Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Simplify Gardening - Close to perfect tools?

Posted: 19/01/2016 at 18:27

You could start by looking at some of the innovations of recent years;  some are useful, others not. It seems to me that the successful ones are those designed to help in ways that would not have been necessary in bygone days. This could be:

- aids for old and infirm gardeners, or for the disabled (kneeling pads, stools)

-child sized tools for kids to use

- things to do with pots and planters, whic are used much more these days. (e.g. wheels/castors to move heavy ones around).

- devices to help cultivate plants that are not native and need special measures (cloches, fleece).

- gadgets to feed birds and keep other creatues off the food..

-cat repellent devices

and so on. I know these already exist but tbey might point you in a useful direction.

Then you could  look at some of the daft things you see in catalogues, like spiked over-shoes so you can stomp around aerating your lawn; or whole ranges of tools made in pink, so that women can use them (yuk! - and I speak as a woman),  and ponder on their daftness.

The only thing can think of that I lack at the moment is a gadget for turning the compost on the heap. An old fork or rake will do it, but maybe you can come up with a better idea?

My favourite gadget of all time is the wheelbarrow, but someone has already invented that. 

Hope this helps you develop some ideas.




Soft fruit suggestions please

Posted: 16/01/2016 at 21:37

Blackcurrants get my vote. You can  make jam or cordial, or use them fresh or frozen, cooked or raw, in all sorts of puddings. They mix well with apples in a crumble, or with other soft fruits in a summer pudding. A handful of raw berries gives a nice tang in a fruit salad or trifle. And they're good for you!

Carrots - what's the secret?!

Posted: 14/01/2016 at 21:17

I do well with carrots, even in the local show.  I grow them in raised beds, so the soil remains loose and pretty well stone-free.

I rarely water them or feed them.  I thin them out as needed, and use good quality fleece to keep out the carrot fly. Any variety always tastes good compared to supermarket carrots. The ordinary Nantes ones, or Chantenay, are fine. Autumn King don't taste very good until later in the season, when carrot fly are more likely to have found them. Long thin varieties such as Tendersweet can be very difficult to harvest, so I prefer a stumpier variety.

Monty's Hedging

Posted: 17/10/2015 at 22:00

They did have an Allotment Challenge or something, but that seemed a bit artificial, starting out with a clean plot (which never happens). And the idea of a competitive alloment show is quite alien to most allotment sites, where people are normally very cooperative and supportive.

Monty's Hedging

Posted: 17/10/2015 at 17:34

Too formal for me as well. It just didn't sit well in its country setting, and I simply don't like all those stiff, trimmed, artificial-looking trees. I simply wouldnt want to spend time in a garden like that. Even the veg beds had silly little hedges that must make it difficult to tend the plants. Not for me!

Monty's Hedging

Posted: 17/10/2015 at 15:09

I'm very fond of Monty and love seeing him in his garden, but I don't follow his advice without question. I couldn't believe he had actually bought plants of ivy and vinca major for ground cover - doesn't he have plenty of stuff like this elsewhere? And as for providing cover for "small mammals", the vinca and ivy in out garden, when allowed to run wild, would provide safe cover for a pack of wolves!

But I like the way Monty admits to his mistakes and failures, and doesn't get disheartened when things go wrong.

Torbay parks

Posted: 15/10/2015 at 17:52

I live in that area, and yes, there are wonderful displays of Verbena Bonariensis on roundabouts in Totnes and Paignton. The Totnes one is underplanted with soft grasses and those blue thistles (can't remember the name) and they look fabulous.

Do we have a bird expert on the forum?

Posted: 11/10/2015 at 11:58

It's that time of year, isn't it? We saw several skeins (I have learnt a new word today!) flying over the river Dart the other day, all honking loudly.

If you have ever been on a busy road in India, everyone sounds their horns all the time - it's not seen as aggressive, it's regarded as helpful to other drivers. As most people  drive with open windows, the hooting helps them to locate other vehicles with their ears as well as their eyes. I think geese in flight are doing the same thing, to help them stay in formation and know where the other members of the group are.

Tomato blight

Posted: 08/10/2015 at 22:15

I grew Losetto (bush, cherry-type) which are supposed to be blight resistant. I had a great crop, with little or no blight until well into September.

Sungold Tomatoes

Posted: 06/10/2015 at 19:53

Our Sungold, grown outdoors, have been super, although quite late. I find that with this variety, freshness is key: eat them straight from the plant and they have a wonderful, aromatic, tomoatoey flavour, but a couple of days after picking, they're just a very pleasant, sweet tomato. As soon as they are ripe, I have a daily treat of a tomato or two straight from the vine - yum!

Just been on holiday for 2 weeks and all my tomatoes, which were almost over when we left, are blackened and blighty ooking. I actually bought some at Aldi today,  for the first time in many weeks.

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