Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

Thistle & Ragwort control in wildflower meadow

Posted: 18/10/2015 at 19:03

Just a quick word of warning about hedges - as the owner of the land you are supposed to keep them under some sort of control.  There are some rules & regs as to when they may be trimmed , i.e. not when the Powers That Be call "flowering and fruiting times",  If a hedge overhangs a public right of way or road, the local council could (and might) cut them back at any time of year, and it might not work out quite how you'd want it to if you don't take control of things yourself. 

In order to establish who's responsible for a boundary, you'd need to look at the paperwork relating to your land.  If there's a proper plan anywhere, you need to look for a little symbol along the boundary line which looks like a capital  letter T.  If that symbol is on your land it means that you own the boundary and are responsible for its maintenance.  e.g. if it looks like this:





the owner of the land above the line (boundary) is responsible.  If the T were upside down & below the line, whoever owns that land would be responsible.

Thistle & Ragwort control in wildflower meadow

Posted: 18/10/2015 at 18:37

It's probably best to wear gloves if you decide to pull up the ragwort - it can cause a reaction which is worse in some people than others.  However, you can get a simple tool specifically designed for use in digging up ragwort and it does work quite well.  The main thing is not to allow any unwanted plant to set seed - especially those plants whose seeds are spread via wind/movement - so I think you'd be wise to deal with the thistles too.  The ragwort tool might work for their removal, but I've never actually tried it on thistles.


Perseverance is the key -  but I think I'd find it easier to deal with the thistles & ragwort than brambles any day.  Those in my field hedges grow up to 7ft a year even though I try to keep them under some sort of control. The hedges are trimmed by a local agricultural contractor at the appropriate time of year, but during the summer months they grow like triffids!

Getting desperate after 8 years.... WISTERIA, help please

Posted: 21/08/2015 at 17:11

First of all, a couple of questions:-  has the plant ever flowered?  Apparently it takes quite a few years before they get to that stage, so it's advisable to buy one when it is in flower, so that you know it is mature enough to flower in the following year.  Secondly, where is it planted?  I ask this because sometimes - when wisterias are planted close to, say, the wall of a house - they suffer from poor soil conditions and lack of water.

To explain a bit further - when I moved to this house years ago there were two apparently well-established wisterias on the front wall.  They'd been planted in holes which had been dug out of a concrete path, so got little rainwater, and I guess the soil was very poor indeed.  I was surprised that there were no flowers the first year I lived here, despite the fact that the plants themselves had obviously been in situ for a very long time.  I read some things about why this might be, and discovered that it was recommended to keep them very well-watered even during the autumn and winter months.  Before the concrete path was removed - a couple of years later - I poured literally two buckets-full of water down each "hole" every week or so, and the following year was rewarded with loads of flowers, having done the recommended pruning in late February.

The path is now long gone - there's open ground now in front of the house, with a sort of shrub bed, and the wisterias are now well-known locally as being the most amazing ones people have ever seen!  The racemes are often as much as 18" long and look like a purple waterfall down the front of the house.

I think that if any of the above applies to your plant, you could try what I did and see what happens next year.  Good luck!

Anyone grow globe artichokes...

Posted: 09/08/2015 at 10:22

I used to grow them and waited until the heads were about the size of a grapefruit!  The way we used to cook & eat them is as follows:-

Trim off the first few outer "petals", cut off the stem at the base of the "head" and boil the whole heads in slightly salted water with a dash of lemon juice.  Need a huge saucepan!  You can tell when they're ready when you can easily push the sharp end of a paring knife into the base of the stem. Remove from the pan and leave the cooked artichokes upside down to drain for a little while.

Eating them is a bit messy - I have some plates which are designed to cope with it all - you pull off each "petal" and dip it into melted seasoned butter before scraping the fleshy part off between your teeth.  The plates have a small shallow "well" for the melted butter, and the edge of the plate looks like petals, so you put the scraped ones there.  Continue scraping/eating until you get to the "choke", which you discard.  The best part of the whole artichoke is the middle bit below the choke - called the "heart" - cut this into smallish pieces & enjoy!

My D has fond memories of eating them as a child and was disappointed when she and her children visited the UK again this year because she wanted my grandchildren to try them and I don't grow them any more - neither could I find any to buy anywhere.

badgers in gardens

Posted: 08/08/2015 at 12:17

Pa had three dairy farms and a milk bottling plant - supplied the local towns & villages.  Before all that, the milk was delivered twice daily, direct from a churn via a pony & milk-float.  Some ancient family pics of my sister and I when we were toddlers, sitting on the pony's back whilst she was still standing there "put to" the float at the end of the milk round.  The pony was called Girlie, and died in 1947 having reached a great age -  a bit like me now!  Initially the cattle were shorthorns and Ayrshires but I the 1950s Pa changed to Friesians.  We grew most of what the cattle were fed - so in some ways it was what nowadays you'd call "mixed farming". Eventually had a combine harvester etc. but I still have (in the shed) Pa's scythe and the huge hay knife which was used to cut the hay from the stack before Jones Balers started making the machinery to bale it.

My land has been used these past two years by a contractor who grows potatoes for McCains frozen chips - it was fascinating seeing the modern machinery in action - I remember how it was done when the only things available were carthorses! 

badgers in gardens

Posted: 08/08/2015 at 11:17

Certainly causing problems for dairy farmers here - my neighbour gave up milk production a couple of years ago - it  was costing him more to produce than he was being paid for the milk.  He decided to have a few heifers, as he missed the cattle so much.  No more - unfortunately - as they've "reacted" to the TB test and have had to be destroyed, so he's given up heifers too.  I really miss seeing the dairy cattle - grew up on a dairy farm - so am glad I took a few pics some years ago of the dairy cows grazing just a few feet from my back door.  The garden's quite shallow at that point, so I got some good shots!

I am now really concerned that dairy farming is so difficult these days - can sympathise with those who took the milk from supermarket shelves and gave it away.  Do you think that people would really object to paying a few extra pence per litre if they understood just what was going on?  I know that I'll probably be accused of being provocative if I mention "townies"  !  !

badgers in gardens

Posted: 08/08/2015 at 10:27

It's kept them out for the past 20 or so years - so I reckon it works!  They trot along the field on the other side of the fence these days, so I suppose the first generation of badgers who'd been used to getting in actually gave up, and the "pathway" now is a bit different, so I guess the later generations follow this altered route.  There are some quite clear badger paths through the hedges and alongside the field edges round here - and, sadly, there's a dead badger on the kerb about a quarter of a mile away.  A few weeks ago I dragged a dead one from the middle of the main road at the top of the lane.    There are literally dozens of badgers within a couple of miles or so these days, and I see carcases on the roadside all too often.   No hedgehog "bodies", no foxes, some rabbits, some grey squirrels - but more dead badgers than the rest put together.

badgers in gardens

Posted: 08/08/2015 at 08:49

There are several badger setts within a couple of miles of my house and soon after I came here (years ago now) the badgers made a lovely job of digging up my lawn!  The garden boundaries consisted simply of post & rail fencing and hawthorn hedging so I arranged for a local fencing contractor to fix some stock netting around all the boundaries.  It was simple to attach it to the post & rail, and in order to "fence" the hawthorn hedge, short posts (approx. 4ft left above ground) were put in at the foot of the hedge and the netting fixed to those posts.  Over the years the hawthorn has grown through and the posts & netting are no longer visible.

Stock netting -  the sort which is used to keep livestock enclosed  ( i.e not chicken wire)  -  is totally badger-proof.  It's far too strong for them to get through, and perhaps the wire fence Ferline referred to is not the same sort. 

Stock netting looks like squares & rectangles, not hexagons e.g. "chicken wire" - it  is attached so that the rectangles are at the bottom of the fence line and the squares at the top.  This is because the area of each rectangle is smaller than that of the squares and so prevents young lambs and suchlike from getting their heads through the gaps at the bottom.

Hedging and Horses

Posted: 28/07/2015 at 16:33

It sounds as though you've got the sort of fence which would keep most livestock out, so I'd suggest that to solve the problem of the sheep standing up and nibbling things you could fix some electric fence on top of the posts.  There's even a variety called The Electric Shepherd - I've seen it used round here at low level to secure  (on a temporary basis) an area of land of about 20 acres.  You could  fix it on top of the posts because the wire can be threaded though ring-shape attachments which are insulated.  Do have a look at various websites and even go to a local agricultural supplies place and they'd be able to advise you as to the details.

Hedging and Horses

Posted: 28/07/2015 at 10:39

As I explained in an earlier post, it may be possible to establish who actually "owns" the boundary, via any paperwork relating to the property in question.  In any case, I should think that boundary fencing would be expected to be "fit for purpose" in rural areas especially.

A problem can arise when the land is used for a different purpose at some time - i.e. fencing or hedges which will keep cattle safely enclosed will not always be suitable for keeping sheep, so that an extra/alternative method would be needed for this "change of use" and the fencing should therefore be "fit for purpose" in this instance.   This has happened round here recently when sheep have grazed land which was used for cattle, and as a result have escaped on a regular basis.  In this case,  I imagine that the landowner should have come to an appropriate arrangement with whoever owns the livestock on the land - sometimes it is rented out to another party - and I imagine it would be the responsibility of the owner of the livestock to ensure that the boundaries are suitable in this instance.

Obviously it's a bit different when what you want to do is to stop animals from nibbling away at any hedging etc., and I have already made some suggestions in an earlier post as to how this can be achieved.

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ID please!

looks like a cross between grass and foxglove 
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