Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Making own softsoap

Posted: 16/07/2015 at 23:04

Well, my broad beans were left for a week while I was on holiday, and now the newest row is ruined by blackfly. Some of the plants are totally black and the tiny pods all shrivelled. I did see one solitary ladybird, but it obviously hasn't made much impact.

So I have resorted to a soap-and-oil spray to try to save the remaining plants.  I did remove the ladybird and put it elsewhere,  but just waiting for its friends and relations to turn up and help was clearly not going to work. Sometimes nature has no particular inclination o do the things we want, and the blackfly were definitely on the winning side until now.

Potatoes that turn to mush when cooked

Posted: 13/07/2015 at 21:06

Here's a great way of cooking small potatoes: wash them and chop any large ones in half. Put them in a bowl with some olive oil, salt and herbs (e.g. mint, parsley, chives)and stir well to coat. Divide the potatoes into single portions, on sheets of foil, and wrap each parcel loosely. Bake in a hottish oven for about 40 minutes. The potatoes stay in shape, full of flavour,  and should just be beginning to brown where they touch the foil.  Ideal if you are already using the oven for something like a casserole.

Last few mystery plants in my garden - Help please...

Posted: 29/06/2015 at 11:17

I agree, privet has not got a lot of charm and is the first I'd get rid of.

Hazel has a useful characteristic: for centuries it has been "coppiced" to create hedges and provide sticks. If you cut it right back, it will grow back with a number of new, thinner stems. It is also used in traditional hedge-laying because of this. Yours may already have had this done before, judging from the photo. Whether you want it to carry on as a shrubby, hedgy sort of plant is up to you and may depend on the space available. You may get nuts from it in the autumn (but squirrels may get there first) and in the spring it has catkins.

Accidental application of Pathclear to runner bean plants

Posted: 25/06/2015 at 21:07

I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn that weedkiller had been used close to where crops on sale had been grown - it could be quite common and we wouldn't know.I've seen field margins of crop fields that appeared to have been treated with herbicide.

feeding tomatoes

Posted: 25/06/2015 at 20:01

We are told that the time to start feeding is when the first tomatoes set - when the first trusses have tiny fruits visible. Mine are almost there now, with the odd mini-fruit appearing, and I intend to feed them next week.

Accidental application of Pathclear to runner bean plants

Posted: 25/06/2015 at 19:15

I honestly think that if the plants are not affected enough to prevent cropping, it's very unlikely that there would be any harm in consuming them. Things that kill plants aren't necessarily harmful to humans, and things that fail to kill plants are not going to be present in the crop at any significant level anyway, let alone do any harm to anyone who eats the crop.

Fungicides for fruit and veg

Posted: 25/06/2015 at 18:57

Diluted milk is also supposed to help combat fungal infections. Can't remember the proportions but it can probably be googled for. As with bicarb, it's probably not legal but is unlikely to harm you. I've never tried it.

The other solution is simply to cut back all the affected growth and let the plant regrow. This can work for rust on chives, and white moulds on leafy crops like chard and some ornamentals.

Accidental application of Pathclear to runner bean plants

Posted: 25/06/2015 at 14:33

I would think nearby crops would be safe to eat. If the crops have survived, they can't have taken up much of the chemicals. 

tomatoes is this normal?

Posted: 25/06/2015 at 14:30

It's funny how the best thing seems to be to avoid watering the leaves, while nature has arranged things otherwise and insists on watering from above!

Fungicides for fruit and veg

Posted: 25/06/2015 at 14:27

Vitax Organic 2 in 1 spray is still around, and claims to help prevent or slow down fungal attacks (nothing cures them!).  It also limits damage from aphids etc.

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