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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

Looking ahead to next year and getting organized

Posted: 01/11/2014 at 08:13

I wouldn't waste broad beans by growing them for green manure. By the spring they will only be a few inches tall, and would make an insignificant contribution - and once they're any bigger, they'll have quite chunky stems that won't break down quickly. 

Beware of using a tiller if you have much couch grass (the stringy grass-weed with the trailing white roots) or bindweed.  Every broken piece is capable of re-growing and multiplying your problems.

Climbing beans (French or runners) could go against the fence if you give them some extra support to climb on. Parsnips, like carrots, need smooth, loose soil free from big stones or recent compost. Onions or shallot from sets are easy, almost foolproof, and need little attention. 

I don't know why you had a problem with your courgettes, most people found them unstoppable this summer. F1 plants should be just as vigorous as any other. Maybe they were short of water, or sun? They like rich soil, space and warmth.

Potatoes are easy but do take up space. Charlotte (second earlies) are a great variety.

Good luck!

Nerine sarniensis

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 21:52

We have a row of the ordinary  pink Nerines and have left them undisturbed since we moved to this house ten years ago. The leaves appear and die back, and then in September the flowers appear and give a lovely display for weeks. We don't move them or feed them, we just let them do their stuff. They are in a sheltered, sunny place which seems to suit them. I have just cut my flower stems down today, after  several weeks of flowering.

Purple Carrots

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 21:45

Moreveg (cheap and reliable, but small quantities) sell two purple varieties, Cosmic Purple and Purple Haze. But I agree with the others that almost any home-grown carrot will taste better than supermarket carrots.

I have tried their rainbow mixed carrots and not been impressed with the yellow or white ones, which seem to remain skinny and stringy. 






Posted: 19/10/2014 at 22:33

I'm not sure about putting compost worms into the borders, I think they're a different variety (tiger worms?). They are smaller and redder than most garden earthworms. But even if they end up providing a meal for a robin, they won't go to waste!

pulled my first parsnip yesterday.

Posted: 18/10/2014 at 21:14

It's quite something, isn't it, when you pull a parsnip to go with a roast dinner and find the parsnip weighs more than the joint! Always an exciting moment when you dig one uo, not knowing whether it will be a runt or a brute. And of course if you decide to dig up "just one more", you can guarantee it will be a monster!

I try to leave mine until Christmas, or the first frosts, as they are sweeter later on. Same applies to bought parsnips. Once I bought some from Spain, which looked good but tasted awful - they need a bit of cold.

How old is your houseplant?

Posted: 15/10/2014 at 22:15

I have a kangaroo vine that I've had since the mid 70s. It's a bit big and straggly and I wouldn't mind if it died, but I think it will outlive me.

Perhaps more interestingly,  in 1967 my then boyfriend (now husband) bought me a rubber plant. It became a member of our household and moved around to various parts of the country with us. By the 1980s it reached the ceiling so I chopped it back a bit and it branched. In the 1990s I lopped it again and grew a new plant from the offcut.  Our daughter adopted this one and took it to her home. The parent plant was now so unwieldy that we got rid of it,  but Son of Rubberplant flourished. Then about three years ago, our daughter presented us with Grandson of Rubberplant, which she had grown from a top shoot, just as we had done to produce its parent. It's now about three feet tall and heading for the ceiling....


Posted: 04/10/2014 at 15:26

I have two climbing hydrangeas - petiolaris and seemanii. Does anyone know whether they should be dead-headed now?

Autumn raspberries - will they need staking?

Posted: 04/10/2014 at 13:46

You can cut them back any time after they're finished cropping. Most books say to do it in the winter, but I like to do it before they weather gets too bad.  You can also leave some of the canes uncut, and they'll give you some summer fruit next year, spreading the crop over a longer period.

Tomato Blight

Posted: 04/10/2014 at 13:43

There's a clue in the name - Money Maker. They're probably going to give a good yield in terms of weight (and thus money) but many other varieties will have better flavour. By this time of year, though, many varieties will have been lacking sun and may not be as sweet as those that cropped earlier. Try Sungold for sweetness and aromatic tomato flavour.

Tomato Blight

Posted: 02/10/2014 at 22:47

I have no idea why they would taste salty or seem seedy, it's not normal for home grown toms. What variety are they?

This year I grew a cherry-type bush tomato called Losetto which is blight-resistant and has been very successful. I also grew Sungold, a cordon variety that doesn't seem to get much blight either.  They had very little sign of blight until a week or two ago, when the crop was coming to an end anyway. They're both F1 varieties so the seeds are expensive but I'll grow them again, rather than lose so many to blight as I have in previous years.

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