Gary Hobson

Latest posts by Gary Hobson

Is Vermiculite dangerous

Posted: 19/05/2012 at 19:32

The issue seems to be that some vermiculite used to be extracted from mines that also contained asbestos. Consequently some vermiculite was contaminated with asbestos.

There are more details here: US Environmental Protection Agency

That report says that the manufacturers have been working to address these problems.

So the orignal poster was correct in saying that there was a connection. Hopefully, the vermiculite sold today is safe.


Posted: 18/05/2012 at 12:20


I love all your photos, especially the young foxes.

It's an achievement getting anyway near many of these animals, let alone getting a good photo.

Talkback: Dealing with lily beetle

Posted: 18/05/2012 at 05:44
oldchippy wrote (see)

Gary Hobson can we have some of your dry weather ... ,We had two dry days over the weekend and its raining again now...

Afraid not. We only had two nice days here too.

So there's been no sign of beetles since then.

But the weather will improve, and they'll be back.

Privet Hedges

Posted: 18/05/2012 at 05:22
NewGardner1 wrote (see)

do I need to use rooting powder? far apart I should space the clippings?

Some people do use rooting powder, and perhaps it does assist rooting, though it's not essential.

The spacing should be around 9 inches to a foot (20cm to 30cm). But you could put in cuttings twice as close as that (4 inches apart), so that if some cuttings don't take, you'll still get a decent hedge.

Lilyanne wrote (see)

... I do think privet looks best when it is dense....

That's true.

You could plant two rows, 6 inches apart and with the plants staggered, so the pattern looks like a zig-zag. That would produce a thicker and denser hedge, but that would require more land area. Probably not what you'd want to do on an allotment, although you could if planting around a house.

Privet Hedges

Posted: 17/05/2012 at 14:24

Privet is one of the easiest plants to propagate.

You simply need to take a cutting, about a foot long (or even longer), and stick it in the ground, and away it should go.

Obviously you need suitable weather, warm and showery, like now.


Posted: 16/05/2012 at 11:52
Bookertoo wrote (see)

Majorum from your pots will seed itself everywhere - I love it so have no problem at all with that.  Even in a courtyard garden it will find the tiniest windblown soil and grow.  

Allowing wildflowers to seed themselves onto a patio is another interesting idea, though it won't appeal to everyone.

In message #3, Kate mentioned growing ox-eye daisies in a pot. Last year I had an ox-eye daisy in a pot, and it self-seeded. So this year I have lots of ox-eyes coming up in the paving. I know that many people would get rid of them..

This is another wildflower, cat's ear (completely uninvited)...

And this is a naturally self-seeded foxglove...


Posted: 16/05/2012 at 10:16

This is an interesting idea. I've not actually tried growing wildflowers in pots before, but I am trying it this year, as an experiment. There is a wide range of wildflowers, and I'm only trying a tiny sample.

Botticelliwoman wrote (see)

... You could try red clover ..

This is red clover, in a pot. Until I saw clover growing by itself, I didn't realise what the plant actually looked like, or how it might want to behave. It actually wants to send out runners, somewhat like a strawberry...

Botticelliwoman wrote (see)

... and birds-foot trefoil too

And this is Bird's Foot Trefoil...


This is a Campion, actually growing in grass, but I think it would make a decent pot plant...

This one's called Salad Burnett, the flowers are a bit dull...

Scabious (a plant from last year), good for bees and butterflies...

I think wild marjoram would be good too. I'm raising this from seed, sowed a few weeks ago, so they are only tiny seedlings at the moment...

Talkback: Stinging nettles

Posted: 15/05/2012 at 05:03

Four of our most popular butterflies require nettles to lay their eggs on, and to raise their broods.

They are - the Red Admiral, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, and Comma.

It's very desirable that your nettle patch should be in a sunny and sheltered spot; and with some nectar plants nearby, so you can enjoy the butterflies.

Talkback: Dealing with lily beetle

Posted: 15/05/2012 at 04:49

I use the finger and thumb method too. I've already posted this photo on a couple of other lily beetle threads. But it is so satisfying:

The warm dry weather seems to bring them out. I've been finding half-a-dozen, or more, every day while the weather has been fine.

I think that regular visual inspection, and manual termination, is by far the most reliable and effective way of dealing with these creatures.


Posted: 14/05/2012 at 14:26
MuddyFork wrote (see)

It could be frost damage,  the young leaves are very easily damaged.

I agree with that. If touched by frost, the leaves very easily go brown and crisp.

If a Gunnera is short of water then the leaves remain green, but simply flop. The plant is easily rehydrated.

If the leaves are brown and crisp then it's frost,

Gunneras can give an impression of being tough macho plants, but they are actually quite delicate.

Discussions started by Gary Hobson

New BBC Gardening Show looking for Kitchen Gardeners

Replies: 11    Views: 3017
Last Post: 31/03/2014 at 19:57

Hampton Court Family Garden Competition

You are invited to design a family garden which will be built this year at Hampton Court 
Replies: 8    Views: 1806
Last Post: 10/02/2013 at 15:01
2 threads returned