Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

When to pick tomatoes?

Posted: 13/08/2015 at 20:20

Yes, it's probably sudden heavy rain that has caused your tomatoes to split. We have had heavy rain today, and I expect to find some split tomatoes tomorrow.

You can pick tomatoes any time after they start to colour up, and they will continue to ripen indoors. If you pick when they're still green, they will stay green.


Posted: 06/08/2015 at 21:43

I don't worry too much about this. My courgettes always get it, but they keep on fruiting well.


Posted: 01/08/2015 at 22:14

I love this forum! Where else could you ask a question like "Why is my cucumber soft and spongy"  without risking a ribald reply?

Cooking or eating apples?

Posted: 24/07/2015 at 20:11

If they grow beyond the size of, say, a supermarket Granny Smith, they're probably cookers. 

Sage gone wild

Posted: 22/07/2015 at 22:13

Jo47, I didn't cut it terribly far back to get the second flowering, I think I just cut off the flowering stems.

Sage gone wild

Posted: 22/07/2015 at 16:51

It does get very leggy, but pruning should help keep it manageable. You could try taking cuttings to produce a new bush, which could replace the old one in a couple of years.

This year I cut back one section of my sage bush straight after flowering, and the rest some time later. The first section has rewarded me (and the bees) with another crop of flowers, so I will try to remember to trim the whole bush as early as possible next year.

people moving into an area and paving over the front garden

Posted: 22/07/2015 at 16:46

I suppose they could argue that by providing off-road parking, they're keeping the street clearer and reducing congestion.

But there are limits now to the area of hard, impermeable surface you can put down. So gravel is OK but paving may not be, over a certain amount.

Onion Smut!

Posted: 21/07/2015 at 17:08

Oh, you have been helpful, Dove, don't apologise. 

There's no  risk of my saving my shallots this year, they're all in a sorry state. Next year I'll start with new sets in a new bed, and hopefully all will be well.

Making raspberry jam

Posted: 21/07/2015 at 17:05

There's no point at all in using castor sugar. Ordinary granulated will do the same job, but  I agree that you can't cut down the sugar very much if you want the jam to keep. A little lemon juice will help it set.

Onion Smut!

Posted: 18/07/2015 at 17:24

Thank you, Dove, that's really interesting. It does sound as if it would only affect seedlings or very new plants, whereas mine were all doing fine until a couple of weeks ago, and the onions are full sized now.

I think you are right, and it is probably downy mildew. This apparently starts as a whitish mould but then other moulds join the party, which could account of the brown and black colourings on the soggy leaves. Some of the red onions seem sound underneath, but some are rotting, and most of the shallots are rotting too. I suppose moulds are not particular about which party of the plant they attack. There may be White Mould there too, and the prognosis is much the same. Whatever it is, it looks as if I still have to keep onions away from that soil for several years.

The cause might have been that I have been saving and storing my shallots from one year to the other. Perhaps one or two of them had a  bit of mould on them and I didn't notice. Or perhaps the onion sets (bought from a large garden centre) were contaminated. Do you think that could be what's caused it, whatever it is?


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