Latest posts by SkyeSteve

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Talkback: Composting cardboard

Posted: 08/01/2012 at 12:50

Hi frances, I'm replying to you as a citizen of northern Scotland, well Skye as you can see, and certainly not as an expert! However if I can add my two'penneth.   I created my first raised bed 2 seasons ago and filled it with loam and compost from the garden centre. It's only one planks depth and I've topped it up several times, partly i must add with my own excellent compost!!, and this year, with onions and garlic planted, I noticed after all the rain it settled down to only half way up the board. I don't know the science of it but I've put a lot of material onto my beds and there's still room for more.

   I had been very frustrated with my first efforts at composting, but since starting a new garden 2 years ago I have read a lot about the subject and have now reached the point where I am delighted with my compost. I presume the temperature outside the bin plays its part but the make up of the bin can create its own heat. Bearing in mind, to get to your point, about our position in the country, although my bin is in full sun ( is that the big yellow thing that appears in the sky occasionally?)  it is very exposed to all the wind and rain and has only ever felt warm....never hot. I have now used compost from the bottom half of the bin several times in the last year, and although not perfect it is doing the job in my veg patch. The next lot, weather permitting, will go on my beds in a month or so and is really good, and there's plenty of it.  Four lessons that have helped me personally in the last year were:- chopping up garden waste and straw to speed up the process ( I've ordered a cheap shredder to help even more); putting large amounts in at once; turning the heap regularly ( quite awkward and tiring in my bin, but well worth it ); and using cardboard in fair amounts.  

I looked at this part of the forum because it was about cardboard.......and i must say I love cardboard!   We own a shop where we sell loads of stationery and consequently have a lot of packing boxes left over. We give a lot to customers to re-use but I use a fair amount on my garden also. I have always used scrunched up kitchen and toilet paper rolls, but for the last year I have been adding broken down cardboard boxes that have played another roll first.     I now have five veg beds and started off killing weeds and grasses over winter by covering the earth on two of them with black plastic liners......didn't work well at all, and because I had so much  spare cardboard ( and it was quite good for the compost bin as it was) I covered the other beds in that and topped it off with wet grass cuttings. It worked a treat. At the start of spring I scraped off some of the grass, but not all, and I had bare soil and very few weeds. I then pulled up some of the broken down soggy cardboard. What was left on the soil dug in easily, and the excess was great for the compost bin, even in fairly large amounts, mixed in with drier materials obviously. Two birds with one stone!      Hope this is helpful and also hope for a better years weather!

Talkback: Nature in the garden

Posted: 04/01/2012 at 19:44

I've never seen blackbirds in such large numbers as I have this past year. They had a field day with my no dig potatoes in spring. No matter how often and how high I piled the straw/grass cuttings they managed to get through....I just gave up in the end. Now, since I planted my garlic and onions in autumn, I've watched them pulling the bulbs out. Belatedley I've covered them but I'll do it sooner next year.  This autumn Ive planted a lot of daffs and tulips, but now something is pulling a lot of those bulbs out. I suspect mice/voles in this case as the bulbs in pots that our 4 legged friends can't get at are still intact. The interesting thing though is that the tulips seem to be a lot more popular than the daffs! Anybody else experienced this?

Making a cold frame and where to buy a manger.

Posted: 04/01/2012 at 08:05

Hope somebody answers this as I have exactly the same questions......Help!...Please!  Haven't got used to the site yet Tootles but presumably we can ask one the experts. That's my next step when I get back from work.

Gardeners World

Posted: 23/12/2011 at 23:03

Three years ago, having just moved to Skye and initially with only a small garden, my daughter said 'Dad, you must watch Gardeners's brilliant'. I watched it and didn't know enough for it to interest me! Now I have my own big new garden and I record it every week so I can replay bits of info that I didn't quite catch.   I wouldn't dream of getting involved in who is better than who because the show is very well presented and it is as much about content once you have such good presenters. I would love to see more gardening progs now because I just can't get enough....there's so much to learn I now regret starting so late in life!  Maybe a spin off every couple of weeks for beginners, and definately more programmes in winter. Keep up the great work GW.

Welcome to the garden design forum

Posted: 23/12/2011 at 07:50

Thanks for the advice you two. There's plenty of scope to develope both types of hedges. My fences filter the wind rather block it and the ground is slightly sloping, so it's looking good for the yew hedge.     I'll have a look into your suggestions happymarion. I've seen a few local shrubs I've been thinking about and I've planted a few small trees with eyes to the future. A bottom corner of my garden is boggy where all the water drains, so there's a possibility of a water garden and I've sown loads of wild flower seeds this year so I'm waiting for the results next year. I'm waiting with great expectations for the hundreds , not thousands yet!, of bulbs I've planted. It's all a learning curve, so I'm going to check out your book suggestion and probably treat myself for Xmas.  Thanks again and all the best to one and all.

Welcome to the garden design forum

Posted: 20/12/2011 at 20:19

Emma and happymarion2. I have half an acre at the back of my house on Skye. I'm looking to create something interesting but not too structured that will create shelter for my raised beds, other than the fences i have built this year. The ground has marsh grasses, it's on a peninsula into a sea loch, and although not boggy it holds the heavy rain we've had for the last 2 months and is exposed to the prevailing winds.  I have half thought about various types of hedge and after reading your comments I'm wondering about yew hedges. Being a novice with little experience and trying to learn everything at once I don't know how hardy and how fast growing they are. Do you think they are a possibility? Any other suggestions would be gratefully received.

Welcome to the problem solving forum

Posted: 19/12/2011 at 22:25

Hi there, I don't have a greenhouse, so this year for the first time I grew chillies and basil in front of my french windows. I had 10 chillie plants which were very successful and 2 really good pots of basil. However, after a couple of days away I came back to find one basil plant completely smothered in aphids. To cut the story short I lost both pots of basil and after several trips outside to treat the chillies I just gave up the hassle and harvested them. I read about how to treat plants with aphids, but it was so time consuming I don't know wether to bother again this year. I was wondering if anyone can tell me wether there are certain types of conditions, inside, that encourage the aphids to thrive. ie, humidity, heat, direct sunligh?  The basil appeared to be  the main culprit and I reckon the chillies would have been fine on their own. Can anyone offer any suggestions?

red hot pokers

Posted: 16/12/2011 at 07:54

Hi, I live on the Isle of Skye and planted a red hot poker over 2 years ago towards the end of summer. The ground is well drained but not sheltered, but nothing happened, although it didn't die. The leaves grew slightly over 2 seasons, but thats all. I'll mulch round them this winter, and also note the advice not to cover the crown. About 4 weeks ago my wife came home with 2 more plants in small pots, with leaves about 9inches high. I had decide to keep them in the pollytunnel over winter, water occasionally, and plant them out in spring. Is this the correct procedure.  Thanks,  Steve

How to give feedback about the new site

Posted: 12/12/2011 at 08:16

Great,thanks for the advice. Come the xmas hols I'll be giving it plenty of time.

How to give feedback about the new site

Posted: 10/12/2011 at 22:23

Hi, really busy at the moment but the site looks great, I can't wait to have a good look at it. Just a couple of questions though.  Is there a quick way to browse through the video projects? I'm a beginner and have looked at several of the video projects over the last few months. But if I'm not sure wether a particular topic is there it can take ages moving down all the pages to find the topic, which might not even be there.  The videos are great and I find them really helpful, but some of them don't give info on when to carry out the particular project. Some are obvious I know, but being a beginner I am guessing on some of them.  Thanks, looking forward to more time on the site.  

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