Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Beware bark chippings!

Posted: 29/04/2016 at 18:42

There has been no problem in similar temperatures for weeks now. And I think it is significant that some of the worst damage is on shoots that are low down on the plants and well shelltered by a fence; the most exposed top shoots have got off relatively lightly. The damage came straight after the watering, which also supports the "toxic mulch" theory, as this would be when the plants absorbed the toxins.

I have now found a couple of US websites discussing "toxic mulch" (google it). It seems to happen when mulch is badly stored, and these compacted packs of wood chippings are a particular risk when they are damp, as ours were.

Late vegetable bed

Posted: 29/04/2016 at 18:10

It's a bit late for peas, but you might get a bit of a crop from French beans.

If you start a courgette in a large pot it might just be OK until July.  Or squashes, or cucumbers, they often develop quite late.  

I wouldn't recommend sprouts in a raised bed, at least they never work in mine. They need firm soil, and the plants can get very heavy and topple over.  If you do want to try to grow some by next winter, you'd need to find a bed for your seedlings to grow in until July, and then transplant them. They do take up a lot of room.

Beware bark chippings!

Posted: 29/04/2016 at 17:52

Last month we planted a new hedge of  variegated griselinia. We bough the plants online from Hedges Direct, and were very pleased with the quality and condition. The hedge seemed to settle in and be doing well, with plenty of rain.

About a week ago we put a mulch of bark chippings (Verve, from B&Q) around them to suppress weeds.  The chippings seemed a bit damp and a little mouldy in parts, but when we had done, the hedge looked great.  Then couple of days ago we gave it all a good watering with the hose, as it hasn't rained a lot.

Today we noticed that most of the young leaves on the new shoots had gone dark and soft. I rang Hedges Direct, who said that bark chippings can cause problems, as the wood may have been treated with various chemicals, which get absorbed by the plants.

So we have spent the whole afternoon doing as thye suggested:  removing the bark, trimming back the damaged shoots, applying some bonemeal feed, and watering it well to flush through any bad stuff. We don't know if this will work. If we lose the hedge I'll be devastated.

Has anyone else had an experience like this? We have used bark chippings before, but probably not on young, newly planted shrubs.  I will take the remaining bark back to the store and complain, but we have spent many hours applying and then removing it, with nothing to show for our efforts except a sickly hedge.

Late vegetable bed

Posted: 29/04/2016 at 11:52

Another thought (apart fro my misspelling of "too"!) : 8 ft wide is not very manageable. Have you thought about how you're going to reach the middle of the bed without treading on the soil? Would two narrower beds be feasible? 

Late vegetable bed

Posted: 29/04/2016 at 11:48

You could also get some quick salad leaves in at that time.

Are you sure about the roses? Won't they be to tall, and make it difficult to tend the veg plants?

Runner beans and dwarf beans

Posted: 28/04/2016 at 18:44

Unless it warms up quite a bit, beans will struggle in these temperatures.  I am about to sow mine but won't put them outdoors until it's quite a bit warmer, hopefully in the 2nd half of May. I think it best if you can re-pot them and keep them under cover for a while yet.


Posted: 27/04/2016 at 22:09

I have a cutting from the Independent, May 2014, explaining that soluble aspirin sprayed on to plants can help them resist disease such as blight. There is serious research quoted, and it sounds feasible. For tomato blight, it has to be done before the disease starts, and the dose is 250 to 400mg aspirin to a gallon of water, 2 or 3 times a month. The organic alternative is willow water.

Average gardeners spending

Posted: 26/04/2016 at 14:03

Or keep a few sheep?

Average gardeners spending

Posted: 26/04/2016 at 09:25

Look, my husband used to have a boat! Now there WAS an expensive hobby, and one you can only enjoy on certain occasions. Gardening is very modest in comparison, and pays you back handsome dividends  - flowers, trees, fruit, vegetables, wild life to watch, and a lovely space to spend time in, alone or with friends and family. 

Productive soft fruit plot

Posted: 25/04/2016 at 21:39

I grow parsley and coriander around my fruit bushes. I sow the parsley on the shady side, so that the shadow of the bushes will stop the soil from drying out too much. Salad crops can be grown the gaps too, or you could try chives. 

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