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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

When do you buy your seeds?

Posted: 13/06/2012 at 17:08

I'll second the vote for premier seeds direct on eBay. I also buy online from Moreveg, who are good for small quantities of seeds, low prices, amd a great variety to choose from. And I keep an eye out for free seeds with magazines.

I keep my seeds in a plastic carton with card dividers to sort them into the month when they should be sown. Then when I've sown most of them, I sort them into "Sown/spare" and "Still is use". Then I can't remember whether I decided I was finished sowing parsely or not, so I have to look everywhere for it. Then I find the carrot seeds in the wrong place because I only have the inner packet and I couldn't read what it said on it. Then I find the parsely seeds I thought I'd lost, lurking in the pocket of my gardening jacket. And what are the cornflower seeds doing in with the vegetables? And why did I ever imagine I would grow asters from seed? Have I really had them since 2003, the date on the packet?

As you can see, my system is not yet perfect. I really must go and sort out the seeds once more ...

Just don't put any seeds in the tool-caddy you use around the garden and then leave the whole lot out in the rain, OK?

Possible to sow more peas and beans

Posted: 10/06/2012 at 19:16

With peas, I think when you try opening a pod straight from the plant, you'll know they're ready when they're good and sweet. If you leave them until the pods bulge, they get a bit tough and starchy.

There's still time to sow some more peas (not so sure about broad beans), although best not to do it on the same site.

Talkback: Top 10 plants for containers

Posted: 10/06/2012 at 14:29

If you don't have old hankies to hand, a J-cloth or similar lining the lower section and base of the pot will help to keep out beasties such as vine weevils and woodlice. Or (possibly, but not tried), any odd scraps of horticultural fleece would do the job,

Potatoes (again-sorry!)

Posted: 10/06/2012 at 09:15

Extra water?!! If your weather is anything like ours, that won't be a problem!

On GW last Friday. Monty said there wasn't much need for water until the plants are in flower. I grow Charlotte (second earlies) which are usually just about ready by now, but they're very slow this year. Their flowers often fall off soon after aqppearing, but by then the potatoes are well formed. This year there are only a couple with flowers on so far. I'm hoping that the last week of rain will be plumping them up now.

Wind damage to your plants..

Posted: 09/06/2012 at 20:33

I was out at 9.30 pm pm Thursday shoving extra stakes in around my broad beans, I could hardly sleep for worrying about them, but they seem to have survived OK. A few foxgloves and lupins have collapsed, and some asparagus, and the poppies are all smashed up, By this evening (Sat) the wind has dropped and the garden seems to be quietly recovering from the shock.

I did find some discoloured leaves on my outdoor tomatoes - could this be the cold winds? or could it be the beginnings of blight? I'd have thought it was too cold for blight yet.

And yes, I wondered what planet Monty was on last night. He referred back to the Jubilee pageant as if it had already taken place, but it has hardly stopped raining and blowing since then and he didn't seem to have noticed this.

Border at school

Posted: 09/06/2012 at 20:22

The plants you mention are mainly shrubs rather than herbaceous plants (which die back in winter and regrow in spring/summer). There's a lot to be said for a shrubby border, as it can give year-round interest and colour and needn't take much maintenance. I like the ones you've mentioned already (although I have misgivings about roses, which can be a nuisance to look after). You might consider adding Cistus, Euoynmus, Berberis, Pyracanthus, Fatsia, and Hydrangeas. A black-leaved Elder could look good, and there's always good old flowering currant and Buddleia if you want some to grow fast.

I would avoid (if it wasn't already too late in the case of our garden) the more rampant cotoneasters and also Pernettya, which straggles around and puts out messy runners all over the place.

Talkback: Native versus non-native plants

Posted: 08/06/2012 at 10:08

Sometime the plants you don't think of as flowers are very valuable to bees. Ivy is particularly important for honey bees, as it flowers in the late autumn when there are few others sources of nectar for them to build up stores for the winter. So if you have any wild corner where you can let ivy romp away, that will help the bees.

Honey bees are also fond of some of the small-leaved evergreens such as cotoneaster and lonicera hedges, where the flowers are almost invisibly small to our eyes. I'm not sure if these are native, but they are good for bees.

Oh, and they simply love oil-seed rape, and get masses of nectar from it. Is there a competition for the least popular wildlife-friendly plant?


Sizzling Summer Plant Deal

Posted: 07/06/2012 at 18:04

Just think, pash2, if you'd spent that £15 on a big bouquet for your wife, she'd probably still have left you and the flowers would have been dead in a week!  You're going to get a whole summer of plants for your money, and probably some that will appear again next year. If only half of them do well, you'll still have got your money's worth.

For the longer term, you want to look out for herbaceous perennials that will come up every year - things like lupins, chrysanthemums, peonies, delphiniums, spreading geraniums (not the red type) etc. One place to look is if you see any plants sales, summer fairs, etc, in your area, as people often split and sell spare clumps of these plants.

The free tomato seeds on the mag cover

Posted: 07/06/2012 at 12:58

I grew Maskotka last year, outdoors,  and they were very good. They are a bush, trailing type, producing cherry-type tomatoes with a good flavour.


Posted: 04/06/2012 at 10:18

I have some coriander plants that appeared as seedlings from last year's compost heap. I left them in place where possible, and now, like you, I have big tall plants with feathery leavesand flower-heads appearing. The leaves are stilll fine to use, but the tallest of the plants has just fallen over in the wind and the stem is partly snapped, so it will be returning to the compost heap soon. I suppose I should have dead-headed them. But thanks for the tip about freezing, Italophile, it's worth a try.

I am hoping that a couple of the plants will go to seed, because you can dry the seed and use it as a spice, like the seeds you buy, and also in the hope of sowing some of the seed for next year. I may even get some to germinate later in the summer, when I think they're less likely to bolt.

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