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John Harding

Latest posts by John Harding

What's eating my winter Spinach?

Posted: 30/10/2013 at 10:23


No, they are being eaten (cropped) off at soil level as though something is eating the roots.

Camera Corner

Posted: 30/10/2013 at 10:21

Been away a few weeks and just found this thread. Love it, some really good pics displayed. Here is one of the house at Bodnant Garden


What's eating my winter Spinach?

Posted: 30/10/2013 at 10:04

I sowed a few winter spinach in October and they have germinated and the seedings are now about 2 inches high but every morning I find 2 or three of the seedlings lying flat on the seedbed just cropped off at soil level. The tops are not being eaten, just left lying as they fall. I've tried lifting and sifting the soil under the seedlings to a depth of around 3 inches but haven't found anything. The plants are in a cold-frame with hinged glazed lids. Does anyone know what might be causing this?  I've added a pic below taken a few minutes ago: the seedling on the right is one that has been cropped last night.


Good Evening FORKERS

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 20:28

 John H’s Courgette Bake Recipe:


1 Medium Courgette (about 400gms)

1 Medium Red Onion

150gms bacon lardons or 3 chopped rashers of bacon

1 Garlic clove crushed & chopped (or minced)

125mls Crème Fraiche

3 Eggs

250gms grated cheddar cheese

125mls milk

4 tablespoons ordinary olive oil

200gms self-raising flour

500gms* sliced tomato (approx. 5mm slices)

30gms Parmesan cheese (finely grated)

8-10 leaves of fresh Basil (sliced not chopped)

3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh Parsley

Desert spoon chopped Fresh Thyme leaves

4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3-4 slices of bread crumbed in a food processor

Sea Salt and ground black peppercorns

* or sufficient to cover the top of the mix – see 5 below - [I use beefsteak tomatoes]




1.    Chop Red Onion into approx. 10mm pieces and fry gently with the bacon until soft & bacon beginning to crisp. Leave to cool.

2.    Combine the grated courgette with the onion , bacon, flour, ordinary olive oil, beaten eggs, milk + salt & pepper to taste.

3.    Pour into a 10 x 8” greased tin.

4.    Mix the garlic into the Crème Fraiche and spread evenly over the mix.

5.    Place the slices of tomato over the mixture and sprinkle the sliced Basil over.

6.    Mix the chopped parsley and thyme with the bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese, plus a little sea salt & ground black peppercorns to taste, add the extra virgin olive oil and mix together, then sprinkle the crumb mixture evenly over the tomato & basil.

7.    Bake in a pre-heated oven at 160°C (fan oven) or 180°C ordinary oven for approx. 40 minutes until the top of the breadcrumb mix is golden brown (check after 30mins).

Good Evening FORKERS

Posted: 03/09/2013 at 20:27

Evening all, Picked about 5lbs runner beans this afternoon and about 3lbs of blackberries (perimeter hedge in local park is loaded with blackberries & very few people seem interested in picking them [really big ones too]). Eileen has been making Blackberry and Apple in the microwave and 6lbs of Bramble Jelly from the berries we picked last week. She has also frozen around 10lbs of B/berries in our spare freezer in my workshop and this morning froze down about 6lbs of runner beans she picked this morning (Canes are 8ft high and she can't reach the top so gets me to collect the high ones as I'm 6ft.4"). Discovered 2 more rather large courgettes this afternoon under the bottom leaves (I sense another Courgette & Tomato bake coming on!).

Green Thumb came to treat the lawn t'other day and pointed out that we have 'red thread' in the lawn. That will need treating if it gets any worse but is only just detectable at present (a fungus that thrives in warm humid weather and causes parts of the lawn to turn brown).

In case anyone is interested my Courgette bake recipe follows in next post.

Good Evening FORKERS

Posted: 02/09/2013 at 18:37

Cooked Bill Grainger's Baked Tuna Risotto this evening from the 9.00 slot on ITV's "Lorraine" - absolutely brilliant. Recipe can be found on then click on food. Used mostly our own veg in the dish + Parsley from the new herb bed. I can highly recommend his recipe. Added a phot of the dish + an update showing how the new herb bed (built in mid July) is progressing.



Posted: 01/09/2013 at 20:41
cedric blackwell wrote (see)

I have been told about a little black beatle about 1mm x 2mm in size that gets inside the flower and eats all the pollen, thuse stoping it being fertalized, the flower will then fall off.

Having looked at the flowers on my runners, i can see this little black beatle, so what i whould like to is what can be done about it, PLEASE. Cedric.

Take their guitars and drums away - that'll sort the little beatles out!

Garden Gallery 2013

Posted: 30/08/2013 at 22:41

Haven't been on the forum for a while so Hi again everyone. I'm having to study to produce a 4 hour tutorial for Telford International centre in September on the safe use of Abrasive wheels to PUWER Regs (Provision & Use of Work Equipment Regulations 1998) so that has been taking a lot of my time.

So far as the garden goes we've been inundated with Courgettes [about 100 picked so far] - have been supplying family & friends: Tomatoes are getting towards the end but still picking quite a few each day. The Great White (cabbage) butterflies got into the greenhouse and laid a load of eggs and the resulting caterpillars have decimated the foliage and quite a few of the fruits too but there have been plenty for us so no great harm done. The Red Alert (bush variety) have been good but the plants grew so much that it was difficult to control. Lesson learned "don't grow bush types in the greenhouse" The Apero have been absolutely brilliant - small plum type, very sweet and prolific. The Country Taste didn't have so many fruits but the size of each fruit easliy made up for that [1 fruit weighed in at over 1 lb!] they are also very sweet and make the most fabulous tomato sandwiches with ground black pepper & a little sea salt (Yum!). The runner beans are unbelievably prolific this summer - our freezers are filling up rapidly as well as keeping our daughter & family constantly supplied plus ourselves. The variety we've grown again this year is the white flowering "Moonlight"  -  These have a wonderful flavour and are great just to pick & eat straight from the plant which I frequently do as I refuse to use any chemicals on my plants. The ladybirds & their larvae have kept all the blackfly down. Have started picking the Aubergines this week - they are the best they've been for years (Must be the brilliant summer we've had this year).

Had daughter & family round for tea this evening - made a chicken curry & used home grown chilli (Fresno) in it which was good. I wondered if the girls (11 & 13)  would find it too hot but they loved it. Abbie (the 11 year old nearly had a fit when her dad pinched a little bit when he thought she wasn't looking - I didn't know 11 year old girls could be so eloquent without resorting to bad language - bet he won't try that again! lol.

The first new raised bed we had made in June has come on very well. The Castor Oil plant (Ricinus) we were given by a friend in late June when it was about 12" tall is now about 6ft tall and flourishing with some flame red flower bracts and deep copper coloured foliage: I can't remember the variety but it's really attractive. The Dr Ruppel Clematis alongside it is in full flower again too and a whole string of flowers is tumbling down the other (sunny) side of the wall as well as the ones on the garden side.

Well, it's 22.40 now so time I signed off and made some Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzs !


Posted: 17/08/2013 at 15:37
ladymuckypup wrote (see)

My runner beans have been fantastic this year and were last year too.  I use Thompson & Morgan's Moonlight beans as I find that the sparrows pull and red flowers off the plants and Moonlight has white flowers.  The beans are tasty and prolific so I would recommend you try them next year. Not much you can do now except try some tomato fertiliser. I use this mid-season and it gives them that extra boost to keep on producing flowers. Good luck!

Me too, I buy mine from Dobies in Paignton but they are the same variety. First tried them about 3 or 4 years ago and they were so good I don't bother with other varieties now. I don't use the Tomato fertiliser though, I dig a couple of  deep trenches early season and empty the entire contents of one of my compost beans into it, back fill and rake to a fine tilth, then when the beans are ready for planting out I put them in there. I use 8 ft bamboo canes and when the tips reach the top of the canes I pinch the tops out to promote extra side shoot growth.

GardenIng jokes

Posted: 16/08/2013 at 21:29

Harry went to buy a horse. Previous owner was a bishop who had raised and trained the horse himself. "It's a very lively animal", he said, "but you need to know I never used the usual commands of 'Walk on' and 'Whoa' for start and stop. Being a bishop I trained him to respond to only 2 commands: to start him off just say 'Praise the Lord' and to stop say 'Amen' "

"OK" said Harry, "sounds very simple to me, I can cope with that alright" so he paid the bishop for the horse, mounted up, said "Praise the Lord" and set off along the sea cliffs close by. The horse being fairly lively began to canter towards the cliff edge. "Whoa" said Harry, - no response, "stop!" he shouted, beginning to panic thinking to himself "what was the word the bishop said to get the horse to stop" - for the life of him, in his increasing panic he couldn't remember the 'stop' command and the horse was rapidly approaching the edge of the cliff some 300 ft above the rocky shore.

"What was it? What was it? he thought in panic - then suddenly it came to him ... "AMEN" he shouted: 

The horse dug its hooves into the turf and came to a sudden stop just 3 feet from the cliff edge.

With a sigh of relief at his narrow escape Harry exclaimed: ………………..”PRAISE THE LORD!”

Discussions started by John Harding

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What's eating my winter Spinach?

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