Green Magpie


Latest posts by Green Magpie

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.

Tomatoes - time to sow!

Posted: 16/03/2017 at 17:36

I am once again growing Losetto, which are blight-resistant, and Sungold, which also seem to resist blight for most of the season. I had a huge crop from Losetto last year and a decent amount from Sungold. The blight didn't strike until very late in the season, by which time I was past caring and almost glad to see the end of the harvest. I still have some tomato sauce, passata, and oven-dried tomatoes in the freezer.


I sowed mine this week, and they're on the kitchen window sill. Once established, they will go in an unheated mini-greenhouse, as long as there are no frosts. I have always sown them around this time.  Some years the plants get too big before the weather warms up at night; other years they are only just big enough to go out by late May or early June.  It just depends on what sort of Spring we have (I'm in Devon). 

What fertiliser should I add to my veg patch now?

Posted: 16/03/2017 at 17:23

It depends partly on which crops you're growing. I wouldn't use any one product for everything. All my beds except the one where carrots are to go get a layer of compost in the late autumn. Then when I sow the seeds,  I sprinkle a bit of lime where the beans and peas are to go, potash or tomato feed on the strawberries  and around the fruit canes, and  perhaps some BFB or Growmore on onions and carrots. Once the salad crops get going I may give them a nitrogen feed.  Later on I will put tomato feed on the tomatoes as well as the courgettes and cues. Then later still,  I will wonder why I ever gave the courgettes any encouragement....


Thanks for the seaweed/beetroot idea, Verdun, I would never have thought of that. Will try.

Are we nearly there yet!

Posted: 16/03/2017 at 17:09

I've put my first two rows of carrot seeds in.  I think I will get some fleece over them now for warmth, although they soon need it anyway, to keep out the carrot fly. It's best to put carrots straight into the beds and not try to move them.


Rocket might be OK now, and lettuce. You could always try a few, as successional sowings are best, and there always seem to be hundreds of seeds in the packets, so there's no harm in risking some now.

Tomato seeds and seedlings

Posted: 16/03/2017 at 17:00

Last year, the Which? reports said that Verve multipurpose compost (B&Q own make) was just as good for seeds as the special seed composts. I used it for everything (seeds, potting on) and was pleased with the results. The tomato  seedlings  didn't show signs of magnesium deficiency, as they have done some years. This year Verve wasn't quite the best in their tests, but did pretty well all round, and it's much cheaper than some of the special mixes by the big brands, so I'm using it again. This year's batch (well, the stuff I bought) was nice and dry - so not too heavy! - and seems quite fine-textured. 

Last edited: 16 March 2017 17:01:22

Aldi Raspberry canes

Posted: 28/02/2017 at 18:02

Autumn Bliss are a well established autumn fruiting variety. Get them in the ground now, with some compost and perhaps a bit of feed such as blood, fish and bone. The will need to be well watered in, but nature will probably arrange that! They shouldn't need much in the way of support, and I haven't found that the birds bother with them much.


You may get a bit of fruit off them later this year, but next year should be better. Typically, they start to produce small amounts of fruit in about August and carry on fruiting well into October. Rather than giving a glut like the summer varieties, they tend to give a small but steady supply for many weeks.


Then you leave the canes in place until early next spring, when you cut them all down and new ones should grow.


I have no idea how healthy and strong Aldi's plants will be, but you might as well give them a go!

Charlotte Potatoes

Posted: 01/02/2017 at 22:38

I have mine set out now, but find that in practice they don't chit much. They just sit there for a couple of months, and I will plant them (without waiting for chits)  in late March as long as the frosts seem to be over. 


Funny, isn't it, my supermarket potatoes in the kitchen have only been there about a week and are sprouting already, but my Charlotte seed potatoes will mostly still be as smooth as eggs in a couple of months!

Carrot Issues

Posted: 04/09/2016 at 13:08

They do indeed, and I bet they taste great too.

Tomato blight

Posted: 18/08/2016 at 20:34

Thanks for the recommendation. I have had no blight so far on my Sungold, which just don't seem to get much blight, and Losetto, which are bligh resistant. I am bringing in pounds a day now, and every meal has to include tomatoes. I may add Crimson Crush to my next year's plan.

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