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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

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Easy times

Posted by Guy Barter on 13 Aug 2007 at 10:27 AM

Easy times are here at last.  Picking and gathering beetroot, cabbage, courgettes, cucumbers, green peppers, French beans, lettuces, radishes, runner beans, salad onions and second-early potatoes is the main task. 

As ever the hoe is taken round the plot and larger weeds pulled from amongst maturing crops.  The haricot beans, pumpkins and runner beans were carefully rid of some large examples of galinsoga and fat hen.  

Intercropped French beans were pulled from amongst the sweetcorn and the first good hoeing given to these for two months.  A late sweetcorn crop for October was set out recently and these are beginning to grow away now after a spell under fleece to get them moving. 

Fleece covering suspended on wire hoops has also boosted bell peppers.  Various cultivars are grown mostly ‘Bellboy' for its low temperature tolerance, but also some unspecified patio peppers whose compact bushy growth is ideal for growing under fleece.  These are now in full growth with a very heavy crop of fruits.  Plotholders with peppers grown in the open have a very poor crop indeed - a few degree of extra warmth make all the difference.  The scrappy old bit of fleece over them has been replaced by a brand new strip. 

Unfortunately soil diseases prevent me growing aubergines in the same way and these grow in pots on my patio.  However, sweet potatoes can be covered but here I use clear polythene to get a bigger temperature lift, although the polythene is lightly slit to prevent the plants being damaged on very hot days. 

The fleece scraps are being used to cover the oddments of lettuce, endive and other catch crops grown to fill in spare spaces around the allotment.  These are irresistible to birds.  I don't mind cutting up the old fleece to cover these little patches that are too small to net.  Cutting up nets leads to lots of scrappy bits that are hard to keep in order and you can seldom find a small piece that you need.  The alternative of using twigs and cotton to keep birds off is potentially harmful to birds and gets in the way of hoeing. 

Florence fennel sown a month ago was also hoed and thinned.  These are looking very well indeed and there is no need to add fertiliser or water.  They followed over-wintered onions grown through opaque landscape fabric and not only were ample nutrients left from the very well fed onions, but the black plastic leaves weed free conditions and, if the soil is not much disturbed, very low numbers of viable seeds in the top two centimetres of soil so that weeding is very easy in subsequent crops. 

Over-wintered crops grown through black plastic are also on my mind. Land must be cleared of crops in time to plant over-wintered onion sets next month, and in November garlic, shallots, broad beans and peas will have to be sown or planted.  It is best if these can be in a continuous block to easy management of winter tillage and management of crops next year.  This means that I must be wary of what I plant where for the next few weeks in case I leave myself in difficulties later. 

Watering is again necessary for celery and celeriac.  These crops need moisture at all times.  So if it has not rained for a few days watering is done.  This tends to promote weeds so hand-weeding is practised and any stray leaf stalks and sideshoots are removed at the same time.  Removal of some outer leafstalks does seem necessary for good celeriac.  My celeriac is often rather on the small size and celery stringier than is ideal, but the rain this year appears to have led to the promise of a large, high quality crop of these invaluable autumn and winter vegetables. 

Rather to my surprise powdery mildew has broken out in the pumpkin and squash patch.  This disease is usually most damaging in dry hot summers and rain is held to suppress it.  However, recent humidity and warmth must have led to good germination of its spores.  There are no systemic fungicides allowed to gardeners for its control, so it is either sulphur (which slows down attacks but can damage plants) or fish oil based material that does no harm to plants, prevents infections spreading but makes plants more susceptible to sulphur damage.  The sulphur is probably best but has to be dusted onto the crop which is much more trying than spraying oil.  I have gone for the sulphur. 

As I dust the crop I can see tantalising glimpses of fruits forming beneath the canopy.  The crop looks light, with late setting of fruits this year.  However most years there are more than I think when the time comes to gather the fruits, so there is no need to feel glum just yet. 

Dry weather has kept blight off the tomatoes for now. After the very heavy rain on Tuesday night more Dithane was applied to protect the plants and high potassium fertiliser given.  I have withheld fertiliser as the prospects for a crop looked very poor, but now a light crop of fruits are beginning to ripen. 

The recent rain has proved ideal for getting recent transplants off to a good start and with more forecast tomorrow they should take off and grow strongly.  If not watering with liquid fertiliser will have to be done.  There is not much time left for this years crops with just four weeks of good growing weather and perhaps four weeks of moderate growing weather.  However, all that can be done has been done.  All I need now is an Indian summer.

Comments

bart said:

thanks for giving me such a great time reading about your easy times

on 15 Sep 2007 at 10:09 AM

Guy Barter said:

Thanks for the encouragement, Bart.  

Spud Grubber

on 24 Sep 2007 at 09:23 PM