London (change)
Mon 24°C / 17°C
Tomorrow 28°C / 20°C


Latest posts by Topbird

Levelling garden and starting from scratch

Posted: 16/03/2015 at 19:22

I think I would be tempted to dig a few test areas by hand just to see exactly what  the soil is like and to get a feel for how much rubble etc might be there - you might be pleasantly surprised. Remember the golden rule of gardening - plants really do want to grow & that includes turf. If, therefore, the soil is actually in reasonable condition and you are prepared to dig it and get in a friable state, (sounds as though you are!) you might get away with no top soil at all.

Have you spoken to your neighbours? They appear to care for their garden and might be able to give you an idea of what sort of work you will need to to do to get things as you would like them. They might also have some contacts for sources of cheaper compost etc and maybe some good general gardening advice (gardeners love to share!!)

Holes/burrows in new allotment?

Posted: 16/03/2015 at 18:17

Hi Just Jen

Glad you have voles and not rats - much easier to live with! I applaud your sentiments in wanting to give the voles a small area to call home but can I suggest you try to make it as far away from the 'tastier' veg as you possibly can? Due to local conditions I use raised beds to grow veg and strawberries. I can net against the pigeons and squirrels but I have yet to find a way to stop the resident vole population from burrowing up from underneath and eating the produce. 

I wouldn't mind so much if they ate a whole strawberry - but they take a single bite from about 10 instead. I look at my row of seemingly perfect beetroot or carrots and go to pull them only to find they've been chomped from below.  So far they have not touched salad stuff, peas & beans (once germinated that is - somebody likes the seeds), alliums or potatoes.

I have learned to grow an extra row of the tempting crops for my family of voles. They are quite cute though 

Levelling garden and starting from scratch

Posted: 16/03/2015 at 17:58

Hi Lucid

Some good advice above - particularly Gemma's advice about using some coarse organic matter to improve the soil structure. What are you actually planning to do with your garden? Are you just intending to grass it or are you planning borders / patios / veg patch etc? If you are planning any / all of those it might be worth working out just how many square metres you will then need to grass. If you are losing large chunks of the garden to any of the above it might make the purchase of turf more affordable - and turf does make for an instant garden that you will be able to walk on after a couple of weeks

I garden on clay soil which is very heavy, sticky and compacted in places. We used a mini-digger in our garden because we had to have quite a bit of drain work & landscaping done. If it's definitely a mini-digger (ie one small enough to go through a garden gate) and the 'driver' walks it between locations (ie doesn't sit on it to get from a to b - he just sits on it to do the actual digging) then we found it didn't cause too many additional compaction problems.

However, I would not use it in place of a rotovator or garden spade for breaking up the soil. I would use it solely for stripping off the existing turf and digging out really large chunks of rubble. 

I would also be very wary of using a rotovator (if you do have clay soil) when the soil is very wet and sticky. We found the rotovator skidded around all over the place, was actually extremely difficult (possibly a bit dangerous) to use and really started to compact the soil - so much so that we abandoned it until things had dried up a bit.

We used a mini-digger to strip the turf and then the rotovator to turn the soil & levelled using spades and rakes. We bought in loose organic matter (half top soil and half farmyard compost) by the truckload and barrowed it round the garden before using the rotovator again to incorporate the organic stuff into the soil. 

When I say 'we' I actually mean a couple of burly chaps - it's pretty hard physical work - but I'm a good foreman & make good tea and bacon butties  - so it was a team effort 

What to grow around a raised bed

Posted: 15/03/2015 at 09:18
You could surround the container with attractive large stones, small boulders, flints, pebbles - whatever you can dig out of your garden or find at the GC. This would hide most of the sides of the pond liner & you could then plant some of the trailing plants suggested above to trail over them. If you choose your stones carefully you might even be able to push compost into the spaces and grow the sort of plants which thrive in stone walls.
To finish it off I would top dress the pond liner with pebbles.
(It's a mini rockery really!)
Don't forget to make some drainage holes in the pond liner unless you want to grow bog plants.

How to grow sugar cane ?

Posted: 14/03/2015 at 11:59

Poor Panda looks very hot

I love the dog in your picture wenjiangwater - he looks very friendly. 

Does he (or she) belong to you? What is his (or her) name?

I found this video about growing sugar cane - hope it helps

How to grow sugar cane ?

Posted: 14/03/2015 at 09:22

Went to a talk by Bob Flowerdew - he grows sugar cane in his Norfolk garden as a small fun crop for his children (they chew the canes to extract the sweetness - same as chewing a grass stem).

He had some bits of cane for people to take away & give it a try themselves (I think you treat the pieces as root cuttings) but they'd all gone by the time I got to the front! I think it is quite easy to grow - but obviously not on commercial levels in the UK 

Edit: Of course he might be growing it in his greenhouse rather than outside!


Posted: 13/03/2015 at 19:44

GWRS - If the runners have rooted in the soil they can be severed from the parent plant and planted in their new home. I would do it anytime now (as long as the ground is not frosted) and just keep an eye on them.

I did mine about 2 weeks ago & they are doing fine - I have just had to give them an occasional watering as we have had no useful rain for nearly a month now and the beds are really getting quite dry. Oh the joys of gardening in the near desert of the Suffolk / Essex area - watering in March - I ask you! 

Watching seedlings grow

Posted: 13/03/2015 at 19:32

Oh I am soooo jealous. I am just itching to start sowing but dare not do so until we get back from hols - they would either be dried out or beyond the pricking out stage.

I have to keep reminding myself there is still a lot of time until summer & I don't usually sow too much before the end of March. 

Anyone done any gardening today?

Posted: 11/03/2015 at 22:12
Would your daughter enjoy making snap dragons (Antirrhinums) 'talk' Hyacinth? - they are fairly easy & make a nice display. Nicotiana are also easy & have a delicious scent in the evening.

Can You Help Identify?

Posted: 11/03/2015 at 19:11


Discussions started by Topbird

Ideas of Nurseries and Garden Centres to Visit on my hols in the South East

Replies: 8    Views: 336
Last Post: 06/03/2015 at 13:52

Which Currant Bushes Would You Recommend

Replies: 10    Views: 374
Last Post: 28/02/2015 at 13:20

Papaver somniferum seed

Replies: 0    Views: 258
Last Post: 20/06/2014 at 10:35

Papaver somniferum seed

Replies: 5    Views: 1266
Last Post: 20/06/2014 at 22:28

Will Jeyes Fluid harm my Box hedge?

Replies: 4    Views: 1472
Last Post: 16/03/2014 at 21:15

Growing strawberries

Replies: 4    Views: 630
Last Post: 14/07/2013 at 23:02

Harvesting spuds, onions & garlic

Replies: 3    Views: 970
Last Post: 25/07/2013 at 20:19

Dividing Perennials

Replies: 5    Views: 716
Last Post: 12/06/2013 at 10:34

Moving delphiniums at the wrong time

Replies: 9    Views: 2319
Last Post: 20/05/2013 at 16:08

Is this Pea Weevil?

Something's chewing my pea seedlings 
Replies: 1    Views: 575
Last Post: 04/05/2013 at 10:49

Getting rid of daffodils

Rogue daffodils in raised veggie beds 
Replies: 6    Views: 2203
Last Post: 27/04/2013 at 22:12
11 threads returned