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Latest posts by Topbird

Harvesting spuds, onions & garlic

Posted: 29/06/2013 at 01:05


I've been gardening for years but only just got into fruit & veg so need to ask a bit of a silly question.

This year my kind neighbour gave me a few onion & garlic sets & seed potatoes which he had left over. They were put in in March & are now all romping away. The potatoes are in a couple of purpose made bags & the compost has been up to the top for a few weeks & the foliage is about 2' above this.

Silly question is... how do I know when to harvest? Do I have to lift the plants to find out if they're ready or are there some tell tale signs with the foliage? 

Thank you.

We have an unintended wilderness!

Posted: 29/06/2013 at 00:40

How large an area are we talking about here and how large a budget do you have? If it is a large area & you have some cash I'd be tempted to get a landscaper in with machinery!

You could consider some low maintenance shrubs and / or the gravel / patio idea if the area is suitable (gravel doesn't get as slippery in the winter if that's a consideration).  Using weed suppressant membrane and thick mulches should go a long way to controlling weeds leaving you with a little light pruning once or twice a year. Using mainly evergreens would mean you dont have to deal with loads of leaves in the autumn.

Honestly, a good landscaper is worth his weight in gold, won't necessarily cost the earth & will probably have some good ideas of his own. Cultivating a large area of ground is hard work how ever many miles you have on the clock. If you want to be more active in this just get him to do the hard landscaping & soil prep & do the planting yourself.

Enjoy the end result!

Something to block out sound of neighbours voice!

Posted: 28/06/2013 at 15:19

Good luck RD - hope it works for you. The water feature you posted is lovely and will look really good in your beautiful garden.

You don't need all the extra stress that comes with upping the anti and a few gentle measures as sugested at the start of this thread might work. 

I do like the comfrey mix idea though... are you going away for a couple of weeks so you could brew it for maximum impact while you're not there to suffer?

All you need is for her to move her table and chairs a few yards away from the fence

Something to block out sound of neighbours voice!

Posted: 27/06/2013 at 09:52

Not an easy one this & I think a few of us have been there...

How well do / did you get on with these neighbours before? If things were reasonably amicable I would try my best to avoid making the whole thing escalate into an unpleasant battle. If they were bad - well, things could get a whole lot worse..

'Tactful' ways that might work include a 'noisy' (see Fairygirl above) water feature - if it makes the lady run to the loo every 20mins that might help. Annoying (yet somehow acceptable) noises such as irritating windchimes might encourage them to move away from the boundary. 

After that - try a bit of gentle escalation - when you know they're there - start having a loudish conversation yourself so they know how much the voices carry. Then perhaps a lawn mower when they're outside. In graduation terms you could then go strimmer, chain saw and leaf blower.

What about an oscillating sprinkler that 'accidentally' sends a few drops over the fence???

If they don't move away after all that, your only option might be to move your sitting area.

Problem is - once you're tuned in to listening for her voice / laugh you'll cringe every time you hear it & magnify the volume in your head. Try and keep a sense of perspective - war with your neighbours is a real recipe for unhappiness.

Best of luck.


Posted: 23/06/2013 at 12:24

Hi Sally

The fence may well be causing a 'rain shadow' and the hard core under the patio may well be providing a nice drainange area next to the plant's roots. I think lack of moisture is probably the cause. 

I think I would scrape back the bark and see what the soil is like about 6" down. If it is dry/ impoverished I would thoroughly soak the soil and then put down a thick (4 - 6") mulch of organic matter. If possible, gently fork some into the soil  (you could also mix in some water retaining gel if you can dig down). Then replace your bark mulch.

I would then give it a bucket of water once a week for the next few weeks - unless there is loads of rain.

You will find that removing the other plants makes this easier - but I love Lady's Mantle so would be loathe to lose it altogether - but it will be competing with the honeysuckle for moisture & nutrients in what sounds like a confined space. Your call! Some shallow rooted annuals (eg nigella) might be a less competetive option.

Good luck

Greenhouse erection is up..but will it stay up??

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 13:48

If you're happy it's safe /not going to fall down or any panes of glass fall out - that's good and well done for tackling the job yourself. If you have any doubts, however, I really think you should get someone to check it - but it is your call.

I'm afraid I have no technical knowledge why things haven't worked quite as expected but, if the base was square to start with, it sounds as though the greenhouse might not be. Presumably if one of the major bits of the frame is slightly twisted or not straight (I'm talking manufacturing defect here) then that could throw the whole structure.

You probably already know this but in case you don't... I was told (when I bought my shed) that 'toughened' glass is not any stronger than regular horticultural glass (ie it will break under the same stress / blow etc). It is, however, safer than regular glass because it breaks into small bits rather than large shards and splinters (like a car windscreen).

Poppies in a tin hat

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 13:22

I garden on heavy clay & only have poppies poppying up (sorrry!!) in the areas where the soil is poorest and driest and in my gravel drive - not where the soil is rich and wet.

I think, therefore, that you could try mixing quite a bit of sand and grit into the compost in the helmet and keeping it on the dry side. Sow on the surface.  Are there any drainage holes? - if not you will have to be very careful not to let the soil get waterlogged.

Experiment this year to get it right for next.

Nice idea ...

nut for water butt tap

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 13:08

Check your Yellow Pages (or internet equivalent) for an old fashioned ironmongers near you. They often sell things like this loose so you can buy just one rather than a bag of 20 from B & Q. If it's a nice shop they don't mind if you take the tap in and ask - so you make sure you get the right size. 

Wish there were lots more shops like this still around....

Help, help, help! Just tipped a tin of paint over my lawn

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 13:06

We've all been there ....

Good luck with the Open Garden day

Greenhouse erection is up..but will it stay up??

Posted: 18/06/2013 at 12:37

Sorry garjobo - but I agree 100% with Bookertoo.

A greenhouse should be solid - nothing wobbly. It is one thing for some garden structures to be a bit wobbly, rustic or 'unique - quite another for a working environment made of glass to be unstable and possibly liable to collapse. How would you feel if a child was in there and a pane (or worse) fell on them?

You really need a builder (or similar) to come and assess whether the structure is safe. Maybe your posting makes it sound worse than it is but my advice is to shut the door and windows (so a gust of wind can't get under and lift any glass) and don't let anyone in till it's been checked.

I hope it's all ok as it sounds like you've done a lot of work - but a greenhouse crashing down on somebody's head isn't Tom & Jerry stuff - it could kill them.

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