Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Growing vegetables

Posted: 16/04/2016 at 10:30

I am a silly old fool who repeatedly grows broad beans too close. The result is that mouldy diseases like chocolate spot spread more easily. Your beans will stay healthier if they're well spaced out, with more air circulating between the plants.

You done good!

You can always grow a small crop like salad leavesin between the rows if there's enough space, or just a few lettuces from plug plants.

When to move tomatoes/peppers/chillies/aubergines to the greenhouse?

Posted: 15/04/2016 at 21:00

I put my tomatoes into the mini-greenhouse yesterday (the kitchen windowsill was getting a bit crowded!), and today I laid a large piece of bubble wrap across the top, inside the hinged roof,  to give a bit of extra insulation for a few nights.

I think I've told this story before, but two years ago, in early April, I was moving the plants into the mini-greenhouse and one had a damaged stem. As I was short of space, I just pusher it back into shape and left it outside  on the ground in its pot. Despite low temperatures at night, it survived, flourished, and  was ready to join the others in the bed when it was time to plant them out. Perhaps tomatoes are tougher than we think.

Petition to stop cancelling GW

Posted: 15/04/2016 at 12:13

I've signed too.

It can't be that they make X programmes and then spread them out over a longer period, because each one is topical to a particular week in the season, with comments about the weather, suitable tasks for the gardener, etc. I think some of the recorded material must just get scrapped.

It has always made me cross. There are hours and hours of sport every week, but it always takes precedence, even something like snooker which isn't really a sport and must be a very minority interest compared with gardening in this country. Big arts and music events (Glastonbury, the Proms) get coverage but don't get this privileged treatment, only sport. Can you imagine a sports broadcast being cancelled because of Chelsea? 

Should I plant now or when I get back from holiday?

Posted: 14/04/2016 at 17:21

You could get your pea seeds in now,  as long as there's a bit of rain they should be OK.  It's a bit late to start tomatoes from seed now, and they do need a bit of coddling at first. I think your best bet would be to buy them as plants as soon as you're back from holiday. Outdoor tomatoes shouldn't go out until well into May anyway.

Carrots could be in by now but it's not too late to sow some. As to herbs, you can buy the perennial one in pots (e.g. thyme, marjoram, mint, sage) and put them in the ground any time you like.

Runner beans or climbing French beans are good for a small space as they can be trained up a fence or a wigwam, and it's OK not to sow these until May.

my Kilmarnock willow problem

Posted: 13/04/2016 at 22:19

Mine did that too. I pruned it hard and it had more catkins the next year, but each year there were more and more stumps from the pruned stems, and the tree also tipped over to one side and looked  a bit of a mess. 

We got rid of it and have replaced it with a slender, elegant sorbus. Much better.

Clematis Pruning - When should I do it?

Posted: 11/04/2016 at 23:28

Be careful what you wish for ....

Newbie - Privet Hedge Stumps

Posted: 11/04/2016 at 23:13

We had the same problem with a lonicera hedge. We found a company called Stump Out who specialised in stump grinding. Their machine chewed up and spat out all the roots, leaving loose soil that was almost ready to plant in. I did have to go over it with a fork and remove a few bucketfuls of rooty bits, and then we could plant a new hedge. It did cost us, but it was money well spent.

Clematis Pruning - When should I do it?

Posted: 11/04/2016 at 17:30

If it's big and leggy, could it be a montana? These are very vigorous and in a few years they have quite thick woody stems. They generally have clusters of smallish flowersin about late April to May (have a google for pics).

If that's what it is, it doesn't want to be cut right back, just trimmed a bit after flowering, to keep it manageable.

Buying trees online versus in the local garden centre

Posted: 11/04/2016 at 17:20

You might find what you want in a GC, but a specialist tree  nursery will be able to advise you on your choice and on how to care for the trees.


Posted: 10/04/2016 at 09:35

What you can do with parsnips is start the seeds off between two layers of damp kitchen paper on a plate,  covered in cling film. When they germinate, they put out a little root. You can then sow the resulting tadpole-like parsnipettes directly into their final stations in the bed, as you know they've germinated. 

I am not sure whether this actually gets them off any faster, but I think I may do it this year as the soil and the air are still so cold.

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