Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

The best multi purpose compost this year

Posted: 22/03/2015 at 22:31

I've tried and tried to get on with non-peat compost - but I just cannot waste a whole growing season to experimentation!  Last year I bought Levington mpc.  Disaster.  Full of glass, pebbles, twine and woody bits.  I sent samples back to the company, and to their credit, they responded (and gave me a voucher) promising me that they were trying to overcome the problems.

I have no faith in this - bags of mpc are all pretty much rubbish, and it's jolly hard work sieving out all the detritus.  So I have gone back to a peat-enriched formula that is far better, with far better results, as well.  It goes against the grain to use peat (although Ireland burns far more than my paltry few bags per year) but if it works, and if the alternative is no good, then I, for one, will not prop up the market for sub-standard produce.

Scout project.

Posted: 21/03/2015 at 19:05

Thanks pansyface - I hope there is some merit in it. 

btw Ricky - I do know that it's an arrowhead not a spearhead - but I slipped into local in-joke mode without thinking!  ooops!

Oh, and re the raising funds from selling the produce - rarely successful in my experience.  But you could get local businesses/parents/politicians (LOL) to sponsor you.  Just a thought.

Scout project.

Posted: 21/03/2015 at 17:14

I've been giving your query some thought, and I wonder if it is a truly viable project.  Sorry if that sounds so negative, and I really hate to pour cold water on your enthusiasm, but you say you have a decent bit of land for the project - but don't say where.  Is it by, say, the Scout Hut?  Or at the local allotment site?

You see, the location could make a lot of difference:  you will only have the Beavers for an hour per week, and they won't want to be gardening every week through the summer term.  They may start off as being enthusiastic - but you may very well find that you and your assistant leaders end up doing most of the work.

So here's my two penn'orth:  why not aim for simple salad crops that will mostly look after themselves (well, with just a bit of TLC from you  and the kids!).  You could work mainly with lettuce (and I know you would end up with a lot) but you could mark out a circle for the World Membership badge i.e. a circle with the Scout spearhead in the middle.  The normally purple background could be red lettuce, such as red salad bowl or lollo rosso, and the spearhead itself could be green lettuce bowl or similar.  The stars could me picked out in red lettuce.  The edging?  Well, if you're feeling brave, you could try to do a fancy reef knot at the top, but simple edging would probably be simplest.  Perhaps simple annual flowers, low-growing like Alyssum?

Obviously there will be some need for watering and weeding, but the results will be pretty rapid (which is what you want) and if you take a series of photos, ending with what would hopefully be an eye-catching Scout badge, you could gain extra publicity in the local paper, Scouting magazine etc etc.  Result!

Other people are welcome to pick holes in my suggestion - but it was the best I could think of given the constraints of time (both from sowing to cropping and maintaining weekly interest of youngsters). 

PS I used to run both Beavers and Cubs.  Lovely little cherubs (!) not all of whom could always be relied on to co-operate to the full on a long-term project.  Even the older Cubs were unlikely to keep up their full interest for a whole term - especially the Summer Term when they wanted to get out and about, build bivvies and camp etc. 




Plant sales for school fundraising

Posted: 23/01/2015 at 22:05

I've done this quite a few (!) times.  A lot will depend on when your plant sale will be.

Firstly, much as we gardeners think that home-raised perennials sold at a plant sale/summer fete or whatever are a bargain over the high price at a GC, the average punter tends to ignore such choice plants.  If you like, they are looking for plant bling.

The easiest and most profitable sales come from annual plants raised from seed - think French marigold, cosmos daisy, alyssum etc. Or cuttings from pelargoniums etc. And the greater profit comes from ready-planted pots/tubs/baskets.

By all means get as many parents involved as possible (especially if they are doing stuff in their own GH - a few extras for the school are easy for them when they are pricking out seedlings) and see if local GCs would get in on the act.  They may be able to donate a basket or two etc.  Or a couple of bags of compost.

Check the price at the GC and price yours just a bit below, but don't try to be too clever - the pricing strategy has to be right.  And if you can produce plants in flower, punters will buy.  We know that "buds are best" ie future flowers are better than soon-to-fade flowers, but the impulse buyers rarely does - which is why GCs put full-flowered plants out in great number to attract the eye rather than the brain.

Well, this has been my experience - I hope it goes well for you!

Would you pay more for a pint of Milk ?

Posted: 20/01/2015 at 20:59

I try to buy British milk- but it's hard to work out the source from the labels.

Point of information:  the milk that we buy is spun at high speed to remove all fat.  That fat is then added back into the milk at varying amounts to give us the idea of "full fat" (blue top) "semi-skimmed" (green top) and "skimmed" (red top).  The implication is that fat has been skimmed from the milk.  It hasn't.  It has been processed and effectively manufactured to produced the fat content that the consumer expects (ie has been schooled to expect).  Thus - all milk is homogenised, rather than the joy of the cream at the top of the bottle in days of yore!

Farmers need our support.  And if milk is so cheap (cheaper than bottled water) why is cheese/cream/other dairy products so expensive?

Hmmmm - just asking!

anyone tried growing peanuts

Posted: 11/11/2014 at 23:16

I've grown them for fun with Cub Scouts!  But you won't get very far outdoors - you have to grow them in large pots indoors.  It's very simple - just get the peanuts in their shells (unsalted!!!) and when you're ready to plant, pop the nut out of the shell and into a large pot of multi-purpose compost.  Adding a bit of sand to the mix is a good idea to help with drainage.

Keep the pot in the a light and warm place, keep it damp and wait for the shoot to appear.  Eventually you'll have a plant that will send out shoots that curve over to the ground, and once they reach the soil, they will bury themselves and produce new nuts under the soil. 

Best to wait until the spring for this when the light levels are higher!  Good luck. 

horticultural society

Posted: 30/10/2014 at 15:00

You could have the outline of a flower (simple shape, but quite large) and invite people to fill it in with loose change.  It's amazing how much "shrapnel" people have in their pockets/purses, and placing a few coins on a shape is an easy way to relieve people of their heavy coins!

Also think of "value added" items.  For example, lavender on its own is pretty unexciting.  Made into lavender bags, the value added makes the items more easy to sell.  Likewise, simple cone-shaped tree decorations using giftwrap, with hanging ribbon and filling the cones with sweets/seeds are popular, and easy to make and sell, in my experience. 

Good luck!


Posted: 24/10/2014 at 16:04

There are different ways of achieving the "style" that you want.  I think the archetypical 1930s garden would have been sparse in its planting, and perhaps more regimented than today's gardens.

We had a poster on here in June - November 2012 called LowiePete who had created a fantastic garden, using the Art Deco stained glass in his front door as inspiration (think off-centre sunburst, if you can, and then think how to create the design).

I've looked back at this (I posted to compliment him on it at the time) but can't access the actual photos.  And I don't know how to do the link.  But perhaps others can help?


Disappointed with new shed.. how far to take it.

Posted: 17/09/2014 at 14:38

Don't forget that, if the company refuses to play ball (and it sounds that, if they're that rude they will probably continue to be unreasonable) you have recourse via the Small Claims Court.  It's easy, and the staff will guide you through each step.

Perhaps a letter, cc Trading Standards Office, to the company, setting out your clear position might bring about the desired result.  Sometimes it is enough to know that the customer is serious will be what is needed to resolve the problem!

Disappointed with new shed.. how far to take it.

Posted: 16/09/2014 at 23:29

You probably  have the right to rescind the contract if the goods supplied do not comply with the description of what was sold to you.  The "samples" on display indicate that the shed would be properly treated inside and out, and clearly this has not been the case. (Misrepresentation Act used to cover this - not sure if it hasn't been superseded, though). Therefore, you could expect a replacement or a full refund.

The Trades Description Act is of no direct use to you, since it is a criminal matter, enforceable by the Trading Standards Department at your local council.  They will look to see if the faults (preservative, size etc) are "false to a material degree".  If they choose to take action, it will strengthen your case against the company (if they are successful) but it will not, in itself, give you the solution that you seek.

Better, I suggest, to continue in the civil action:  goods must be as described, fit for purpose etc.  It seems that you have a strong case.  But you may need to be persistent to get the result you want and deserve.  good luck!


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