Green Fingers I Wish

Monday, October 27, 2008

Feed the Birds Day Proves Popular

Feed the Birds Day — the annual event to support British garden birds — took place at the weekend.

Once again the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds organised its national Feed the Birds Day and the society urged people to think about the different ways they can help wildlife in their gardens.

Feed the Birds Day was on Saturday, October 25, and as part of its annual effort the charity invited people to sign-up to its Homes for Wildlife project. Since launching a year ago, more than 65,000 people have signed-up to and supported the project, by following wildlife-gardening advice, helping them transform their homes and gardens into wildlife havens.

According to RSPB research, more than half of us regularly put out bread, peanuts and seeds for birds. These foods are of course helpful and welcome but there are other simple activities they say we can all do that will really benefit the birds.

Friday, October 17, 2008

The larvae of the leaf miner moth, which has spread to Britain from Greece and Macedonia, burrows into the leaves of the horse chestnut tree, causing them to turn brown earlier than normal in August.

The condition can affect the size of conkers produced by the trees.

Aside from this moth problem, up to 41% of the nation’s estimated 11,100 horse chestnuts have so-called bleeding canker disease, according to the Forestry Commission’s investigation arm, Forest Research.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Aphids To Get Rid Of Japanese knotweed

BRITISH scientists looking for a way of controlling the spread of Japanese knotweed – one of the most invasive plants ever to be introduced into the UK – have discovered an insect which can kill the plant by sucking out its sap.

The researchers had been to Japan to find out why the knotweed - which has spread like wildfire alongside rivers, becks, drainage ditches and even gardens in the Yorkshire Dales - is much less invasive in its native land.

They found that, at home, it faces threats from no fewer than 40 insect and plant fungi which attacked it, none of which are found in the UK.

The most formidable was an insect called Aphalara itadori, which literally sucks the plant dry. Now, they want to set up a trial by releasing some of the bugs in England to see if it will control the weed.

Japanese knotweed, like so many invasive plants and animals the grey squirrel, was introduced into England in the 19th Century by wealthy landowners and industrialists as status symbols on their country estates.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Did the Romans take their Leeks to Wales?

The Romans gave us roads, plumbing, wine and irrigation and now it seems they may have also introduced Wales' unofficial icon - the garden leek.

The National Museum of Wales says the Romans probably planted domesticated varieties to flavour their stews.

The museum has recreated a Roman-design garden at the National Roman Legion Museum in Caerleon, near Newport.

The garden aims to show how troops posted to the edge of the empire created their own home-from-home.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Grow Your Own

If high food costs and lingering safety concerns make you feel like starting a garden, you're not alone.

Don't let inexperience stop you. You can do it. And the rewards of cooking homegrown food are far greater than if you get your ingredients from a market's produce section.

If space is an issue, container gardening is the answer, and nothing is easier. A pot or two on a sunny deck or corner of a yard can be both bountiful and attractive.

Here are some tips -

Preparing to plant

Though you can choose from an array of containers – half-barrels are particularly popular – my favorites are clay-colored plastic pots. In addition to being inexpensive, they're relatively easy to move and come in a variety of sizes. Besides, they're practically indestructible and can be re-used.

If you follow these guidelines, you, too, may become a devotee of container gardening.

Step 1: Make sure your container has adequate drainage. It should have one or more holes at the bottom. Otherwise, you're in for a soggy disappointment.

Step 2: Prepare the pot for planting. Cover the holes with drainage netting (available at garden centers). As an alternative, you can cut up old panty hose. Some also like to scatter pebbles and broken clay-pot pieces in the pot, though they're not essential.

Step 3: Buy the best potting soil you can find. Don't settle for inferior quality. And don't use garden soil. You'll have drainage problems.

Step 4: Water the pot thoroughly. Add more soil if you need it. When you plant, follow the directions on the seed packets. Once the plants are growing, water them more frequently during soil-parching Santa Anas.

If you have aphids, rinse them off with a garden hose. If you have slugs and snails, try wrapping a copper strip around the outside of your pot. (You can get them at garden centers or online). The Internet also has plenty of other solutions to pest problems.

And remember, the more you garden, the more your confidence will grow.