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Latest posts by frensclan

When to sow

Posted: 10/02/2015 at 20:34

I moved back up to Carlisle in the North West 3 yrs. ago having lived in S W wales and the south of England for over 40yrs. I have been struggling with germination of my vegetable seeds since. For example I am used to getting my parsnip seeds in at the end of February and beetroot by the end of  March.

If anyone gardens up here could you please advise how much later than Monty's sowing times should I go for up here?

Cheaper alternative to raised bed

Posted: 10/02/2015 at 19:52

I garden on very heavy clay now so raised beds are a must. I used 6" boards and by the time I had double dug the beds the soil had raised itself up a couple of inches without the addition of bought in topsoil. Over the last 3 years It has gradually built up by the addition of homemade compost, the soil out of containers and grow bags and leaf mould. In another couple of years I will be having to think about replacing rather than filling!

I created my first raised beds over 40yrs ago by simply using the turf I took off the surface to make a low wall around the edge. This worked very well and over time the beds rose above this level and had slightly sloping sides. I eventually edged these with home woven willow edging that looked quite nice; but if I was doing it today would plant step over fruit to edge a bed thus creating something nice to look at and also productive.

I think the most important issue is to make the beds narrow enough to be able to reach the middle without treading on them. For me this would be no more than 4'

Small pond

Posted: 15/11/2014 at 08:09

not sure if this link will work Salino but this is the post I was mentioning.

Small pond

Posted: 14/11/2014 at 19:48

I recently saw a thread where someone had simply sunk an old plastic washing up bowl into the ground and then planted a few smaller marginal plants  in it. Within a couple of months they had posted a picture of a frog enjoying the water and the plant life  So I guess no bit of water is too small to enhance your garden.

Price watch

Posted: 11/10/2014 at 15:24

Yes I have had good success with plants from Aldi. Clematis and roses are particularly good.

Are these damsons or sloes please?

Posted: 16/09/2014 at 09:09

I always notice in the spring where the blackthorn is because it is one of the first trees to flower a lovely white froth of flowers on bare branches. That is the only way I could differentiate them from hawthorn until the fruits form of course . So if it is in an area you are familiar with look out for it next year. When you have been foraging for a while you get to know where things are of course. I am fortunate in that my dad taught me all I know and I am still visiting the same sites I went to with him as a child

Are these damsons or sloes please?

Posted: 15/09/2014 at 08:07

I have been looking up Buckthorn our of interest and found this site.

Don't know if it is of help but found it interesting to browse through? plus another good site I found is

Many sites feature warnings about the risk to animals if they ingest part of the plant of Alder Buckthorn and some American sites warn of a risk to people but as far as I can see the habit of these bushes is quite distinct.


Are these damsons or sloes please?

Posted: 14/09/2014 at 19:01

Hi, the fruit you have is as I said the wild damson and great for using as are the fruit of the blackthorn ; the sloe. only the thorns to be careful of. Obviously as the tree you picked from had no thorns this confirms you have damsons  Good wine/gin/pudding making.

Are these damsons or sloes please?

Posted: 14/09/2014 at 14:05

I seem to be replying to two different threads with the same lead but as I replied to the other one these are sloes and perfectly good for great sloe gin and wines etc. I think you  might be thinking of the thorns re caution as this is the blackthorn tree/bush and the thorns are poisonous if you get one in your skin.

Are these damsons or sloes please?

Posted: 14/09/2014 at 14:01

I agree they look more like wild damsons than sloes. I have just picked my sloes and they are a little smaller and are "very" bitter to the taste. Did you notice what the twigs were like as the sloe is from the blackthorn and this has lots of very sharp thorns which can cause a bit of damage. We forage  for sloes most years and I never come back uninjured! In fact this year I was really badly scratched and that even with the other half holding back the branches for me.

Anyways I don't see why they will not make sloe gin or whatever you are thinking of as damsons can be used for similar and wine etc.

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