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What to do in the allotment this weekend?

Posted by Guy Barter on 23 Jul 2010 at 01:24 PM

What to do in the allotment this weekend?  Very, very little with any luck!  The plants are in the ground, they have been watered, there is plenty of light and warmth and anything ready has been gathered for the weekend meals – I am looking forward to relaxing with a juicy pork steak on a pile of buttered new potatoes accompanied by courgettes, French and broad beans and calabrese.


• Pests are on the move in this hot weather so spraying goes on and on - in fact they are the worse than for some years; leeks are covered in thrips but the spraying with deltamethrin (Sprayday) against leek moth should hold them back, pea aphids and thrips in the peas are also present but again deltamethrin against pea moth should have knocked them back.


• Cabbages have been sprayed with natural pyrethrins which has polished off all the caterpillars and new caterpillar invasions are not yet present.  Transplants were infested with cabbage aphid which lurks within the youngest leaves and can quickly spoil the crop.  Happily these still have no more eight leaves so can be treated with Provado Ultimate Bugkiller (thiocloprid) but only in the ready-to-use pack formulation and not in the concentrate form so each plant was given a squirt which involved crawling through the crop treating each plant in turn – truly a targeted environmentally friendly use of insecticide, and also a chance to pick off the many ladybirds and deposit them in other nearby vegetation.  With no aphids to feed on they won’t return.


• Blackfly and red spider mites are invading the beetroot, French and runner beans and weekly treatments with SB Plant Invigorator, a fertiliser that glues insects up, are given using a very high pressure spray directed up onto leaf undersides.  With no residual activity this insect control has no harvest interval but leaving no residues, needs reapplying each week.


• Happily the dryness has reduced disease incidence so only routine treatment to prevent blight of potatoes and tomatoes will be required.


• Slugs too are deep below ground and won’t come up until rains return.


• Watering is up to date – the soil has been soaked and this should last for the next ten days, more if we have shower or two.  One can always hope.  The watering chore has become very irksome, but at least there are very, very few weeds.


• The few weeds present have been hoed – in this weather they die almost immediately after being even lightly disturbed by the hoe.   Survivors from previous hoeing and now showing flowers are consigned to the bonfire heap in case seed is shed as they perish.


• Under insect proof mesh over the carrots, weeds are still appearing and the mesh will have to be very swiftly lifted, weeds extracted and mesh replaced before carrot fly can enter the crop.


• The next batch of transplants, winter and over-wintered cauliflowers, are ready to go out and cannot really be delayed if they are to have any chance of success.  This is not a crop particularly well-suited to my soil or district and a much reduced area will be planted given the difficulty with water – no more than five of each cultivar, which will be readily watered, will be set out.  The supermarket and their Cornish farmers will supply most of my needs.


• Pigeons have gone off to help farmers gather grain.  They will soon return and the newly planted cauliflowers will be fortified with the wire netting used to support the peas.


• Peas maturing now are of the types grown for the freezing industry and need no support.  They will become woody and tasteless in a day or so of this hot weather and the closest eye has to be kept on their maturity.


• Although no more peas are sown (they disappoint after mid-summer in these dry southern districts) broad beans are in full flower and have been well watered to ensure a good set of pods. 


• The earliest dwarf French beans are now finishing and they will be pulled as soon as finished, the soil tilled and Florence fennel, now growing in biodegradable pots, inserted.


• Follow on dwarf French beans have suffered again from bean seed fly.  There are no remedies but to sow more under fleece, for that vital September crop.

• Tomatoes are reaching the top of the stakes and are being pinched at the top to halt growth and any side shoots snapped out, and of course tying in needs to be done promptly.


• Peppers and especially aubergines have been poor in recent years but thrive in the recent hot weather – they have been sprayed against aphids and red spider mites, watered, weeded and covered in fleece – there is no more to do for a couple of weeks.


• Squash and pumpkin also relish hot weather and now rampage across the plot with their questing shoots guided with judiciously inserted sticks to keep paths open and smaller plants from being swamped.


• Soft fruit is now abundantly ready, despite some frost damage in spring to gooseberry and blackcurrant flowers, and is being gathered and processed as fast as possible.  Soon summer pruning of spent gooseberries and raspberries will be an enjoyable change from lugging buckets and watering cans.



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