London (change)
Today 4°C / -2°C
Tomorrow 3°C / -1°C


Latest posts by steephill

Tools to tackle an overgrown laurel hedge

Posted: 30/09/2012 at 18:00

You would need to eat the leaves to suffer cyanide poisoning, that's how it kills horses. It is safe to prune laurel, wet or dry.

Any idea what this fruit is?

Posted: 16/09/2012 at 23:55

Seems very late for cherry plums, they usually ripen late July/early August. All of mine were gone by mid August. I have the purple variety and have made good jam from it.

runner beans

Posted: 12/09/2012 at 12:13

Yes, just treat them the same as kidney beans - cook thoroughly. You can also freeze the fresh beans if you need to harvest before the pods dry.

Late Runner Beans

Posted: 10/09/2012 at 13:21

Runner beans are also called seven year beans in the US as they are a perennial plant. They are probably too tender to survive the Winter in the UK unless well protected though. You should find a good strong root system when you dig them up at the end of the season.

If you leave some beans to mature they will give you lovely large fresh beans which you can freeze, just wait until you can see the swollen beans inside the pods. If you have enough time and good weather let the pods dry out on the vine for dry beans which can be stored in a jar.

What to do with soil that's got coal in it

Posted: 31/08/2012 at 12:19

It may seem odd that coal made from trees and other organic matter can contain heavy metals such as lead, mercury and (radioactive) uranium and other pollutants but it does. The contaminants come from the normal geological erosion of rocks and are washed into the swamps where coal is formed. These are mainly concentrated in the boundary seams of coal but you have no way of telling where in the seam the coal came from. The heavy metals can leach out of the coal to pollute water courses. This largely a problem for power stations where they store millions of tons of the stuff.

If the layer isn't too thick I would dig it out first especially if planting fruit and veg.

The pinky bits might be brick debris from the previous demolition of the coal shed.


Help - Massive Bramble problem

Posted: 31/08/2012 at 11:59



If you can borrow a couple of pigs for a few days or so they will eat the roots and rotovate and manure the ground at the same time. Take off top growth first.

One more thing - infection. Unless you are very lucky you will get lacerated by brambles when removing top growth. I was tackling a similarly overgrown garden and picked up a nasty bacterial blood infection through cuts. Nothing exotic just common bacteria found in any garden but it took 9 weeks and three different antibiotics to clear it up. So wrap up well with industrial strength welders gauntlets and a strong face guard.


Runner beans.

Posted: 25/08/2012 at 01:16

Leave some pods to mature and with luck you will get a nice crop of beans to use in stews etc. They freeze well too.


Posted: 22/08/2012 at 23:35

Looks like aphid damage and scab. Some useful info here on renovation pruning and a search on Youtube should find you a few videos of how to do this. If all of the fruit is affected by scab like your examples then make sure you dispose of them all. Don't leave them on the ground to rot out.

Fruit trees

Posted: 14/08/2012 at 18:06

Pollination has been poor this year because of the weather - too cold and wet for the bees. I had a similar problem on well established trees, lots of blossom and little fruit. Nothing you can do about it other than try to pollinate by hand next year but I would just let nature sort it out. It would definitely help your chances if there were suitable  trees for cross-pollination in your neighbours gardens though.

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?

Discussions started by steephill

Problem viewing on Android tablet

Replies: 6    Views: 339
Last Post: 12/09/2014 at 18:51

Hardwood cuttings from apple

Replies: 5    Views: 562
Last Post: 06/02/2014 at 18:32

Eating weeds

Beating the weeds by eating them 
Replies: 3    Views: 490
Last Post: 28/09/2013 at 11:21

Strange broad bean

Replies: 2    Views: 618
Last Post: 22/04/2013 at 18:42

Slow worms and roe deer

Replies: 2    Views: 2128
Last Post: 26/04/2013 at 21:26

Air pots

Replies: 3    Views: 623
Last Post: 19/04/2013 at 12:43

Bean confession

Replies: 5    Views: 831
Last Post: 15/08/2012 at 11:16
7 threads returned