Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

Stringy runner beans

Posted: 11/08/2015 at 20:22

I grow Polestar and find them reliable.  Rarely stringy.  But if you are trying to grow them in growbags, then this is probably the cause of your problem.

They need a good root run, with lots of organic matter dug into the soil.  They are thirsty plants, so need a lot of moisture.

For the rest of this season, pick them small and young, before they can get stringy.  Next year, plant them in a prepared bed, enriched with compost etc. and you will be rewarded with an embarrassment of beans!  (My neighbours disappear when they see me on the horizon with yet another bag or three of runner beans )

Garden produce recipes

Posted: 05/08/2015 at 18:55

Tootles:  I've never done it (not having access to a walnut tree) but the commercial ones are an acquired taste.  I like them and treat myself to a jar at Christmas, but no-one else in the family does!

Here's a recipe from my tried and trusted Preserves & Pickles book:

"Walnuts for pickling must be very under-ripe.  If the shell has begun to form they should be discarded.  Prick the walnut at the stalk end with a needle.  (The shell forms about 1/4 inch from the end)

"Wash the walnuts and place them in a large bowl.  Make a brine by dissolving 8oz salt in 4 pints water.  Pour the brine over the walnuts, cover with a clean tea towel and put aside for 2 - 3 days.  Drain the walnuts and cover with fresh brine  Put aside for 1 week.

"Drain the walnuts and spread them out on shallow dishes or trays.  Leave them for about one day or until they have gone black.

"Pack the walnuts into clean jars and cover with spiced vinegar.  Seal.  Leave for 1 month before using."

I would add that walnut juice stains skin so wearing rubber/latex gloves while handling would probably be a good idea.

Good luck!

Stone the crows!

Posted: 05/08/2015 at 12:05

NorthernLass - the rooks here are a menace, and I have never seen dead crow decoys as you suggest.  Any idea where they can be found?

We have a large (getting larger every year) rookery on the edge of the village.  The birds come onto our birdfeeders mob-handed and attack the feeders until they fall to the ground and spill the seed (at best) or break them (at worst).

Garden produce recipes

Posted: 05/08/2015 at 11:46

Pansy - cooked the runner beans Italian style and they were delicious!  Family clamouring for me to do that again (and I shall).

Topbird (think it was you) gave the recipe for courgette "bhajis" - made a batch yesterday (minus the coriander which, being the "marmite" of herbs, is thoroughly disliked in this house!) and they are delicious!  Courgettes continue to produce almost faster than I can harvest them.  More of these will be made and frozen. 




Posted: 24/07/2015 at 16:01

There is a product called "Move It" that is a powder that you sprinkle over the soil.  It smells pleasantly of citrus, and it really does deter cats.  The downside is that you have to re-apply it from time to time - especially after rain!

It's available at Poundland (guess the price ) or from the Betterware catalogue (price £3.99).



Distorted fuschia

Posted: 20/07/2015 at 20:27

I had the gall mite damage to my hardy fuchsias, but cut out all the affected parts and (fingers crossed) all is ok this season.

This problem is odd.  The tips of the branches have distorted leaves that are distorted and hard - not the usual soft growth that would be expected.  There are no pests in evidence, and definitely not weedkiller contamination.

Making raspberry jam

Posted: 20/07/2015 at 20:22

I use added pectin - product called "Certo".  Advantage of this is that you don't have to boil out all the flavour.  Maximum rolling boil is about 2 minutes.  Result is a bright, tasty jam that sets.

Today I made raspberry and redcurrant jelly - a lovely bright set, with no pips.  The taste is awesome, because the redcurrants are quite acidic.  (I've already made my year's supply of redcurrant jelly - fabulous for adding to gravy for lamb and, of course, indispensable for Cumberland Sauce with ham). 

Distorted fuschia

Posted: 20/07/2015 at 14:02

I have exactly the same problem - and it's definitely not aphids.  I would also be interested if anyone knows what it is, and if there is a remedy.


Posted: 16/07/2015 at 23:04

I deliberately let some of them get quite large and then slice thickly, blanch them by frying in a little olive oil.  Cool and then open freeze the slices, and place them in poly box interleaved with greaseproof paper.  These are then ideal for making moussaka - I find the classic aubergine slices can just soak up the oil, where the courgettes don't and they have a bit more flavour.  They can be used from frozen when assembling the moussaka - so easy to use without having to defrost.

I have nurtured a viper!

Posted: 06/07/2015 at 22:44

I bought mini-plugs of trailing lobelia - Sapphire.  Potted them on and nurtured them.  Hardened them off and planted in tubs (like you do).  I ended up with multi-coloured, which is not what I wanted, and some of the plants  weren't trailing, either.

I took flower samples +original label back to my local GC.  They were apologetic, and gave me a dozen more mature  specimens.  I managed to wiggle out the wronguns and replace them, and thus far, it's looking good!

Bouquet to West Somerset GC, methinks for at least helping to put it right.

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14 threads returned