Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Tomato Death and the Slug Pub

Well, that's it. My tomatoes have contracted some kind of (probably) fatal disease, which gives them coppery gray/brown spots all over the leaves. And while the supports have held steady, the top of one plant has snapped off in the wind. As far as I can work out, the disease could be 'Gray Leaf Mould' - the result of overwatering in really wet conditions. So much for the "I don't mind that its pouring with rain all weekend, it'll be good for my plants" theory. If there's a tomato doctor out there, please get in touch!

I'm leaving for Sunrise Festival in Somerset tomorrow so, if I don't have time to get some kind of cure for them in the morning, I expect they'll have wilted into compost by the time I get back. Not to be defeated, I still dutifully picked out the shoots which have appeared at the base of the stems, just in case they survive enough to flower and fruit. Its probably a move akin to feng shui with collapsible seats on a certain oversized boat though. Good job I've still got 7 plants left that I haven't yet given away!

Following advice from a comment on the Observer Allotment blog, I have now raised my slug beer traps above ground level so that all the nice beetles who eat the nasty pests will be unable to continue their practice of kamakazie drunken swimming. Apparently, the slugs love it so much they're prepared to climb for it though, just like my lettuce. I've also made a new trap out of an old milk bottle with windows cut in the side and the lid on, which will hopefully keep the rain out. I filled them all up with some (oxymoron alert!) cheap Waitrose lager I got at the weekend. Apparently they do prefer a dark ale though, so will be getting them a four pack of that next time. I don't know, lap of luxury eh?

A final gruesome fact (or garden ledgend) for you is that apparently slugs are more attracted to beer if its got other dead slugs in it. Just goes to show how depraved the little bastads really are...

Monday, 28 May 2007

Wet wet wet

What a wet weekend it's been. Started off by picking some of the first rocket for salad on Friday night (as modelled by Rosie). Did most of the work on Sunday. It didn't stop raining all day so I got quite wet and muddy. The first job was to secure my tomatoes. For each growbag, I tied a small stick across the three bamboo poles and then used 4 bricks to weigh it down. They've survived the winds so far so they seem quite sturdy.

Next up I took advantage of the soft soil to push in two stakes and attach the plastic netting for my peas to climb up. I also used small sticks to prop them up in the meantime and keep them away from slugs.
Before lunch we nipped down the garden centre where I got some natural sand slug barrier. I put this round my courgettes after I planted them out in pockets of compost. I also used some round my lettuces and peas. It seems to be working so far - although I did catch one fat slug munching on a leaf that had fallen over it in the rain. I've stepped up the patrols recently and after finding quite a few of the pests on Saturday, numbers seem to be down a bit.
Meanwhile my first runner beans have emerged and my potatoes are beggining to flower. I earthed up around them a bit more.
Finally, if anyone remembers the grub I found in my first post (here) - I found the end product while digging around the spuds. Its a bit worrying though because apparently they eat through things and I thought I'd got rid of them all as I dug the patch over.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Tomato tumbles, slug security and yet more radishes!

Mini- disaster struck last Monday as I tried to carry my last batch of Tomato and sprout seedlings downstairs to get re-potted, only to slip and watch helpless as they tumbled out of my hands and down the stairs. Thankfully I managed to salvage them all - barring a few torn leaves and a snapped stem which seems to have recovered after repotting. I also managed to get a bag of the cherry variety outside, under the portable greenhouse which I took off the other plants. (below) The stairs were only slightly stained after hoovering and fully recovered after shampoo. I did have to suffer an 'I told you so' though. It could have been worse.

To my further horror last week I also discovered that those pesky slugs have started ripping my baby lettuces apart. I went out on Wednesday night and placed holly leaves around them and re-filled the beer traps. I'm not sure how well they've been working, but I assume some of the floating gunk to be late slugs. With the orange peel and egg shells that Mum's been putting out we now have some beefy defences. (see below)

Something else had ripped up one of my little gem seedlings, so I got my first taste of baby leaf lettuce as well - there's one the slugs definately won't be having! mmmm...

Meanwhile, the corgette seeds I planted are coming aloong nicely and should be ready to go in on Sunday.
I picked some radishes when I got home this evening (Tues) and generally worked out what needs doing this weekend. I was away all last weekend at a juggling festival so haven't done much gardening. There's a lot to do though. Need to build a frame for the peas (which are getting quite big); earth up my spuds; sow some more lettuce, spring onions, beetroot and carrots; put the rest of my tomatoes in grow bags; plant the courgettes; and do some weeding. Should keep me busy over the bank holiday!

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Tomatoes on travels

This week I have been trying give away some of the tomato plants which have formed a forest on my bathroom window sill. This led to taking some to work with me for my last day in Westminster. I got a pic of their big bay by Big Ben. Rosie also took some home with her. If you want any, get in touch. They're all getting pretty big.

The big news is that both my peas and courgettes have sprouted. The peas are under some plastic mesh to protect them from birds.

I haven't had a lot of time to garden this weekend as have been busy out partying, (Special shout out to Lauren and Adam for their veggie enthusiasm!) so thought I'd just post a few pics of how my gem lettuce, beetroot and carrots are getting along.

I start a new volunteer job tommorrow with Unlock Democracy, then Rosie and I are off to see The Entertainer at the Old Vic.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Rain, grow bags and bean frames

On Sunday I swung by the garden centre on the way home from Rosie's, to get grow bags for tomatoes, along with canes to prop them up and make a frame for my runner beans. Before getting to work though, Mum, Dad and I tucked into some more tasty radishes with our lunch. Mmmm....
The first thing I did after lunch was some weeding. There's all kinds of things trying to seed themselves in my patch at the moment, so I got quite a handful of seedlings! Then I sowed another row of carrots and thinned out my lettuces and onions. That means picking some seedlings out so that the others have got space to grow. I replanted the thinnings around the edges of where I'm going to put the purple sprouting broccoli, which is beggining to sprout on the window sill.
I then turned my attention to my tomatoes. I watered the grow bags before transplating the three biggest ones in from their pots and putting in canes to hold them up. I then set up the portable greenhouse that Rosie's parents gave me for my birthday, which should protect them from the high winds this weekend. I had wanted to plant some more tomatoes out, but seeing as I only have one greenhouse I don't want to risk it! Instead I re-potted the others, along with the dying brussels sprouts. The bathroom window sill is now jam packed with plants.

After a busy day gardening, I met up with my some mates from uni for a drink in Victoria - although I turned down the offer of Infected Mushroom afterwards so that I could use my Bank Holiday Monday to do some more vegginess.

As it was, it rained for quite a bit on Monday, with the wind gusting quite hard. Good for the thristy veggies. In one of the sunny spells I managed to make a frame for my runner beans, using 7ft canes crossed over and tied together with one across the top. I then planted a row of beans, the rest of the peas and some courgette seeds in little pots. The patch is really starting to take shape now. Once the broccoli and courgettes are in, and everything's grown a bit, it'll be looking pretty full!

(Photos this week mostly courtesy of Mum)