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John Harding

Latest posts by John Harding

Best multi purpose compost this year ?

Posted: 15/06/2014 at 22:51

I agree with Mike Allen, I have used a lot of Westlands composts this year and yes, they have been very good but I've only bought the Westlands because I couldn't find any JAB. Last week I visited a local nursery I have never been to in the 48 years we've lived here and they had plenty of JAB 100 litre bales in stock @ £6.00 each so I immediately bought 1 multipurpose and 1 bark chips to try.

I was able to see the composition of the MP because the nursery had a GH with about a dozen 100 litre bales laid on the GH floor, tops cut out and 4 tomato plants growing in each. The plants looked fantastically healthy and the compost looked very acceptable. I have potted on a few plants in the JAB MP already and they are doing fine.

Over all I have always favoured JAB MP when I can get it. Companies like JAB do a lot of research and have good quality control so I really wouldn't be put off by what the compost looks like because you can bet it will bring good results if used as the manufacturer suggests. As Mike suggests (depending on what I'm growing) I add a little composted manure to the mix - particularly with courgettes.

Incidentally, we picked 3 courgettes and 5 cucumbers today: yum!

Help needed

Posted: 09/06/2014 at 13:56
Haxnicks deep root trainers are about 4" deep and there are 32 spaces per tray. I let mine grow till the roots just start to show at the bottom then open them and carefully transfer the entire root ball into a pre-dibbed hole. I've made my dibber out of an old fork handle so it's about 40mm thick. I use the same dibber for planting leeks with a metal sleeve around it to get a consistent depth.

Help needed

Posted: 09/06/2014 at 12:24

PS Steve,

I sowed 'Countess' parsnips in Haxnicks deep root trainers in the GH to get them started this year. about 50% germinated but then they all disappeared! discovered a snail hiding under the root trainers during the day..Grrrr!

Re-sowed the seed and protected against the little critters and all germinated OK and are now growing very well in their final positions. Method of sowing was 5 seeds per station then thin out the weakest after germination.

Help needed

Posted: 09/06/2014 at 12:19

Yes Steve, I've been unlucky with seed this year. I sowed some Swiss chard (bright lights) and beetroot (Alto) both from Dobies and they have come up showing discoloured and wilted leaves. Searched the internet for cause & remedy and advised most likely cause is infected seed so I've pulled them all up, used another raised bed and re-sowed with Mr Fothergill's seed. Have planted the leek seedlings where the swiss chard & beetroot were.

Growing Tomatoes in Pots

Posted: 09/06/2014 at 12:10

I use 2 watering methods for when I go away. 1. is I use a water computer set to come on for a couple of minutes 3 times a day to a micro-bore drip feed system set up in the GH and 2. is last year I invested in a Hozelock watering tray that holds 15 litres of water in the base and is said to last for 14 days (but if the plants have a lot of foliage the transpiration rate will be higher and the Water will last fewer days). Has worked well for me as we only ever go away for a max. of 1 week.

Irregular watering can cause tomato skins to split as well as the blossom end rot problem. 

Help needed

Posted: 09/06/2014 at 11:46

Not all Courgettes are the bush type: I am growing a climbing one this year called 'Black Forest' F1 based on the fantastic results of last year. These cost about £1 per seed from Dobies at Paignton but I have been very disappointed with the germination rate at less than 50% so they have effectively cost me £2 + per seed despite Dobies replacing the 1st packet FOC. 1st packet = 4 seeds 100% failure rate, 2nd packet 4 seeds 75% failure rate. Bit the bullet and bought 2 more packets (8 seeds) and achieved 75% success (6 of the 8 germinated) so I had sufficient for myself and my daughter.

We grow them in 16 inch dia. pots filling the bottom 2/3rd with Westlands composted farmyard manure topped up with Westlands Veg growing compost into which the plants were potted (1 plant per pot). Normally that would be a very expensive way of doing it but I got a very good deal from my local GC. Another Courgette variety I have had good success with is 'Supremo F1' which is a bush type.


Posted: 06/06/2014 at 19:22
Oh yes! (As Churchill says) we bought a couple of hardy fuschias at CS Lockyer and 1 each 100 litre bales of bark and MP compost from the nursery.


Posted: 06/06/2014 at 18:47
Been a lovely day here in Bristol. Clouded over a little now but no rain, not yet anyway. Drove an angle iron stake into the ground to support a fence post that's broken at ground level - water everywhere all of a sudden! I'd forgotten the buried pipe that supplies water to the GH!
Had to set to and mend that before I could carry on!
We have lived here for nearly 50 years and visited a local nursery for the first time. It's been there longer than we have & we can't believe it's taken this long to go there. CS Lockyer - the fuschia people who show at Chelsea etc are almost adjoined to them & we only went there for the first time 3 weeks ago!


Posted: 06/06/2014 at 15:46

Mrs G, Verdun's a pussycat, all you have to do is say 'cake' and all thoughts of quizzing go out of the window. It's Fairygirl you have to watch out for with that wand of hers!  rivet,rivet,rivet ...see what I mean!

Greenhouse advice

Posted: 06/06/2014 at 08:06

I saw a Robinson GH a couple of years ago (an octagonal one) and thought "T|hat's exactly what I want" Then I saw the price and gulped - twice! but I bit the bullet and went for it (just over £3,000 but they had a 40% discount offer). I knew I was crackers but like the silkworm that will not eat anything else once its tried Mulberry I also knew nothing else would do - I would always be thinking "Oh why didn't I buy the Robinson!"

Now I've had it a couple of years I know I did the right thing - there is a saying "Quality is remembered long after price is forgotten" ... However, at Gardeners World Live at NEC last year there was a greenhouse company that was of equivalent quality and much cheaper (I think it was called 'Rhino') I was talking to someone just about a week ago and she had bought a Rhino and was very pleased with it. If you are going to Gardeners World Live next week it will be worth having a look at what's on offer as there are often some very good show offers.

Someone on this forum a few months ago had moved into another property that had a Robinson GH and didn't want it (I'd bet that didn't hang around long) so keep looking around, there just might be a good deal coming up from someone wanting to sell or give away a redundant GH. Also just type greenhouse into the ebay search bar and see what's on offer.

PS. Just done a quick search on eBay and there is a Robinson 6x6 toughened glass GH on offer for just £80. Don't know where you are but it is in Chatham (Kent) 'buyer to collect'


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