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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Moths and lavender

Posted: 08/08/2014 at 12:14

Someone remarked in another post that it seems to be a bad year for moths of all sorts (well, a good year if you happen to be a moth). We have problems with lawn moths, tomato moths and leek moths, and possible plum moths too.

I was wondering ...I know that house moths (clothes moths) are deterred by the scent of lavender. Does anyone know whether lavender can be used to deter any garden moths? Companion planting won't work for vegetables that get rotated, but I recently cut back a couple of big lavender bushes and tried scattering some clippings around the tomatoes and the leeks.

Is this likely to help at all, do you think? And if anyone has any tips on dealing with lawn moths, I'd be very grateful!



Drama in the compost heap

Posted: 03/08/2014 at 22:51

Just something to share with you: we have a big compost heap, one section of which is maturing under a layer of old carpet. In warm weather we get slow worms basking under the carpet, and occasionally a grass snake. Then one day I saw a fat frog, about two inches long, sitting near the slow worms. The next time we looked, there was a small grass snake too, with the frog's head in its mouth! The frog was wriggling, and as we watched it gave a big kick and freed itself. We haven't seen either the frog or the snake since, but the slow worms are still there.

Do grass snakes eat slow worms, I wonder?

spuds just fall apart when boiled

Posted: 31/07/2014 at 22:35

Mine are Charlotte and can be inclined to fall apart. A great way to cook them is in foil parcels in the oven:

Put the washed potatoes (chop up larger ones) in a bowl with a little olive oil, salt, garlic and rosemary. Mix well, then wrap portions loosely in foil parcels. Bake for 45 mins to an hour in a fairly hot oven. This method keeps the skins intact and enhances the flavour of the potatoes.

Please help ID this flower...

Posted: 29/07/2014 at 14:07

Yes I agree. Definitely not speedwell, and almost certainly Linaria Purpurea (toadflax). As far as I know it's an annual that self-seeds.

garden help

Posted: 28/07/2014 at 19:02

In many areas there are established local schemes of this sort. Try googling "garden share" with some local place-names and you may well find what you want.

Best flavour cherry tomatoes ?

Posted: 28/07/2014 at 18:57

I think the very best flavour is usually to be found in the cordon varieties, e.g. Gardeners' s Delight and my favourite, Sungold. But the bush varieties are less trouble and often give a heavier crop, and they're still pretty good. I grow some of each - this year it's Sungold and Losetto.

When to lift and how to store garlic and shallots

Posted: 27/07/2014 at 16:58

If they have already dried off, you might as well lift and store them now. Last week's GW shows Monty lifting his shallots and garlic, if you can catch it on iPlayer.

Split tomato vine

Posted: 24/07/2014 at 16:33

You may find you can rig up some sort of splint to strengthen the joint. Tomato plants are quite resilient and can respond well to this sort of first aid. 


Picking tomatoes

Posted: 22/07/2014 at 18:35

Once it starts to colour up and go yellow or orange, you can pick it and ripen it indoors if you like, but if it's green, it will probably just stay green.

Friend or Foe

Posted: 22/07/2014 at 10:49

I think it may be Cyperus Alternifolius (umbrella plant). It has appeared in my garden too - just one clump at firtst, which I didn't knowingly introduce. But this year I've noticed it starting to spread, with seedlings appearing here and there. 

I rather like it - it looks impressive in flower arrangements or just by itself, a few stalks in a vase. But I think it has big ambitions and I intend to keep an eye on it.


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