Latest posts by frensclan

Clay soil, digging it out

Posted: 15/03/2015 at 08:28

Hi Gooner9; I sympathise, but at least it is in only one spot. When I moved to my latest house I found that the whole site was on a very thick layer of clay so that even the fields behind do not drain well. I tried digging sumps but they just filled with water and the land was such that I could not put in land drains as this would just have moved the problem to my neighbours. In the end I grow on raised beds and where the lawn is, put half down to a bog garden and pond and for the grass brought in a load of top soil and raised the level so that the water does not show sitting on top of the grass even though it is just below the surface. The lawn does not seem to mind this at all and has grown well.

Anyone done any gardening today?

Posted: 01/03/2015 at 14:59

Snowdrops still if full bloom and all the other bulbs are through and getting ready to do their stuff.  My roses of all sorts just have not given up trying to bud and grow since last spring. Shooting all the time; snow forecast however up here in Cumberland so they  may be in for another shock.

Just pulled the last of the Brussels sprouts and am still picking ruby chard leaves  and bits of greens. I do not have a greenhouse only a cold frame in a very draughty situation so chomping at the bit to get something going other that my autumn planted onions garlic and shallots! I will this year have to restrain myself as since moving back up north I am having to give planting times at least 4wks more than I have been used to further south.

Cold and very windy with grey skies but a great day to be out in the garden or the countryside.

Gardeners World on TV

Posted: 01/03/2015 at 14:50

double Hurrah!!!

Dealing with garden drainage--clay soil.

Posted: 18/02/2015 at 18:07

Hope this is not a repeat as lost my first attempt!!

Your tale sounds very familiar. I tried sumps and land drains but when it rains ; and believe me it really rains up here in Cumbria, they just backed up and drowned my fruit trees. ( have moved them and some have recovered thankfully) So as I said above I have resorted to raised beds for veg and for the rest relied on trial and error. I find hawthorn is a pretty good tree and is rowan, blackcurrant bushes don't mind having soggy feet and  much else I have planted as a bog garden.

The thing I most notice however is that in the 4yrs I have gardened here I have spotted not a worm!!! and I have dug all of the garden more than once. Last year I bought a job lot to release in my raised beds to help with incorporation of compost and mulch ; and have I seen any of them since? not a one. I am assuming this is a result of the great depth of clay and the height of the water table.

Growing potatoes in bags

Posted: 17/02/2015 at 16:20

I have grown in both bags and the ground for the last few years but this year am going to stick to bags only as the results have been much better with them. I have to say that I grow only first earlies

I do have a couple of purpose made potato bags but mainly just use old compost bags. They are basically free and just need some holes punched in the bottom.

As all have suggested above all production occurs above the tuber although I put about 4-6" of a mixture of garden soil and compost under to start them off. 

Dealing with garden drainage--clay soil.

Posted: 17/02/2015 at 16:14

I would proceed with caution. I moved to a garden on very deep layer of very  heavy clay soil. I discovered this only after almost drowning a fruit tree planted in our first year here. I dug a number of smallish soakaways but found that the ground flooded so much that they merely formed reservoirs of groundwater that eventually backed up and flooded the areas cultivated nearby! My situation was such that I coulld not drain the garden towards land drains or drain away to surrounding areas so have settled on raised beds as my only solution. I do incorporate as much plant material and sharp sand as is practicable but without the raised beds found this was not sufficient to grow fruit and vegetables successfully.

When to sow

Posted: 11/02/2015 at 08:19

Thank you Buttercupdays and  Liriodendron. Actually this is home really as it is where I was brought up, but have spent most of my life down south or abroad.

I quite understand the up and down Buttercupdays. We go to stay with one of my daughters near Cardiff once a month and I swear the temperature gauge in the car visibly moves down 10'F as we track back up the M6! and the may is out so much earlier both here and in Essex where one of my sons lives.

Thank you for the advice. No near neighbours seem to grow veg, but the tip about the weeds is a good one and although I don't have a greenhouse have made a cold frame and have cloches and copious amounts of saved black plastic and bubble wrap; so will put to use.

I will be much more restrained this year and leave it at least 2-3 weeks and see how I get on. I was thinking of sowing things like beetroot in pots to get them going as I am on really thick and heavy clay so have raised beds . It is so bad that the fruit trees I planted when I first moved back actually "drowned"! (saved by putting in pots and also in raised beds till they get going).

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.

Discussions started by frensclan

Ailing Paul Scarlet

Replies: 4    Views: 298
Last Post: 26/09/2017 at 09:30

Rust and alliums

Replies: 0    Views: 463
Last Post: 11/06/2016 at 10:37

Apricot from seed

What to do with leggy 6" seedlings 
Replies: 3    Views: 876
Last Post: 12/11/2015 at 12:53

tomato woes

Leggy tomato plants 
Replies: 3    Views: 809
Last Post: 28/08/2015 at 08:12

Pont SOS

Green frothy wildlife pond! 
Replies: 6    Views: 1478
Last Post: 21/04/2015 at 09:51

When to sow

Seed times in the north 
Replies: 3    Views: 775
Last Post: 11/02/2015 at 08:19

Sad Crab Apple

Leaf drop and stuff: 
Replies: 7    Views: 1074
Last Post: 07/09/2014 at 18:57

Strawberries for the north

Varieties for flavour that will grow well in the north 
Replies: 4    Views: 1008
Last Post: 20/08/2014 at 07:55


medium sized garden with no worms in it? 
Replies: 3    Views: 1074
Last Post: 02/08/2014 at 16:14

December offers online

Web details not working 
Replies: 10    Views: 2169
Last Post: 21/05/2013 at 12:13

Garlic in modules

To water or not when planting 
Replies: 2    Views: 1282
Last Post: 08/11/2012 at 20:23

Free guide for native pond and bog garden plants

How to avoid introducing invasive plants to the countryside 
Replies: 1    Views: 1551
Last Post: 28/08/2012 at 20:53

Climbers for wet areas

Looking for a cliber but my ground is boggy to permanently damp  
Replies: 3    Views: 1433
Last Post: 25/08/2012 at 15:10

annoying drop downs / popups

difficulty is beating the dropdowns when trying to navigate the site 
Replies: 1    Views: 1675
Last Post: 21/07/2012 at 10:31

The Edible Garden

My book of the year 
Replies: 12    Views: 1591
Last Post: 20/07/2012 at 00:25
1 to 15 of 16 threads