Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Almost a potato disaster

Well, that was close. With the warm, yet wet, weather of late I did suspect that it might be ideal conditions for that most dreaded of all diseases in the vegetable garden – potato blight. On close inspection it did look like the potato plants were starting to suffer from those telltale brown patches on the leaves and some stalks and there was a general yellowing all over the foliage. So, once the greenhouse door was closed (to protect the tomatoes from the airborne spores) I set about clearing the bed.
My potato variety this year was selected purely on the basis of name alone – Ulster Classic – in honour of my lovely hubbie's Norn Iron roots. And what a harvest I found beneath the surface:

Lots of creamy white potatoes with pale pink splashes snuggled deep in the soil. And thankfully, no sign that any blight had reached them. Which is, when you've got an Irish husband, quite a relief to report. I don't want to see him disappearing across the Atlantic...

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Vegging out

The dwarf french beans are very prolific at the moment. Super resilient to the attentions of the slugs and snails and super tasty to boot. Can anyone explain why they lose their purple colouration when they're cooked though? I'm definitely growing these again next year – very low maintenance and no supports required.
I've left a couple of pods on one plant to form beans that I can dry and save to sow next spring.

In the recent heat, the courgettes are finally putting out female flowers and setting fruit. Here's the ever-reliable Striata type. Once they start coming, they don't usually stop for a couple of months.

And a new variety – Sunburst squash – a little patty pan type in bright sunshine yellow. Not a lot to go around when you only get one at a time, but as you can see, there are more and more forming on this plant now as it spreads its way across a vacant bed.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Rosemary beetle

Why did natural selection result in some very destructive, if very attractive insects surviving with the sole intention in life to eat my plants. In the brief respite between rain showers, I spotted these lil' critters all over my lavender bed. Oh they're very pretty – shiny like an oil droplet – but in high numbers they're not good. I've yet to discover who their natural predator is, and why those lovely colours evolve
ved to be on their wingcase. It must either be camouflage or a warning to potential predators. Anyway, despite them not being particularly welcome on my lovely flowering lavender, I don't use chemical sprays and so figured that as long as there weren't too many of them, then I could live with them. So, I took a few photos and then...how shall we put this?...streamlined the population numbers. :)

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Beanie Babies

Generally speaking, beans have not featured large in the suburban veg plot. I grow broad beans each year and I once grew runner beans (before deciding I didn't actually like them) but aside from those, my kitchen garden is a veritable dearth of beans. Until this year that is.

Through purchases and acquisitions, I found myself in possession of purple dwarf French beans, Cherokee Trail of tears climbing beans and even an ornamental purple hyacinth bean (Dolichos lablab).
Germination of them all was pretty successful in mid April – 100% in the case of the French beans – and I spent ages hardening them all off before anything left the safe confines of the greenhouse.

The gardening nerd in me loved to watch the new plant appear from between the cotyledons

The dwarf french beans were grown in toilet roll inners in a plastic fruit container. Here they are having a day out on the patio table back in May.

And once their roots started to explore beyond the cardboard tube, I temporarily potted them into a flower bucket to provide them with a bit more depth and moisture.

The french beans have been in their final positions for about 6 weeks now and have been madly producing delightfully tender beans. Their leaves are under permanent attack from our somewhat unwelcome mollusc friends but they don't touch the beans themselves, so I'm happy to maintain the standoff while that remains the case.

The Cherokee Trail of Tears beans are grown for podding beans which can then be dried and stored. They germinated quickly, grew well but then came under severe attack when I planted them out (those pesky gastropods again!). Thankfully, the brans grew slightly faster than the slugs nibbled them and they are just about hanging on. Photos to follow once I'm sure they're past the worst.

And the ornamental beans? Well, they might be a bit superfluous and don't actually contribute to the harvest, but they'll look attractive and will provide late pollen for all those lovely bees and butterflies – and I think that's reason enough. Here they are just getting to grips in their new home.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Hello - I'm back !

I have concluded that I simply cannot combine horti revision (my RHS level 3 exams) and blogging. As the queen of multi-tasking I am shamefaced to admit this. However, I have now finished my exams, have been on a little Spanish break to relax and recover and am now back and raring to go.
In the meantime, I can see by so many blogs that flowers have bloomed, strawberries have ripened, chilli flowers have opened and thousands of slugs have nibbled at your lettuces. I've been having a huge catch-up with all my favourite blogs these last few days and am almost up to date with everything that's been happening.  
I hope you can forgive my absence and I promise there'll be a bumper set of posts this month to make up for it.