Nancy Reading

master steward
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since Nov 12, 2020
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A graduate scientist turned automotive engineer, currently running a small shop and growing plants on Skye: turning a sheep field into a food forest.
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Isle of Skye, Scotland. Nearly 70 inches rain a year
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Recent posts by Nancy Reading

Hi Li, and welcome to Permies! I hope you stick around and share some of your experiences.
1 hour ago
The dandelion flowers are starting to all open. The yellow colour just shouts that spring is coming. I like to pick them and just munch them as I'm walking round :)
2 days ago
You're too excited to sleep because you've been given an old polytunnel.

measuring up

Oh my! 47ft x 19ft and 10 ft high! Where to put it, what to do with the old polytunnel, how to organise watering, can I make a wicking bed, what about a pond, which plants shall I move and what new plants can I fit in....? Time to start a new project thread methinks.

It's not going to be a trivial job to relocate it, but it's rather a special gift.
2 days ago
I commend you for knowing your weakness and asking for help. Wow - and thanks for that schedule list, if I wanted to be organised that looks really useful. As I'm sort of the opposite of you and probably suffer more from being rather laid back, I'll just contribute one thing that helped me. One of the things that used to make me less productive at work was wanting to help everyone - a lack of ability to say 'no'. It's not really to do with organisation but to do with self respect and assertiveness, and an assertiveness course really helped me. Give yourself the right to say no to tasks that you really know you don't have the time to do (along with everything else on your plate). You do yourself little favour if you try and bite off too much that is not really in your job province.

Edit - oh, and good luck with the new job!
2 days ago
I think the degree to which a natural balance will return to your greenhouse will depend on it's size. Smaller enclosures have less chance to find balance. I had spidermite in my tunnel here in the first few years. I couldn't grow courgettes or aubergines, they even damaged the grape vine somewhat. I did get some Amblyseius californicus predator mites in the hope that they would help deal with them, but I don't actually know if it helped. I think increasing mulch and general mess gave more habitat for predators, and improving the watering increased the humidity in the tunnel which helped as the spider mite prefer it dry. After a few years I no longer noticed an issue with spider mite.

Don Komarechka wrote:While it only labels it as Camellia sinensis, it also indicates frost/cold hardiness down to -15C.


I suspect you'll be OK. It does describe it as Chinese tea and at -15 C hardiness that also stacks up. :) Good luck.
2 days ago

Don Komarechka wrote:Finally, judging by the label I have a Camellia sinensis sinensis, since there is no other indicator on the label (see below). The plant looks healthy (minus a few bumps a bruises) and came to us from France.


Good luck with those Don! I would double check with the nursery whether they can confirm it is sinensis sinensis, (or what the overwintering requirements are) since there is a fair difference between the tho varieties in terms of hardiness. I did have some C. sinensis assamica overwinter here a couple of years with no protection, but they were never really happy and eventually died. We rarely get below -5 Celsius despite being so far North, due to the warming effect of the sea.
2 days ago
Hi Don. I think this is one of those 'it depends' questions.
My understanding is that Camellia tend to prefer damper cooler summers - they are mountain plants in China, and the plantations in India are often high in the mountains too, so although sub-tropics still relatively cool. If you have a hot summer therefore the camellias will appreciate a bit of shade.
I did do a bit of research on this myself (hoping to grow tea Camellia here) but my light levels are so low due to my lattitude that i need full sun (or as near it as I can get :) ) for my tea plants (which as yet are tiny seedlings on my window sill). There were some online references I found, but I'm not sure if I lost them when my tablet crashed...I'll check on my other PC for the back up if it exists.
It would be worth finding out whether you have Camellia sinensis sinensis or Camellia sinensis assamica, since the latter is much less cold hardy, but may prefer hotter summers as well - this is the variety that is grown more commercially in warmer climates.

I'm going for shelter as the most important thing for me, since the Camellia are evergreen, otherwise they will lose their leaves in our winter gales. Also raised mini hugel beds to create well drained but damp soil environment here (we get a lot of summer rain).
Do you grow the Camellia bokuhan for the flowers?
3 days ago

Ned Harr wrote:Well, that's awesome! Is that your photo?


Yes - my (ahem!) well insulated study. One wall overfull with books :) My husband does automotive diagnostics and apparently needed an FLIR camera. It does take really neat photos.
3 days ago

thomas rubino wrote:
In this case, you want that heat to travel upstairs and not create a super warm basement.



I'll just clarify this one Thomas - In the UK the fist floor is the first upstairs floor, so what you might call the second floor for us is the first floor. It sounds like M may have a three story house, with the RMH on the ground floor and two stores above which he is removing the chimney from. (Side note M. do make sure that you check that out structurally as well!)

Pictures or a diagram always help! I'm also interested to see what you come up with M. I don't see why it shouldn't work if the bricks are of suitable quality.
3 days ago