Chris Whitehouse

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since Jun 01, 2018
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Recent posts by Chris Whitehouse

Hi, I grew some from seed last year and got 4 plants to maturity. In fact they grew like crazy and reached the top of the 6ft cane teepee I provided. They grow in full sun for most of the day, heavy shade from md afternoon onwards. They survived the winter fine and it was fun seeing them starting to grow again this spring. I have used the growing tips for salads, and the main leaves for spinach. Sadly it has flowered quite early this year and hasn't been quite so vigorous- just wondering whether to cut it hard back and see how it regrows. At the moment it is in my main veggie bed, but takes up a lot of room, so planning to move itiinto my developing food forest aka fruit orchard in the winter. Really please with it so far, definitely worth a punt!
1 hour ago
I love sorrel! But not the red veined one, it doesn't really have the same taste. I grow English, buckler leaf  and this year, Belleville sorrel (might be the same as French?). Use them in salads, but also to make sorrel sauce which is great for any  fish, or add it to mayonnaise to go with cold salmon, fantastic!!!
I am process of converting my apple/plum/pear orchard into more of a food forest. The trees are between 5 and 30 years old and we chose big rootstocks because of deer pressure, so some of the oldest trees are quite large and shady. The grass cover is hard to keep on top of and I also wanted more space for perennial veg so now have 2 beds around a couple of smaller trees. Plans are for Aronia, ugni, gooseberries, currants as well as a variety of ground covers, but for this year it's potatoes and squash to help get the soil improved and hopefully get on top of some of the grass. Seems to be going ok at the moment but not helped by having the driest spring ever. I was inspired to start down this route by a visit to Martin Crawford's place in Dartford so I would echo your ideas on this. He has lifted the canopy of his tall alders which allows the fruit trees and shrubs more light. But he do
es do a lot of pollarding and coppicing as necessary to maintain the forest.
2 weeks ago
Looking at the article posted by Jay Angler re plants to grow for phytoremediation, I was struck by the warnings to remove all the now contaminated plant materials at the end of the season. What they don't say is how or where to dump it. Surely the council dump would want to know about potential higher levels of lead especially if they are producing what we call in the uk green waste compost to sell back to gardeners? This is another example of focussing on the short term immediate problem without considering the wider implications!

I also have a question for anyone regarding the use of fungi. Where does the lead go that they trap so well? I thought the whole point about fungi in soil was they can transport minerals through their hyphae networks and make them available to plants to use?

3 weeks ago
Hi everyone
I am trying out a purpose made hot compost bin at the moment. I use it primarily for kitchen waste including ground up eggshells, citrus, some cooked waste, plus shredded paper and woodchip to keep it drier. It ran at 20C all through the winter, and is now regularly reaching 35-40C. There is a lot of leachate which I drain off every few days, and I took out some compost from the base the other day to plant out my tomatoes. This bin is full of worms, so many they drain out in the leachate! I can swear that I havent knowingly added any worms so amazed at where they have come from. Possibly the wood chip which has been decomposing for about a year? The end product looks amazingly rich so I cut it with some mushroom compost and spent stuff from last years pots. If it is too rich will it be detrimental to the tomatoes? They are growing down into soil underneath, it was only like a  thin mulch around them.
1 month ago
Why is this only available to US residents? Will it be more widely released soon? Would love to watch it....
3 months ago
Hi Bryant

Leaf mold (at least mine) tends to be lighter and "fluffier" than finished compost. Leaf mold is not a finished product of gardening (grass clippings are leaf matter so why not use it in leaf mold production?), it is faster to make and easier to use and it has lots of good things in it.
For me the difference between compost and leaf mold is the microbiome along with nutrients available.

I thought I had read somewhere that the difference between compost and leaf mould is the first is created  by (mainly?) bacterial decomposition, while the second is from (mainly?) fungal action. Is that right? and does it then make sense to mix/flex the use of them depending on how you see the needs of any particular area?

And a final question, I always thought that leaf mould was quite acidic as opposed to compost, and spend quite a bit of effort raiding my woodland floor to mulch those acid loving plants I have in the garden. Is that right, but does it make sense to mulch everywhere regardless? We have very heavy (subsoil type) clay, which is gradually being converted into better soil - not sure it will happen in my lifetime, but I will keep trying as long as I am able!

Best wishes, and many thanks for all your insights, much appreciated.
5 months ago
Many thanks Glen, that sounds positive and definitely worth trying. Now all we need is for it to stop raining, the ground to dry out a little so we don't keep sliding around and we might be able to get stuck in!
6 months ago
Sadly not dry and crispy, more like a thick wet sticky brown cheese - I would literally have to cut it up into lumps with a spade to move it. No sign of any earthworms either...

I think I will try your option of using it as a first layer with proper compost/soil mix on top to make a new bed and add grass cuttings later as a mulch and just see what happens.

Thanks for the comments.
6 months ago
Many thanks for the response, and I agree with your comment about slugs, we generally have far too many. I think using grass cuttings fresh in a thinnish layer would be a good idea as a mulch, and i will try that out next summer. But what to do with last summers leavings, that is the question!
6 months ago