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Charlie November

Latest posts by Charlie November

Unwelcome visitor

Posted: 06/09/2013 at 11:21

Another vote for the gun, and specifically a .177 at 11.9 ft-lb muzzle energy, no paperwork required. Get an underlever, as they're more accurate than a break-action and involve less kit than a bottle-charged one. Choose a spot for your bait, pick a comfortable spot to wait, measure the distance, zero your sights at that range and learn how far high or low the gun hits at other ranges (e.g. on target 5m, 1cm high at 10m, 2cm high at 15m, 1cm high 20m, on target 25m, 1cm low 30m, 2cm low 35m) and then just put some food there and wait.

6 rats that moved into my compost heap when the cottage next door was demolished died of pistol (max 6 ft-lb energy or you need a class 1 firearms certificate and good luck getting one of them for a short weapon) shots to the head, but that involved standing over the hole for an hour, waiting for them to poke their heads out. A rifle will let you take them out from much longer ranges. One big one found its way into the peanut feeder this year. One big hole from its left kidney to its right shoulder put a stop to its raiding.

You'll need to keep trying it to be sure there aren't a few more, but it's the one way to be sure you kill exactly the creature you want to kill and nothing else. (Most important skill with a projectile weapon: NOT shooting what you DON'T want to hit!)


Curious English composition exercise: "I killed the 6 rats that moved into my compost heap with an air pistol ... and am glad there were only 6 or they could have brought at M16 and then I'd have been in trouble." "I killed the 6 rats that moved into my compost heap when the cottage next door was demolished with an air pistol ... and, let me tell you, demolishing a cottage with an air pistol is a long, slow job."

MOB rants

Posted: 04/09/2013 at 12:31

I wonder whether it would be easy enough and cheap enough to build a sort of giant airbrush that would allow you to squirt lemon juice from your hosepipe while hosing the cats off the shed. Eh, the lemon juice would probably cost a fortune. What you need is an air cannon to fire hollow-point lemons at the cats. That ought to get the message home.

Hrm. Let me look into that. 2400 psi in a 50mm drainpipe is 4083 N, which would accelerate a 58 gram lemon at 70,395 m/s^2, so down a metre of barrel ... in 0.00533 seconds it'd reach 375.22 m/s, with a muzzle energy of 4095 J, which is more than a .30-06 Springfield or a 444 Marlin and more than four times a .44 Magnum.

Okay, you know what? I think maybe you shouldn't launch hollow-point lemons at 160 bar at those cats after all. You might damage the shed.

I could do with one of those for my car. "It's 30 for a reason, ****head. Now *BANG* back off!"

Large Canvas

Posted: 01/09/2013 at 12:20

Assuming that was an early afternoon photograph taken from the SW corner, you've got tree (partial) shade throughout the day in the southern third, fence shade along the west side in the afternoon, widening in the evening, and house shade in the NE in the evenings, so if you want a sun trap it's going to have to be SE of the S end of the house. At least you've got a reflective white wall there. I'd put sun-lovers in the NE, where they'll get the warmest sunshine, with lawn between them and the house providing flop-space. Your sun-trap goes south of there where early afternoon sunlight bounces off the house onto it and the evening sun can light it up too. Between the two you have your washing line, so you're stuck with leaving that space open, but from the washing line south in an arc into the middle of the garden you can surround your sun-trap with low-growing prettiness, like shrub roses. Behind them you either raise a bed for more low stuff or plant medium-height stuff, so you've got an embankment of greenery and blossom around you while you're socialising. Siting a BBQ is a tricky call, because you don't want to stink up the neighbours' washing by putting it against the fence but you don't want a huge brick obelisk in the middle of your lawn either. The simple answer would be to put it against the house. Alternatively, if you go with raised beds, you could tuck it into them.

That'd leave the south end of the house free for sun-loving climbers. Put chunky eye-bolts in, string 2mm wire across them and grow a huge wisteria with horizontal tiers, or put wooden rails on, mount trellis on them and cover the whole thing in a chaotic mixture of akebia and honeysuckle. You could build a full-height strawberry planter and fill it with strawberry plants, but I think that's asking to get sick of climbing ladders. Either way, leave a gap at the top so stuff doesn't climb in under the eaves and invade the loft.

Bird boxes should be in sheltered north-facing spots, so put them on the other end of the house, but bats like to have a box on each side so they can choose the one that gets the right temperatures as the seasons change.

 South of the house is where I've put your vegetable plot, with another raised bed between it and the sun-trap. This is partly because a raised bed of decorative plants looks better than a vegetable plot, and partly so that you can sit and relax in the garden without constantly checking for caterpillars and weeds.

Between raised areas, there's a wide path leading south to the acers. An evenly-spaced and straight line probably isn't what you want, but I was just sketching. The shed and compost heap are right in the corner, out of sight. It's a bit of a trek from there to the north end of the vegetable plot, but you'll have a wheelbarrow, won't you?

Under the acers, you can plant shade-lovers. Grow a bed of English bluebells, perhaps? You could also arrange them differently to have a sort-of-hidden corner in the SW, and put in a little love seat there.

I've left a 17m square of lawn there. That should be plenty.

If you'd wanted a garden for boys and tomboys, I'd have been designing wooden forts instead.

Large Canvas

Posted: 31/08/2013 at 11:22

It's HOW big? Wow.

Okay then! That's one big canvas. I'm going to need a bigger paintbrush.

Lawn: currently, you have this. As you've probably noticed, it mostly just uses up lawnmower fuel. If you have kids who love to run round in circles on it and yell and/or kick footballs around it, or you like to sit on lawn furniture on sunny evenings (excuse chuckling, as I'm in Yorkshire, where it rains on sunny evenings) the lawn may be valuable, but it's an expensive thing to maintain. Still, it's what you can have under a washing line.

Washing line: the picture was taken in some harsh light, and the near end of the house is overexposed as a result, but it looks blank, so that's a place the laundry won't spoil your view and you can have guests there without them being "under Big Brother's eyes" in front of a window or able to see into your rooms and watch you inside, which some people wouldn't like, so I'd make the first open space at the near end of the house.

Open space: another open space, somewhere further down the garden. You can get 6'x4' sheets of outdoor acryclic from Homebase, so an octagonal pagoda with one of those for each piece of roof is a possibility. So's a raised deck. You could put one on top of the other. This would give you a semi-rainproof place to sit and sip beer or wine. I don't mean pagoda, do I? A pagoda is really tall, with lots of overhanging roofs. I mean, erm, a ... mar... marquis? No. Thing. Legs, roof, some walls. Free-standing conservatory. Four porches back-to-back without a house between them. Thing.

Getting there: two paths, one down each side of the garden, with flowers between path and fence on the outside.

Shed, compost heap(s) et cetera: bottom corner, where you took that photograph.

Between lawn and thing and between thing and shed: here's where you get to do lots of engineering! To psychologically separate the two and increase the feeling of being in another place, raise beds between them. This will also hide the ugly compost heap and shed ... unless you want to build a really beautiful shed with a door that's actually tall enough. Why do sheds all have 5'10" doors, anyway? Boulders or gabions, in interesting shapes, creating tiered beds with pretty stuff growing in them will hide your "quiet place in the garden" from the house and vice versa. Between there and the shed, you could go with dense bushes and trees, but you don't want trees too close to the house.

Plants: entirely up to you in the middle, as you get to decide what soil to have in your raised beds and how well-drained it'll be. Just plan them all first in plan and elevation so the small ones aren't lost behind the big ones and you can reach to prune the ones that'll need it, and plant from the centre outwards and from the fence forwards. Be careful not to shade yourself out by putting tall trees south of your sun-lounger.

Gabions, retaining wall any other options please?

Posted: 30/08/2013 at 19:13

On price:

Quite expensive, apparently. What I *think* is the way to use them is to dig the bank back, level the base below the bottom level, put in a line of them and fill them up, fill behind them to level, put the next row on top, set slightly back, fill those, fill behind them to level et cetera until you reach the lawn level. It's probably a good idea to tie them down so the soil can't push them over each other with the passage of time and topple the lot, unlikely though that sounds.

Tree roots may well make this more difficult, as they tend to be thick, tough and near the surface, but the further from the nearest tree you start, the less harm you'll do the tree by just cutting through them and ripping them out.

I'd suggest building up high enough to level the lawn, so it can't flow over the top of them. This will leave you with a "dead" part across the bottom. Thinking of it as a path may be easiest.

To put a wall on it, you could probably just concrete the base onto the filled gabion. To put up a fence, I'd actually cut holes in the top mesh of the gabions and put the posts into them, pouring concrete in around the post bases, or put those ground spike things in through holes in the mesh, concrete those in and then stand fence posts in them (so you can pull out rotten fence posts years from now and put in fresh ones very easily).

I'm sure a wall of filled gabions would be a quite effective noise blocker, but that's a very thick wall and rather expensive. It would probably be cheaper to build it out of breezeblocks or bricks. You could also try a wooden fence with wide slats on both sides and narrow gaps between the slats on alternating sides, so wind can leak through but there are no lines of sight. It won't be as effective, but it looks less ... well, concrete.

Just my opinion, not a professional assessment, but you can probably build just about anything on top of them if it doesn't require a crane. An image search seems to confirm this.

Not sure about the plants. At a guess, anything that likes "well-drained soil", if you cover the things in gravel and then soil, should cope. You may find yourself having to top up with compost, sand and/or topsoil as it leaks down through the stones, though. There's probably a rule about soil depth relative to final height.

The washing ... umm ... well, shorten the hedges on the south side? Shorten the hedges all around to improve ventilation? Engineer's approach: build your retaining wall down both sides of the garden, finishing with a 1m gabion-top path well above ground level, mount pulleys on the outer wall on top of this, string the line around them and hang your laundry higher off the ground! Of course, this requires one person to attach clothes at each pulley so you can use both sides of the line at once. It wouldn't have to be a military fortified wall, really. You could just have a little Disney Princess-style tower at each side and string the laundry between them.

unusual garden, unusual problem to make safe - any ideas?

Posted: 14/08/2013 at 20:36

I'd go with something that'll look good "for now" and after the wall disappears behind your planted borders.

For most of it, a solidly built trellis and climbers ought to do. There's something to be said for an access path between that and the flower beds, so that you can get at it to keep them under control without having to set up a stepladder in the shrubs.

One thing about a trellis: it kind of looks like a climbing frame, but will fall apart under a person's weight. My trellis-as-security here has lots of brambles growing through it, making it rather unappealing as a climbing frame. The roses are getting thornier year by year, too.

For a corner with a table and chairs, a wind-reducing fence and an overhead trellis may work, although that kind of requires a front leg. You could put miniature trellis up the front leg and plant around it, too, to pretty it up. Something that'll dangle down nicely, like wisteria flowers or bunches of grapes, would be a nice feature for overhead.

Putting rails up and installing a retractable roof is an option, but may be considered extravagant. Also, the climbers would get into the rails.

What's the star in your garden right now

Posted: 13/08/2013 at 14:58

Definitely the lilies. I've no pictures because my new camera died when I tried to recharge it, but the white lilies. I think they're white Casa Blanca with a single red Black Beauty and a few pale pink ... er ... ones among them, but it's definitely the white ones that are shining this week. They smell fantastic, too.


Lily beetles? Yeah, found them, killed dozens, killed dozens of larvae, started finding and killing adults again. I seem to be winning.


On the wishlist but not in the flowerbed: an 8'2" Hotline lily. I suspect they'd get blown down as soon as they peeped over the fence, really.

Bird feeders causing weeds?

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 16:39

I've tried the RSPB's anti-squirrel cages on my feeders. (They work, but a brown rat managed to get into one. .177 solved that problem.) They have conical bases that can be attached either way up, so you can shed the spillage onto the ground or retain it. These nominally have drainage holes, but they're inadequate, as the damp spillage clogs them. I use them as catcher dishes under the peanut feeders (mostly full of treat pellets because nobody eats peanuts) but have them the other way up under the seed mix, so it ends up on the ground. It lands in a layer of pine needles from the trees around the feeder pole (positioned for the birds' benefit, not for viewing) and doesn't grow, so no worries there. Where I've put food on stumps for the blackbirds, I do get growth, but it's no big deal in the hedge.

One thing I've found growing where I feed blackbirds that I definitely didn't put out for them: elder trees. Every year, when the berries ripen, the blackbirds feast on berries then come for food in my garden and paint the area around their food stumps and rocks purple. Then there are elder seedlings. If anybody needs a dozen of them, let me know. 

help: bindweed is coming over from neighbour!

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 16:25

I've got Roundup Tree Stump & Root Killer here, £16 for 250ml ( 17.8p/g ) from Homebase, 360 g/l glyphosate acid.

It says 15ml in 1 litre in a sprayer or 15ml in 5 litres in a watering can for 30m^2 of bindweed, dandelions, docks, ground elder and thistles ( 5.4g/l ) ( 3.2p/m^2 ) ...

... or 20ml in 1 litre in a sprayer or 20ml in 5 litres in a watering can for 30m^2 of brambles, nettles, horsetail, bracken, or beech, sycamore, oak, hazel, willow or ash saplings ( 7.2g/l ) ( 4.27p/m^2 ).

I had some other brand before, which was £18 for a litre of 90g/l ( 20p/g ) and said 45ml per litre in a sprayer ( 4.05g/l ) ( 2.7p/m^2 ).

By the looks of it, you want 4 to 7 grams per litre for spraying, 0.8 to 1.4 grams per litre for the Watering Can Of Doom.


Posted: 11/08/2013 at 19:02

Ooh, yeah, lavender. Then you could make your own teabags to sell to my friend because I cannot find the Twinings Earl Grey With Lavender she loves.

Discussions started by Charlie November

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It seems to be healthy enough, if slow-growing 
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Not a lily. Not an apple tree. 
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Planning? Measuring? Me? 
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Leaving tulips in the ground

Can they be left in if the drainage is good? 
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7 threads returned