Latest posts by BobTheGardener

Fertilising plum trees

Posted: 27/02/2013 at 18:18

You won't go far wrong with fish, blood and bone sprinked around the roots, but something with more Potash would be better to help fruiting.  Although there are several fertilizers sold especially for fruit trees, the formulation is pretty much the same as potato fertilizer (which is usually much cheaper!)  In general you should look for ones with high K (Potash) with N (Nitrogen) and P (Phosphorous) being lower and about the same as each other, in the NPK ratio on the box. Something with N-P-K of 5-7-12, or 5-5-10.  If in doubt, ask for potato fertilizer!

Tree roots will cover an area about the same diameter as the branches above, so spread the fertilizer evenly over that area - avoid putting it all near the base of the trunk where it will do very little good.


Unhappy Magnolia Grandiflora: frost damage?

Posted: 27/02/2013 at 17:55

That variety really needs a sheltered spot.  If it's in an open position, it will suffer badly from frost and cold winds.  They also don't like early morning sun and should really be staked throughout their life.  In other words, they're a bit fussy!

Recycling things to use in the garden

Posted: 26/02/2013 at 23:08
Miss C wrote (see)

Fruit punnets already have holes punched in so are useful as planting trays or for cut and come again salad leaves in the house.  Plastic take away tubs also get used as plant trays in our house.

I use those too and also sometimes put one on top, sticking a bit of tape long the join on one side, effectively making a mini-propagator.

That's shallot!

Posted: 26/02/2013 at 22:44

Hi Verdun, Yes, the shallot bulbs will send out several shoots each and slowly 'split' with usually 6-8 new bulbs forming in a circle, so I grow them about 8-10 inches apart.  Like onions, they're greedy plants so give them plenty of feed.  I usually trowel a bit of fish, blood and bone into each planting position. Given a reasonable summer, they can produce a really good crop!

Early sowing

Posted: 26/02/2013 at 18:50

The good news is you can bury the stem of both brassicas and tomatoes, planting them up to the first leaves but, IME, it's always better to wait a bit before sowing unless you have a very well lit place which remains between 5C and 15C.  The windowsill in an unheated room is usually about right.  Centrally heated rooms are too warm.  To maximise light, you can place part of a cardboard box covered in tin foil behind them, so the front of the seedlings get light directly from the window and the back of the plants get light reflected from the foil.

It Is Not Spring Yet !!!

Posted: 26/02/2013 at 18:33

Same happened to me in the greenhouse last weekend, Joyce.  I removed the old soil from the borders and then realised I had no feeling left in my fingers.  It's supposed to be a bit warmer in there, too!


Posted: 26/02/2013 at 18:27
Leggi wrote (see)
There isn't an option to insert smileys on an iPhone or iPad, you can guess some but it would be useful if the smart technical people would change the settings for us to be able to use the site in full.

Yes, someone should contact Apple and tell them to make their devices work with existing standards!

Grape vine for my band stand....

Posted: 24/02/2013 at 16:43

Good luck, Tilley, and do heed their advice about preparing the planting hole well as effort put in there now will pay huge dividends later.  Vines really, really need to develop a good root system for the first few years, so if any bunches of grapes form in the first couple of years (and certainly the first year), do cut them off, however tempting it is to leave them on!  With new vines, letting them fruit in their first year may exhaust the stored energy in the wood and it will then take much longer to establish (or may even die!) 


Posted: 24/02/2013 at 14:34

Nettle 'soup' will be high in nitrogen, so use on leafy crops like lettuce and brassicas.  Comfrey will be better as a general feed, especially for fruiting plants like tomatoes as it has a higher potash and phosphate content than liquid feed made only from nettles.  I use comfrey feed on everything though, with great results.  An easy-peasy rule of thumb for dilution is to water it down until it is the colour of weak tea.  I make comfrey liquid in a large covered bucket.  I simply ram it full of leaves which I crush as I put them in, then fill to the top with water.  That makes a strong concentrate after a few weeks but I keep it at the bottom of the garden while rotting (it stinks to high heaven!) and then transfer to 2 litre plastic 'pop' bottles until it is needed.  I've found by experience that it still works just as well after 3 years and probably has an unlimited 'shelf life' when in sealed bottles.

Climbers for east-facing wall

Posted: 23/02/2013 at 17:46

Many clematis will grow fine in shade.  Scroll down this RHS page to "cultivar selection":

A selection specifically for full shade being sold here:



Discussions started by BobTheGardener

Plant ID quizzes

Have fun identifying plants! 
Replies: 16    Views: 306
Last Post: 14/09/2014 at 13:17

Watering dried-out pots

Tip to help to stop water running straight through 
Replies: 13    Views: 297
Last Post: 28/07/2014 at 12:28

Blackfly - ladybirds to the rescue!

Broad bean tip blackfly infestation 
Replies: 2    Views: 160
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: 146
Last Post: 05/07/2014 at 18:52

Lovely surprise

I went down the garden in the gloom.. 
Replies: 15    Views: 462
Last Post: 18/06/2014 at 14:32

Dragonfly/Darter/Mayfly ID?

Flew into the polytunnel for a while 
Replies: 6    Views: 273
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: 528
Last Post: 01/06/2014 at 17:42

Deep Down & Dirty: The Science of soil

Replies: 4    Views: 354
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: 426
Last Post: 22/04/2014 at 10:58

Seed grown Wisteria finally in flower - Hooray!

Planted many years ago 
Replies: 3    Views: 206
Last Post: 15/04/2014 at 12:39


Polytunnel growing 
Replies: 16    Views: 514
Last Post: 16/04/2014 at 19:05

First day of (meteorological) Spring

How id your garden looking 
Replies: 13    Views: 517
Last Post: 03/03/2014 at 20:31

DIY heated propagator

Making one from scratch 
Replies: 48    Views: 3764
Last Post: 30/06/2014 at 19:57

Cost of bird food

bulk vs supermarket 
Replies: 31    Views: 1568
Last Post: 10/02/2014 at 12:33

Wild Garden (Community Channel)

On Freeview/Sky 
Replies: 5    Views: 474
Last Post: 10/12/2013 at 12:21
1 to 15 of 24 threads