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This season a write off


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  • This season a write off

    Well those of you who have read my posts will know how bad this season has been for me despite doing what I am supposed to.

    Pests are my worst problem despite using measures to combat.

    Broad Beans - Thrip damage, flowers going black and falling off. Only about under ten beans in about 15 plants. Even the late one I kept back looking healthy up till July has got the thrip holes and flowers falling off.

    Beetroot, Kale, Broccoli - Leaves peppered heavily by thrip, caterpillars and leaf miner - All kept under enviromesh - Which obviously doesnt work as dont the nemotodes I applied. Beetroot bolthardy bolted and only one root swelled out of about 30 plants !

    Courgettes - Out of a few plants just one courgette. The rest eaten before formed.

    Radish - Leggy, no swelling (as usual) Just harvested the seed pods instead.

    Carrots - Amsterdam - thin whispy tops died off in container (again)

    Sprouts - Leaves shredded by catterpiller after saving from cabbage root fly.

    Onion Sets red and white - Tops died off. No swelling.

    Peas - Took a few sowings to germinate. Some cropped ok but leaves shredded by sawfly. Bingo and Kelverdon Wonder.

    Chard - Bolted and attacked by leaf miner despite growing in container 4 ft off the ground.

    Spring Onions - White and red. Red germinated and I planted out in soil. Hardly much bigger even now. White spring onions never germinated at all despite 3 sowings.

    Wild rocket - New plant bought from nursery just gets smaller and smaller. Nursery plants last time I went are now much bigger.

    Borrage x 2 - New from nursery planted in soil in border. Whole plant dies. The other still alive but wilting due to blackfly

    Charlotte and Red Duke Spuds - Planted in containers, fed with organic spud feed and watered well. All foliage died off before spuds formed. harvested some.

    Strawberrys - New and old all produced pathetic misshapen fruits if any. Last year were much much better.

    I do not use pesticides, only organic seaweed, comfry, chicken manure, some fish and bone (on mature plants)

    I have a pond with a healthy population of frogs, visiting bees, hoverflies.

    It just seems unfair when you follow instructions for failure to strike, especially with the pests I have to contend with. An insane amount for a smalled walled, fenced garden up to 6ft tall. How can these flies get over ?

    Gooseberry - No fruit at all. Some sawfly but tapping leaves with cane shook them off and they seemed to not come back.

    I know some here kind of make a joke of my disasters and say I should take up another hobby but I find it wholly depressing because I can't control the pests despite trying. I am fighting a losing battle. The best option is to move to another house with a bigger garden and more sunlight but I can't because I can't afford to. I don't want an allotment because I like to garden alone and not keen on socializing much.

    There you go.

    Now I will say what has been successful.


    Runner Beans (some came back from last year)

    That's it

    And some here wonder why I am negative.
    Last edited by Marb67; 15-08-2014, 03:20 PM.

  • #2
    Have you grown the above items in this particular garden successfully in previous years ?
    Presuming you have,what has changed to make it so very bad this year ?
    Is the garden in perpetual shade?
    Have you any pictures of the failed crops we can look at ?
    Have you any pictures of the garden at different times of the day we can look at ?
    Have you any pictures of the garden at different times of the year we can look at ?
    These would help in diagnosing what may be at the root of your growing problems.
    Last edited by bearded bloke; 15-08-2014, 03:48 PM.
    He who smiles in the face of adversity,has already decided who to blame

    Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity


    • #3
      I feel for you and sympathise. I've grown in my back garden for 20 years and as the oak tree next door has grown to cast a major shadow over the plot my success has diminished as well.

      I have an allotment. I don't see it as somewhere to socialise and only see someone to chat to occasionally and even then for no more than a "hello, how are you?"

      In my allotment my only real failure this year has been turnip (which was old seed).

      However, the conditions there are good. In my shaded garden I find
      Broad Beans - black fly, gave up growing years ago

      Beetroot, Kale, Broccoli - beetroot = poor germination and slug damage, kale = ok, broccoli = slugs and pigeons and caterpillars even though netted

      Courgettes - a few patty pans and one or two courgettes, lots of slug damage and rotted plants

      Radish - slugs

      Carrots - too much fly, haven't grown for years

      Sprouts - see broccoli

      Cabbages - see broccoli

      Leeks - ok so far

      Onion Sets red and white - ok, generally small

      Peas - Took a few sowings to germinate or survive past one inch tall. One plant gave two pea pods, nothing else!

      Chard - awful taste, don't grow it

      Spring Onions - White and red. Eaten by slugs from three sowings

      Wild rocket - too hot this year for lettuce

      Charlotte and Maris Peer Spuds - Planted in containers, not fed, watered little. Small crop but I can't expect more due to care they got

      Strawberrys - slugs, good in greenhouse though

      Parsnips - sown in toilet rolls, 50% survived slugs and top growth looking good, too early to know crop

      Runner beans - all my Czar eaten by slugs but Scarlet emperor survived to give a few small handfuls of crop

      Tomatoes - only half the greenhouse plants cropped as I drowned the others with too much water from my automatic watering system

      I do not use pesticides apart from a few slug pellets in the area where the dog can't access.

      Should say that I still consider what I got to be my "glass half-full" as opposed to "half-empty".
      Last edited by teakdesk; 15-08-2014, 03:56 PM.
      The proof of the growing is in the eating.
      Leave Rotten Fruit.
      Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potasium - potash.
      Autant de tĂȘtes, autant d'avis!!!!!
      Il n'est si méchant pot qui ne trouve son couvercle.


      • #4
        Hi Marb, I'm truly sorry that you're having such a dismal year. We all have failures but you seem to have more than your fair share.
        From your description of your garden as "small walled, fenced garden up to 6ft tall" and your best option being "a bigger garden and more sunlight" I'm assuming that you know where some of the problems lie.
        The walls/fences may not only be creating shade but also be blocking airflow and allowing moisture to build up and encourage some diseases.
        I'm sure you've thought about this but could you paint the walls white to reflect more light, maybe use mirrors to reflect it into shady areas. Perhaps leave more space between plants to allow air to circulate.
        Some crops are more suited to shade than others. I have a lot of trees in my garden and the ground beneath is hopeless for many veg. In the shady areas I grow veggies that crop in winter, when the leaves are off the trees - like kales, sprouting broccoli and leeks. They still don't have the vigour of those that have a better spot in the open.
        I've come to terms with this now, but it has been frustrating. So many things that I would love to grow but can't because of the trees. However, I love the trees and can't cut them down, just because I could grow better cabbages So I give over the sunniest spots to the sunlovers, and am grateful for anything that I can grow to eat beneath the shade.
        This may seem to be all about me and my garden, but I wanted you to know that not everyone has a perfect garden that grows everything to perfection - I certainly don't
        A Chicken walks with small steps. Be more Chicken


        • #5
          I'm a firm believer in some gardens are 'unhealthier' than others.

          I was disappointed when we moved here to find all my healthy and established pot plants (including fruit bushes and a tree) all succumbed to disease within weeks of arriving. The whole area is surrounded by diseased plants, it's a waste of time trying to fight the tide imo.

          My first proper veg growing season (the following year) was pretty much a wipe out with similar complaints to you. We also had a serious New Zealand flatworm infestation to contend with.

          This season, I got a polytunnel and although it's not sealed airtight, it has a floor of sorts and a wood surround which means little gets in.

          I don't believe it's a coincidence that I have managed to grow quite well this year. Clearly the tunnel has helped just by the fact it's a tunnel, but I think the fact I'm growing in a 'bubble' of sorts has helped shield my plants from the worst the garden has to throw at me.

          All my plants that are outside including my new fruit bushes all have diseased leaves and are half eaten.

          I do sympathise. I'm not sure what the answer is, especially if the whole area isn't great. I think VG made good points about airflow and moisture. What surrounds you? Outside your garden I mean. Do your neighbours have similar problems?


          • #6
            I had a year like that last year. Never had one summer or winter cabbage worth eating, onions refused to grow, etc... Only runner beans did well.

            This year has been much better for me, only beets have failed.

            Try leaving good parts fallow for season.
            Its Grand to be Daft...



            • #7
              My direct neighbours ( renting) have just moved in and don't garden. In fact it's a small garden with just compacted soil where they let their dogs crap. They do clean it up and then seem to spray air freshener and I have smelled disinfectant and jeys fluid because I think the try to clean the soil. They have no interest in gardening but I can't see this affecting my garden as these problems have been creeping in for about 5 years. My garden isn't waterlogged or even damp but hard to plan crops because of the lack of space. I think thrip is my main plague because it seems to attack everything now which allows disease to get in. About 5 years ago I did go to the local farm riding school to collect horse manure out in the field. I am wondering if something was bought over in that.

              But how on earth can just one garden so far have

              Carrot fly
              Saw Fly
              Onion Fly
              Cabbage Fly
              caterpillars that were even out there last winter
              Leaf Miner
              Last edited by Marb67; 15-08-2014, 04:29 PM.


              • #8
                I don't know if my comments are helpful, but I will try.

                General measures:
                Start off everything possible in pots, preferably in a pest free area (I use my utility room). Plant out when large enough to survive pest attack.
                Put up enviromesh then plant under it rather than planting then covering later. Create several discrete covers rather than one large tunnel or cage. Don't just drape it over crops as suggested in the advertising, make sure there are no gaps for insects to get in. I use metal scaffolding poles to secure the whole length of a side of a tunnel.
                Never assume that all pests will be excluded - keep an eye on things and remove any pests you see. Nematodes in particular will reduce pests but will most probably not eliminate them completely.

                Specific plants:

                Broad beans - I have no experience of broad beans (I don't like them) or thrips.

                Beetroot, kale, broccoli - I have never grown kale. Beetroot will bolt if it is short of water, and it has long roots so is probably best grown in open ground. Mulching may help retain moisture. Don't chuck out your broccoli if it is PSB - I have had a crop (admittedly small) from a plant whose leaves were completely skeletonized by caterpillars.

                Courgettes - in damp situations it helps to keep the fruit off the floor to deter slugs and snails (nematodes are not very effective against snails). I use "slug gone" which is sheep's wool pellets under mine and haven't had any slug damage.

                Radish - I can't grow radish to save my life, but I don't really like them anyway.

                Carrots - these need plenty of water when young or they will keel over and die. They need enviromesh to protect against carrot fly and caterpillars eating the foliage. Don't feed them. I don't bother thinning them but it does depend how big you want them to grow.

                Sprouts are brassicas and need protecting with enviromesh.

                Onion sets - I've not had any problems with tops dying down when growing onion sets in the soil. Sometimes slugs/snails will eat the foliage.

                Peas - I start these off in pots as it is much easier to keep an eye on them. 5 or 6 seeds to a 3.5 inch pot, and plant the whole thing as one plant in a continuous row. Peas are self fertile and can be covered with enviromesh if pests are a problem.

                Chard is a relative of beetroot and has very long roots. It isn't great grown in a container, which may be why it bolted. I have had little success with leaf beets, although I do keep trying.

                Spring onions - the only way I have managed to grow these was by putting a pinch of seed in each of several modules and leaving them sitting in a bowl of water in the greenhouse for a few months, then planting the bunches out in the soil when about 8 inches high. All other attempts have resulted in something that looks like a pathetic imitation of grass.

                Wild rocket, borage - I have not grown these.

                Potatoes - I found the foliage died down very early on all of my potatoes except the sarpo mira. Crops (in bags) are ok.

                Strawberries - misshapen fruits sounds like poor pollination. If you can be bothered, go round the flowers with a paint brush.

                Gooseberry - the only time I tried to grow these the leaves disappeared over night (sawfly) and the bush died.

                Sometimes you have to decide that a particular crop is not worth growing in the conditions that you can give it. In my case this includes gooseberries, raspberries (which I love but haven't the space for), and sometimes spinach, which can give a decent crop if the weather is right, but often produces a few tiny leaves then bolts. I also never try to grow lettuces much after spring because something always eats them before I do - caterpillars, slugs, aphids...
                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy


                • #9
                  You have had a rough year! I have just a few suggestions that may help.

                  Broad beans try overwintering them then you will have strong plants early in the season and they will flower early. Once it gets hot the flowers won't set. Take out the tops to stop the black fly and spray with soapy water.

                  Broccoli kale and beetroots. Sounds like flea beetle damage. The kale is a winter crop and may still put out leaves, mine has. There is a thread on flea beetle damage. Be vigilant and squash any caterpillars you see. I do a pest control round about every two days and it works.

                  Sprouts, leave them and you may still get sprouts if the growing tip is intact.

                  Carrots are difficult at the best of times.

                  Peas, mine have refused to grow properly for a couple of years.

                  Spring onions, never had any luck with them.

                  Wild rocket and Borage are best sown direct.

                  Strawberries, I think that new plants are in order. Sounds as if you have a virus.

                  Gooseberries. You need to kill the sawfly caterpillars as they just go into the soil and pupate then next year emerge and start all over again.

                  Have you tried companion planting? Do hope some of that helps.
                  Gardening requires a lot of water - most of it in the form of perspiration. Lou Erickson, critic and poet


                  • #10
                    I know this is probably a really silly question, but do you crop rotate? Growing the same crops in the same area can cause allsorts of problems.

                    I've had a dreadful time with caterpillars this year. Although i have mesh over my brassicas, the butterflies have managed to find a way in and even with daily checking for caterpillars, they have run rampant. My calabrese is still producing heads though and I'm hopeful of getting a small crop from them. Cabbages are a write off though. Brussel sprouts can be quite resilient and even after being munched can produce a crop.

                    It might just be a case of being more adventurous and trying to grow new, unusual crops. Things like kiwi berries are really easy to grow.
                    What do you get if you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter?
                    Pumpkin pi.


                    • #11
                      Again, can you show us some pictures of failed crops please, from your second post I see you imported horse manure a few years ago,round about the time aminopyralid was prevalent if you have that it would explain a lot of your problems.
                      He who smiles in the face of adversity,has already decided who to blame

                      Artificial intelligence is no match for natural stupidity


                      • #12
                        Well a large post and the only way to tackle it is to break it down into small sections,so what I know about parsnips is that they don`t like to be transplanted,also they do not like cold and wet ground,so delay sowing if so,you may need to control the watering as opposed to leaving it to the elements this is quite important, I covered mine with plastic for the first few weeks,and do not sow on recently manured ground. I used pelleted seed and any that did not grow just pop another seed in,make sure you cover from cats,pigeons. I was wondering if your soil is on the sandy or clay type? that may help others to evaluate.


                        • #13
                          As BB has said, take some photos and let us have a look. They will tell us a lot more than what you have given so far.


                          • #14
                            Hi Marb

                            I know its no consolation to you but I have had many years like yours. All I can say really is keep going. I used to suffer a lot of pests in my garden, quite small so what is there is concentrated. I know you love the nature side of things so have you considered planting to attract natural predators?

                            Have you tried keeping a diary so you can record what you did, when you did it, weather conditions, soil temp etc? I am sure the mods could help you do something on here.

                            Do you use debris netting? You can often pick it up free from scaffold yards or indeed enviromesh?

                            Do you have anything in your garden that might harbour pests.

                            I know everyone wants you to have success so keep plugging away.
                            Mod with attitude!


                            • #15
                              Thanks folks, a lot of helpful advice I will try and glean. I do keep a book and write notes every year of what not to do. I am a bit of a perfectionist and hate things going wrong. You never have trouble with pests attacking weeds. Why is that ? It's always stuff you want. I tend to start stuff out in pots and perhaps don't plant out in time for them to get going for fear of slugs and snails. By the time they are planted out it is late summer and a lot of the sunlight time has gone.


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