The trouble with gloves 

With a fun lacked weekend of fence erecting ahead of us I thought some nice new sturdy gloves might be in order.

So I went to Homebase and found a leather/cotton mix for myself and then saw some sturdy water proof looking ones that I thought looked good for the Husband.

Buying a promotional stickered three pack of the water proof ones was the same price as buying one – so I bought the set of three.

Get them home, ask the Husband what he thinks and he says “great, but they contain nitrile” which means that he’s allergic to them!

Bother doesn’t really cover it! So he’s going to steal my gloves. 

Garden: Decoy / companion plants

I can’t comment on if the chemicals are winning against the aphids as I’m so unhappy using them that I’ve not being using it as much as the instructions tell me to.

Thankfully the internet found me something that I was happier with – decoy and companion plants.

The idea is that you plant flowers that attract or deter bugs / disease near the flowers you are uber concerned about.

marigold

(Photo from Wiki)

I’ve planted some marigolds to try to attract the aphids from the rose, they also look pretty which is nice!

The internet tells me that planting garlic near roses might also help, so now I really fancy trying growing garlic!

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Garden: Freaky giant grubs

Ever since I started digging in the garden I’ve been finding lots and lots of large icky looking white grubs / larvae varying from tiny to nearly 5 cm long.

They are fat and gross looking – which hasn’t really narrowed down my Google results which just showed me lots of random ick looking grubs. I was working on the assumption that because it was a grub it ate plant roots.

As such I may have been treating the grubs as free bird food.

cockchafter

(Photo from Wiki)

However this evening we saw a giant flying scarab style beetles that look very out of place in the UK, the bug was so distinctive that a quick Google search revealed it to be a cockchafer beetle.

Also known as a May Bug, the beetles themselves are harmless they chop on plants – but to a lesser degree than the grubs which are also known as rookworms.

It was a shock seeing so many big flying bugs in the garden today, but it is nice to know what the grubs are!

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Garden: Scarlet Lily Beetles ate my Snake’s Head

A couple of months ago I purchased a Snake’s Head lily, AKA Fritillaria meleagris or snake’s head fritillary.

I’ve generally seen them in damper environments than my garden so I was aware they might need extra watering. What I didn’t think about was how tasty they would be…

The Scarlet Lily Beetles were a  fixture of my parents garden when I was little, my sibling and I used to carefully catch the little bugs (about 8mm in length) to listen to them squeak – in the straightforward naming convention that children use we called them “red squeaking beetles” and had rather fond memories of them.

snake's head lily

(Photo from Ebay)

What I’d forgotten was how quickly the lily beetles chomped through lilies (they utterly strip the foliage) and kill off the plant – my snake’s head has now entirely died.

Having done some reading it sounds like some pesticides might work but they will also kill everything else which seems a bit overkill.

Which probably means I won’t get another lily for the garden, I will just have to search the internet for photos of other people snake’s heads that didn’t get eaten.

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Garden: Roses VS Aphids

When the rose randomly arrived I did some reading about general maintenance and how to have a happy rose bush –  but at that stage no one mentioned aphids.

It turns out that aphids are actually rather prolific and once they get started they seem to multiple surprisingly quickly – which is bad as they munch through leaves and buds.

I had hoped for an non-chemical solution, so I asked the internet and was a bit disappointed at the response. Apparently ladybirds are best – but we don’t have any naturally, so I’d have to buy some online, hope the postman doesn’t squash them and then put them in the fridge for a bit so that they don’t fly off immediately the second you release them…

ladybird

(Photo from the Independent)

To be fair my in-laws happily told us that they put a dead mole in the fridge last week – to keep it fresh so they could show their grand daughter… so ladybirds in the fridge sounds almost sane by comparison.

Although ladybird larvae don’t have to be put in the fridge as they have no wings. I didn’t look up if I could buy hoverfly larvae or lacewing larvae online but someone probably sells them!

The other alternative is bug spray, toxic toxic bug spray – which is what I went for short term.

Longer term I am going to buy – or build, some ladybird houses and look at obtaining some ladybirds and hoping for a good postal journey!

On the plus side looking up aphids online taught me a new word, apparently lots of types of aphid are “monophagous” which means that  they feed on only one plant species.

Which means the bothersome black bugs on the cherry tree are probably some other sort of aphid – but it’s ok I can probably spray that with evil toxic chemicals too…  *bother* I really need to buy some ladybirds…

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Garden: Wood Chippings

It transpired that the lovely green ‘lawn’ that made up our backgarden was 92% moss and 8% random weeds.

This meant that I when I started trying to improve the condition of the lawn with a rake it quickly became obvious that there wasn’t enough grass content to improve. So I ended up digging up most of the garden.

This left us with a rather large view of under-nourished bare soil, which isn’t the prettiest thing in the world and isn’t great for when I randomly decide to buy a new plant.

wood chips

(Picture from B&Q)

So the mission was to add some nutrients back into the soil and to make it look less glaringly bare. It was amazing how far 50 litres of compost doesn’t go, even though my garden isn’t very big I’ve used at least 300 litres and the soil still sucks. This is where wood chippings come in, they are biodegradable mulch which will rot and improve the level of nutrients in the soil as they do

The added beneficial side effects are it should help moisture retention if we ever get any sunshine, it should help deter weeds and I think wood chips look pretty – at least compared to the bare soil!

The main thing I had to be careful of was to keep the wood chips away from direct contact from the stems of trees or shrubs (aka anything that has a wooden trunk) as that isn’t good!

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Gardening: Random Roses

Sometimes my dad sends me random things through the post, most recently it was a rose bush – specifically a bare-root rose.

I cram-read how to plant roses and the gist I came away with was soak the rose roots for a bit, dig a big hole in a sunny spot – that was big enough to fit all the roots.

Given our soil sucks I used a lot of compost and a bit of some random grow stuff that seems pretty toxic to everything except plants.

Rosa Rubiginosa

(Picture from David Austin Roses – who seem to sell very good roses in my limited experience)

Then water a lot for ever and ever and ever.

I picked a sunny spot to plant the rose but it transpires that the rose may need to be moved as apparently when the starlings start fighting on the bird feeder they inevitably fall off and then continue fighting until they roll into the rose bush.

Apart from that it is a very nice rose, apparently it is a “Rosa Rubiginosa” aka a sweet briar. It is expected to get 3 metres high by three metres wide… which is rather large… so it might need moving for that reason!

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