Latest posts by Boater

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.

Sungold Tomatoes

Posted: 02/10/2015 at 12:24

All I can say is thank goodness for the conservatory and some reasonable weather the last few weeks. I sowed my toms early but, and I'm sure the varied and often cool weather this summer is the reason, had virtually none ripening before September. I picked a lot last week, some actually got over ripe on me and getting more each day.

Tomatoberry have mostly been great, but some are coming up small and/or with very thick skins. Shirley have developed a matt texture and some of them don't have much taste and/or occaionally thick skins, but on the whole they are all still better than supermarket ones so I'm happy, just surprised how long they have taken this year! Several kilos of green tomatoes still on the plants, I'll have to see if I can keep the conservatory warm enough to ripen them.

I suspect the variations are down to the changeable weather, some will have had development stunted by one or other cold snap I guess, and then accelerated again by a warm spell. That must affect how the fruit forms?

PS: I'm in Scotland, I'll bet other areas had things a bit more consistent?

The best way to keep to store

Posted: 06/09/2015 at 14:11

Valerie - they sound like better ideas than drying. I'll go for freezing the heads because I rarely chop it finely enough to be putting in ice cube trays!

Fruit canes in Heavy Clay Soil & low light

Posted: 02/09/2015 at 23:50

I should look it up, but off the top of my head I also think the ph (acidity) of clay is wrong for raspberries (raspberries like slightly acid soil, clay is slightly alkaline - or did I get it the wrong way round?)

I have raspberries growing in half of a whisky barrel against a 6' fence, on the east side of it so probably quite similar to your area, they seem to do pretty well. The top flowers are above the fence now (autumn bliss so not quite ready yet, will need to protect from the birds soon though). Using containers means you can use the right kind of compost if your garden soil is unsuitable.

The best way to keep to store

Posted: 02/09/2015 at 23:43

My mum has always salted runner beans and as far as I know still does (if dad manages to grow any, he had some trouble with them this year) - she prefers salted runners over frozen or fresh.

She washes the salt off well before cooking them for a meal - I was never especially aware that they tasted better, but she was a smoker until quite recently so maybe it's the only way she could actually taste them? Some of the salt must be absorbed by the beans.

Anyway, this thread reminds me - whats the best way to store/preserve Parsley? I have grown way more than I can use as I go - I presume drying is good, since that's how it normally comes in packets, but how do I dry it?


Posted: 19/08/2015 at 13:48

Mine have really come a long way in 2 or 3 days of decent weather, some trusses I was considering cutting off because the flowers dropped weeks ago and no sign of tomatoes have suddenly started developing tomatoes.

Of course, I am growing under glass which gives me a chance to keep the temperature up for ripening. I suspect I may be trying green tomato chutney this year though - I am more of a pickle person normally.


Posted: 19/08/2015 at 01:24

Probably best not to move them once the fruit has set, in any case be wary of ground that has grown spuds because toms and spuds can fall to some of the same diseases.

Its been a terrible year so far in the west of Scotland (cold, dull, wet), everything seems to be running late, but the last couple of days of warm weather have made a massive difference to my tomatoes, a few tomatoberry have started turning red, and the Shirley's have increased in size massively. If the promise of a warm September comes true you might just be lucky to get some fruit from yours - hopefully the flowers have been pollinated and if you look closely there will be tiny green balls hiding behind the dead petals.

If they are cordon/vine tomatoes and you haven't already, now is probably the time to pinch out the growing tips (and keep on top of side shoots) so the plants will concentrate their efforts on the fruit. I have done most of mine already, but struggling to find time to go through and check them all.

By the way, I sowed my seeds in propagators pretty early, probably in the first week or 2 suggested on the packets, hate to think where they would be now if I'd sown them late like last year!

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