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Tuesday & Wednesday 13/14 August 2013

Is It Time for a Radical Re-Think?

Tuesday and Wednesday confirmed the fall from grace of August which started off spectacularly well but has gradually slipped into mediocrity.

Our greenhouse tomatoes have been a disappointment this year. In fact we haven’t had a proper ripe tomato yet. In the home greenhouse we’ve had some red toms that have been unusable because of blossom end rot. In the plot greenhouse all the varieties are simply refusing to ripen.

The middle of August and this is our total tomato harvest or non-harvest to date. I reckon that most of our tomatoes will be ready, if they’re ever going to be ready, sometime next month. This means it’s more than likely than not that they will be used to make tomato chutney or frozen to use in dishes through winter. I don’t see that as a waste but I’m not entirely convinced that’s why I grow tomatoes. I want the fresh taste of superb home grown tomatoes for summer salads and sandwiches. Perhaps our home greenhouse could be put to far more productive use  although I’m at a bit of a loss as to what exactly at the minute. Things that need some protection such as our nectarine, peach, apricot or cherry might be far more productive given some greenhouse protection. That’s my thinking at the moment.

Just maybe we could produce more of these rather than tomatoes with blossom end rot.

The plot greenhouse could still be used to grow tomatoes but even there I might stick with some tried and tested varieties rather than trying out more unusual varieties.




Thursday 15 August 2013

Looking a bit Autumnal Already

Thursday was a warm and muggy day with the temperature reaching 25.6°C in the afternoon. The forecast for heavy showers and thunderstorms around teatime and into the evening didn’t work out . We did have a little rain towards midnight amounting to around 2.0mm. We had a little more rain in the early hours of Friday morning but a combined total of 4.2mm will do little more than dampen the top of the soil. We could do with a good rain.

Although it’s only the middle of August parts of the plot are starting to have a bit of an autumnal look about them. I’m always amazed at just how short that time is when the plot looks full to bursting point.

This part of the plot looks pretty bare now that the potatoes have been lifted. It’s not that these beds will be left unproductive and will mostly be replanted with vegetables and flowers for next spring. The two salad bowl and Webbs Wonderful lettuce in the foreground are spare plants in a bed that will soon be planted up with spring cabbages. The rather untidy pile of netting is just the right size to fit over the bed as wood pigeon protection for the cabbages.

The two bigger beds will also have some over wintering crops in fact Sue has started planting up the bed on the right with wallflowers, sweet Williams, rocket and Dog Daisy all to grow on over winter.

Next to that will be our bed of over wintering onions which will be planted up as soon as the sets are available in the local garden centre. Hopefully these will be planted next month.

A little bit of rain would certainly help that planting process along as the plot once again is on the dry side.

Friday 16 August 2013

Taking Over the Plot

Friday was a very pleasant summer’s day with some long sunny periods and the temperature reached a very acceptable 22.3°C.

I blogged last time about some parts of the plot taking on an autumnal look, mostly where potato crops have been lifted. Other parts of the plot are still full of promise with crops looking fine and healthy. Hard to believe that all this is produced through some little crosses cut into weed control fabric. The grass to the left of the picture forms the allotment plot border with the access road around the site. One or two fat hen weeds have still manage to grow by sharing the same cuts in the fabric as the squashes and cucumbers. I can live with the odd weed so I reckon the fabric’s done a good job.

This bed is made up of squashes, cucumbers and our sweet peas. There’s no sign of autumn arriving with this bed and it’s a full time job keeping the squash runners under control in their efforts to overrun as much of the plot as they can without me noticing. It’s a tricky job finding cucumbers growing amongst the squashes without standing on any leaves, runners, small squashes or indeed cucumbers.

After a very slow start, and a few weeks in July when they didn’t seem to want to grow at all, our runner beans are now looking much better and have plenty of flowers with the bees busy carrying out their pollination duties. There’s still no beans but I’m still hopeful.

Saturday 17 August 2013

Aubergine 1 v 0 Tomato

Saturday was dull with a drop of rain. It wasn’t the wet afternoon that was forecast with the daily total amounting to just 2.4mm.

The football season has started again not that I take a great interest. Money rules end of story. Anyway as you can see at the end of week one our mini aubergine Jackpot F1 has scored a narrow victory over our tomatoes.

It has been very close match as we actually do have a tomato, Amish Gold, ready for picking but we decided to use this aubergine for dinner and save the tomato for Sunday.

It will be a little disappointing if this fruit is suffering from blossom end rot like many of our other tomatoes but from what I can see without actually removing the fruit it looks promising. Maybe other fruits will take the hint and begin to ripen.

Sunday 18 August 2013

Wrong About the Tomato

We had plenty of sunshine on Sunday after a drop of overnight rain. After such a brilliant hot start to the month the average temperature for the month is now below average and is the same as last year’s August average in the middle of the month.

Our Amish Gold tomato I blogged about yesterday turned out to be a disappointment being yet another casualty of the dreaded blossom end rot. We’ve still to pick a ripe undamaged tomato from our home greenhouse.

It wasn’t the only produce we harvested from the plot on Sunday. A full list of our harvest can be found here.

The good news is that we picked our first ripe tomato from the plot greenhouse.

This is a variety “Pink Wonder” producing large fruits. It’s the first time we’ve tried it and it will be under going the taste test tomorrow lunchtime.

Monday 19 August 2013

Potatoes:- Salads v The Rest

Monday was a mostly dull day with a few sunny spells developing in the evening.

Last Saturday I dug up the first row of potatoes from what might be described as our main potato bed.

This is our main bed back at the beginning of July with all the varieties growing well. Now that the tops have started to die back I’ve started lifting the potatoes ready for winter storage. The first ones to be lifted were a row of Winston which is the row on the extreme left of the picture. The weight of the crop as lifted came to 13.34kg and I was rather pleased with the crop.

I’ve now sorted the crop into perfectly sound potatoes and those not so sound. I’m not quite so impressed by the crop now. 6.95kg of the harvest have gone into the damaged pile that’s fractionally over 50%. Most of the damaged potatoes just have small holes in them which I’m putting down to wireworm damage. The holes are small so I don’t think slugs are the cause of the damage.

This was the heap of damaged potatoes. I must be honest a couple were my fault as I rather enthusiastically speared a couple as I was lifting the roots. I’m amazed by how far away from the main haulms some potatoes grow.

Now a few years ago I only grew salad potatoes on two grounds. Firstly we like waxy more than floury potatoes and secondly I sort of had a gut instinct that on the plot salad potatoes for whatever reason suffered less damage from wireworms and slugs. So I might check all the other varieties growing in our main bed and see if the weights of damaged v sound potatoes backs up my gut instinct.

I’m planning to gradually work through the bed lifting the potatoes row by row. So the order following on from Winston will be Nadine, Harmony, Charlotte and Nicola. Based on my instinct I’d expect Harmony to have more damage than the other varieties still to be lifted.

Time will tell.

Tuesday & Wednesday 20/21 August 2013

Potatoes and Tomatoes the Good and the Bad

Tuesday and Wednesday weren’t bad days with temperatures into the low twenties. Both days were mostly cloudy but we didn’t get any rain. It’s pretty dry on the plot and some rain would be very welcome. We might just get some Friday night or early Saturday if the forecast is correct.

As it wasn’t too bad on Wednesday afternoon I decided to lift another row of potatoes.

Next in line or should that be row to be lifted were Nadine. We’ve grown this variety many times and it doesn’t let us down. It’s a second early variety with a waxy texture and produces a good all rounder for the kitchen. As I suspected there wasn’t much damage to any of the tubers. Most of the damage was as a result of being speared by my fork. Just a few potatoes had slug or wireworm damage.

As you can see there were 5 damaged by wireworm and 8 by me. The harvest weighed in at 12.68kg with the damaged tubers weighing 1.127 kg around 9% of the total. These potatoes normally store well into next spring stored in boxes in the garage.

We’ve also started using a few of our Discovery apples. These are not at the peak of ripeness just yet but are tastier than the supermarket specimens.

In our home greenhouse the tale of woe continues as more tomatoes continue to get blossom end rot. I’ve never known a year like this with nearly all our tomatoes having this problem.

More were consigned to the brown waste bin on Wednesday as we still await an edible ripe tomato from our home greenhouse.