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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

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 ...


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.


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.

Nerines - so looked forward and so disappointed....!

Posted: 30/09/2013 at 09:59

Yes, don't give up. I have some long-established nerines and the leaves all die back before there's any sign of flower buds. They may flower yet, and if not this year, then next, as they'll have been building up strength in the bulbs this year.

Runners on new strawberry plants

Posted: 29/09/2013 at 08:39

Many thanks, one and all. I will take out the runners immediately - well, as soon as the rain stops.

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