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Latest posts by keepitlive

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Will chicken wire keep moles out of raised beds?

Posted: 31/07/2013 at 13:56

I am engaged in a long-running, frustrating and (so far) unsuccessful war with one or more moles in my garden. I have had no success with the traps that I deploy but will persevere. Until a few days ago, the location of molehills and collapsed tunnels has been bearable. Then, a molehill appeared in one of the raised beds of my vegetable garden. Unbidden, the phrase 'That's the FINAL straw!' came to my lips.

Would chicken wire (or something similar) laid 12" under the final soil surface stop the little blighters? I would probably run it up the lower inside face of the frame and staple it to the timber. What size mesh would be required?

Or, alternatively, should I just get a life?

Enormous Gooseberry Brush

Posted: 20/04/2013 at 09:52

hi nightgarden

I think that trying to move massively overgrown fruit bushes at any time of year would be difficult purely because of their size, so would recommend pruning first. Having pruned it, you probably won't get much of a crop (if any) the following year. There is also the risk that an old, neglected fruit bush won't survive the trauma of being moved.

The best time to move fruit bushes (and most other shrubs) is when they are dormant in winter (November-December). If you do it then, you can try and insure against loss of the shrubs by taking hardwood cuttings beforehand (October is best).

Cut ripe shoots of gooseberries and currants to length (Blackcurrant - 8"-10", Red- and Whitecurrant - 12", Gooseberry - 12"-15"). On blackcurrant and gooseberry, keep all buds to assist rooting. On red- and whitecurrant, remove all but the top 3 - 4 buds to prevent suckering (rub the buds out with your thumb). To prepare the cutting, make a horizontal cut just below a node at the base, a sloping cut away from the bud at the top - this helps to ensure the cuttings are planted the right way up.

Using a spade, prepare a slit trench in a sheltered location in free-draining soil (if on heavy soil, add some gritty sand to base of trench). Insert cuttings of gooseberries and red/whitecurrants to half their length, with blackcurrants, leave only top 2 buds above soil. Firm the soil and water in. Label the cuttings. They should be ready to plant out in the following autumn.

Before replanting gooseberry cuttings, rub out any shoots on the lower 4" of stem or any buds from the root area to avoid suckering.

What is this?

Posted: 18/04/2013 at 18:04

Thanks to dizzylizzy, Joe_the_Gardener and nutcutlet for your suggestions and help. As suggested by nutcutlet, I'm pretty sure that the plant is Coltsfoot. I shall persevere with the Roundup.

For anyone with the same problem, but wanting an organic solution, there is advice and info at


What is this?

Posted: 18/04/2013 at 17:21

Just spotted 2 flowers poking out the soil, each one several inches away from the nearest leaf cluster. When it was still connected, the flower was more open and looking a bit like a dandelion




Plant identification please

Posted: 18/04/2013 at 15:26

Pieris 'Forest Flame'

If it seems happy then it's probably in the right place. Ideal requirements are a sheltered site in shade or part-shade in moist, peaty, acid soil.

Cut off any frost-damaged spring shoots as soon as possible. Dead-head after flowering to improve growth.

Enormous Gooseberry Brush

Posted: 18/04/2013 at 12:37


there is a video on the Gardeners World website where Monty Don demonstrates how to prune gooseberries and redcurrants, among others (link below).

If you have the patience, it may be best to wait until this winter, then carry out a major renovation on the shrub. Restorative pruning should be carried out in winter. If the bush is healthy and cropping well, it may be worth saving. Gooseberries can be very long lived (20 years or so). First remove any shoots that are dead, broken, weak, diseased or damaged. Then thin out the branches to open up the centre of the plant to let in air and light. Your are aiming to create a goblet shape with 6 to 8 main branches.

The advice on the RHS website for regular annual pruning of gooseberries is:

  1. In mid-June to July, shorten the current season’s growth back to five leaves, except for those branches needed to extend the main framework. This pruning should not remove fruit, as fruit develops mainly on the older wood, not the current season’s growth.(probably pointless this year on this shrub).
  2. In winter, remove dead wood and low-lying shoots. Then spur prune all side shoots by cutting them back to one to three buds from the base. Shorten branch tips by one quarter, cutting to a suitable outward facing bud.
  3. Repeat step 2 each year as maintenance pruning.

Feed the shrub with Sulphate of Potash in late winter/early spring, or if the soil is not in very good condition, a more general purpose fertiliser (bonemeal or blood, fish and bone). Water well and mulch round (but not touching) the shrub (garden compost, bark etc). Often, neglected gooseberry bushes self-layer when a shoot droops to the ground. If yours has done this, you may be able to get some young plants for free.

The weeds are a real problem. I would say that Couch Grass is the worst, because it is so difficult to get at it without disturbing the roots of the gooseberry. Systemic weedkiller is the stuff, but getting enough of the Couch Grass to act on will be the problem.

I have been able to completely eradicate Bindweed from my garden by doing this:

1. unwrap as many of the Bindweed stems as you can and gather them into bundles, trying not to crease of break them

2. half bury in the ground as many containers (glass/plastic) as there are bundles

3. half fill each container with a systemic weedkiller solution

4. gently insert each bundle into a container, ensuring that a good proportion of the leaves is submerged

5. cover each container to keep rain out (clingfilm is good)

6. leave for as long as you can, but at least until you can see the stems discolouring and wilting (you may have some regrowth in following years, but persistence pays off)

Where have all the hostas gone?

Posted: 18/04/2013 at 10:57

Everything seems to be two or three weeks late here in my garden on the outskirts of Nottingham. The growing tips of Hosta are just out of the soil (shady position, windy hillside). In flower at moment - daffodils, primrose, pushkinia, chionodoxa, anemone de Caen, hellebores, erythronium won't be long.

What is this?

Posted: 18/04/2013 at 10:31

Hi dizzylizzy

Thanks for your reply.We are on top of sandstone hills, 5 miles from centre of Nottingham, so I feel confident in stating that floods are not a problem. The roots are certainly soft and brittle, not sure about the tuber, though. I'm off to dig one up and check. After that, I'll be on my hands and knees with my Roundup gel applicator.

What is this?

Posted: 18/04/2013 at 09:40

Last year, a clump of leaves appeared in a bare part of my garden that I plan to grass. By the time I dug it up, the largest leaves were about 8" wide. I noticed that the roots were fleshy, brittle and pure white (a sense of foreboding formed in the back of my mind). I hoped it was a vegetable seed that had found its way into my garden.

This year, small groups of these leaves, only a couple of inches wide at the moment are springing up over an area of 10 square metres. Needless to say, the roots are all over the place

Can anyone identify it please?


11 to 19 of 19

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Will chicken wire keep moles out of raised beds?

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Last Post: 31/07/2013 at 19:16

What is this?

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