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Green Magpie


Latest posts by Green Magpie

Compost Bins & Lovely Rats

Posted: 29/10/2013 at 18:56

We had to call in the Rat Man from the council this year. He said rats will eat anything, even each other, so there's not much you can do to deter them. I could see they'd been having a go at a banana skin, for one thing - you'd need to exclude all food and vegetable waste, not just cooked stuff. I mean, they're not going to sit there saying, "Ugh, raw carrot, I can't eat that!"

We agreed to let him put in poison, which did the trick.

Today we unpacked to compost heap and to our relief there were no dead rats or bones or any sign of them.

Preserving, What do you do or planning to do.

Posted: 29/10/2013 at 18:51

Yum. this is making me hungry.

One thing I did last year and was glad I did - I prepared a bag of mixed vegetables, all chopped ready for soups (I make a lot of soups). I used carrots, leeks, beans, peas, and courgette (they don't help much but you have to use them somehow!) and then I could make a soup at short notice without hunting around for vegetables. So I've done it again.

I've also oven-dried sliced tomatoes (with a little olive oil, bay and salt) and frozen them in cartons.

Raised Veg beds design & construction

Posted: 28/10/2013 at 12:06

My beds are about a foot deep and that seems plenty. They're on a soil base. The optimum width is from about 1.2 to 1.5 metres - anything wider and you won't be able to reach across to tend them.

Brassicas are the one thing I have trouble with, as the soil is too loose (that and the endless pests that brassicas are prey to). Eyerything else does well - carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, courgettes, peas, beans, salads, fruit canes, asparagus ...

Figs

Posted: 28/10/2013 at 12:01

Once the leaves have fallen, it's best to pick off the remaining figs and compost them - I don't think they're good for anything else. Leave any smaller than your thumbnail and get rid of the rest.

Quince Tree

Posted: 24/10/2013 at 10:08

Yes, ours is Vranja. I think if you wanted to grow one in a pot you'd need a more compact variety, as Vranja is quite vigorous.

Quince Tree

Posted: 21/10/2013 at 12:01

We are in Devon and our quince tree is doing very well. But they do get quite big, with long, spreading branches, and it might be a bit much for an allotment after a few years. We love it as a garden tree, as it's one of the first to come into leaf and the last to lose its foliage, as well as having pretty blossom and, in a good year, quinces. Ours just grows in the lawn in a reasonably sunny spot, with no special care.They don't even need regular pruning.

If you know anyone who has a quince tree, ask them how their crop is and they'll probably give you some - it's been a very good year for quinces here (unlike last year, when there were none!).

compost heap

Posted: 21/10/2013 at 11:56

I do wonder whether having 5 or 6 bins wil mean that you don't have sufficent volume in each one to keep the temperature up. Th heat builds up best in a big heap - if it's too shallow it won't get wam and rot down properly.

Stil, try it and see how you go. We started with a big compost heap of slatted wood, in two sections. Although we had loads of stuff in it the first year (shreddings from tree felling and massive garden clearing etc), after that the second section of the heap got a bit flat. So we divided the bin into four sections instead of two, using two for leaves and two for other compost. In late autumn (any day now) we put a bit of old carpet over this year's heap, to leave it for a year. We then unpack and distribute last year's heap, and use this bin to start over again. If the leaves need longer we just leave them for another season.

Ours gets plenty of sun, but the compost itself should generate the heat it needs. Using a dark coloured covering or lid should help. You'll know when it's ready, as it will look like compost, with few identifiable items in it. Mine always has some sticks and woody lumps that I have to remove as I go along (plus the occasional fork or a potato peeler!), but it's great stuff, and the leaf mould is superb if you leave it long enough.

No dig gardening

Posted: 21/10/2013 at 11:42

I have raised veg beds and I've never dug them in 9 years. I occasionally use a hoe, but more often a hand-fork just to turn over the surface and keep weeds down. Any day now we will unpack the compost heap and spread it around on the beds. In the spring I'll fork it in a bit more, ready for sowing and planting new crops.

I have no problem at all with carrots and parsnips as the soil is always loose and not compacted. Next year's carrot section has already been identified and this is the one place I won't put fresh compost this autumn.

I will/I won't grow that again

Posted: 16/10/2013 at 18:21

Great thread, I've noted down a few suggestions.

For me, the best crops/varieties were:

Tomatoes (outdoor): Sungold, especially eaten straight from the plant. Totally yum. For what it's worth, it was Gardener's Delight that split in my garden, while Sungold didn't. Also had a good crop of little cherry tomatoes from Losetto (bush variety, blight resistant).

Cobra climbing French beans, always good although not so vigorous this year (should have watered them more, I think). Seed is saved for next year.

Charlotte potatoes, very reliable and the tubers don't get affected by blight even if the tops rot away.

Courgettes: Spineless Beauty were scarily prolific. Four plants grew a humungous crop. Next year I'll try two of those and maybe two yellow ones.

What would I not grow again? Celtuce. Chicory. Salsify. Butternut squash - not really worth the space and effort for what was (for me) a tiny crop. And probaby not brassicas, although I get tempted and keep thinking this time they'll be OK. This year I tried kale, thinking it would be relatively free from caterpillars etc. I was wrong.

Clematis

Posted: 06/10/2013 at 16:23

Clematis can surprise you. I'd cut it back to ground level and watch what happens in the Spring - it may re-grow.

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