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Friday, 6 July 2012

Blight and a Colorado beetle

Beetle, singular. The first one spotted yesterday - ironically whilst my OH was spraying the maincrop spuds with Bordeaux mix against blight he spotted the beetle. Then whilst I was searching the leaves for more beetles, what did I notice had arrived overnight? Yes, blight! Hopefully the B. mix will help contain it as it is an excellent preventative and without it I wouldn't be able to grow tomatoes here at all, or any potatoes other than early ones, but my maincrop Desirees need more growing time to mature and they normally see us through to about April of the following year, so fingers crossed they will manage to reach full maturity.

Pretty potato flowers

Desiree spuds, with mange tout flowers in the background

I also noticed that the self seeded tomato, which appeared in the middle of a clump of self seeded violas, also had a touch of blight.

Self seeded tomato

The other tomatoes seem OK for now. They have all been sprayed once before but with showery weather and general humidity and cloudiness and south westerly winds, conditions are perfect for blight, and my neighbour has already had her potatoes blighted. The problem of course has been to be able to spray when there was not a risk of rain about to come and wash it all off!

So, what else is happening? Well the bought tomatoes seem fine, but on closer inspection they actually have very few tomatoes forming, and some of the flowers just haven't been pollinated. Now I thought tomatoes didn't need insect pollination but just need a bit of breeze or a slight shake to pollinate themselves if grown inside a greenhouse. Perhaps our incessant wind just plain blew that pollen away from the plant? *Puzzled of Brittany*

A variety called Fournaise. This plus Roma seem to be the
two tomatoes that have formed a reasonable amount of fruit.

These photos have been taken in the last 3 or 4 days and I'm happy to say that since our 3 day hot spell last week many of the veg which were steadfastly refusing to do a thing, such as the chillies and the tomatoes I grew from seed, have finally come to life. This photo is about 4 days old and everything has grown since then! The chillies are on the left of this picture, two rows of them that you can barely see here! It all looks a bit bare but will fill out, believe me. I have French marigolds growing between the tomato plants which will be big and bushy in about a month's time, huge self seeded multi headed sunflowers around the edges of this plot, parsley and calendula interspersed between them. At the back of this plot are my two courgettes which are finally growing and showing signs of flower buds forming, but those huge mounds are borage, most of which will have to come out as they grow far too big and will be in the way.

Tomatoes, chilli and courgette bed, plus flowers

Out of the above picture are the 4 Cayenne peppers which must have been sown into better compost as they are growing fine and even have a few flowers now.

Cayenne pepper

I did despair of getting any cucumbers as this photo will show. The cucs are the tiny blobs on the left next to the frame - that's why there is a big empty space here as I know it will/should be filled by the time I have 3 plants climbing up the frame! One poor plant died really quickly as I'd planted it in a red ants' nest (hence the ant poison - I wouldn't normally do that but where else can I plant the cucumbers?!). I have two spares waiting in the wings just beginning to show signs of life too. I had to feed them as I have put all these problems of plants raised in pots not growing down to a batch of potting compost with something very, very wrong with it. Later sowings of certain veg have not had this problem. Anyway, cucs ARE beginning to grow now that I have fed them, and just so long as they can get their roots out of that potting compost and into the nice soil enriched with rotted horse manure they should romp away.

I do have umpteen dozen lettuce all ready at once as is always the way. The thing is I like so many different kinds of hearted lettuce, particularly cos, which is normally only any good for a spring sowing because it bolts before maturity in a normal, dry and warm summer. (This summer is not normal!!!)

Well the lettuce is doing well, and the beetroot is coming along, albeit slowly

Peas, mange tout and broad beans have all been hugely succesful as you probably know. I'm putting that down to the wet spring as they have loved all the moisture although the wind has been a pain in the bum and they've all been flopped over at 45 degrees and have been propped up again and again with more and more bamboo canes and string. Piggy twee sticks (I said that wrongly once and it's stuck!) on their own are absolutely useless.

Mange tout and not so straight lines of haricot vert, purple and beurre.
And weeds!

My garlic has been lifted - it had a very bad case of rust which Monty Don says means the garlic won't store but I beg to differ. Rust is prevalent here and I never have a year without rust on my alliums (and quite often on many other plants as well from roses to plums) - it's already on my baby leeks and the spring onions next to it. I haven't found any problems with storing rusty garlic.

Rusty but nicely bulked up garlic

I've now sown lettuce sowing no. 4 where the garlic was on the left, with leeks next to it then spring onions. On the far right are my pink Roscoff onions which don't have any rust and look lovely and fat - again just incredible as I've never once had to water them and I'm usually watering onions like crazy as they have a very short root system.

Note perfect straight lines due to pegs and string!
That's a magenta orach on the left by the way. I've just left it there to be decorative.

Overall though I'm pretty happy. If tomatoes are not to be this year, well at least I have enough bottled tomato sauce from last year to last until about Xmas!

Veg patch. The pallet edging needs replacing now as it's falling to pieces.

The wildflowers for pollinators are a success. They started flowering in under two months since sowing! I don't see that they are particularly abuzz with pollinators yet, but it doesn't 'help' that I have two varieties of campanula plus catmint in the bed just behind, which are really popular with bees. I have so far seen several hoverflies and bumble bees in this patch, plus a bee fly.

Wildflower mix for pollinating insects

Bumble bee on phacelia flower

I'm also happy because the two Potimarron squash which self seeded and have been moved into the right position are growing well now and beginning to flower. Just the fact that only two germinated from our compost is wierd enough as normally there are tons which I have to hoe off, but an entire packet of brand new seed also refused to germinate.... oh well, you win some, you lose some with gardening, and some things will always remain a mystery! 

At least we will not go hungry this year, and neither will the bees. :-)


  1. Very impressive looking crops, as for toms not setting, they need humidity and min temperature when setting, which was in the very early stages ages ago. I always have a few not setting on ealy bunches.

    1. Thanks Steve! I'm a bit surprised by that because these didn't go out until quite late and I'm sure the temps haven't gone below 10C in ages. My other problem has been not feeding them enough because I need some granular fertiliser because they just haven't been needing watering much so I haven't been keeping up with regular liquid feeding! It's just so different this year.