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Latest posts by BobTheGardener

Talkback: How to plant a grapevine

Posted: 09/06/2012 at 17:18

Hi Sallyannie,

As you you have only just planted it, the most important thing is to let it develop good roots.  If you see any miniature bunches of grapes developing this year, pinch them off, so that all the energy of the vine goes into producing good roots and the main vine stem itself.  If you don't do this and let any grapes develop this year, it will weaken the young vine and it could take a few extra years for it to establish properly.  I would probably remove all fruit next year, too.  It is tempting to let grapes develop, but patience will be amply rewarded in the long run!

In the middle of Winter, long after all of the leaves have fallen off, you should prune off any sideshoots that develop each year to two buds (ie leave a short section of each sideshoot from the main stem with two buds on it.)  Never prune a grape vine in spring when it just starts regrowing, as the sap will leak from the cut for a very long time and harm the vine (they can actually 'bleed to death'.)

When it is three years old, you can let a few bunches of grapes develop.  When you see a bunch, you should snip off the end of the branch, leaving two or three leaves beyond the grapes before where you cut.  Don't let more than one bunch of grapes develop on each sideshoot or the grapes will not grow very large.

I have a very old vine that is more than 20 meters long and always treat it like this with excellent results - enough fruit to make my own wine!

Growth on Victoria Plum tree

Posted: 09/06/2012 at 11:40

Hi Tony,

If they are definitely attached to the trunk, it could be a type of fungus (probably a young bracket fungus which hasn't opened yet, like Phellinus pomaceus, common on plums) but these generally only affect old or stressed trees.  If it is that, I'm not sure what you can do other than cut them off and keep the tree well fed and watered.  It might kill the tree eventually, but that could take many years.  If they are woody, it might just be the trees reaction to damage or a canker.  Personally, I'd take a sharp knife to it. 


Posted: 09/06/2012 at 11:12

According to the weather station in my garden (EM), 2.5 inches of rain last week but judging by the soggy state of everything and a few buckets I left out, more like 5 inches!

Digging fork

Posted: 09/06/2012 at 09:40
Rui Correia wrote (see)

Hi, does anyone have an idea of where one could buy a descent digging fork as all seem to be really flimsy these days and the tines just bend easily?

 My best garden tools are stainless steel but I can't remember the make - labels wore off years ago!  You can buy them online if you can't find anywhere local which stocks a range that you can look at. I do know that Wilkinson Sword tools have a 10 year guarantee, if that helps.  I go for 'Y' shaped ash wooden handle/shaft as they seem strongest.  The longer a digging fork is, the easier to use, but puts more strain on the tines.  Anything decent will cost £25 upwards.

What is horticultural grit?

Posted: 08/06/2012 at 19:30

Hi Julie,  Yes, sharp sand is fine (like horticultural grit, it is made from crushed rocks, hence the 'sharp' bit in the name.)  It can be a bit variable in grain size so I grade mine using a sieve with holes about 5mm - the stuff that doesn't fall through goes into my grit bucket, the rest mixed with compost for general use.  As you say, it's much cheaper as you can get it from a builders merchant.


Posted: 08/06/2012 at 19:05

Leave them be for now.  Leeks only need transplanting when they are about 6-8 inches tall, then do the dibber thing, planting them 6 inches apart in rows a foot apart.  They won't be ready to start harvesting until the Autumn.

what to intercrop with squash?

Posted: 08/06/2012 at 00:21

I used the '3 sisters' method a few times and it worked well, but decided not to grow sweetcorn this year (last year's crop was dire due to the drought), so I'm trying tomatoes (Ferline) instead with Borlotti beans this year in the squash bed.  Whatever you try, the squash will soon cover everything, so either a fast-gowing salad (beetroot might just make it) or something which will grow tall or find it's own way to light - beans being perfect for that!

North east facing wall

Posted: 08/06/2012 at 00:10

Wish the edit function was fixed! I wanted to add this list:


North east facing wall

Posted: 08/06/2012 at 00:06

Clematis comes to mind - several will tolerate quite a bit of shade and they all love their roots in the shade.


Posted: 07/06/2012 at 22:23

How about trying a plastic bird of prey decoy?  A quick google shows Falcon and Owl models at reasonable prices (just search "pigeon scarer") with the suggestion that you put it high up and move it about every few days (although that might be easir to say than do!)

Discussions started by BobTheGardener

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1 to 15 of 22 threads