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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

tomatoes-growbags or not growbags?

Posted: 20/05/2012 at 13:53

The tomatoes I mentioned that did so well were in a spot where they didn't get sun until the second half of the day. It was very sheltered, so perhaps warmth is as important as light.

tomatoes-growbags or not growbags?

Posted: 20/05/2012 at 12:31

Yes, I tried what David suggests, using two old flowerpots with the bases removed, and pushing them into holes in the growbag cut to the right size. This allowed the tomatoes to grow down through the pots into the growbag (it was a cheap £1 growbag so probably wouldn't have been enough on its own).I also cut a small hole in the middle of the bag and inserted an upside-down 2L pop bottle (with base removed) sticking up like a funnel. When I watered, I filled this up too as an extra reserve of water.

The plants - two bush tomatoes - did very well indeed, producing masses of fruits.

Talkback: Ground elder

Posted: 20/05/2012 at 12:22

Gillian, your sambucus query might get more response in a new thread, as ground elder is a very different beast and people just want to get rid of it.

But for what it's worth, once sambucus is established it's very tough. You can cut it right back in the spring and it will grown new shoots. As long as yours seems alive, I'm sure it will recover. Then next spring you could try taking out a third of the biggest stems, to encourage new growth.

Is Vermiculite dangerous

Posted: 20/05/2012 at 12:16

I think lots of dusty substances can be carcinogenic or toxic in some way if you breathe them in. I'm careful about not only perlite etc but also bone meal, Growmore, iron sulphate, and any other garden chemicals in powder form.  They may be perfectly safe to use on food crops but harmful if you inhale them directly into your lungs. Measures like handling them in the open air and staying upwind while you do so are common sense. And if I think I've breathed some in, I give my nose a good blow!

Lupins laid low with infestions

Posted: 16/05/2012 at 18:05

AAHRRGH! Sorry, I pasted that in from a Word document where I'd saved it. I think this is plain text but I'm not sure:

This is cheap to make up, safe and you can use it on a variety of insects like scale, aphids and smooth skinned caterpillars. It works well on citrus fruit, since it is so cheap spraying a small tree is no problem.

Here’s how it’s done:
1. In a blender, combine 2 cups of vegetable oil with ½ cup of dishwashing liquid. Blend it up until well mixed.
This is your concentrate and can be stored in a jar. Be sure to label it and include the dilution rate on the label.

2. To prepare the concentrate for use, dilute 1 tablespoon in a litre of water, mix it well and spray the pest as well as both sides of the foliage thoroughly.

3. Always follow this dilution rate, because you can burn the foliage if it’s too strong and there are a few other rules; don’t apply it in hot sunny weather and avoid using it on plants with hairy foliage as well as ferns as this can also cause leaf burn.

Lupins laid low with infestions

Posted: 16/05/2012 at 18:00

If the lupin aphids return (and they may well do so) you might like to try this spray. I got the "recipe" from another forum and have used it myself:

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Fruit & Veg Beginner

Posted: 15/05/2012 at 17:46

Excitable Boy has given you lots of useful info. Buying a few plants rather than growing everything from seed this year will get you off to a good start (our Sainsbury's has started doing some veg plants at £1, I think).You could buy courgettes, cues, strawberries, tomatoes, lettuces, brassicas. French beans germinate very quickly and there's still time to start them from seed. Carrots, beets, rocket salad, can still be sown now too. Many herbs will spread from a single plant so they don't need to be grown from seed, except annuals like basil and parsley. Beware of rosemary and sage, which eventually become straggly bushes taking up quite a bit of space.

Yes, plant across the bed, so you can reach to the middle of a row from either side of the bed without interfering with the rows on either side. As you don't need to walk between rows, the rows can be closer than on open ground in some instances, but peas and beans tend to get fungal diseases if they're crowded.

If you keep certain groups of plants in defined areas, this will help next year so that you can set up some sort of crop rotation - make a chart to remind yourself what grows where, as you won't remember next year!

You can plan it all out on paper as you know the dimensions of your beds. You won't be able to grow everything, so stick to crops you enjoy eating, or ones that are never cheap to buy. And of course some things ( like carrots) always taste better than anything in the shops.


Posted: 15/05/2012 at 16:47

I agree, there's no indication that supplies are limited or that anyone will be disappointed.

A garden isn't ever complete and static, it goes on evolving and developing. Plants die for all sorts of reasons, or simply don't thrive in the places where they find themselves, so there's a constant need for replacement.And sometimes there are plants that just have to be got rid of, like the enormous conifer we've just had removed, thus opening up a new area for further planting.

Like other gardeners, I try not to waste anything, and often give away spare plants to friends and family.Last year I ordered the free petunias, and gave half of them to  friends who produced such lovely pots with them, they put mine to shame.

It's not in any way similar to acquiring unnecessary quantities of clothes, books or other consumer goods, because Nature, with our help, is capable of producing an endless supply of plants to enhance our gardens and our lives, without any finite resources being used up. And most people on this forum, I'm sure, will cherish and care for their new baby plants, not throw them away.

Talkback: Stinging nettles

Posted: 15/05/2012 at 16:11

There is now a gel version of Roundup that you can use on individual plants. That would minimise the effect on the surrounding plants, and reduce the amount of stuff you use. I haven't tried it myself. Or apparently (again, not tried myself) you can mix some glyyphosate liquid with wallpaper paste and apply that as you would a gel.

Acer Palmatum - what size container

Posted: 14/05/2012 at 13:13

I do wonder whether I should re-pot them, perhaps into the larger outer pots, but it gets to a point when the pot is too heavy to move, and you have to buy some special trollies or castors or something if you want to move the tub. I've decided that maybe they're happy enough being pot-bound, and I'll going to leave them until they show signs of distress.Some plants don't seem to mind. and I don't want them to get any bigger, so if they stick at this size and stay healthy, that's fine by me.

We do have another acer of the same variety and age that's planted directly into the soil. Admittedly it's beside a lonicera hedge, and I rarely think to water it, but it's only grown at about half the rate of the potted ones.

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