas, because the Rhody has to go but I want to replace it with alternative cover....

Overview of the summer season- How has your's been?

Posted: 12/10/2015 at 16:29

There was a summer?

Strawberries - millions of flowers and small green berries, and then they all went brown and withered - suspect verticulum wilt, bed cleared - rotation time!

Carrots OK, really slow to grow but thats OK because I quite like to pull them small for baby carrots.

Spinach - what spinach? very few Emilia germinated, did little better with Perpetual, really struggled to get a meals worth at the same time, and then the leaves were full of slug holes (OK I do no slug control so that's my own fault).

Radishes, had a few early on, later sowings never came up - robbed? inattentive gardener? beats me!

Peas - was always going to be an experiment growing in troughs. Started OK, a bit smaller than previous years or maybe they seemed smaller because not in a raised bed? pretty average crop, and then powdery mildew again. Water stress from being in troughs? Dunno, I had 4 drippers in each trough and gave them an hour a day, possibly being in a corner meant that the air didn't circulate freely around them?

Potatoes - first time, didn't know what to expect, too many seed pots per bag so they were quite small but probably did OK. Late spuds are in now, wind has near demolished them but still they grow even though the foliage is more beside the bags then over them!

Raspberries, OK - I'd need more canes to get a better crop, I think each cane does just fine.

Parsley - really slow to start and then went out of control.

Flowers - never grown them before, I have a trailing snapdragon in flower now, a month behind all the others in the basket, Verbena have been flowering for about a month, Bergamot I'm sure aren't going to flower now, Tagettes I bought in flower and are still just about going. Sunflowers (dwarf) all made several flowers but some were weedy looking plants. Lobelia, planted under the sunflowers, blooming well now but started after the sunflowers finished - poor timing! So much for attracting bees, all my flowers were way too late for that!

Tomatoes (in conservatory) - well where to start? Probably got a bit leggy early on, and then grew and grew and grew despite some damage incurred during my attempts to train them. Loads of flowers, initially poor pollination rate but got better and better. I have had loads and loads of tomatoberry and there are more ready to pick now. Shirley have done pretty well too although some trusses have produced tiny tomatoes others on same plant have produced nice full sized ones). Finally decided to put a heater in last weekend and set thermostat ot 15, lower leaves on tomatoberry have started crisping and losing chlorophyll so I trimemd them off, but still these plants are putting out new flowers and whilst I keep the temps up the tomatoes continue to ripen.... I thnk the lack of sun through much of the summer here delayed things a bit (or a lot) but creating an artificial summer in the conservatory has definitely helped!

Oh, and the garden forage - great year for blackberries, middlin' year for elderberries - the wind robbed the elderberry of flowers but then it managed a second flush (which it didn't last year and I got nothing) so I got some fruit - I could have had more if I'd set up the longer ladder. Why do I always associate Autumn with pies?

Falling leaves-loads of em.

Posted: 12/10/2015 at 16:01

I thought I'd be smart and use my electric lawn rake to pick up the fallen leaves (not as many as Des will have) - I decided to rake first and mow afterwards.

No need to mow, the thing is so vicious it seems to trim the grass at the same time (and yes I did frequently check that it was on the highest setting because if you bump it drops down). As far as picking up leaves, it does it sort of, but the bag fills quickly and the Rowan leaves seem keen to stay put and ignore the tines...

It may not have been the great idea I thought.

Interesting about leaf litter taking longer to compost, it doesn't bother me though as it will have 18 months or more to rot down before I need it - I have more compost now than garden to put it on!

New nieghbours, new fence and eye-saws

Posted: 12/10/2015 at 15:50

Some good advice, but remember these 'legal' heights are not set in stone, these are the heights you can build a fence/hedge without planning consent, there may be a possibility to go higher with consent (but if your neighbour objects it will probably be rejected). And do check your local regs, they vary around the UK.

Another point to note is that the height may not simply about planning, I'm sure when I read my local council planning website it stated that any fence over 2m (or is it 1.8m?) may require a building warrant as well. Why a building warrant? Over 6' / 1.86m high the wind area of your fence is too much for standard sized fence posts in standard sized holes so presumably this requirement is to ensure that you build a fence that is suitable for the wind loads at the height you want.

Adding screening or cloth (as per one suggestion) to the top would obviously increase the wind loading, at first glance adding some open trellis or stems of a climbing plant won't add very much additional wind load, although if you were ever to do a first principles wind load calculation with reynolds number scaling for the diameter of the stems etc. you might be surprised how the turbulence around slender elements can cause a much higher load than you might think.

Good luck, I hope you can find a compromise.

1 to 10 of 237

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