John Harding

Latest posts by John Harding

parsnips seedlings

Posted: 24/05/2014 at 09:54

If you don't want to spend out on Root Trainers (they can be quite expensive) collect all the centre tubes of kitchen rolls and toilet rolls, cut them all to the same height and fit them into a framework of some kind to hold them together. Fill them with compost and sow the seeds in them. When they have germinated and grown on to a decent size you can then plant them in their final positions after hardening off, in their tubes, which will rot down in the soil and there will be no damage to the root system or check on the plant's growth.

parsnips seedlings

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 16:55

I use a Haxnicks deep root trainer and sow about 4 seeds per station in the greenhouse then thin the weakest out after germination leaving one per station. When the plant roots begin to protrude through the bottom of the trainer I harden them off for about a week & then carefully dib a hole and plant them out in their final positions. Parsnips (as per any root veg) do not like to be transplanted but with the root trainer system it allows for minimal root/soil ball disturbance and the plants grow on without any check.

Beware of gastropods (snails & slugs) though as they will decimate a tray of seedlings overnight if they are not protected.

Too early for beans?

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 16:37

I put my runner beans in about 4 weeks ago. It's been quite mild here in Bristol with no frosts for many weeks. Pic below: they are climbing well.

Variety is Moonlight - a white flowered bean that the sparrows leave alone, are prolific, self fertile and incredibly tasty.

 I read somewhere that it is best to tie the canes low down so that the beans are easier to pick and they get more light & grow better so I am trying that this year.

dwarf french beans in containers

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 16:29

Yer 'tis

  PS,  I seem to recall they were about £4.99 each and I then filled it with Westlands Veg Growing compost.


dwarf french beans in containers

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 16:12

Hi Vivienne,

Our local Garden Centre does a planter that is ideal for dwarf beans. I bought one last year for my daughter and was so impressed I bought myself one this year. It is a flexible poly planter that has tubes sown into it for canes (daughter grows runner beans in hers). Planter takes about 50 litres of compost to fill it and I have put 8 plants in mine. 

I'll pop down the garden in a few minutes and take a pic of it and post here so watch this space. John H

Garden Gallery 2014

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 15:53

Hi PG,

You will need to reduce the file size when you post pics. Can see your pic but if you click on it to enlarge the screen just whites out. if you can reduce the pixels to 2048 or thereabouts on the long side they should upload easier and be viewable on mouse click.

Advice needed

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 15:44

Just Joey rose in my garden after a heavy shower

 Yellow Rose (unknown variety rescued from late father in law's garden after he went into a nursing home) was very sickly but has now recovered well.

 Lupins now more fully out than a week ago

 Dr Ruppel Clematis


Garden Gallery 2014

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 15:38

Just Joey (After a heavy shower!)

 Unknown variety, rescued from late Dad in Law's garden when he went into a nursing home.

 Lupins in our garden now more fully out in flower

 Dr Ruppel Clematis


Advice needed

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 13:53

Black spot is a fungus (Diplocarpon Rosae). Minor attacks will not harm the plant but the affected leaves should be removed and burned. Severe attacks will weaken the plant. There are various products you can buy to combat the fungus and one method from many years ago was to spray the ground with a solution of household disinfectant or colloidal copper spray. Many of the compounds used years ago have been discontinued but there are a fair few available in GCs such as 'Rose Clear'

Punkdoc: Peat does not necessarily prevent black spot - a book I use written by Ian G. Walls 'A-Z of Garden Pests and Problems' (1979) ISBN  0  907812  66 X recommends using Peat, spent hops, or grass mowings (providing the grass hasn't been treated with hormone weed killers) as a mulch to keep the plants healthy.  

Lyn,  the soil here in Bristol is towards alkaline so the amount of peat I use doesn't do much to turn the soil acidic and the roses seem quite happy. In fact a small azalea we have in the garden which does need acidic soil had to be replanted yesterday in ericacious compost because it definitely looked under the weather after OH moved it last year so I've added a fair amount of peat as a mulch around that too. Time will tell how it likes that. John H

Advice needed

Posted: 23/05/2014 at 10:13

I've been planting roses since I was 14 (that's 55 years) and I have always used the method I was taught then. I dig a hole and partially fill it with John Innes No 3 compost with some FBB (Fish Blood & Bone) added. Then plant the rose with roots spread out and backfill with more John Innes No 3 to fill the hole and gently tread in to firm up, making sure any graft area is above the soil.

If Roses have been planted there before then use some Rootgrow Mycorrhizal Fungi available in GCs around the roots as you plant it, but it isn't really necessary if roses haven't been planted in that spot before.

One of the problems that can/does affect roses is black spot and I add about 2-3 litres of peat to the base of the plant and gently fork it in to help prevent this.

There are those who say we shouldn't be using peat in our gardens but the amount gardeners use is pitifully small compared to the commercial extraction which is then used as fuel to burn. At least gardeners are putting it back into the earth where it belongs.

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