London (change)
Today 15°C / 10°C
Tomorrow 16°C / 10°C

John Harding

Latest posts by John Harding

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!”


Posted: 15/08/2013 at 09:05
BobTheGardener wrote (see)

Hi lucky3, the trick to preventing caterpillars is to net the plants to stop butterflies laying their eggs in the first place.  You can't buy a spray that will stop them laying eggs, but you can buy sprays that will kill the caterpillars without (allegedly) harming anyone who eats the sprayed plants, provided the instructions on the label are followed properly.  Google "bug clear for fruit & veg".

Bob is right, only sure fire way is to net the plants (Oh that I'd done that this year!) I have to go through all the plants two or three times a day and remove all the eggs I find. Inevitable I miss afew and I start to see holes appearing in the leaves. I really do not want to use insecticides so I've given myself a lot of work as the large whites (Cabbage Butterfly) are relentless. I'm the only person in at least 6 houses either side of me that is growing veg and all the butterflys think it's 'showtime' and I've prepared them a Michelin 3 star restaurant.

I've decided that next year I'm going to net all my raised beds with fine mesh but that means I've also got to prepare some frames to attach them to...Hey-Ho!

Type butterfly netting into Google and a number of sites will pop up. JH


Posted: 13/08/2013 at 08:17

If it helps I got fed up with Norton slowing down my PC and popping up reminders to update right in the middle of a Power Point Presentation to a hall full of people so I dumped it and used Kaspersky Internet Security (for the past 10 years now) without any problems.

I also use a software package called 'Advanced System Optimiser' by a company called 'Cleverbridge' which is excellent at removing spyware, adware, malware, all kinds of internet traces and much more. This software (nothing to do with 'Optimiser pro')  keeps the PC at peak performance.

[All Internet Security packages will eventually slow down a PCs operating speed] ASO will regularly remove all the temporary internet files that are responsible for slowing everything down and optimise the registry for best performance.

ASO costs around £20 + Vat

contact Email I use for renewals is (if it helps)


Now... back to picking the courgettes and tomatoes....JH

Best Compost 2013

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 23:36

3" nail was for added iron!

Best Compost 2013

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 21:58
John Harding wrote (see)

I've bought both the Westland Multi-Purpose with John Innes and the Westland Vegetable compost. The veg compost is about £1 cheaper per 60 ltr bag than the MP+JI with both types on same special offer buy 2 get a 3rd free. I used the veg compost to pot on some Courgette plants today in large patio containers mixing in a bit of Growmore as Courgettes do feed voraciously and need a fast release fertiliser. The veg compost is good but for my money the MP+JI is better and worth the extra money. How they will compare in actual growth remains to be seen as I have potted up some in identical containers but using both types - I'll try and remember to post results.

Well, I said I would try and remember to post the results relative to the compost used so here goes!

The Westland veg compost was good and we've had respectable returns but the Westland MP with added John Innes was better - way better - if you don't mind having to pick about a dozen courgettes every day. They are slowing down a bit now but we are still harvesting about 4 per day.

There was quite a bit of discussion about the J Arthur Bowers compost this year which I couldn't initially find but finally did and bought 5 growbags for the greenhouse and yes, it did look horrible stuff I agree but I used it for my tomatoes and the results have been excellent. I posted a picture of one of my 'Country Taste' toms the other day (and there are plenty on the plants): the one in the pic ripened and I picked it on Saturday - it weighed 1lb + 1/4oz and was very sweet. We used some in salads and the rest in our main meal this evening in Nadia Sawalha's Spanish Chicken with Chorizo dish. Yum!

J Arthur Bowers growbags have been used for 'Red Alert' and 'Apero' tomatoes and yields have been excellent.

John H

Good Evening FORKERS

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 21:29

Many years ago a friend lived in Flackwell Heath in Buckinghamshire. A new neighbour moved into the house next door and one of the first things he did was to cut down a mature Oak tree in the front garden which raised a storm of protest from all the nearby neighbours. There was no such thing as a preservation order on the tree (we're talking 40 years ago now) so council could do nothing about it but the local population gave him a lot of 'stick' (metaphorically).

In a fit of pique he sliced off a piece of the fallen tree trunk and used it to rename his house....


He wasn't a popular bunny!

Runner beans

Posted: 12/08/2013 at 16:39

I note all answers on this thread were last year until the last 2. Totally different weather patterns this year: My runner beans are doing very well this year (though they were'nt at all bad last year). Bumble bees do tend to go through the back of the flowers on broad beans though I've not noticed them doing that on my runners but in any case it doesn't seem to have affected the yield much. Runner beans do need plenty of water. I always dig a deep trench and back-fill with material from my compost bin + shredded paper from my office, in fact any organic material that will help to retain water - never seems to fail.


Posted: 12/08/2013 at 16:30

My daughter has the same problem (I grew all our runner beans from seed and she had 20 plants from me). She has this problem but I don't, we've picked pounds of beans & frozen some - eaten a lot!  

We have put a lot of it down to birds [particularly sparrows] taking the flowers, even though we have white flowering runner beans [Moonlight from Dobies seeds in Painton, Devon]. Only difference otherwise is that I have mine in the garden soil whereas my daughter has grown them in 8 large pots + a special Bean growing bag from local GC, given a trial this year but she has kept the plants well watered so it's not about letting them dry out.

Discussions started by John Harding

Signing in problems

log-on keeps dropping out 
Replies: 2    Views: 286
Last Post: 03/06/2014 at 20:12

Signing in problems

log-on keeps dropping out 
Replies: 0    Views: 252
Last Post: 03/06/2014 at 19:57

What's eating my winter Spinach?

Replies: 9    Views: 630
Last Post: 19/11/2013 at 09:12

Email notifications

Replies: 14    Views: 534
Last Post: 25/07/2013 at 06:34

Is it me?

Replies: 5    Views: 580
Last Post: 28/06/2013 at 22:42
5 threads returned