John Harding

Latest posts by John Harding

Brussell sprout newbie advice

Posted: 19/06/2017 at 10:15

When the plants reach 30cms (12") high I doubt the birds will be so interested as they like the fresh young shoots - but the the cabbage white butterfly will be all over them laying eggs on the underside of the leaves. These will develop into voracious caterpillars that can devastate the entire crop. I hate using chemicals to kill the caterpillars as the sprays can be extremely harmful to other beneficial creatures plus I like to know exactly what I am feeding my family. That is why I have invested in a butterfly proof netting & cage for my brassica plot - I have 3 identical size raised beds about 3 x 1.2 mts so I can easily move the cage for crop rotation. The cages are not cheap however but I have learned that hand picking caterpillars is laborious and relatively ineffective because of the perpetual onslaught of the butterflies right into autumn and the resultant damage to crops is so dispiriting.

Runner Beans

Posted: 18/06/2017 at 22:58

I have previously grown white flowering runner beans as they do not get attacked by sparrows as badly as red flowering varieties. Moonlight have been my favoured choice but last year I tried a new improved version called 'Snowstorm'. They were brilliant and were indeed superior to Moonlight in quality, size, flavour etc including freezerbility (is there such a word? I'm sure you will get my meaning.

Now, the point of this post was not to extol the virtue of the beans but to highlight the growing method. I spotted someone else placing their bean sticks in an 'X' formation (I have always done the conventional 'A' frame!). An 'X' formation is easier to do as the crossover of the canes is much lower, and 2. when the beans grow they do not get so tangled at the top of the frame and as the beans hang down they are so much easier to see and to pick. Hope this makes sense!

Brussell sprout newbie advice

Posted: 18/06/2017 at 22:45

I have grown Brussels sprouts and many other brassicas on & off for more than 50 years. The advice given by scroggin above is very sound. Yes, firm ground and press the soil around the stem & downward when planting out, then water well (about 5 litres per plant). I planted some of mine out about a month ago and they were slow to get going so I went to my shed and took out some Epsom Salts and put a little around each plant and raked it in with a small hand fork taking care not to leave the salts touching the plant stems. Gave them all another good drink and the effect is amazing - they are now growing rapidly and look incredibly healthy having quadrupled in size.

Pigeons and sparrows are the biggest problem for me (apart from the dreaded cabbage white butterfly) so I have invested in a professional netting system from Knowle Nets in Dorset with 7mm mesh nets covering the raised bed to 2 metres high that the brassicas are in this year. 

Not been on here for a while

Posted: 18/06/2017 at 08:32

Trying again from my PC - not convinced as yet that it's going to upload the pic. If it doesn't I'll try again in a day or so. I've tried putting the pic in (taken this morning) but all I see on screen is a little blue square with a question mark in it.

Just a thought - is the glitch because Gardeners World Live is on this W/E at the NEC in B/ham? Maybe uploading pics are blocked because of that for whatever reason.  John H

Not been on here for a while

Posted: 17/06/2017 at 21:12

Ok, thanks - I'll try again next week some time

Not been on here for a while

Posted: 17/06/2017 at 20:58

I don't know if the latest picture of my garden will appear here. I am using a MacBook Pro at present and haven't tried putting a pic up on this (need some more tuition methinks!)   However - here goes...

Ah! I see that didn't work. Will have to go back to the old PC and do it that way - next week I'm afraid!


Last edited: 17 June 2017 21:00:35

Not been on here for a while

Posted: 17/06/2017 at 20:01

Hi everyone,

Since my Mum passed away last January 12 months I haven't been on the forum very much at all. Had to deal with Mum's estate, Probate and the 101 other things that become necessary and take a lot of time as her executor plus my voluntary work as a training officer for PUWER 1998 (Provision and Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) I teach people how to stay safe using potentially dangerous tools & equipment.  All that by the way.

It has been a busy year or so in the garden as well. I have needed to replace some of the boards in my raised beds as they rotted away despite being 6" x 2" tanalised timber. I have now started to put Heavy Duty polythene sheet against the boards before backfilling again with the soil - that seems to be working a treat. The family apple tree (James Grieve, Cox's Orange Pippin and Bramley Seedling all on one tree) that was in the garden became diseased so we had it removed and a circular patio put down plus in April this year we replaced the lawn (described earlier this morning in a separate post).

I ran a charity plant sale here in Bristol in May and we raised over £350 for a special fund that helps supply a Meal a Day for  desperately poor people in developing countries (mostly Africa and mostly children but also supplies and installs wells and pumps for villages where water supply is a few miles trek for often dirty water from streams). We got our local youth club to come and sow seeds which we then were able to sell. The kids thoroughly enjoyed the experience and are looking forward to doing it again next year under the supervision of myself and my friend Bob (both of us RHS Members).

Well, I think I've written enough here to make everyone's eyes go funny so I'll sign off for now. John H

Last edited: 17 June 2017 20:03:55

Cleaning plastic plant labels

Posted: 17/06/2017 at 19:32

Correction to my earlier post today - The pen I use is a Fine point Staedtler permanent Lumocolor not a Stabilo. It might say "Permanent" on the pen but not against Cellulose thinners. Main benefit to me of the pen is that the ink does not fade in bright sunlight.

Laying new lawn covered in dandelions

Posted: 17/06/2017 at 12:28

I recently had a similar problem (without the dandelions). Lawn was uneven and during last summer patches of brown appeared. During  April the entire lawn was rotovated to remove the old grass which was then composted, ground was re-levelled and good quality turf put down. Bought a new sprinkler and kept it watered every day (1 hour per session 'we have a water meter!!!') and didn't walk on it until it needed cutting ('twas 3 weeks). Lawn now looks excellent.

We have used a company to come 4 times a year to spread fertiliser on the lawn (no names mentioned) but to be honest I have found them to be a complete waste of time and money so have given them the flick (as they say).

Cleaning plastic plant labels

Posted: 17/06/2017 at 09:39

I use a Stabilo fine black marker pen - then after plants are planted out I simply dip the label in a drop of cellulose thinners for 1 second and wipe it - clean as a whistle (as they say). Very quick, very easy ... but then again I do have a tin of cellulose thinners in my workshop - a 500ml tin can be purchased from a car accessory shop. Have to say though - a fresh set of labels would be cheaper if that's all you are going to use it for.

Last edited: 17 June 2017 09:40:38

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