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Category: Gardening

General gardening tips and hints

Rabbit Pests not Pets

Rabbit Pests not Pets

The best place for rabbits, if it is not in a pie, is in the wild meadows and byways of the countryside. There they can do as their mum tells them and ‘eat up their greens’. As a vegetarian this is what rabbits do and that is why gardeners start to worry about them eating cultivated greens.

Literary Rabbits

  • Peter Rabbit  sneaks into Mr. McGregor’s garden to eat as many vegetables as he can before Mr. McGregor tries to catch him. Peter manages to escape as other rabbits do in my garden.
  • Then there is the image of Bugs Bunny eating a never-ending carrot. What a way to encourage kids to become gardeners.
  • Tar-Baby is about a doll made of tar and turpentine used by  Br’er Fox to trap Br’er Rabbit. The more that Br’er Rabbit fights the Tar-Baby the more entangled he becomes:- a modern metaphor?  This is not a recommended control method for gardeners.
  • White Rabbit is a  character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland wearing a waistcoat like many gardeners from that era.
  • Roger Rabbit and Jessica bred a film franchise as quickly as rabbits seem to do when feeding on lettuce.

Rabbit prevention Tips

Fungi Out Walking

Fungi Out Walking

2020 has been a year of walking and observing nature in the raw. As autumn approaches the mushrooms and toadstools or fungi will be out in force. This will provide you with new observation opportunities on your nature walks. This week I spotted this gigantic fungi over 2 feet in diameter growing in a local graveyard.

fungus

These photographs are from previous autumn walks. Even if I had found them in the garden it would not be a cause for concern as they are part of natures support for the environment and many specific species.

See also   Fungus comes in all colours, shapes and sizes with most under the soil. The largest living organism in the world is arguably a honey fungus growing  2.4 miles across in the USA.

fungus

 

Winnowing My Garden Books

Winnowing My Garden Books

On this first of August 2020 I am resolved to winnow down my collection of books on gardening and related subjects. I want to separate the wheat from the chaff and boy is there a lot of chaff to sort, probably 500+ tomes plus related ephemera. Not all of this winnowing activity will lead to new posts on this site but my first effort has done.

The most recent book I have read from cover to cover was the entertaining ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben. To me it is a master piece of accessible writing about trees, what they feel, how they communicate and how nature interacts  with them. It is based on years of experience as a forester. Peter has acute observational and analytical ability that is well reasoned and simply communicated. The main themes I have taken into my wider gardening and ecological understanding include:

  1. Trees show we can take the long view and there is no need to rush, in fact time may create a far better and sustainable result.
  2. There is a place for everything and with everything in its place we disrupt it at our peril.
  3. We don’t know what we don’t know and there are more things in heaven and earth ( but what the Hamlet to mix my metaphors.)
  4. If trees have social networking with many skills similar to human abilities and traits, then what else can our gardens teach us.
  5. Look at what is easily visible and look again to develop understanding.

Fired with this enthusiasm I looked through for further enlightenment before I  pass on the books to others as part of winnowing down from  my book shelves. I came across a 1974 book ‘Plants and Environment’ by R F Daubenmire a self professed Textbook of Plant Autecology. The book’s definition of Autecology is wider than a dictionary definition claiming it considers: geology, soils, climatology, zoology, chemistry and physics which are connected to the welfare of living organism and evolution of species. Not dissimilar to Wohlleben’s offering.  As I have only read the preface and introduction in detail some chapers have been dipped into to suit my mood at the time. These include; soil, water, temperature, light, atmospheric, biotic, fire, evolution and complex environmental chapters.

As a text book it is more detailed and less apocryphal than the Hidden Life of Trees but aims at ‘the intelligent management of plant life (and trees in particular) for the good on mankind’. Both books have excellent notes and references.

 

Earwig Time

Earwig Time

There are a lot of earwigs around this year or so it seems. Typical in a year when I had decided to grow more dahlias than usual but I guess the earwigs must have known that and got on with early breeding.

Facts about Earwigs

  • Earwigs chew on live shoots, flowers or decaying vegetation and like damp secluded conditions.
  • In my garden they do most noticeable damage on Chrysanthemums and Dahlias.
  • Earwigs are attracted to lights when they move around at dusk and nighttime.
  • Females lay between 30 and 50 small, round, translucent eggs.

Some Control Tips

  • Good housekeeping, dry areas and removing leaf litter restricts an earwigs desired living conditions
  • Placing hollow canes around dahlias act as a trap as can grass clippings or mulch removed regularly
  • Soapy water sprays or chemical formulas can reduce infestations

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Oenothera biennis Our Evening Primrose

Oenothera biennis Our Evening Primrose

The Evening Primrose is one of my favourite, limeish yellow, summer, biennial flowers.

Evening Primrose Oenothera glazioviana

Evening Primrose Growing

  • These plants are capable of seeding profusely
  • The large-flowered evening-primrose Oenothera glazioviana is one of 4 common UK species
  • There are another dozen species and many hybrids and crosses.
  • Evening primrose  flower from June to September. and seeds are produced in mid-August
  • There is a fragrant evening-primrose Oenothera stricta.

Evening Primrose Medical Benefits

The plant is common and popular in the USA and its roots are eaten and used for various purposes. Gardeners Path say it can ‘help a number of conditions including eczema, rheumatoid arthritis, premenstrual syndrome, and osteoporosis  and oil of Evening primrose can be used  to regulate blood pressure and to keep the immune system functioning’.

Lawn Edge Trimmers

Lawn Edge Trimmers

Hover Mower Tips on Use and Safety

 

mow

Hover Mower Tips

  • Hover mowers are quick and easy to use but they do not leave stripes in your grass.
  • Use hover mowers to keep your grass tidy but consider a cylinder mower for a top quality look to your lawn. It is the roller on a mower that makesdefines the stripes on your lawn
  • The special mowers for long grass are an excellent way of clearing space like a hovering scythe.
  • The electric Hover mowers are fine for small lawns and are far lighter than most other lawnmowers but they are unlikely to collect up the cut grass.
  • When mowing a bank or slope stand at the top, attach a rope if you need too then swing and lower the mower.
  • Mow up and down not across a slope and take extra care on any uneven ground.
  • Handles generally fold so the machine can be hung from a shed or garage wall making them extremely space efficient

For Safeties Sake

Before Using Your Mower

  • Read the instruction book, it may seem obvious but best to be prepared.
  • Fill the petrol tank before you start as pouring petrol into a hot engine can be as dangerous as smoking.
  • Examine the area to be cut for stones, bits of metal, toys or pets.
  • Set the cutting height, not too short!
  • When starting the machine keep it still, perhaps by putting your foot on the hood.
  • Hover mowers do not have wheels so they must be carried onto and off the lawn.Lift with care and buy one that is light enough for you to manage.

While Mowing

  • Wear heavy shoes with a good grip and keep children away from dangerous machinery.
  • Do not carry the mower whilst it is running it will not float from one lawn to the next.
  • Keep the mower flat as it is designed to stop ‘flying stones’ by hovering close to the ground. Do not mow over gravel.
  • Do not try to use your mower as a cultivator some areas may be so overgrown they need a machete.
  • Don’t take risks or walk backwards as you may pull the machine on top of you.
  • Safety regulations require all new electric mowers to have elaborate safety switches that usually require two handed use and a constant grip.

mower

Cloche Crop Protection

Cloche Crop Protection

Octagonal cloche

A cloche is used as a protective covering to shield plants, usually vegetables from the undesirable effects of cold, wind, and predator damage.

  • Cloches may be just smaller poly-tunnels used to protect a small number or individual plants.
  • Cloches made from plastic are much lighter than glass making them easier to move around. The advantages of glass is that the temperature within a glass cloche will be slightly warmer, they are less likely to be blown around and look better.
  • A home made cloche can be made from a cut down plastic pop bottle.
  • There are attractive bell shaped cloches available and various shapes like the one above.

How to Use a Cloche

  • Put the cloches in place a month before sowing to help warm the soil.
  • Sow seeds or plant out under the cloche for protection.
  • Cloches can be used in September to protect late crops of Lettuce.
  • Consider ventilation and watering when buying a cloche. The roof of this cloche can be lifted off.
  • I use a cloche to keep mice away from germinating peas and beans.

A Floating Cloche can be made from sheets of polypropylene fleece which are placed over the seed bed – when the seedlings emerge, the polypropylene is light enough to float up as the plants grow. I like this method for Broad beans peas and early potatoes.

A floating cloche is cheap, easy to put in place and protects the seedlings from three or four degrees of frost. Water permeates the fleece.

Poly Tunnels are another alternative.

Poly tunnel’s supporting hoops should be no more than 2½ feet apart. If spaced further apart the plastic sheeting will droop over the crops and may damage them in rainy or snow conditions.
Make sure the height is adequate for the crops you want to protect.

Related

Garden Frost Protection

Deter Club Root with This Tip

Deter Club Root with This Tip

Club root is a fungal infection of brassicas that causes distorted, swollen roots and stunted growth. Your cabbage seedlings and Broccoli, Cauliflower, Calabrese Sprouts and Kale can all be prone to club root but especially your cabbages.

Club Root Tip

Start plants off in larger than normal pots say 4-5 inches. This gives plants a good  head start and they can be planted out surrounded by safe uncontaminated compost. Line the planting hole with a rhubarb leaf to improve the effectiveness of this method. That seems counter intuitive when you would lime the soil as a normal safeguard and the rhubarb leaf in acidic in nature but it works.

More on Club Root

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Weed Free or So I Thought

Weed Free or So I Thought

I bet you spotted my weed as soon as you looked at the picture. ‘Where’s Wally’ you may ask, well he is the gardener that not only let the dandelion flower but seed as well. Back to gardening school. Depending how you look at it there has been a great profusion of dandelions this year but you just wait until next year. The ‘clocks’ have been distributed far and wide since the beginning of May, the breezes were light, the conditions just right and the air and ponds filled with seeds so dandelions are not going to be a threatened species anytime soon!

One dandelion may be excusable but what about your sweetpea zone you may be asking? My excuse for all the self sown seedlings  from last years dark purple poppies include that I found the poppy so entrancing. I fully expected to transplant them into a suitable area but tempus fugit (a good name for a weed). I have other excuses on request.

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