Latest posts by Obelixx

rats in our garden

Posted: 31/12/2016 at 10:33

Rats are there all year round.  They're just more visible in winter when they are bolder about coming out to scavenge for scarce food supplies.    

I make sure I have sachets of poison on hand for use in the garage and sheds and use hanging feeders they can't get to.   I also ration food for ground feeders so there's none left for night time rodent raids.  I have been known to leave sachets of poison for them to take overnight but you have to be up and out by dawn to make sure it' s gone before the birds come - not hard in winter.   If they dare come out in the daylight I let the dogs out.

Calling in pest control will at least give them the opportunity to talk to your neighbours and advise about leaving too much food out.

Who's going to the gym in the new year.

Posted: 31/12/2016 at 10:27

I spent years in my 30s going to a gym 2 or 3 times a week after dislocating a hip on a skiing holiday and needing to build up muscles to hold them together.   Ended up loving it and being very fit.   Then we moved to Belgium.......

Now in mid 60s with arthritic bits and back problems so these days my gym is the garden and walking dogs and housework and decorating plus dancing.    Moving house and countries means I'll have loads more time to be outside with the dogs or in the garden and the weather to enjoy it.

Ballroom, slasa or line dancing are much more fun than zumba IMHO and work your memory and sociability too so good for Alzheimer prevention too.

Is crop rotation absolutely necessary?

Posted: 31/12/2016 at 10:15

Carrots.   The height would help protect them from carrot fly and they like light, even sandy soil.   

I tend to grow veggies which taste better fresh from the ground - fennel, small, finger length courgettes - or stuff that's expensive, pound for pound - salad leaves and soft fruit - or veg I can't easily buy so in Belgium that was beetroot which I usually only found cooked, curly kale, cavolo nero, red spring onions. purple sprouting broccoli.

Grow what you like to eat.

Hello Forkers December

Posted: 31/12/2016 at 10:08

Fairy - had to smile.  The one thing I miss about working in an office is not being able to go in at the weekend and use a huge conference table to cut out curtains and linings.   

Chicky - Low staffing at Xmas.   Hope he gets out soon.  When Possum was just coming up to 2 her dad fell on the stairs carrying her on December 30th.  Snapped the neck of her femur.  Had to wait till early Jan for consultants to come back from their Xmas/NY break so she was held in traction for 6 days.  I was beside myself.   

PP - a pond sounds good.  Not ash as it's all dying except for one or two rare resistant trees.  Maybe a weeping willow?  Beautiful and suck up huge amounts of water.

Clari - your man needs sorting.  The coldest bit of winter is still to come.  Time to get serious.

Hosta - we are indeed cattle on airplanes these days but that's the price of wanting to pay bus fare prices to fly.    There was a group of soldiers in battle dress patrolling Nantes airport yesterday, complete with long barreled, automatic slung at the ready.    Possum's flight was delayed 2 hours cos of fog at either end.

It's foggy again today and cold.   Not at all inviting but there's a huge plant nursery nearby with 10% off plants today so I want to go and explore.   Other than that and walkies it's a hibernating day and cleaning for the NY.

Have a good day all.  I hope all ailments are on the wain.   Any plans for this evening?  It's another big feast day here with fireworks at midnight but we're staying tucked up with dogs and kittens, working on getting to know each other and relax.   Bonzo still gets the shakes when he sees kittens but is learning to relax, slowly.

Is crop rotation absolutely necessary?

Posted: 30/12/2016 at 19:21

In theory, for beans you need to dig a trench in autumn which you fill over winter with lots of lovely manure, garden compost, kitchen waste, torn up newspaper etc which you then cover with soil from the trench just before sowing or planting and then your beans have access to lots of moisture and nutrients.  In effect, you are making new soil each year so no need to rotate and you can thus use permanent supports.

Rhubarb can stay in one place for years apart from when it needs lifting and dividing to renew vigour and is best in the ground but it is greedy and needs a generous dollop of well rotted manure and/or garden compost every year.

This is what the RHS says about growing raspberries - https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice/grow-your-own/fruit/raspberries Apparently OK in pots but I think they'd be better off in the freedom of a 1m bed - more canes so more fruits for scoffing.   Feed generously for good crops.

Help for busy garden

Posted: 30/12/2016 at 18:46

Draw out your circle with sand - fill an old bottle and tie it's neck to a string pegged to a central point then use the string as a radius guide and walk all round pouring sand.   Use that line as your cutting edge to make a boundary that will hold the grass in and path material out.   

Mark out a boundary for your ornamental bed on the right.

Cover the grass and soil outside the circle and beds with weed proof membrane and pour on your chipped bark.  Voilà!  Paths and pot standing spaces done.   Easy to cut into it later to plant a tree or erect a pergola.obelisk/arch for climbers.

Like I said earlier, draw it on paper first to make sure a circle will do the job and if not, go for the oval or two smaller, overlapping circles to give different curves.

Hello Forkers December

Posted: 30/12/2016 at 18:37

Loved that film when it was last on but t'other pair not interested.

It's been a long and exhausting day.  Heavy fog and frosts as we got north of La Roche and very cold and foggy around Nantes but we made it to the airport OK with no stress.   Amazingly, the French were driving sensibly with lights and not speeding!    Except for one pratt on a motorbike.

Did a wee raid on IKEA which is just across the Loire from the airport but no lovely views cos of the fog and frosts so heavy they looked like snow.   Thence to Les Herbiers and more freezing cold and fog.  Stopped for a delicious baguette sandwich in a "produits de terroir" place and came out with a gâche - brioche made with cream as well as butter - and rillettes de sardines and some red pineau.

Got to the sewing machine shop just as they opened again after lunch.  Much sucking of teeth and shaking of head.   Arranged to go and find a coffee while he took off the casing to have a look.    Did a full circuit on foot of the town centre and finally found coffee in the patisserie just across the road and to the left.  Typical.   

Diagnosis - needs a complete new electronic/computer assembly, needs mechanical parts checking for hidden cracks, needs needle mounting and mechanism re-aligning.  Can't guarantee the work cos of potential hidden problems.    Mega bucks in labour and have to wait for cost of parts till next week cos Bernina in Switzerland is closed this week.

Upshot - I now have a brand new machine which is, of course, more expensive than the last but does feature a special foot for freestyle quilting............   Much mumbling from OH till I said it was the same as 2 years of his golf membership and should last me 20 years.   As long as no-one drops it.

Quiet night in now cuddling dogs and kittens.  Simple pasta with a garlicky and herby mushrooms sauce for dinner and no booze.   No chocolates left except for OH's Q Street which I don't eat.

I have friends who always go away for 3 or 4 weeks in Jan/Feb on the grounds that it's the only safe time to leave their garden so long without missing too much.   They aim to be back in time for their hamamelis and the snowdrops.

I would think ash makes very good firewood, plus it probably all needs cutting down anyway now cos of ash dieback disease.   Interesting about it making others grow straight tho.   Got my eye on a couple in this garden that are in the wrong place and probably self seeded.

Have a good evening all and may all colds, flu, abscesses and other ills be vanquished.

Hello Forkers December

Posted: 30/12/2016 at 07:47

Good morning all.   Not yet sunny - too early - but promises well.  Light, almost imperceptible frost.

Nates airport this morning to deposit Possum then sewing machine shop at Les Herbiers after lunch cos by the time we make the detour they'll be on their 2 hour lunch.  Suits me.  New town to explore.  I do hope the problem isn't terminal........

By the time we get back the dogs will be gasping for walkies and the day will be gone but I have now measured the east side of the house where I want to make a perfumed/winter garden.  It gets full sun till midday so will be perfect for morning coffees.

I hope everyone's day goes to plan.  Stay safe on icy roads.

Need to clear a patch of land

Posted: 29/12/2016 at 17:56

Hire a turf stripper and stack the removed turf in a corner to break down into good garden soil.

Or do it by hand.   You'll need to dig over the soil anyway to aerate it and add well rotted compost and manure to improve texture.  I suggest a fork rather than a spade for digging as it's kinder to worms and other beneficial soil organisms.

Help for busy garden

Posted: 29/12/2016 at 17:52

I think the simplest thing would be to try drawing a circle in the middle or an oval if you prefer.   Make that your lawn area with gravel or bark paths all round to achieve a curvy look.    

You can also shuffle the circle or oval up, down and to the side for asymmetry and a wider bed for your bamboo, aster and aquilegia bed so that you can add other plants to increase the seasonal interest.  If you don't already have grass, you can get the prep done over the next few moths and then sow a new lawn quite cheaply in April when soil temps and rain levels are conducive to good germination.

You can add arches to paths leading from one area to another to add height and another growing dimension.  It doesn't have to be done all at once and could evolve as time and budget allow.

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