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Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

Talkback: Swifts

Posted: 21/04/2014 at 19:07

Hi Welshonion (or are you a leek?!) - if you re-read my previous post you'll see that I wondered whether swallows have actually been helped to expand in numbers due to the availability of more nest sites - i.e. buildings.  We see lots of swallows and housemartins round here, though the sandmartins I see each year nest in the banks of the River Trent.  Did you watch Countryfile the other night?  They had a section about British birds and the fact that modern farming practices have caused a considerable reduction in many species over the past half-century.  I've been interested in this sort of thing since childhood - a very long long time ago - and the only birds which I see now - but didn't then - are buzzards.  Lots of birds which were common in my childhood - e..g. skylarks, thrushes, cuckoos, plovers and so on are rarely seen or heard round here these days, and the TV programme's content showed that it's a sad-but-true fact in the UK these days.

 I had what you might call a "magic moment" a couple of months ago when a red-footed falcon decided to take a rest on my back-garden fence.  I always have my Bird Book and binoculars handy, and it took quite a while for me to establish just what it was. Luckily it stayed put for quite a while before flying off somewhere, so I was able to look at it for about 20 minutes.  Never seen one before - they are apparently rare visitors here - and I probably won't ever see one again. 

Just in case you were wondering - probably not, but I'll explain anyway - my Board Name is that of one of my much-loved (now departed) whippets.  I used to sign off with "Ma" - and that's how David K and Frank (aka Palaisglide) might refer to me.


So - Cheers!  Ma.

Help...marestail and other nasties...

Posted: 20/04/2014 at 19:31

The Roundup/glyphosate only works properly when a plant is actively growing, so best not to use it over the winter months.  It's absorbed through the leaves, so putting it on bark won't work at all.  In order to prevent it reaching stuff you want to keep, one way of dealing with things is to cut off top & bottom of a plastic container (one of those very large plastic milk cartons works well) put this over the plant, pulling up the leaves into the container, and then spraying it.  If you need a bigger "shield", a cheap plastic bucket with the bottom cut out would do the trick.

Compost bins on soil

Posted: 20/04/2014 at 15:15

Hi Tricia - I don't think it matters ref attracting rabbits.  They'd far prefer to have something that's still growing!  I've never seen rabbits on the compost heap I have in the corner of the field - and there are rabbits galore everywhere else in my garden............ If you're still worried about it, why not simply cover up the vegetable peelings with something already on your heap.  They don't tend to dig for food  -  they just dig to make latrines on my lawn and burrows & bolt-holes in the shrubberies.


Posted: 19/04/2014 at 15:05

Looks like bindweed to me!

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.

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