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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Problem with plum tree

Posted: 09/05/2014 at 16:39

We bought a plum tree 6 years ago. It's one of those double varieties with two sorts (greengage and damson) on the same rootstock. We had no flowers ar all for several years, and in the last two years just two tiny flowers on the greengage part (which is the most vigorous, now about 8 ft tall). And then this year we had, for the first time, quite a lot of proper blossom - mostly on the greengage bit but a few flowers on the damson part too.

So hang in there, it looks as if plum trees can take a long time to do what they're supposed to do. I don't know whether we'll get any fruit, but at least we've got as far as blossom!

How soon can I plant violas in teacups for 14 June wedding?

Posted: 09/05/2014 at 16:29

I would ask your nursery or GC  about the availability, so you don't buy them sooner than you need to. Then when you get them, leave them in the trays until a few days before, unless they're clearly outgrowing their space and needing to be potted on. I agree that they might not do well in cups for long.

Give them an occasional feed (liquid seaweed or a high-potassium feed). Keep deadheading them, and a week or two before the event, take off not only the dead heads but some of the ones that have not gone over yet. This wil encourage new flowers to form in time for the day.

Other possibilities are lobelia, trailing bacopa or "million bells". But I don't think a teacup will hold all the suggestions!

Tomatoes - possibly my second mistake of the year!!!!

Posted: 09/05/2014 at 10:41

I can't think of anything else that needs side shoots removed.With peppers and chilis, you do the opposite - pinch out the tips to encourage more side shoots and more fruit.

Some plants (including upright tomatoes!) can be "stopped" later in the year by taking off the growing tip. This allows the fruits etc already formed to ripen properly, rather than go on into the cooler weather producing stuff that will never ripen. I think you can do this with some climbing beans, and possibly courgettes, squashes  and cucumbers. But it's not essential for these, and I don't usually bother unless the plants are getting reallly cumbersome.

Tomatoes - possibly my second mistake of the year!!!!

Posted: 09/05/2014 at 10:10

Aha, I've just seen your new pair of photos. Ignore my post above, which relates to your first attempt. Yes, that looks right to me, I think you've got it!

Tomatoes - possibly my second mistake of the year!!!!

Posted: 09/05/2014 at 10:09

Difficult to be sure from the photo, but it looks to me as if the larger lower bits you cut off were actually just single leaves rather than new shoots. I don't think the plants would have big side shoots at this stage. Don't be in a hurry to take off any more - let them grow on a bit and they should make themselves a bit clearer.

Tomatoes - possibly my second mistake of the year!!!!

Posted: 09/05/2014 at 09:43

Woops, yes, it looks as if you have taken off some lower leaves too. But that is not a problem if (as others have said) you plant it a bit deeper next time, and ti will put out extra roots from the buried bit of stem.

Tomatoes - possibly my second mistake of the year!!!!

Posted: 09/05/2014 at 08:51

Looking at that, I think I can see tiny side-shoots just appearing: if you look at the back edge of the pot and then just above it, you can see that there's a big leaf going our to the right, and then between it and the main stem, a tiny sprouting shoot, and the same at the next joint up. These are (unless the camera deceives me) new sideshoots and should be pinched out. That is where you find the side shoots, at a leaf joint between the leaf and the stem. They come back sometimes and you have to keep doing it.

Having said that ... my daughter has an allotment and grows Gardener's Delight, which is an upright and should have the sideshoots removed. She was too busy/careless to bother (and went on hol in August), and she still had a terrific crop of tomatoes. The old boys on the allotment were critical at first, and then quite envious of her success, as she had far more tomatoes than anyone else! So it's not that crucial.

Miracle Gro is a "balanced" fertiliser and won't do any harm - it will have fed the roots, leaves and shoots. At the worst it might leave the plants low in magnesium, which would discolour the leaves, and it may have made them a bit leggy.  But they'll be fine, I'm sure. Eventually you should get yourself some tomato feed, which will have the right balance of nutrients (high in potassium to help fruiting, and probably with magnesium too), and start administering that when the first tiny fruits start to form.

Fleece Cloches

Posted: 08/05/2014 at 16:54

I had some old hanging basket frames that I got in a car boot sale, and last year I covered them with fleece or with that thin polystyrene sheeting they use in packaging, using a stapler. In fact I am going to reassemble them soon, to put over my courgettes and cues when they go out.

Shady veg patch

Posted: 08/05/2014 at 16:43

Some herbs like it hot and dry, but parsley does better in shade and damp.

Secateurs open?

Posted: 06/05/2014 at 19:16

Some time ago I posted a question asking whether secateurs should be stored with the blades open or locked shut. Opinions varied and there was no real consensus that I can remember.

I can now report that I have come to a conclusion. Unless you are a very careful and organised person, keep them closed! Otherwise you might do what I did today: I had the secateurs lying in my tool caddy, with the blades open. I reached into the caddy to find some item lying at the bottom and - you know what' s coming - my finger caught the sharpest part of my Felcos, which sliced into my right-hand index finger.

I am typing this without my index finger, which is now bandaged up. And from now on I will close the secateurs when I put them away!

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