Shrinking Violet

Latest posts by Shrinking Violet

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). 

Help me save this Pieris (well i think its a Pieris)!

Posted: 16/07/2013 at 21:50

I have all three of the mentioned shrubs in my garden, and if I had to money on it. I would nominate Pieris.  However, the photo is unclear for full ident. 

Advice given is good - the ground around the base of the plant is bare and shows signs of cracking, presumably from the current heat/lack of moisture.  I would therefore also suggest a good soaking of the soil, feeding with an acid feed and  a gentle loosening of the top soil and then a good, thick mulch to preserve the moisture.  And I would ensure regular soaking of the shrub, daily for preference.

I moved a mature Skimmia some years ago and soaked it daily for a few weeks.  It is now a superb shrub with no signs of having been so rudely up-rooted!



Posted: 22/06/2013 at 20:42

Tulips were excellent this year - and a fraction of the price from a GC.  Calla Lilies are now in bloom - a bit on the small side, but healthy, and I expect that they will bulk up over time.  Gardeners are generally pretty patient - so small and seemingly poorly shaped plants will doubtless prove their worth over a few years.  Obviously - not an instant fix or make-over!


Posted: 22/06/2013 at 20:37

I inherited one when we moved here.  It was badly mis-shapen, so it has been pruned, fed and generally nurtured.  It is coming in to bloom again now - but there is no (and never has been any) scent.  No idea of the actual cultivar - but it fills a gap in a border, and after all the effort that has been put in to it, I suppose it had better stay.  But it has been an annual disappointment!

Raised bed over Leylandii stumps

Posted: 05/06/2013 at 19:50

The acidity of the soil that is there is almost a foregone conclusion Rob - under the influence of the dreaded conifers it will be acidic.  What really matters is the nature of the topsoil that you use to create your raised bed.

We went first to our local garden centre.  Big mistake.  the soil was rough, lifted from a farmer's field, full of agricultural detritus (binder twine being the least of the problems) and also the horrendous mares' tail.  They, the GC, removed it all, and we then bought in better stuff from a national supplier.  It took a while to get it all into really good condition, though, so I would be circumspect about the supplier in the first instance.

Good luck!  Let us know how it all works.


Posted: 05/06/2013 at 19:42

Mine have opened at the bottom of the spike - but it's a slow process, and definitely later than usual.  (West Somerset area)

Raised bed over Leylandii stumps

Posted: 04/06/2013 at 16:44

When we moved here there was a huge Leylandii hedge at the front - over 15ft high and 3ft across.  It was a pain, and took three days to cut it safely - and then there were all the clippings to get dispose of . . . until the next time.

We decided to get rid of it, but, because it was sited next to a wall which would have been compromised by taking out the stumps, we had the trees cut down to ground level  We then did exactly what you are thinking of - namely create a raised bed to cover the stumps.  Providing the subsequent planting is of shallow-rooted plants, and provided you add lots of organic matter each year, it is a successful way of dealing with the problem.

It will take a long time for the stumps to rot down, of course, but they will eventually.  We have a lovely shrub border there now - a combination of hebes and wigeliia infront of which are smaller shrubs like cistus purpurea and spirea, as well as perennials.  Overall it has worked well.



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