Latest posts by LilAmbar

Legionnaires desease in compost

Posted: 04/10/2013 at 11:37

My day job is based around treating and preventing infections.  I thought you might like some things clarifying - please tell me to butt out if you want.

There are a few types of Legionella.  The one you may have heard about previously is mainly found in water and causes infection.  The flu like illness (Pontiac Fever) is it's mild form of infection but in some patients; where a more severe infection occurs  and results in pneumonia, this is called Legionnaire's disease, can be severe and in unfortunatley in some cases fatal.  

Legionella longbeachae is bacteria that is receiving press attention.  We don't have a lot of experience with it in the UK (or worldwide).  This is probably not because it hasn't ever caused infections here but because we haven't been specifically looking for it.  We know it can cause severe pneumonia and it is likely it has a milder form of illness with flu-like symptoms. Technically, we probably shouldn't be referring to infections caused by it as legionnaires' disease or pontic fever but I expect that we will adopt these terms anyway as the resulting infections are similar and probably indistinguishable without laboratory test.  We are finding L.longbeachae in compost but this is unlikely to be the main environmental resevoir of the bacteria - basically we don't know where this bacteria usually grows.  We don't know for definite how it is transmitted to humans but in the case of the bacteria on compost it is most likely that ingestion of the bacteria (from compost on our hands) or inhalation of the dust from dry compost is the way we are exposed to it.  Simple measures such as wetting down compost before use and washing hands might reduce our risk of being infected by it.

I completely agree with Farmageddun that there needs to be some perspective here - I will still be using peat-free compost if I need to and I see what happens when you get infections on a day to day basis.

Fairygirl ... bird flu is still out there.  It's causing biggest problems for humans in China at the moment (new strain, not the one that got all the press attention before the 'swine flu' pandemic but that one is still out there too).  There were a few headlines about this but the press have seem to have got bored of reporting on it. 

Multi-stemmed copper beech

Posted: 29/09/2013 at 17:01

I have inherited a multi-stemmed copper beech tree that is about 20 foot from our house.  It's currently about 20 foot tall, with the widest stem being about 15cm at it's base.  It appears to have been cut back a few times and possibly coppiced once.  It's in totally the wrong location with respect to the house and creates a lot of shade so I need to reduce it's height significantly.  Would I be better to coppice it, cut it back to a managable height or should I take it out completely and replace it with something more suitable? Opinions gratefully received.


Iris - to lift and move or allow seed pod to ripen?

Posted: 09/09/2013 at 14:12

Always keep a bottle of Bolly in the fridge  ... auto-correct strikes again.  About time my broadband provider got their act together and got me back online.

Big decision made as I'm taking out the magnolia so the iris has been lifted (awaits gasps of disbelief).  It's for the greater good I promise.

I've picked up a few packets of seeds from the local garden center but most of the good stuff had gone.  I'm mainly looking for perennials to restock the garden ... pretty much anything I can get my hands on.  We have a reasonably large garden with around 10 trees, mature shrubs and weeds that go on for miles.  The garden has been well loved in the past with amazingly good soil that seems to drain fantastically for being on clay but very few perennials and bulbs have survived.

Iris - to lift and move or allow seed pod to ripen?

Posted: 05/09/2013 at 12:58

Hmmm ... still deliberating.  There's unfortunately not a lot in the way of flowers and shrubs in my new garden that are worth saving so maybe I'll put my growing from seed thing away and try and save the plant.  I will have bolly and ivy by the bucket load at Christmas and I did uncover a beautiful hibiscus last weekend from under the nettles, brambles and comfey, so it's not all bad.

Nutcutlet, I'd be a seed swapper if there was something in the garden other than weed seeds to swap .

Iris - to lift and move or allow seed pod to ripen?

Posted: 04/09/2013 at 12:33

Hi all,

I moved house a few weeks back ... getting to grips with the garden slowly.  I have an iris, probably bearded, growing right at the base of a large magnolia.  I have no idea what colour it is because it flowered long before I became custodian of the garden. 

Should I lift it and move it to improve it's chance of survival or should I take a risk, leave it and see if I can get the seed pod on it to ripen giving me the chance of raising some more from seed?  I have a bit of a thing about growing from seed but I guess I would be taking a risk on the quality of the blooms on the new plants.

Would love to hear your opinions, Lil.


Posted: 28/08/2013 at 12:58

I too have just taken over a plot (in my new garden so I have taken my name is off of the waiting list ).  I don't plan to put much in for the rest of the year but will probably get some broad beans and shallots in later in the year for crops next year.  You can still get some plug plants in some of the garden centres for winter veg but I would think it's getting little late for sowing anything ... someone correct me if I'm wrong please.  I'm focusing on preparing the site so I can get the best out of it in the long run.


Posted: 07/08/2013 at 12:08

Vapourer moth I think.

Discovered raspberries (or perhaps loganberries), what to do?

Posted: 22/07/2013 at 20:14

Ooo you're getting me all excited about moving.  In less than three weeks time I'm moving to a house with a less well planned and neglected garden.  Hoping I'll find some equally as lovely plants to rescue 


Posted: 28/05/2013 at 13:24

This might be tricky/hard work to do, but if your neighbour will allow, dig down on their side at the edge of the wall and place some reaonably deep,good quality rhizome membrane/barrier, weed kill and clear until your side is bamboo free and start again.  It would mean taking out some of their bamboo to access the area but as you know, it'll soon grow back.  You would need to be vigilant for reinvasion and keep an eye on any rhizomes trying to jump the barrier but it should significantly slow the progress.


Posted: 27/05/2013 at 13:26

Everytime I've found ants on my redcurrents I've also had aphids on them.  The ants farm them as Verdun says - they harvest their waste (a sugar rich liquid called honeydew).  

The ants shouldn't cause a problem. The aphids can cause blistering and distortion of your leaves which might look unpleasant but doesn't really affect the crop so I have never worried about them.

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