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Monday, 18 August 2014

Veg patch update - August

A few bugs at the end of this post but it's mainly about the veggies for a change!

Blight came about 3 weeks ago despite having sprayed with Bordeaux Mix as a preventive measure. I removed most of the leaves from the tomatoes and we sprayed again, but it was too late to stop the spread on the potatoes so the haulms had to be removed. I haven't dug up my maincrop Desirees yet so don't know what size they will be, as some were still flowering when the blight hit. However removing most of the tomato leaves has meant they started ripening much quicker (maybe I should do that more often!) so I've been having an amazing harvest from them and have only lost one plant so far, which got blight in the stem. The downside to B. Mix of course is that the fruit gets splashed whilst spraying, so we have to wash them very carefully which is time consuming. But without the Mix it wouldn't be worth my while growing tomatoes at all. Cross fingers they will last a bit longer!

After the blight but just before the rains came.

Far more welcome was rain. Real, substantial, proper, pouring rain. The garden had been so dry and I'd been watering and hosing most of the time since early June. There was so much rain over three days that the stream even started flowing again which filled up the lake by about one and half feet. Hopefully now it won't get too low before the autumn rains come and fill it up completely.

The seasonal stream which fills the lake.

Nothing is stopping the courgettes (does it ever?!) or the cucumbers which are going great guns. I'm growing a variety of cucumber called 'Burpless' which I bought in England. Unfortunately these are long cucumbers so that means each one is twice the size of the ones I usually grow..... and I've got three plants! Next year only two..... and one of the two courgette plants decided to split and grow in two directions so I'm getting the equivalent of having three plants - way too much! Both my fridges and both upright and chest freezers are now full to the brim with produce including the vats of courgette, basil and parmesan soup which I make and there's no room for more - so it's compost time for the excess courgettes from now on. The hens get half a cucumber a day but turn up their noses at courgettes!

I have my first aubergine fruit in more than 10 years - although to be fair this is only the second time I've tried growing them here. The first time I had zero fruit! However since cutting the potato haulms down I keep finding Colorado Beetles on them which have to be killed, so I keep a couple of bashing stones nearby - instant death although I don't like doing it!

I'm harvesting this much every 2-3 days, bar the aubergines.
The green toms are from a plant that had blight in the stem, so it had
to be removed. These are ripening indoors now.

Nasturtiums are taking over and these around the compost bins are the ones that were being eaten by the Ornate Shield Bugs, which seem to have disappeared now, so the plants look bigger and healthier and at last have flowers. I haven't been able to close the gate to the veg patch for ages, but as that doesn't stop the cats getting in there's little point bothering.

Nasturtiums, and on the right a Physalis which is now a bit swamped by them, as well
as Dill growing through this jungle, but Physalis is a bit of a thug itself so it's doing fine!

Can you see what's wrong with this picture? :-)
One potimarron stem had to be rescued from the field next door and
laid down on the bit of grass between my fence and the electric fencing.

I cleared the patch where the leeks were to be transplanted which had had a lot of weeds and self seeded Phacelia growing there.... then the rains came and I should have known this would happen!

Phacelia seedlings galore!

A few views of the veg patch - cucumber frame on the left.

Even my spring onions get rust, and all the lettuce bolted at once.
But it looks pretty (ish) and the hens love to eat it.

In the foreground on the left is a Thai Aubergine called 'Kermit'. :-) I have had one whole fruit
from it. On the right are.... well if you don't know you are very lucky!!!

I love having the space to have tons of annual flowers in here too.
No colour schemes - here anything goes and the brighter the better!

Left and bottom right are from my Pollinator Meadow year 3. I have Mirabilis jalapa (top left)
and a different kind of Knapweed (bottom right) which need to be saved and transplanted
elsewhere for next year. Middle and top right is Orange Cosmos (and a Jersey Tiger Moth).

Funny shaped Sunflowers which I grew from seed!

Here's another one early one morning with a
Jersey Tiger Moth (Euplagia quadripunctaria) on it.
There are loads of Jersey Tigers this summer.

A Woolly Bear on the perimeter fence! This is the caterpillar of the
Garden Tiger Moth (Arctia caja). This was back in July and I saw it the
next day in the weeds I was clearing for the leek patch. They run really fast!

Now what was I saying about not seeing any of 'my' Swallowtails coming back to visit? Obviously some have, as I suddenly noticed there were a number of caterpillars on my Dill in the veg patch, of varying instars. This one though I found on the Bronze Fennel out the front of the house, which has no foliage left and the flowers are going over, hence the reason why it was looking so yellow. As it had nothing left to eat I transferred it to some Dill in the veg patch and it ought to green up in colour due to a change in diet. I am NOT bringing any of these cats indoors though! I've done my bit, now they fend for themselves which is as it should be. But I have my caterpillars to talk to again which makes me happy. :-)

Swallowtail (Papilio machaon) caterpillar.
The top photo is its rear end with the unhappy face.

And then there's the fruit, oh boy is there fruit, but that will have to be another post!


  1. Everything looks fantastic. I love the orange cosmos and lucky you to have so many Jersey Tigers around- I haven't seen one yet this year and time is a-ticking...
    Our courgettes have finished now and we managed to only compost a couple which had turned into marrows- it's been a good year for them here :-)

    1. I will swap you a few Jersey Tigers for some Blue butterflies, and would you like some courgettes? Go on, you know you want some! (you must be breathing a sigh of relief) ;-) Thanks CT. :-)

    2. HUGE sigh of relief- they grow like topsy with very little encouragement, don't they? Same with the cucs- my poor husband was even having dreams about giving them away! x

    3. I was going to reply to you yesterday when our power cut off suddenly and after phoning EDF found we were faced with 2 hours of no leccy, just at that time of evening when it starts getting a bit dark inside and thoughts turn to dinner. So instead of using the electric oven I had only a gas hob (lucky, really!) and funny, I must have had courgettes on my mind as I decided then and there to make c. fritters! Today I will pick as many as I used up yesterday. Why does it feel so good to keep up with the courgettes? And mine aren't even starting to look sickly or mouldy yet. Aaargh!

  2. Your veg garden looks great but I really like all your flower photos, the plants do look very well, still full of life.
    Nasturtiums are on of my favourite plants, I was a bit late putting mine in so no flowers yet. Its good you are still finding Swallowtail caterpillars, has it been one of your better years for them ?
    Amanda xx

    1. Thanks Amanda - I used to grow more veg and believe it or not now I have cut back (yes really!!) and give over space to the annual flowers, and it's so much nicer having a complete riot of colour in there.

      It's a bit hard to say about the swallowtails - if I forget the ones I raised then I'd say yes - there were quite a lot of the butterflies around earlier in the summer and tons of caterpillars outside. They do have a long season but some of the smaller cats I'm seeing now will probably hibernate as chrysalises, as I raised some in August/Sept two years ago and they overwintered as chrysalises. I'm wondering if I'm seeing more cats now that I have fennel - I used to only grow dill for them. :-)

  3. This all looks very impressive to me Mandy. Although I am no veggie gardener. I love all those colourful flowers and the fact that it isn't at all formal, just how I like things personally.

    1. Merci JJ - it does actually start off all nice neat rows and quite formal but it soon changes! I like letting flowers and herbs self seed, and having nasturtiums climbing through everything. And of course I get more bugs and bees and butterflies because of it all. :-)

  4. Veg and your flowers looks great Mandy. When I arrived in Brittany all 6 of my courgette plants were fine, no marrows as I feared, just running out of things to cook with them!

    1. Six plants, Ian?!!! Are you nuts?! Good grief, I would go on holiday to get away from them. ;-) Thanks for commenting and I hope you are having a good time (albeit a bit chilly at the moment). :-)