London (change)
Today 11°C / 2°C
Tomorrow 4°C / 2°C

Green Magpie

Latest posts by Green Magpie

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.

top 5

Posted: 03/06/2012 at 15:39

Hellebores, for lovely classy blooms in winter and spring.

Quince tree (proper quince, not the climbing Japanese quince) because it's one of the first to come into leaf and the last to drop its leaves. It's lovely when in blossom, and we even get a few quinces as a bonus.

Snakeshead fritillary - I mean, a check-patterned flower? Magic!

Lavender for instant aromatherapy.

Clematis of various sorts, for their profuse blossoms.

Ask me again tomorrow and I'd think of five more, no problem. And that's just the ornamentals, I could start all over again when it comes to vegetables and herbs.


Baby lettuce plants

Posted: 03/06/2012 at 15:29

Yes, I got a big bag of baby-leaf salad seeds from a 99p shop last year and grew some as baby leaves, but also planted some out to grow on into bigger plants. Give them a high-nitrogen feed when you plant them out, to encourage more leafy growth.


Posted: 03/06/2012 at 12:28

Hmm, I'm now beginning to wonder if mine have arrived and they're so small I can't find them ... must go and have a look around the letter-box or under the edge of the doormat and see if any mini-plants are lurking there!

Discussions started by Green Magpie

Leaking squash, help!

Replies: 12    Views: 371
Last Post: 19/08/2014 at 08:57

Moths and lavender

Replies: 0    Views: 157
Last Post: 08/08/2014 at 12:14

Drama in the compost heap

Replies: 5    Views: 296
Last Post: 04/08/2014 at 21:18

Tomato thriving on neglect!

Replies: 5    Views: 361
Last Post: 20/06/2014 at 10:54

Secateurs open?

Replies: 5    Views: 589
Last Post: 06/05/2014 at 21:27

Lobelia for wedding at end of May

Replies: 6    Views: 407
Last Post: 04/06/2014 at 22:39


Replies: 8    Views: 781
Last Post: 03/02/2014 at 07:50

Runners on new strawberry plants

Replies: 6    Views: 643
Last Post: 29/09/2013 at 08:39

Nettles for butterflies

Replies: 10    Views: 1640
Last Post: 22/07/2013 at 14:25

What not to grow

Replies: 25    Views: 1487
Last Post: 31/07/2014 at 18:08

Photinia Red Robin pruning?

Replies: 25    Views: 15698
Last Post: 06/06/2014 at 22:33

Searching the site?

Replies: 17    Views: 1975
Last Post: 04/02/2014 at 15:30
12 threads returned