Iain R

Latest posts by Iain R

1 to 10 of 18

New Lawn

Posted: Today at 11:50


I am not a lawn expert but your idea for ground prep seems good to me. Seed will definitely give you more choice as regards quality, balance of fine vs durable etc, there are some good quality turfs available too but the general stuff form DIY outlets will lean towards utility hard wearing mixes.

Have a look at www.lawnsmith.co.uk they have good advice and products, also you can't go far wrong with RHS advice on such things or back copies of GW for that matter. 

Oh where art thou manure!

Posted: Today at 11:00

Natbat, great transformation well done.

Be careful with woodchip - dont use too much as the bacteria that break it down will rob Nitrogen from your soil. Woodchip is best kept as a decorative surface mulch to keep in moisture & supress weeds, ideally spread over a porous landscape fabric.

My lawn has turned to mud

Posted: 09/02/2017 at 12:05

I agree with the others. Many years ago my sister moved into a new build house I was volunteered to take my fathers small rotavator up to dig the back garden but I could not use it as I kept hitting half bricks lumps of concrete etc. Most builders seem to bulldoze up the top soil in a big heap at the start & then scrape it back down at the end so what you end up with really is pot luck. The turf that was put on top would not have been properly laid either. Sorry for the gloom but you will need to dig it up carefully & see what you have got & go from there. If it's really awful you might have to import some good quality topsoil, you would not be the first to have to do that.

Good luck

Oh where art thou manure!

Posted: 09/02/2017 at 11:51

Hi  sounds like you have done a lot & are on the right track. You may have seen from spreading your own compost it is surprising how much you need to cover even a quite small area to any reasonable depth. The small bags of manure you can buy don't go far & it's an expensive way to do it, try to think of it a a volume rather than weight & work out the area you need to cover, Aim for around 10cm -(4in) depth. You don't have to be too exact but it will give you an idea. A 1 ton  size skip bag is 1 cubic metre. If you spread as a mulch  it looks like too much when you first put it on but within 6 months or so you will wonder where it has all gone! If you dig it in as you have with your other materials it will disappear. 

Topsoil, compost, etc

Posted: 03/02/2017 at 11:34

The GW magazine & in particular Garden Which do regular trials and results can be very variable even different size bags from same manufacturer!  B&Q own brand has come out quite well from Which trials recently but not all sizes of pack. Some quite well known brands do not always fare that well, but it really does seem that multipurpose is not necessarily best at everything (obvious when you think about it!) AYM280  remember John Innes  is a RECIPE ie x parts loam y parts Peat (yes though it's considered soil based it tends to have peat or sometimes now peat substitute) and various amounts of sand,grit,& nutrients etc depending on which formula it is i.e. 1,2,or 3.  So it really depends on who makes it and where they get their base ingredients from.

I tend to buy as big a pack as I can handle, better value, but  you should not buy too much at once as it does go stale if you can't use it up within one season. When I did the RHS course the commercial grade composts we used for the practicals were a way different grade to the stuff you buy at the DIY centre, much finer more even texture best germination rates I have ever seen!

Pruning acers

Posted: 26/01/2017 at 12:26


I have a lot of Acers including one like yours. I am lucky I have been getting advice from an expert who has trained in Japan. There is a lot of rubbish talked about pruning Acers. They can be pruned almost any time except early spring when the sap is rising. In your case as was mine the lower branches are dying back due  partly to the  natural habit of the tree but partly due to lack of light. (if you look in summer I suspect some of the lower leaves will be green & not red). In winter do the 3 D's  remove dead diseased or damaged.  Then look at which branches above are covering the ones below you may want to thin these, to let light into the lower canopy. Different cultivars require different treatment as you can see from comments above. The palmatum dissectum  types we have are slow growing so should only require light shaping to keep the tree in the space you have, and to enhance the natural habit of the tree.  It can take years of training & experience to know what to do correctly but most Acers are much tougher than people think. Think of the conditions they evolved in, Japan is mountainous & has very cold winters.

Hope this is not too late to help as I note your post was some time ago.

Creating a no dig bed on heavy soil

Posted: 09/01/2017 at 12:36


It sounds like a lovely spot.  From what you say in second post it seems as though what you may have, is a high water table as the burn runs round and you have silt and sand in various parts of the garden (from past flooding?). If you read any good book that includes a chapter on soil etc what they all say is you can change the STRUCTURE of a soil by digging, composting mulching to improve fertility and aeration but not the underlying TEXTURE i.e. sandy silty gritty clay etc. So you have to work with what you have. Dig a small test pit  cover it with a board or heavy plastic, see if the bottom fills with water, then you will know how high the water table is & then how high your bed needs to be to avoid trouble. The only other way would be to lay drains that run into the burn but that would be a huge amount of work.

I quite like a lot of what Charles Dowding says but it seems to me that he is growing in pure compost. If you have access to huge amounts of compost or manure it could be the way to go but remember no dig does not mean no work.

From where you are now I would let the soil get frosted, then as soon as it thaws get as much manure or compost onto it as you can. In spring you can decide whether to dig or plant straight in.

Good luck.

Onion, Shallot & Garlic Collection from marshals seeds is not growing

Posted: 06/01/2017 at 11:38

A tip I learned from one of the guys on my allotment site is to soak garlic cloves in tepid water for 12 -24 hrs before you plant. You get short white roots appearing at base plate. You can plant direct or in modules as Zoomer says. Either way the soaking gives them a head start.

Seed Potato Accent

Posted: 06/01/2017 at 11:29


Anyone know why there seems to be no supply of seed potato Accent this year. I have grown this variety as first early for last few seasons as an improvement to my previous favourite Foremost. None of the catalogues I have seem to list it this year, all the main websites list it as out of stock- already!


Posted: 03/08/2016 at 12:43

I think it depends upon which type they are. There are Border types and Alpine types, the alpine ones are the ones that need most  protection. In both cases they need well drained soil but obviously the Alpine ones need very sharp drainage and benefit from protection. Those without an alpine house (most of us) are where the idea of the theatre came in as well as for display. I have mine in pots  on a basic open metal rack but against the greenhouse side so they have some shelter. I find them quite hardy.

Hope this helps.

1 to 10 of 18

Discussions started by Iain R

Seed Potato Accent

Lack of supply for 2017 
Replies: 0    Views: 230
Last Post: 06/01/2017 at 11:29

Another Vitopod question

How best to use it? 
Replies: 6    Views: 1794
Last Post: 18/02/2013 at 12:34
2 threads returned