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hypercharleyfarley


Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

The established Garden.

Posted: 05/06/2014 at 19:59

Hello again Frank - I suppose that we've learned to be patient and neither want - nor expect - "instant" results in life.  One of the things I've enjoyed is being able to stay in this house for over 20 years and see some of the things I planted in the early years look now as though they've always been there.

I used to think - as far as fashions in houses etc go - that it was just kitchens and bathrooms which people simply "had" to replace as soon as they moved in.  In most cases "have to" is no more true than anyone "having to" spend a fortune on what look to me like the sort of trousers which are only fit for the rag-bag! Now it looks as though people aren't happy merely to amend/adjust things in the garden either.  Oh well - it'd be really boring if we were all of the same opinion, wouldn't it?!

The established Garden.

Posted: 05/06/2014 at 17:57

Hi Frank! - I reckon it's got something to do with our age..................!      and we belong to the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" brigade.  Why make changes simply for change's sake - and when you get past a certain stage in life, fashions don't matter either.

If - oh if - I had rolling acres of parkland to play with, I'd love the sort of vista you get with some stately homes, but even then there's often a rose garden or something small-scale too.  My own garden is surrounded by fields, so I make do with that - actually I'm looking out over a huge area of potatoes at the moment - you'll be eating them one day soon in the form of crisps (or is it frozen chips they're going to end up as.........?)   By this time next year the field will be grass again - it needed re-seeding anyway as the sileage made last year wasn't the best quality, hence the need to plough & deal with it.  The potato people are doing part of the job!  Once the crop is gone, they'll cultivate/re-seed and then - apart from the cattle which used to graze there - my view will return to what it has been in the past.

I can't see the whole garden at a glance - it's in three parts right/left/rear of the house - &  the smallest part of the garden is hidden behind the garage/storage shed and that's where I have my little veg plot. The local rabbit population has exploded this year (potatoes instead of their usual space?) & many of the bunnies have taken up residence in my shrubberies.  They eat  (or sample) - any-and-everything, so there's not much chance of things like the odd few summer bedding plants surviving.  The only things they've not managed to destroy are those in the tallest planters/pots which are too high even for a rabbit on tip-toes.  The dogs are enjoying things though - but I'm not exactly thrilled to have to remove (as I did earlier today) a dead baby bunny which they were squabbling over in the hallway.  The other day one of the dogs brought a dead rabbit in & put it in his bed in the kitchen.  Oh well...........  whippets were bred to catch rabbits, weren't they!

New Gardening business...

Posted: 04/06/2014 at 18:25

Hi! - I'd suggest that before you take things any further you investigate whether or not you'd need some sort of planning permission for what you propose to do.  If you fail to do that, you might well find yourself in all sorts of trouble with not only the neighbours/locals, but also the council's planning department.  There are all sorts of issues which people might feel they'd want to object to -  additional traffic/change of use/loss of amenity to them etc etc. so do take some proper advice first before starting any sort of business where none has existed previously.

Sorry to be what looks like the bearer of bad news, but "better safe than sorry".

Rabbits (again, sorry) what to do about gates ?

Posted: 24/05/2014 at 22:22

Wire mesh does keep rabbits out when attached to gates - but it needs to be the sort of netting that's welded in small squares/rectangles rather than the chicken-wire type.  It's much more rigid than chicken-wire, and can be fixed to a gate without needing to attach it to a pole in the way you've described.  If the gate's made of wood, you can attach it with staples, and if it's a metal gate you can use cable ties.  Provided you fix it properly, in order to keep it as rigid as possible, it does work.

I have some netting fixed to a wooden five-bar gate - the mesh itself is in fact coated with some sort of green-coloured plastic - and doesn't need any support at ground level.  There's about a 3cm gap between the bottom of the mesh and the ground.

If you google around a bit - or better still go & try to find a local agricultural supplies place - you might find what you need. 

 

Rabbits!

Posted: 08/05/2014 at 19:38

The rabbits have enjoyed all the pansies in my garden over the past week whilst I was away.  They've munched away at all sorts of other stuff too, and I still see them in the garden during the daytime.  One of my whippets caught one this morning - he didn't kill it - I had to do that - so that's one less to feed.  The dog's howling like mad right now - he can see two on the lawn and wants to get out there.  Trouble is that he'll make such a racket as soon as I open the back door to let him out that the rabbits will have made it to cover before he gets round the corner of the house to the part of the garden where they are at the moment.

Since the demise of my last semi-feral cat the rabbits have increased in numbers to a huge extent here, so if anyone's thinking of getting a JR terrier, I'd suggest a much better solution is to get a cat instead.  A cat would be out in the garden at all hours, whereas the dogs aren't!

Rabbits!

Posted: 27/04/2014 at 07:59

You can blame the Normans for introducing them in the first place!  There's some argument as to whether or not it was the Romans - but there's no real evidence that they used them in the way that the Normans did - i.e. for meat and fur.   It certainly was the Normans who created special rabbit enclosures - "warrens" - and although some rabbits did escape, they didn't last long outside the warren as they were caught and eaten by the peasantry, who were only too glad to find a source of meat.  As far as I know rabbits were one of the few wild creatures which they were allowed to hunt/trap without getting into too much trouble with the local "landlords".

I'm not sure about when "myxi" was introduced into the UK - it certainly wasn't what you'd call "an issue" when I was a child. I wonder whether it was another deliberate introduction, relatively recently & perhaps from Australia, because the introduction of rabbits there caused a great problem too. Apparently myxi is spread via fleas and passes from one rabbit to another when they are underground in the burrows and come into close contact with one another.  I don't ever remember anyone mentioning myxi in hares and this is probably because their habits are somewhat different and they don't go underground at all.

Although there have been several myxi outbreaks round here in the past few years, it doesn't seem to be nearly so severe in its effects as was once the case.  Perhaps those rabbits which survived it in the past developed some sort of immunity.  I think it more likely that the survivors were in fact those rabbits which were "outcasts" - in that they spent less time underground in a group than most did.  Their habits have certainly changed, in that years ago I never saw rabbits other than at dawn and dusk. Now I see them in my garden,  in the adjoining lanes,  & on my lawn throughout the day and have come to the conclusion that perhaps this is an inherited trait from those earlier survivors.  Nowadays they're somewhat smaller too - again maybe an inherited trait from the weaker "outcasts".  Perhaps one of the few times when the weakest - rather than the strongest - survived.

Woodpeckers and squirrel proof feeders

Posted: 26/04/2014 at 20:39

I don't know exactly which particular so-called "squirrel-proof" one which would work best or which might be available ready-made.

I reckon that if I were trying to make one which really would work, I'd get a circular tray made from metal or really strong plastic - at least 30" diameter - and make a hole in the centre which would be large enough to push a metal spike-type bird-feeder post through it. You know the sort of thing - usually black & with a hook at right angles at the top from which you'd normally hand a peanut feeder or suchlike.

If you push the spike through the hole & fix it so's the tray can't move, then squirrels can't climb up & over it it to reach anything which is hanging above.  I think I'd try to get the tallest pole I could find, and make sure that the tray was at least 4 ft from ground level.  The tray would need to be upside down, so that any lip pointed downwards - that would make it even harder for a squirrel to climb over.  A small tray wouldn't really be any good - they can reach quite a long way!

where to put my compost bin

Posted: 24/04/2014 at 14:47

Hello again - yes, the council bins are fine.  I don't bother about daisies etc but don't put dandelion heads in the bins.  In theory if they've not got to the "mature seed" stage it shouldn't matter much, but it's easy to pull the flowers off anyway.  If you're putting any twiggy shrub prunings in the bin, its best to cut them up into small pieces so's they rot down more quickly, so you'd need to keep the secateurs handy!

where to put my compost bin

Posted: 24/04/2014 at 10:22

As artjak says, it's a good idea to have two bins so that the contents of one (when full) can be left to decompose whilst you are filling the other one.  Compost needs heat and air - so you should ideally "stir" the contents of the bins as they fill.   Siting them in a warm place helps too, as is the fact that the council's ones are usually black & thus absorb & retain heat well.  When the first bin is full, it's a good idea to empty its contents into the second bin and then begin all over again with the first one.  Soon after that the composted stuff which you started with will be OK to use, but sieveing it helps too especially if you want to use it to fill pots/planters etc.

I reckon it's best to put the bins on a paved surface with small gaps between the paving slabs.  That way the worms can get in & help get the whole composting process going, and if the gaps are less than half-an-inch wide, mice can't get in there.  Another idea is to put the bins down on the ground with some small-gauge wire mesh underneath.  However, this doesn't stop some small rodents!  As others have said, compost shouldn't smell bad - if it does it's probably because the contents don't consist of stuff which is suitable in the first place.  A mixture - in shallow layers - of all sorts of green stuff is good, plus shredded paper/vegetable peelings/twiggy stuff cut up into small pieces etc as this helps keep some airy space in the bin.  It's not a good idea to put a large amount of lawn mowings in unless this is scattered/mixed with the rest of it. You can put weeds in too - but not if they have seeded, otherwise you'll only be spreading the weeds themselves when you eventually use the compost.

I have two black bins, plus a big heap of other garden waste which is left to decompose in the corner of the field beyond the fence at home - the only unwanted visitors I've ever found in the bins are the odd slug or two.  The stuff in the corner of the field takes longer to break down because I don't "stir" it - I used to leave the curious cattle to do that,  but now the field has been planted with potatoes so the heap will have to be left to its own devices & will take longer to be useable.

Talkback: Swifts

Posted: 21/04/2014 at 20:44

Hello again - I've only seen red kites in Buckinghamshire - they've not got this far north yet.  I gather someone near High Wycombe used to feed them regularly from his back garden & thus more chicks survived than might otherwise have been the case.  Used to hear a cuckoo regularly when I was a child - would even make a note of it when it changed its call-sound.  Until a few years ago I'd hear one on the local common but now have to go in the other direction to a wooded hillside where I've heard one for the past few years - but that's the only place.

Ref swifts - I read somewhere that they only nest in tall buildings as they need quite a bit of space below in order to achieve a safe take-off.  The birds of prey round here (not owls, unfortunately) seem to be doing well - we used to have a barn owl nesting where I spent my childhood.  The farmers are being encouraged to put some wire netting or similar a few inches below the surface of cattle water troughs, so that owls which accidentally fall in can then get out again & don't drown.  The cattle can still drink easily - the troughs fill in much the same way as a lavatory cistern (with a ballcock float thing) so no problems with the water level for them.

There are peregrines nesting nearby too - I once saw one in the garden here - it was plucking a woodpigeon!  For some reason the peregrine eventually flew off & soon afterwards one of the local foxes came through. It was before I made the garden fox & badger-proof.  It crept around the carcase for a while - looking up into the sky from time to time - before making off with a more-or-less "ready meal"..Made me laugh, as the dead pigeon was breast-upwards on the lawn & looked just like an oven-ready chicken - plucked, but not drawn & dressed! 

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