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  • I break off leaves that go yellow or brown, if they will come away cleanly. My experience of cutting them off is that it tends to introduce disease, which then works its way into the main stem, killing the plant.
    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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    • As expected, yesterday was pretty much a write-off as it rained on and off throughout the daylight hours. I did manage a quick visit around lunchtime to pick a couple of courgettes and a few barely red tomatoes. The bottom corner of the plot was under about an inch of water and the water butts were overflowing.

      I'd been hoping to get back to protect the tomato plants from frost somehow, but there was no chance and I had to leave it.

      Today was lovely and sunny, but I'd arranged to have my boiler serviced in the morning so I had to wait in. At midday the phone rang - they weren't coming as the engineer had gone home with a migraine. Could they come this afternoon? NO! or tomorrow? Not really. I explained that it was exceptionally inconvenient to have a 5 hour time slot (I'd already worked out that since I moved into this house I have probably spent nearly 100 hours waiting in to have my boiler serviced) and couldn't they give me a specific time since I had wasted a whole morning on them already? They reluctantly agreed to giving me the first slot on Friday morning.

      At least I could get out to the plot now. I'd already been down quickly and collected a cucumber for lunch and opened the growhouse a bit, and having eaten an early lunch while waiting in, I was ready to get out and do something useful. However, the first job I wanted to get done was splitting my hosta plant, which was too big and heavy for me to move easily as I had planted it in soil and mulched with gravel. I managed to get it out of its pot with difficulty, cut it in half and planted it in compost, with a mulch of strulch. The 2 pots are still very heavy but I can at least lift them without hurting my back.

      I went down to the plot and was relieved to find that the water had retreated below ground level although the grass was still very soggy. I picked up some raspberry leaves and pulled out a few weeds from the raised beds, then decided to have a go at covering my Ferline tomatoes, which appear to have survived last night (2.9 at the local weather station). Tonight is forecast to be colder for longer.

      I got out the 6 long and 3 shorter poles that I used to support the net over the raspberries and pushed the long ones into the raised bed until the tops were just above the tomatoes, each pair connected by a shorter pole. I then got out the plastic cover that was over the potatoes - this has one non-functional zip, so it is not a disaster if it gets trashed. I draped the cover over the frame and tied the ties to each of the 4 corner poles. There was about a foot gap between the plastic cover and the top of the raised bed, but I don't mind this as it will give plenty of ventilation. The idea is to trap rising warm air during the day and prevent cold air sinking onto the plants at night. A couple of clips to hold the plastic to the central poles and some reinforcing strips of mending tape where the pole joints touched the plastic improve things, but I was still not happy. I went home and found some poles from old blowaways that might fit, and miraculously they did, so I had a much better supporting frame at the top. How it will cope with wind and rain is another matter - Thursday night is likely to be both wet and windy so I will probably remove the cover tomorrow, its just tonight I am worried about. As I don't have any more long poles, the Oh Happy Day will have to cope uncovered. The Ferline are the nicer tomatoes, hence the choice to cover those.

      Before I went home I closed the growhouse again, and I will just have to hope that the tunnel net is enough to stop the cucumbers and strawberries getting frosted.
      Last edited by Penellype; 02-10-2019, 04:00 PM.
      A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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      • Another decent day and unusually for a Thursday it wasn't full of meetings. However it was rather cold so I waited until late morning before going down to have a look. The temperature in the nearest weather station dropped to 0.1C last night and there was a little white frost on some of the roofs first thing.

        I was going to take the cover off the tomatoes but it was so much warmer under there than outside that I decided to leave it until the afternoon. The Oh Happy Day that had been outside all night were looking a bit cold. I harvested a couple of cucumbers and some salad - spinach, lettuce, mizuna and baby fennel for lunch. The mizuna and namenia have grown really well but are being attacked by black beetles, which I think are a large sort of flea beetle as they jump if disturbed. They have eaten small holes in every single leaf, and some of the leaves are starting to resemble lace. Still, I suppose if I had to choose between something eating the mizuna or the spinach or lettuce I would prefer it to eat mizuna. I checked the strawberries, but apart from 2 very under-ripe ones, everything that was red was also rotting. I removed those. The leeks were showing more signs of leek moth damage and the undersides of the brassica leaves were covered in whitefly, although the romanesco plant that I sprayed with potato water the other day (I don't remember if I mentioned that) did seem to have rather fewer of them.

        I returned home feeling frustrated and unenthusiastic. It was easy to feel down - the nice summer veg are struggling now and the winter ones seem to be being demolished by pests at an alarming rate. My tomato cover was very temporary, as with a flat top and no drainage it would collapse under the weight of water as soon as it rains, which will be tonight. I thought about this over lunch and became increasingly grumpy. I didn't want to cut drainage holes in the plastic cover and I didn't want to take it off.

        I went back to the plot and looked at it. The square corners were the problem - the cover was designed to have a rounded top, but the rounded poles weren't big enough for the tomatoes and the way I had put the poles in the rounded tops were too wide to fit on top... or were they? They are designed to fit together to make a tunnel a metre wide but only 80cm high. What if I kept the square corners at the front of my cover, but replaced the poles at the back with shorter poles and the curved tunnel tops upside down? I spent a little while rearranging poles and constructed a cover that had a rounded back so that at least some of the water should drain off. The cover is not as tight as it would be over the tunnel, so I may find that water still pools on it, but I decided to give it a go. No doubt I will find out fairly quickly as Lorenzo is due to dump about 10mm of rain on it tonight.

        I felt a bit better after that, and wandered round the allotment picking up leaves and pulling out a few weeds. Then I cut a head of calabrese and picked a ripening tomato from under my cover and went home.
        A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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        • A very wet night Thursday into Friday with another 14mm rain falling, continuing to drizzle on and off most of the morning. I was interested to see how my tomato cover had coped with the deluge so as soon as it was light I nipped down to look. I was surprised to find that there was virtually no water sitting on the cover, it had all drained off. The gusty wind hadn't shifted it at all, so I was really pleased with this.

          As the man was coming to service the boiler from 8am I grabbed a cucumber for lunch and went straight home. The bottom corner of the plot was again under about an inch of water.

          Boiler dealt with I decided to get on with a few jobs at home in the morning and didn't go back to the plot until about 2pm. The weather had improved but there was still a lot of water on the ground, notably between the 2 raised beds that have the green netting over. The weed matting was partly floating so the water didn't look too deep until I stood on it, when I discovered one of my boots was leaking. I retreated to the dry end of the plot and spent about an hour trimming back nettles and brambles in the roadside hedge and corner. There was still a little horsetail sprouting under the nettles, but most of it seems to have nearly stopped growing now.

          I checked round everything and found an undamaged ripe strawberry, which I ate. The spinach is growing really well and I should be able to harvest enough to cook a portion over the weekend. I gave the melon plant some water as it is under cover, and noticed that one of the melons was developing a couple of small cracks, so I cut it and took it home to ripen along with 2 ripening tomatoes, one of which was slug damaged.
          Last edited by Penellype; 05-10-2019, 07:36 AM.
          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

          Comment


          • Why are the parsnips under netting? Is this to keep carrot fly off? I didn't net my carrots and parsnips and the carrots have been badly attacked by fly. It's too early to pull the parsnips so I don't know yet how much they've been affected.

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            • Parsnips don't normally get affected as badly as carrots by carrot fly but I have heard that the maggots can damage the surface of the roots and let in canker, which parsnips are susceptible to. I also have a problem with cats using the raised beds as litter trays, so the netting also keeps them off.
              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

              Comment


              • Saturday was a slightly better day weather wise and I managed to find an hour or so to spend at the plot. I went round searching for slugs under the bricks and removed quite a few.

                The bottom corner of the plot was still very wet so I spent most of the time at the road end, removing any horsetail I could find from under the hedge and amongst the rhubarb and pulling any weeds. I harvested a cucumber, a beetroot and some salad leaves for lunch and a decent bagful of spinach leaves for tea and went home.

                It started raining about midnight and rained hard during the night, then drizzled all day on Sunday. I called in on my way back from the stables to get a cucumber for lunch and found the water half way up the grass path as well as between all the raised beds that side. The tunnel side was drier but all the pathways in the tunnel had large puddles on them. I emptied the drip trays under the blueberry bushes as they were full and I didn't want the bushes to drown. Apart from that I left it to drain as there was nothing else I could do.
                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                Comment


                • Yesterday was not great, with drizzle or showers for much of the day. I went down to pick a couple of cucumbers for lunch and noticed that the water level had dropped below the level of the grass path, although the paths between the beds were still flooded. There wasn't much I could do really and I soon went back home.

                  Today was a bit different - a nice sunny day, but unfortunately full of appointments and phone calls. I only managed one trip to the plot around lunchtime, when I wanted to check that the tomato cover was ok as it had got quite blustery. It seemed to be fine and I picked several partly ripe tomatoes to ripen at home. I also found a couple of decent calabrese spears which I brought home for tea. Everywhere was still very wet and squelchy and I thought it best not to paddle about in it too much.
                  A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                  Comment


                  • A fine morning yesterday and a decent spell at the plot, mainly tidying up. Quite a few leaves had come down in the wind on Tuesday so I picked those up and pulled out a few weeds on the way round. I cut off a couple of branches of ash that were overhanging the wood shed area and chopped them for the compost bin, and pulled out some couch grass and a couple of bits of horsetail from under the west hedge. I also removed the dead honesty plants, scattering the seeds under the hedge to grow for flowers in 2021. There are some that I did this with last year that will flower in the spring.

                    Having done all that I cut a cucumber and some salad leaves and picked a tomato that was turning red that I must have missed on Tuesday. I had a final walk round and noticed that the foliage on the carrots in the tunnel was being seriously eaten. I'd noticed before that these were looking a bit chewed, but assumed it was slugs as most were near the soil, but these were higher up, and I soon saw why. I removed about 30 brown caterpillars from the leaves. I think these may be dot moth (if so, I am lucky they are on the carrots and not the spinach), if not they are something similar. I certainly don't want them pupating and hatching out in the tunnel next year.

                    I'd hoped to get back in the afternoon, although really there isn't a huge amount to do now the horsetail has stopped growing. It turned out to be rather showery, so I stayed at home, nipping out to do small jobs like deadheading between the showers.
                    A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Penellype View Post
                      Parsnips don't normally get affected as badly as carrots by carrot fly but I have heard that the maggots can damage the surface of the roots and let in canker, which parsnips are susceptible to. I also have a problem with cats using the raised beds as litter trays, so the netting also keeps them off.
                      Thanks for the explanation. I'll have to wait and see how mine do in the end.

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                      • No gardening time on Thursday, although I did nip down first thing and check everything and pick some cucumbers and courgettes.

                        Friday was always going to be difficult. I was expecting a delivery which I had to be at home for, and the carrier wouldn't give me any clue as to what time it might arrive, not even "not before 8am". It had been windy over night, so as soon as it was light about 7.30 I went down and checked that my tomato cover had not blown away (it was fine) and picked a cucumber for lunch and a bag of spinach leaves for tea. I had a quick look at the carrot foliage but couldn't see any caterpillars - they were probably still sensibly asleep. It was already raining a bit and was forecast to do so at least all morning.

                        I waited in for the delivery, which arrived mid afternoon. By the time it was all sorted and signed for there was no time to do any gardening at all.

                        Today I have an electrician coming this morning and I'm busy all afternoon. If the electrician gets his act together I may get to the plot at lunchtime, but I'm not banking on it. Like yesterday I will be going to the plot when it gets light to collect some food for later in case I can't get there at all. Tomorrow looks horribly wet, so I may not get anything done this weekend. It doesn't really matter as apart from keeping the fallen leaves under control and cutting the grass (which is currently far too wet) there isn't that much that needs doing. That's why if I need to make appointments that keep me at home I try to do it at this time of year.
                        A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                        • As expected the weekend was almost a complete write-off.

                          I nipped down to the plot first thing on Saturday and picked a cucumber, a melon and a few of the tomatoes that were turning red. The electrician was late and by the time he had gone there was no time to go to the allotment. I did manage to cut the grass at home, which was still really rather wet but getting desperate.

                          As forecast, Sunday was wet all day. I nipped down in the drizzle first thing and picked another cucumber and the last of the bigger melons (there are a few small ones that may or may not be edible), checked for caterpillars on the carrots (none visible) and removed loads of slugs from the leeks. I thought slugs didn't much like the onion family, but there were far more slugs on the leeks than on either the beetroot or the broccoli next to them. By the time I had fed the slugs to my friend's chickens and dealt with the horses I had had far more than enough of getting wet and gardening was off the menu.
                          A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                          • A better day weather-wise although everywhere was very wet. I had to wait around for phone calls in the morning and by 11am was sick of it and went to the plot anyway.

                            There were a couple of jobs that I really wanted to get done, the first being check the carrots for caterpillars. I removed another 10 or so - they are really hard to see as although they are dark brown on green foliage, they hide underneath along the central leaf vein.

                            The next urgent job was to remove the dead and yellowing leaves from the bottoms of the brassicas as these harbour slugs. As some of these were under wet nets this was not a particularly pleasant job. I also removed some dead rhubarb leaves and cleared up the fallen raspberry leaves and the leaves on the path near the compost bins.

                            I then checked round the strawberries, removing a couple of mouldy ones, harvested a cucumber (the plants are looking rather worse for wear now) and the last 3 melons, 2 of which are very small. I removed the melon plant as it was completely dead, then went home to see if I had missed the phone call I was waiting for. I hadn't.

                            Having waited in half the afternoon, I could see rain approaching on the radar, so I went back to the allotment to pick a couple of small courgettes for tea and a few ripening tomatoes. I took off 3 over-large courgettes and attempted to remove some of the dead looking courgette leaves, but these were revoltingly slimy and I decided they could wait until I removed the whole plants which I expect will be very soon.

                            Still no phone call, so I am once again waiting... If I added up all the time I spend stuck in the house waiting for people to arrive, phone calls or Skype messages, I'd probably find it added up to weeks each year. Yes I do have a mobile phone, but I find it bulky to carry about and it restricts me bending down if it is in my pocket. If I put it down at the allotment I will almost certainly leave it there. I also regularly forget to charge its battery for days on end, so it is not a good way for people to communicate with me and very few people have the number as a result. So I just have to put up with waiting for phone calls at home.
                            A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                            • Yesterday was another very frustrating day. We'd had yet another 9mm of rain over night so everything was still very wet and soggy. The electrician was supposed to phone in the morning but didn't and by 11am I had had enough and went to the plot to check everything. I removed another 8 caterpillars from the carrots and decided I would have to start harvesting these in preference to the ones at home as I could see slug damage on a couple of the root tops.

                              I walked round pulling out a few weeds and raked the leaves off the grass path near the west hedge. Then I picked a cucumber and a couple of tomatoes from under the cover (one had botrytis on the calyx and will probably rot before it ripens) and went home for lunch.

                              Still no phone call, so I went back to pick some baby fennel and pull the damaged carrots for tea. One of them looked ok but the other had considerable carrot fly damage and was only about half edible. How carrot fly have got at them in the tunnel I don't know, but this is very disappointing and capped off a fairly depressing day.

                              More rain today and still no word from the electrician.
                              A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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                              • The rain had cleared by yesterday lunchtime and I nipped down to pick a cucumber for lunch. After lunch, having finally managed to book the electrician for first thing on Friday, I was able to spend a pleasant hour at the plot. I went round the raised beds and tunnel removing as many weeds as I could, and also removed some more dying rhubarb leaves.

                                A couple of the strawberries had turned red but had slug holes in so I took them home to eat along with a bag of spinach leaves and some carrots, which again had some carrot fly damage.
                                A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP. - Leonard Nimoy

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