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Green Magpie


Latest posts by Green Magpie

What's loving all this rain?

Posted: 14/07/2012 at 18:25

Our lavenders are looking great, and the climbing hydrangea looks the best it's ever done - it's growing in gravel against a wall, and we clearly haven't been watering it enough. We have several little conifers growing in planters, and they're putting on more new growth than usual (again, showing us they were thirsty). A huge viburnum has put on masses of new leaf. Buddleias look happy, and honeysuckle flowers are bursting out the top of a huge holly bush in a hedge.  Gooseberries amd raspberries are prolific. The lawn is green, if soggy. A couple of our apple trees are cropping well, while others are not. Nettles flourish everywhere, which must be good for some butterflies etc.

I will not list the miserable plants and failed crops that are not responding well to the rain, it's all too sad. But it's good to remind ourselves that some plants are having a great summer!

a very miserable lady.

Posted: 14/07/2012 at 18:16

I've had my wobbly moments in these last few weeks - I went to dig some potatoes the toher day nd was almost in tears when I found how few there were. The French beans and tomatoes and courgettes are not yet a disaster but are way behind. I've put in so much work and by April I was feeling really confident about the garden, it all looked so good. My husband keeps bees and will probably get no honey this year. Like so many others, we're very disappointed at what the weather has (or hasn't) done.

But: my raspberries, rhubarb and gooseberries are great, my mangetout have been good, and my broad beans not quite the total failure I expected when I saw the extent of the chocolate spot on them. The lavenders and climbing hydrangea look better than they ever have, and so does the lawn (at least until you walk on it).

I've never known a season like this, so hopefully it will be better again next year. We may still see some reasonable weather before the summer is out. Yesterday, when I'd cleared a space where some of my pathetic potatoes were, I was optimistic enough to put in a few more seeds ( dwarf French beans and wild rocket). Gardening is all aobut the long term, and I'm trying not to get too daunted at all the failures of the last couple of months.

One more reason to be cheerful - there's no hosepipe ban!

A few random questions :)

Posted: 14/07/2012 at 08:45

Yes, Dove, I know what you mean - too much time spend indoors wiaitng for the rain to stop, with a comforting cup of coffee and a choccy bicuit, when we should be out there grafting!

 

A few random questions :)

Posted: 13/07/2012 at 18:29

Re the tomatoes: I don't do greenhouse tomatoes so I can't help much here. My outdoor ones have some flowers and a very few tiny tomatoes. I think they didn't get pollinated enough at the relevant time, so I am trying to help by using a tiny paintbrush to spread pollen. Are your tomatoes cordon or bush types? If you don't know, tell us the variety. Cordons need the sideshoots picking out regularly, while bush tomatoes don't. I can't think why they'd be leggy if they're getting enough light. You can nip the tops eventually, but you're not supposed to do this until there are several trusses of tomatoes formed.

I have just put a few spare French bean seeds in - I've done this before in July and got a small crop from them. This year is so crazy, the plants don't know what month it is anyway. It may be a bit late for peas though.

Keep asking, that's not a problem - we're not out in our gardens as much as we'd like, so we have some time on our hands!

A few random questions :)

Posted: 13/07/2012 at 10:21

Just a general comment, Loz : this year is really dreadful for fruit and veg, so try not to be disheartened if a lot of things go wrong. I've had hugely disappointing potato crops, my strawberries are rotting, and I am seriously wondering whether there will ever be enough warmth to produce any tomatoes or beans. So even if it seems a struggle, it will get better next year (it must do, mustn't it?).

Raspberries aren't really meant to crop much the first summer - in fact I think you're meant to remove any flowers or fruit to let the canes keep their strength, but it takes a lof of willpower to do that. The autumn ones might produce some fruit this year, but if not, don't worry as long as all your canes are live, they'll be better established next year. If they are dead, get some new ones in in the late autumn. I've had a very good crop of summer rasps this year (pretty much the only good crop of anything so far), but my canes are several years old.

Quince

Posted: 12/07/2012 at 13:52

Ahmadmirza: I really don't know about pruning the branches. I think you'd ned to cut off quite a lot to make the branch stronger, and you might just cut off the bits that were supposed to flower, and leave the bits that weren't. This is just a guess, I don't know. I don't think this year's  crop is going to put much strain on the branches!

Quince

Posted: 11/07/2012 at 15:45

The decorative ones (Japanese Quince, withe the pretty red flowers) are quite different from the true quinces. The fruits tend to stay rock-hard, and although you can grate them and attempt to make quice jelly from them, I never had much success with this. The sort that grow on a tree look a bit like pears and are quite different.

no apples!

Posted: 11/07/2012 at 15:18

Our two best-cropping apples trees, which are fairly early ones, are doing well, but those that blossomed a bit later have very little fruit. I think this is probalby because in March there was that lovely warm weather (remember it? Hot sun, trips to the beach...) and the bees were very active. But a few weeks later it was too cold and windy for the bees to get out much, and I think the later apples probably just didn't get pollinated.

Quince

Posted: 11/07/2012 at 15:14

We have a Vranja quince tree about the same age that behaves in a similar way - it blossoms profusely, but only has a few fruit. By last year we had maybe a dozen decent quinces, which was great, but that was out of hundreds of blossoms. This year I am not so hopeful of getting any fruit.

I think, as Leggi says, it's probably due to a lack of pollinators at a critical time. I've also noticed that the fruits our quince tree had were towards the top of the tree, which also suggests it's to do with pollenators.

We love our quince tree anyway, as it's an elegant tree, its leaves open early in the year, it's pretty in blossom, and it's one of the last to drop its leaves.

Gardeners World - not back for 4 weeks!

Posted: 08/07/2012 at 09:38

This week's Radio Times has a letter making some of the above points. I'm sure it's not the only one RT has received on the subject. As you say, GGrandma, they do take notice of the number of complaints, so it all helps. The Beeb ought to be pleased really - it's quite a positive thing to have a programme so well liked that people get really upset when you take it off the schedule.

I've nothing against tennis - in fact I intend to watch the men's final this afternoon, but first I am heading for the garden as it is SUNNY!

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