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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

raspberries and rhubarb

Posted: 09/11/2012 at 16:07

When we moved into this house we had one rhubarb and two gooseberry plants that had to be dug up in the autumn while the garden was re-shaped. All the plants were shoved into corners and left alone for some weeks, and eventually replanted in the new raised beds. They've all flourished wonderfully and cropped really well ever since.

We were perhaps lucky that it was a mild winter - heavy frosts might have damamged the roots or made replanting difficult. But if you move them now before the soil gets too cold (avoid frosty weather) it's a good time to move dormant plants. I should think the same applies to raspberries, as this is when rasps are sold for planting out.

Helleborus niger in family garden- too dangerous?

Posted: 13/10/2012 at 13:27

I've never worried about poisonous plants when the grandkids come to stay, but I have said to them never to put anything in their mouths unless I've told them it's OK, as some plants could make them sick. I think in most cases that's what would happen, rather than the child just dropping dead. They seem fine about this, but I let them eat raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes straight from the plants, which is fun for them. The age at which they just just put everything in their mouths (from crawling stage up to about 18 months or two years) is not an age when you'd leave them unsupervised to crawl around your flower beds, and by the time they are old enough to run off behind your back, they're also old enough to follow simple rules.

The one plant I would be wary of is yew, which is not commonly found in gardens. The berries look really pretty and appealing but the seeds inside them are very poisonous. My nephew had to be admitted to hospital after eating some in a park, and at one stage they were not sure they would be able to save him. He did make a complete recovery.



Talkback: How to store, freeze and dry your harvests

Posted: 12/10/2012 at 17:36

No, don't blanch soft fruit, it's perfectly OK frozen as it comes. I have some shallow plastic boxes ( from takeaway meals, I think) and find they are perfect for raspberries and blackberries. Blackcurrants and gooseberries and chopped rhubarb I just bung in a freezer bag - I don't find they clump or stick together much.

Otherwise you can cook them (e.g. gooseberries, apples, rhubarb) and thaw when you want to use them in puddings or as fruit purees.

Potting on Perenials plug plants

Posted: 12/10/2012 at 17:31

I had those tiny plugs from T&M (lavender, geum, penstemon, delphinium, digitalis, echinacea) and decided to let them take their chance in the garden. They've been out for a month or so now (two months forthe digitalis as they grew so fast) and look quite happy. I don't know whether they will survive the winter, but I'm sure some will. I will try to remember to report back here in the Spring.

Sloe Berry

Posted: 08/10/2012 at 13:41

Yes, I agree it would be a bit of a waste of space on an allotment, as it can become a straggly, messy bush. And I've noticed that there always seems to be a lot more blackthorn blossom than eventual sloe fruits, suggesting that many of the bushes don't get as far as bearing fruit some years.

Some allotment sites don't permit the planting of trees, presumably because they might cast shade on other plots, and possibly create problems with root disturbance to paths, beds, etc.

If you do manage to take a successful cutting, perhaps there's an area of hedge on the edge of the allotment site where you could plant it?

Ruuner Bean roots- a problem?

Posted: 08/10/2012 at 13:32

A bit of compost won't do any harm, as it refreshes the soil and improves its texture, helping it to retain water (that's a bit of a joke after this summer, isn't it!). The nitrogen from the beans will be good for the brassicas but they do need other nutrients as well.

Chilli plants - keep or chuck and start again next year?

Posted: 08/10/2012 at 09:44

I grew two of my chili plants in a big pot, and have now brought this into the kitchen. The rest of the plants are still in the soil and I'll pick the chilis soon and freeeze them. The pot in the kitchen looks quite attractive, as all the chilis are now orange. I'm hoping they'll turn red but I don't know if they will. Now that I have removed a snail that was chomping some of the chilis (they can't be very hot, can they?), I think the plant should be happy here for some weeks or months.

Did you know that chilis have a hot end and a cool end? The tip is not nearly as hot as the stem end. So when you try a chili, perhaps by tentatively nibbling the tip, you may be quite misled about the heat it contains.

moving blackcurrant bush

Posted: 14/09/2012 at 08:52

I had a decent crop of blackcurrants but fewer than last year. Loads of rasps and gooseberries (this is in Devon where we get more rain and less heat than further east), but no quinces and very few crab apples or figs.

moving blackcurrant bush

Posted: 12/09/2012 at 08:29

Actually, no one has questioned why you want to improve the bed in the first place. Is the blackcurrant doing well? Because if it is, there's probably no need to "improve" its immediate surroundings, and if it's not, it might be as well to replace it anyway, as it may be the bush rather than the soil that's failing.

If the bush is in good heart, you could still improve other parts of the bed in the way you suggest, and just give the blackcurrant a good mulch of compost instead of the green manure.

moving blackcurrant bush

Posted: 11/09/2012 at 16:26

Or you could take cuttings and  then try moving the bush - then if it dies, at least you'll have the cuttings to replace it.

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