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Charlie November


Latest posts by Charlie November

Expensive gardening mistake - help needed

Posted: 03/05/2014 at 13:32
hartleyhare wrote (see)

Hi Everyone,

However, the builders dumped a load of soil and rubble on it from making a new patio and in my madness I decided to try and turn it into a sort of raised bed. I laid more soil - 4 tons of it in fact - on top of the builders mess and then shaped it so that there was a bank of earth in the middle and a flatish bit around the outside. I had planned to put in wooden borders where it sloped away ( to stop the gravel slipping down ) and then after planting up with wildlife friendly plants I was going to cover it all with gravel and  rocks and driftwood, etc. Its difficult to describe it all, pictures would be far better, but I don't know how to add them here.

Well, it sounds like a s***-heap ... but the pictures don't look so bad. I thought you had a big round heap in the middle of a square lawn.

There's a steep earth bank by the canal near here that's been slowly creeping downhill for years. The towpath's getting slightly narrower every year, but it's a very slow process. You should be alright with ground cover stabilising it, but if it flows down against that wall on the right side you'll get damp issues there. You could just shovel it all back to the top in five years' time, I suppose.

Looking at the nice view, I can believe you when you say digging beyond a certain depth is hard. I've tried digging in the Dales and been tampted to put the spade away and make some dynamite. If you don't want to go to the trouble (and rubble) of making holes in bedrock, there is still a way to concrete in a post. You need to build forms for the concrete first, out of cheap MDF board and 2"x2" pine. Put all the pine and screws on the outside so the inside's nice and smooth, sit the thing on bare bedrock, shave bits off the underside until it sits level, stand the post in the middle of it, pour in the wet concrete mix, make sure the post's upright and leave it to set. Once it's done you can dismantle the form and use it for the next one or you can do them all at once, toss the MDF in the bin and use the pine for kindling.

A fence built this way won't have the stability to stop horses or stay upright in a wind with those lap panels on it (I swear they're modelled on windmill sails) but if you're only putting in 2' posts and the bottom 9" of each are in the concrete you'll have some pretty stable things.

Then you put rails across the posts on the uphill side so the weight of the soil is pushing wood against wood, not pulling all your nails out. Then you can put your chemical-soaked rot-resistant retaining wall on the uphill side of the rails. Make sure there's soil (or the builders' waste material from under your mound) packed in downhill of the fence bases to stop them sledging away.

The fence will slowly get toppled by slumping soil, but it'll be something your grandchildren have to fix one day.

...

Just kidding about the dynamite. Too risky. I'd use TNT.

Expensive gardening mistake - help needed

Posted: 03/05/2014 at 13:30
hartleyhare wrote (see)

Hi Everyone,

Firstly this looks like a great place to learn about gardening and gets lots of help and advice  I have to say that I am not much of a gardener, a few pots are about my limit. I like the idea of it but the reality tends to be all together something different - lol!

Anyways, I need some advice please about what to do to rectify a problem. I have a piece of ground that backs onto the driveway. There was a flat bit that sloped away from the drive. It was turfed. However, the builders dumped a load of soil and rubble on it from making a new patio and in my madness I decided to try and turn it into a sort of raised bed. I laid more soil - 4 tons of it in fact - on top of the builders mess and then shaped it so that there was a bank of earth in the middle and a flatish bit around the outside. I had planned to put in wooden borders where it sloped away ( to stop the gravel slipping down ) and then after planting up with wildlife friendly plants I was going to cover it all with gravel and  rocks and driftwood, etc. The problem I have now is that the wooden borders  cannot be knocked into the soil as its just loose, so nothing to actually hold them in place. The 4 extra tons I added has made it too deep to reach the solid earth underneath and when you do get to the solid earth its actually hard packed gravel and rock.. And because the soil is just loose it is starting to slip down the slope when it rains. Its difficult to describe it all, pictures would be far better, but I don't know how to add them here.

So if anyone can understand my slightly incoherent ramblings and offer some advice I would be most grateful  Ijust  need a way to secure the wooden borders at the top of the slope.

 

Well, it sounds like a s***-heap ... but the pictures don't look so bad. I thought you had a big round heap in the middle of a square lawn.

There's a steep earth bank by the canal near here that's been slowly creeping downhill for years. The towpath's getting slightly narrower every year, but it's a very slow process. You should be alright with ground cover stabilising it, but if it flows down against that wall on the right side you'll get damp issues there. You could just shovel it all back to the top in five years' time, I suppose.

Looking at the nice view, I can believe you when you say digging beyond a certain depth is hard. I've tried digging in the Dales and been tampted to put the spade away and make some dynamite. If you don't want to go to the trouble (and rubble) of making holes in bedrock, there is still a way to concrete in a post. You need to build forms for the concrete first, out of cheap MDF board and 2"x2" pine. Put all the pine and screws on the outside so the inside's nice and smooth, sit the thing on bare bedrock, shave bits off the underside until it sits level, stand the post in the middle of it, pour in the wet concrete mix, make sure the post's upright and leave it to set. Once it's done you can dismantle the form and use it for the next one or you can do them all at once, toss the MDF in the bin and use the pine for kindling.

A fence built this way won't have the stability to stop horses or stay upright in a wind with those lap panels on it (I swear they're modelled on windmill sails) but if you're only putting in 2' posts and the bottom 9" of each are in the concrete you'll have some pretty stable things.

Then you put rails across the posts on the uphill side so the weight of the soil is pushing wood against

Removing Horsetail

Posted: 27/04/2014 at 11:19
Hostafan1 wrote (see)

until about 4 days ago, even after 30 years in professional horticulture , I'd never heard of " horsetails" apart from the obvious equine type. Does anyone smell a rat?

 

It's political correctness gone mad!

Transport needed for flooded gardens

Posted: 26/04/2014 at 12:24

I think I'm a way off the network we're drawing, so far, but I can link Scotch Corner to Wetherby Services, York truck stop or the Settle Falconry Centre if any of those are useful connection points.

Not a right lot here I could offer right now. Two pink roses are NOT looking happy. I've got a honeysuckle growing from a cutting in the magic area between compost heap and fence and a large number of small elder trees, but that's about it.

Removing Horsetail

Posted: 26/04/2014 at 12:11

I haven't had to fight this one (yet) but from what I've heard it's wearing a layer of glass so your glyphosate will run right off it. If you have the time to invest in the job though, you can make glyphosate way more effective.

First catch your weed. Shouldn't be hard, as they don't run all that fast. Get your knife out and shave the sides of it, exposing the juicy insides of the stem. Wrap it in kitchen roll or toilet paper. Soak that in glyphosate. It won't run off that surface.

If it's in between plants you don't want to kill, a short length of 2" plastic downpipe (Homebase sells this stuff in long lengths pretty cheaply, for greenhouses and the like) will go over the target plant as a splash-preventer. You can leave it there if it's a windy day and plants are blowing against each other.

Talkback: Birds: helping garden birds in spring

Posted: 26/04/2014 at 11:59

Sparrows and blue tits use the same boxes, so yes, that's normal. What you need is, of course, more boxes. North-facing, ten feet up, with plenty of clear space in front of them so the birds can see around before they leave. I'd say they should be somewhere with low traffic, but I've seen house martens nest in pub doorways and blue tits nesting by a farm's main door.

Experiment still not done: RSPB's cheaper treat blocks, RSPB's mroe expensive treat blocks, Garden Bird Supplies' treat blocks, the GC's treat blocks and the local shop's cheap treat blocks, in multiple feeders, rotated every couple of days, to see which ones the birds like most.


To protect blackbird chicks from marauding magpies, I recommend an underlever .177 at 11.5 ft-lb, a fixed magnification scope (if you get a 2x50 you can see into shadows with it), plenty of practice on paper targets at 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30 and 35 metres ... and sharp reflexes, because those baby-snatching b*****ds are fast. I still suspect they're psychic. They can tell when you're thinking about aiming at them.

Can anyone identify this invader?

Posted: 26/04/2014 at 11:47

Definitely an elder tree. I've got ... well, I had a dozen yesterday. There was one in the hedge before I cut it back (from 20 feet high and 8 feet thich to 4 feet high and 18 inches thick) where it apparently managed to grow between hedge and fence. I cut it back to a bare trunk and had to prune the new growth in JUNE to stop all the green branches falling off under their own weight. Then I pruned it again in November and it's already a big bush above the hedge. I left mine in because the birds like the berries. Where I put bird food on tree stumps there are rings of elder saplings coming up, planted there by birds. I haven't noticed a pest problem, unless you count pigeons.

It feeds birds and the domes of white flowers are pretty, but it could be considered one of the UK's tallest weeds.

Ooops!

Posted: 12/04/2014 at 11:19

They're working on it!

Akebia quinata 'Shirobana' bought in October 2010 is quite definitely flowering this year.

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/42142.jpg?width=320&height=350&mode=max

 The crocus flowers are gone, but their striped leaves are still showing.

The rest of the flowers are a pretty solid bank of greenery, slowly beeing flattened by the neighbours' cats. The lilies are still only ankle-high at the back. They're always the last ones to the party. I've already killed two adult lily beetles. Guess it's time to start the daily patrols again.

 

planting trees in clay soil

Posted: 02/04/2014 at 17:31

First things that spring to mind are to dig the hole even deeper in the hope that the water will only pool "so deep" in the bottom, then fill it with gravel or quarry run-off to above the water level before planting on top of that ...

... to dig a dirty great ditch along the line of the holes and down to the stream and fill that with gravel from 18" down to 12" down then put the soil back in on top of that between the holes ...

... or to build *up* instead of digging *down*. Fill with rocky junk until the water's out of sight, then cover that with (optional hessian sack and) compost and plant on top of that, then build up a little wall around each tree so that you can get it properly buried above ground.

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/41270.gif?width=400&height=350&mode=max

 This way the roots get to invade the water but the water doesn't get to invade the roots.

What you plant around the outside of that little wall to make it look prettier is up to you. I'd suggest something without thorns.

Rose cuttings: timing

Posted: 31/03/2014 at 17:26

http://s4.gardenersworld.com/uploads/images/original/41008.jpg?width=536&height=350&mode=max

 That one's been there since Valentine's Day. Looking good so far. Not sure the nearest branch is growing at all, but the other two are.

Discussions started by Charlie November

Holy glyphosate, Batman! What's that?

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

Rose cuttings: timing

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Last Post: 31/03/2014 at 17:26

When is honey fungus not honey fungus?

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

Apple tree with white leaves

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

Spurge?

Not a lily. Not an apple tree. 
Replies: 6    Views: 463
Last Post: 10/09/2013 at 22:29

Ooops!

Planning? Measuring? Me? 
Replies: 17    Views: 846
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: 1532
Last Post: 13/05/2013 at 08:09
7 threads returned