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Late summer slow-down

Posted by Guy Barter on 28 Aug 2007 at 08:51 AM

The expected slow-down in late summer growth is setting in now. As days get shorter, nights cooler and the sun is lower in the sky growth falls off, getting slower and slower until in about 12 weeks it stops almost entirely until spring.  It is not a nice thought, but it is no good dwelling on it as the veg grower must make the best use of what summer remains.  

My hoeing and weeding last weekend was followed by several days of rain.  But instead of the remaining weeds recovering, as they woud have a few weeks ago, and growing vigorously they have hardly moved and were given a second going over in the bright sunshine yesterday. 

The dry still weather was perfect for applying glyphosate weedkiller to weedy areas and spot treating bindweed.  There are some areas of grass weeds that have been repeatedly moved by the hoe but failed to die in the wet summer weather.  These were spot treated with a ready-to-use pack of glufosinate-ammonium - a contact weedkiller that won't do serious harm if a drop gets on a crop plant, unlike glyphosate that will severely injure non-target plants. Now that weed growth is ebbing the plot will become much easier to manage. 

Unfortunately my weedkiller sprayer broke, so I had to buy another.  I keep two pump-up pressure sprayers, one for weedkiller and one for insecticides and fungicides.  I usually replace them every two years as unless they work perfectly spraying is even more of chore that it usually is. 

While weeding crops of beetroot, salads, herbs and turnips were also thinned to their final spacing.  Quite generous spacing is given as quick growth is needed if they are to reach a useful size before winter.  They were top dressed a week previously and the rain has washed the fertiliser into the soil. 

The rain this week was ideal for blight, so yet more fungicide was applied to the surviving tomatoes and potatoes. 

Wet weather has led to outbreaks of fungal leaf diseases in the carrots (Alterneria), parsnips (Ramularia) and Swedes (powdery mildew).  Although the swedes can be dusted with sulphur there is nothing that can be done about the carrots and parsnips.  However with drier weather to slow the spread of disease the loss of yield should not be too serious.  

A third of the courgette ‘El Greco' plants have died of virus disease, but this is no great loss as the remainder crop abundantly and the follow-on crops of ‘Ibrido' and ‘Lungo Of Firenze' are taking over. 

Drier weather is slowing the spread of sclerotinia in the French beans and infected plants are being removed.  Unfortunately the beans have to be netted against deer and this tends to keep the crop on the moist side promoting disease. 

A young deer is responsible for most damage.  Although it cannot reach high when browsing stick beans it can creep into any gap to devour low-growing crops.  With any luck it will die in the winter - most do, the suburbs are a dangerous environment for deer due to the numerous dogs. 

Any chicory or endive left uncovered are immediately attacked by pigeons.  Two plants were left unnetted and immediately stripped of leaves, but they have so far left my sweetcorn alone.  Each cob is protected by a plastic bag tied loosely over it.  Cobs are ripening well at the moment. 

Abundant crops of French beans are being picked.  The climbing purple beans are the top yielders at the moment.  They have proved far more successful than some green and yellow cultivars.  The latter were, I suspect, bred for polytunnel cropping and I won't try them again. 

I have a steady supply of runner beans from the June sown bush cultivars is continuing, and the July sown climbing ones are coming into flower, deer permitting. 

Courgettes remain abundant but tomatoes are woeful.  Cherry cultivars in the back garden are doing well but the allotment crop is ripening very slowly beneath its protective coating of fungicide. 

Green and red peppers are cropping well under fleece and the aubergines in the back garden are almost ready. 

Cucumbers after an initial flush have slowed down with signs of verticillium wilt in the first sowing, but the second sowing is in flower and should start cropping soon. 

There are still a few peas to pick but the deer are very keen on them and any that stray beyond the netting are devoured. 

I don't find salads very attractive at the moment, preferring the raspberries and plums that are cropping well now.

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