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Mike Allen

Latest posts by Mike Allen

grass seed not germinating

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 22:54

Not wishing to tread on anyones toes.  Firstly. Soil temperature has zilch to do with it, no disrespects.  In fact one would asume that grass seed would spring up over night.  Being as supposed  one of the creme de'la creme of grasses.  It could be, that you have in fact buried the seed.  Sprinkle the seed on a prepared area, the gently rake it in.  Might I summise. The ground is too dry, or is too solid, or as mentioned you have buried the seed.  Example.  A busy well used sports fieled.  Soccar. especially the center spot and the goal area.  Likewise the cricket pitch.  As soon as play stopped, game over.  Out there, rakes and tines etc. Sedd and leave. By the next match, all was good in the garden.  Grass seed is much like mustard and cress.  It will spring up over night.  Try laying a sheet of polythene over the area, during the night.  Make sure you remove it at day break.  If no resultsin a week.  complain to your seed supplier, either that, or the birdies have had a good feed, at your expense.

Ants in compost bin

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 22:42

Strange how some people react. I have a friend who now lives in France.  He did his thirty inSouth Yorks Police, ended up as an Inspector.  His is also a moderator on a police forum that I subscribe to.  It was he who decided to give me and/or make me the forum horticulturist.  Speaking on the subject of compost bins etc.  He responded to another's post.  I looked into my bin. and *****SSSSS etc, what I saw.  UGGGH!  A can of petrol and that was that.  As you can imagine. Police jargan can at times be unprintable.

Feeding bulbs

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 22:32

IMHO.  Totally a matter of personal choice.  The most important part/time in a bulbs life is.  The dying back.  Whether your bulbs are in pots, containers or open ground.  Leave them alone. Fair do's if potted or containerised then th pots etc can be moved out of sight.  However.  Don't bother about cutting off the flowering stalk, such as with daffs.  Let them gracefully die back.  The required feed, believe it or not is actually in the vegetive growth.

What the best seeds for cut flowers

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 22:22

Sorry Mark.  Mike is in one of his funny moods.

Question.  What the bestseeds for cut flowers? 

Perhaps trying those that grow and finally's zat?


Sorry mate, couldnt miss that one.

My New Plants

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 22:17

Glad to be of help Mikey.

The seed pods are like a three winged thingy.  The seeda are in the middle, very fine.  When sowing these, begonia sempervires, the seed is usually mixed with some sand.  Then scatter the lot over te soil surface.  Don't cover with compost.  Keep moist and in no time at all, you will have hundreds of them.  Leaf cutting can also be taken.  Bye the bye.  You can overwinter these.

The mystery of the closed greenhouse

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 22:04

I also would say mice.  Funny though.  For some time something was ploughing inand out and around the pots on the staging.  Quite deep channels.  No mousy poops.  I'd draw th soil back, and next day, the excavations were there again.  In time, clearing out under the stagging.  A nice fat toad.  He fiited the tracks well.  How he ever managed to get on top of the stagging I don't know.

I had a massive invasion of mice in my workshop.  Large shed.  Silly me.  My order of wild bird seed had come.  In a hurry i opened the shed door, left the sacks on the floor.  Some while later. I went into the shed.  Everywhere was covered in seed shucks.  Must have been at least six generarions of mice, were actually falling from the overhead timber stock.  The seed.  Well these little tikes had dined well.  Mike had teated them to forty to fifty quids worth of seed. A few heaps of bait soon got rid of them.  However the contamination of tools equipment etc.

What do you do or what did you do at work

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 21:52

No Comment.


Mike pleads the 5th.

Dave.  We must get together one day.  Ex. CTS

O/L  how about some piccies?

Interesting to learn that so many suffer stress at work.  So gardening really is a God-send for you.  Sorry 'Vic'  I too love learning about the Grand Creator.

Azelea help 😕

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 21:31

Hi Michelle.

I wonder how many plants, now termed as houseplants, fared before people lived in houses?  If your plant has very tiny leaves that tend to be a bit of a rusty colour.  It is Azalea Indica.  It is not an evergreen as such, but it can retain most of it's leaves throughout the year.  Larger leaved types are A.japonica of varying crosses.  These are more your garden/border subjects.  Flowering times can and do vary.  You did right by using ericacious compost.  The pH really isnt dangerous as azaleas are from the rhododendron family, and some rho's grow happily on alkaline soil, with just a smiggen of top soil.  They are all shallow rooting.  I am sure that with a bit of TLC, your little treasure will pick up.

How to propagate Rhododendron

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 21:14

Hello Catie.  My, you are very adventurous.  As has been posted. Propagating rhododendrons is along job.  Basically there are four methods used.  Seeds.  Layering.  Cuttings and grafting.

Seeds are sown in February or March.  Compost should be horticultural peat  that has been very finely sieved.  It is OK to add a reasonable measure of sharp sand.  Half-pots are the best containers.  Lightly cover the seeds with silver sand or vermiculate.  The compost must be kept moist all the time.  A heated propagator is useful or heated frame.  Temp; about 16 deg. C.  No heat, then delay sowing until late April   Layering can be done virtually any time.   Low branches are pegged down and covered with soil/compost.  Some people will make a slanting cut just below halfway through.  Then as the section is being pegged down.. The cut will open slightly.  After about two years, it should be safe to cut the layered plant away from the parent.  Potting up or planting out into a nursery bed, containing plenty of peat,or peat substitute and lef-mould.  Air layering does work, but it has many disadvantages.

Cuttings can be taken during the second half of the year.  It is advisable to check on the variety, as some prove better than others.

Grafting.  Gafting isn't quite as easy and straight forwards as some might think.  To graft rhodo's, a method known as Saddle Grafting is used.  For this, you must have a rootstock.  This is always a rooted R.ponticum.  That's what most call, the wild rhodo.  It is easier to work on a bench, with the rootstock out of the soil.  Take the stem of the rootstock and using a very sharp knife. slice the stem on opposite sides.  This should look like an upturned V= ^  Then you have to cut the base of your cutting so that it fits, tight and snug over the ^.  Then the whole joint is bound and tied.  The method used to consist of binding with bass or raffia.  Now possibly a wax sealant might be used.  The newly manufactured plant can be potted up/planted.  Sad to say, as with many of the exotic trees and shrubs.  From start to finish something in the region of 4-6 years can pass, before you have your masterpiece.  In their natural surroundings, often the seasons change much faster than ours in the UK.  This seems to influence propagation.  A final point.  For anyone wishing to attempt these methods.  I admire your zeal.  However do as many as you can.  For the amateur, if you get one in fifty say, that take and finally adorn your garden.  I take my hat off to you.


Best wishes.

mystery indoor tree

Posted: 22/04/2014 at 10:07

It's just come to me.  Datura.  Usually grown as an exotic annual.  However the family also includes perennials that grow like small trees height around three feet.  Enjoy checking the selection.

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