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Latest posts by Boater

tomato plants

Posted: 20/05/2015 at 17:18

The cooler weather (or maybe overcast weather?) seems to slow down growth for a while - my (indeterminate) tomatoes went through a week or so of no apparent growth but have started moving again over the last couple of days now the sun has come back.

Does distance between cover and bird feeders matter?

Posted: 19/05/2015 at 14:21

Well, the feeder placed furthest from the rhododendron (dense cover) gets the least attention (unless it contains sunflower hearts, birds will do anything to get sunflower hearts).

The local pest cats seem too stupid to use the cover, but the birds always go into cover first and check that it is safe before venturing out to the feeders so I think they will normally be ready to evade a cat if it is in there.

Trouble is, I don't want the Rhododendron but it will clearly have to stay until I decide what is going to replace it, and get whatever that is established....


Posted: 19/05/2015 at 14:14

Oh dear, did he at least guide people towards contacting their local BKA where they would hopefully get the correct advice and access to training etc. ?

Safe now for unheated greenhouse? (and quick pot question)

Posted: 19/05/2015 at 14:07

I was going to say my conservatory hasn't dropped below 5 for a couple of months but I suppose it is double glazed with dwarf walls that might retain some heat - rarely has it dropped below 10 this last month even though I've seen outside forecasts for -2 (I'm also in Scotland).

Your greenhouse will probably get a little cooler, but should still be quite adequate against frost now, although as suggested it is probably worth hardening the plants off first if thay have been used to central heating....

Lawn Revival

Posted: 19/05/2015 at 13:47

Grass can be surprisingly difficult!

I haven't been trying to care for my lawn for long (at least, not with any real focus) but I have found some good advice here:

It will be a while before I find out if it works though!

First thing to think about would be what kind of fertiliser did you use and at what kind of concentration and did you water it in well - applying too much nitrate rich fertiliser without watering it down well can lead to a kind of chemical burn on the grass - if you have seen grass die where dogs pee on it, this is exactly the same effect. I wonder if that has happened in the middle of the photo because it looks worse than just a bit brown?

A lot of places just sell combined weed and feed stuff, but there are different lawn fertilisers for different times, it may be worth checking to see if there is something more suitable.

I scarified my lawn much more heavily than that a couple of months ago (really you could see a lot of bare soil!) it hasn't come back evenly yet but it is growing strongly and without moss (although plenty of weeds). I don't think you have anything to worry about, but you can still do some things to try and help it along.

Firstly if it isn't going to rain water it regularly - if it isn't draining reduce the amount you water it, but try to keep it well enough supplied. One tip is to make sure you water before midday to give it a chance to dry by evening because apparantly cold damp conditions in the lawn are good for disease to take hold. When it rains 24/7 like it seems to here at present I guess the lawn just has to take its chances, but when you can control the watering regime you might as well.

Another thing which is important is soil compaction, or rather de-compacting it. Aerating with a fork or a hollow tine aerator can be quite beneficial in loosening up the sub soil and giving the roots a chance to spread out and down (most plants need at least as much area for roots below ground as they cover above ground). That website does suggest that aerating once a year is a waste of time, it needs to be more regular (unless you have really loose/sandy soil) I guess I need to be thinking about doing mine again by now.... It seems that trying to fill the holes with sand or fertiliser is a waste of time, and filling holes on clay soil with sand will make it worse.

Overseeding - apparantly always worthwhile, although I think the birds got most of mine! do this after aerating and disturbing the soil a bit because the seed will need good soil contact to germinate (if you can rake the top layer of soil that seems to be good). It is recommended to lightly roll or trample the seed onto the soil - light roller means half filled or less water roller, you don't want a cricket pitch with good bounce and heavy rolling will undo the aerating. I would over-seed ASAP because you want the young grass to get light to grow and you don't want to be cutting the lawn again until it is well established....

You can overseed at about half the rate for a new lawn.

Grass seed needs warmth as well as water - right after I sowed mine it turned cold again and has never really warmed up properly

Top dressing - (applying soil/compost on top) may be useful if you are going to mix the seed in with it (ensuring soil contact!) and for filling shallow depressions, but otherwise seems to be something best left to the professionals managing grass for sports use and similar - getting the application rate right seems complex and it is going to be pretty heavy work!

It all seems like a lot of work for a weed that grows pretty well anywhere you don't want it, but refuses to grow nicely where you do!


root trainers v. pots

Posted: 18/05/2015 at 10:23

Hmm, the science behind this now has my worried about my partial adoption of biodegradable pots this year thinking that I could just plant the entire pot and let the roots grow out as the pots fall apart (which most were starting to do before I planted them on) - I guess the extra time in the 'pot' in the ground is just going to continue the length of time the roots grow in the spiral before breaking through..????

Planting out tomatoes

Posted: 18/05/2015 at 10:18

Jonesk - are your tomatoes in hanging baskets or just pots?

I was just thinking that as long as you can arrange some hooks/brackets inside you should be able to move hanging baskets in and out fairly easily depending on the overnight forecast.

I have erected a wooden rail in my conservatory to hang baskets* on S hooks until they are mature enough to go outside - just make sure whatever you use is suitable for the weight of the baskets!

*It's actually part of a much larger framework I erected to support my tomatoes in the conservatory, there is a longitudinal beam down the centre which I am using for baskets although later in the season I will run strings across from each side beam to train the tomatoes across the top if/when they run out of room to grow up!

grass paths

Posted: 18/05/2015 at 10:05

If you can keep on top of the mowing a push cylinder mower might work, but you need to keep them sharp and well adjusted and although the mower is light it needs pushing quite energetically which might not be feasible at 81 and onwards? Once the grass gets long you will need something to cut it to a height the push mower can handle, even if it will cut the long grass the wheels end up skidding on the cuttings so the blades stop spinning.

Grass paths do have inherent problems in that the soil will get compacted over time due to being walked on which will gradually make it less suitable for grass and more suitable for moss - although perhaps your soil is stony enough that this never happens?

Strawberry and Raspberry together

Posted: 14/05/2015 at 17:15

My strawberries are just coming into flower and my autumn raspberries are only similar in height to the strawberries (although in a different place) so I would have thought you would be OK to get a crop of strawberries before they get shadowed if it happens that the autumn raspberry row will be on the sunny side....

How much stone to remove.

Posted: 13/05/2015 at 13:31

I was half way through digging the ground where I intended to build my raised beds and grumbling to myself about what seemed to be a dense layer of stones and what looks like furnace slag in my way, when I looked up and noticed that I was in line with my drains and busy trying to clear the overburden that is supposed to protect the pipe.....

The raised bed is however high enough to grow root veg like carrots without them hitting the layer of stones below.

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