Sunday, 10 June 2007

Goodbye Blackfly ! 10.06.07

For the past few months the dreaded blackfly have been dwelling undisturbed in my veg plot, beating each and every attempt of mine to get rid of them. I tried all the organic options but to no avail.
On Monday this week, things changed: Ladybird's started to appear all over my plot, and began to chomp on the blackfly population - Yippee! Not only are they great to look at, but they are doing a great job where I have stumbled.

Key milestones this week included the harvest of our first carrot ! Don't laugh. Impatience took over and we had to try one ( just to check they are doing ok etc ) and we can confirm the result - Delicious ! We had further good news when the heavens opened - not only watering the garden, but filling my water butts too. It's the middle of June now, and I've only resorted to the hosepipe once. Amazing how much water you can save if you put your mind to it.

So, off to the plot we trot :-

Well as you can see, my early planting of Runner / Climbing French Beans is starting to pay off.
Despite the aforementioned Blackfly population, as well as the removal last month of the failed Broad Bean plants, this area of the plot is doing extremely well. There's plenty of flowers and fruit starting to form, and the "White Tailed Bumblebees" are working overtime, flitting around amongst the red flowers and the adjacent hanging baskets - obviously doing a great job.
Largest runner bean so far is 15mm long, so a way to go yet !

Dainty Yellow and White flowers are starting to form on my second earlies (v. Nicola ) , adding a burst of colour to an otherwise plain green background. The foliage is nearly all recovered from the battering it has taken from the recent heavy rains, but some has had additional support provided in the form of canes.One of the big learning curves for me this year, is how much room plants need, which is actually a tad more than i have allowed this year!

Talking of which, here's my maincrop spuds(v.King Edward) that have just been earthed up with some fresh general purpose compost. Growth rate has been quite astounding. I might have to add some boards to the front as I will need to add more earth as the season continues!

My Peas (v.Kelvedon Wonder) are doing fab. There's many a 3" pod now, but no sign of peas within just yet. I'm sure Tigger will let me know when they are ready for picking, and hopefully that will be before she eats the crop! I'm hoping to plant a few more this year for a later crop, and will allow more space for them, as well as some netting to climb up / over.

Now that all the Radish have been harvested from this raised bed, the remaining plants are flourishing. The second row of carrot's (v. Early Nantes) are putting on growth - although they are still quite shaded by the adjacent shallott's. The Beetroot (v.Boltardy) have continued to grow well, and have been thinned out further to give them room to swell, and the Parsnips (v. Hollow Crown) are producing good top growth too. I'm looking forward to harvesting the parsnips later in the year , to see how different they taste, as I'm not a fan of shop brought varieties! Out of the 2 varieties of Radish I grew, I would recommend the v. French Breakfast to try , as they grow at a uniform rate and have a great taste. Go on, try some ?

And here's the best of the bunch. In this tightly packed space I have 3 crops growing at great speed.
The Shallots (v. Red Sun) are doing great. The base of the stems are little clusters of 1cm diameter stalks and they all look really healthy. I need to check on my harvesting dates as I must admit I've somewhat lost track.
Planted alongside these 2 rows are 2 rows of Garlic (v. Fokyhama) which also seem to be flourishing, and between the garlic i have my first sowing of carrot's (v. Early Nantes) . We pulled a carrot on Friday, and although it was only a couple of inches long, it was pest free and tasted delicious. Companion planting seems to have helped avoid any issue with root fly. Just need to allow them to put on some further growth before they grace the dining table!

I'm afraid that I'm running out of superlatives to describe my veg growing progress! The toms (v. Moneymaker) are growing on lovely, with flower buds beginning to set on all the plants. There seems to be no difference in growth between the bed and the buckets which is also pleasing. We purchased a supermarket grown Basil plant, which I intend to split into a few or more single plants, and these will be planted later today in the brick bed to keep pests away from the toms. I don't like planting these companions too early, as they do grow quickly.

In the conservatory, the next batch of toms (v. Gardeners Delight) are growing strong and tall. These will be hardened off over the next week or so, before being planted out in more Bright Orange B&Q buckets ! I'm also going to keep a few plants in the conservatory to compare growth rates. The trouble with our conservatory is that it gets baking hot in there, so I may have to consider some shading material for the plexiglass roof ? Ideas welcome - leave me a comment !

Look at the size of this ! This Rhubarb (v. Timperley Early ) that was planted recently, is truly triffid like in terms of growth.
I think we can rely on a small crop this year.
There's a hanging basket nearly overhead and the leaves on the plant seem to have grown sideways to catch the drips from the basket !
Nature is a wonderful thing !!

Thats about it on the veg front. I hope you find it informative - and keep those comments coming. No matter how you have stumbled across this blog, please do leave comments!

Elsewhere in the garden, it's getting quite colourful:-
This beautiful Rose has been left largely to it's own devices, with only occasional pruning attention from me!
It continues to amaze me with its rich Pink buds, and provides a lovely burst of colour.

Here's my "Patriotic" hanging basket in glorious Red, White and Blue!

It's nice now the trailing Lobelia is starting to trail!

Number 2 looking good too, I'm especially keen on the Blood Red trailing Petunia .

I'll get some better pictures as it develops.

Number 3 looking great, trailing Petunia really growing well.

And number 4!

Recently added a Morning Glory, which will be trained up and over the top, and hopefully somewhat hide the brackets etc.

Bit of an experiment !

Ok, final pic of the day !
This is the bed my mum planted the Gladioli in. Since then I've added Cineraria (grown from seed) as well as a couple of Dahlia's.
I've also mulched the top surface with bark chippings to conserve moisture. Looks attractive too !

That really is it for this week. Hope you enjoyed your read of "Reads Retreat", and I hope to see you here again soon.


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