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Latest posts by Topbird

creating a new flower bed

Posted: 01/07/2013 at 13:05

Sorry Trevor - think I go along with the rest - easiest to work with nature than against it. Could you not have some really large containers for your acid lovers?

Another idea for your old pond might be for bog / marginal planting. You already have the hole, you probably have an old pond liner - punch a few drainage holes in the liner - fill it with soil / compost & you have an area which you can keep permanently damp. Just an idea...

Browning on conifers

Posted: 01/07/2013 at 12:20

Thank you for posting this item Sarah.

These bushes are beautifully pruned & I really hope you don't mind if I copy the idea - just what I need in my new border.

Do you know what your shrubs are?

Very best of luck & hope you manage to save them. Assuming you do - it might be worth investing in some garden fleece in case we have another harsh winter this year.

Help - fungus or mould on apple tree

Posted: 29/06/2013 at 14:21

Oops sorry Bob - your post sneaked in whilst I was writing - glad we agree...

Help - fungus or mould on apple tree

Posted: 29/06/2013 at 14:18

From the pics it looks like woolly aphids. They are well hidden in the waxy cotton wool type coating which is very effective at protecting them from insecticides.

Google the term for some pictures. If it is what you have I suggest an afternoon with a bucket of soapy water and a nail brush scrubbing them off. You probably won't get them all (esp if it's a big tree)  but you can control them in this way & they shouldn't affect the harvest too much. Many gardeners just try to keep these under control rather than full eradication.

Garden Voles

Posted: 29/06/2013 at 10:19

Hmmm - am just starting to notice this problem in my raised veg beds too.

So far, just a few holes but I know there are lots of critters under the nearby hedges. I  tried poking sticks down the holes, then flooding them with water before filling them in  & sticking a large stone at the top for good measure.

A few days on and the holes have not reappeared. Will let you know if this is a temporary or permanent solution.

PS. I wondered why my cat had taken a sudden interest in these beds a few weeks ago - guess I found out the reason. Might need to remind him of his duties if he wants cuddles and biccies.


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

Discussions started by Topbird

Papaver somniferum seed

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Papaver somniferum seed

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Will Jeyes Fluid harm my Box hedge?

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Growing strawberries

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Last Post: 14/07/2013 at 23:02

Harvesting spuds, onions & garlic

Replies: 3    Views: 706
Last Post: 25/07/2013 at 20:19

Dividing Perennials

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Last Post: 12/06/2013 at 10:34

Moving delphiniums at the wrong time

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Last Post: 20/05/2013 at 16:08

Is this Pea Weevil?

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

Getting rid of daffodils

Rogue daffodils in raised veggie beds 
Replies: 6    Views: 1148
Last Post: 27/04/2013 at 22:12
9 threads returned