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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Multi purpose vs seed compost for veg seeds

Posted: 10/05/2015 at 22:07

I think seed compost is supposed to have less nutrients, which is better for germinating seeds. But I have run out of seed compost and am about to sow some basil seeds (indoors) in multi-purpose. They will be in it for the entire life of the plants so I'm sure they'll do just as well as in seed compost.

Carrot bed

Posted: 10/05/2015 at 18:25

I grow good carrots in raised beds. Because the soil stays loose and doesn't get compacted, it suits carrots very well. The beds are only about 45cm deep  - the soil level being lower than this - and this is not high enough to keep off the carrot fly, although it's a good height for most purposes. 

So I use horticultural fleece. It's not pretty or convenient, but it works. You can use pegs to secure it, but I now find the best way is to lay a length of fleece across the bed,  allowing plenty of spare, and weigh it in place with bricks on the ground outside the bed. That way, as the plants grow, the fleece can be loosened off so that it doesn't squash the leaves. You might need a peg or two to secure it in the middle of the bed and stop the fly getting in the sides.

Fleece varies in quality and it's worth getting a strong quality that won't get torn apart by wind or rain.  Last year I had no carrot fly at all, although there's usually a bit of damage by the end of the season.


Posted: 09/05/2015 at 16:40

I have just put my courgettes out, as they were getting too big for the shelf in the mini- greenhouse. I have made cloches for them out of old hanging-basket frames with fleece stapled over it (bubble wrap also works well), and will cover them up at night for a week or so.

Honey Bee swarms

Posted: 05/05/2015 at 08:21

Yes, hollie, it's how the colonies multiply. The queen leaves, taking about half the bees with her as a swarm, and the remaining bees create and rear a new queen.

Honey Bee swarms

Posted: 04/05/2015 at 13:36

Glad to hear you're so positive about the bees, Steephilll.

I am happy to report that our "bait" hive was successful. The swarm decided to move into it,  so now we have a new colony.

Honey Bee swarms

Posted: 03/05/2015 at 16:58

My husband keeps bees and his have swarmed a couple of times already, today being one example. He says that swarms are not as dangerous as they look, as the bees gorge themselves on nectar before setting off, and they are usually very placid. They usually settle in some temporary spot not far from the hive, while they consider their options, sending out scout bees to report back on suitable new locations (honestly, I'm not making this up!) and it's sometimes possible for a beekeeper to capture the swarm before they set off again. Other times they settle high up in a tree and can't be reached.  This time he has set out a spare "bait" hive nearby, in the hope that they will relocate there. Sometimes this works.

grape or currant

Posted: 02/05/2015 at 21:25

I'm sure the large one isn't beech, and I don't think it's lime either. Could it be hazel?

Best year for Rhubarb?

Posted: 01/05/2015 at 15:14

Rhubarb is very low in calories - in fact it's one of those foods that some people allege use up more calories in digesting that it provides in energy. But it's difficult to eat without sugar and/or something sweet and creamy, which rather counteracts its virtues.

Ground Elder

Posted: 01/05/2015 at 12:52

Vinca (periwinkle) will compete with ground elder, but it can be quite invasive too.

Best year for Rhubarb?

Posted: 01/05/2015 at 12:48

I still have a couple of bags of last year's rhubarb in the freezer, but looking at the monster rhubarb now looming in my garden, I think I'll put the old stuff on the compost and start again. I made some rhubarb annd orange chutney last year that was very good, and I do rhubarb and ginger jam.

I do also make rhubarb wine, but I have to say it's not great. It always retains a bit of the rhubarb flavour, and it's not the best wine I make. But it's cheap, and means that whenever a recipe calls for a generous quantity of white wine (it does end up white,  and usually very clear) I can supply it without feeling that it's a waste of wine.

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