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Latest posts by BobTheGardener

creating a Japanese garden.

Posted: 28/07/2012 at 12:55

Hi Beatrice, there's a whole website dedicated to doing just that which may provide some inspiration:

which plants would be best?

Posted: 28/07/2012 at 01:22

I can recommend Geranium wallichianum Buxton's Blue aka Buxton's variety.  It's a low-growing hardy geranium that makes excellent ground cover, has pretty leaves and flowers continously from about June until the first frosts.  Also easy to grow from seed and comes true.  You should consider some evergreens, too, such as Euonymus fortunei, Viburnum davidii, Skimmia Japonica & Sweet Box, for example.  All of the above should be fine in heavy clay.

cucumber numbers

Posted: 26/07/2012 at 21:59

As long as the stems are well supported, and you water and feed it well, the answer is as many as it can produce!  I grow them along wires to which they are tied every 6 inches or so, so there is no danger of the weight of the fruit breaking the stem.  Make sure that you don't let any get too large (especially ones hidden at the back - it's surprisingly easy to miss them sometimes) as it may stop producing flowers if it thinks one of the cucumbers has ripened and produced seeds (what we harvest and eat is actually unripened fruit.)

Talkback: Swifts

Posted: 26/07/2012 at 19:25

There is a scream of swifts around my area, which appear when the sun begins setting.  I counted about 25 last night (well, 20-30;  It's not exactly an easy task considering the way they fly - every one of them fancying themselves as a 'top gun'!)  

I might have a go at videoing them tonight.

Sharp sand drainage properties

Posted: 24/07/2012 at 23:04

There's a difference between sharp sand (which is crushed rock;  In fact, it is fine grade grit) and natural sand, such as beach sand, which has rounded grains.  Beach sand (which is what builders use) should generallly be avoided for horticultural purposes.

If you have clay soil, adding sharp sand (as well as coarser types of grit, too) will improve it.  It is not simply a matter of improving drainage, but of improving the actual structure of the soil, (for example, so that it is better aereated, or to allow roots to penetrate more easly.)  The surfaces of the grains also change certain kinds of ion exchange which enables plant roots to take in some nutrients more easily.  The science of soil is extremely complex and very interesting.

In purely practical terms, and proven by my own experience, if you want to grow carrots and other root vegetables on clay soil, simply add sharp sand.  It works.


Wildflowers - to dig over soil before planting or not?

Posted: 22/07/2012 at 10:45

According to a TV programme I watched recently, Yellow Rattle, a wildflower which is parasitic on grass roots, can be included in the seed mix to weaken the existing grass.  It needs a period of cold to germinate, so you would have to create bare patches in the lawn to sow it in and sow in autumn or early winter.  Cut the grass short just before you sow and rake bare patches, then cut again in February to let light in so the Rattle  seeds can germinate.  Then don't cut until the Rattle has set seed and self-sown (about early August)

Alternatively, how about spraying areas of only grass (ie avoidng primulas etc as far as you can) with glyphosate, then scarifying those when the grass is dead and sowing your wild mixture (which should include Yellow Rattle to prevent strong grasses taking hold again)?

Permanent Markers

Posted: 21/07/2012 at 19:34

Perhaps the blackbirds are trying to redesign our gardens for us?

That "cluck cluck" they do might not be warning of a predator, but really mean: "tut tut, you shouldn't have planted that there.."


Posted: 21/07/2012 at 16:14

I agree with the advice to only water when they are dry.  As Welshonion says, if you give them too much love they will be less likely to set and keep fruit (Peppers are perennial in their native habitat.)  Here's a picture of mine, which have been hand-pollinated and only watered when dry.  Every single flower has set.  I started feeding once a fortnight once the first fruits had set.  They are a bit behind this year due to the lack of sun, but I'll still get a good crop I reckon:


Permanent Markers

Posted: 21/07/2012 at 09:42

I know exactly what you mean and have reverted to good old pencil which lasts for years.  A softer pencil lead is best to write on plastic labels - look for 2B (standard pencils are HB.)


Posted: 21/07/2012 at 09:01

Hi Maggie-1, type "ladybird larvae image" into google - do the insects look like that?  If so, leave them alone as they will be eating the aphids (which is probably what the small white 'eggs' may be.)

Discussions started by BobTheGardener

Plant ID quizzes

Have fun identifying plants! 
Replies: 16    Views: 368
Last Post: 14/09/2014 at 13:17

Watering dried-out pots

Tip to help to stop water running straight through 
Replies: 13    Views: 333
Last Post: 28/07/2014 at 12:28

Blackfly - ladybirds to the rescue!

Broad bean tip blackfly infestation 
Replies: 2    Views: 191
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: 180
Last Post: 05/07/2014 at 18:52

Lovely surprise

I went down the garden in the gloom.. 
Replies: 15    Views: 499
Last Post: 18/06/2014 at 14:32

Dragonfly/Darter/Mayfly ID?

Flew into the polytunnel for a while 
Replies: 6    Views: 308
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: 672
Last Post: 01/06/2014 at 17:42

Deep Down & Dirty: The Science of soil

Replies: 4    Views: 406
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: 479
Last Post: 22/04/2014 at 10:58

Seed grown Wisteria finally in flower - Hooray!

Planted many years ago 
Replies: 3    Views: 234
Last Post: 15/04/2014 at 12:39


Polytunnel growing 
Replies: 16    Views: 540
Last Post: 16/04/2014 at 19:05

First day of (meteorological) Spring

How id your garden looking 
Replies: 13    Views: 554
Last Post: 03/03/2014 at 20:31

DIY heated propagator

Making one from scratch 
Replies: 48    Views: 4192
Last Post: 30/06/2014 at 19:57

Cost of bird food

bulk vs supermarket 
Replies: 31    Views: 1706
Last Post: 10/02/2014 at 12:33

Wild Garden (Community Channel)

On Freeview/Sky 
Replies: 5    Views: 510
Last Post: 10/12/2013 at 12:21
1 to 15 of 24 threads