John Harding

Latest posts by John Harding

How long do Lupins live?

Posted: 07/06/2015 at 20:35

I grew my lupins from seed a few years ago and we've had a variety of colours but they do tend to revert over time to pink (as you can see from the pic below) They haven't all gone pink but the majority have! Time to re-sow fresh seed methinks.


Keeping Cats off of Garden - Tried and Tested Ideas only please

Posted: 07/06/2015 at 20:23

Ah! the natural solution - doesn't always work though - we have a lot of urban foxes here in Bristol and frequently see them at night. Cat population doesn't seem to diminish though! (unless their owners move away!!!)

Parsnips problem

Posted: 06/06/2015 at 23:02

Outdoors in prepared bed late Feb or March depending on where you are in the country (if memory serves me right that's Coventry?) Parsnips do not like very warm conditions so it's probably too late to sow now to get good results. Neither do they like freshly manured ground as that will cause the roots to fork. Ref the toilet roll centres Logan, I use them to start the seeds off in the GH and plant them out before they reach the bottom of the tube: they will then continue to grow unchecked in their final positions which can be prepared using sifted soil etc to fill tapered holes.

Bamboo - what am I doing wrong?

Posted: 06/06/2015 at 20:40

I had a black bamboo but it was sited in an exposed part of the garden where the wind  funneled through between the garage and the greenhouse and it died. Not knowing what the cause was I bought another with same result - then someone pointed out the exposed position and said that was the probable cause so I didn't try again.

Keeping Cats off of Garden - Tried and Tested Ideas only please

Posted: 06/06/2015 at 20:29

Problem with rabbits is not the poo but the fact they indiscriminately munch their way through all the produce you can grow. You can get special rabbit fencing to connect to the electric fence but rabbits have a habit of jumping fences or burrowing underneath them. If the fields adjacent offer sufficient food for them they probably will not bother you. Alternative is - if they eat your food - you eat them!

Keeping Cats off of Garden - Tried and Tested Ideas only please

Posted: 06/06/2015 at 14:35

I also bought an electric fence device called 'The Mosquito' - it certainly worked as a means of stopping cats and grey squirrels (aka tree rats) but the down side is that as the plants begin to grow near the fence wire it will arc across and burn the leaves. It is very sucessful over a seed bed though in the early stages. I haven't used it now for a few years as the neighbours who had 4 cats, 5 yapping dogs and a rabbit have now moved away. There is just 1 local cat that was beginning to be a problem so I have invested in 4 cat scarers (CATWATCH - the only one recommended by RSPB) and strategically placed have solved the problem - they aren't cheap however @ circa £55 each. They take 1 PP3 battery each (not supplied) which can also be expensive so I use rechargeable Duracells, though manufacturers do say using them will invalidate their warranty! So far they have worked perfectly so I wonder the reason for the disclaimer! They say ONLY Duracell Alkaline should be used so I wonder if they have shares in Duracell !!! - they also offer a mains unit for about 15 quid per unit.


Posted: 06/06/2015 at 13:59


Parsnips will not like being transplanted if it means separating them and disturbing the roots. I collected around 50 toilet roll centre tubes and made a wooden box to house them, then filled them all with compost and sowed 3 seeds in each in February in the greenhouse, pricking out the 2 weakest in each station after germination. These then grew on in their stations until they were ready to be planted out in April. They are now growing very well in their final positions.

The pic above shows the box with the thinning out done. It is important in my opinion to add a copper strip around the box to deter slugs and snails as they love to eat the tender young plants. If they do get over the copper strip ad a second strip below it and connect a pair of wires to the strips and connect to a small battery And that will guarantee they will not cross!

The cardboard tubes are best planted out with the seedlings and they will just rot down in the soil. Hope this helps

John H

Scarlet Emporor Runner Bean in blossom indoors in Feb advice please! :)

Posted: 07/04/2015 at 16:58

Of course, if there are plenty of flowers they are edible and can add a little bright cheerfulness to a salad!????

Growing tomatoes

Posted: 03/04/2015 at 10:48
Who is 'Steve' David?

Growing tomatoes

Posted: 26/03/2015 at 22:38

Sounds like "damping off" - a fungal disease than can affect young wallflower seedlings and others too. Below is a quote from the Marshallseeds website re damping od of wallflower seedlings:


Wallflower English Bedder Blend
Erysimum cheiri

Perennial Bedder Blend has dense clusters of fragrant, 1/2", velvety, richly colored flowers in shades of yellow, orange, brown, and rusty red. A must for any English garden or rock garden, these very fragrant and showy flowers are also especially nice in containers and as a ground cover for spring blooming bulbs. Does well in coastal and mountainous regions where it thrives in cool summers. 

Full sun to light shade. Blooms spring. 

Height: 10" - 12" tall

Days to Emerge: 5 - 10 Days

Seed Depth: 1/4"

Seed Spacing: 1"

Thinning: When 1/2" tall, thin to 1 every 8" 

When to sow outside: 2 - 4 weeks before average last frost or in early fall, 2 months before average first frost. 

When to start inside: 6 - 8 weeks before average last frost. 

Special Germination Instructions: Seedlings are very susceptible to damping off (fungal seedling disease); use a very light, sterilized soil mix and water from the bottom.

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