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Courgette glut

Posted by 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. 

The spring planted onion set crop has been lifted.  I was tardy in planting out the sets and they were badly damaged by downy mildew.  The crop is barely fair, although there are a couple of month's supplies available. 

I always have great difficulty with onions from seed.  I once raised a glorious crop at Wisley for a trial, but that was on a south facing slope, very fertile soil and with an irrigation system.  Since then I have usually struggled.  It is the same this year - the seed raised crop is beginning to mature but lack of leaf suggests that the bulbs will be on the small side.  The hybrid seedlings bought from Wisley plant centre and grown as clumps look best, showing the value of very early sowing in a heated greenhouse.  This seems a lot of trouble when sets are so cheap and reliable. 

The spring planted onion sets were grown through opaque landscape fabric so the soil was moist and weedfree, making it easy to set out my remaining reserve plants of purple sprouting broccoli and winter cabbages.  With the weather so poor, I feel that wet season crops are a shrewd move. 

Two more rows of Leek ‘Toledo' were set out for similar reasons.  Beetroot, lettuce and radish were sown to fill in gaps around the plot. 

Later a  thunderstorm settled every thing in nicely, but as I had come out without vehicle, coat or brolly I was drenched as I walked home. 

Recently planted leeks were watered with liquid fertiliser to keep them growing.  Celery and celeriac were similarly treated; these crops love moisture and fertiliser and I aim to keep them growing vigorously to make a big ‘frame' that will support a large heart or root. 

Despite mighty effort to frequently apply Dithane, some tomatoes have been removed as too diseased to be worth continuing with.  Many plotholders have lost their entire crop and often potatoes too are very badly damaged too.  At least my spuds are holding their own so far with Dithane going on every week as a fine spray carefully drifted into the crop canopy on light evening airs.  

Courgettes raised in degradable pots were put out to replace the blighted tomatoes. 

Weeding continues.  As most weeds have been killed by hoeing, hand weeding out the stragglers is all that is needed and the ground is quickly covered.  As the weeds come out the fertiliser goes on to keep plants growing while summer lasts.


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