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Latest posts by Tootsietim

jam maker

Posted: 01/07/2013 at 21:03

you can make small batches of strawberry jam ina microwave oven.

Strawbs into a large bowl, high power untill soft, quick bash with a potato masher, add equal weight of sugar and stir till dissolved, then nuke on high until it tries to climb out of the bowl, test on cold plate and into a jar. I don't worry about sterilising jaars as I only make small batches and eat it long before it can go off.


Posted: 01/07/2013 at 00:00

 I decided this year to sow my whole front garden with Phacelia tanacetifolia. It is usually grown as a green manure and dug in before it flowers.

I let it flower and am know the proud owner of bee heaven. I estimate 20 to 30 bumblebees per square metre at peak times, have identified at least 7 different species and have tree bumblebees nesting in the eaves of the house.

The only down side is that I have read that Phacelia self seeds freely, so I may be growing it every year from now on, whether I like it or not.

C'est la vie.

Bird bath

Posted: 17/06/2013 at 00:22

It's an algae, I get it in my concrete birdbath too. A good scrub gets rid of it for a little while and it's always good practice to use a wildlife friendly disinfectant as you would with bird feeders which seems to help. Whether it does any harm I don't know but I find that regular changing of the water and goo hygiene keeps it at bay.

Plants should be grown, not ripped out of forrest's.

Posted: 11/06/2013 at 20:06

Additionally, if you go to the website for, you can find a little more about what happens to Chelsea show gardens after the gates close.

Plants should be grown, not ripped out of forrest's.

Posted: 11/06/2013 at 20:00

Pippin2, you may be interested in the following reply I have recently received from Flemmings Nursery as to the provinance of their dsiplay plants used at Chelsea this year.

Hi Tim, 

Thanks for taking the time to check the facts about the trees that we used at Chelsea. We have heard of a number of negative messages out there, but not many people have bothered to check what the story really is. It is pleasing to see though that there are people who care enough about the plants to be outraged at the concept of them being illegally harvested and treated as disposable items - we would be similarly horrified if this was happening.   All of the plants that were used in the 2013 Trailfinders Australian Garden presented by Fleming's were sourced from nurseries in Italy, Spain and England. Some of them, particularly the Xanthorrhoea and Dicksonia would originally have been exported from Australia to Europe. The Australian government at state and federal levels have a very strict licensing system that governs the harvesting of Australian native plants from both public and private land. There are also very strict export regulations associated with exporting Australian native plants to ensure that only those that have been legally harvested can be exported.    In the vast majority of cases it is only possible to harvest plants from areas that will be cleared for other approved purposes. We had initially hoped that we would be able to use some boabs (Adansonia gregorii) that were to be cleared in Western Australia as part of the expansion of an irrigation scheme, but despite months of negotiations we were unable to finalise the licence to take these within our timeframe, even though the approval for clearing them had been granted. The harvest of Australian native plants is very strictly controlled and it is not possible to simply 'rip things from the wild'.   Like all plants the long term survivability of the Xanthorrhoea is dependent on a number of factors. Once a plant has been shipped from the Southern hemisphere to the Northern hemisphere it can take several seasons for them to adjust to the change in seasons. In order for Australian native plants to be of a standard suitable for display at Chelsea they need to have been growing in the northern hemisphere for a number of years. Given that all of the trees that we used have been growing in pots in Europe for an extended period of time there is no reason to suggest that they will in any way suffer from being displayed at Chelsea. The Xanthorrhoea that were used in our garden were all still in their pots, so suffered no disturbance to their root system.   Post Chelsea all plants were either sold, returned to a nursery or donated to a garden project. As a nursery who specialise in trees we well aware of the importance and environmental value of all plants, but particularly trees -  it would not sit at all comfortably with us to have these items destroyed.   Perhaps this answers some of your concerns?    

Any idea what this is please?

Posted: 31/05/2013 at 20:23

Looks like a Persicaria  possibly Persicaria bistorta ?

Advice Needed!

Posted: 26/05/2013 at 21:47

That is fair enough, if you cant remove the rubble to make the soil usable then a raised bed seems a good alternative. Not being one to buy things ready made I can't recommend a supplier, but only advise that whatever you choose is not too wide so that you can reach the centre from each side and is made of decent thick treated timber. I know that some people dislike using treated timber with veg, but the investment is not inconsiderable so anything to prolong the life of the bed is probably a good thing.

Do research the cost of not only the bed but the soil with which you fill it as this can be expensive, and consider the effort involved in moving it.

(If I were to build a raised bed I would be using treated timber 2inch by 8 or 9inch for the sides, doubled up to give a depth of 16 to 18 inches and then support the corners with 3inch posts. Again this could be obtained from a timber yard and many would be able to cut to length and pressure treat for you.) 

Holm Oak posts rot resistance

Posted: 22/05/2013 at 22:47

I just looked on the wood database, a site for woodworkers, and that states that Holm Oak has good rot resistance and has been used for boat building. That being said, ground contact is usually a different matter and encourages decay, and, as alluded to above, the branches are likely to be predominantly sapwood which in Oaks is not very resistant to rot. It is the heartwood that will last in the ground and so I imagine that your timber, in ground contact, is going to rot sooner rather than later.

Plants should be grown, not ripped out of forrest's.

Posted: 21/05/2013 at 23:12

My admitedly brief search encompassed the New South Wales Government's Native Vegetation Act of 2003 and a number of Australian commercial horticultural suppliers.

For instance Grasstrees Australia, who were finalists in the Western Australia Environmental Awards for Small Business Leading by Example.

In response to the specific point of your original statement, which I misconstrued, regarding the removal of an originally wild plant from Australia and bringing it to London for a garden show, I should be very interested to see if we can find out what is going to happen to the plants involved. If it is to be wasted then I share your unease.

The designer, Phillip Johnson appears to be entirely rooted in sustainable gardening and so one would be worried if he were condoning the death of a grass tree for chelsea, but I don't think we can necessarily judge on the information that we have.

Perhaps Mr Titchmarsh could be contacted to see if he can determine the origin and destination of this plant.

Advice Needed!

Posted: 21/05/2013 at 00:08

My first thought would be to ask, do you actually meen a raised bed ?

I only ask because in the last few years it seems to have become accepted dogma that veg has to be grown in a raised bed. Even on allotments people are being encouraged to build raised beds when what is meant is a DEEP BED.

There is a good argument to be made for growing in DEEP BEDS. This is where the soil is dug deeply with plenty of organic matter incorporated and then not trod on, the idea being to allow roots to penetrate deeply and easily thus allowing closer spacing between crops and hence more produce. These beds are usually no wider than 4 foot so that they can be reached from either side without the need to walk on them. It is not essential, but they are often edged with wooden boards to keep them tidy and I think that this is where people get confused with RAISED BEDS which are planting beds usually high enough to allow access without too much bending or from a wheelchair, or for ornamental purposes.

If you wish to edge a deep bed, I would recommend contacting a local timber merchant (a proper one, not a DIY store ) and asking for the price of some 1inch by 6inch treated gravel boards. Most merchants can cut them to length for you so they can be whatever size you require rather than what the manufacturers make. They should also be able to supply some stakes (2 inch x 2inch) for the corners and to support long sides. This invariably works out much better value than the ready made ones and is quite sufficient for veg growing.

Hope this makes sense and helps.

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