Latest posts by Bookertoo

council recycled compost

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 15:59

John Innes loam based is doubtless the best but works out very expensive if you want to use alot.  i use it for permanent pots, it adds weight which is a good thing if you have a windy site as we have here, and I add it to other composts for baskets & summer pots, with bulb compost for bulb pots stored for the spring.  


Posted: 22/04/2013 at 15:57

Wonderful answer from Alan, grab his advice as he knows whereof what he speaks - of course raised beds are great but can be a bit pricey when starting out - though if you have access to scaffolding boards - way to go! 

Dragon claw willow

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 15:55

It will, and you will be surprised as to how quicky. 


Obelixx, try rooting your cuttings in water , takes about 3 -4  weeks, then plant in good compost - have done this for years - since accidentally discovering this when I kept a few branches indoors in a vase for decoration.  When I took them outside the vase was full of roots - have scattered cuttings of this all over this area since then!!

Not absolutely sure that Dragons Claw is the same as contorted, but do suspect so - family is right anyway so should respond the same.  

Beginner failing miserably.

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 15:21

Seed growing is frustrating and great when it goes right!  Sow a few seeds at a time, use plenty of something like vermiculite to open the compost, use seed compost - nothing with feed in it, keep the watering to the barest minimum, sow as few seeds as possible, give as much light as possible, don't overheat or chill - that's all !!!    So much depends on warmth and light, and indeed overcrowding.  Maybe try with bigger seeds to start with, easy to handle and separate - things like courgette, pumpkin, beetroot  and so on - or go outside when the soil warms up a bit and thrwo around some packets of annual seeds for virtually instant flowers n a few weeks!!  

Prick out as soon as the first true leaves appear, that may be over several days or even weeks, rather than wait for them all to get big enough.  This gives you staggered plants which gives you a good show for longer, or good crops if they are for eating purposes.


Accept that some things take alot longer than others, primulas are known to take up to 2 years to germinate, some annuals are through in 3 or 4 days, nature will do as she sees fit, but does need the right circumstances to do it.  Keep trying, it is so worth it when it does go right.  If it doesn't this eyar, there are always plug plants to buy ...................

Some general help for a beginner with growing/repotting seedlings please??

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 15:13

Cestrum will soon become a weed in your garden, you may want to reconsider that one!  You see it growing (looking very pretty there) all over old quarries and at the edges of football grounds etc.

Most seedlings need to be pricked out when they have 2 true leaves.  In other words, remove them from their seed trays - holding the leaves, never the stems, by the proper leaves, and put into individual pots, probaby 3 inches or so, to grow on larger and stronger.  This applies to all seed grown plants at that stage,  Use a good, free draining compost with something like vermiculite to open it up.  Keep moist - not wet. and they will grow on fine.

In due course you dahlias will go into the ground, or into pots as you wish, and provided you dead head them they will bloom for ages.  In autumn you will find they have developed tubers, which you can dig up and keep to grow again next year.

There really is not room on this site to go into everything, I would suggest you get a good basic book - try your local library to find one that you like and speaks sense to you - and annotate it as you go along.  Some things will work for you, other things you will adapt as time goes on and you find your own way of doing things as we all do.

Try not to try and do everything at once, you have hopefully years to get your new garden into whatever state you want it, don't try and do it all this year.  Throw some annual seeda around and enjoy the flowers, while you concentrate more expertise as you learnit on the things you are really keen to do - veggies, fruit or whatever .  Gardening is a long term thing, not to be 'finished' in a few weeks.  We have lived here for 15 years and bits of the garden are just beginning to come together, the rest may do so over the next 15, or maybe not, we will see ..............

council recycled compost

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 15:03

This is not a new trend at all, it has come more into the headlines as we want to use more compost that is peat free and organic.  The trouble is, that most gardeners only send to council tips the stuff they cannot or will not compost themselves - perennial weeds, weedkilled material, nails, wooden slats etc.   In due course most of this stuff woud compost well ( well, not the nails!), but needs a very long time at very high temperatures within the compost and in most council compost making places this does not happen.  As we demand more and more of this so called 'good' compost, the people preparing it are having to speed up their supplies - hence more rubbish gets to stay in it.   There are many problems with bought compost at present, I suggest you do a couple of things - buy a small amount from 1 supplier and check out that it is OK beore you buy more, look around for someone making large amounts locally, with enough heat and time to get it right - not easy to do, but should be possible in thos day of electronic communications,  Again, buy a little and check it.  Of course the most important thing is to make your own, bu you can't start there I know.   Keep an eye on this site, people do share what they have found with various composts, thus informing you as to which are good and which not.  I'm afraid there is little way to avoid poor stuff except by experiment and avoidance. 

Dragon claw willow

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 14:55

Yes, this is one of the ways to treat them if you want to keep any willow small - my contorted willow gets cut back to telegraph pole state every year, and is gorgeous again in a few weeks - worry not, all should be well. 

Bearded Iris bent stems

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 14:54

Yes, they have got chilled through, they may well stand up straight again, many plants actually do after a quick freeze.  Much will depend upon how frozen they got, how many cells were damaged and how much stem was bitten by the cold.  The flowers will still be good, I don't know if there is anything else you can do - hopefully others will know more to help you. 

Rotovating Re-Claimed Land

Posted: 22/04/2013 at 14:51

DON'T ROTOVATE !!!!! This is really my most sincere advice.  We took on an overgrown allotment a few years ago, got it cleared, then rotovated - what a disaster!  All it does is chop up those perennial weeds into tiny little bits, all of which root and make huge great plants you will never, ever get out in ten years of weeding.  We have read and talked about this often in this site, and the overwhelming advice is, do not rotovate.  Cover the ground with black plastic and use a glyphosphate weed killer if you don't mind chemicals, it is the least of the eveils out there, be patient and wait until things are dead - or deadish in the case of some weeds that you cannot erradicate.  The overgrown meadow part will probably respond well to constant mowing, it is surprising how well good grass comes back when the weeds get their heads chopped off, grass doesn't mind but most other things do.  I would suggest you stick with the chop and glyphosphate route for the rest.     For brambles you do best to dig them out and treat with root stump remover, I hate chemicals too, but there is a place for their use on very rare occasions, and this is probably one of them. Have fun, and enjoy.


Posted: 22/04/2013 at 14:42

To avoid desperation, back ache, hearfelt disappointment and a desire never to garden again, I beg you not to try and grow everything in your first season!!   Take it a bit at a time, grow a smallish paatch of the things you a) like best and b) cost the most.  Maybe something like peas and raspberries (my personal choices only), because a whole allotment space gets very large when you try to do it all at once for the first time.  i do not want to discourage you, but I do know you will discourage yourself if you try to do it all at once - we've all done it, and ended up overworked and with not as much for our efforts as we hoped.  concentrate your energies ad efforots on a few areas, get to do those well and thoroughly enjoy the results, giving yourself a well deserved pat on the back, then move on to the next thing.  I have a dear friend who is retired, very vigourous and energetic, who spends all his time on his allotment and who would be ther first person to agree with 'don't do it all at once.'   The point about gardening, veggies or flowers or fruit, is that you should enjoy it and working yourself into a frazzle at the start ain't enjoying it!   Put in what you really, really wan,t to quote someone, put down some green compost elsewhere and get  yourself into it like a very hot bath, slowly by slowly, it's then wonderfu when you are completely in!! Have great fun, 

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