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Green Magpie


Latest posts by Green Magpie

The free tomato seeds on the mag cover

Posted: 15/08/2012 at 09:27

Those don't sound anything like my Maskotka toms (which were not from the magazine, I think they were T&M or something). Mine are vigorous bush plants and now (at last!) they are producing cherry tomatoes, which are a normal tomato colour and very small. Mine don't have any blotches and the skin isn't particularly tough. It may be yours have some virsu or something, but if they're quite large, it doesn't even soudn as if they're Maskotka at all. Maybe someone else who got a free packet will confirm.

Rubard just won't die back...

Posted: 12/08/2012 at 20:43

On Gardeners' Question Time recently, one of the panellists said that there was no reason not to go on using rhubarb as long as the plants look vigorous. Mine is always very big and strong, and this year it is massive, so we had a rhubarb crumble last weekend. Both I and the rhubarb are still fighting fit, so I don't think it did either of us any harm.

Get Rid of your Lawns

Posted: 12/08/2012 at 17:41

I heard that interview (with Bunny Guiness arguing in favour of lawns) and thought that what Bob said made little sense. He alleged that lawns required a lot of maintenance and heavy machinery, which isn't always the case. He did say he wasn't advocating concrete, and then suggested that people might instead install a fruit cage, or a pond, or a shrub border. He didn't explain how you get maintenance-free ponds or fruit bushes, or how you even walk across the garden if it's packed with features like that. And isn't the point of a shrub border that it usually goes round the edge of ... a lawn? You can't pack your room wall-to-wall with furniture, or your garden fence-to-fence with busy features that you can't get past. Threre's got  to be some open ground, and grass is what will tend to grow there.

I don't think he's thought it through. He was either being provocative or lazy in his ideas.

No apples and few crab apples.... :(

Posted: 11/08/2012 at 09:49

I'm sure that's right. Some of our apples are cropping well but some are not. We have almost no pears, no quinces at all (despite copious blossom) and very few pears. At certain times this spring there were simply not enough insects flying to do the pollinating. Bees, for instance, won't fly when it's too cold, or wet or windy, which was the case for several weeks at a time. They are out and about now but it's too late for the tree fruits.

Invasive plants to avoid

Posted: 01/08/2012 at 15:12

Don't plant a Pernettya. Not if you don't want to find it straying around putting up prickly suckers all over your border or bed, regardless of anything else that may be growing there. Not if you don't want to spend ages trying to pull out bucketfuls of the pesky roots and suckers, and ferrying the whole lot to the Council tip.

And if you really, really do want some, come round to our place and I'll pull up a bit for you. We still have lots to spare!

And Vinca Major (periwinkle) is another thug to avoid.

tomatoes

Posted: 27/07/2012 at 18:37

Spraying against blight: you can use either Bordeaux Mixture (but not for much longer) or Dithane. BM clings to the leaves quite well even after rain. If you see the first signs of tomato blight, pick off the affected leaves and spray the rest - there's a good chance you'll slow down the blight enough to save your crop.

what base is best for a compost bin

Posted: 21/07/2012 at 13:22

I have a dalek-type bin set on gravel, and a big timber composter on bare ground. The dalek always has plenty of worms (as well as ants and woodlice) - I have no idea how they get there - while there are very few in the big composter. I did notice it was a a lot wormier in wet weather, so perhaps it's too dry there for them some of the time. Now and again I see mouse or rat-holes in the big heap, but they could get in from the top or the sides, I can't prevent it.

But they both produce good compost, and there doesn't seem to be a vermin problem.

Potato blight soil

Posted: 21/07/2012 at 12:56

Getting rid of the soil is a bit extreme. In most garden circumstances, the soil is part of the garden and is not normally removed. Sensible crop rotation should keep further crops from being infected by the soil.

But that is only if it's soil-borne in the first place. Blight spores are  normally brought in on the wind, in warm damp conditions. Even spore-free soil can't protect from that. The evidence on it remaining active in the soil seems a bit scant, and it's perfectly OK to use the soil for unrelated crops or for ornamental plants.

And for what it's worth, I accidentally planted tomatoes in a bed that had blighted potatoes in it last year. I have sprayed them twice with Bordeaux Mixture, and there's very little sign of blight yet despite the weather - less than in previous years when I was careful to rotate the crops. This year's potatoes, which are in blight-free soil, are a bit of a disaster, as they were very slow to grow, and the blight stopped them in their tracks before there were many potatoes.

Weekend weather.

Posted: 17/07/2012 at 12:12

Oh, I hope, hope, hope this is right!  We are looking after the grandkids for part of next week, and it would be just fantastic if we could go to the beach rather than seeking our wet-weather attractions (which will be crowded and expensive).

It's already quite dry and bright here and I am heading garden-wards shortly. There is so much to catch up on ...

 

Bye bye Clematis Cassis

Posted: 15/07/2012 at 19:04

I think it's less likely to affect tough types like Montana. I have a clematis Jackmanii that did this last year - it flowered in May and promptly died back. I cut it right down close to the ground, and new growth appeared quite soon. By September it was back up to the top of the fence and flowering again, so we got twice the flowering from it. This year it's been fine, flowering for the last month or more.

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