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Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie


Posted: 16/06/2012 at 15:46

Grannyjanny, that's exactly when I ordered mine, and my e-mail also said they'd start processing the order immediately. Maybe they meant that's when they'd plant the seeds to grow into our plants?

feeding wild birds

Posted: 16/06/2012 at 13:19

The niger seed from our feeder makes an awful mess, as a lot of it ends up on the ground. I have seen niger seed feeders on sale that have a tray attached underneath.  But as you say, what would happen in the rain? Anything with drainage holes would also allow the tiny seeds to spill through, or block the holes, and if it had no holes, when the tray filled up with rain it would just slop over on to the ground.

no plums

Posted: 16/06/2012 at 12:13

We bought a 2-in-1 plum tree about 4 years ago. It's half damson and half greengage, grafted on to one rootstock.

It has grown well but stubbornly refused to flower at all. It's nota pollenation problme, there simply are no flowers.Then this year it produced two tiny flowers together. One of these has set, so we are looking forward to our first plum!

I still don't know what we're doing wrong, I gave it a good feed of potash early in the year. I've pruned it a bit now, but am not sure whether I've done this right. If anyone has any ideas on how to encourage it to blossom, please tell me!

feeding wild birds

Posted: 16/06/2012 at 12:07

I had the impression when I saw that feeder that it was designed for looks more than practicality. Would birds really get the hang of which port to search for to find the food they liked best? And if they did, wouldn't they just empty the sunflower hearts first, so you'd have to take down the whole thing just to top up one section, probably resulting in unnecessary spilling of nuts and seeds? I'm sticking with separate feeders for now.


Posted: 16/06/2012 at 11:46

I would think they's be OK even if they don't get to you until August. They are mostly hardy perennials, and there should be enough warm weather between August and winter for them to get established, even if they're still small. But if you want something to brighten your garden this year, then it may have to be a tray of bedding plants! Morrisons still has some good-value plants - I've just bought a tray of 4 little fuchsias for £2, and they had trailing petunias at 3 for £2.

all veg and herb and what to do now

Posted: 15/06/2012 at 20:50

Wow, you really seem to have hit the ground running! It hasn't been an easy year for gardeners so far, but you seem undaunted by the fickle weather.

A few attempts at answering your queries:

The herbs all behave a bit differently but most of them will come back after cutting. Mint and lemon balm are vigorous and will take over if you don't watch them (mint in particular is better in its own pot. But you can move some to a separate pot.) Rosemary will grow to a sprawling bush and will also need a space of its own eventually.

Chives will grow back after cutting, although you may have to wait a while, so it's best just to cut a little as you need it. Coriander is an annual and will die this year, but if you let it set seed you'll probably get new plants coming up next year, or you can save some seed and plant again. It doesn't really come back much after you cut it. All the rest  will carry on growing after you cut them, and will over-winter with no problems. Mint and chives and lemon balm will mostly disappear in winter but sprout back again in the spring.

Root veg should start to be ready any time now. If you have early potatoes, have a little grope around the roots and see if you can find any potatoes. You can pull out the first ones without disturbing the plant, and leave the rest to grow on. Carrots: we've just pulled the first ones, which are just finger-sized babies, but that helps thin out the crop and we leave the others to ger bigger. Beetroot will probably need more time yet, you'll have to feel around the shoulder of the plant and see whether it feels like a decent size.

Oninons and garlic are ready when the leaves start to die back and collapse (probably August).

Cabbage and lettuce - yes, when they look big enough to be interesting, you can eat them. You can start by eating baby ones and leave some to get bigger.

Mangetout: you have to wait until the flowers die down, and look out for the pods. Ours are only about 2 ft tall, the height varies according to variety. You pick the pods when they're still thin, before the peas swell, and eat the whole pod. We've just eaten the first of ours this evening, also our first potatoes. There is nothing like the thrill of eating your first crops!

Hope this is some help. I am banned from the living room this evening (England are playing Sweden) so might as well come here and chat about gardening. Good luck with your veg!


Posted: 15/06/2012 at 17:16

I am still waiting for the perennials, ordered at the end of April. I e-mailed T&M this week, pointing out that their confirmation e-mail said "Dispatch by end of May" They have now replied and said this was a mistake, and that the note in the advertisement said that delivery would be between late May and end of July. They say they are confident thay will be able to meet all orders by then.

So don't hold your breath!

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.

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