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Latest posts by BobTheGardener

Growth from graft

Posted: 04/07/2013 at 18:51

Magnolia rootstocks are usually randomly chosen seedlings of known hardy varieties and Japanese magnolia rootstocks are often used for dwarf trees.  Magnolia champaka and M. acuminata are commonly used but don't have very showy flowers - the former is usually grown for timber.



Posted: 03/07/2013 at 19:49

Waterbutts is right - some varieties grow huge!  This is my 3 year old 'Apache' thornless one, on an 8ft x 6ft frame:

 Close-up of developing fruit:

 When they say plant 2m apart, they mean it!



Posted: 03/07/2013 at 19:22

Yes, they are Gooseberry sawfly larvae without a doubt.  Good job you spotted them early.  The windy conditions may also be helping to keep their numbers down for you.  Keep an eye on them!

Strawberry Growing Experiment

Posted: 03/07/2013 at 19:10

Hi RF, there's nothing like doing proper experiments to find what works best!  I wouldn't call myself an expert, but I have grown a *lot* of strawberries over the years using all sorts of methods.   I fully agree that planting in the ground produces the best crops, in size, yield and taste.  Large pots or containers have worked next best.  As far as pots go, I've yet to find one big enough that the roots didn't easily reach the bottom!   Strawberries have very large (if fine) root systems and I'm sure that never allowing the plants to go short of water is the key.  I've just taken the following photos of mine - same variety, same compost, watering and feeding regime.  I put a £2 coin near them so size can be more accurately judged:

In a 10" soft polythene pot:

 and in an 18" deep raised bed:

 Guess what's for tea?!

Gooseberry bush problem - not sawfly

Posted: 02/07/2013 at 19:48

It does sound odd, certainly not one of the usual diseases by the sound of it.  Have a look through these to see if any help:

It is an American site but, alas, most diseases get into the UK thanks to having ineffective (or absent) plant importing controls.

Gooseberry bush problem - not sawfly

Posted: 02/07/2013 at 19:17

Is this a previously healthy and fruiting bush, or is it a young one?  If the latter, some individual plants (of any variety or species) are just not very strong and it's just a part of nature - don't waste effort on them.


Posted: 01/07/2013 at 19:41

I'm not a grass expert so will leave that for others,but Ruth's is a scabious. 

Grape Vine Pruning

Posted: 30/06/2013 at 22:26

Flowering rose, yes that's standard winter pruning which should be done to all vines.  What I described is the method used to increase the size of the grapes and is what the RHS recommends to control their rampant summer growth.  Nipping the tips of the shoots out at two leaves beyond the grapes will not cause any damage or bleeding.

My vine is 40+ years old and about 60 feet long and has been treated this way since I inherited it, also about 30 years ago.

Ants in the lawn

Posted: 30/06/2013 at 22:09

Hi Sheila,  I agree with Verdun that the best solution is nematodes which are a natural method.  The nematodes in question are called Steinernema feltiae which occasionally naturally infect and kill ant nests.  Most of the alternative solutions involve poisons which are taken up by the ants (and hence whatever happens to eat the ants, such as some birds) and the small amount of poison may build-up in these larger animals over time and cause unexpected and more serious problems, perhaps similar to what we may be seeing in bees.

The best known ant nematode producer is Nemasys which sells a product called "Nemasys No Ants".  You just water them onto an already damp lawn.

Grape Vine Pruning

Posted: 30/06/2013 at 15:53

Hi Howard, Cutting those off is recommended.  I always count two or three leaves beyond the developing bunch of grapes and snip just above a leaf.  That is enough leaves to feed the developing grapes and stops the vine from wasting energy on unneccesary vegetative growth.  Left to their own devices, grape vines will grow huge!  Advice on pruning the rod and spur (cordon) method from the RHS here:


Discussions started by BobTheGardener

Deep Down & Dirty: The Science of soil

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Check your delphiniums for caterpillars

Look for distorted and damaged leaves near the tips 
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Seed grown Wisteria finally in flower - Hooray!

Planted many years ago 
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Cost of bird food

bulk vs supermarket 
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On Freeview/Sky 
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Front garden revamp - before and after photos

Redsigning weedy crazy paving 
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Flowering in September 
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The sparrows have had a good breeding season 
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ID trumpet flower

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Bee spotting

Have you seen any bees yet? 
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New deliveries

Tree and shrub planting 
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Last Post: 16/02/2013 at 19:01
1 to 15 of 17 threads