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Latest posts by BobTheGardener

Pear tree problem

Posted: 04/07/2013 at 18:55

Hi donside, that is actually very good news as you shouldn't let a fruit tree produce any fruit in its first year so that the roots can develop properly.  If all those pears were left to grow, it would probably kill the tree, or at least exhaust it and prevent it establishing properly.  Personally, I would either remove the rest of the fruit, or just let 2 or 3 of them mature.  It is quite likely they will drop off anyway. 

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.

Discussions started by BobTheGardener

Plant ID quizzes

Have fun identifying plants! 
Replies: 16    Views: 363
Last Post: 14/09/2014 at 13:17

Watering dried-out pots

Tip to help to stop water running straight through 
Replies: 13    Views: 325
Last Post: 28/07/2014 at 12:28

Blackfly - ladybirds to the rescue!

Broad bean tip blackfly infestation 
Replies: 2    Views: 186
Last Post: 13/07/2014 at 18:04

Bob's guide to picking soft fruit

Only fto be read by your household's main gardener! 
Replies: 3    Views: 175
Last Post: 05/07/2014 at 18:52

Lovely surprise

I went down the garden in the gloom.. 
Replies: 15    Views: 493
Last Post: 18/06/2014 at 14:32

Dragonfly/Darter/Mayfly ID?

Flew into the polytunnel for a while 
Replies: 6    Views: 302
Last Post: 01/06/2014 at 21:44

A week of rain = jungle garden!

It's been too wet to really do anything outside.. 
Replies: 16    Views: 656
Last Post: 01/06/2014 at 17:42

Deep Down & Dirty: The Science of soil

Replies: 4    Views: 391
Last Post: 24/04/2014 at 11:30

Check your delphiniums for caterpillars

Look for distorted and damaged leaves near the tips 
Replies: 10    Views: 475
Last Post: 22/04/2014 at 10:58

Seed grown Wisteria finally in flower - Hooray!

Planted many years ago 
Replies: 3    Views: 231
Last Post: 15/04/2014 at 12:39


Polytunnel growing 
Replies: 16    Views: 537
Last Post: 16/04/2014 at 19:05

First day of (meteorological) Spring

How id your garden looking 
Replies: 13    Views: 548
Last Post: 03/03/2014 at 20:31

DIY heated propagator

Making one from scratch 
Replies: 48    Views: 4134
Last Post: 30/06/2014 at 19:57

Cost of bird food

bulk vs supermarket 
Replies: 31    Views: 1695
Last Post: 10/02/2014 at 12:33

Wild Garden (Community Channel)

On Freeview/Sky 
Replies: 5    Views: 506
Last Post: 10/12/2013 at 12:21
1 to 15 of 24 threads