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Charlie November

Latest posts by Charlie November


Posted: 27/02/2014 at 21:46

Unexpected job this week: prune the honeysuckle ... HARD! It managed to pull the trellis fence over about 5 degrees from vertical, so I had to take a LOT off it to dismantle parts of the fence so that I could put in a couple of props. The fence is now upright and looking rather smarter, but the honeysuckle has gone from nine feet of verdant growth to five feet of trunk with a couple of green shoots. Eh, it'll be back. It's a honeysuckle. I stabbed some of the branches into the back of the compost heap, so I may have some spares rather than just composting the lot.


Posted: 25/02/2014 at 17:13

Given the growing and flowering season around here (March to January for the honeysuckle, the year before I started this!) I planned it all to be a solid bank of greenery, tallest at the back and shortest at the front. If the crocuses are still up in May when the lilies at the back get taller than everything else, it'll work then. For now, that's a lot of crocuses in a narrow track, isn't it? I don't recall planting them that close together!


Maybe I should get another 900 crocus bulbs, cover the whole area in crocuses and add another couple of inches of compost, so next year it all looks like that.


Posted: 24/02/2014 at 15:29

Eeeee ...

 First image, bottom of the hedge on the right: crocuses I apparently dug up earlier and replanted! They cope with being upside-down after all.

Second picture: close-up of the crocuses and what I hope is chionodoxa. There's a lot of it, so I'll be upset if it's a buttercup in disguise.

The gladioli are looking a little sorry at the moment, probably due to the frost we had two weeks ago, which must have come as a bit of a shock to them. They've been out since October, so they must have thought it was July when *bam* ice.

Crows and Magpies!!!

Posted: 10/02/2014 at 12:53

Just declare that you're protecting chicks that are being raised. It's legal then!

I *think* that clause was meant to protect grouse being raised for rich prats to shoot for fun, but it doesn't *say* that.

I tried one of these for selective feeding but found that there was no size that wouldn't let something in but not out, so I kept having to let starlings or blackbirds out unless I set it so tight nothing could get in at all. Also, mallards can get their heads and necks in and reach the middle.

Bird feeders

Posted: 10/02/2014 at 12:48
Rose lady wrote (see)

Shy and retiring Doves that is which are lovely but eat allthe feed!!! not to mention the pigeons

The doves eat the pigeons? 

I'd suggest "buggy nibbles" for pretty much everything, peanuts for the great spotted woodpeckers and seed mix for those who munch seeds plus live meal worms in the same place at the same time every day. The birds like to know they can get breakfast or lunch or dinner there, then.

The best way to stop the seed mix rotting in the feeder is to have so many birds it never gets the chance. I have two mesh tubes, and when the small one's empty and the big on'es down to one-third full of peanuts I tip the big one into the small one, fill the bottom of the big one with nibbles, tip the peanuts back on top of them, fill the small one with nibbles and hang them both out again. This way the peanuts aren't sitting at the bottom of the tube and rotting. One or two still get manky but they're better than they were when I just filled it with nuts.

If you get one of the squirrel-blockers to put over your feeder, you can make the bottom of it into a cone or a dish. Choose cone. It'll shed feed crumbs all over the floor, but it's better than having a soggy mass of them in the dish. You also get a lot more height of wire hoop with which to hang it back on the peg if it's a cone.

If you really want a rain-proof seed feeder, screw three coat hooks into the outer part of the bottom of a thick washing-up bowl from underneath and one into the centre of the bottom from on top, use light chain or string to connect the three to the feeder pole or a hook in a tree branch or whatever and then hang the feeder from the one on the inside.

Cost of bird food

Posted: 10/02/2014 at 12:33

I had almost no customers for the Big Garden Birdwatch this year, but they're coming now. Breeding season starts and the blackbirds and robins are right there waiting for me to open the shed and get them their breakfast.

I've had some issues with feeder mixes. Get the mix with dried mealworms and the starlings throw everything else on the floor to get at those, and if you get the mix without it's the finches going through it looking for sunflower hearts.

I did a comparison a while ago on supermarket or local shop treat blocks and a specialist bird food company's treat blocks. I cut one of each into four quarters and put them in the feeder chessboard style. As a quarter was eaten, I replaced it with another of the same type. They ate 5 whole slabs of the specialist's (pricier, paler, squishier) block before they got rid of either of the quarter-slabs of the cheap type.

I use for the meal worms (2kg for £22 at a time) and get the other stuff from the RSPB. They do 12 insect or raisin or mealworm cakes for $24.40 or a variety pack of 12 for £19.49 ... which is a bit odd, really. The descriptions are the same on the site but I'm not sure the products are the same. I really ought to repeat that experiment with them.

Is this honey fungus

Posted: 10/02/2014 at 12:20

Quick note on "bootlaces" before anyone else assumes it's not HF because there aren't any: not all species produce notable bootlaces. The white "mushroom peel" layer under the bark near ground level is the better indicator.


Oh, yeah, and if you're thinking of eating them in vengeance, beware the Galerina. They'll kill you.

Peace Lily

Posted: 10/02/2014 at 12:12

Christmas 2010? Considering how things have been going since then, it's hardly surprising a peace lily isn't doing very well. It probably thinks it's on the wrong planet.

Vitamin C to aid rooting

Posted: 10/02/2014 at 12:09

If anyone's going to try this out, please do it properly and share the results with us.

You'll need a large sample size, so lots of cuttings taken from a single, large bush or lots from each of several large bushes.

You'll need to minimise variation in your sample, so take the cuttings at a standard length, take them all at the same time of day in the same weather at the same time of year and treat them all the same way, putting them all in the same compost in the same size pot in the same number of second after cutting and watering each with a standard amount of water.

If you're dipping in vitamin C solution or rooting hormone solution, dip the control group of cuttings in water the same way.

Look after them all the same way. This pretty much means filling the greenhouse with them in a chequer-board pattern so no group of cuttings accidentally gets a better part of the greenhouse.

Have a standard way of scoring "success" and stick to it. If you're taking 8" cuttings and putting them 4" deep in compost filled to the rims of the pots, having them grow to 5" above the pot rim may be a good criterion.

You'll need to gather data on how many cuttings have succeeded maybe every three days for quite a while to allow comparisons of the speed with which they took as well as the survival rate.

Finally, use something like a Chi-squared test to give us a probability that whatever variation was recorded was just random variation.

Rabbit's on the allotment and other Q's...

Posted: 10/02/2014 at 11:58

I thought the fences had to go 18" underground to be sure. Let me check that.

Various search results say 1m, 36" or 48" high and some say 6" deep where some say bend the bottom 6" outwards along the ground and some say you should bury 12" of it across the bottom of and up the garden side of a 6" trench.

They dig deeper than 6". Trust me on that.

The weakness in a fence is the gate. They go under gates. If you want a genuinely impregnable rabbit-proof allotment, you'll need a solid, level sill onto which the closed gate fits snugly so they can't go through a gap there.

Discussions started by Charlie November

Holy glyphosate, Batman! What's that?

Huge thing with tiny white flowers and heart-shaped leaves 
Replies: 16    Views: 650
Last Post: 24/06/2014 at 16:52

Rose cuttings: timing

Replies: 7    Views: 451
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: 1755
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: 397
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 18:34


Not a lily. Not an apple tree. 
Replies: 6    Views: 563
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 22:29


Planning? Measuring? Me? 
Replies: 17    Views: 961
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: 2469
Last Post: 13/05/2013 at 08:09
7 threads returned