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John Harding

Latest posts by John Harding

Garden Gallery 2013

Posted: 08/08/2013 at 17:08

Gazanias just started flowering, New herb bed is settling down, Chicago Peace Rose produced another flower and Country Taste Tomatoes now starting to ripen

New Herb Bed


Chicago Peace Rose

Country Taste Toms: larger one is over 4 inches across



Posted: 08/08/2013 at 15:22

My personal preference is Felco No 2 which I've had for many years but I do have large hands & they are too big for my wife - she has a pair of Wilkinson Sword, smaller & lighter but very good quality. Felco (not to be confused with the cheap name copy 'Fedco') do a number of styles: The No 2 are robust and currently retail at around £60 so not cheap. Spare parts are also available for Felco (just bought a new blade for mine after 25 years at RHS Wisley plant centre last week) - the only part that's needed replacing since I bought them new!

Buy the best you can afford as there is no substitute for quality.


Posted: 07/08/2013 at 16:53

I personally use an electric Qualcast 13" cylinder mower but you do have to be careful with the elactric lead. It does fine for us but our next door neighbour (who suffers from dementia) has a petrol Honda self propelled (walk behind type) with electric start and that is brilliant. Both I and his neighbour the other side of him offer to cut the lawn for him and I have to say it is a pleasure to use. His lawn is mostly clover, daisies and a few other weeds but it always looks good after it is mown. I wouldn't use it on my lawn for fear of the weed seeds transferring but I would definitely recommend the model to anyone considering a petrol mower. He also has a Mountfield mower of similar size but it is rip-cord start, doesn't always start easily and no-where near as reliable as the Honda - so my recommendation is go for the Honda with an electric start.

GardenIng jokes

Posted: 06/08/2013 at 23:23

Cockerell to hen watching boy eat scrambled egg "There goes our crazy mixed up kid!"

GardenIng jokes

Posted: 06/08/2013 at 16:01

Young man in a fast sports car came around a country bend at high speed only to be faced with a tractor & trailer that had just pulled out of a field into his path. With no time to stop or even slow down without hitting the tractor, the young man crashed through the hedge around the back of the trailer, back through the hedge and onto the road again and disappeared.

"Blige Bert", said the farmer to his lad beside him, "we only just got out of that field in time!"

GardenIng jokes

Posted: 05/08/2013 at 23:36

Executive driving his Porsch 911 down a country lane comes up behind a tractor, pulls out to overtake when the tractor turns right into a gateway without any warning. Clouds of tyre smoke begin to disperse as the exec gets out of his car and rants at the farmer "What the 'ell do you think you're doing, haven't you ever learned to indicate?"

"But I always turns in yer" came the reply!

Blossom End Rot (Toms)

Posted: 04/08/2013 at 23:33

The more your plants grow the greater uptake of water will occur due to the natural transpiration of the plant: more foliage = faster rate of transpiration. If you let the plant dry out and the foliage flops you can restore the foliage if you water in time but the plant's ability to take up some of the nutrients will be impared.

Many gardeners (me included) will reduce some of the foliage to reduce transpiration rates and help send the plant's energy into the production of fruit but for my part I don't like to take too much foliage off because the plant still needs to be able to breathe and photosynthesize.

greenhouse savvy

Posted: 04/08/2013 at 19:59

Forum seems to be 'all at sea' this evening. Made a couple of posts and when checking to see and check for any typos the entry was blank! Seems to have happened here as well so am not really expecting this to appear either!

The spell checker as you type a post isn't working either, just puts up an error code!  


Good Evening FORKERS

Posted: 04/08/2013 at 19:47

Not enough to send to Peterborough nut! it will have gone off by the time the post arrives! Could have dropped some round if I had been at my late gran's as she lived in Garten End Road but sadly Bristol is a long way from there!


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

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