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Latest posts by greenjude

Help ID my plant please???

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 10:57

It looks like a Sorbaria to me. If so, it's tough and will grow more or less anywhere, but may sucker. I have S. sorbifolia 'SEM' in a pot though my neighbour has it in the ground where there's lots of competition. It's suckering gently.

plants and container for small rockery

Posted: 21/03/2014 at 01:41

If you're anywhere near Rainham in Kent, the Apline Garden Society is holding its spring show at Rainham Girls' School on Saturday (22nd). Lots of inspiring exhibits and some great nurseries.

Newbie raised bed!

Posted: 21/03/2014 at 01:32

Vermiculite is good as a covering for seeds sown indoors, but I wouldn't use it outside. It's so light it'll blow away. Besides, it's way too expensive to use outside and not in the least necessary. I also wouldn't recommend peat. It's an environmental no-no, contains no nutrients and is expensive. Organic matter is a very good idea but you'll have plenty in the mushroom compost. (As a bonus, you may get a crop of mushrooms too!)

A box of bonemeal for slow-release fertiliser, and blood,fish and bone for faster acting, both good and fairly cheap. Maybe too a box of sulphate of potash as a booster. There are instructions on dosage on the packets - don't be tempted to overdo it. Your mix of sandy loam and mushroom compost will be fine without peat or vermiculite - don't waste your money on them.

Don't be in too much of a hurry to sow if you don't have a greenhouse, though I admit the temptation is to crack on asap. If you wait until light levels and temperatures are higher, they'll grow stronger and will soon catch up. Fleece is great for protection, but if outdoors make sure you peg it down firmly.

Best of luck and happy vegging!

Last 3 plant ID's

Posted: 03/03/2014 at 18:57

I can think of a good reason to keep hairy bittercress - it's delicious! It tastes like ordinary cress but a little bit stronger. It's great in a salad or sandwich. I don't weed it out now unless it's growing somewhere really inconvenient, but I've eaten so much of it that it's beginning to disappear from my garden!

Can anyone help ID these plants please?

Posted: 03/03/2014 at 18:49

The grassy one looks rather like Deschampsia caespitosa. On the other hand, the leaves seem to have a distinctive rounded point. If they're also very smooth and glossy, it could be Ophiopogon, the green version - the one more usually seen is the black one, lily turf.

Where is the best place to look for information on ferns?

Posted: 07/02/2014 at 12:14

Hi Heather. The British Pteridological Society's website is full of useful info. There may even be a group near you and they're very friendly people. (Yes, I'm a member.)

Another good nursery for buying online is in Ireland. They have lovely ferns in beautiful condition.

For low-growing evergreen ferns, I can recommend Polystichum setiferum and it's many varieties. They're evergreen and very graceful, and so easy to grow. There's also our native Hart's Tongue, Asplenium scolopendrium, which also has lots of varieties. We have some great native Polypodiums which will grow well on stumps an in hollows in old wood.

There are lots of Dryopteris species, some tall but plenty of lower growing ones. Watch out though, because some are deciduous. Though don't discount deciuous ferns, there are some real beauties, like the many Athyrium hybrids which have some amazing colours. They grow well with bulbs an other plants that die down in summer, like Arums.

Heucheras, Heucherellas and Tiarellas (all related) are lovely among ferns and slugs don't like them. That's the only drawback to Hostas - molluscs.

I think it's a lovely idea to have lots of ferns and a stumpery (but then I would - I'm fanatical about them!) I warn you, once you get a taste for them they really take hold of you. I have about 300!

Best of luck with your project.

Tree Fern Survival

Posted: 02/01/2014 at 20:25

The crown needs to be fairly dry inside or it will rot. And if water gets in then freezes, it will probably kill it! The working roots of tree ferns are near the top of the trunk so that's where you need the moisture. (The roots in the ground are anchors.) Having said that, it isn't critical in winter when the air tends to be damper anyway. That's the part that needs protecting from the cold. If you wrap the trunk it will hold in enough moisture to keep it going. The crown needs an almost waterproof hat, but don't use plastic because it won't let in air, which is essential.

If they're Dicksonia antarctica, wait until the weather is properly cold because that's the hardiest species. The others, especially Cyathea species, are iffy-hardy and need more protection.

Good luck!

Talkback: Cooking elderberries

Posted: 02/11/2013 at 02:05
Hi mikemove
At this time of year you could start taking hardwood cuttings - just stick the pieces in the ground and leave them to root. They should be ready next autumn. Sambucus roots very easily like this.

Talkback: Cooking elderberries

Posted: 02/11/2013 at 02:02
I cook elderberries with a chopped, slightly overripe banana for 2 minutes in the microwave. The banana is very sweet so no extra sugar necessary. Great fresh and warm or cooled and mixed into yoghurt, with maybe a bit of cinnamon.
I also freeze the berries for winter use.

What new veg varieties have you tried?

Posted: 17/10/2013 at 20:22

I grew cucamelon. It produced lots of grape-sized cucumbers with attractive stripey skins. They taste like cucumber with a slightly sharp undertaste. It was very easy to grow and wasn't bothered by slugs and snails, which surprised me. I needed the space so I cleared the plants last week. I now have a box full of cucamelons which seem to keep well. I'll definitely grow them next year.

I've bought several veg recommended in James Wong's book, some of which were disappointing. With hindsight, I realise that a lot of them are flavouring rather than veg, and a lot seem to be used for various alcoholic drinks!

Monarda and Agastache grew beautifully but not good value for space in the veg plot.

Asparagus peas are pretty buy not worth growing to eat - too fiddly and low productivity for the space.

Electric daisies are pretty but unpleasant to eat.

I'm still waiting to harvest oca, dahlias and cannas (for their roots), but the dahlias produced some beautiful and unusual flowers. I'll keep these to flower next year but I don't yet know if they're worth eating!

I also trialled lettuce 'Interred' for Which?Garden. It's a dark red, small cos and I loved it. Tastes like a good cos, looks good and will produce new leaves when you cut the head. I had some seedlings left over which hung around in the greenhouse in modules, dried out several times to the point of wilting, yet stiil produced good heads without bolting when I finally planted them out after about 6 weeks. I could hardly have treated them worse and they grew like champions.

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