Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet


Posted: 18/08/2013 at 20:28

Chilli Focus is excellent  - my chillies are all doing extremely well.  As are all of us, incidently!  OH wrapped some CF and put it on the Christmas Tree as a "silly" present.  Trouble was, I didn't have my glasses on, so I added it to a Chilli con Carne, thinking it was culinary rather than horticultural!  It didn't do anything for the taste (!) but, thankfully, didn't kill us, either.  I had assumed it was a bit like Tabasco - and hadn;t read the label.    (I won't make the same mistake twice!!)

Fuschia Cutting's

Posted: 04/08/2013 at 23:28

Everyone has a favourite method - so it's worth trying a few of the suggestions.  Re the oasis - make sure that, when you cut it into blocks, you don't cut the roots themselves - so leave space between the cuttings.  (Or cut into blocks about 2" cubed before popping the cuttings in!).

Hope you are successful with one or another of the suggestions. 


Weed or Plant identification

Posted: 03/08/2013 at 19:13

When we bought in a lot of topsoil (cost a lot of money from Travis & Perkins) we had a lot of weeds, just like your photo.  I kept pulling them out and gradually got on top of the problem, but it was a real nuisance.  Incidentally, the topsoil was pretty poor in terms of nutrients, and after one season it needed a lot of extra compost etc.  Given the cost, I was rather disappointed in the quality. 

Fuschia Cutting's

Posted: 03/08/2013 at 19:09

Another way that can be successful is to use florists' Oasis - the green "foam" that is soaked in water.  Keep it moist and put the cuttings in a narrow hole that you've made in the foam and they will root in no time.  When you're ready, cut the foam into blocks around the new roots and pot each plant up in a pot of compost.  The foam will help to hold the moisture and the compost will give the burst of nutrients that are necessary.  I've never had a failure with this method at this time of year!  Oh, and I do cover the cuttings - usually with a clear plastic dome, although a plastic bag, held above the cuttings so that they aren't compromised with moisture collecting on the bag, will do as well.


Posted: 31/07/2013 at 17:02

I haven't had much success with this gel.  The theory is good, but in practise it doesn't seem to do the job.

For bindweed, I unwind it from the plant around which it has lovingly entwined itself and then use a large drink bottle (2 litre lemonade size is good).  With the bottom cut off, it makes a long sort of a bell shape.  I poke the bindweed up through the neck of the bottle, and then spray into the bottle with regular weedkiller.  This means that the bottle protects surrounding plants, and the whole thing is left for a week or so until the bindweed has died.  It works pretty well - although the roots are the devil to kill outright, and it may come back a couple of times.  But this method will weaken it initially and eventually kill it.

This method is also very good when the stuff is in the middle of a much-loved plant that needs protecting.

Hope this helps.


Pale courgettes

Posted: 30/07/2013 at 22:54

I have the odd one or two that do that - and it is lack of fertilisation that is the cause.  It's not a problem so far as I am concerned at the moment.  I have come to the conclusion that the collective noun for courgettes is an embarrassment!  They are fruiting faster than I can pick them (or give them away!!!)

Preserving, What do you do or planning to do.

Posted: 22/07/2013 at 22:29

Alan - the large preserving pan that you want is sold in good kitchen shops or Lakeland.  I think they're called Maslin Pans - large capacity with a wide surface area to allow for rapid boiling (without boiling over).  They aren't cheap, but will last a lifetime.  I have had mine for over 30 years, and have just finished making a batch of redcurrant jelly, now cooling in the jars.

btw I use added pectin when making jam - it cuts the amount of boiling time to just a few minutes (saves on fuel) and means that the jam isn't boiled to death at the expense of the taste of the fruit.  You can get sugar with pectin added or liquid pectin is sold under the brand "Certo".  Much easier - and they have a website with lots of good recipes.

Hope this helps.

Preserving, What do you do or planning to do.

Posted: 21/07/2013 at 21:38

Chilies are strung up and hung in the kitchen.  They gradually shrivel and dry and can then be blitzed in the food processor (with or without seeds if you want more or less heat!) and used through the winter to sprinkle into soups, casseroles etc. 

Beans never taste as good from frozen - but I chop them up quite small (about half cm length) and quickly blanch.  Then I mix with finely diced and blanched courgettes, sweetcorn and peas.  I find they quickly (too quickly!) get used up, either as a mixed veg or as additions to soups etc.  They also can be used to make a summer veg quiche, and the loss of texture is less noticeable!  Also fine French Beans can be blanched whole and then chucked into a stir-fry for additional taste etc.

Summer fruits (an embarrassment of raspberries atm) will be frozen in 1lb lots to be defrosted and turned into jam when the kitchen is less hot, likewise red and black currants. 

Any glut can be turned into mixed veg chutney or "jumbleberry" jam.

horse manure in plastic bags

Posted: 21/07/2013 at 21:24

My neighbour gave me some of this magic stuff.  I put some on the compost heap (it aids decomposition, I believe) and kept the rest in sacks.  I didn't puncture the bags, since the moisture would leak out, but after a few months, it was mature enough to use on the garden.  It was especially valuable (too late for this season) as an additive to the trench where the runner/climbing French beans were planted.  Must have been good - I have never had such a prolific and early crop before - and this after, as we know, a long, cold and wet spring!

Sweet peppers (bell peppers, whatever you want to call them lol)

Posted: 16/07/2013 at 21:56

It's a bit hit 'n' miss with shop-bought produce - you can never be sure of the provenance.  And the seed sounds like it isn't really viable.

My chillies and peppers are about 2ft high and in flower (in the GH) and are doing extremely well.  They were set in early March, and, given the long, cold spring, took a while to get going.  But they are doing very well now.

I wouldn't set any great store by peppers from a supermarket, which have been grown under glass (probably) picked before they are properly ripe (probably) and chilled to preserve their customer viability (probably). 

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