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July 2008
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September 2008

August 2008

Even more composting potential

This month, I've followed my own recommendation and invested in a large three bay wooden compost bin. I got Jamie and Paul to get rid of the Concrete Coal bunker that was masquerading as a compost heap in the corner of the garden, and found that the bottom of the pile had obviously been there for some time as there was some lovely compost that we sieved out.
We made sure that we put back in all the worms, so our next batch of compost gets under way rapidly.

We used www.greenwarehouse.co.uk, who i've used for clients before, and yet again they delivered within 2 days. The bin is very easy to put up, it took about 15 minutes, so the back of my vegetable patch is now all organised and I have plenty of room for my shreddings and grass clippings



Tatty Conker Trees

The Horse Chestnut Leaf mining moth is spreading rapidly and a lot of trees now have brown and tatty leaves. This moth has been more in evidence over the last few years, but there there is no evidence as yet that damage by the moth leads to a decline in tree health, the development of dieback, or tree death. Trees survive repeated infestations and re-flush normally in the following year. It appears that most of the damage caused by the moth occurs too late in the growing season to greatly affect tree performance.They should come back with fresh leaves as normal in spring. Raking up leaves and destroying them by burning or sealing in a plastic bag until next July (when adult moths would have been hatched) will help on single specimens as there is no-where for pupae to over-winter.


Yummy apples, but what type?

I'm really enjoying a great benefit of my new garden this week, as my feature apple tree is cropping fairly heavily.  It's an eating apple (crisp and sweet, but not too sweet) and is fairly mature (i'd hazard a guess at 25 ish years old)  But is the only Malus Domestica in my back garden, so although it had great blossom, I was quite surprised that it pollinated so well. This means that there must be another tree within bee flight distance, that was flowering at the same time, - but as it isn't in my garden, I have no control about whether that will stay as a pollinator in the future, - so i've decided to make use of the RHS Fruit naming service.  On Tuesday, I took my 3 typical fruit samples and a representative piece of foliage in my shoe box (those like me with Children with growing feet will have just the right size box) and paid my £8.00 as an RHS member (£16 if not) and in 4 weeks or less, i'll know the name of my tree.  Apart from satisfying my curiosity, i'll also be able to buy myself another tree in the same pollination group , - or maybe it will go on my christmas list! -
for more information about the fruit naming service look on http://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/plant_groups/fruitid.asp


Back to the war against bugs and beasties

I've had a fantastic summer with a real complete break in France, and a week of trips out with my four year old son, but this last week i've been back in mine and other gardens. Although i've been on holiday, the bugs and beasties havn't, and every manner of Caterpillar, Slug, Vine weevil, Blight and Sawfly has congregated in my garden. I'll let you know about some of the others over the coming week, but the most important to find quickly in your garden is blight.  This is what caused the Irish potato famine, and if you are growing potatoes or tomatoes outdoors, you need to spot it within a day of it starting. For it to develop you need a couple of days of warm wet conditions (oh yes like in an English summer!) and then the spores will work fast to turn the stems and leaves brown (this is called the Haulm on potatoes). The only prevention is to spray when conditions are likely to effect plants, but for those of us that garden organically, (or don't get round to spraying) the only cure is to remove effected plants the minute you see the problem.  If Potatoes are earthed up deeply, then after removing the haulms, you have got a couple of days grace to remove the potatos before they turn to a mush. For tomatoes, all the plant must be removed and tomatoes can be left on a windowsill to ripen, but if they show any signs of going brown, throw them away.
I hope you escape blight this year, - i've learnt my lesson not to try greenhouse varieities outside, so let me know what types escaped and cropped well so that I can try them next year.