Goodness, I’m sorry this post is so late, it’s been a rather busy and exhausting week and a bit…. I’ve been juggling my time between looking after the allotment and potting on all the rapidly growing seedlings at home. Also we’ve not had any decent rainfall for some time so all the newly planted seedlings have needed daily watering. AND there is also been an infestation of aphids to deal with…. deepest joy!
The weather has been beautiful, it’s been gloriously warm and sunny. The seedlings are flourishing and the flowers are in full bloom. It really is a delightful time of year.
So what have I been up to all the allotment apart from watering, weeding and wilting. I planted out some kale plants, Sutherland Kale, Red Russian Kale, Cavolo Nero and Jagallo Nero.
Last week I made a ‘make shift’ brassica cage from tree stakes only to be given some fabulous metal hoops from our neighbour Darrin. So much easier to use, so of course they promptly went in and I covered them in netting to protect the brassica plants from the birds. Thank you very much Darrin, I’m really pleased with them.
I also gave the pear tree a prune after discovering it had a bit of canker. You can see the bark of this branch has split and started to peel. This opening in the bark makes the tree susceptible to further infection. I shall be writing a post about canker shortly, it’s not good!
I pruned all the diseased branches, which I shall burn. I also removed any leaves with sooty black fungal patches.. indications of scab. I shall also burn these leaves.
It’s not a well tree! But the good news is we still have pears and they are growing. This time last year we had just 5 pears left… so whilst not perfect we’ve made a bit of progress.
I’m determined to nurse this tree back to health. I’ve been told by another plot holder the pears are delicious.
Aphids! I’ve found them everywhere. Possibly a contender for the pest of the year?!
They are on the parsnips and we now have Parsnip Yellow Fleck Virus, PYSV. I shall write a separate post about that joyous disease.
My beloved Champion of England peas, the Borlotti beans and ‘John’s’ runner beans, seen below.
The BBC recently aired a piece, about the wonders of aphids, during their Spring Watch series….. ‘what remarkable creatures’ they said! They went on to say, ‘aphids don’t have to mate to reproduce, a female can produce up to 10 ‘clone’ beings a day’…. that is indeed wondrous, however, not if you’re a gardener, it’s a serious problem. One aphid today, 10 tomorrow, 100 the following day, a 1000 the next! BUT the problem is, it’s not just the one aphid it is?
Seeing black ants running up and down the stems of legume plants is an indication aphids have arrived and are hiding somewhere, under the plants leaves or on the growing tips. Black ants protect aphids against predators, such as ladybirds, in return for honey dew secreted by the aphids. It’s a hideous codependent relationship!
This aphid killing machine is snoozing, hopefully after enjoying a large aphidy feast!
I have spent ages going over every plant daily, like a woman possessed, determined not to lose our crops. Sorry animal lovers, I usually hate killing anything, but I have turned into an aphid ‘serial killer’, squashing them as soon as I see them to try and keep the numbers down. It’s a rather messy business and not for the squeamish, like me! The worst job of the week, but it has to be done.
I was looking at our sweetcorn and they were all looking rather yellowy green. Our allotment neighbour Darrin is growing exactly the same variety, Swift F1. He planted his out a couple of weeks earlier than us. His plants are the darkest of dark greens. Scratches head wondering why! Darrin suggested it may be due to the lack of nutrition in the soil. Darrin has chickens and constantly loads up his plot with home made compost and manure from the chickens. We try to do the same but currently we’re just not producing enough compost, despite having loads on the go, it takes a good year or so!
We planted the sweetcorn seedlings in compost but I think he’s right. I had initially put it down to transplant shock, but have decided it’s down to lack of nutrients. I can’t do much about the quality of the soil this year but to help improve the plants nutrition I will feed the seedlings weekly with an organic seaweed fertiliser. This is a mild fertiliser yet should help plant development. The plants have already responded, they have darkened in colour are beginning to grow well.
We took home some produce this week… yay!
All delicious, and the sweet peas were beautifully fragrant.
And the lavender is truly magnificent this year, a blaze of colour welcomes us to plot two.