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Charlie November

Latest posts by Charlie November

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.


Posted: 10/08/2013 at 09:02

For that steep back slope, I'd say "wildflower meadow," probably partly because it looks like it's halfway there already. It'd be a great place for birds to hunt bugs.

Alternative idea: orchard.

On a slope like that, you don't want high maintenance stuff and you don't want anything that produces its own tripwires, so brambles and honeysuckles are probably things to avoid.

For the front, low shrubs. Low, because you don't want them to shade out the place you stood to take that picture. Hardy perennials are your friends, because you only have to buy them once and plant them once. If you've got a cheap source of rocks, you could turn the whole thing into a terraced strawberry field, but that may be taking "I like strawberries" a bit too far. A few interesting "architectural" plants and a lot of year-round foliage, with something in flower most months, should work.

I'd advise against bulbs, because they don't hold the soil in place very well, especially when they're dormant, so your whole garden would get washed downhill quite quickly.

If that's an ash tree drooping down on the right of the first image, I'd suggest cutting that branch back quite hard before you start, or it'll be hitting you on the head while you work and then you'll have nowhere to stand to cut it without trampling your new plants.

Help needed to create a new garden

Posted: 09/08/2013 at 17:37

Speaking of seed heads, I found a loaded Allium Star of Persia seed head and could probably post it. Should have thought of that at the time. From what I've read, though, it could be a few years before plants grown from seed build up enough bulb size to feel like they can go for flowers.

Help needed to create a new garden

Posted: 07/08/2013 at 18:04

I just found my layered winter jasmine Jasminum nudiflorum. It's ... doing quite well. It's spread out three feet each way from its little tiny pot. The parent plant's got its mind set on crossing the driveway. 30 metres of front wall between it and the drive yet, but it's working on it.

One "Late Dutch" honeysuckle is growing shrub-like in a pot by the shed, the "Cream cascade" honeysuckle Lonicera japonica halliana is probably layered in all three pots by now. It was in two pots but then I foudn out it had layered itself into the lawn, so I moved that into a pot too.

They're yours if you want them, although we're a way apart.

No evidence of success with Akebia yet. Stubborn thing.

Roses finally finished flowering this week. Haven't tried to layer them yet. Reluctant to cut brambles out of the way while they're loaded with fruit ripening for the birds, so may take cuttings of the roses instead.

Mares Tail - how to win

Posted: 29/07/2013 at 19:42

So ... it's been around since the time of the dinosaurs, it's survived huge amounts of tectonic drift, several ice ages and goodness knows how many supervolcano eruptions, it laughs at almost every weedkiller we have, it takes ploughing as a chance to reproduce .....

..... and that stuff kills it dead in hours?

I'm thinking these guys are almost adequately dressed to deploy that stuff.

Pest problem on Allotment

Posted: 19/07/2013 at 17:46

This guy?

Small predator, eating smaller things ... possibly including red spider mites? Not a herbivore, anyway.

Millipedes are mostly detritivores, i.e. they convert dead leaves and old teabags to good compost, but they may do serious damage to seedlings, so they're a friend in the potato patch or rose bed but not something you want in your seedling trays.

Hogweed in my meadow

Posted: 19/07/2013 at 17:37

Isn't giant hogweed a bi- or tri-annual? If you manage to get every plant every year so none of them ever produce a seed, it should be scarce four years from now. I think the seeds have been known to wait up to seven years and then sprout again, though, so you'd have to stay vigilant, and if you have a riverbank in that meadow it'll get seeds washed up from further upriver.

Some sprayers have an optional sponge attachment that you can use to wipe weedkiller on to leaves without spraying at all, but you'll get sap on the sponge, so don't touch it afterwards!

Actual eradication plan if you are on a river:

Get an army.

Start scouts at the tops of tributaries, each equipped with a map and a pen. Each scout follows one side of a watercourse downhill, marking on the map every hogweed found.

Copy all hogweed finds onto your master map at HQ, and mark them with the date.

Send out sprayer crews to the hogweeds furthest up each watercourse. Each crew needs a spotter to make sure they don't do something stupid, a sprayer to deliver the toxin and a chopper with a really long spear to lop off flower heads. Each crew marks as far down the river as they got before they ran out of ammo or the wind came up.

Repeat spraying on suitable days until your teams get downstream of you.

Repeat the whole process next year, and the year after that, and the year after that and so on for eight years. Starting in year nine, you can start your scout teams a little further downstream, because any watercourse where no plants have been found in 8 years can be declared clear.

Once the scouts are starting downstream of you, you can declare local victory, and then find out that someone's transported seeds or contaminated soil to a site upstream of you and the b*****d things are BACK.


So, ah, which river valley are we doing first?


Posted: 14/07/2013 at 19:08

Two things:

1) mine took a few years to flower, too, and like many things climbing the northern side of my southern fence it flowered once it had climbed into the sunlight at the top and ran short of places to climb higher.

2) websites selling honeysuckle often say that it flowers particularly well "if kept in check," meaning, presumably, as a response to pruning. As long as it's got climbing to do, it's likely to focus on that.

Discussions started by Charlie November

Holy glyphosate, Batman! What's that?

Huge thing with tiny white flowers and heart-shaped leaves 
Replies: 16    Views: 608
Last Post: 24/06/2014 at 16:52

Rose cuttings: timing

Replies: 7    Views: 403
Last Post: 31/03/2014 at 17:26

When is honey fungus not honey fungus?

At least I didn't spend anything. 
Replies: 18    Views: 1647
Last Post: 26/10/2013 at 16:46

Apple tree with white leaves

It seems to be healthy enough, if slow-growing 
Replies: 2    Views: 350
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 18:34


Not a lily. Not an apple tree. 
Replies: 6    Views: 518
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 22:29


Planning? Measuring? Me? 
Replies: 17    Views: 916
Last Post: 07/05/2014 at 16:57

Leaving tulips in the ground

Can they be left in if the drainage is good? 
Replies: 14    Views: 2256
Last Post: 13/05/2013 at 08:09
7 threads returned