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Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

Talkback: Swifts

Posted: 19/04/2014 at 15:01

I think the problem is that there are now fewer nesting sites for swifts in that we have relatively few old and crumbling/badly maintained properties here in the UK than in other parts of Europe.  Swifts and housemartins don't have the same type of nests - in that the latter make nests in much the same way as swallows do, whereas swifts nest in nooks & crannies in roof spaces rather than making a nest of their own with mud etc. on the outside of a wall.  In warmer countries, such as those round the Mediterranean, not only are there proportionately more older properties than we have in the UK,  but it seems to me that people there don't have the same need to make sure their homes are well-insulated & maintained in order to reduce fuel bills.

Saw swallows round here this past week - one pair has "returned home" to one property locally, whereas the others must have been in transit to somewhere further North.  I usually make a note of the first time/place I see them each year - last year the first sighting (by me) was 21st. April.


One thing that's always puzzled me  - ref swallows etc - is where did they nest before we built houses etc?  I see sand martins' nest-holes in sandy/pebbly riverbanks and assume that rocky outcrops would have been suitable for swallows - but did swallows etc begin to flourish when they had more available nest sites with the advent of mankind's creation of permanent settlements?    Where did they perch before there were telephone lines & roofs?  I've never seen one fly out of a tree!  Anybody know the answer?

p.s. just been out in the garden for a bit - saw two swallows on the telephone wire - definitely a pair 'cos they were "at it" (!) already.  Also disturbed a sitting wren - which I didn't know had its nest in the ivy on the wall near the back door.  I was trimming away some of the new growth on the wall and she almost flew in my face - her wings brushed my forehead!  I didn't look too closely to count just how many eggs, but  hope she goes back soon.   The nest is only about 5ft from the ground.

The dreaded JKW?

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 20:42

Sorry - but I can't tell what it is from the picture.  However, if it is JKW it isn't "a little devil" but a rather big one!  There are a few other threads about it on this site - but if you can't find them right now perhaps it's best if I say that on no account should you put it in a council recycling waste bin.  There are all sorts of rules & regs now as to what you "may" put in these bins, and JKW has to be dealt with in such a way as to prevent it spreading.  Probably best if you google around a bit and you'll get the picture!

Ornamental grass and ground elder

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 20:33

I think the best way for you to deal with this is to dig up the plant itself as well as the surrounding border soil.  You can then tease/pull the unwanted stuff out & away from the plant/roots and then re-plant it, after you've cleared the rest of the bed too.  It won't matter too much if it takes you a couple of hours or so - provided you don't leave it in the sun - and then make sure you re-plant it in a deep-ish hole which you've previously filled to the brim with water & left to soak away.  That way it stands a good chance of not even noticing you've had to uproot it.  These sort of grasses are really tough - but you'll need to be ruthless about removing absolutely any-and-everything else that you don't want in the border, otherwise you'll have to keep on repeating the whole procedure!  Good luck!

Puny Asparagus

Posted: 16/04/2014 at 20:21

It might depend on which variety of sparrowgrass you've got there.  Were you expecting those rather large fat white-ish spears?  If so, you could well be disappointed, because I don't know of anyone who grows that sort other than commercially - and probably not even in this country.  If you take a look at the asparagus you can buy in a supermarket you can tell that what's most common is the variety which produces spears which are of the sort of size you've described.  There are people round here who do grow it commercially, and what they sell isn't the "white fat spear" sort.  Actually I don't think it matters much what it looks like as long as it tastes OK!

Unknown Plant

Posted: 12/04/2014 at 20:54

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but...........Japanese Knotweed is a really serious problem for you.  If you google around a bit, you'll begin to understand what I mean.  It seems to me that it's coming through from an adjacent property, and if the owners there won't co-operate with any measures you take to eradicate it, you'll never succeed..

It's a relative recent problem in this country - & was probably introduced as some sort of ornamental plant - and the result has meant that its presence has made some properties "unsaleable".  Check out "notifiable weeds" on the internet too, as to how to deal with j/knotweed.  For example, there are all sorts of rules & regs as to how you may dispose of it.

I'd suggest you consider getting some sort of professional help, as it's not just a matter of applying weedkiller. 

Horse Manure - what to do with it

Posted: 10/04/2014 at 15:50

This one for Frank - because I can't send a pm - glad to see you back!  All the best.  Ma.

Lupin from seeds

Posted: 07/04/2014 at 21:13

"hardening off" means that the very young plants need to get accustomed to lower temperatures than, say, a greenhouse or conservatory before you put them in your flowerbed.  You'd need to put them (still in their pots) in a sheltered spot for a few days so that they won't suffer too much of a shock when they are finally planted out.  If you don't harden them off first, they might be affected by changes in temperature outside in the garden.

Advice re: building a wire trellis for wisteria

Posted: 01/04/2014 at 15:28

Hello Gl - if you've not already been out & bought your wisterias, I'd suggest you wait a while yet because you won't be sure you've got one which is mature enough to start flowering.  Wisterias can take some years before they get to that stage, so it's best to buy one which is flower at the time of purchase, and then you'd be reasonably certain that it would flower for you sooner rather than later.

The other bit of advice would be to make sure you don't plant it too close to the wall, and to dig a big planting hole which you can fill with some good compost before you finally put the plant in position.  If plants are too close to a wall they don't often get the moisture they need, and in almost every case the soil near a house wall is quite poor ref plant nutrients as well.  The last thing I'd suggest is that you remember to water it - even during the autumn.  It will need moisture for most of the year.

Magpie Seen Caching Food

Posted: 26/03/2014 at 20:56

What seedlings are they?  If oak, then the chances are it's jays which are the culprits.  There are three little oak trees in my garden now - all of which were "planted" by jays.  The other small tree - a horsechestnut - was "planted" by a squirrel.   The jays have tried their best to grow oak trees in my hedge too - I often watch them burying acorns there, but so far only one has grown into anything recognisable - maybe the jays remembered where they'd hidden the acorns and came back again when they were hungry!

raised ponds.built out of sleepers and scaffolding boards

Posted: 25/03/2014 at 10:40

Oh dear...............  I wonder just how I've managed to survive all these years?  Even more - how I survived childhood days spent fishing for "tiddlers" in the local ponds and streams, managing to get home safely after hours spent riding a bike or my pony (without a hard hat!) and so on...........    I really think people have got to give children some sort of opportunities to do things which aren't totally without risk of any sort.  At this rate, we'll soon be advised to keep them confined to a cot or playpen until they reach their teens - and then what would happen..!  By all means don't make a pond which would have a very deep part which might be unnecessarily dangerous - but most of all, teach them to know and understand what rules you have as a family and let them take a few chances about getting wet!

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