Mark Aston

Latest posts by Mark Aston

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Philadelphus Beauclerk

Posted: 26/03/2015 at 08:40


I can wait more happily now.

Philadelphus Beauclerk

Posted: 25/03/2015 at 20:46

In February I bought a Philadelphus Beauclerk.  All the other plants in my garden have started to bud (apart from later trees).  But the Mock Orange is yet to show any signs of life.  For an early flowering plant I would have thought it should have at least started to show signs of buds.  

An Amelanchier purchased at the same time has strong buds on it.  For info I am in South Wales - so its not a 'scotland still in snow thing'.

Should I be concerned that the plant is weak?

Dead Goldfish

Posted: 11/07/2014 at 16:32

I checked the water, and the ammonia was a little high, but not dangerous.  PH was just over 8.  However no Nitrates or Nitrites.  I think this shows that the 'good bacteria' in the filter are not sufficient to do their job yet.  So, I bought some bacteria to boost the system.  I changed a third of the water to dilute the ammonia.

Its been about 2 weeks now and no more dead fish.  So it could well be New Pond Syndrome.  I'll check the levels in the water tomorrow to see if the pump is now working more effectively. 

Thanks for all the comments, really helpful

Dead Goldfish

Posted: 26/06/2014 at 21:32

They are small at the moment - under 2 inches, so plenty of space.  I was told to feed them three times a day during the summer - flakes (then stop after temp drops below 10 degrees).  Though it tends to be twice during the week, and 3 at the weekend.  Just a pinch at a time.

The tail does look in two parts (bit missing in middle) but there is no other visible damage (from bullying).

I'm not sure there are blotches, but the fish is yellow - (was orange) on one side and is almost white on half the other side.  I assumed that was more discolouration.  I just scraped it and the white did not move - would it come off if it were fungus?

I'll try feeding once a day in the morning and see if anything changes - I assume they will get enough feed for the Winter ?

Dead Goldfish

Posted: 26/06/2014 at 19:05

Thanks pansyface. I realise that sometimes this sort of thing happens, but want to know if the others are at risk too.  Your comments are helpful and make me worry less.  I'm going to get a test kit at the weekend, to check the nitrates etc.  My concern is, if it is poor water quality, not sure how to fix it since I've put all the right plants and filters step at a time though.

Odd what you say about bullying.  There are a couple of red comets, and a black goldfish too.  The black one is always last to feed since the red ones seem to chase him off.  The one that died was normally the first to feed, and thought it would be OK.  Maybe the red ones are temperamental strikers ( ) and doing things without me seeing.


Dead Goldfish

Posted: 26/06/2014 at 18:42

I recently built a new pond, about early April.  Its 750 Litres.  I have added Hornwort and Water Crowfoot.  The pond also has Lillies, Pickerel Weed and Iris.  I left the pond for about 6 weeks so that it became established.  Once the Crowfoot covered about half the pond I bought some goldfish.  They have been there about 6 weeks now and have been living happily.  There is a filter and pond pond pump which cascades.

So I believe the pond is well oxygenated, and the fish have 'appeared' to be happy.  About a week ago, one of the fish turned a bit yellow.  The others haven't changed.  Just got in from work and the fish that turned yellow has died.  I would like to understand why, in case the other fish become ill too.

How do I diagnose the problem? 

There has been no 'gasping for air'

Could I have overfed the fish?


Posted: 02/09/2013 at 10:24

Spent the weekend doing one of the borders, used the axe to break it up.  Then added a Bulk bag of Manure, and am now half way through turning it over with a spade.  I've got a couple of Bulk bags of top soil to go on top. 

The soil is looking lots better already, it may be a bit sad, but it was very satisfying when the spade went all the way in and turned over easily.  Hoping to get the border done this week, so I can buy my first plants.  very very excited about planting taht first one..

Thank you all for your kind advice - its been amazing to have someone to get guidance from.


Posted: 31/08/2013 at 13:28

Just in case your interested....

The rotavator didn't touch the soil which had been compacted for the artificial turf.  My wife and I have just spent 2 days with a pick axe, breaking it all up.  We were absolutely shattered, so have cheated a bit.  We used the rotavator to break up the big clods of clay.

We probably went about 9 or 10 inches down.  We've levelled the soil (the clay was still clumpy with bits about 1/2 inch across) with a couple of bulk backs of top soil.  Dressed that with fertilizer.  Then we have laid the new turf on top. 

It looks amazing, so much better that the artificial stuff.  My wife is very happy.

Just the borders to do now.


Posted: 27/08/2013 at 12:25

The garden has been compacted - my spade hardly touched it!.  The pick axe did manage to break it up OK though.  This was why I was thinking of getting a rotavator, to give the whole lot a good work over.

I've been here about 2 weeks, and there has been some heavy showers in that time.  There is no water collecting anywhere (on the artificial turf), so I don't think there are drainage problems.

Verdun - I would normally dig a veg bed over in the autumn to let it winter, but that only goes down about 9 inches or so.  Are you suggesting that the subsoil needs a bit of attention, from compaction?  I'm not sure if the rotavator will dig to 40cm - suppose I'll find out when I get it. 

Maybe I'll get the rotavator to loosen it up (using a pickaxe on the whole lot will be back breaking).  Then trench and loosen the subsoil.

I'd like to get this right first time, it'll only be harder once I've started to lay borders end grass, so best do it proper now, so to speak

Thanks for all your advice - really really helpful

Mares Tail - how to win

Posted: 27/08/2013 at 10:22

People keep telling me that bindweed is the worst, but having had an allotment with Marestail, I dreamed of bindweed.

The problem to me was that any part of the plant can grow, so any fond, or bit that is left behind can reinfect the plot.  So be vigilant about anything left behind.  The plant can stand the heat of a compost heap, so has to be destoryed in fire or disposed of safely.  This was my main problem, because clearing my spuds etc, I was terrified of putting anything in the compost in case I had inadvertantly picked up some marestail.

The roots can go truly deep.  There is an urban myth that they dug the foundations for a tower block in London, and after a few weeks the plant started to grow, from over 30 feet down! How true this is I don't know, but I think  at least the story is propogated because it emphasises the problem. 

So most 'cures' are along the lines of keep picking (definately not dig or rotavate) to attempt to deny it any light.  Also after picking add something to the broken remaining stem to, so that the poison is drawn into the root.

My grandmother did clear it from her garden many many years back.  She dug a trench over 2 foot deep laid salt along the bottom.  As the years passed she moved the trench along the garden.  Eventually the whole garden had been salted.

As mentioned above, an alternative to salt, is some sort of ammonium sulphate.  The problem with both the salt and sulphate is the damage they can do to your hard worked soil.

That said by constant picking and poisoning of the root, it can be done, just be careful not to drop any waste!

1 to 10 of 13

Discussions started by Mark Aston

Philadelphus Beauclerk

When should it start budding 
Replies: 5    Views: 922
Last Post: 26/03/2015 at 08:40

Dead Goldfish

How do I find out why 
Replies: 8    Views: 1448
Last Post: 11/07/2014 at 18:17


Should I mix sand into clay 
Replies: 13    Views: 1987
Last Post: 02/09/2013 at 10:24
3 threads returned