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Spud Grubber's Blog

Guy Barter

  • Date Joined: 15 Jan 2007

Recent Comments

  • It won’t last.

    Guy Barter on 12 Jul 2008 at 07:55 AM

     It won’t last.  The wet weather last year and this is a temporary aberration I learned when visiting the Changing Climate Dome at Hampton Court Palace Flower Show.

    The scientists from the Met Office, who are available for questions and give talks in this dome, tell me that the lovely wet weather that is essential for good crops on my dry sandy soil is due to La Niña. This is the opposite of El Niño which was apparently responsible for the hot, dry weather in 2006.

    They are climatic features in the equatorial regions of the Pacific Ocean off south America that involve oscillations for water temperature with La Niña being associated with colder water and El Niño with warmer.  The effects of these are, astonishingly, felt throughout the world.

    Worryingly, the Met Office scientists say that although this year will be cooler than 2006 because of La Niña, it will still be one of the warmest years on record.  When El Niño comes around again, as it surely will, we can expect heatwaves and excellent tomato and melon crops, but the peas, brassicas and salads will need heavy watering to do well.

    I am going back to the flower show today and I will have a lot more questions on climate change for the Met Office people.


  • Plant Care

    Guy Barter on 04 Jul 2008 at 07:51 AM

    Now that all but a few of the allotment crops are established, it is time to think of plant care.  It is very important that the leaf area expands quickly as July is a make or break month with long days and the sun high in the sky so that plants can do an enormous amount of growing this month.  August is not quite as good and by September things slow down markedly.

    Weeds in rows have been kept down by the Dutch hoe up and down the rows, followed by the onion hoe between the plants.  Uncropped areas such as paths have been treated with the new weedkiller called ‘Resolva’ – it contains glyphosate that will kill all weeds and diquat.  Diquat will only kill annual weeds but within 24 hours you can see where you have been and don’t have to wait 10 days to see any missed plants as you do with ordinary glyphosate.

    For widely spaced plants such as tomatoes and Brussels sprouts each plant is surrounded by a low, 5cm high earth bank and water poured into the ‘pond’.  The water is fortified with a couple of teaspoons equivalent of nitrogen fertiliser in every watering can.  Sulphate of ammonia is used for most crops, but for brassicas this acidifying fertiliser is unsuitable as it may promote clubroot.  Calcium nitrate is used for brassicas as it will help to reduce clubroot disease due to its basic or alkaline character.

    More closely spaced crops are grown in shallow 7cm deep trenches and during weeding these get filled in.  With the onion hoe their banks are restored and again water and fertiliser added.

    Although the soil is fundamentally fertile my judgement is that generous watering and feeding at this stage is very worthwhile.