Green Magpie


Latest posts by Green Magpie

When should I see growth appearing on soft fruits & apple I planted as bare-root last autumn?

Posted: 19/04/2017 at 21:04

I put some new raspberry canes in last autumn (some summer, some autumn). Most of them have some signs of growth, some of which have only appeared in the last week or so. I have left all the canes at about 8 inches tall, and so I tried slicing through the dormant ones; in all cases I could see greenness around the edge, so I think they're all OK. 


In other words, it's a bit early to panic yet - I am in south Devon and the canes are in a sheltered, sunny spot.

Climbing French Beans .

Posted: 17/04/2017 at 12:10

My climbing French beans always do well, but this is in south Devon and the veg beds are in a sheltered, sunny spot.  Weather could be the key.

Climbing French Beans .

Posted: 16/04/2017 at 22:40

I grow climbing French beans up a pair of wigwams with a cane running horizontally across the top. They climb up without much encouragement, as soon as they touch the cane. I have settled for Cobra, which crops well, and I save the seed from year to year.


Looking at my notes from previous years, I would advise holding back and sowing them quite late. I start mine indoors,  in modules, but I'm not even going to start them until May, aiming to put them out towards the end of the month.

Seed to buy

Posted: 16/04/2017 at 22:33

I have used many of the above, but also Moreveg and Simply Seed, which are good online suppliers, very good value.  Moreveg is good for smaller quantities of seeds, while Simply Seed has a huge range of varieties.

Raised bed root crops

Posted: 02/04/2017 at 08:29

I am not very good at parsnips so I'm not best placed to advise you. I do know that they can be very slow to germinate, and that seed doesn't store well from one year to another. In my experience they are a bit of a lottery: sometimes you try to dig some up, and one will be the size of your little finger while the next one is as heavy as the roast chicken it's supposed to accompany. I find they are a lot more inclined to fork into little rootlets than carrots are, which makes them hard to clean and prepare.


Last year I had to dig up a whole row of about 10 to get a single helping, they were so tiny. I thought I wouldn't bother with them again, but I'm having one more go. This is their last chance.

Raised bed root crops

Posted: 01/04/2017 at 23:21

I rotate my crops each year, and all the beds get a topping of compost except the carrot bed. As it's been composted in previous years, I don't think. a year without compost harms the. soil. If you wanted to help them on you could sprinkle some Growmore or blood, fish and bone  on the bed, but I don't think carrots are hungry feeders, they'll be fine with no extras. It's worth spending a bit of time forking over the bed, making sure that the soil is smooth, loose and stone-free for a good depth.


I grow super carrots in the raised beds. Parsnips are trickier and last year's were a disaster, but my carrots always do well. 

Cucumber & pumpkin seed sowing

Posted: 27/03/2017 at 22:33

I agree, leave it a few weeks yet, otherwise they'll be ready to go outdoors before outdoors is ready for them.

Chitting potatoes

Posted: 27/03/2017 at 22:31

My Charlotte never seem to chit much, but I plant them anyway, and they grow. Mine have gone in the ground this week, but with fleece over them to keep them a little warmer. I will take off the fleece once they are through, unless late frosts are expected.

Tomato seeds and seedlings

Posted: 20/03/2017 at 11:05

Hmm, yes, I wonder whether putting the lid on is allowing some fungal infection to fester and attack them? I cover my seedlings until they germinate, but after that I leave the lid off, to allow the air to circulate.

Saving fruit plants on overgrown allotment

Posted: 20/03/2017 at 08:42

We moved into this house 12 years ago. In the garden were two gooseberry bushes and a rhubarb clump that had to be removed while raised beds were built. After some weeks of lying around in a corner, these were replaced in the new beds.


The bushes have given us masses of gooseberries and it's only in the last couple of years that one of them is dying off. I have taken a cutting which is now established, and I plan to replace the weak bush with this.


The rhubarb is a hero, a legend! No one I know grows rhubarb like this, it's huge. My friends come round to help themselves to it. Now and then a section of the crown looks rotten and I dig it out, but there's still plenty left.


So don't give up on the old plants, they may serve you well. Try them out for another season.  Currant bushes are easy to propagate from cuttings, so that's also an option if the old bushes are getting tired. I bought two blackcurrant bushes, and took cuttings to grow a third one. This turned out to be the biggest and strongest of the three.


I don't think mulch would kill the grass, you really need to do a bit of hand weeding around the bushes, but take case, as fruit bushes and canes often have roots close to the surface. Then a layer of compost would be good (not heaped around the stems,) and some potash-high fertiliser (e.g. tomato feed) as they start to grow, to encourage blossom and fruit; and rhubarb loves compost.

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