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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

slug pellets

Posted: 15/06/2012 at 10:12

I'm pretty sure slugs and snails don't feel pain. They don't have a central nervous system, and I think probably all they experience is existing or not exisiting (if that). If I find live snails I stamp on them, which means it's all over in a spit second. Slugs I either drown in salt water or throw into the compost heap or the "brown bin", or take away from the garden altogether.

I do put pellets down near susceptible plants (especially this Spring, as all this dampness encourages them) but I also try to patrol the area and remove dead slugs and snails regularly, just in case a bird decided to eat them.

We do have plenty of "wild" areas in our garden where the birds will still find lots to eat, so I don't think I'm depriving them of a significant food source. There are very few hedgehogs in our area, but I think this has more to do with a heavy badger presence than with the use of slug pellets. That, however, is another issue...

slug pellets

Posted: 14/06/2012 at 17:33

To make sure snails don't return, 90 feet (say 30 metres) is a minimum. To be sure, it should be 100 metres (300 ft). I will paste in here the research that showed this, and if it prints as coded rubbish, just take my word for it:

<Now, Radio 4 is launching its search for the next BBC Amateur Scientist of the year.

Last year, 70-year-old gardener Ruth Brooks won the award for her research into the homing distance of garden snails.

She found that Helix aspersa, the common garden snail, can find its way home from up to 30m away. But for gardeners to be sure that their snails will not come back, they should be moved over 100m.>

First early potatos

Posted: 14/06/2012 at 17:26

Earlies won't store very well - they are small and lose moisture easliy, and they'll lose some of that lovely earthy freshness. Just use them as you need them - you don't even need to pull up a whole plant at once at first, you can just feel around in the soil and pick out a few potatoes, leaving the rest to grow on. If you're keen to clear the space, I suppose you could try storing some in a bucket of soil for while, but I've never tried this.

Photinia Red Robin pruning?

Posted: 14/06/2012 at 16:49

Thanks for that. Now all I need is for the rain to hold off long enough, and I'll be out there with the secateurs.

Photinia Red Robin pruning?

Posted: 14/06/2012 at 09:33

I have a well established Photinia Red Robin, which had lovely red shoots that are now maturing and turning green. I know that if I prune it back this will encourage new red shoots, but I can't remember when to do this. Is now a good time?


Posted: 14/06/2012 at 09:29

You're supposed to to the transplanting/dibber thing when the leeks are about as fat as a pencil. Mine are not that fat yet but I've transplanted some anyway, and I think they'll be fine. You make a good deep hole and drop the leek in, so that all the white and some of the green is in the hole. Then you water them in (or at the moment you just scamper indoors), and gradually the hole will fill up.

If yours are still very skinny, it might be worth thinning them out a bit if they're growing very close. You can use the thinnings like chives, or heel them in a corner somewhere and they may grow to a useful size. Then let the remaining leeks grow on a bit until they're big enough to transplant.

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.

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