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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

Recent Comments

  • Trouble in the potatoes

    Guy Barter on 30 Jul 2007 at 10:02 AM

    More rain, more blight and more spraying.  Unfortunately the spraying has not held up the blight and most spuds have been cut back as not being worth continuing with.  Clearly, I did not spray as often and as thoroughly as I could have done, although under current weather conditions I would have been lucky to be blight free. 

    This is not as bad as it seems as the majority of the affected spuds are second earlies that are either finished or coming to an end anyway or ‘Euro' cultivars of spuds that are so ill-adapted to a maritime climate that they are expected to perish from blight at the first opportunity.  Few Continental potato cultivars are grown for this reason, although I cannot resist trying. 


  • Lucky escape

    Guy Barter on 23 Jul 2007 at 08:33 AM

    Heavy rains that saw Wisley close due to flooding did not do great damage to the allotment.  The ditches are not running and paths remain passable.  Lucky local variations in storms perhaps. 

    The seed raised onion 'Golden Bear' was pulled.  The crop was meagre due to downy mildew damage.  The space occupied was weeded thoroughly, ready for light cultivation and planting in September with spring cabbage plants.  The cabbages will grow between sprouting broccoli and leeks, so that the whole lot can be cleared in one go next April ready for May sowings and plantings of courgettes, French beans, sweet corn and tomatoes. In the meantime the space makes an easy access path to weed and tend the leeks.  


  • Courgette glut

    Guy Barter on 17 Jul 2007 at 10:20 PM

    From famine to glut only takes a week with courgettes; already there are more than I can easily handle.  As the aubergines are way behind after the cool, dull recent weather the courgettes double up as aubergines in the kitchen. 

    The main batch of  summer brassicas are coming to an end.  These were interplanted between Brussels sprouts and are now mostly gathered leaving the sprouts to grow away.  The ‘Nautilus' cauliflowers and ‘Fiesta' calabrese  have been especially tasty and high yielding.  The kohl rabi and especially the turnips have been a bit disappointing, mainly I think because they got off to a poor start in dry weather and rather poorly prepared and tended seedbeds. However, I can redeem myself: more mini cabbages, calabrese, kohl rabi and turnips have been sown for autumn cropping to follow the runner and French beans and courgettes when they go over in October.  And on top of these Chinese cabbages are also sown.  These are a magnet for clubroot disease and caterpillars and I am not wild about them, but I like to chance a few. 


  • Goodbye to peas and broad beans

    Guy Barter on 17 Jul 2007 at 01:03 PM

    Finally, my peas and broad beans are nearly at an end. Their eagerly anticipated season is too brief and reminds me that the mid-point of summer has arrived. More than ever I must plan, sow and plant for winter and spring. 

    Pea and bean remains were pulled, raked up and carried by the vast forkful to the compost pits.  These now have a stack of material 1.5 high over the pit.  When their height returns to soil level the compost will be ready to dig out and spread - sometime in February probably.  Home compost making never ruins as sweetly or quickly as composting on television! 


  • Slightly too much rain

    Guy Barter on 11 Jul 2007 at 07:12 PM

    Like many veg growers I really don't like prolonged hot, dry sunny weather, but I have to admit last week was a bit too much of that particular good thing, rain. 

    It is not often that a garden of sandy soil in the south-east where the rainfall is usually less than 650mm, is too wet in mid-summer, but that was the case.  Mostly, I expect my garden to yield about 30 percent less in an ‘average' year, than a garden with a moisture retentive soil.  Sandy ground gives better over-winter and early crops but main season and late crops typically suffer from drought or are just not possible.  The relatively small areas of clay soil on my plot are nearly unworkable at the moment, but when the rain gives over I can get onto the sandy soil areas within a couple of hours. 


  • Onion Refuge

    Guy Barter on 09 Jul 2007 at 09:56 AM

    This weekend I headed off 90 miles to the west to visit my mother in the foothills of Salisbury Plain.  Not only was filial duty involved, but my main crop of onions is grown in her windswept, isolated garden.  With no other onion growers for miles the crop stays free of disease in most years.  

    On getting out of the car the first thing that you notice is how cold inland south western districts are at 400ft above sea level, compared to the near sea-level south-east.  It is immediately two degrees cooler.  And the squelching underfoot shows that the rainfall is 900mm plus compared to less than 700mm in Surrey. 


  • Leeks and onions

    Guy Barter on 01 Jul 2007 at 10:14 PM

    The last of the weeds are finally pulled up. I can get back to planting and sowing. 

    Most of my leeks were raised in cell-trays with three or four plants per tray.  Hybrid seed is expensive and I was not going to chance it in the soil, exposed to the weather.  The last of these, ‘Sultan' were set out this weekend in 10cm deep grooves it the soil.  These drills will be filled in as weeding and watering goes ahead, blanching the leeks.  Then as winter approaches the leeks will be earthed to give long blanched stems.  The leeks will grow in clusters.