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Latest posts by steephill

Bean confession

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 17:54

I have been lamenting the lack of growth of my runner beans, stopped at a foot tall and I put it down to the bad season everyone is having. That is until I looked more closely and realised I had mixed them up when planting out. I was looking at dwarf French beans! The Borlotti turned out to be the runners and the French beans magically turned into Borlotti. Must try labelling next year.

My excuse is that I hadn't planted French or Borlotti beans before so didn't know what they looked like. The seed packets were a bit short on detail like eventual height etc., so the epic construction of poles and nets is a bit wasted on the dwarf beans! Anyone else ever done this?

how best to reclaim poor land

Posted: 25/07/2012 at 23:36

Get the roots out, nettles have a root network like yellow spaghetti and brambles have roots like a mandrake. This will take hard work and there are no real shortcuts beyond chemical warfare. Remove the turf first and if you need to clear a big area get the right machinery in to help. How big an area do you want to clear?

Huge Pieris japonica

Posted: 23/07/2012 at 22:58

Use that hammer! But not on the pot - turn the pot on its side and put a stake or broom handle into the drainage hole in the bottom. Use the hammer on the stake to help drive out the plant, after releasing its grip on the sides by cutting as Geoff suggests. Hopefully you hav a decent pive of old pot for drainage over the hole which will help spread the load.

With the pot on its side you could also try tapping on the rim of the pot with the hammer using some pieces of wood between the hammer and the rim to soften the blows and spread the load as far as possible across the rim. Maybe a combination of these techniques will do the job.


Disappointed with strawberries...

Posted: 21/07/2012 at 01:10

I have lots of wild strawberries which seem very similar to the alpine variety but do reproduce through runners. The berries can be a little tart but are little explosions of flavour.


Posted: 12/07/2012 at 10:39

You can make "quince" jelly and cheese from the Japanese flowering quince (Chaenomeles japonica). I have a slightly different variety (Chaenomeles cathayensis) which produces similar fruit to the Japanese variety but has a very different habit - 3 to 4 metre tall trunk which is extremely spiny. I have also made jelly and cheese from this variety.


Leaving the garden to itself for a year - what to plant?

Posted: 10/07/2012 at 23:17

What about Landshare as an option? More info here

Poorly white grape vine

Posted: 10/07/2012 at 23:12

Check the soil for vine weevil grubs and the leaves for adults and get some nematodes in if you find any.

Overwintered runner bans

Posted: 28/05/2012 at 10:25

One of their nicknames in the US is "Seven Year Beans". They are perennial and should crop well again. They were also grown there more for their flowers than their beans!

I intend to leave plenty of pods to fully mature as the beans are very useful in stews etc. long after you get bored with the pods. I simply freeze the beans while they are still plump (similar to harvesting broad beans) and make sure they are cooked thoroughly before eating.

ID of plant growing EVERYWHERE!

Posted: 19/05/2012 at 17:28

It is Rosebay Willowherb known in the US as Fireweed. Not poisonous but is a bit of a pest. Easy to pull up the plants to control it.


Posted: 18/05/2012 at 11:44

Bats too! Although I practically X-rayed this poor bat with the flash. Not easy trying to photograph bats at night in the rain.

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