This weekend was another radio fest – on Saturday I was on BBC Essex doing the Gardening Plus programme, and Sunday on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on Dougan Does Gardening. Both have a strong element of answering listeners’ questions and having a general chat about gardening.
On Gardening Plus a lively text debate erupted over how to keep water butts clear of mosquito and other insect larvae. My approach was to keep the butt covered with a lid and use either potassium permanganate (1 teaspoon per full water butt) or one of the products available commercially. One listener suggested adding young goldfish to eat the larvae, whereas another suggested adding a covering of petrol! I think the goldfish idea would work well as long as the butt didn’t drain completely, but I’m not sure about the health and safety aspects of adding petrol; I suggested a better solution might be to add a layer of cooking oil. The final note went to the listener who reminded us that leaving the lid on if you were using the goldfish approach may not be conducive to the fish!
Other questions included using sawdust, coal ash and soot as soil improvers; growing auriculas, jacarandas and Japanese wineberry; problems with hellebores (leaf spot), onions (neck rot), kiwi fruit (no pollinator) and swedes (soil too acidic, free draining and not consolidated enough); pruning blackberries, lilac and broom. Finally, a big thank you to the listener who phoned in at the end of the programme. His question flashed up on the screen that he wanted help ‘growing herbs’. When we asked which herbs in particular, he replied ‘you know, herb’. We soon realised he was talking about The herb – or marijuana. After reminding him it was illegal he hung up.
On Dougan Does Gardening we had questions about pruning Campsis radicans; growing potatoes, tomatoes, brassicas and associated problems with blight and cabbage white butterflies; propagating leylandii and rubber plants; dead patches on conifers, woolly aphids on apples and blind daffodils
Both programmes also looked at the problems associated with paving over front gardens, garden grabbing and the effect both have on water run-off and waterlogging. In the UK we’re paving and grabbing at a rate of knots, which is adding to our existing problem of flooding. And if the theories of climate change are correct – warmer, wetter winters – then the problem can only get worse. As I like to tell everyone: “We’re all doomed!” The RHS has a useful leaflet on front gardens; go to www.rhs.org.uk/gardeningmatters for a free download. Personally, I’m helping things go in the opposite direction. We’ve removed all the tired plants from the front garden, removed all the gravel and the thick plastic planting membrane and we’re in the process of improving the soil, adding lots of organic matter to aid drainage (we’re ‘blessed’ with heavy clay soil) and planting up with lots of drought-loving plants. Now, there’s a contradiction if ever I heard one!
SEXIST TREE VALUATION ROCKS NATION
7 years ago