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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

is it safe to put seedlings into window boxes yet?

Posted: 20/04/2012 at 10:02

Things like marigolds, nasturtiums and sweet peas are quite tough and should be OK out of doors if they're hardened off over a few days. Other things like fuchsias are more tender. I think you could put quite a bit out in window boxes now - if you have plenty of seedlings, you can keep some spares indoors as a back-up. If there's a frost on the way, have some fleece or bubble wrap ready to throw over them at nights until this cold weather is over.


Posted: 20/04/2012 at 09:57

I'll tell you want not to do, at least with a shallow pot or trough. I once planted crocuses and something other bulbs in a trough, the base of which was lined with broken polystyrene instead of stones for drainage. When the pot flooded in heavy rain, the polystyrene floated to the top, and the bulbs were left swimming in a sort of compost-and-polystyrene soup. It was quite a job to sieve it and sort it all out, and some of the bulbs never recovered after re-planting.

How cold is too cold for seedlings?

Posted: 19/04/2012 at 17:41

Some seedlings are tougher than others. I've put my sweet peas out in the garden now and they've survived temperatures of close to zero, maybe even the odd ground frost. My petunias seem OK out of doors now too but the fuchsias don't seem to like the cold and I'm keeping them under cover - I lost some fuchsias to frost at about this time a couple of years ago. .And the New Guinea Busy Lizzies that I bought as plug plants are not happy at all  - well, to be brutally honest, most of them are dead, so I'm resigned to keeping the two survivors in the house for several weeks more.  I think thyme should be pretty tough, but cosmos and stocks might be a bit more delicate. There's still not much sign of guaranteed mild temperatures.

Border plant

Posted: 19/04/2012 at 12:31

You need to decide whether you want evergreens, or whether you don't mind it being a bit bare in winter. Beech is a bit of an exception because although they're deciduous when trees, beech hedges tend to keep their dead leaves on through the winter. Pittisporum is evergreen and looks quite attractive - I think the green types are faster growing than the coloured/variegated ones, but you could mix them for a good show. And yes, photinia Red Robin can look great, but they need a bit of attention and can be prone to fungus infections. Weigelas are pretty and undemanding, especially if you get some with variegated foliage, but they're bare in winter and don't get very tall (up to about person-height). Buddleias will grow up quickly but again, they're bare in winter and can do with cutting back. Or how about holllies? You could plant a selection including some with variegated leaves. Birds will love them, and they grow quite fast. We have one with berries on it at the moment - I can't decide whether they're early or late.

What can I use as green manure?

Posted: 19/04/2012 at 12:21

Doesn't landcress have long, fleshy tap roots? I think they might take a long time to rot down. Mine is going to seed now but I think it's bound for the compost heap.

Feathers in Compost?

Posted: 19/04/2012 at 12:18

'Course not, Sandra, no need to lug bottles. All you have to do is climb up on top of the heap and allow it to benefit from your nitrogenous waste. We'll all look the other way!

Rhubarb allowed to die down naturally

Posted: 17/04/2012 at 19:13

The leaves are fine to put in compost. They are poisonous to eat, but you're not going to eat your compost, and in any case the oxalic acid will be well diluted. I think if you put in a lot of leaves at once, they may inhibit the breaking down of the compost, but the amount most people would put in from a couple of crowns is not a problem.

Searching the site?

Posted: 17/04/2012 at 18:48

Well, I know they say there's no such thing as a silly question, but I seem to have managed to ask one! Somehow I missed that search box even though I thought I'd looked all around.

Thanks for the patient replies - at least this has demonstrated to me that this is a friendly and helpful place!

Searching the site?

Posted: 17/04/2012 at 17:05

Just joined this site, and very pleased to find it now that the BBC Garden Forum is facing imminent collapse.

One thing that would help users: is there any chance of a search facility being set up? It would be a great help to find if our questions have already been raised, rather than keep repeating the same questions and answers.

Sambuca Nigra

Posted: 17/04/2012 at 16:58

I have taken a couple of cutting from mine, which is the black-leaved variety. I think I did it last summer or autumn (I have a feeling it was demonstrated on GW on TV at the time). I think I just pulled off a small shoot and cut its top growth back to two main leaves, then put it at the edge of a pot of compost with some perlite added for drainage. Both cutting have rooted, although I nearly lost one because the pigeons pulled off the new growth. I have now put old hanging-basket frames over them both for protection.

Elder is very strong and persistent. You can cut it right back to near the ground and it will shoot back up again in the spring/summer. I don't know how you'd get rid of it, but I am told it is lucky to have elder in your garden.

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