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Mike Allen

Latest posts by Mike Allen

Moving fruit bushes

Posted: 26/01/2014 at 21:35

Tracey.  Now is a very good time to move practically anything.  I admit.  I have moved various plants, trees, shrubs etc whilst they have been in full growth.  Thankfull all have survived, however, to move, transplant etc at the wrong time, it so often sets the subject back.  Tracey.  Mike is not a fruit man.  Althogh during my career lifetime I have had to contend with this area of expertise. Especially if, where you live is so sodden as Eltham.  A great time to move around.  For some sads reason, and I have observed this now for more years that I care to remember.  Even amongst hardened allottment owners. Gardeners seem to fear..cutting back.  Might I quote.  Must be all of forty years back.  A great friend once said.  That's the bush young Mick.  That black currant.  Never fails.  You know.  It's been there now for what/  the past twenty years.  and I haven't touched it.  Thinking time flies?  The main stem/trunk of that bush must have been around two to two and a half inches thick.


Tracey.  Most fruiting /flowering takes place on tghe previous years growth.  So don't be afraid to get in there with the secateurs.  Cut out the old wood.  Do your best to encourage fresh new growth.  Your raspberries. These need to be cut back hard every year.  Your rhubarb.  Once the top growth has died down. Lift and seperate.  Ooops sounds like a et femm ad.  Remember to force rhubbarb, encircle the plant with an endless bin or tube.  This will encourage the growth to reach for  the sky.  To increase your stock.  Lift it.  It will look like a lump of rottin wood.  Using a spade, give it a cop or two.  Replant.


Enjoy your garden.


Cats in Gardens

Posted: 26/01/2014 at 21:11

NO! I haven't been gazing into my crystal ball etc.  When I first read this thread, I could see problems ahead.  As I mentioned. I wouldn't harm any animal.  I have a couple of families of foxes that find peace and security in my garden.  A bit messy now and then, but at least you can see it.  In my locallity a couple of years back.  The hue and cry was, to cull all foxes. As claims were being made that foxes were killy cats.  Rubbish.  I have seen it so many times.  Foxes running away from cats.  I digress....sorry.  I think that sometimes individuals tend to mis read quotes.  I live on a large council estate.  When we first moved in 1964.  It was like a country hamlet.  Over the years sadly ones mental image of such an estate, has sadly become a reallity. People are constantly on the move.  So often, poor pussy gets left behind, often to live life scavaging.  Then there are various cats protection societies etc. and local pet shop, displaying ads for.  Home wanted for friendly cat. Years ago. I help out at a very large animal rescue farm in Biggin Hill. Kent.  I used to vet homes.   Now sadly, poor tibbles get's thrownfrom pillar to post.  Often ending up in a home where, now't is understood about the care and welfare of any animal.  Sadly, even the offspring of the family.  It is such a shame.  As I perhaps previously posted, that familiar car sticker.  A pet is not just for Xmas.  However heartbreaking it might be.  Man has truly 'cocked the system up'.  May I offer my apologies on behalf of the forum members, if any cat lover/owner has been offended by this thread.  However it must be agreed, to take on the resposibilities of caring for a pet.  Serious thought, concern and consideration for all around.  Sadly.  This weekend, was a special birdwatch time.  You won't believe this.  Apart from keeping a watchful eye on the garden.  I set my cameras up.  Most, most unusual as the long tailed tit normally visits in flocks.  Hand on heart.  Mike saw only one solitary long tailed tit visit the garden.  Perhaps the presence of two of the three cats, owned by my downstairs neighbour were in the garde.  One was seated on the ridgepoint of the greenhouse.  The other one was comfortable on the pergols beneath my kitchen window.  All in all.  It's not fair on the poor animal to be left to fend for itself.  Neither is it fair for others who are trying to maintain a garden etc.  The finally it is totally upsetting the natural balance of nature.  We so often refer to the flying pollinators etc.  However our native birds also perform many beneficial tasks.


Fellow members.  Once again.  Mike offers his apologies on behalf of the forum membership, if you have been offended by members posts.  However.  Please.   Take care of your cat, devote as much time as possible to his/her welbeing, however please take a second look at the ever increasing problem.


Best regards.  Mike. 

Overwintering lilies

Posted: 26/01/2014 at 20:28

Probably the dangers for overwintering lilies in pots and containers are. Bulbs rotting due to lack of drainage. Just raise the pots off the ground.  Also slugs that have managed to find their way into the soil.  A lily bulb might prove to be a fine winter larder.

Concerning the dying stalk.  For ease of storing.  Cut the stem down by half.  Althoght the decaying remains might not be attractive.  Actually it won't cause any harm to leave it attached.  Gradually it will rot away.  To twist or to pull.  The general advice is to gently twist it, and it will come away.

As the compost tends to sink over the season.  To top it up is recommended.  To remove and store.  No need to.  The bulb will be much safer if it remaines buried.

Feeding.   OOOps!  Actually not recommended.  I recently posted a tip about, 'plumping up'  dried out bulbs.  It is never a wise practice to feed a sick plant, ide is to nurcher the plant, then when improvement is visible, carefully feed.  Likewise with bulbs.  In the dormant stage, the feed will not be correctly absorbed.  In some instances, a degree of toxicty migh develop.  Wait until new growth appears and is showing signs of strenthening.


Hope this helps.

Vine weevil evil :-(

Posted: 25/01/2014 at 21:50

This is where forums such as this, truly come into their own.  I am the first to say that I don't always stick the instruction books etc. The members mention of using Jeyes fluid etc.  Yes this works.  A soil drench of hot water also works.  I have resorted to the occassional salt-water soak.  As I have mentioned.  The chemical strength etc offered to the day to day gardener is so much weaker than the commercial counterparts.  Actually I do have  an unopened bottle etc of Pravado in the greenhouse.  I doubt very much if I will ever use it.  The possible threat to the bee population is much deeper than most realise.  The scare relating to crop spraying and the possible dangers to bees.  I believe this to have moreorless now been sorted.  In fact.  Before the subject first hit the headlines, serious thought had been given to the matter.  When refering to harm to bees, of couse the concern is, threats to perhaps the greatest of our natural pollinators.  Also of couse the bee keepers.  My eldest daughter who lives in the New Forest, took up bee keeping just a couple of years ago.  Both she and hubby really took it all seriously.  Truthfully I would never have dreamed that so much was involved.  Departing for a moment from sprays chemicals etc.  The most wiedest of weather conditions that we can all relate to, has played hell with our tiny friends lifestyle.  It appears that the bee is very suseptible to minimalist of temperature change.  Let's be honest.  On a cold morning.  How many of us might prefer to turn over and tuck down.  Our tiny friends are no different.  Thing is, as is the basic lifestyle of all of our wildlife.  Their sole exitence depends upon, continually search for food, eating to survive, mating and keeping the life cycle going.  So in short.  Cold wet morning.  The bees stay home.  Should the bee-keeper fail to feed them.  A few days later the hive can become DEAD.  Sorry folks.  No fresh honey on your toast today.  However perhaps more serious to the bees problems of life.  Recent scientific discovery has found, from exammining dead bees.  That a foreign parasite has entered stage Right.  This has come into the frame.  Scientist are now working hard to try and find a way of recognising this enemy poste haste, and getting rid of it.  You may be aware of a similar problem with our Lady Bird..bugs.  From the continent a violent strain has developed.  This is also causing many headaches in the realms of DEFRA etc.


I do apologise for such a lengthy post.  That's me.  I try to please.

Cats in Gardens

Posted: 24/01/2014 at 22:37

Re Jess.


Forgive me, but I am a new boy on the block.  There was mention of a documentary!  Tell me more.

Back in the 1960's I attended Metropolitan Police College.  During our studies etc.  I learned that, the cat.  Is not, well at that time at least, was not a protected animal under British Law. Whereas dog, sheep pig horse etc were protected.

I am likewise most concerned over the cat issue.  Remember those car stickers.  A dog is not just for Xmas.  What about cats.  It really is such a shame and a disgrace to cat owners, who fail to look after their pets.  Easy to say.  A cat has a roving instinct.  Poor pussy is caught in a time frame.  The big cats, hunt, kill to eat.  The local moggy will torture kill and leave, just for amusement.  I used to have thrushes as permanant occupants of my garden.  Now I don't see any.  What I do see is, around twenty plus cats.

Tree Advice

Posted: 24/01/2014 at 22:10

I'm trying to visualize the planting site.  Truly some first class suggestions have been put forward.  At first I thought about a Japanese Maple, very attractive etc.   Anything from the Prunus family, flowering cherries etc.  Very nice, pleasing to the eye etc but.  Very prone to suckers and surface roots.  In all honesty, I would respectfully suggest, paying a tree nursery a visit.  Take along the odd photo of the garden etc.


Best wishes.


Posted: 24/01/2014 at 21:57

Not wishing to upset anyone.  As with so many plants, trees and shrubs.  The final descion is down to the gardener.  On the subject of Bamboo.  It is quite a large family.  Some are more invasive than others.  Take time in your selection.  Once planted, try and not let too much old growth remain.  Try and encourage new fresh growth, that way you will limit the spread.  Should you desire bamboo to form a hedge.  Plant it well forward of any fence, wall etc.  This will give you room to get behind it and control it.

Planting help needed

Posted: 24/01/2014 at 21:42

Totally agree Violet.  Wood in the garden is so much more natural and pleasing to the eye.


All the best with your garden.

Vine weevil evil :-(

Posted: 24/01/2014 at 21:40

Personally I dislike using chemicals.  However, so many things are changing in everyday life, so much so that sometimes we have to resort to keep up.  Unfortunately container growing offers the weevil ideal hide aways.  There are prepared chemicals available, that help.  With due respect to the Hon. Member.  The danger to bees, is applied mainly to commercial crop spraying.  In the garden, and for amateur use.   Chemicals are so much weaker.  It is important to read the instructions.  To protect bees etc, it is generally advised to spray very early or very late in the day, before and after the bees fly.  Back to Mr. Weevil.  I have found that they are most likely to be found hiding under the rims of pots and containers.  That is why I practice constant moving around of pots etc both inside and outside the greenhouse. To Fuchsia growers the weevil is a real pest.  I have lost many a fine plant, due to the roots having provided the grubs with a tasty meal.  When spraying.  Don't forget to give the surrounding soil area a soak.

Hope this helps.

Planting help needed

Posted: 24/01/2014 at 21:23

Sounds strange really.  A barrel rotting, when the sole purpose is to store liquid.  However it is true, when barrels are used as planters.  Both suggestions are very good.  In addition might I add. Despite the base of the barrel being an inch or two off the ground.  The sides are in contact with the ground.  I would be inclined to pop some kind of a wedge underneath, just to raise it up a fraction.

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