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John Harding

Latest posts by John Harding


Posted: 04/08/2013 at 19:36

Hi NB2,

When you say the beds will be empty do you mean of plants or of soil? I live in Mangotsfield and had that red clay soil but dug it all out of my raised beds when I removed railway sleepers & used the soil for raising the lawn area. (Organo-Phosphates [the preservatives used in rly. sleepers] can be real nasties and shouldn't be used for veg plants) so I changed the sides & supports for tanallised boards & steel channels. My 3 main raised beds are 4 ft.x10 ft x 14inches deep and they took 4 'builders bags' of topsoil to fill them all. I bought nice friable loam topsoil from a company in Solihull who were advertising on the internet. This was excellent except for a few nettles that began to come up in it but judicious weeding has solved that little problem (just glad it wasn't mares tail that someone else on this forum got in 'fresh' topsoil!)

If you just want to add manure to existing soil then the Bristol soil (assuming yours is similar to what mine was) then stable manure will help break up the clay and will give you good results (though be warned - horses eat weeds as well as grass and the seeds come out at the tail end already primed for a robust life wherever it drops! A Cambidgeshire farmer friend once told me to lighten clay you need horse manure with plenty of straw in the mix but with light sandy soil you need cow manure to make it more workable and retain moisture. 

My guess is that 1/2 a dozen 'builders bags' of well rotted stable manure will enrich the ground well but you may not need to manure all of the beds in one year. Root crops will not benefit from fresh manure as it will cause them to fork and distort. Beetroot will just produce leaf growth & little root if the soil is too rich. Legumes (Peas & beans) will love well manured ground as will brassicas (particularly cauliflower and broccoli) + cougettes, marrows, salad leaves etc. Potatoes will like a little organic material as this stops 'scab' on the tubers. Runner beans will benefit from manure and the addition of anything that will hold water [straw etc] as they thrive in moist well watered and manured ground.

My method for manuring a bed is to dig a trench at the end of the bed & put the soil at the back, then fill the trench with manure and backfill with the next trench on top to form a new trench and work backwards through the whole bed with the original trench material going on top of the final addition of manure. (My dad taught me that in the 1950s). Hope this helps, John H

Good Evening FORKERS

Posted: 04/08/2013 at 18:37

Courgettes are slowing down, picked 6 yesterday but only 1 ready today. Picked a few tomatoes, they're coming on well now: My 'Country Taste' are all still green but the size is amazing - really healthy looking fruits over 4 inches in dia - supposed to be the sweetest available: I'll let you know when they ripen fully. Made a salad today for a  'Bring & Share' lunch we have 1st Sunday of every month. It looked very nice when assembled so I took a pic.

 Ingredients: (a few from my garden but with some from Sainsburys!)

Lettuce (Sweetheart & Lollo Rosso), Spring onions (diced), celery (finely sliced) cucumber (skinned & sliced), sweet red pepper (Julienned), Wild Rocket, Baby Sweetcorns (quartered & sliced), baby tomatoes (Halved), + Nasturtium flowers which have a lovely peppery taste.

Garden Gallery 2013

Posted: 03/08/2013 at 23:00

Is it soemthing to do with Eryngium? I notice a sleepy bumble bee on the path today beside the Eryngium - maybe the nectar of Eryngium is intoxicating for bees?

Forum up the creek

Posted: 03/08/2013 at 22:56
Lavande wrote (see)


Have emailed GW because the website seems to be able to sign me in and out at will. I can assume the computer has crashed when it goes offline but I have logged out and come back to find I'm still on line and signed in. I logged off and double checked I was logged off – then went back on to the site and I was signed in. I'm really worried. Not only that I have already typed up a message to post saying all this and just as I pressed submit I was logged off again. So I've had to type it up again. So if it appears twice that's the reason. But I am worried. I got an automated reply saying my enquiry will be dealt with.

If when you type a response you hi-light what you've typed before you press 'submit' then hit Ctrl and C together, then press submit and you lose it, just go back into you response box and hold down Ctrl & V and everything you typed will drop back into the box again. (Ctrl & C is the short cut on a PC for 'copy' and Ctrl & V is the PC shortcut for 'paste', Don't know what it is for a Mac though. 


Posted: 02/08/2013 at 21:24

Compost isn't something that just makes itself. It's worth looking up on Google but I use about 1/3rd green material to 2/3rds brown material (differences will be explained in Googled items. Then a proprietry brand of compost maker such as Garotta added to the mix + some water and turn the mix regularly to get air into it to assist in the breakdown of the material.

Plastic or Wood?

Personally I use 2 plastic containers because I just do not have the room to make a wooden enclosure. One is a semi-cone shaped bin that was supplied by the local council many years ago (I hesitate to say free because it all comes out of the 'rates' as they used to be called so we pay for them eventually anyway!). The other is a 200 litre Compost Tumbler I bought via the internet from a company that recycles food industry used barrels. Both do an excellent job (IF) you remember to tumble and/or turn the material regularly. Just letting it sit in a barrel static for a year will just produce a soggy mess!


Posted: 01/08/2013 at 23:08

This was the subject of one of the Gardeners Question Time topics last Sunday afternoon. Apparently a lot of people are experiencing this this year. Answer given was that it is likely to be a combination of heat and poor ventilation. It was suggested that the pots be raised and positioned where a good circulation of fresh air can be achieved. I've had a few drop and go mouldy though we have picked well over 50 courgettes so far this season so we aren't bothered about the odd one or two. The ones that have been affected are close to other tubs so circulation of fresh air hasn't been all it could have been. 3 plants seem to be unaffected (Black Forest F1) These are climbing up a spiral wire frame and fully exposed to air currents so that does look as though lack of air circulation was the reason for the few failures on the other plants. I am also feeding the plants with some of the Tomato feed which seems to help.

laying a new lawn

Posted: 01/08/2013 at 22:51

Just a useful tip when laying a turf lawn - It's 'green side up' ! 

Frog sighting :)

Posted: 01/08/2013 at 22:49

We don't have a pond at all, neither do our next door neighbours but our garden seems to be overun (almost) with frogs from baby ones no more than an inch long to more mature ones 3 inches long (front to back). Lovely sight to see and great to know they are keeping a lot of the pests at bay. 2 grand-daughters aged 10 & 12 love to go froggy hunting when they come round to see us and get very excited when they find one. A couple have found my Hoselock watering tray in the greenhouse and have made it their home for the present (I'll have to be very careful when the tomatoes have finished & I need to tidy up for the winter).

Good Evening FORKERS

Posted: 27/07/2013 at 21:21

Been raining steadily here since about 3.30pm and has just stopped. Went down the garden and filled buckets and watering cans with water and the water butts are now filled to overflowing. Grass is much greener and the 'crop circle' has gone (thankfully).

Picked some more tomatoes from the greenhouse (It's only the 'Red Alert' that are ripening at present) Apero and Country Taste all still green but the Country Taste are more than 4 inches dia. Apart from the 6 CTs I had to pick off because they'd gone a funny colour they are doing very well. I finally came to the conclusion the 6 had succumbed to the heat as they were fully exposed to the sunlight whereas the others had some shade from the leaves.

I do have some green GH shading but it's difficult to secure over an octagonal GH - I think I'll make something bespoke for next year as I don't like the paint on stuff. We also have a number of small frogs hopping around the graden and in & out of the greenhouse: keeps the smaller slugs under control and the grand children love to see them.

Good Evening FORKERS

Posted: 27/07/2013 at 21:08

Fairygirl wrote (see)

"Been outside all day as weather has been really pleasant. Potted up my new Bramleys  and the other tomato, "

Fg: you had another one? !!!



Discussions started by John Harding

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Signing in problems

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