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Green Magpie


Latest posts by Green Magpie

Get Rid of your Lawns

Posted: 12/08/2012 at 17:41

I heard that interview (with Bunny Guiness arguing in favour of lawns) and thought that what Bob said made little sense. He alleged that lawns required a lot of maintenance and heavy machinery, which isn't always the case. He did say he wasn't advocating concrete, and then suggested that people might instead install a fruit cage, or a pond, or a shrub border. He didn't explain how you get maintenance-free ponds or fruit bushes, or how you even walk across the garden if it's packed with features like that. And isn't the point of a shrub border that it usually goes round the edge of ... a lawn? You can't pack your room wall-to-wall with furniture, or your garden fence-to-fence with busy features that you can't get past. Threre's got  to be some open ground, and grass is what will tend to grow there.

I don't think he's thought it through. He was either being provocative or lazy in his ideas.

No apples and few crab apples.... :(

Posted: 11/08/2012 at 09:49

I'm sure that's right. Some of our apples are cropping well but some are not. We have almost no pears, no quinces at all (despite copious blossom) and very few pears. At certain times this spring there were simply not enough insects flying to do the pollinating. Bees, for instance, won't fly when it's too cold, or wet or windy, which was the case for several weeks at a time. They are out and about now but it's too late for the tree fruits.

Invasive plants to avoid

Posted: 01/08/2012 at 15:12

Don't plant a Pernettya. Not if you don't want to find it straying around putting up prickly suckers all over your border or bed, regardless of anything else that may be growing there. Not if you don't want to spend ages trying to pull out bucketfuls of the pesky roots and suckers, and ferrying the whole lot to the Council tip.

And if you really, really do want some, come round to our place and I'll pull up a bit for you. We still have lots to spare!

And Vinca Major (periwinkle) is another thug to avoid.

tomatoes

Posted: 27/07/2012 at 18:37

Spraying against blight: you can use either Bordeaux Mixture (but not for much longer) or Dithane. BM clings to the leaves quite well even after rain. If you see the first signs of tomato blight, pick off the affected leaves and spray the rest - there's a good chance you'll slow down the blight enough to save your crop.

what base is best for a compost bin

Posted: 21/07/2012 at 13:22

I have a dalek-type bin set on gravel, and a big timber composter on bare ground. The dalek always has plenty of worms (as well as ants and woodlice) - I have no idea how they get there - while there are very few in the big composter. I did notice it was a a lot wormier in wet weather, so perhaps it's too dry there for them some of the time. Now and again I see mouse or rat-holes in the big heap, but they could get in from the top or the sides, I can't prevent it.

But they both produce good compost, and there doesn't seem to be a vermin problem.

Potato blight soil

Posted: 21/07/2012 at 12:56

Getting rid of the soil is a bit extreme. In most garden circumstances, the soil is part of the garden and is not normally removed. Sensible crop rotation should keep further crops from being infected by the soil.

But that is only if it's soil-borne in the first place. Blight spores are  normally brought in on the wind, in warm damp conditions. Even spore-free soil can't protect from that. The evidence on it remaining active in the soil seems a bit scant, and it's perfectly OK to use the soil for unrelated crops or for ornamental plants.

And for what it's worth, I accidentally planted tomatoes in a bed that had blighted potatoes in it last year. I have sprayed them twice with Bordeaux Mixture, and there's very little sign of blight yet despite the weather - less than in previous years when I was careful to rotate the crops. This year's potatoes, which are in blight-free soil, are a bit of a disaster, as they were very slow to grow, and the blight stopped them in their tracks before there were many potatoes.

Weekend weather.

Posted: 17/07/2012 at 12:12

Oh, I hope, hope, hope this is right!  We are looking after the grandkids for part of next week, and it would be just fantastic if we could go to the beach rather than seeking our wet-weather attractions (which will be crowded and expensive).

It's already quite dry and bright here and I am heading garden-wards shortly. There is so much to catch up on ...

 

Bye bye Clematis Cassis

Posted: 15/07/2012 at 19:04

I think it's less likely to affect tough types like Montana. I have a clematis Jackmanii that did this last year - it flowered in May and promptly died back. I cut it right down close to the ground, and new growth appeared quite soon. By September it was back up to the top of the fence and flowering again, so we got twice the flowering from it. This year it's been fine, flowering for the last month or more.

What's loving all this rain?

Posted: 14/07/2012 at 18:25

Our lavenders are looking great, and the climbing hydrangea looks the best it's ever done - it's growing in gravel against a wall, and we clearly haven't been watering it enough. We have several little conifers growing in planters, and they're putting on more new growth than usual (again, showing us they were thirsty). A huge viburnum has put on masses of new leaf. Buddleias look happy, and honeysuckle flowers are bursting out the top of a huge holly bush in a hedge.  Gooseberries amd raspberries are prolific. The lawn is green, if soggy. A couple of our apple trees are cropping well, while others are not. Nettles flourish everywhere, which must be good for some butterflies etc.

I will not list the miserable plants and failed crops that are not responding well to the rain, it's all too sad. But it's good to remind ourselves that some plants are having a great summer!

a very miserable lady.

Posted: 14/07/2012 at 18:16

I've had my wobbly moments in these last few weeks - I went to dig some potatoes the toher day nd was almost in tears when I found how few there were. The French beans and tomatoes and courgettes are not yet a disaster but are way behind. I've put in so much work and by April I was feeling really confident about the garden, it all looked so good. My husband keeps bees and will probably get no honey this year. Like so many others, we're very disappointed at what the weather has (or hasn't) done.

But: my raspberries, rhubarb and gooseberries are great, my mangetout have been good, and my broad beans not quite the total failure I expected when I saw the extent of the chocolate spot on them. The lavenders and climbing hydrangea look better than they ever have, and so does the lawn (at least until you walk on it).

I've never known a season like this, so hopefully it will be better again next year. We may still see some reasonable weather before the summer is out. Yesterday, when I'd cleared a space where some of my pathetic potatoes were, I was optimistic enough to put in a few more seeds ( dwarf French beans and wild rocket). Gardening is all aobut the long term, and I'm trying not to get too daunted at all the failures of the last couple of months.

One more reason to be cheerful - there's no hosepipe ban!

Discussions started by Green Magpie

Leaking squash, help!

Replies: 12    Views: 285
Last Post: 19/08/2014 at 08:57

Moths and lavender

Replies: 0    Views: 107
Last Post: 08/08/2014 at 12:14

Drama in the compost heap

Replies: 5    Views: 239
Last Post: 04/08/2014 at 21:18

Tomato thriving on neglect!

Replies: 5    Views: 301
Last Post: 20/06/2014 at 10:54

Secateurs open?

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Last Post: 06/05/2014 at 21:27

Lobelia for wedding at end of May

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Last Post: 04/06/2014 at 22:39

Flatworms?

Replies: 8    Views: 695
Last Post: 03/02/2014 at 07:50

Runners on new strawberry plants

Replies: 6    Views: 582
Last Post: 29/09/2013 at 08:39

Nettles for butterflies

 
Replies: 10    Views: 1423
Last Post: 22/07/2013 at 14:25

What not to grow

Replies: 25    Views: 1349
Last Post: 31/07/2014 at 18:08

Photinia Red Robin pruning?

Replies: 25    Views: 14731
Last Post: 06/06/2014 at 22:33

Searching the site?

Replies: 17    Views: 1880
Last Post: 04/02/2014 at 15:30
12 threads returned